They may become distressed when they experience unexpected changes in routines. They may become distracted and not complete tasks, along with struggling with transitions between activities. Young children with autism seldom participate in pretend play. (Attwood, 2005, p. 11) Asperger's syndrome student may function on or above grade level in academic subjects, albeit, their behavioral quirks may inhibit their success. Along with a supportive learning environment, support through visual aids (e.g., schedules, charts, signs, and lists) may benefit these students. Visual aids generally prove useful in facilitating transitions. They also help redirect and refocus students who experience problems staying on task. Task organizers may also help students progress through their tasks. These task organizers, which function similar to methods used in cookbook recipes, can be reviewed prior to doing an activity. The facilitator needs to ensure a student has necessary materials to complete the activity, and then guide the student through the activity. Pre-teaching this way not only enables students to more readily engage in lessons with their classmates but helps them remain on task. (Zager & Shamow, 2005, p. 320)
Obsessions to Talents
Grandin (2005, p. ix), an individual with Asperger's, stresses that "An intensive structured program that is appropriate for a child with fullblown (sic) autism symptoms at age 2 or 3 is not appropriate for an Asperger's." Grandin (Ibid.) proposes that a child with Asperger's syndrome could gain social skills with the help of teacher who focus on developing his/her "talents" into skills that could work into a career. "In my business...many engineers and technical people who are probably mild Asperger's...are the happy people with Asperger's who have fulfilling work. The unhappy ones I see have no hobby or career to make life fulfilling." (Ibid.) Grandin (2005, p. ix) contends three factors contribute to a person with Asperger's being successful and having a fulfilled life:
1) "development of talents, 2) mentor teachers in high school, college, or in the workplace, and 3) medication."
Grandin (Ibid.) takes an antidepressant, but notes that not all high functioning people with Asperger's need to do so. Grandin purports:
There is too much emphasis in the education field on deficits and not enough emphasis on developing talents. People who are on the lower end of the spectrum can also benefit by activities or jobs that utilize their area of strength.
How can such a wide spectrum of people be in the Autism/Asperger continuum? In all of these people ranging from nonverbal to an Asperger's scientist there are problems with social relatedness. This is probably the core deficit in autism. Brain research by many investigators has shown that the parts of the brain that control emotions are abnormal or underdeveloped.
People on the spectrum, regardless of functioning level, have to learn social skills like being in a play. In my book Thinking in Pictures, I describe how I used previous experience and articles I had read about international diplomacy as templates for social interactions.
Lastly, all thinking by people on the spectrum goes from details to general principles. Lots of little details have to be linked together to make general principles. The more information I can put on my "hard drive" in my brain's computer, the better I can act. Being autistic is like never growing up. As I learn more, I keep on developing. I am constantly adding new information to my database. Social skills keep improving as more experiences are added that can serve as templates. Grandin (Ibid, p. X)
Asperger's Syndrome Conspiracy? An Asperger's Syndrome Conspiracy, according to Boyle (2003) may be a reality.
He questions whether, in a few year's time, the Asperger's drug be unveiled to a ripe enthusiastic market. During the 1980s, drug companies increased awareness of depression, purportedly a way of introducing drugs such as Prozac (the 1970s drug of choice was Valium). Drug companies "did the same for ADHD in the 1990s, with awareness-raising seminars and expert papers." (Ibid) Is Asperger's facing the same treatment now? one may question. Another Asperger's controversy relates to insurance for individuals with this disease. Currently, some insurance companies refuse to cover speech, physical and occupational therapy for PDD, even if the same child would be covered for identical treatment if he did not have autism. Some argue that insurers shouldn't have to provide coverage for autism [or Asperberg's] because there is no known cause or cure." ("Insurance Bill Will help Families," 2007, p. A11) Parents of children with Asperger's have been disappointed to learn that simply because a child has pervasive developmental disorder, a number of needed treatments that treatments, deemed beneficial for people with asperger's, including speech, physical and occupational therapy, were not covered by insurance. (Ibid) a new bill for youth, HB 2918, however, states a health plan may not deny benefits for particular rehabilitative services to children less than 18 years-old, even if they do have a pervasive developmental disorder. "HB 2918 defines pervasive developmental disorders as neurological conditions including autism, Asperger's syndrome, developmental disability or mental retardation, and developmental delay." ("Insurance Bill Will help Families," 2007, p. A11) in addition to insurance controversies linked to Asperger's Syndrome, other complications frequently challenge individuals with this disorder. Asperger's Disorder may not be the only psychological condition affecting a certain individual.
