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Is There A Cure For Aspergers?

If you know of a youngster who is having a greater degree of language impairment than other kids or has diminished communication skills and also exhibits a restrictive pattern of thought and behavior, he may have Aspergers. This condition is more or less similar to that of classic autism. The main difference between autism and Aspergers is that the youngster suffering from Aspergers retains his early language skills.

The peculiar symptom of Aspergers is a youngster’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. The youngster suffering from Aspergers wants to know all about this one topic.

Sometimes their speech patterns and vocabulary may resemble that of a little professor. Other Aspergers symptoms include the inability to interact successfully with peers, clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements, repetitive routines or rituals, socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior, and last, but not least, problems with non-verbal communication.

Aspergers kids find difficulty mingling with the general public. Even if they converse with others, they exhibit inappropriate and eccentric behavior. The Aspergers patient may always want to talk about his singular interest.

Developmental delays in motor skills such as catching a ball, climbing outdoor play equipment or pedaling a bike may also appear in the youngster with Aspergers. Kids with Aspergers often show a stilted or bouncy walk, which appears awkward.

The therapy for the Aspergers mainly concentrates on three-core symptoms: physical clumsiness, obsessive or repetitive routines, and poor communication skills. It is unfortunate that there is no single treatment for the kids suffering from the entire three-core symptoms. But professionals do agree that the disorder can be cured when the intervention is carried out at the earliest possible time.

The treatment package of Aspergers for kids involves medication for co-existing conditions, cognitive behavioral therapy, and social skills training. The Aspergers treatment mainly helps to build on the youngster’s interests and teaches the task as a series of simple steps and offers a predictable schedule.

Is There A Cure For Aspergers?

Although kids suffering from Aspergers can mange themselves with their disabilities, the personal relationships and social situations are challenging for them. In order to maintain an independent life, Aspergers kids require moral support and encouragement to work successfully in mainstream jobs.

Studies are on the way to discover the best treatment for Aspergers, which includes the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify the abnormalities in the brain which causes malfunction of the same, which in turn result in Aspergers. Clinical trials are being conducted to identify the effectiveness of an anti-depressant in Aspergers kids. Even the analysis of the DNA of the Aspergers kids and their families may cause a breakthrough in the treatment of the Aspergers.

Should I tell my child that he has Aspergers?

We struggled with this issue for some time, and eventually sat our son down and told him. In our case, he kept asking why the other kids called him "weird". To tell or not tell your youngster or others of their diagnosis of Aspergers (high functioning autism)? It’s really a personal decision that has pros and cons on either side. Some parents may struggle with telling a 3 year old they have Aspergers, fearing they may not understand; that it could frighten them.

While saying directly “The doctor says you have Aspergers,” may be unnecessary, talking about the characteristics of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in a way the youngster can relate to is vital in helping the youngster towards self-acceptance as they mature.

Being open about your youngster’s different way of thinking and processing, and connecting those traits to Aspergers characteristics is the key to success in helping your youngster towards self-acceptance. The earlier they become comfortable with Aspergers ‘shop-talk’ the easier it will be when they are pre-teen and adolescent age. Kids with Aspergers need to be able to focus on their strengths more than ever at this age when their social-skill deficits can seem more prominent.

Remembering though that people on the Autistic Spectrum do not always ‘connect the dots’ in the correct order, it may be necessary at some point to say “You have Aspergers” for clarification.

So should you tell your youngster’s part-time employer about Aspergers…and if so, when? When they are applying for a job? When they get the job? Or never?

This also comes down to personal choice. However, sometimes it can be helpful to have an employer support contributing to the success of your youngster’s employment experience.

Our son, Jon, doesn’t like to mention it when he’s applying for a position or when he initially begins work. He doesn’t want it to influence the employers’ decision to hire him, one way or another. Then he doesn’t like to tell them of his Aspergers too soon, because he doesn’t want to “freak them out”. But ultimately he likes to tell them of his diagnosis, and explain to them what that means, because he feels like he’s hiding a secret if he doesn’t. As he says, “It’s a part of me, and they can’t know who I really am unless they know of my Aspergers.” (Sometimes I swear he’s a 44 year old inside a 14 year old body!)

