Asperger’s, with the release of the 2013 DSM V manual of psychological diagnostic criteria, will now reframe Asperger’s as high functioning autism. That being said, the same therapies that were used before will still be used to help Asperger’s /autism kids. The following is a list of typical therapies for these children with regards to their most challenging issues.
- Reframing/rephrasing: Language is a barrier. Even when they are verbal, high functioning children with autism don’t quite understand certain expressions of speech, which the rest of us take for granted. When they look puzzled or don’t seem to understand what was said, we have to use “exact language” to get the point or the question across. This takes practice, but parents get used to it in a hurry.
- Clarifying the context: Social situations are another trouble area for these kids. Adults and helper children often accompany the child with autism and help them when they don’t understand why another child is acting the way he or she is. It decreases the number of fights children with autism get into because what they misunderstood is made clear before the situation gets out of hand. Read about Teaching and Working With Kids With Autism.
- Social stories: This is a very effective tool that works similarly to clarifying the context, except that it starts out as fictional. The adult tells a situational story to the child and then asks him or her open ended questions about what he or she thinks will happen next and how the people and kids in the story feel about what is happening. It prompts the Asperger’s/ high functioning autistic child to think about how they would act or respond or feel in the same situation. It’s a starting point for teaching empathy, not because these kids don’t have any empathy but because they don’t really think about anything outside of their world.
- Praise/rewards: Positive reinforcement for expected behaviors and behaviors the child self-corrected is a must. If a parent or teacher constantly told them about everything they did wrong and never said a word about anything they did right, no progress would ever be made. Even a high five is an acceptable reinforcer, because the child then knows he or she is on the right track.
- Redirection: This is a tricky one. Parents have to know when it’s good to redirect a child with autism/Asperger’s and when it isn’t. Many of them have short attention spans and thus are redirected to more positive talk and work, but the timing has to be right too. You don’t want to inadvertently reward a bad behavior with something positive when redirecting, so use it carefully and wisely.
These are the top five ways parents can help their child with Asperger’s/ high functioning autism. There are more, but these pertain most often to the children that have the most trouble in these specific areas.