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A Bright Future for Children with Asperger’s

Parents whose children have just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome may wonder if their children will ever ‘get better.’ The reality is that Asperger’s Syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder that cannot be reversed any more than a child born without an arm can grow a new arm. However, children with Asperger’s can be taught to cope with their disability and can grow up to lead relatively normal lives where they enjoy the same rich connections that other people experience. But how can parents, teachers and therapists help that happen?

Sample ImageThe fundamental issue for children with Asperger’s is their lack of natural engagement with the outside world. Children with Asperger’s do not pick up on the same social cues that others perceive. They may not understand that someone is irritated or that they are talking too loud. They may feel highly anxious amongst a group of peers but not understand why. They may feel overwhelmed by social situations because of all of the sensory input they have trouble processing.

The reality is that we live in a very social world. Children with Asperger’s want to connect with others just as much as any other child but they do not know how. If children with Asperger’s are going to lead normal, happy lives they have to learn to comfortably interact with that world. Treatment for Asperger’s can be very successful when it is focused on helping children learn to cope with a highly social world even when that world seems very foreign to them. Therapies that can help the child with Asperger’s include: play therapy, social skills training, talk therapy, physical therapy for children with sensory integration issues, art therapy, and parent training that teaches parents techniques they can practice at home. Through these interventions, children with Asperger’s can develop the skills they need. It is likely that they will always have difficulties with some social situations and may be ‘quirky’ but otherwise they are people just like everyone else.

As adults, children with Asperger’s will certainly not be alone. Their company includes such greats as Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Wolfgang Mozart who are all suspected of having had Asperger’s because of their social discomfiture. Considering the brilliance and amazing achievements this group has given an admiring world, maybe children with Asperger’s do not need to ‘get better’ but just need to learn how to connect with a world that needs their contribution.

Dr. Michael Clatch, Psy. D
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