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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Trouble-Shooting Tips for Teachers of Asperger's/HFA Students

“Would you happen to have a snapshot or simple summary of strategies my Asperger son’s teacher could use to help him cope with school-related anxiety. He gets stressed-out over something, and then has a meltdown, which his teacher seems unable to deal with effectively. I need something (like a fact sheet) that she can refer to quickly when in the middle of a crisis. Thank you.”

Sure thing! I’ll try to keep it short and to the point...

Dear Teacher,

In order to create an effective intervention for problem behaviors associated with Asperger's and High Functioning Autism, follow these steps:

1. Hypothesize the function of the problem behavior (e.g., escape/avoidance, sensory feedback, social attention, wants tangible item or activity, etc.).

2. Gather information.

a. Antecedent— Does the problem behavior occur:
  • Following a request to perform a difficult task?
  • Repeatedly, in the same way for long periods of time, even when no one is around? 
  • When a request for an item or activity is denied? 
  • When you are attending to other students in the classroom?

b. Consequence— When the problem behavior occurs, do you:
  • Allow the Asperger’s child to engage in inappropriate behavior?
  • Attend to the child? 
  • Leave the child alone? 
  • Negotiate or give the desired item/activity

3. Plan an intervention.

a. Based on information gathered, are environmental changes needed (e.g., remove distracters, move the student closer to you, limit materials available to the child, etc.)?

b. Based on information gathered, determine how people should react to the problem behavior each time it occurs (e.g., plan to remove privileges, plan to redirect, plan to ignore, plan to attend, etc.).

4. Identify a replacement behavior.

a. What appropriate behavior is “functionally equivalent” to the problem behavior?
  • Teach the child to communicate his wants appropriately to replace escape/avoidance behaviors.
  • Teach the child to ask if he can use the computer later to replace tantrum behavior.
  • Manipulate a stress ball or twist pen to replace inappropriate hand movements.
  • Teach the child to raise his hand to replace attention-seeking behaviors.

b. Complete replacement behavior planning guide with a team:
  • How will the team evaluate if - and how - the child uses the new response?
  • In what situations will training occur? 
  • What functionally equivalent behavior is the team going to train in place of the challenging behavior? 
  • What motivation system will be implemented during training? 
  • Which behavior is the team going to target for replacement? 
  • Who will be responsible for conducting the training sessions?

Good luck!

Teaching Students with Asperger's and HFA

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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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