Talking To Aspergers and HFA Children About Puberty

"Our son with high-functioning autism (age 12) has never really had the 'official' discussion about what to expect in puberty. We may have waited too long at this point, but in any case, how can we approach this topic in a way that a person with his challenges can understand (he takes most things very literally by the way - and is a bit immature for his age)?"

Click here for the answer...


Auditory Integration Training: Help for Sensory Problems

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) was used in the early 1990s as a treatment for autism. It has also been promoted as a treatment for ADHD, depression, and a wide variety of other disorders. It typically involves 20 half-hour sessions over 10 days listening to specially filtered and modulated music. The American Academy of Pediatrics and three other professional organizations consider AIT to be an experimental procedure.

AIT aims to address the sensory problems such as hearing distortions and hyperacusis (i.e., oversensitive hearing), which are said to cause discomfort and confusion in children suffering from learning disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders. These hypersensitivities are believed to interfere with a youngster’s attention, comprehension, and ability to learn.

The training typically involves the youngster attending two 30-minute sessions per day, separated by a minimum of three hours, for ten consecutive working days. The youngster listens via headphones to a program of specially filtered and modulated music with wide frequency range. The program is modified for each youngster with certain frequencies of sound filtered using an electronic device, which randomly switches between low- and high-pass filtering for random durations between 1/4 and 2 seconds. The filtering device also varies the sound's intensity, creating a modulated effect. The volume is set as loud as possible without causing discomfort. If the listener has shown unusual sensitivities to certain frequencies, these may be filtered out additionally.

Although no AIT device has been approved for marketing as a medical device by the FDA, devices used only to aid education are not subject to FDA regulation.

Most AIT practitioners are speech-language pathologists or audiologists and occupational therapist. Other practitioners include psychologists, physicians, social workers, and teachers.

Parents who are seeking interventions for their Aspergers (high functioning autistic) youngster should explore the many options currently available and evaluate each one. Factors to evaluate include:
  • cost and accessibility
  • the benefit versus the risk
  • the effectiveness of the intervention
  • the timing of the program relative to other interventions that are being done
  • whether it is appropriate for their particular youngster

There are some immediately recognized advantages to Auditory Integration Training:
  • it can be provided as young as 3 years of age
  • it only requires 10 days, with two 30 minute listening sessions each day
  • the main pre-requisite skill is that the listener must accept the head-phones

Many Aspergers kids receiving special education services often have an undiagnosed problem with the way they hear and process information, thus learning and behavior may be affected by problems (e.g., hearing distortions, hypersensitive hearing, lack of coordination, processing delays, etc.),which interfere with efficient processing of sound signals.

AIT stimulates the auditory system with unique sounds that stimulate the auditory system to reduce or eliminate the problems within this system. AIT is a method of retraining the way the sounds are processed. When the Aspergers child can process sounds properly, he/she can maintain a state of alert readiness, concentration, and effective comprehension.

The auditory system is responsible for many jobs other than hearing. For example, the auditory system:
  • assists in the control of eye movements
  • assists in the control of the hand and fingers when writing
  • contains the control center for all sensory processing
  • controls balance
  • controls motor planning and coordination
  • enables people to use language
  • help us sing on key

Thus, it makes sense that when the auditory system is not functioning effectively, many diverse problems may appear, including:
  • delays in speech and language development
  • difficulty with reading skills
  • difficulty with vision skills
  • poor balance and motor coordination skills
  • poor concentration
  • poor fine motor skills
  • problems with sensory processing

When the auditory system is retrained, the benefits may extend well beyond just the ability to listen better. Moms and dads often report improvement in their Aspergers youngster’s ability to ride a bike, catch a ball, pronounce words, and modulate speech volume.

Other reported benefits include the following:
  • children are able to attend and concentrate on the important things
  • hearing sensitivity is often reduced (as a result, the child no longer needs to cover his ears or avoid crowds and noisy events)
  • many children are calmer
  • many children begin to color, draw and write with more skill
  • many moms and dads and professionals report that the youngster’s educational progress accelerates
  • many show a higher level of self-confidence
  • most children begin to show increased interest in socialization
  • occupational, speech/language and physical therapists comment that IEP goals are mastered much more quickly
  • some Autistic kids may begin to speak for the first time
  • some demonstrate less anxiety and irritability
  • some quickly learn to tie their shoes or button clothes
  • the need to constantly regulate sensory experiences decreases (e.g., covering the ears, wearing noise-protection headsets)
  • those who have been speaking may expand to much more complex use of language

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


The "Virtual School" Option for Children on the Autism Spectrum

"I spent two years fighting with our local public school system to get my son OT, SLP, and appropriate modifications and resource for his diagnosed disability. After so many meetings with county level Special Ed administrators who refused almost every resource until advocates were involved, we decided to quit fighting the school and just fight for our son. K12 is a public school and my son has an IEP and a case manager. We continue to have meetings with a committee that sign off on modifications. My son's case manager works with me to give me the support I need to make sure the modifications are appropriate and in my son's academic best interests. Before you shake your head at the crazy home school mom, understand that I am a certified teacher who taught in public school before becoming a mother. As a teacher I can tell you my son is receiving a great education that does not force him conform or endure ridicule for his differences. My question is, what is your opinion of online schools?"

