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

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Occupational Therapy: Advice for Adults with Aspergers

Adults with Aspergers often face challenges with social interaction, impaired motor skills, sensory processing issues, repetitive patterns of behavior, and intensely focused interests – all of which might interfere with their ability to complete activities of daily living in a manner similar to their peers.

Increased awareness and knowledge about Aspergers has opened many avenues to help adults with Aspergers adjust to life’s demands. One such avenue is Occupational Therapy (OT), which attempts to address the following:

• Age-appropriate interactions
• Behavior modification
• Communication and social skills
• Coping
• Family education
• Imitation skills
• Independent living skills
• Motor skills
• Repetitive behaviors
• Self-care
• Sensory skills
• Social skills

OT is a discipline that utilizes purposeful activity to obtain, regain and/or maintain one’s highest level of daily functioning, work, play and leisure activities:

• Daily functioning skills (e.g., dressing, bathing, grooming, eating, writing, home and money management, etc.) are necessary for all to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
• Work skills are necessary to be a contributing member of society and to earn an income.
• Play for children contribute to a healthy self-esteem and a fulfilling life.
• Leisure activities for adults contribute to overall mental health.

At times, situations or impairments interfere with an Aspergers person’s ability to independently complete or participate in daily functioning skills. These impairments may consist of physical, cognitive and emotional components, or a combination of all three. Once the components have been identified, the type of treatment approach can be determined.

The goal of treatment may be to increase performance levels, to restore functioning to a prior level (or close to it), or to maintain current skills – or prevent regression. For example, restorative therapy can include (a) strengthening of physical skills (e.g., coordination, strength, endurance), (b) improvement of cognitive skills (e.g., memory, following directions, attending to details), and (c) improvement of psychological skills (e.g., self-esteem, self-expression and confidence).

The Occupational Therapist must (a) evaluate which components - physical, cognitive, or emotional - are impairing the individual’s functioning, (b) begin appropriate remediation, and (c) initiate compensation. Here are some examples:

• An example of a physical deficit is difficulty with performing manual tasks. One man had difficulty writing legibly. An evaluation (which included an assessment of abilities, strengths and weaknesses in daily functioning, work, leisure and play) determined that he had decreased hand strength and impaired fine motor control (physical components). The treatment plan was to strengthen his hands, to improve coordination (restore function) and to adapt the pen grip (compensation).

• An example of a cognitive deficit is difficulty with following directions due to decreased attention. The treatment plan might include changing the environment to decrease visual and auditory distractions, or providing compensation techniques (e.g., timers, breaks, guidelines, outlines for assignments, etc.).

• An example of an emotional deficit is difficulty with environmental stimuli. One young woman with Aspergers disliked shopping. She said it was too noisy and busy. An evaluation (which included an assessment of abilities, strengths and weaknesses in performing tasks) determined she had difficulty processing sensory information (i.e., the noises and sights at the store were overwhelming to her). The Occupational Therapist designed a sensory program and compensation techniques that would allow her to successfully complete her shopping trip. The program consisted of exercises that helped her improve her ability to process sensory input from the environment. Compensation techniques included shopping at a smaller store during times that were not as busy/noisy and to practice a “social script.” The social script was a way for her to role-play and practice interaction before it actually occurs. This “rehearsal” helped her to increase her confidence and skills.

The ultimate goal of OT is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Furthermore, Occupational Therapists are becoming increasingly involved in addressing the impact of social, political and environmental factors that contribute to exclusion and occupational deprivation.

OT services typically include:
  • a comprehensive evaluation of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school)
  • an “outcomes evaluation” to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan
  • customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities
  • environmental adaptation including provision of equipment or designing adaptations to remove obstacles or make them manageable
  • guidance and education for family members and caregivers
  • how to break down activities into achievable components (e.g., sequencing a complex task like cooking a complex meal)
  • performance skills assessments and treatment
  • teaching new ways of approaching tasks
  • the use of creative media as therapeutic activity

If you are having difficulty with social skills among friends or within the community, an Occupational Therapist can help identify the underlying reason of the difficulty. Once a likely cause or causes have been defined, treatment can begin.

There is a simple way to determine if you, or someone you know, might benefit from OT. Ask yourself the following:

• Has there been difficulty with social interactions at home, work or school?
• Has there been a change in ability to perform any activity of daily living?
• Is there something that is more challenging for you to do than it is for other people to do?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, OT might help you become more independent - or regain your independence.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

1 comment:

adam smith said...

OT can help not only the physically handicapped but also helps mental people. it can be done by drawing such patterns and tell them to recognize them so that they live in the real world and enjoy every second.

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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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