Ozbayrak (1996) posits that this disorder frequently links with other problems, but is not limited to:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Depression (Major Depressive Disorder or Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Ozbayrak,1996)
The following differences are noted between Asperger's Disorder and "High Functioning" (i.e. IQ > 70) Autism. With Autism, it is projected that:
onset is usually later outcome is usually more positive social and communication deficits are less severe circumscribed interests are more prominent verbal IQ is usually higher than performance IQ (in autism, the case is usually the reverse) clumsiness is more frequently seen family history is more frequently positive neurological disorders are less common (Ozbayrak,1996)
Coursey (2005), Asher's father, notes that his main concern and/or worry is not that Asher will not cope with Asperger's Syndrome, but how "normal" people will treat his son because he has Asperger's. Coursey (Ibid.) argues that if "normal" people would deliberately adopt some positive traits Asher displays, particularly accepting each other, realizing that: "You simply are what you are...," this world would, despite Asperger's and other challenges that cannot yet be "cured," could, albeit, become a bit better.
Asperger's syndrome. (2006, Nov 17). Mayoclinic.com. Retrieved December 10, 2007, at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aspergers-syndrome/DS00551/DSECTION=6
Attwood, T. (2005). Chapter 2 Theory of Mind and Asperger's Syndrome. In Asperger's Syndrome: Intervening in Schools, Clinics, and Communities, Baker, L.J. & Welkowitz, L.A. (Eds.) (pp. 11-37). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved December 8, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=104642233 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=104642214
Baker, L.J. & Welkowitz, L.A. (Eds.). (2005). Asperger's Syndrome: Intervening in Schools, Clinics, and Communities. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=104642216 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002033495
Boyle, D. (2003, October 6). The Syndrome That Became an Epidemic: David Boyle Asks Whether Autism, Diagnosed 1,000 per Cent More Than a Decade Ago, Has Become a New Term for Naughty Children and Wonders if the Drug Companies Are Behind it All. New Statesman, 132, 27+. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002033495
Coursey, Charles. (2005). Asperger's Syndrome Could Be a Character-Builder. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, 62(3), 308+. Retrieved December 8, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5011144037 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5018243353
Elder, L.M., Caterino, L.C., Chao, J., Shacknai, D., & De Simone, G. (2006). The Efficacy of Social Skills Treatment for Children with Asperger Syndrome. Education & Treatment of Children, 29(4), 635+. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5018243353 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5021680900
Insurance Bill Willhelp Families Dealing with Autism. (2007, June 29). The Register-Guard (Eugene, or), p. A11. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5021680900 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5021751855
Lee, H.J., & Park, H.R. (2007). An Integrated Literature Review on the Adaptive Behavior of Individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Remedial and Special Education, 28(3), 132+. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5021751855 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5018765961
Tormented Daughter of Burt Bacharach Commits Suicide; after Years Battling Asperger's Syndrome, Songwriter's Girl Takes Her Life. (2007, January 7). The Mail on Sunday (London, England), p. 7. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5018765961
We Could See No Other Way out of the Mess Our Life Had Become; Last Year, Wendy Ainscow Poured out Her Heart about the Asperger's Ordeal She and Her Husband Had Endured. Here in Her Own Words, She Reveals How it Had Driven Them to Attempt Suicide. (2004, November 5). Daily Post (Liverpool, England), p. 4. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5007596492
Grandin, T. (2005). Foreword. In Autism Spectrum Disorders: Identification, Education, and Treatment, Zager, D. (Ed.) (pp. ix-x). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved December 9, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=104641000 www.aspergers.com/cv.htm" Ozbayrak, R. Kaa, MD. (1996). ASPERGER'S DISORDER HOMEPAGE. Retrieved Decembe 10, 2007, at http://www.aspergers.com/aspcomor.htm