An online school (also called virtual school or cyber-school) describes an institution that teaches courses entirely or primarily through online methods. Though there are thousands of commercial and non-accredited courses available online, the term "online school" is generally reserved for accredited schools that teach a full-time (or nearly full-time) course of instruction designed to lead to a degree.

Virtual public and private schools serving every grade level including graduate programs may elect to pursue accreditation through various regional and national organizations. Accredited schools must meet rigorous standards as defined by the issuing organization and are designed to insure that children are receiving the highest quality instruction and education.

All or a majority of the student services are conducted via Internet technology. The online school differs from the traditional school through the physical media that links administrators, educators, and children. Online schools are an alliance of public distance learning schools. Many states in the United States have their own online school often with a student population numbering in the thousands.

There are many different online school instructional and enrollment models. Instructional models range from (a) fully independent self-paced courses to (b) semester-based, virtual-teacher facilitated courses. Class sizes range widely with anywhere from 25 children to as many as 200 children in each class section. Children keep in contact with educators and collaborate with other children through web communication tools provided in the course delivery platforms like Blackboard or Desire2Learn or Moodle.

In some cases children communicate by phone with instructors. To help with communication many online schools have implemented their own system programs to help build courses and maintain student profiles. There are also many books and training manuals to aid in the development of such schools and courses.

Online schools may be free if the state pays for the courses, otherwise, there will be a course fee to be paid for by the student or parent(s). If an online school is chartered through a public supporting school district, there would be no cost associated for a student to attend the school or receive the materials/supplies needed to complete the schooling.

If the school requires a financial fee from the student or mother/father, materials do add up. Most courses will provide electronic materials free of cost, but others require some shopping on the children part. Textbooks are not required but can be used as an aid for coursework.

Many materials are provided free of cost. Some schools provide programs, usually for web design classes. Some popular materials include Adobe Systems products, Jasc products, and products from Macromedia. Other schools may use Corel products as a cheaper alternative. These products are usually free. Student usually receives the full version of the selected program, with a limited license, usually 1 year or so. These programs are important to the success of online schools, and help them to improve each year.

Many schools will also provide a brand new computer for all children in need of one. Generally, these computers run using the Microsoft operating system, but depending on lesson needs and coursework the school may also use Linux based computers or Apple Macs. Some online schools provide a free lap top for use throughout the school year.

Online schools may also provide children with a wide variety of materials that include, but are not limited to just a laptop computer. Some Online schools in the United States may also provide children with the following materials free of charge: Textbooks, Study Guides, Course Guides, Art Supplies (markers, crayons, construction paper, etc.), Science Kits, a Calculator, an All-in-One Printer, a Laptop Case, a Laptop Charger, a Head Set that is equipped with a microphone, a Bamboo Tablet and a wireless router.

Advantages of Online Education—

1. Advocates of virtual learning believe that online schools hold advantages (e.g., not being required to attend and travel to face-to-face classes and the integration digital media into the curricula).

2. Despite federal and state laws that traditional schools are supposed to abide by, many school districts fail to perform timely IEPs. Often times, school officials want to blame moms and dads or suggest that the Aspergers (AS) or High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) child is manipulating, rather than recognizing the challenges the child faces and adapting their curriculum or environment to help him/her. The student and his/her family would not have to face such a dilemma with an online school scenario.

3. In traditional schools, many school districts refuse to require mandatory training for special education/special needs students. Anecdotal evidence suggests that school districts and teachers are not well-equipped or trained to deal with AS and HFA students or other special needs students. Many districts don’t have mandatory training, and there seems to be little - or no - motivation to obtain that training independently. Despite federal and state laws, many school districts still use restrictive and punitive measures to deal with students on the autism spectrum. In an online school scenario, the program could be completely oriented to the needs of the student.

4. Online schooling is much more economically feasible. The costs to conduct an online school is substantially less because there is no need for school buildings, full time staff, etc. The money could be more efficiently used in programming the online education experience and could reach more children with special needs. Lower income students could be provided computers, supplies, and Internet access, which would still be less expensive than building ownership, taxes and maintenance and staffing.

5. Online schools are a great equalizer. No matter what their social, economic, religious, ethnic or physical or mental differences, virtual education gives all children the same opportunity to reach their full potential.

6. Online schools give a student the opportunity to stay in school when traditional brick and mortar schools will no longer accept them. Some reasons for this could be extensive absences due to medical reasons, teen pregnancy, or for other reasons that the school system may deem distracting to the school body.

7. Many online schools include online study groups in which children interact with each other online. Children are able to meet in these groups using Elluminate, Wimba or other means. This type of “socialization method” is a much better “fit” for the student on the spectrum.

8. The bullying of AS and HFA students has become endemic in schools. But, despite so-called “zero tolerance” policies, school districts seem to look the other way or not fully enforce the policies. Fortunately, there are few bullies in an online school setting (although “cyber-bullying” does occur, it is much easier to get stopped due to email addresses and IP addresses that moderators can track to locate and confront the “online bully”).

