Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Understanding the Aspergers Child - Part 2

The way kids with Aspergers (Aspies) perceive the world makes sense to them, and for the most part, they can’t change the way they think or act. However, with assistance, they are able to adjust their behavior so as not to cause conflict and confusion with parents, teachers, and peers.

Here are some common issues that will need to be dealt with when working with an Aspergers (high functioning autistic) child:

• Aspergers kids don’t take much notice of the reaction of the people listening to them and may ramble on regardless of the listener’s interest, thus appearing insensitive to other’s wants, needs, and feelings.

• Aspergers kids look just like their peers, and they often have average or above average intelligence, but they have difficulty understanding and relating to others in a way other non-Aspergers kids of their age do.

• Aspies can be assumed to be selfish, because most would just rather play by themselves with a special interest of their own.

• Aspies do not see themselves as a member of a particular group. They follow their own interest rather than that of the other kids at school, which can lead to total social isolation.

• Aspies often take everything others say in a literal sense, and as a result, they may be frightened by statements such as “she bit my head off.”

• Kids with Aspergers can get quite confused when they listen to other people who are telling jokes, or using exaggerated language and metaphors.

• Non-Aspergers kids usually don’t understand -- or tolerate -- Aspergers-like behavior. As a result, the Aspies is often ostracized from the peer-group.

• Often times, parents, teachers and peers don’t understand why Aspies have a lack of desire to interact with others and why they have an inability to understand simple social cues.

Social issues that Aspies experience include:

• Are inflexible and incapable of coping with change
• By school age express desire to fit in socially
• Described as being "in their world”
• Described as operating "on their own terms"
• Difficulties making social connections
• Easily stressed and emotionally vulnerable
• Frequently described as "odd" or selfish
• Highly frustrated by their social awkwardness/alienation
• Lack effective interaction skills
• Lack understanding of human relations and rules of social convention
• Naïve and lack common sense
• Preoccupied with own agenda
• Seldom interested in other’s interests/concerns
• Unable to "read" others’ needs and perspectives
• Unable to appropriately respond to social cues

Language issues that Aspies experience include:

• Concrete language rather than abstract
• Difficulty understanding humor
• Excessively formal or pedantic language
• Highly developed vocabularies
• Hyper-verbal
• Laugh at the "wrong time" with jokes or interactions
• Many have good sense of humor
• Misused or not used cultural slang or social idioms
• Problems with taking turns in conversations
• Prosody (i.e., speech volume, intonation, inflection, rate) is frequently deficient or unusual
• Repetitive phrases or language or stock phrases from memorized material
• Rote skills are strong
• Some have normal or early language development while others have speech delays, then rapidly catch up, making diagnosis between Aspergers difficult
• Typically revert to favorite topic area
• Usually like word games and puns
• Weak pragmatic -- conversational -- skills

Some of the areas that Aspies can be obsessed about include:

• astronomy
• dinosaurs
• extraterrestrials
• geography
• history
• machines or machinery
• maps
• math
• metereology
• music
• reading
• science
• social studies
• space travel
• trains
• weather

Practical suggestions for parents and teachers include:

• Be sure that the challenging behavior is no longer effective in getting the Aspie’s needs met (e.g., ignore problem behaviors; provide prompt for the "new" appropriate behavior; if the Aspie screams to avoid situation, prompt her/him to use an appropriate phrase; do NOT allow him/her to leave the situation while he/she is screaming

• Create cooperative learning situations

• Educate peers 

• Encourage participation in conversations 

• Help the Aspie develop appropriate ways of conveying requests/needs

• If screaming when confused by a task, teach Aspie to raise hand, ring a bell, or say "I need help with this...this is too hard"

• If the Aspie asks to leave the situation, provide him/her with immediate break

• If the Aspie needs attention, stop what you’re doing and provide some time/interest

• If the Aspie requests help, assist immediately

• Know that insensitive or inappropriate comments from Aspergers children are usually innocent 

• Model more appropriate phrase or nonverbal signals, have the Aspie practice the "new phrase" or behavior, and during the situation, remind (prompt) child to use new phrase or behavior 

• Model two-way interactions 

• Praise classmates when supportive 

• Promote empathy and tolerance 

• Rehearse proper response repertoires 

• Shield them from bullying and teasing

• Teach and support proper reaction to social cues

• Teach WHAT to say, WHEN, and HOW to say it

• Teach/model correct emotional responding

• Teaching WHY & WHAT response is appropriate is necessary

• Use the Aspies strengths in exchange for liabilities to foster acceptance 

• When the Aspie becomes overwhelmed or over-stimulated, try reducing the amount of time in the situation, or avoid it in future

• When the Aspie gets confused, consider how to make the situation easier to understand – make it more concrete, routine, or predictable

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Elizabeth said...

Fantastic summary! With my Aspie son I find there are so many seeming contradictions, some that you've mentioned here -- most humor escapes him BUT he's great with puns, he's happiest playing by himself BUT he really wants to fit into the playground groups. With 20-20 hindsight, I now recognize one of his earliest Aspergers signs was a tendency to love everyone. He just had old friends and new friends and would hug complete strangers (much to their surprise).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark. Our Josh (10) was diagnosed Aspergers this September. He is failing miserably at his private Christian school (we sought to get a smaller classroom for him than the public schools) so we are making the move to home school. He is a bright child but the frustrations we have at times have been difficult. I am praying your Handbook gives us some answers. Wow, over 1200 pages.

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

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.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA 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.

Click here to read the full article…

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."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

Click here to read the full article...

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content