Aspergers101 FAQ

101 Frequently Asked Questions about HFA and AS

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Welcome to Aspergers101 Frequently Asked Questions. We realize that not all your questions on Asperger Syndrome may be answered in the following FAQ section, however, for those desiring to understand the diagnosis of High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome…this read will cover a lot of ground! We thank all of our credible resources (listed at the bottom)as well as Starfish Social Club for making this additional resource possible! We hope you find what you are looking for and if not, please message us on our contact page and we’ll try and find the response.

  1. What’s Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s, is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

 

  1. How many people does this affect globally?

In 2015, Asperger Syndrome was estimated to affect 37.2 million people globally

 

  1. Explain the origins of Asperger Syndrome.

The first account of the syndrome now known by his name was published by Hans Asperger in 1944, referred to then as “autistic psychopathy” (Baron-Cohen, 1988). Asperger noted that his four young male subjects shared the traits which would later be described as those of ASD, but without the deficits in language or cognitive skills. Asperger’s work, however, was largely ignored until work published by Wing in 1981, and Asperger syndrome was not introduced into ICD-10 or DSM until the early 1990s (Bjørkly, 2009)

 

  1. What might Aspergers Syndrome look like?

It is characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language. Intense preoccupation with a narrow subject, one-sided verbosity, restricted prosody, and physical clumsiness are typical of the condition, but are not required for diagnosis.

 

  1. What are the key characteristics of High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome?

Many of the Characteristics in Asperger Syndrome are very similar to the characteristics in Autism. The main characteristics can differ greatly and some may be demonstrated more strongly than others due to everyone being different. The Key Characteristics are:

  • Difficulty with Social Relationships Unlike people with classic autism, whom often appear withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them, Many people with Asperger Syndrome try very hard to be sociable and enjoy human contact. However they do find if hard to understand the non-verbal signals like facial expressions.
  • Difficulty with Communications people with Asperger Syndrome may sometimes speak very fluently but they may not take much notice of the reaction of people listening to them. They may talk on and on regardless if the person there talking to is not interested. Despite having good language skills, people with Asperger Syndrome may some times sound over-precise or over-literal. Some times jokes can cause problems as can exaggerated language and metaphors. An example of this could be a simple statement like “she bit my head off” this statement may confuse or frightened the person with Asperger’s. Limitations in Imagination While Asperger’s people often excel at learning facts and figures they can find it hard to think in abstract ways. This can cause problems for children in school where they may have difficulty with certain subjects such as literature or religious studies.
  • Special Interests People with Asperger’s often develop an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collection. Usually their interest involves arranging or memorizing facts about certain subjects. Some children with Asperger’s may also be very precise while playing with tops and find it hard when other children try to join in and move objects from a certain place. However with encouragement, interests can be developed so that some people with Asperger’s can go on to study or work in their favourite subjects.
  • Love of Routines For people with Asperger’s any unexpected change in a routine can be upsetting. Young Children may impose their new routine, such as insisting on always going the same way to school. At home or school they may get upset by sudden changes, such as changes to class activities. People with Asperger’s often prefer to order their day according to a set pattern. If they have set hours and there is any delay, such as a traffic hold up or any general lateness this can cause them to be anxious or upset.
  • Poor Concentration and Easily Distracted is very common with children with Asperger Syndrome can as they often appear off task and may be easily distracted over the littlest of things.

 

  1. How is Asperger Syndrome diagnosed?

If your child shows some of the symptoms and behaviors that are typical of AS, get help from your doctor. He or she can refer you to a mental health professional or other specialist for further evaluation. A specialist will do a thorough “psychosocial” evaluation of your child. This includes a careful history of when symptoms were first noticed, the development of motor skills and language patterns, and other aspects of personality and behavior (including favorite activities, unusual habits, preoccupations, etc.).

 

  1. What causes Asperger’s Syndrome?

The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families.

 

  1. Could we have caused the condition?

Asperger’s Syndrome is not caused by emotional trauma, neglect or failing to love your child. The research studies have clearly shown that AS is a developmental disorder due to a dysfunction of specific structures and systems of the brain. These structures may not have fully developed due to chromosomal abnormalities or may have been damaged during pregnancy, birth or the first few months of life.

 

  1. What is Asperger Syndrome now called according to the DSM5?

While it was previously considered a stand-alone diagnosis (separate from autism itself or another kind of autism previously known as “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified,” or PDD-NOS) Asperger’s Syndrome now falls under the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), in which patients could be grouped along a continuum from mild to severe.

 

  1. Does Asperger Syndrome still exist?

In March 2013, Asperger’s syndrome was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Instead, people with the same set of difficulties who are diagnosed using the DSM after that time are described as having an autism spectrum disorder. But people who were assessed before March 2013 keep their original diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

The DSM is the mental health diagnostic bible for US doctors, but UK doctors tend to refer to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) instead. No similar change has been made to this manual, and so UK doctors continue to diagnose Asperger’s syndrome.

The term is much used in the international autism community and is part of many people’s identities. It is likely that many in the US will continue to say that they have Asperger’s, despite the changes.

 

  1. What does Asperger Syndrome mean?

A developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by higher than average intellectual ability coupled with impaired social skills and restrictive, repetitive patterns of interest and activities.

 

  1. How Asperger Syndrome diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based upon interviews and observation of the individual along with interviews of his/her family members and sometimes teachers or counselors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychiatric Association and includes the diagnostic criteria for all recognized psychiatric conditions. Your doctor might suggest that your child take a test to see if he or she has symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome. Some assessments are designed for children, while others are specifically created for adults.

  1. Who is qualified to diagnose Asperger Syndrome?

If you notice signs in your child, see your pediatrician. He can refer you to a mental health expert who specializes in ASDs, like one of these:

  • He diagnoses and treats problems with emotions and behavior.
  • Pediatric neurologist. He treats conditions of the brain.
  • Developmental pediatrician.He specializes in speech and language issues and other developmental problems.
  • He has expertise in mental health conditions and can prescribe medicine to treat them.

The condition is often treated with a team approach. That means you might see more than one doctor for your child’s care.

 

  1. What possible conditions may overlap with Asperger Syndrome?

DDAT (ADD/ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Tourette syndrome, Bipolar, Anxiety, Sensory Issues, Depression, Fine and Gross Motor Skill Issues

 

  1. How do you share the news of an Asperger Diagnosis?

This varies according to each child and their circumstances. For some it may help if the diagnosis becomes public, while for others it may be preferable that they are not distinguished from other children. A principle of who needs to know is considered to be useful. There are classroom activities that can be used to help other children to understand the condition, and how to help their classmate with AS. At home, it will become apparent to siblings that a diagnosis has been reached, and it is important to explain things properly to them. There are some useful books on this topic, also local help groups may run workshops for siblings. How do you tell the child themselves that they have AS? The answer may be to tell the child when they are emotionally able to cope with the information and want to know why they have difficulties in situations that other children find so easy. It is important to give the person with AS a sense of their many positive qualities, and to give examples of the many scientists and artists who have AS and have used these qualities for great achievements. Once the person knows they have AS it can provide a sense of relief and understanding.

 

16.  How is Asperger Syndrome treated?

“A treatment method or an educational method that will work for one child may not work for another child. The one common denominator for all of the young children is that early intervention does work, and it seems to improve the prognosis.”
-Temple Grandin

Parent Education and Training

Parent training can be especially beneficial to the improvement of children with AS/HFA. If caregivers such as parents, grandparents, siblings, babysitters, etc. are fully aware of and understand the strengths and deficits of the child, they will be able to incorporate aspects of successful treatment options like social skills training into the child’s life at home. The more children with AS are exposed to social skills and behavior training, the more likely they are to improve their behavior. Parents and other caregivers can learn how to effectively implement treatment mechanisms into the child’s everyday life. Treatment then becomes consistent and routine for children with AS.

Social Skills Training and Speech-Language Therapy

Children with Asperger Syndrome/HFA can expand and improve their social skills through training and therapy. Though children with AS may have strong language skills, it is important that they learn how to express their thoughts and feelings appropriately. Their ability to interact with others can improve with lots of practice and explicit teaching. Therapists often teach social skills to children with AS/HFA using visual techniques such as social stories, or using exercises that involve the children in various social situations. Social skills groups have proved to be very beneficial to children with AS in teaching them how to interact with their peers. Speech and language therapy may also help these children to communicate better. This therapy could correct awkward methods of speaking such as monotone, and help children to better understand and interpret the speech and communication signals of others such as humor, eye contact, and hand gestures.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used primarily to help individuals with AS regulate their emotions, develop impulse control, and improve their behavior as a result. Therapists seek to reduce challenging behaviors, such as interruptions, obsessions, meltdowns or angry outbursts, while also teaching individuals how to become familiar with and manage certain feelings that may arise.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be individualized for each patient, and as a result, is very effective at improving very specific behaviors and challenges in each child or young adult. Stabilizing emotions and improving behavior allows those with AS to prepare for and respond more appropriately in specific situations.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

Since the early 1960’s, Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, has been used by hundreds of therapists to teach communication, play, social, academic, self-care, work, and community living skills, and to reduce problem behaviors in learners with autism. ABA targets the learning of skills and the reduction of challenging behaviors. Success is measured by direct observation and data collection and analysis – all critical components of ABA. If the child isn’t making satisfactory progress, adjustments are made.

Sensory Integration/Occupational Therapy

Many children with AS/HFA have problems with motor skills or issues with their senses. In sensory integration therapy, occupational therapists work with children to stabilize their senses and their reactions to external stimuli. This therapy can help children gain better control over their bodies, and thus can reduce clumsiness, instability and hand-eye coordination. SI therapy can also reduce anxiety in children with AS/HFA by improving their responses to particular sounds or touches. When children have better control of their senses, they are better able to control their movements, sounds, and emotions. This leads to reduced awkwardness and improved social skills.

Medication

No medications specifically treat Asperger Syndrome. However, some children with AS experience symptoms that can be controlled by medication: depression, anxiety, attention deficits, or hyperactivity. Though the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome can only be improved through treatments and interventions, it is important to also assess and treat associated conditions such as depression, anxiety, and attention problems as these symptoms can often be more debilitating than AS/HFA itself.

 

  1. What medicines typically help curb anxiety and depression?

There aren’t any drugs approved by the FDA that specifically treat Asperger’s or autism spectrum disorders. Some medications, though, can help with related symptoms like depression and anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe some of these:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Stimulant medicines

18. How is Asperger Syndrome different from autism?

Asperger Syndrome exists as part of the autism spectrum but differs in early development of language from classic autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. … Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism (HFA) are often referred to as the same diagnosis.

  1. What is a meltdown?

A meltdown is where a person with autism or Asperger’s temporarily loses control because of emotional responses to environmental factors. They aren’t usually caused by one specific thing.

Triggers build up until the person becomes so overwhelmed that they can’t take in any more information. It has been described as feeling like a can of cola that has been shaken up, opened and poured out, emotions flowing everywhere.

They can look like a common or garden tantrum, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can’t be stopped by giving the person their own way.

Dependent on the cause of meltdown, it may be best to help the person leave the situation they find distressing. Everyone is different but some say that what they need to recover from a meltdown is being left alone in a place where they feel safe, listening to music, having a bath or sleeping.

After a meltdown the person often feels ashamed, embarrassed, and very tired.

 

  1. Is everyone diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome a genius?

There are people with Asperger’s who have a high IQ and others who don’t. A person on the spectrum could be better at math then a neurotypical but some even have dyscalculia, a specific difficulty with numbers. The amazing abilities that some people like Raymond from the film Rain Man have with math and dates are because of savant syndrome – a separate condition from Asperger’s. Some people on the spectrum may have it, but not all.

It is not unusual for someone on the autism spectrum to have a co-occurring condition. These range from Coeliac disease and other digestive problems, to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There is no definitive answer to why this is the case.

 

  1. Name some typical difficulties persons with Asperger Syndrome may have.
  • Understanding non-verbal communication, such as body language or tone
  • Interpreting the feelings, thoughts or motives of others
  • Relating to non-literal uses of language, such as idioms, jokes or irony
  • Following social conventions such as respecting another person’s physical space
  • Depending on familiar routines and feeling anxious if these are not adhered to
  • Experiencing sensory difficulties, for example being overpowered by visual, auditory or tactile stimuli
  • Limits to body awareness, for example walking round obstacles or carrying out fine motor tasks.
  1. Can Asperger Syndrome occur with another disorder?

The simple answer to this question is YES. The symptoms of AS have been recognized in people with other conditions and disorders. Once a single diagnosis of AS is confirmed, it is wise to continue the diagnostic process to see if there is another specific medical condition associated with the AS.

23. How does Asperger Syndrome affect the body?

Asperger’s syndrome affects a person’s affect and manner more than it does any particular body part. Children with Asperger’s syndrome speak very quickly and have a dull voice, and often have an unusually formal manner of speaking. It is common for affected children to have poor coordination.

 

24. How does Asperger syndrome affect the brain?

Autopsies of autistic, Asperger’s, and normal brains by Margaret Bauman and her colleagues reveal that in both autism and Asperger’s there is immature development of the cerebellum, amygdala, and hippocampus. Small cells are packed tightly in these immature parts of the brain, signifying true immature development, not damage or atrophy. Brains from people with autism are more immature in hippocampus development than are Asperger’s brains, which may help explain the cognition problems we see in low-functioning autism. The situation is reversed for the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotion. Here, the Asperger’s brain is often more abnormal than the autistic brain. Could the more normal hippocampus preserve the cognitive function in Asperger’s, with the less normal amygdala causing the social problems?

 

25. How might Asperger Syndrome affect everyday life?

A person with Aspergers may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • No pretend play activities
  • A large vocabulary
  • Inability to hold a two-way conversation but will try to engage people in conversation
  • Does not know how to interact with peers
  • Needs strict routine and gets irrationally upset if the routine is interrupted
  • Does not understand the emotional response of other people and may respond inappropriately
  • Experiences difficulties with problem-solving and analyzing information clearly
  • Has a narrow range of interests and gets obsessed with objects, an activity or topic
  • May have sensory issues and have unexpected reactions to sounds, sights and smells
  • Experiences difficulties with fine and gross motor skills, which can affect posture, coordination and activities such as sports and handwriting

 

26. How was Asperger Syndrome discovered?

Asperger’s syndrome (also known as Asperger’s Disorder) was first described in the 1940s by Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger, who observed autism-like behaviors and difficulties with social and communication skills in boys who had normal intelligence and language development.

 

27. Is Asperger Syndrome inherited?

The cause of Asperger syndrome, like most Autism Spectrum Disorders, is not fully understood, but there is a strong genetic basis, which means it does tend to run in families.

 

28. How to pronounce Asperger syndrome?

There are some variations:

A hard or soft “G”? Like burger, or like merger?

  • The disability is named after Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, whose surname is pronounced with a hard “G”, like burger.
  • Many in the Asperger’s community, and relevant charities, say Asperger’s syndrome with a hard “G”. Merriam-Webster dictionary also has this pronunciation.
  • But some other dictionaries use a soft “G”, like Merger, in their online audio pronunciations of Asperger’s. The written dictionaries mention both versions.

With or without an apostrophe before the final s?

  • The UK’s biggest autism charity, the National Autistic Society, writes Asperger syndrome without an apostrophe and final s.
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Asperger’s Foundation write Asperger’s with an apostrophe and final s.

 

29. How rare is Asperger syndrome?

Rare, fewer than 200,000 US cases per year. Prevalence of Asperger syndrome is estimated to be “in the neighborhood of 2 per 10,000”, or 0.02% (Fombonne & Tidmarsh, 2003, p. 19).

 

30. How to treat Asperger syndrome in adults?

Children with any level of autism usually receive a set of treatments and therapies in school. Often, they’ll receive physical, occupational and speech therapy along with some kind of social skills training and behavior support. If they over- or under-react to sensory input (lights seem too bright, sounds seem too loud, etc.), their parents might also sign them up for sensory integration therapy. As they get older, they might get involved with social skills groups and cognitive therapy.

While some of these therapies are appropriate for adults with high functioning autism, says Dr. Nichols, treatment for adults really depends upon the individual adult’s response to the diagnosis. And responses can run the gamut from joy to anger and everything in between.

For some adults, cognitive therapy, sensory integration therapy, social skills supports, and medical interventions for anxiety are all worth considering.

Perhaps most important, say autism advocates, is “do it yourself” therapy. Adults with high-functioning autism have access to books, support groups, conferences and other resources that provide insight, ideas, and information on all aspects of life with AS. The Global and Regional Partnership for Asperger Syndrome (GRASP) offers a whole page of links to sites and resources to support adults with AS seeking ideas, insights, and next steps.

 

  1. Is asperger’s syndrome a disability?

In a sense, yes. It affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people.

 

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome hereditary?

Doctors believe this is because although a baby may inherit a genetic change that increases their risk for developing Asperger syndrome (genetic predisposition), other factors in the environment are involved in the development and course of the syndrome.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome autism?

Asperger syndrome is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013. Asperger syndrome was generally considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum.

 

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome genetic?

Doctors believe this is because although a baby may inherit a genetic change that increases their risk for developing Asperger syndrome (genetic predisposition), other factors in the environment are involved in the development and course of the syndrome.

 

 

  1. Is asperger’s syndrome a mental illness?

The APA’s Diagnostic manual states that Asperger’s Syndrome is not a mental illness.

 

 

  1. Is asperger’s syndrome a learning disability?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder. Most people with Autism also have a Learning disability. Asperger’s Syndrome is a type of Autism in which people have normal or even high intelligence. They Do not have language difficulties.

 

  1. Is asperger syndrome still a diagnosis?

Asperger syndrome is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013. Asperger syndrome was generally considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum.

 

  1. Is asperger syndrome the same as autism?

Asperger syndrome is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013. Asperger syndrome was generally considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome curable?

Currently, there is no “cure” for Asperger syndrome. In fact, there’s some debate about whether AS even needs to be cured. Most people with AS are able to live normal, happy, and healthy lives, and many of them also take great pride in their unique gifts.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome inherited?

Scientists have long suspected that there are both genetic and environmental components to Asperger syndrome (AS) and other forms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Reports of families with multiple members with AS have suggested a genetic contribution to the disorder.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome in the DSM 5?

The DSM-5 text states “Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder”.

 

  1. Is asperger’s syndrome a medical condition?

Today, Asperger’s syndrome is technically no longer a diagnosis on its own. It is now part of a broader category called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome the same as social anxiety?

While Often Confused, Asperger’s and Social Anxiety are Different Disorders. Asperger’s disorder, also known as Asperger’s syndrome, is a pervasive developmental disorder that belongs to the class of autism spectrum disorders and involves impairment in certain basic aspects of communication and relationships.

 

  1. How can you reduce a person’s level of anxiety?

A person with Asperger’s Syndrome is especially susceptible to high levels of anxiety, and this can only be reduced by practical strategies to cope with the issues causing the anxiety. Sensory issues, social skills and the need for structure and routine can cause unbearable stress and anxiety and this increases the expression of their Asperger’s Syndrome itself, thus causing a vicious circle. Stress management programmes can help minor levels of anxiety – providing a sanctuary without social or conversational interruption and using relaxation techniques. If a person becomes increasingly anxious or agitated, it may help to start an activity that requires physical exertion (e.g. a trampoline or swing). Offering a child an alternative to the playground at break-time can be invaluable, and using specific ways (such as sending the child to the school office with a message) to give the child a break from the classroom. It helps if the teacher can establish a special code with the child with AS, so that they can signal their anxiety without drawing attention to themselves. We recommend Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as an excellent way to reducing anxiety for people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

 

  1. When is asperger syndrome is diagnosed?

In a 2008 CDC report, the average age of Asperger diagnosis was 6 years. A 2007 British study reported further delay in Asperger diagnosis – averaging around age11. Children with Asperger syndrome clearly fall on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

 

  1. When was Asperger syndrome discovered?

1944

 

  1. When do you get Asperger syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is present from birth.

 

  1. Where was Asperger syndrome discovered?

Vienna

 

  1. Where to diagnose Asperger syndrome?

Because the signs of Asperger Syndrome can be similar to those of other behavioral problems, it’s best to let a doctor or other health professional evaluate a child’s symptoms. Many kids are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) before a diagnosis of AS is made later.

 

  1. Who discovered Asperger Syndrome?

Hans Asperger

 

  1. What celebrities are thought to have Asperger syndrome?

James Taylor, Dan Aykroyd, Susan Boyle, Daryl Hannah, Travis Meeks and Anthony Hopkins

 

  1. Are people with Asperger Syndrome arsonists?

Some case studies have shown that fire is a common interest for people with Asperger syndrome, and this sometimes results in arson being committed (Everall & LeCouteur, 1990; Murrie et al., 2002; Haskins & Silva, 2006). There is also evidence that arson is an offence more likely to be committed by people with ASD than by those without (Dein & Woodbury-Smith, 2010).

 

  1. Who diagnosis asperger syndrome

Because the signs of AS can be similar to those of other behavioral problems, it’s best to let a doctor or other health professional evaluate a child’s symptoms. Many kids are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) before a diagnosis of AS is made later.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome autism?

Asperger syndrome is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013. Asperger syndrome was generally considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum.

 

  1. Can I get disability benefits for my Asperger Syndrome?

If an applicant meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) listing requirements for autistic spectrum disorders, he or she will be automatically approved for disability. The listing for autistic spectrum disorders (updated in 2017) requires that an applicant’s medical records show:

  • deficits in social interaction
  • deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and
  • significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

These deficits and behavior patterns must severely limit the applicant’s functioning.