9. Traditional (offline) schools have difficulty keeping pace with the student’s education needs due to financial strain. Schools are paid for with tax money. The taxes are supposed to cover the physical buildings, maintenance, teacher salaries, supplies, and everything else that goes into education. Each year, there tends to be a request for more tax money to increase these expenditures. In addition, for AS and HFA students, there are additional expenditures for special services (e.g., occupational therapy, teaching aides, sensory rooms, etc.).

As the diagnosis of ASDs has gotten better, the incidence these disorders has skyrocketed to 1 in 100 (a recent study suggests that the incidence may be as high as 1 in 38). Again, this will only increase the demand for funding. With online schools, costs are greatly reduced, and as a result, the resources can be used to “fine-tune” the program with the student’s special needs in mind.

10. In an online school setting, the student can:
  • advance to higher levels of courses
  • earn 8 credits a year (32) credits over 4 years
  • enjoy and focus on elective courses during the day and focus on academic courses in the evening and/or on the weekends
  • graduate early
  • learn innovative technology, time management, and personal learning style
  • plan learning around his/her favorite activities, work schedule, or other responsibilities
  • receive one-on-one tutoring and personal attention from teachers
  • recover lost credits or earn extra credits
  • take the course at home, school, during a trip, or anywhere he/she choose to do so

Disadvantages to Online Education—

1. Unlike traditional education delivery methods, children at online schools do not directly interact with teachers. Hence, virtual education is considered by many to be equivalent to a directed-learning program. Because children do not interact with their teachers or peers face-to-face, "lack of socialization" is often quoted as a disadvantage by detractors. Recent anecdotal evidence indicates that, while socialization may be different, it is not necessarily lacking. It is also recommended that children enrolled in online schools be involved in social activities outside school, much like home-schooled children.

2. Another perceived disadvantage to distance learning is the added challenge of staying focused while in the home environment – and many children report that staying on task is the most difficult aspect of learning online.