So far we’ve been very fortunate in the employer’s who have given our son a job. They’ve been very understanding, and have helped by finding out about Aspergers, and matching the strengths of Aspergers with the duties/tasks assigned to him. They’ve praised his work ethic, his efficiency, his enthusiasm and manners. They’ve been understanding and compassionate when his anxiety or depression has caused him to miss work, and not held it against him the next time he’s there. Just as someone may miss work due to asthma, or the flu they understand that depression/anxiety is part of Aspergers.

The members of our family have reached the stage where telling about Aspergers is just like saying “my eyes are blue” – a comment that helps the listener come to know you (or your son or brother) a little better. After all, life is a never-ending quest to make connections with others, whether fleeting or lasting!

Aspergers Kids and School-Related Issues

Between the age of 6-18 kids spend a third of each day at school, so it’s important to ensure they’re in the best environment for their needs. This is particularly true for kids with Aspergers (high functioning autism).

So what should parents/care-givers look for when choosing a school for their Aspergers youngster, or consider in their monitoring of the school environment?

Kids with Aspergers cope best in schools with small class sizes. This option is less a reality these days, when Education systems worldwide are struggling to survive with less funding and increased consumer demand. However, there are many other procedures and practices you can monitor to make certain your youngster with Aspergers is being educated in an optimal setting.

You should ensure your Aspergers youngster’s school has an extensive, in-depth knowledge of Aspergers; from the Principal to the Classroom teacher, Administration staff and Ancillary staff. This guarantees that whoever has contact with your Aspergers youngster in the course of their school day is aware of your son/daughter’s needs and understands that Aspergers is a neurobiological disorder – not a behavioral issue. So ask what specific Aspergers training the staff at your youngster’s school has completed and check that this is updated regularly. This is particularly relevant for your son/daughter’s Classroom teacher. If no specific Aspergers training has been undertaken at your youngster’s school, insist that this is rectified promptly.

Check the anti-bullying policy of your youngster’s school. This must be a whole-school policy that has a proven and consistent grievance address policy, with successful follow-up procedures. The policy should tackle the needs of victims and actions of perpetrators alike. Zero tolerance for bullying.

Your youngster’s classroom should be aesthetically Aspergers-friendly, as well as having the curriculum structured and delivered in a manner that meets the needs of your youngster with Aspergers. This will include using visual aids and maintaining a low sensory “volume" in the classroom – minimizing noise, light, smell and extremes in temperature. The Classroom teacher should be mindful of the fact that all social interaction will have a cumulative effect on your Aspergers youngster – this will affect the successful outcome of group activities, seating arrangements and ‘buddy’ systems.

Your youngster’s school should have a strong Social Skills program in place, that your son/daughter with Aspergers participates in at least once a week for a minimum of 1 ½ hours. This program must incorporate:
  • decoding language and facial expressions
  • developing friendship skills
  • group/team work
  • physical activity
  • problem solving case-specific scenarios

Ideally the Social Skills program should include Aspergers kids’ non-disabled peers. With consistency and perseverance this skills-specific program will effect positive change in your youngster’s social behavior.

The physical activity component will assist the Aspergers youngster’s co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills, spatial awareness, vestibular systems imbalance and physical fitness levels.

The language component should aim to assist the Aspergers youngster to recognize and decode literal or conflicting statements in our language e.g. idioms and oxymorons. It also assists your son/daughter in identifying the meanings of facial expressions and body language/gestures. This will help your youngster with Aspergers to develop the use of more appropriate facial expressions and body language in their interactions with their peers.

Problem solving specific scenarios that have occurred in the lives of kids with Aspergers helps them to develop a “bank" of appropriate responses/reactions and strategies to use in real life situations. E.g. Your teacher tells you to hand in your project books after lunch so she can mark them, and you’ve left yours at home. What would you do? It helps to hear everyone’s answer, as this provides a non-judgmental forum for the Aspergers youngster; helping them to recognize their “first response" in stressful situations. Hearing that other kids with Aspergers may react the same way helps your son/daughter feel less like “one of a kind". Then, asking “What might be a better way to handle the situation?" develops a number of problem-solving options for your youngster to implement.

