Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Look at Asperger's Syndrome: Part III

Asperger's Syndrome is a sub-type of autism spectrum disorder. Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., the clinical director of the Koegel Autism Center and director of the Eli Edythe L. Board Center for Asperger Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, answered questions about Asperger's in the October 2009 issue of Scholastic Parent and Child.

Question: If parents are concerned about their child might have Asperger's Syndrome, whom should they seek help from and what kid of help is best?
Koegel: First, talk to your child's pediatrician. He may recommend a specialist in autism spectrum disorder. You'll probably need a referral to see the specialist. Behavioral interventions are best. That's when somebody goes out with the child and actively teaches him/her how to interact socially with peers. The end goal is for the child to be able to make friends, and the only way they can do that is to get feedback on how he/she/s interacting.
Question: Why is early intervention best?
Koegel: The older a child is, the more advanced the social skills are among peers. When they're little, all they really have to do is learn to play with other kids, take turns, share, and so on. If adults are helping them in social situations, nobody really notices. As they get older, having a therapist there is a bit more stigmatizing.

Question: Once a child receives an Asperger's diagnose, what's the next step?
Koegel: It depends on the child's age, but they generally can qualify for special education services at school. I recommend to all of my parents to make sure the bulk of the intervention is done with peers. If kids are little, it means the therapist spends quite a bit of time with the children with their peers, prompting them to engage in whatever social behaviors they're missing.
Tomorrow will be the last blog on Asperger's Syndome, so be sure to check back for more information.


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