3. Critics argue that for online education to be taken seriously, online programs must adhere to generally accepted educational standards. One way that online schools are proving their effectiveness is the implementation of the same standardized testing that brick and mortar schools require of their children. To reduce this criticism, The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) has developed a set of standards. Some believe that this is an important first step in monitoring online programs, but while every provider of education must be accredited, the quality of accreditation varies significantly.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said…  I live in a smaller town in Arizona & I am struggling with my son at school. I am still fighting for him, fighting against staff & trying to get him help. I've been doing this since he was in 2 1/2 years old, he's now 9.... I'm exhausted. I wish we had these resources here.
•    Anonymous said… Aww this sound like a school of Heaven-/ ❤️
•    Anonymous said… Demand a Functional Behavior Analysis & a Behavior Intervention Plan. It'll give him rights & protection.
•    Anonymous said… Every teacher has to take a special education program to meet their teaching course criteria. My son's 4th grade teacher took the offered [optional] additional training course when she got him in her class but dropped it because it was vague and inadequate for the amount of time it took from her day. She used one on one actual experience dealing with him, my input and her own independent research to adjust her teaching strategy. She did a wonderful job. So when a teacher says they have special needs training, make sure they are not referring to the general study they took to become a teacher. Most special ed teachers are great because they are specifically trained in many spectrum disorders. My son is high functioning so he is/was in regular or co-taught classes. Thankfully 90 percent of his teachers have been great.
•    Anonymous said… First, it is correct that general education teachers only have to take 1-2 semesters of special education courses. And even then it's such a broad overview of the history & laws, its basically useless aside from ticking a box on a list of requirements. Next, please do not assume that all teachers are stupid or ignorant or don't care. There will be some, of course. It is our jobs as parents to advocate for our students. Ever since my daughter was small, I went in to meet her teachers early, I explained her diagnosis, reinforcers that work, things that tend to set her off, etc. I communicate frequently with her teachers. Kids never give the whole story so if something happens I want the teacher's side too. If you think your child's modifications & accommodations aren't being met, call an IEP meeting, ask for data, ask them to provide proof that they're being used & if they are & aren't effective, they need to be changed. Which brings me to this, ATTEND THE IEP MEETINGS!!! You have no idea how many of my students (with significant intellectual disabilities) have parents who never attend the IEP Meetings, don't read the goals or accommodations, etc. If it's inconvenient, reschedule. If it's way over your head, get an advocate (many are free). If you need time to process, table the meeting, take the paperwork home & process before you sign. Finally, not all parents are able to enroll their students in an online program. Many students with IEPs come from single parent homes. I for one am not going to let my 11 year old sit home ostensibly doing her schoolwork while I'm at work. It's just not always feasible. Furthermore, kids with Aspergers tend to be antisocial anyway. Allowing them to leave the school environment & hold up at home is not the healthiest idea.
•    Anonymous said… I spent two years fighting with our local public school system to get my son OT, SLP, and appropriate modifications and resource for his diagnosed disability. After so many meetings with county level Special Ed administrators who refused almost every resource until advocates were involved, we decided to quit fighting the school and just fight for our son. K12 is a public school and my son has an IEP and a case manager. We continue to have meetings with a committee that sign off on modifications. My son's case manager works with me to give me the support I need to make sure the modifications are appropriate and in my son's academic best interests. Before you shake your head at the crazy home school mom, understand that I am a certified teacher who taught in public school before becoming a mother. As a teacher I can tell you my son is receiving a great education that does not force him conform or endure ridicule for his differences.
•    Anonymous said… I would love to try this but my 7th grade son has terrible executive functioning skills and I fear he would do nothing in an online school unless I stood like a hawk directing his every move. I guess it really depends on the intrinsic motivation of the child.
•    Anonymous said… It's not 100%, but is the 1st school ever that he has wanted to go to. He is also now enrolled in a Welding program at our local Career Institute.
•    Anonymous said… K12 won't allow enrollment if your child has missed more than 6 months public school. They told me my son was disqualified from enrollment until he went back to public school and earned at least six months of grades in a semester. He hates the school he was in and refuses to go back. So what now - guess just a GED then. Feel like the system has failed us!
•    Anonymous said… Many of these schools have no training to work with our kids and when things go wrong the children are punished and moms take the blame. It reaches far past ignorance for these people to disagree with your child's diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said… My little boy is five years old, has Aspergers, and was suspended at the beginning of his Kindergarten school year. He acted out due to his disability. My son has anxiety now. I fought hard and they expunged the suspension from his record. As mothers we are being bullied by people who are hiding the fact that they are not trained to work with our kids. It needs to stop.
•    Anonymous said… My son is five years old. He has Aspergers. These people are beyond ignorant. Ashley, I hope that things improve for your son.
•    Anonymous said… Nothing wrong with a GED or TASK diploma. Your child can still go on to trade school or college.
•    Anonymous said… Putting my son in K12 was the best thing we ever could have done for him. Brick and mortar schools spend their money keeping kids out of Special Ed services so parents will have to pay to fight the system or just give up out of exhaustion. Now I make needed modifications with easily attained approval from his case manager. No fight, no advocate costs, and no mean kids alone with my son.
•    Anonymous said… Switched my son to an online school in 8th grade. Although this particular school wasn't the best for him, it was the best situation for him. A few years later, we found the best of both worlds. An alternative school in our school district that requires 5 hrs of classroom instruction per week. All classes are online. So... he controls when he feels like going to class. If he wakes up and it's just not a good day, he works from home. Unlike when he went to a "regular" school, he actually gets up on his own and goes to school every day for usually 5 hours. It has been a wonderful program for him.
•    Anonymous said… That's totally accurate!
•    Anonymous said… The admin of our school is so wrong-headed that DS14 fled from the school last spring. The admin would not listen to me, did not follow the IEP, and was heartless. The SPED teacher threw DS14 under the bus o keep her job.
•    Anonymous said… The schools here In NY did so much damage to my son , he is now a mess and cant fit in anywhere ,even alternative schools .His anxiety is through the roof ,from all the bs they have put him through ... For an example .. in 3rd grade his teacher told him to skip school ,she needs a break from him "!@ And I could go on and on about it . The entire special ed dept has to be revamped with people who know about Apsergers and issues that come with it ... too many kids are being so damaged by these districts . They dont even listen to diagnosis's either ... i was told they disagreed with the diagnosis of Aspergers for my son ! I should have gotten a lawyer!
•    Anonymous said… There are many roads to one place and like us parents, teachers need to be flexible and work with the two or three kids in their class that need some extra time and support. Teaching means teaching all the kids, to the best of their ability and some need further "breaking it down" or "modifications" of busy work and especially "home"work, which has never been proven, ever.
•    Anonymous said… This is so true!!! The teachers are trying to tell me that Asperges don't exist..and he is getting bullied and the school personal are blaming him
•    Anonymous said… Wow! That would be perfect for my daughter! Where is this?

Post your comment below…


Occupational Therapy: Advice for Adults with Aspergers

Adults with Aspergers (high functioning autism) 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


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Advice for Adults with Aspergers

If you are an older teen or adult with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, and are struggling to “make it” (i.e., cope) with real-world circumstances and social situations, then this may be the most important article you’ll ever read:

The ideal treatment for Aspergers coordinates therapies that address core symptoms of the disorder, including poor communication skills and obsessive or repetitive routines. While most therapists agree that the earlier the intervention, the better, there is no single best treatment package.

Aspergers treatment resembles that of other high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders except that it takes into account the linguistic capabilities, verbal strengths, and nonverbal vulnerabilities of children with Aspergers. A typical program generally includes:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to improve stress management relating to anxiety or explosive emotions, and to cut back on obsessive interests and repetitive routines
  • Medication, for coexisting conditions such as major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder
  • Occupational or physical therapy to assist with poor sensory integration and motor coordination
  • Social communication intervention, which is specialized speech therapy to help with the pragmatics of the give and take of normal conversation
  • The training and support of moms and dads, particularly in behavioral techniques to use in the home
  • The training of social skills for more effective interpersonal interactions

Of the many studies on behavior-based early intervention programs, most are case studies of up to five participants, and typically examine a few problem behaviors such as self-injury, aggression, noncompliance, stereotypies, or spontaneous language; unintended side effects are largely ignored.

Despite the popularity of social skills training, its effectiveness is not firmly established. A randomized controlled study of a model for training mothers/fathers in problem behaviors in their kids with Aspergers showed that parents attending a one-day workshop or six individual lessons reported fewer behavioral problems, while parents receiving the individual lessons reported less intense behavioral problems in their Aspergers kids.

Vocational training is important to teach job interview etiquette and workplace behavior to older kids and adults with Aspergers , and organization software and personal data assistants can improve the work and life management of people with Aspergers.

For the sake of this article, we will look more deeply into cognitive-behavioral therapy:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy. With CBT, you work with a psychotherapist in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. By helping you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, CBT allows you to view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way.

CBT can be a very helpful tool in treating certain disorders (e.g., Aspergers, anxiety, depression, etc.). But not everyone who benefits from CBT has a mental health condition. It can be a very effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.

CBT is used to treat a wide range of issues. It's often the preferred type of therapy because it can quickly help you identify and cope with specific concerns. It generally requires fewer sessions than other types of therapy and is done in a structured way that deals directly with specific challenges.

CBT is a useful tool to address emotional challenges. For example, it may help you:
  • Cope with a medical illness (e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome or cancer)
  • Cope with grief (e.g., loss of a loved one)
  • Identify ways to manage emotions (e.g., anger)
  • Learn techniques for coping with stressful life situations (e.g., problems at work)
  • Manage chronic physical symptoms (e.g., pain, insomnia or fatigue)
  • Manage symptoms of mental illness, either by itself or with other treatments such as medications
  • Overcome emotional trauma related to abuse or violence
  • Prevent a relapse of mental illness symptoms
  • Resolve relationship conflicts and learn better ways to communicate
  • Treat a mental illness when medications aren't a good option (e.g., during pregnancy)

Mental health conditions that may improve with CBT include:

• Anxiety disorders
• Autism spectrum disorders
• Bipolar disorders
• Depression
• Eating disorders
• Personality disorders
• Phobias
• Schizophrenia
• Sexual disorders
• Sleep disorders
• Substance abuse disorders

In some cases, CBT is most effective when it's combined with other treatments, such as antidepressants or other medications.

In general, there's little risk in CBT. Because it can explore painful feelings and experiences, however, you may feel emotionally uncomfortable at times. Because therapy sometimes involves emotional discussions, you may cry, get upset or feel angry during a session. You may also feel physically drained after a challenging session. Your psychotherapist is trained to help you cope with these feelings and emotions.

Some forms of therapy (e.g., exposure therapy) may require you to confront situations you'd rather avoid — such as airplanes if you have a fear of flying. This can lead to temporary stress or anxiety. But the coping skills you learn should help you later on to manage and conquer negative feelings and fears.

You might decide on your own that you want to try CBT. Or a doctor, relative, friend, employer or someone else may suggest therapy to you. Here's how to get started:

• Find a psychotherapist. You can find a psychotherapist on your own — looking through the phone book or on the Internet, for instance. Or you can get a referral from a doctor, health insurance plan, friend or other trusted source. Many employers offer counseling services or referrals through employee assistance programs (EAPs). Before selecting a psychotherapist, check his/her credentials. Your psychotherapist should be a licensed counselor, psychologist or other mental health provider experienced in CBT.

• Review your concerns. Before your first appointment, spend some time thinking about what issues you'd like to work on. While you also can sort this out with your psychotherapist, having some sense in advance may provide a starting point.

• Understand the costs. If you have health insurance, contact your health plan to be sure you understand what coverage it offers for therapy. Some health plans cover only a certain number of therapy sessions a year. Also, talk to your psychotherapist about fees and payment options.

It's likely that you'll go to a psychotherapist's office for CBT sessions. A psychotherapist may have an office in a medical clinic, an office building or a home office. Therapy can also take place in a hospital if you've been admitted for treatment. You'll probably meet weekly with your psychotherapist for one-on-one sessions that last 45 to 60 minutes. CBT may also be done in groups — either with family members or with individuals who have similar issues.

Your first session is usually a time for the psychotherapist to gather information about you and to determine what concerns you'd like to work on. The psychotherapist may ask you to fill out forms about your current and past physical and emotional health. This information helps the psychotherapist gain a deeper understanding of your situation. Your psychotherapist will also want to know whether you might benefit from other or additional treatment (e.g., medications). It might take a few sessions for your psychotherapist to fully understand your situation and concerns, and to determine the best approach or course of action.

The first session is also an opportunity for you to interview your psychotherapist to see if his or her approach and personality are going to work for you. Make sure you understand:

• His/her approach
• How many therapy sessions you may need
• The goals of your treatment
• The length of each session
• What type of therapy is appropriate for you

If you don't feel comfortable with the first psychotherapist you see, try someone else. Having a good "fit" with your psychotherapist can help you get the most benefit from CBT.

In general, conversations with your psychotherapist are confidential. However, in certain situations a psychotherapist may be required by law to report serious concerns to authorities — such as threatening to commit suicide, threatening to harm another person or admitting to abusing a child. Talk to your psychotherapist about any worries you might have regarding confidentiality.

For CBT, you and your psychotherapist will most likely sit facing each other during sessions. Your psychotherapist will encourage you to talk about your thoughts and feelings and what's troubling you. Don't worry if you find it hard to open up about your feelings. Your psychotherapist can help you gain more confidence and comfort.

