Types of Help for Complex Children and Teens with Asperger Profiles

By Stephanie Loo, M.Ed.

When children are in crisis or things seem stuck, there is no silver bullet. