The first step towards diagnosis is an assessment along with a developmental history and observation. Once the diagnosis has been established by a professional, different forms of treatment are available. As with most disorders that manifest in childhood, studies show that Asperger’s Syndrome is best when diagnosed and treated early.
Help At Home
Using Visuals: Children with Asperger’s are visual learners and visual thinkers. Therefore, visuals serve to enhance comprehension when new information is presented. Some examples of visuals to aid comprehension are:
cartoon bubbles · checklists · color coding · cue cards · drawings · hand signals · highlighting · lists of rules · photographs/pictures · planning sheets · problem wheels · schedules · signs with key words and phrases · timers
These visuals focus attention, provide back-up information, create organization and structure, and make concepts more concrete (rather than abstract). Therefore, backing up traditional verbal learning with these different visual cues can help children with Asperger’s better learn all concepts – from math to social skills.
Prevent Problems Rather Than React: Many times, children with Asperger’s will engage in repetitive behavior. Instead of reacting to the problem when it occurs, it is extremely helpful to anticipate the problem and take steps to prevent it from occurring to begin with.
Environmental Controls: 1. Keep the physical environment consistent. Certain places should be designated for certain activities. For instance, the bedroom or kitchen table can be allocated for “calm sitting” for homework, whereas the backyard or park can be designated for “active play.” 2. Maintain a consistent relationship with your child in both word and action. Your child should know that the same behavior will elicit the same response from you – regardless of your mood. This will decrease their anxiety and provide them with structure in their relationship.
Daily Routine: Create a visual of a daily routine that you review with your child. Posting this schedule and reviewing it in the event of your child getting “stuck” can prompt your child to move out of his or her rut.
Reframing: If your child misinterprets a situation, using language to “reframe” the situation can provide your child with necessary tools to interpret it correctly in the future. Using “key words” can help the child reframe multiple situations. Some samples of key words that children with Asperger’s might find helpful are:
“Off the topic” – if a child’s response is not relevant to the discussion. “Say one thing” – if a child is giving much more information than required for the question asked. “In your head” – if a child says a statement that could be hurtful to others and is better kept to himself. “Use your words” – encourages a child to use language rather than a physical reaction to frustration. “Looking and listening” – promotes eye contact and attention.
With repetition, these key words can help children with Asperger’s react positively even to new situations.
Support For Parents
Raising a child with autism or Asperger’s is not a simple task. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available for parents in order to make the process a bit easier and less lonely. There are multiple support groups and educational classes for parents – ask an educator or health professional about the classes available or access the information through MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
In addition, there are several books available that assist parents in their quest for better care for their children: Tony Attwood and Lorna Wing’s Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professional and Stephan Silverman and Rich Weinfeld’s School Success for Kids with Asperger’s Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers. These books also provide information on support groups and other print resources. With a team of familial and friendly support, extensive knowledge, and a great deal of effort, it is possible for you and your family to live a happier and more fruitful life.
Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs SOS, which services all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. She can be reached at 718-382-5437, at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.rifkaschonfeldsos.com