CBT is generally focused on specific problems, using a goal-oriented approach. Each session may have a specific agenda to guide discussion. As you go through the CBT process, your psychotherapist may ask you to do "homework" — activities, reading or practices that build on what you learn during your regular therapy sessions. Along with homework, your psychotherapist will likely encourage you to apply what you're learning in your daily life.

Although there are different ways to do CBT, it typically includes these steps:

• Become aware of your thoughts, emotions and beliefs about these situations or conditions. Once you've identified the problems you want to work on, your psychotherapist will encourage you to share your thoughts about them. This may include observing what you tell yourself about an experience (i.e., your "self-talk"), your interpretation of the meaning of a situation, and your beliefs about yourself, other individuals and events. Your psychotherapist may suggest that you keep a journal of your thoughts.

• Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking. As you continue to examine your thought patterns, your psychotherapist may encourage you to test the validity of your thoughts and beliefs. This may include asking yourself whether your view of a situation is based on fact or based on an inaccurate perception of what's going on. This step can be difficult. You may have long-standing ways of thinking about your life and yourself. Many thought patterns are first developed in childhood. Thoughts and beliefs that you've held for a long time feel normal and correct, so it can be a challenge to recognize inaccuracies or negative tendencies in your thinking. With practice, helpful thinking and behavior patterns will become a habit, and won't take as much effort.

• Identify negative or inaccurate thinking. To help you recognize patterns of thinking and behavior that may be contributing to your problem, your psychotherapist may ask you to pay attention to your physical, emotional and behavioral responses in different situations.

• Identify troubling situations or conditions in your life. These may include such issues as a medical condition, divorce, grief, anger or symptoms of a specific mental illness. You and your psychotherapist may have to spend some time deciding what problems and goals you want to focus on.

Your psychotherapist's approach will depend on your particular situation and preferences. Your psychotherapist may combine CBT with another therapeutic approach — for example, interpersonal therapy, which focuses on your relationships with other individuals.

CBT is generally considered short-term therapy — about 10 to 20 sessions. You and your psychotherapist can discuss how many sessions may be right for you. Factors to consider include:
  • How long you have had your symptoms or have been dealing with your situation
  • How much stress you're experiencing
  • How much support you receive from family members and other individuals
  • How quickly you make progress
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • The type of disorder or situation

CBT may not cure your condition or make an unpleasant situation go away. But overall, it's an effective treatment. It can give you the power to cope with your situation in a healthy way and to feel better about yourself and your life.

CBT isn't effective for everyone. But you can take steps to get the most out of your therapy and help make it a success, including:

• Approach therapy as a partnership. Therapy is most effective when you're an active participant and share in decision making. Make sure you and your psychotherapist agree about the major issues and how to tackle them. Together, you can set goals and gauge progress over time.

• Be open and honest. Success with therapy depends on your willingness to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences, and on being open to new insights and ways of doing things. If you're reluctant to talk about certain things because of painful emotions, embarrassment or fears about your psychotherapist's reaction, let your psychotherapist know about your reservations.

• Do your homework between sessions. If your psychotherapist asks you to read, journal or do other activities outside of your regular therapy sessions, follow through. Doing these homework assignments is important because they help you apply what you've learned in the therapy sessions.

• Don't expect instant results. Working on emotional issues can be painful and often requires hard work. It's not uncommon to feel worse during the initial part of therapy as you begin to confront past and current conflicts. You may need several sessions before you begin to see improvement.

• If therapy isn't helping, talk to your psychotherapist. If you don't feel that you're benefiting from therapy after several sessions, talk to your psychotherapist about it. You and your psychotherapist may decide to make some changes or try a different approach.

• Stick to your treatment plan. If you feel down or lack motivation, it may be tempting to skip therapy sessions. Doing so can disrupt your progress. Attend all sessions and give some thought to what you want to discuss.

If you are struggling with life – now you know what you can do about it! Good Luck!!!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


Children on the Autism Spectrum and Video Game Addiction

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Bolton, video game addicts show the same personality traits as kids who are suffering from Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). These young people find social situations stressful. The study has fueled concerns that video gaming may lead to a rise in mental health problems like depression.

During the study, researchers examined nearly 400 gamers (most of whom were male). The subjects were questioned about how much they played video games (researchers did not specifically test participants with AS or HFA during the study). The research revealed that the higher the time the participants spent playing video games, the more likely they were to show 3 specific traits usually associated with an autism spectrum disorder: (1) neuroticism, (2) lack of extraversion, and (3) lack of agreeableness.

This outcome suggests that children on the autism spectrum may have a higher likelihood of becoming video game addicts, because it allows them to escape into a world where they can avoid face-to-face interactions. In addition, these kids may be prone to addiction to MMORPGs (massive multi-player online role playing games).

Children and teens on the autism spectrum often can’t make eye contact and fail to pick up social cues (e.g., boredom in others). The researchers say that tends to isolate them and can trigger depression, which video games may encourage.

