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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How Aspergers is Diagnosed

Aspergers diagnosis is often a two-stage process. The first stage involves general developmental screening during the child’s checkups with a doctor or an early childhood health care provider. Kids who show some developmental problems are referred for additional evaluation. The second stage involves a thorough evaluation by a team of doctors and other health professionals with a wide range of specialties. At this stage, a youngster may be diagnosed as having some form of autism. Kids with an autism spectrum disorder can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 2, though research suggests that some screening tests can be helpful at 18 months or even younger.

Many individuals (e.g., family doctors, teachers, and moms/dads) may minimize signs of Aspergers at first, believing that kids will "catch up" with their friends. While you may be concerned about labeling your young youngster with Aspergers, the earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the sooner specific interventions may begin. Early intervention can reduce or prevent the more severe problems associated with Aspergers. Early intervention may also improve your youngster's IQ, language, and everyday functional skills (also called adaptive behavior).

Screening—

Your child’s checkup should include a developmental screening test, with specific Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screening at 18 and 24 months. Screening for ASD is not the same as diagnosing ASD. Screening instruments are used as a first step to tell the doctor whether a youngster needs more testing. If your youngster's doctor does not routinely screen your youngster for ASD, ask that it be done.

For moms and dads, your own experiences and concerns about your youngster's development will be very important in the screening process. Keep your own notes about your youngster's development and look through family videos, photos, and baby albums to help you remember when you first noticed each behavior and when he/she reached certain developmental milestones.

Types of ASD Screening Instruments—

Sometimes the doctor will ask moms/dads questions about their youngster's symptoms to screen for Aspergers or some other form of Autism. Other screening instruments combine information from parents with the doctor's own observations of the youngster. Examples of screening instruments for toddlers and preschoolers include:

• Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (CHAT)
• Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS).
• Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT)
• Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds (STAT)
• Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ)

To screen for mild Autism (i.e., Aspergers) in older kids, the doctor may rely on different screening instruments, such as:

• Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome (ASAS)
• Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ)
• Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test (CAST).

Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation—

The second stage of diagnosis must be thorough in order to find whether other conditions may be causing your youngster's symptoms. A team that includes a psychologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, or other professionals experienced in diagnosing Aspergers may do this evaluation. The evaluation may assess the youngster's cognitive level (i.e., thinking skills), language level, and adaptive behavior (i.e., age-appropriate skills needed to complete daily activities independently, for example eating, dressing, and toileting).

Because Aspergers is a complex disorder that sometimes occurs along with other illnesses or learning disorders, the comprehensive evaluation may include brain imaging and gene tests, along with in-depth memory, problem-solving, and language testing. Kids with any delayed development should also get a hearing test and be screened for lead poisoning as part of the comprehensive evaluation.

Any kid can lose his/her hearing (for various reasons), but common Aspergers symptoms (e.g., not turning to face a person calling their name) can make it seem that the youngster can’t hear – when in fact he/she can. If a youngster is not responding to speech, especially to his/her name, it's important for the doctor to test whether a youngster has hearing loss.

The evaluation process is a good time for moms and dads to ask questions and get advice from the whole evaluation team. The outcome of the evaluation will help plan for treatment and interventions to help your youngster. Be sure to ask who you can contact with follow-up questions.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

we have just been referred for the Child developement centre at our local hospital, earliest we can be seen is end of jan 2012.. and things seem to be getting much worse. although at pre-school we have found that one to one works helps greatly. i am finding it difficult to cope with at home..

Anonymous said...

My middle son was diagnosed in February with aspergers, @ 9 yrs old it took nearly 5 yrs from t 1st referral to diagnosis, my eldest son was diagnosed in August, at 14 took about two years from referral to diagnosis but he copes much better than his little brother. Up hill all the way, nothing has been easy, and I'm still fighting now.

Anonymous said...

is ok but once they reach teenage yrs more help is needed

Anonymous said...

we have just been referred for the Child developement centre at our local hospital, earliest we can be seen is end of jan 2012.. and things seem to be getting much worse. although at pre-school we have found that one to one works helps greatly. i am finding it difficult to cope with at home..

Anonymous said...

My middle son was diagnosed in February with aspergers, @ 9 yrs old it took nearly 5 yrs from t 1st referral to diagnosis, my eldest son was diagnosed in August, at 14 took about two years from referral to diagnosis but he copes much better than his little brother. Up hill all the way, nothing has been easy, and I'm still fighting now.

Anonymous said...

Just found out a few months ago that my 11 year old has aspergers. It has been a struggle with him and his brothers getting along at home.

Anonymous said...

we're in the process of getting my 9yo diagnosed,saw a n apparent specialist on monday and was basicly told there was nothing wrong,just bad parenting skills.we have 3 kids and only one with problems but this doctor wanted us to read a book on how to be a parent,obviously we were not happy

Anonymous said...

find a different doctor! We got a lot more ground covered after I contacted some local schools/centers and found out which were the best developmental pediatricians and neurologists in the area. Keep advocating for your child - that is the best you can do!

Anonymous said...

Steve - find a different doctor! We got a lot more ground covered after I contacted some local schools/centers and found out which were the best developmental pediatricians and neurologists in the area. Keep advocating for your child - that is the best you can do!

Anonymous said...

You don't need the diagnosis to tie into resources who can help you. If you have good teachers, start researching Asperger's on your own and provide information to them about what works best for your child. It is trial and error. We hooked in the school in December of 2nd grade and didn't get final diagnosis until May of the following spring. Keep looking for resources that can help you. We used the Courage Center her in MN. Not sure if you have that where you are. A great book about Asperger's that helps all people who encounter our son is 'Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome?: A Guide for Friends and Family' by Jude Welton. We give a copy of this to everyone who works with our son.

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.

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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. 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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