 

  1. What are the basic disability requirements for Asperger Syndrome?

Children with Asperger’s syndrome are eligible only for SSI benefits, and there are strict family income and asset limits for the SSI (Supplemental Security Income) program. For more information, see our section on SSI requirements. Children whose claims are not approved by meeting the listing for autism spectrum disorder may still be approved if they can functionally equal the listings.

An adult with Asperger’s syndrome can apply for SSI or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). However, SSDI is available only to adults who have a significant work history working in jobs that paid Social Security taxes or to those whose parents have enough work credits (in some circumstances—see our article on SSDI benefits for disabled adult children). In addition, an adult or teenage disability applicant may not earn more than $1,180 per month from working (in 2018). Adults who don’t meet the disability listing above may still be approved on the basis of a medical-vocational allowance.

 

  1. Ratio of boys to girls diagnosed with AS.

The boy to girl ratio for referrals for a diagnostic assessment is about ten boys to one girl. However, the evidence indicates that the actual ratio of diagnosed children is 4 boys to one girl (this is the same ratio as occurs with classic autism). Why are so few girls referred for a diagnosis? In general, boys tend to have a greater expression of social deficits, whereas girls tend to be relatively more able in social play and have a more even profile of social skills. Girls seem to be more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation because they observe other children and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome.

 

  1. Should I disclose the Asperger diagnosis to my newly diagnosed child/teen?

If you have not talked to your teen about Asperger Syndrome, you or someone else should do so—to the extent that the teen is ready to hear it. It’s tricky for teens—they so much want to be “normal” and strong and successful. A diagnosis can seem threatening or even totally unacceptable. In truth, however, the adults with AS who do best are those who know themselves well—both their own strengths, which point them toward finding their niche in the world, and their own blind spots: where they need to learn new skills or seek out specific kinds of help. Bottom line, they already know something is different, it should be their right to know that they are wired uniquely. However, it will be up to them if they choose to disclose to others as they age.

 

  1. What are some suggestions as my special needs child makes their way through the school process?
  • Schedule regular monthly educational team meetings to monitor your teen’s progress, to ensure that the IEP is being faithfully carried out, and to modify it if necessary. Because teens can be so volatile or fragile, and because so many important things must be accomplished in four short years of high school, these meetings are critical. If a teen is doing very well, the team can agree to skip a month—but be sure to reconvene to plan the transition to the following year.
  • Some teens adjust o.k. to middle/high school with appropriate supports and accommodations, others, however, just cannot handle a large, impersonal high school. You may need to hire an advocate or lawyer to negotiate with your school system to pay for an alternative school placement, tuition, and transportation.
  • There are no easy answers to finding the mix of conditions where our kids can survive or even thrive; pick the best possible realistic choice, and help your teen adjust. Some families hire educational placement services.
  • If you can afford it, you may prefer to pay private school tuition rather than paying a lawyer to negotiate with a financially strapped or resistant school system. However, a private school may not be the best choice. Some families move to a community with a better high school.
  • Residential schools may be worth considering for some. The right fit can build tremendous confidence for the teen, give the parents a break, and prepare everyone for the independence of the post high school years.

 

  1. Why is it so difficult for my teen to make and keep friends?

When working with other people, a person with HFA or AS can’t always anticipate what another person might say or do. They experience great physical and mental anxiety when someone says something or does something they aren’t expecting. These traits coupled with the social awkwardness can be very explosive when being with others.

 

  1. Where can they best make friends?

A good way for a teen with Asperger’s to make friends would be to join an independent club or get involved in an activity that involves their personal or special interest. Shared interests are very important as this activity is all the teen thinks about. Finding others with the same interest (think computer, math, and science clubs). The independent part is important because many people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a very difficult time working with other people in groups or on teams.

 

  1. What are the ways my teen would benefit from becoming involved in a social group or interest club?

The teen would be more socially active and feel like a part of something. They would be an important part of a club and the school so other people would count on them.

Most importantly, it would breed tolerance and acceptance among many of their peers which would greatly reduce their feelings of isolation.

Even the most independent people need to feel accepted even if they can’t truly be understood.

 

  1. What are some suggestions for communicating with my Asperger teen?
  • Tell your teen just what s/he needs to know, one message at a time, concisely.
  • Impersonal, written communication is easier for the teen to absorb: lists of routines and rules, notes, charts, or calendars. E-mail may become a new option.
  • Side by side conversations (walking, in the car) may be more comfortable for the teen than talking face to face.
  • In so far as you can, keep your cool—they can’t handle our upset feelings. Walk away if you need to.
  • Establish verbal codes or gestures to convey that one or both parties need a time out: a chance to cool down before continuing a difficult discussion at a later time.

 

  1. Should we consider our teen with Asperger Syndrome to drive?

Some autistic people may find the skill of driving extremely difficult and opt for public transit, while others will be highly competent. A diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome should not in itself be a barrier to holding a license but knowing the challenges they face (ADD, ADHD, OCD, Anxiety, etc) is a start toward the assessment. Know that practice, practice, practice in a distant area (think large parking lot or country road) is essential for coordination prior to considering city driving. Some states, like Texas, are addressing the needs of the autistic driver by allowing a voluntary code placed directly on the driver license or state ID alerting an officer o the law with the communication challenge. More on the Texas “Driving with Autism” initiative HERE.

 

  1. Tell me about part of the IEP process…specifically Transition Planning.
  • The transition plan (part of the IEP) should address the skills a teen needs to acquire while in high school, in order to be prepared for the kind of independent life s/he wants to lead after graduation. Many high schools are unfamiliar with transition planning, however—especially for college bound students. The more you know as a parent, the more you may be able to ensure that a solid transition plan is written and carried out.
  • What kind of living situation, employment, and transportation fit your teen’s picture of his/her future at age 18 or 25? Once the goals are set, where can the teen learn the necessary skills? Consider academic courses, electives, extracurricular activities, and additional services within and outside the high school (e.g. community college, adaptive driving school).
  • Social skills are more essential to employment success than high IQ or a record of academic achievement. Make sure the IEP provides for social skill learning/social pragmatic language. A good overarching goal is: “Bobby will learn the social skills appropriate to a 9th grader..10th grader… to the workplace.”
  • You want input and ownership from the teen as far as is possible, but parents can and should have input. You may need to have team meetings when the teen is absent, so you can speak frankly about your concerns, without fear that the teen may feel you lack respect for or faith in her/him.
  • Consider delaying graduation in order to ensure that transition services are actually provided under DOE. It may be hard to convince an academically gifted, college bound student to accept this route. However, it may be very helpful for students who will need a lot of help with independent living skills and employment issues. Services need not be delivered within high school walls. Community college courses, adaptive driving lessons, and employment internships are just a few alternatives to consider.
  • If you have not yet made a will and set up a special needs trust, do it now. Ask the lawyer about powers of attorney or other documents you may need once your teen is no longer a minor. Few parents assume guardianship of a young adult 18 or older, but it may be necessary and appropriate in some situations.

 

  1. Does Asperger syndrome get more pronounced with age?

Most teens and adults with autism have less severe symptoms and behaviors as they get older, a groundbreaking study shows. Not every adult with autism gets better. Some — especially those with mental retardation — may get worse.

