Treatments Available for Children and Adolescents with Asperger’s Disorder
There is no “cure” for Asperger’s syndrome. But there are many useful programmes and approaches that can help the child and reduce the impact on their quality of life.
The programmes will tend to focus on the main difficulties the child experiences. Interventions will often include social skills training, enabling the child to develop strategies to demonstrate more appropriate behaviours in certain social situations, such as turn taking in conversations etc.
As well as helping the child to cope with their primary symptoms, there may also be other approaches that deal with secondary difficulties the child may face. Children with Asperger’s may be vulnerable to bullying and social isolation, so management plans can be useful to help with these issues.
Children with Asperger’s Syndrome can also be helped more effectively when people around them are increasingly educated and aware of their condition and its effects. If people around them are aware of their support needs and strengths and difficulties, it can mean they are supported more effectively.
The treatment will be individual to the child, as one child may not benefit from a treatment in the same way that another does.
How Parents/Carers and Practitioners can Support Children with Asperger’s Disorder
There are many differences between children with Asperger’s, so it is important that each child is treated as an individual. But they may require support in –
- Social communication – They may need support and reminders, for example, taking turns in conversations.
- Social interaction – Other pupils may find it hard to know how to interact to children with Asperger’s. They may not understand facial expressions or non verbal communication. They may state facts, for example, saying another child is fat, not realising it will hurt their feelings.
- Imagination – Children with Asperger’s will prefer factual information to fiction. They will find it hard to imagine or show interest in fictional stories or characters. But they may be extremely knowledgeable on a particular topic, such as dinosaurs. They will tend to prefer stories where emotions are overstated, such as horror stories, or cartoons.
- Routine – Children with AS will prefer routine. They prefer to know what is going to happen each day. Unexpected happenings can cause extreme anxiety, so keeping to routines as much as possible can help the child with AS.
- Clumsiness – A child with AS will also sometimes show clumsiness in their larger movements and sometimes, smaller movements, such as writing. Being aware of this can be important in lessons where they are writing, or engaging in physical activities, such as sports.
So to support a child with AS, they should be given –
- Clear, precise instructions
- Time to prepare for any changes well in advance
- A structured timetable and daily plan in school and at home.
- Consistent rules
- Plenty of praise and reassurance to avoid anxiety
- Stories and role plays to teach social skills
- The use of a computer
- Teachers and classmates who are aware of the features of AS
- Encouragement in social situations.
Supportive Services Available for Children with Asperger’s Disorder and Their Family
There are many services available for children with Asperger’s disorder. They will vary from area to area, so if you are interested in finding out about the services in your local area, it is worthwhile carrying out some research. You will often find supportive services from health services, counselling services, sometimes psychiatric services. There may also be educational services. Often now, there are also online forums, chat rooms, blogs and websites that can be useful support for children and their families.
But with changes in the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, services may change to include them within the services for autistic children.
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