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An overview of Asperger’s Syndrome and related disorders Dr Louise Ford Clinical Psychologist Minds & Hearts Clinic, West End.

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Presentation on theme: "An overview of Asperger’s Syndrome and related disorders Dr Louise Ford Clinical Psychologist Minds & Hearts Clinic, West End."— Presentation transcript:

1 An overview of Asperger’s Syndrome and related disorders Dr Louise Ford Clinical Psychologist Minds & Hearts Clinic, West End

2 Overview What are Autism Spectrum Disorders? What is Asperger’s Syndrome? Strengths often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome Challenges that people with Asperger’s Syndrome may experience Ideas to enhance the experience of scouts for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome Preparing for a child with AS to join scouts How to handle an anger outburst Areas a psychologist may help Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Questions Where to go for more information

3 What are Autism Spectrum Disorders? Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neuro- developmental disorders associated with difficulties in the following areas: 1.Social & emotional 2.Language & communication 3.Repetitive behaviours / restrictive interests

4 What are Autism Spectrum Disorders? Three main classifications of ASD: –Classic autism – little/no language, often intellectually impaired, repetitive behaviours, may seem in own world, require considerable amounts of support throughout life –Middle functioning Autism – have language, more interested in socialising, poor self-help skills, require support, may have difficulties with establishing relationships, supported employment –High Functioning Autism / Asperger’s Syndrome – average to high average intelligence, very verbal, good vocabulary, appear different to others - odd or quirky, typically will form relationships, maintain employment etc

5 What is Asperger’s Syndrome? Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) rests at the milder end of the autism spectrum 1 in 250 children have AS but only 50% diagnosed Average age of diagnosis 8 years Male to female ratio 4.7:1 Two thirds teens with AS also have anxiety or depression

6 Strengths associated with Asperger’s Syndrome Intelligent Articulate - often advanced vocabulary Driven, determined & great ability to focus on areas of interest Ability to think outside the square – think differently. Many famous people believed to have AS Loyal Kind Honest – speak their minds Liked by adults Very good mechanical/construction/technical abilities Understanding of animals

7 Challenges faced by people with Asperger’s Syndrome Social impairment – sharing, taking turns, understanding rules of play, participating in group activities, conversational abilities, eye contact, socially overwhelmed & need solitude, making & maintaining friendships, bullying & teasing Poor perspective taking – accepting other’s ideas, understanding other’s points of view, taking advice Emotional difficulties – detecting emotions in others & themselves, managing own emotions – anger, anxiety, delay in empathy Executive functioning – organising self, attention difficulties, working memory

8 Challenges faced by people with Asperger’s Syndrome Motor difficulties – clumsy, poor ball skills, writing difficulties Sensory sensitivities – smells, sounds, sights, feels, textures of foods Restricted range of interests - preoccupied, one track mind Preference for routine – difficulty handling change – worse when particularly anxious Language differences – literal interpretations, unusual sounding voice, loud voice, unusual sense of humour, miss sarcasm Can be very black and white and rule bound – rule police May have poor sense of danger – run onto busy road to get to something they are interested in

9 Asperger’s Syndrome and Scouts Scouts aim to promote the physical, intellectual, emotional, social & spiritual development of young people Important to remember people with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulties in social and emotional domains Many are socially and emotionally exhausted at end of school day so with extra-curricular activities may reach limit quite quickly Can be a very positive experience – often recommend scouts to parents Sense of belonging – in a pack & not so vulnerable, uniform, structure

10 Ideas to enhance the experience of Scouts for AS individuals Clear rules & boundaries Structure – visual schedule Flexibility – not compulsory to participate in every component every time Preparation for change e.g. Outing – what are they expected to do, see etc. Regular breaks during social activities and tasks & quiet space Extra supervision group work – allocate them a job Assist in introducing and getting them to work with like minded & mature individuals Monitoring of teasing or bullying Mentor – older scout or leader Buddy system – mature, nurturing type to look out for them

11 Ideas to enhance the experience of Scouts for AS individuals Safe person to go to if problem/conflict Incorporating special interest where possible Allow them to start working towards badges geared towards their strengths initially so that they have a success experience before moving onto more difficult badges Avoid using sayings and figures of speech and sarcasm – say what you mean Provide simple instructions and break things down. Intelligent but difficulties retaining information and following complicated instructions. Consider providing written/visual instructions to accompany more complex tasks Use of computers – type rather than write Appreciate their differences and uniqueness and accept that some things are going to be more challenging for them e.g. social components

12 Preparing for a child with AS to join scouts Speak to the parent/s to find out more about the child, things he is interested in, his strengths, things that make him stressed, things that calm him down Social story regarding what scouts will involve Initial trip to scouts may simply be observing others Next visit may participate in some activities only Camp – lots of preparation, provide copy of itinerary early, social story regarding what will happen (e.g. sleeping in dormitory, eating in large rooms, chores expected, showering facilities, campfire rules), check food issues, ensure downtime available, try to find out routines used at home prior to bed and use these, remember poor sense of danger.

13 How to handle an anger outburst Know the early warning signs – pacing, moving about, heavy breathing etc If you detect these suggest they go to the quiet space to take a break If the child becomes angry before you realise encourage him to move away from source of frustration & to quiet space Do not touch them or raise your voice Get them to close their eyes Acknowledge their anger and tell them they need to calm down Encourage them to do something that calms them down e.g. drawing, squeezing stress ball, playing DS Use minimal talking “Tom, I can see that you are feeling angry. Now you need to calm down because when you’re calm – you’re smart. How about you go and play your DS in the quiet space until you calm down. Then come back and join the group.”

14 Areas a psychologist may help Emotional education & management Social skills Perspective taking Self-esteem & self-concept Organisational skills Classroom accommodations

15 Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – many children with AS also diagnosed with ADHD ADHD involves difficulties at school, at home and with friends in the following areas: 1.Attention – concentration, focus, listening, instructions, organising, misplaces things, distracted, forgetful 2.Hyperactivity – difficulties sitting still, fidgety, very active & on the go, trouble doing activities quietly, talks excessively 3.Impulsivity – trouble waiting turn, blurts out answers before finished asking question, interrupts/intrudes

16 Questions?

17 Where to go for more information Websites Books - available at specialist book store Book in Hand The complete guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood Asperger’s Huh? A child’s perspective by John Strachan Organisations Asperger’s Services Australia Phone: www.asperger.asn.au Autism Queensland Phone: www.autismqld.com.au


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