 

  1. Can Asperger syndrome be cured?

Currently, there is no “cure” for Asperger syndrome. In fact, there’s some debate about whether AS even needs to be cured. Most people with AS are able to live normal, happy, and healthy lives, and many of them also take great pride in their unique gifts.

 

  1. How do I address my teen’s mental health?
  • Even for a previously well-adjusted child, multiple stressors during the teen years may bring on anxiety and even depression. Stressors seem to include increased academic/abstract thinking and social demands at school, peer pressure, increased social awareness, and fears of the future. Highly anxious teens who do notget help may be at risk for hospitalizations, school failure, acting out (including alcohol and substance abuse), or even suicide attempts.
  • Don’t panic, however—there are interventions you can provide. Appropriate school placement and staff training, exercise (martial arts, yoga), and/or appropriate therapy with a carefully chosen professional, may help control the level of anxiety. Meds may need to be introduced or adjusted.
  • Seek out activity-based, practical social skills groups designed especially for teens. Participating in such a group, being accepted by group leaders and peers, is probably the most powerful way to allay a teen’s potential despair at not fitting in socially and not having any friends. The positive social experiences and new skills they learn will be assets for the rest of their lives.
  • Teens with AS are less prepared than neurotypical teens for the new challenges of sexuality and romance. Some are oblivious; others want a girl or boy friend, but are clueless about how to form and maintain a relationship. Boys especially may be at risk for accusations of harassment, and girls especially at risk for becoming victims. Teach appropriate rules, or see that another adult does. Look for supervised activities in which boys and girls can socialize safely together, supervised by a staff person who know AS and can coach appropriate social skills.

 

  1. As a parent of a teen with Asperger Syndrome, how do I address my mental health?
  • Kids with AS can be difficult to parent and to love even when they are young. Often, our kids neither accept nor express love or other positive feelings in ways a neurotypical parent expects or finds most comfortable. Kids’ behavior can be trying or embarrassing for us. Adding adolescence to the mix can make this dilemma even more painful.
  • Forgive yourself for being an imperfect parent, and for not loving your child “enough.” Forgive yourself for sometimes losing your temper, yelling, or handling a tense situation awkwardly. Forgive yourself for getting your teen diagnosed “late”—there are still plenty of years in which to help your child. Forgive yourself for not arranging play dates, or sports, or tutoring, the way other parents may be doing. We each offer our child our own unique talents, interests, and qualities, as people and as parents. We each do the best we can to gather the information, insights, resources, and services that will help our kids live and grow through adolescence. And—willingly or of necessity—we each end up making significant sacrifices for our kidsBuild and use any support networks you can: extended family, close friends, church/synagogue groups, understanding school staff.
  • If both parents can largely agree about a teen’s diagnosis, treatment, and rules, it will save a lot of family wear and tear. To get your partner on the same page, attend AS conferences or classes together. When you hear the same information, you can discuss it and decide what will work best for your teen and in your family. As you learn more about AS, you may also come to better appreciate each other’s contributions to your child’s welfare. Attend team meetings at the school together, or alternate which parent attends. Seeing your child’s therapist together (possibly without the child), or seeing a couples or family therapist, may help you weather a tough time together.
  • A regular bed time for the teen gives you time you can count on each evening for yourself and/or your partner. If you can build in regular respite—such as a night your teen spends with a grandparent once a month—go for it, and plan ahead for some relaxation, fun, or culture. (Divorced parents may be able to count on a little time alone or with friends as long as they set up and adhere faithfully to a regular visitation schedule.)

 

  1. What are the expected changes during adolescence?

The physical changes of puberty are probably going to happen at indistinguishable age from for their peers, however youngsters with Asperger Syndrome might be confounded by such changes. Amid the hormonal changes and expanded pressure related with youthfulness, the young person may have an impermanent increment in their appearance of AS. Guardians should be steady and tolerant, and recall this is a troublesome time for all intents and purposes all kids. A portion of the passionate changes of pre-adulthood might be altogether postponed in kids with AS, and keeping in mind that different adolescents are determined to sentiment and testing the tenets, the young person with AS still needs straightforward fellowships, has solid good qualities and needs to accomplish high evaluations. They can be derided for these characteristics, yet clarify that they are important characteristics, not yet perceived by others. A few attributes of pre-adulthood can happen later than regular and broaden well into a man with AS’s twenties, therefore the enthusiastic changes of youth are frequently postponed and drawn out.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome the next stage of human evolution?

It IS possible that autism could be the next stage in evolution. As long as there is variation, it’s heritable, and it leads to differential reproductive success—that is to say, if slightly-autistic geeks get more play—then natural selection may increase the frequency of autism in the future.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome considered an intellectual disability?

Another distinction between Asperger’s Disorder and autism concerns cognitive ability. While some individuals with autism have intellectual disabilities, by definition, a person with Asperger’s Disorder cannot have a “clinically significant” cognitive delay, and most possess average to above-average intelligence.

 

  1. Is a higher education right for me?

Not all teens are ready for a residential college experience right after high school. To decide, use the evidence of how the teen did at sleep-away camp or similar samplings of independence, and look carefully at executive function skills (organizational skills). As an alternative, community colleges offer a lot of flexibility: easy admission, low cost, remedial courses if necessary, the option of a light course load, and the security of living at home. Some college disability offices are more successful than others at providing effective, individualized support. However, if the teen is living at home, you may be able more easily to sense trouble, step in with help, or secure supports your young adult needs to succeed.

 

  1. Am I responsible for alerting college professors once my ASD/Asperger child decides to attend college?

Because your college student is no longer a minor, colleges generally will not communicate openly with parents, nor disclose the student’s disability without the student’s permission. Some colleges will allow the student to sign a blanket waiver to release information to parents, but many will only allow limited waivers or none. The burden is on the student to disclose, to ask for help, and to let parents know about problems—things that are hard for our kids.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome covered under ADA?

The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet (EEOC, 1992). Therefore, some people with Asperger Syndrome will have a disability under the ADA and some will not.

 

  1. Can Asperger syndrome be diagnosed in adults?

Yes, but gaining a diagnosis can be difficult and very few adults find it easy. You are the only person who can decide if this is the best choice for you.

 

  1. Is Asperger syndrome the same as high functioning autism?

Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism (HFA) are often referred to as the same diagnosis. Medically, children with Asperger Syndrome are regarded as ‘little professor syndrome’ due to the extended vocabulary by age 4. Those diagnosed with High functioning autism have little to no speech until age 4 or 5. While they currently exist as two separate diagnoses, there is an ongoing debate about whether that is necessary. It is possible that, in the future, they may be combined into one category as the symptoms are the same after age 8.

  

  1. Can Asperger’s Be Prevented?

There is no known way to prevent ASD; however, early diagnosis and intervention is the best way to prevent behavioral and emotional complications related to the disorders.

 

  1. Can Aspergers occur with other disorders?

Many children with Asperger’s syndrome also have co-existing conditions and may present with symptoms of these additional conditions as well. The most common co-occurring disorders include: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) … Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

 

  1. What is an Asperger Meltdown?

A meltdown is where a person with autism or Asperger’s temporarily loses control because of emotional responses to environmental factors. They aren’t usually caused by one specific thing. Triggers build up until the person becomes so overwhelmed that they can’t take in any more information.