Discussions about what makes a good friend; what good friends do in various situations; how friends act; what friends say to each other; how friends share; how friends play together; how friends include each other in games etc, form the basis of teaching friendship skills. Again, using real-life scenarios of incidents that happen in the playground at school/home help Aspergers kids to transfer their knowledge to their interactions with their peers. Specific skills need to be directly taught about appropriate ways to join a game; co-operating with others; turn taking and also subtle nuances like “bending" the rules of a game. Self recognition by the Aspergers youngster of their need for rigidness and rule following, and highlighting that not all kids think this way helps to explain the often-confusing nature of the playground to your son/daughter. They may never be fully comfortable with games like this, but the knowledge gives them control over their choices.

Developing group work skills enables Aspergers kids to participate more successfully in activities in class and at home. The “mechanics" of group work need to be explained to Aspergers kids in a step-by-step process for greatest understanding.

Regular access to an all-encompassing Social Skills program such as this, in a group comprising Aspergers kids and their neurotypical peers provides your youngster with the building blocks of social dexterity for life. It also fosters tolerance and understanding in their neurotypical peers.

Your Aspergers youngster’s school should recognize the need for continuous, open communication between home and school. This can be achieved by a daily phone call between Special Education staff and parents/care-givers each day, with relevant information being relayed to your youngster’s Classroom teacher. Most parents/care-givers and professionals of Aspergers kids understand that sometimes seemingly benign incidents in an Aspergers youngster’s day (before, during or after school) can have a huge impact on their behavior. Knowing that all behavior is a form of communication, we can’t possibly hope to understand the message the Aspergers youngster is trying to convey unless we have all the facts. Continual communication gives those caring for the Aspergers youngster at school and home the “big picture".

Schools should provide support for kids with Aspergers as required, and deliver that support in an equitable manner. Remember though, your Aspergers youngster may need that support provided in an alternative format e.g. instead of in-class teacher aide support, your youngster may function better with organizational support e.g. keeping track of when work is due in; helping them collect/collate research information etc. It’s imperative that you negotiate with the Aspergers youngster themselves to establish the most successful way to provide support.

Your youngster’s school should have a “safe space" your Aspergers youngster can go to when they are stressed, anxious, angry or agitated. This “space" needs to be sensorily “quiet" with soft furnishings – a muted, calm environment. Accessing this “safe space" should never be used as a form of punishment; rather the Aspergers youngster should be encouraged to remove him/her self from an escalating situation before overload and meltdown occur, and rewarded for using this strategy. The Aspergers youngster shouldn’t be “rushed" or “hurried" to return to the classroom or activity – this will only increase their agitation. Patience is the key in the “safe space" strategy being successful. All kids (Aspergers kids included) strive to be the same as their peers, and this “internal driving force" ensures the AS youngster will rejoin his/her class as soon as they are physically/emotionally able to.

Just as neurotypical kids differ from each other, so too no Aspergers kids are exactly alike. Most of them however, experience periods of high/excess energy and will benefit from regular energy “burns" throughout the day. This could be in the form of a brisk walk; a short run/jog or a set of star jumps or other callisthenic exercise (skipping, hopping on alternate feet etc). The need to burn excess energy usually occurs about halfway through each classroom session (morning, middle and afternoon) and also just after each break-time (morning tea and lunch/recess). Your Aspergers youngster’s successful behavior in the classroom can be greatly enhanced by implementing regular energy “burns" into their day. If a Teacher Aide/Assistant isn’t available to supervise this, an alternative is having the Aspergers youngster run errands/messages for the Classroom teacher. However, it’s vital the youngster with Aspergers comes to recognize these periods of high/excess energy, and experiences the benefits of implementing regular energy burns into his/her day.

This list of school strategies is by no means comprehensive, nor is it intended to be. Rather, it’s meant to list the minimum accommodations every school should make for kids with Aspergers. It is a foundation to build on in partnering with your youngster’s school to create an individual Education program for your Aspergers youngster that allows him/her to achieve their fullest potential.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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 Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the 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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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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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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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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content