Treatment for AS and HFA usually consists of improving social skills and breaking repetitive behavior, the very things video games discourage. Video games don’t prepare these young people for interacting with real people. Also, as an older teen or young adult, video game addiction is known to cause problems with motivation, going to college, and finding employment (you can’t walk into a college or job interview and say that you are really good at playing Xbox).

While most people associate addiction with substances (e.g., drugs or alcohol) therapists recognize addictive behaviors as well:
  1. If the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, he becomes irritable and miserable.
  2. The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going.

Compulsive gaming meets these criteria, and many therapists have reported seeing severe withdrawal symptoms in game addicts. They become angry, violent, or depressed. If moms and dads take away the computer, their "special needs" youngster may sit in the corner and pout, refuse to eat, sleep, or do anything else.

Unlike substance abuse, the biological aspect of video game addiction is uncertain. Research suggests gambling elevates dopamine, and gaming is in the same category. But there's more to addiction than brain chemistry. Even with alcohol, it's not just physical. There's a psychological component to the addiction (e.g., knowing you can escape or feel good about your life). The addict is trying to change the way he feels by taking something outside of himself. The cocaine addict, for example, learns, I don't like the way I feel, I take a line of cocaine. For gamers, it's the fantasy world that makes them feel better.

The lure of a fantasy world is especially pertinent to online role-playing games. These are games in which a player assumes the role of a fictional character and interacts with other players in a virtual world. An intelligent youngster who is unpopular at school can become dominant in the game. The virtual life becomes more appealing than real life.

Too much gaming may seem relatively harmless compared with the dangers of a drug overdose, but video game addiction can ruin lives. Kids who play 4 - 5 hours per day have no time for socializing, doing homework, or playing sports. That takes away from normal social development (e.g., you can have a 20-year-old adult child still living at home with the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old … he's never learned to talk to girls …never learned to play a sport ...never learned to hold down a job).

Spending a lot of time gaming doesn't necessarily qualify as an addiction. Most people play games safely. The question is: Can you always control your gaming activity? According to the Center for On-Line Addiction, warning signs for video game addiction include:
  • Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming
  • Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
  • Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming
  • Playing for increasing amounts of time
  • Thinking about gaming during other activities

In addition, video game addicts tend to become isolated, dropping out of their social networks and giving up other hobbies. It's about somebody who has completely withdrawn from other activities.

The overwhelming majority of video game addicts are males under 30. It's usually kids with poor self-esteem and social problems. They're intelligent and imaginative, but don't have many friends at school. A family history of addiction may also be a factor.

Unfortunately, many - if not most - parents of kids on the spectrum view their child's constant game playing as self-soothing behavior with few - if any - negative consequences (e.g., "he's entertaining himself ...he's not hurting or bothering anyone ...he's happy"). But what parents fail to realize is that, as the clock tics and the years pass, their child is losing opportunity after opportunity to develop emotional muscles (a big problem with the disorder anyway - but exacerbated by years of gaming).

If you're concerned your youngster may be addicted to video games, don't dismiss it as a phase. Keep good documents of the youngster's gaming behavior, including:
  • How the youngster reacts to time limits
  • Logs of when the youngster plays and for how long
  • Problems resulting from gaming

You need to document the severity of the problem. Don't delay seeking professional help. If there is a problem, it will only get worse. Treatment for video game addiction is similar to detox for other addictions, with one important difference. Computers have become an important part of everyday life, as well as many jobs, so compulsive gamers can't just look the other way when they see a PC. It's like a food addiction. You have to learn to live with food. Because video game addicts can't avoid computers, they have to learn to use them responsibly. That means no gaming. As for limiting game time to an hour a day, I compare that to an alcoholic saying he's only going to drink beer.

The toughest part of treating video game addicts is that it's a little bit more difficult to show somebody they're in trouble. Nobody's ever been put in jail for being under the influence of a game. The key is to show gamers they are powerless over their addiction, and then teach them real-life excitement as opposed to online excitement.

(It should be noted that we are only recommending "abstinence" for the child who is truly an "addict" -- and it will be up to parents to make that determination.)

==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Kids on the Autism Spectrum


Testing a Child for Aspergers

How do they test a child for Aspergers?

There are several tests. We will look at the two prominent ones:

1. The ASDS—

The Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale (ASDS) offers a viable way of measuring whether or not a youngster has Aspergers. This exam is easy to administer and it yields reliable results.

The ASDS was developed to help determine if a youngster is likely to have the disorder. This developmental exam consists of fifty yes/no questions that take about fifteen minutes to complete.

• The Asperger test scores are evaluated and rated on an Aspergers scale.
• The results are compared between the subject and other kids with Aspergers.
• These results reveal whether or not the youngster is likely to have the disorder.

While the ASDS score is not a formal diagnosis, it helps to determine if the youngster should have further evaluation. The results are quite reliable, and the process helps to move the youngster along quicker when it comes to attaining a proper diagnosis of Aspergers.

Administering the ASDS exam is a relatively uncomplicated process. The rating scale is simple to use and merely consists of carefully chosen inquiries. Ironically, the youngster does not take the exam. Just about anyone who knows the youngster well answers the fifty questions.