 

  1. Do people diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome exhibit empathy?

Contrary to popular belief, people with Asperger’s do have empathy. They care about how others are thinking and feeling but they often have difficulty putting themselves in other people’s shoes. This is a skill that can be learned over time. Trouble picking up how others are thinking or feeling via tone of voice or body language can make people with Asperger’s appear less than empathetic when they don’t mean to be.

The autism community talks about the double bind empathy problem. This is where neurotypicals can seem less than empathetic – by failing to take into account how people with autism see the world. They might ignore the fact that autistic people have a tendency to take things literally, asking someone to take a seat rather than sit down.

 

  1. Tell me more about depression and acting out.

The teenage years are more emotional for everyone. Yet the hormonal changes of adolescence coupled with problems might mean that an Aspergers/HFA teen becomes emotionally overwhelmed. Childish tantrums reappear. Boys often act-out by physically attacking a teacher or peer. They may experience “meltdown” at home after another day filled with harassment, bullying, pressure to conform, and rejection. Suicide and drug addiction become real concerns, as the teen now has access to cars, drugs and alcohol. The “saddest and most difficult time” can overwhelm not only the Aspergers teen, but also his family.

 

  1. What are the typical challenges for an Asperger teen and their sexuality?

Aspergers and HFA teens are not privy to street knowledge of sex and dating behaviors that other teens pick up naturally. This leaves them naive and clueless about sex. Boys can become obsessed with Internet pornography and masturbation. They can be overly forward with a girl who is merely being kind, and then later face charges of stalking her. An Aspergers/HFA girl may have a fully developed female body and no understanding of flirtation and non-verbal sexual cues, making her susceptible to harassment and even date rape.

 

  1. Tell me more about social isolation.

In the teenage world where everyone feels insecure, teens that appear different are voted off the island. Aspergers and HFA teens often have odd mannerisms. One “special needs” teen talks in a loud un-modulated voice, avoids eye contact, interrupts others, violates their physical space, and steers the conversation to her favorite odd topic. Another appears willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because he is unable to share his thoughts and feelings with others. Isolated and alone, many Aspergers and HFA teens are too anxious to initiate social contact. Many Aspergers and HFA teens are stiff and rule-oriented and act like little adults, which is a deadly trait in any teenage popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for an Aspergers teen, even though he wants it more than anything else. One teenager ended a close friendship with this note: “Your expectations exhaust me. The phone calls, the talks, all your feelings… it’s just too much for me. I can’t take it anymore.”

 

  1. Can A Person With Asperger’s Develop Normal Relationships?

Yes. People with Aspergers can have intimate relationships

  

       86. Could Asperger’s Syndrome be a form of schizophrenia?
These are two distinct conditions. The chances of a person with AS developing schizophrenia are only marginally greater than for any individual. Some people with AS are wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia, when they have extreme stress, anxiety and depression related to their AS. A false diagnostic trail is easily created and it is important to re-trace the steps and see what is causing the stress and anxiety for the person with AS.

 

87. Are people with Asperger’s Syndrome more likely to be involved in criminal activities?
If a person’s special interest is of a dangerous nature it can sometimes lead them into unusual crimes associated with that interest. The courts are becoming increasingly aware of the nature of AS and are responding accordingly. More often than not, individuals with AS are more likely to be victims than offenders. Their naivety and vulnerability make them easy targets.

 

88. How can I prevent my Asperger friend/spouse from feeling overwhelmed?

  • Sometimes you may need to give your partner a “break”; try not to take it personally.
  • Remember that he or she can easily experience sensory overload.
  • People with AS struggle to filter conversational input from multiple sources; they may withdraw from such conversations or dominate them.
  • May leave situations without warning when he or she gets overwhelmed, including family gatherings. It’s often best to plan breaks ahead of time.
  • Feel free to attend events and social functions alone. It may be easier for you and give your partner some down time.
  • Understand that your partner with AS needs time to recover from social situations and will likely spend more time on the computer or engaged in solitary hobbies than most people. This is normal for them, and healthy.
  • Anticipate that your partner with AS may need significant down time after work.
  • Have a disclosure strategy in place detailing who to tell about your partner’s AS and when.
  • Understand your partner may resist new ideas at first simply because they are new or seem overwhelming; he or she may come around to them later after he or she has thought it through. Give your partner time to think.

 

89. What should we look for in a school? Most important is the personality and ability of the class teachers and their access to support and resources. It is not essential that the teacher has experience of similar children, as each child with AS is unique and a teacher uses different strategies for each individual. It is very important to find as small-sized a class as possible, to have a quiet, well-ordered classroom, with an atmosphere of encouragement not criticism, and to have practical support from the school administration. It is important to maintain consistency for the child with AS, so try not to change school unless absolutely necessary once a child is settled.

90. Can a person develop ‘normal’ relationships?

In early childhood, a child with AS may need to be given instructions on the different ways of relating to family members, to a teacher, to friends and to strangers. Teenagers with AS can be delayed in their social/emotional maturity compared to the other children in their class. It may be necessary to repeat some school programs on human relationships and sexuality when the person with AS has reached that stage of their emotional development. With a prolonged emotional adolescence and delayed acquisition of social skills, the person may not have a close and intimate relationship until much later than their peers. Many people with AS have loving relationships, but the partners may need counselling on each other’s background and perspective. One could describe these relationships as similar to those between people of two different cultures, unaware of the conventions and expectations of the other partner.

 

91. How do I help my child deal with bullies?

Most schools are cracking down on bullying and are treating such behavior as assault and punishable by legal means. You have every right to speak with the principal, teacher or counselor in order to ask their help in controlling the bully. Some schools have behavioral support staff whose job is to get to the bottom of behavior issues and crack down on bullies. In the meantime, teach your son to walk away from the bully, preferably before the bully gets started with another round of abuse. Help him learn to recognize those situations that may lead to bullying (e.g., after school, on the playground, during lunch, etc.), and teach him to be more vigilant and stay near adults in such circumstances.

Sometimes, just having another friend around may reduce the incidence of bullying. If your son has problems making friends on his own, facilitate friendships with mature, understanding kids who can both be a friend to your son and can help out if bullies try to tease or hurt him.

 

      92. Is there a form ‘letter’ that we can give teachers to prepare them for our child diagnosed with Autism or Asperger Syndrome?

(Fact sheet for teachers with students on the autism spectrum)

Hello, I am _____’s parent. My youngster has been diagnosed with Asperger’s (AS) – also called High Functioning Autism (HFA) – which is a neurobiological disorder on the autistic spectrum. Kids with AS and HFA often have difficulty using and understanding nonverbal cues and developing appropriate peer relationships. While they often have special interests and skills in certain areas, they also have difficulty with organization. AS and HFA kids often appear to lack empathy, have difficulty with sensory issues, and strongly rely on routine.

