Along with the social difficulties that are a major obstacle for people with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism (AS and HFA) are anxiety and difficulty coping with changes. People with AS and HFA often struggle with feelings of loneliness and sadness at not being able to “fit in” with their peers.


I use several strategies in my approach to working with people with AS and HFA. My first strategy is to help parents, siblings, and other family members learn how to cope with AS and HFA in a loved one. With parents that often means helping them learn parenting skills that directly address improving their child’s resiliency and coping. I teach parents how to decrease their child’s anxiety, how to be more flexible, and how to identify appropriate consequences for misbehaviors. With siblings, my approach is to help them better understand and predict their sibling’s behaviors and how to develop their own “safe haven”.


My strategy in working with the individual with AS or HFA is to develop the following abilities and skills:


  1. Survive peer rejection and teasing

  2. Feel empowered and more confident

  3. Develop a toolbox of problem solving and coping strategies

  4. Develop better communication skills

  5. Feel more connected with others

  6. Feel better able to handle unexpected challenges

  7. Understand where other people are “coming from”

  8. Deal more effectively with changes


Children

For school-aged children, fashioning an approach to manage the symptoms of AS and HFA is a highly individual process that requires the input of everyone on your child's healthcare team, including doctors, psychologists, teachers and parents. Many parents wind up with a multi-pronged approach to treating Asperger's Syndrome, choosing regimens and strategies that address their children's many challenges. As a member of the treatment team, I attend ARD meetings to provide educators with the effective IEP goals that target specific behaviors that interfere with learning. I am also available to teachers through email in order to address specific classroom behaviors. I interface regularly with psychiatrists to assist in medication planning and management.




When you have a child with AS or HFA, you'll need the love and support of friends and family to be able to take on the daily challenges of raising your child. Life for you may mean hopping aboard a rollercoaster that will give you bright hopeful peaks followed by dreary, even stomach-churning, lows. Know that the whole of it — the joys and strains — are part of the journey, and that it's okay to seek help. That may come in the form of extra household help, additional doctors or, even, a vacation to get away from it all. Know that Asperger's does not have to defeat your child. Look to his other successes: Is he a graceful swimmer? An impressive musician? A hardworking student? All of these gifts define him, too.


Teens & Adults

As children grow older and become more aware of the limitations that their condition has placed upon them, it may be helpful for them to participate in therapy to deal with feelings of isolation and feeling misunderstood. I also help teens and adults learn how to navigate the challenges of dating, marriage, child-rearing, living independently, and to meet the challenges of work and college. My goal in working with teens and adults with AS and HFA is to help them take pride in marching to the beat of their own drum while still forming and maintaining enriching relationships.

Child Social and Coping Skills for Children and Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism