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

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The History Behind "Aspergers"

Aspergers  is characterized by impairments in social interaction and restricted interests and behaviors as seen in autism, but its early developmental course is marked by a lack of any clinically significant delay in spoken or receptive language, cognitive development, self-help skills, and curiosity about the environment. All-absorbing and intense circumscribed interests and one-sided verbosity as well motor clumsiness are typical of the condition, but are not required for diagnosis.

In 1944, Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician with interest in special education, described four kids who had difficulty integrating socially into groups. Unaware of Kanner's description of early infantile autism published just the year before, Asperger called the condition he described "autistic psychopathy", indicating a stable personality disorder marked by social isolation.

Despite preserved intellectual skills, the kids showed marked paucity of nonverbal communication involving both gestures and affective tone of voice, poor empathy and a tendency to intellectualize emotions, an inclination to engage in long winded, one-sided, and sometimes incoherent speech, rather formalistic speech (he called them "little professors"), all-absorbing interests involving unusual topics which dominated their conversation, and motoric clumsiness. Unlike Kanner's patients, these kids were not as withdrawn or aloof; they also developed, sometimes precociously, highly grammatical speech, and could not in fact be diagnosed in the first years of life.

Discarding the possibility of a psychogenic origin, Asperger highlighted the familial nature of the condition, and even hypothesized that the personality traits were primarily male transmitted. Aspergers work, originally published in German, became widely known to the English speaking world only in 1981, when Lorna Wing published a series of cases showing similar symptoms. Her codification of the syndrome, however, blurred somewhat the differences between Kanner's and Aspergers descriptions, as she included a small number of girls and mildly mentally retarded kids, as well as some kids who had presented with some language delays in their first years of life. Since then, several studies have attempted to validate AS as distinct from autism without mental retardation, although comparability of findings has been difficult due to the lack of consensual diagnostic criteria for the condition.3

Aspergers was not accorded official recognition before the publication of ICD-10 and DSM-IV, although it was first reported in the German literature in 1944. Aspergers work was known primarily in German speaking countries, and it was only in the 1970's that the first comparisons with Kanner's work were made, primarily by Dutch researchers such as Van Krevelen, who were familiar with both English and German literatures. The initial attempts at comparing the two conditions were difficult because of major differences in the patients described – Kanner's patients were both younger and more cognitively impaired. Also, Aspergers conceptualization was influenced by accounts of schizophrenia and personality disorders, whereas Kanner had been influenced by the work of Arnold Gesell and his developmental approach.

Attempts at codifying Aspergers prose into a categorical definition for the condition were made by several influential researchers in Europe and North America, but no consensual definition emerged until the advent of ICD-10. And given the reduced empirical validation of the ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria, the definition of the condition is likely to change as new and more rigorous studies emerge in the near future.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content