 

My youngster has many strengths. However, listed below are some issues that may become apparent to you as you work with him/her. Many of the behaviors you will see are not under his/her control, and they are not a result of malice or willful misbehavior. At times, my youngster simply does not innately know how to respond appropriately. I’m sure you will learn other techniques that will be helpful, and I would appreciate your sharing those with me. Please call me at any time if you have questions. I can be reached at: __________

 

General Behaviors:

  • AS/HFA is characterized by a sort of “Swiss cheese” type of development (i.e., some things are learned age-appropriately, while other things may lag behind or be absent). In addition, these kids may have skills years ahead of normal development (e.g., the youngster may understand complex mathematics principles, but not be able to remember to bring their homework home).
  • At times, my youngster may experience “meltdowns.” At times like this, please allow a “safe and quiet location” where he/she will be allowed to “cool off.” Try to take note of what occurred before the meltdown (e.g., an unexpected change in routine). Also, it’s best to talk with him/her “after” the situation has calmed down.
  • Please foster a classroom atmosphere that supports the acceptance of differences and diversity.
  • Please remember that just because my youngster learns something in one situation, this doesn’t automatically mean that he/she remembers or is able to generalize the learning to new situations.
  • Please note my child’s strengths often and visually. This will give him/her the courage to keep moving forward.
  • My youngster may have vocal outbursts. Be prepared for them, especially when he/she is having a difficult time. Also, please let the other kids know that this is his/her way of dealing with stress or fear.
  • My youngster may need help with problem-solving situations. Please be willing to take the time to help with this.
  • My youngster reacts well to positive and patient styles of teaching.
  • When dividing-up assignments, please assign teams rather than have the other kids “choose” members, because this increases the chances that my youngster will be left out or teased.
  • When it reaches a point that things in the classroom are going well, it means that we’ve gotten it right. It doesn’t mean that my youngster is “cured” …never had a problem to begin with …or that it’s time to remove support. Increase demands gradually.
  • When you see anger or other outbursts, my youngster is not being deliberately difficult. Instead, this is a “fight or flight” response. Think of this as an “electrical circuit overload.” Prevention can sometimes head-off these situations if you see the warning signs coming.

 

Perseverations:

  • My youngster may repeat the same thing over and over again, and you may find this increases as stress increases. Please try to avoid answering the same thing over and over or raising your voice or pointing out that the question is being repeated. Instead, try to redirect my youngster’s attention or find an alternative way so he/she can save face. Allowing my youngster to write down the question or thought, and providing a response in writing, may be very helpful at times.

 

Transitions:

  • Giving one or two warnings before a change of activity or schedule may be helpful.
  • My youngster may have a great deal of difficulty with transitions. Having a picture or word schedule may be useful.
  • Please try to give as much advance notice as possible if there is going to be a change or disruption in the schedule.

 

Sensory Motor Skills/Auditory Processing:

  • Breaking directions down into simple steps can be quite helpful.
  • Directions are more easily understood if they are repeated clearly, simply, and in a variety of ways.
  • My youngster has difficulty understanding a string of directions or too many words at one time.
  • My youngster may act in a very clumsy way sometimes.
  • He/she may react very strongly to certain tastes, textures, smells and sounds.
  • Speaking slower and in smaller phrases can help.
  • Using picture cures or directions may also help.


Stimuli:

  • Please consider allowing my child to “move about” occasionally since sitting still for long periods of time can be very difficult for him/her. Even a 3-minute walk down the hallway and back (with a friend or aide) can help a lot.
  • My child may get over-stimulated by loud noises, lights, strong tastes or textures, because of the heightened sensitivity to these things.
  • Unstructured times (e.g., lunch, break, PE) may prove to be the most difficult for my child. Please try to help provide some guidance during these more difficult times.
  • With lots of other children around, chaos and noise, it would be helpful if you would try to help my child find a quiet refuge to which he/she can go for a time-out.

 

Visual Cues:

  • Hand signals may be useful, especially to reinforce certain messages (e.g., “wait your turn” … “stop talking out of turn” … “speak more slowly or softly”).
  • Most AS and HFA kids learn best with visual aids (e.g., picture schedules, written directions or drawings).

 

Interruptions:

  • When someone tries to help by finishing my child’s sentences or interrupting, he/she often has to go back and start over to get the train of thought back.
  • At times, it may take more than few seconds for my youngster to respond to questions. My youngster needs to stop what he’s/she’s thinking, put that somewhere, formulate an answer, and then respond. Please wait patiently for the answer, and encourage others to do the same. Otherwise, he/she will have to start over again.

 

Eye Contact:

  • Unlike most of us, forcing eye contact may break my child’s concentration.
  • He/she may actually hear and understand you better if not forced to look directly at your eyes.
  • At times, it looks as if my youngster is not listening to you when he/she really is. Don’t assume that, because my youngster is not looking at you, that he/she is not hearing you.

 

Social Skills and Friendships:

  • Children with AS and HFA are often at greater risk for becoming victims of bullying by peers. This is influenced by a couple of factors: (1) AS and HFA children want to be included and/or liked so badly that they are reluctant to “tell” on the bully, fearing rejection from the perpetrator or other children; (2) there is a great likelihood that the response that the bully gets from the AS or HFA youngster reinforces this kind of behavior.
  • Young people with AS and HFA often want to make friends, but don’t have a clue as to how to go about it.
  • Identifying 1 or 2 empathetic children who can serve as “helpers” will help my youngster feel as though the world is a friendlier place.
  • Talking with the other students in the class about AS and HFA may help – if done in a positive way (e.g., talking about the fact that many of us have challenges, and that the AS/HFA youngster’s challenge is that he/she can’t read social situations very well, just as others may need glasses or hearing aids).

 

Routine:

  • Please let my child know, if possible, when there will be a substitute teacher or a field trip occurring during regular school hours.
  • Please let my youngster know of any anticipated changes as soon as you know about them, using picture or word schedules.

 

Language:

  • Sarcasm and humor are often not understood by my youngster. Even explanations of what is meant may not clarify, because the perspectives of AS and HFA kids can be unique and, at times, immovable.
  • Although my child’s vocabulary and use of language may seem high, he/she may not know the meaning of what he/she is saying, even though the words sound correct.

 

Organizational Skills:

  • If necessary, please allow my child to copy the notes of other peers. Many AS and HFA kids have difficulty multi-tasking (e.g., listening to the teacher while reading the board and taking notes).
  • It may be helpful to develop schedules (picture or written) for my child.
  • My youngster lacks the ability of remember a lot of information – and how to retrieve that information for its use.
  • Please post schedules and homework assignments on the board and make a copy for my child.
  • Please make sure that assignments get put into my child’s backpack, because he/she can’t always be counted on to get everything home without some help.

 

Note: At times, some of my youngster’s behaviors may irritate his/her peers – and you! Please know that this is normal and expected. Try not to let the difficult days color the fact that you are a wonderful teacher with a challenging situation. Nothing works all of the time, and some things may not work at all. Always feel free to share with me whatever you would like. I have heard it all before. It will not shock me or make me think less of you. Communication is the key, and by working together as a team, we can provide the best for my youngster.

