Although our emphasis is often focused on early intervention, it is important to consider various types of interventions that can grow with the child with Aspergers or HFA as they grow into adolescence, another area of huge potential growth. One approach that has demonstrated clinical impact is DIR/Floortime. This method is a relationship-based, developmental framework that is geared toward supporting foundational social-emotional capacities.
The DIR Model, or Floortime, aims to support higher level thinking abilities of multicausal and reflective thinking by building foundational stability in self-regulation and co-regulation with another. DIR/Floortime incorporates techniques and strategies geared toward promotion of more stable and more flexible emotional regulation in the child or adolescent.
Interests can increase focus, attention and motivation. For individuals with Asperger’s, the interests they have may even help the stressors of the day feel less stressful. Almost any interest that a person has can be incorporated within a specific behavioral strategy. By doing so, the likelihood that the behavior strategy will work when it is needed is increased.
One way to incorporate an interest is to simply decorate a strategy with a picture of the interest. You can put a picture of a bird, or Batman or even a street sign in the corner of a breathing chart and the student may be more likely to use and follow that strategy when it is time to calm down. I have seen a small decoration of an interest help a student use their schedule more successfully. By sprinkling interests across different visual strategies, the student does not have to wait for a specific time to experience that interest. This can help with the intense preoccupation with that interest and the ability to transition away from this preferred time to less preferred activities.
“Social Expectations: The inability to read facial expressions“
For neuro-typicals, reading facial expressions comes easy but for those on the spectrum this is near impossible. The difficulty that those with Autism experience in reading facial expressions is due to the different wiring in the frontal lobe of the brain. This Top of the Spectrum News video offers solutions and tools, such as observational learning.
Lying doesn’t come easily to me, and is probably the same with a lot of people with ASD. As for being blunt, there are times when I’ll say something without intending for it to be mean, but it can come across as being rude or hurtful. It’s not because I want to hurt someone or make them feel bad, or don’t have the ability to empathize, but because I either don’t realize that it’s rude/hurtful, or because it just feels more natural to tell the truth even if that means being blunt.
In 2013 I surveyed disability service professionals at 578 degree-granting, four-year public institutions of higher education. The survey was designed to determine the current readiness of higher education to support the academic, social and communication, and independent living needs of college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. 230 colleges participated in the survey. You can read part one of this blog series here.
The survey was designed around the Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Asperger’s Disorder(Ellison, Clark, Cunningham, & Hansen, 2012), a checklist of efforts determined by experts as integral to effective college supports for this student population. The 2012 study demonstrated college students with Asperger’s Disorder required specialized supports, and that disability services available traditionally on campus to this population were generally ineffective. The 2013 nation-wide survey explored, in part, whether or not colleges had specialized supports for this student population outside of traditional disability services.
The Autistic Mind is different in both function and anatomy.
Understanding the function of the Autistic Brain may help you understand, or explain, the different behaviors exhibited by someone with Aspergers Syndrome. In this edition of Top of The Spectrum News doctors reveal studies proving the importance of therapy, explaining that the autistic brain is different in both function and anatomy from a neuro-typical brain. In other words. . . it’s not bad behavior; Aspies are coming from a place of neurological difference. This is a great video clip to show to friends or family members who do not understand your Asperger childs ‘differences’.
Having Aspergers was definitely a challenge during the Middle School years for Samuel Allen, but being asked to return to that same school and speak to a support group, Parent to Parent, allowed him the opportunity to benefit others with his experience and insight.