HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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Aspergers Children: Medication & Side Effects

Kids who have Aspergers think and function very differently than other kids. In most cases, they need special help and coaching to function more successfully in their school and home environments. Treatments for ASPERGERS focus on helping kids manage in these settings.

Special education services, behavior therapy, speech therapy, and physical or occupational therapy may help the youngster learn to function more effectively and harmoniously with others. Training and counseling for parents and other family members also may be helpful.

There are no specific medications used to treat ASPERGERS. However, kids who suffer from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, or obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of Aspergers may benefit from medication to help with these symptoms. When these medications are prescribed, the youngster will be monitored by his or her health care provider at regular intervals throughout treatment.

To treat depression, drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®) may be prescribed. It is important for parents to work closely with the youngster's health care provider and to fully understand how to monitor the youngster for side effects of antidepressant medication. In some kids and teenagers, these medications may increase suicidal thoughts and actions.

Other side effects that should be reported to the youngster's health care provider immediately include the following:

• Aggressive or impulsive behavior
• Agitation or restlessness
• Increased activity level
• Increased chattiness
• Increased depression or anxiety
• Increased irritability
• Panic attacks
• Sleep difficulties
• Strange moods or behavior changes

Kids should be monitored especially closely when they first begin taking antidepressant medication or if the dosage of the medication is changed. These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

To treat obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD), clomipramine (Anafranil®) may be prescribed. Clomipramine is also an antidepressant and increases the risk for suicidal thoughts and actions in kids and teens. Patients should be monitored closely while taking this medication. Side effects that should be reported immediately to the youngster's health care provider include the following:

• Weakness
• Tremors
• Tiredness
• Seizures
• Muscle stiffness
• Loss of bladder control or difficulty with urination
• Increased heart rate
• Hallucinations
• Eye pain
• Depression
• Breathing difficulties

The following side effects, which generally are less serious, should be reported to the youngster's health care provider if they persist or cause particular discomfort:

• Sinus congestion
• Nervousness
• Loss of memory or difficulty concentrating
• Intestinal symptoms
• Headache
• Drowsiness
• Changes in appetite

These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

To treat inattentiveness or hyperactivity, stimulants such as methylphenidate (Concerta®, Ritalin®) or dextroamphetamine (Dexadrine®) may be prescribed. These medications can be habit forming and should be used with caution in patients who have heart problems or psychiatric conditions. The youngster's health care provider will take a careful health history and perform a medical evaluation before prescribing this medication.

Methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine can interfere with the youngster's growth and weight gain. If this occurs, the youngster's health care provider should be contacted right away. The following serious side effects also should be reported immediately:

• Vision problems
• Speech difficulties
• Shortness of breath
• Seizures
• Pounding heartbeat
• Numbness in arms or legs
• Muscle weakness
• Mood changes
• Hives
• Hallucinations
• Extreme tiredness
• Dizziness
• Distorted perceptions of reality
• Chest pain

The following side effects generally are less serious and should be reported to the youngster's health care provider if they persist or cause particular discomfort:

• Sleep problems
• Shakiness, nervousness, or restlessness
• Nausea or vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Headache
• Gastrointestinal distress
• Dry mouth

These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

1 comment:

Kiwimama said...

What is the long term effect of taking medication like this from a young age? Is there an element of physical dependency? Will the young child become addicted to this medication & require it for the rest of their life to enable them to fit in & cope socially?

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But...

Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

If your child suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, expect him to experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over a very small incident, or may experience a minor meltdown over something that is major. There is no way of telling how he is going to react about certain situations. However, there are many ways to help your child learn to control his emotions.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing a child with a neurological disorder. Violent rages, self-injury, isolation-seeking tendencies and communication problems that arise due to auditory and sensory issues are just some of the behaviors that parents of teens with Aspergers will have to learn to control.

Parents need to come up with a consistent disciplinary plan ahead of time, and then present a united front and continually review their strategies for potential changes and improvements as the Aspergers teen develops and matures.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Although they may vary slightly from person to person, children with Aspergers tend to have similar symptoms, the main ones being:

=> A need to know when everything is happening in order not to feel completely overwhelmed
=> A rigid insistence on routine (where any change can cause an emotional and physiological meltdown)
=> Difficulties with social functioning, particularly in the rough and tumble of a school environment
=> Obsessive interests, with a focus on one subject to the exclusion of all others
=> Sensory issues, where they are oversensitive to bright light, loud sounds and unpleasant smells
=> Social isolation and struggles to make friends due to a lack of empathy, and an inability to pick up on or understand social graces and cues (such as stopping talking and allowing others to speak)

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent?

Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Parents face issues such as college preparation, vocational training, teaching independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their child, if necessary. Meanwhile, their immature Aspergers teenager is often indifferent – and even hostile – to these concerns.

As you were raising your child, you imagined how he would be when he grew up. Maybe you envisioned him going to college, learning a skilled traded, getting a good job, or beginning his own family. But now that (once clear) vision may be dashed. You may be grieving the loss of the child you wish you had.

If you have an older teenager with Aspergers who has no clue where he is going in life, or if you have an “adult-child” with Aspergers still living at home (in his early 20s or beyond), here are the steps you will need to take in order to foster the development of self-reliance in this child.

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