People who qualify to take the ASDS for a youngster include his mother/father, brothers/sisters, educators, or a therapist who works directly with the youngster. The questions can be completed in about fifteen minutes. This test is designed to assess kids ages five through eighteen.

There are 50 questions on the ASDS. These inquiries cover five different aspects of behavior:

1. cognition
2. language skills
3. maladaptive behavior
4. sensorimotor
5. social interactions

The exam questions cover each of these areas:

• Social interaction skills vary from one-on-one to being in a group as well as family interactions.
• Sensorimotor questions would include inquires about reactions to sensory input and questions about gross motor skills.
• Maladaptive behavior concerns stereotyped repetitive movements, inflexibility, and tantrums.
• Language skills measures the youngster’s ability to manage spoken and written communication.
• Cognitive questions concern how the youngster processes information.

The ASDS is a valuable tool for you to gain insight to a possible developmental delay. Aspergers is difficult to detect in many cases because the kids are typically high functioning and quite intelligent.

2. The CAST—

Another well-known Aspergers test is the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test (CAST), which is a valuable tool for evaluating kids who might have the disorder. It's easy to administer and well organized.

Exams like this have been developed to help families with high-functioning kids receive the necessary screening. The CAST is also used for epidemiological research.

The inspiration for the CAST is twofold:

1. Sensory overload is a noteworthy problem that can lead to negative behavior and tantrums. Social interaction proves to be a great hurdle, and many kids are overwhelmed in unusual situations.

2. High-functioning kids who have this disorder are faced with many significant challenges. They might struggle through many common day-to-day activities and often feel great anxiety.

Unfortunately, very high-functioning kids who have Aspergers are not understood by others. This is often due to the simple fact that the condition has not been discovered. Many of these kids grow up without a diagnosis and without any treatment interventions.

Epidemological research seeks to make connections between certain conditions and possible contributing factors. The CAST collects data about a certain population (those who have Aspergers) and works to make associations.

In a nutshell, the CAST is looking for a possible cause of Aspergers through studying its population for clues. This is crucial in the advancement of the public’s understanding of pervasive developmental disorders.

The CAST is a questionnaire that is completed independently by school-aged kids. There are 37 questions that touch upon social, physical, cognitive, coping, and communication skills.

• High-scoring tests are followed by CAST-2, which is completed by parents.
• The exam is typically administered to kids who are in a mainstream classroom and who do not have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
• The scores are compared, and further evaluation could be necessary.

High-functioning kids usually develop many coping skills on their own. However, uncovering a possible pervasive developmental disorder, no matter how mild, is crucial to helping the youngster thrive in different environments.

Here's the CAST:

Child's name_______________________________

Age______ Sex: M / F
Birth Order: Twin or single birth______________
Parent / Guardian______________________________
Parent(s) occupation___________________________

Please read the following questions carefully, and circle the appropriate answer.

1. Does child join in playing games with others easily?

2. Does child come up to you spontaneously for a chat?

3. Was child speaking by 2 years old?

4. Does child enjoy sports?

5. Is it important for him/her to fit in with a peer group?

6. Does child appear to notice unusual details that others miss?

7. Does child tend to take things literally?

8. When child was 3 years old, did child spend a lot of time pretending (e.g., play-acting being a super-hero, or holding teddy's tea parties)?

9. Does child like to do the same things over and over again, in the same way all the time?

10. Does child find it easy to interact with other children?

11. Can child keep a two-way conversation going?

12. Can child read appropriately for his/her age?

13. Does child mostly have the same interests as his/her peers?

14. Does child have an interest that which takes up so much time that he/she does little else?

15. Does child have friends, rather than just acquaintances?

16. Does child often bring things to show you that interest him/her?

17. Does child enjoy joking around?

18. Does child have difficulty understanding the rules for polite behavior?

19. Does child have an unusual memory for details?

20. Is his/her voice unusual (e.g., overly adult, flat, or very monotonous)?

21. Are people important to him/her?

22. Can child dress him/herself?

23. Is child good at turn-taking in conversation?

24. Does child play imaginatively with other children, and engage in role-play?

25. Does child do or say things that are tactless or socially inappropriate?

26. Can child count to 50 without leaving out any numbers?

27. Does child make normal eye-contact?

28. Does child have any unusual and repetitive movements?

29. Is his/her social behavior very one-sided and always on his or her terms?

30. Does your child sometimes say "you" when child means to say "I"?

31. Does child prefer imaginative activities such as play-acting or story-telling, rather than numbers or a list of facts?

32. Does child sometimes lose the listener because of not explaining what he/she is talking about?

33. Can child ride a bicycle (even if with stabilizers)?

34. Does child try to impose routines on himself/herself, or on others, in such a way that it causes problems?

35. Does child care about how he/she is perceived by the rest of the group?

36. Does child often turn conversations to his/her favorite subject rather than following what the other person wants to talk about?

37. Does child have odd or unusual phrases?


• Have teachers ever expressed any concerns about his/her development?
If yes, please specify___________________________________

• Has child ever been diagnosed with the following?

-Language delay

-Hyperactivity/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

-Hearing or visual difficulties

-Autism Spectrum Condition, including Asperger syndrome

-A physical disability

-Other (please specify)
If yes, please specify___________________________________

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

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