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Counseling Students with Aspergers Syndrome

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					Counseling Students with Asperger’s Syndrome
Presented by: Kathy Stangel, M.A.Ed. Oak Lawn Hometown District 123 Counseling Graduate Student, Governors State University kstangel@d123.org

History and Statistics
• First described and named by Leo Kanner in 1944, the mysterious disability of autism is characterized by a peculiar emotional intellectual detachment from other people and the common human world.

• Although symptoms vary in nature and severity, language and the capacity for a normal social life are always seriously affected. • Two to four out of 10,000 children are autistic, 75% of them are boys. (Courtesy Curt Warner Autism Campaign - www.cwautism.com)

• Linked to biological or neurological differences in the brain. • In many families, there appears to be a pattern of autism-which suggests there is a genetic base to the disorder - although at this time there has been no gene linked to autism. • NOT a mental illness; NOT caused by bad parenting; and children with autism are NOT unruly kids who chose not to behave. • Usually comorbid with ADHD, SpeechLanguage disorder, or Tourette’s disorder.

Social Characteristics
• Prefers to spend time alone rather than with others. • Little or no interest in making friends. • Low response to social cues: teacher “looks” of disappointment, verbal tones, eye contact, smile. • Short attention span. • Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play. • Does not initiate pretend play. • Tantrums for no apparent reason • Obsessive interest in single item, idea, activity.

• Difficulty mixing with other children • Have inappropriate laughing and giggling, or show little or no eye contact - school personnel should not take this personally. • Resist changes to routine. If a session with an Autistic child is changed, it may cause a breakdown or tantrum. Keeping consistent schedules will help maintain the “peace”.

• Echolalia (repeating words or phrases in place of normal language). • Inappropriate attachment to objects. • Limited response to peer pressure. • Unaware of the codes of social conduct (close talker). • Special interests that dominate person’s time and conversation.

Cognitive Ability
• • • • • Encyclopedic memory. Tactile sensitivity. Visual learning style. Preference for routines. Limited flexibility in thinking.

Building Friendship Skills
• • • • Level 1: Pre-school to 6 years Level 2: Ages 6 – 9 Level 3: Ages 9 – 13 Level 4: Adolescence to Adult
(Tony Attwood, 2001)

• Social Stories

Level 1: Pre-school – 6 years
• Recognition of turn taking • Proximity and physical attributes • Why is ______ your friend? (“I like him” “He lives next door”) • Observing natural play of child’s peers. • Inclusion with other children who can modify their play to accommodate the child.

Level 2: Ages 6 - 9
• Reciprocity and being fair. • Like the same activities. • Aware of the preferences, feelings and thoughts of the other person. • Why is ____ your friend? (“She comes to my party and I go to hers” “She’s nice to me”)

Level 3: Ages 9 - 13
• Aware of other’s opinion of them and how their words and actions affect the feelings of others. • Shared experiences and interests. • Greater selectivity and durability. • Gender split. • Trust, loyalty and keeping promises.

Level 4: Adolescences to Adult
• Peer group acceptance more important that the opinion of parents. • Desire to be understood by friends. • Different types of friendship. • “He/she accepts me for who I am” • “We think the same way about things” • Most complaints from Asperger’s – no one accepted me for who I was, they wanted me to be just like them.

Social Stories (developed by Carol Gray)
• Using student’s above average skills in reading comprehension and visualizing. • Describe what most of us dismiss as obvious. • Social stories can be used for basic skills (i.e. brushing teeth, hygiene) to visits to the doctor or making friends. • Basing stories on individual student’s needs.

Guidelines to Writing Social Stories
Write: • In first person. • In present or future (upcoming event) tense. • As though student is describing the event to others. • At student’s level of comprehension. • In a positive manner.

Guidelines to Writing Social Stories
Use “Wh” questions:
• • • • • • WHO is present. WHAT they are doing. WHERE the situation occurs. WHEN it occurs. WHY Use directive in HOW to respond (i.e., I can try, I will try, I will work on, etc.).

Guidelines to Writing Social Stories
• Watch for literal interpretations • Be specific • Use the words “usually” and “sometimes” (especially when describing other people’s behavior). • Mention variations in routine. • Provide visual, concrete information.

Layout of a Social Story
• Keep in binder or spiral notebook. • A few sentences per page. • One aspect or one step of a social situation per page. Sample story: (When someone changes their mind) Sometimes a person says, “I changed my mind.” This means they had one idea, but now they have a new idea. There are many situations where a person may say, “I changed my mind.” I will work on staying calm when someone changes their mind. It is important to try and stay calm. This keeps everyone safe.

Presentation of Social Stories
• • • • • • Read new one first thing in the morning. Read before the event. Review new story daily (at least) for 1-2 weeks. Revise as needed. Write a new story after 1-2 weeks. Don’t forget to insert stories about successes.

Key Words in Social Stories (words to use and teach students)
• • • • • • • • • Know Guess Learn Decide Topic Idea Wonder Understand Sometimes • • • • • • • • • Suppose Confuse Expect Hope Anticipate Opinion Forget Believe Usually

Fun Asperger’s Quotes

References


				
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