 

Thank you very much,

 

_______________ (parent’s name)

 

93. What are some recommendations we could give to the teacher of a child with Asperger Syndrome?

  • Keep routines in the classroom clear and consistent. Provide students with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) with additional guidance during more unstructured times and transitions.
  • Give as much advanced notice as possible when you are aware of a change or disruption in the child’s schedule. Do not assume that the child is not listening or paying attention to you if they avoid eye contact.
  • Children with AS often have an easier time concentrating when they are not making eye contact and forcing them to look at you may actually break their concentration.
  • Develop a schedule with the child to keep track of homework and other assignments since many children with AS struggle with organization. It may even be helpful to check that the homework has gotten into the child’s backpack to ensure that it makes it home.
  • Children with AS also might have difficulty taking notes. Consider giving the child a copy of the notes or allowing them to copy another willing student’s notes.
  • Be explicit and direct when explaining your own thoughts and feelings. Many children with AS have trouble taking the perspectives of others. Also use specific language when giving instructions (i.e.“go stand by the door until we leave” instead of “go over there”). Also use concrete language rather than analogies, idioms, metaphors, and sarcasm.
  • Talk with your other students about the fact that many or most students have challenges and that these challenges are different for different people. Inform other students about children with AS’s difficulty reading social situations. If possible, find a few empathetic students to be “buddies” with the child.
  • Assign groups rather than having the child chose when working in pairs, groups, or teams for any purpose in the classroom. This will decrease the possibility of the child with AS being teased or left out.
  • Work with the child on decision-making strategies. Help them reframe a situation where she/he has two choices. Direct modeling and role-playing are effective ways of allowing students with AS to develop their decision making and social skills, which are often lacking. Pairing students with AS with a student without AS can be very effective.
  • Talk to the student on a regular basis to see what he/she feels is working or not working. Work with them to find strategies that benefit the student and to find ways to adapt to weaknesses. Also ask what other concerns the child might be having.
  1. What might be the challenges facing those with ASD concerning adulthood and employment?

As a person with Asperger’s grows into adulthood, he or she may have a propensity toward depression and anxiety. Mental illness can be a prohibitive factor in successful employment, and because of the significant impact Asperger’s has on the ability for social navigation, an individual with Asperger’s will likely have difficulty interacting appropriately with co-workers. People with Asperger’s may also be limited by their need for repetitive behaviors (such as hand twisting or flapping) and restricted interests. These behaviors may prevent a person with Asperger’s from successful employment outside their narrow areas of interest, and may alienate employers and co-workers. This alienation often causes further isolation for the Asperger’s sufferer, and in turn increased depression and anxiety.

 

  1. What are some of the benefits of hiring those diagnosed with HFA or Asperger Syndrome?
  • Attention to detail and sustained concentration
  • Excellent long-term memory
  • Tolerance of repetition and routine
  • Strong logic and analytic skills
  • Vast knowledge of specialized fields
  • Creative thinking
  • Conscientious
  • Perseverance
  • Honesty and loyalty

 

  1. What are the workplace sensory and motor challenges facing those on the autism spectrum?

▪ Hyper- or hypo- sensitivity to noise, light, odors, and tactile sensations

▪ Difficulty integrating stimulus from multiple sensory channels (e.g. cannot listen and look simultaneously)

▪ Sensory overload that requires a break

▪ Problems interpreting group conversations and verbal instructions

▪ Poor coordination, difficulty with intricate tasks

 

  1. How to address poor hygiene issues?

Instill the essential habit of a daily shower and clean clothes: peers, teachers, and future potential employers are very put off by poor hygiene. If possible, put your teen’s clothes on a well-organized shelf in the bathroom, near the clothes hamper. Also, no matter the age, place written reminders (ie deodorant, comb hair) on bathroom mirrors or other places to ‘check off’ before leaving the house.

 

 

  1. What are the best methods for managing depression, anxiety, OCD and ADHD?

People with AS are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). Undiagnosed and untreated anxiety is a major problem for individuals with AS, and can lead to a deeper manifestation of the negative AS traits like impulsivity, melt-downs, rage, and withdrawal, all negatively impacting the marriage. It is vital to diagnose and treat depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADD/ADHD either with medications or/and with therapy.

Another helpful form of intervention can be provided by a life coach who specializes in AS, such as AANE’s LifeMAP coaches. Coaches can help adults with AS resolve practical problems that are draining their emotionally or causing friction with their spouses, such as employment issues, or difficulty with time management, staying organized, or social skills.

 

  1. How do I understand and meet the sexual needs of my AS spouse?

Adults with AS tend to either want a lot of sexual activity or too little; so having a discussion on which days and times to have sex eliminates the guess work for both partners. It is helpful for both partners to communicate their sexual needs verbally, in a clear and detailed manner. Putting sex on the Relationship Schedule isn’t enough. Neurological differences apart, people have major differences in how much sex they need, how often, and how they want to be intimate with their partners. Some individuals with AS can be very robotic or technically perfect in bed without paying attention to their partner’s need for an emotional connection and foreplay before intercourse. Some individuals with AS also don’t enjoy sex due to their sensory issues and/or low sex drive. It is important for the partner with AS to understand that their partner’s sexual needs are different than their own, and that both partners need to work at the keeping emotional connection going on a daily basis, both inside and outside the bedroom.

 

  1. How to cope when your partner has Asperger Syndrome.

For the most part, people with Asperger’s want to be loving partners and parents, but they need help learning how to do it, says Jurintha. Here’s how to make life a little easier for everyone:

  • Communicate your needs directly. Do this either verbally or in writing and without emotion. Don’t hint — they just won’t get it, Jurintha says.
  • Set clear rules about parenting. Marshack says that the Asperger’s partner needs to agree to stop talking to or disciplining the child in certain situations if the non-Asperger’s parent says to. The Asperger’s partner might be missing something the other parent can pick up on. Discuss the situation as a couple and work out a solution.
  • Consider therapy. Marshack suggests starting with individual therapy for both partners and then doing couples therapy. Realize you can’t “fix” your partner, but education is the first step. “Read everything you can about Asperger’s, and become an expert about the dynamics of your own relationship,” Marshack says. Jurintha adds that therapy can help you learn to cope and do more than just survive the relationship.
  • Seek support. Consider joining a support group. One online option is Aspergers and Other Half, a support group for women whose partners have Asperger’s. Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults With ASDis another community for men and women who love an adult with Asperger’s.
  1. What are some tips for a neuro-typical to converse with a person diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome?
  • Be as clear and concise as possible; rely on logic and reasoning to reach your partner, not emotion.
  • Be consistent; mean what you say.
  • Be upfront with what you expect and need; “hinting” and other more subtle methods will not have any positive effect on your partner.

 

 

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Resources: Jordan, R. & Powell, S. (1995). Understanding and Teaching Children with Autism. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Powell, S. (2000). Helping Children with Autism to Learn. London: David Fulton Publishers. Sansosti, F.J. & Powell-Smith, K.A. (2006). High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Children’s Needs III. 783-792. Weimer, A. Schatz, A., Lincoln, A., Ballantyne, A., and Trauner,D.(2001). Motor impairment in Asperger Syndrome: Evidence for a deficit in proprioception. Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, 22(2): 92-101. www.ascendgroup.org: The Asperger’s Syndrome Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (ASCEND Group) www.aspennj.org: Asperger’s Syndrome Education Network (A.S.P.E.N.) www.asperger.org/index_asc.html: Asperger’s Syndrome Coalition of the U.S. www.aspergers.com: Asperger’s Disorder Homepage. www.aspergersyndrome.org:

Online Asperger’s Syndrome Information and Support. www.autism.com www.autism-society.org www.baltimorepsych.com/aspergers.htm: How AS Can Affect Children, Adolescents, & Adults. www.maapservices.org: More Advanced Individuals with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, My Asperger Child and Pervasive Developmental Disorder www.med.yale.edu/chldstdy/autism/: The Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic www.usautism.org: U.S. Autism and Asperger Association, Form letter for teachers provided by My Asperger Child, Tony Attwood’s book: Asperger’s Syndrome, A Guide for Parents and Professionals, Dr. Temple Grandin and Asperger Syndrome Foundation.  (GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators), Employer’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching, AANE

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