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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Aspergers Children and Social Impairment

Question

I’m a family therapist who is in the beginning stages of learning how to counsel Aspergers clients, specifically children between the ages of 5 and 12. What is the main thing I need to look for in working with these children.


Answer

One main issue that comes up routinely in therapy for Aspergers children and teens is "social skills deficits." There are three broad categories into which we can classify social deficits:

1. Social awkwardness -- Socially awkward Aspergers kids are typically higher functioning children who may try very hard to gain and keep friends, but are hindered due to:
  • focusing on their favorite topic or topics to the exclusion of most everything else
  • an inability to learn social skills and taboos by observing others
  • a lack of reciprocity in conversation and interest

2. Social avoidance -- Children who would fall into the category of socially avoidant might be those who tantrum, shy away from, or attempt to escape from social situations. Often, children that are this avoidant of social situations are doing so because they have some hypersensitivity to certain sensory stimuli. Consequently, those sensory needs must be addressed prior to attempts at teaching social skills. A kid who is constantly overwhelmed by his environment is likely not going to be successful in many interventions.

3. Social indifference -- Social indifference is the social impairment common to the majority of Aspergers kids. Kids who are socially indifferent are those who do not actively seek social interaction, but at the same time, do not aggressively avoid such interaction.

So, in addressing social skills deficits, it is helpful to know the child's social style (i.e., awkwardness, avoidance, indifference).

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

First for me is, be aware that girls have Aspergers too! It looks similar, but at the same time, very different that when boys have it. Just because it may be masked better, does not mean it is not as serious.

Anonymous said...

for myself and my child it is behavior management and the redirection of anger/frustration, focus on creating a lot of social stories for difficult situations

Anonymous said...

Ive always felt that if you can tap into there feelings and sensory and relate to them on their level, you can build a trust and common understanding as to what motivates them to behave the way they do..Good or Bad..

Anonymous said...

Helping them with socialization as well as self-confidence--my 11 year old son suffers with both of these the most.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you are seeking more information on counselling Asperger children. My daughter wasn't diagnosed until she was 15 even though see saw multiple councellors since she was 5 years old. Each one would say "This isn't going to work because she won't talk." Her standard answer was "I don't know." or a blank stare. Looking back she was clearly Aspergers. The therapist that finaly got through came into my daughter's world of DOGS! So, my advice is to find the child's passion and bring related items to the session to gain their acceptence.

Anonymous said...

Find each one's main focus. Work w/ them thru their interests & the ways they see life, not how we see it. When the chances come naturally, try to explain in terms they will understand, how some other people see things & socialize, remembering that there are cultural & personal differences in everyone. Our Aspergers son is grown, married, has a daughter, was home-schooled. We did not push socialization, but provided it. He has had his awkward times & still prefers solitude, but he helps at home & is in youth ministry in Romania with Word of Life & is a man of great faith. It's not an easy journey for anyone, and that is what makes it work. An easy life in childhood basically makes ineffective adults.

Anonymous said...

Teach the social thinking curriculum by Michelle Garcia winner especially "superflex and the unthinkable"

Anonymous said...

how anxiety and sensory issues fit in with it all... and how to help siblings relate - and "understand"... when accomodations are made for their aspie sibling - all the best! Also... that the person - learning to "know themself" - their triggers and what makes them tick - to better their chances in life situations.

Anonymous said...

Teaching parents skills to work with their aspies. Understanding n validating that disrespect can be frustrating n how they don't understand.

Anonymous said...

Find a way to work with them non-verbally, at least at first until you build trust. My son's therapist (supposedly the best autism specialist in our town) was flabbergasted that our son wouldn't talk.at.all to him. He asked US what to do! As if we knew, and as if that wasn't why we were bringing our son to him in the fist place. That was a horrible moment. We didn't continue with that psychologist long, and we still haven't found a replacement.

Anonymous said...

I would say to work with the parents as well as the child. My daughters therapist has only just started to gain her trust and it has taken about 3 months. She is only 4 but she is a very bright, well spoken high functioning aspie. Her problems are mainly with behaviour and social situations. Every therapy session my daughter takes some of her favourite toys with her (such as my little pony toys or care bears) and then they 'play out' different social scenes. She has come a long way socially but her bahaviour still needs attention and that is where the therapist works with us. She has been trying to teach us different strategies to handle our daughter when she is being naughty. Good luck and well done for asking!

Anonymous said...

Dont tell the mother it's her fault! (Seriously).

Anonymous said...

Be patient....

Anonymous said...

friendship, how to make, keep and socialize with friends, and what is a friend....they have no clue what to look for or what one is.

Anonymous said...

Try and build up their confidence, lead by example with socialising and remember that each child is different.

Anonymous said...

Be patient and watch who they are. Each one is different and even the same situations are handled differently by each one. On top of that they can change each time they are faced with the same situation. So know each individual the biggeat answer is TIME.

Anonymous said...

It's my experience that Asperger's kids do not know how to explan or negotiate through a problem. Getting answers can be like pulling teeth. They are often VERY literal- so idomatic language often just exacerbates the language difficulties. Be concrete and ask questions that can help you-(and them) understand their anxiety.

Anonymous said...

Children with aspergers may not have eye contact with you until they know you, they may not like you talking too loud cause they can be sensitive to noise, they may not like the smell of ciggarette smoke due to sensitivity to smells, try not to crowd their space or touch them-especially the head, try not to draw attention to them in front of others...games can be a good way to get their attention and build up trust but that doesnt mean they will talk to you....gd luck!

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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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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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. The hardest part is you feel like you’ll never actually get to know your child and how he/she views the world.

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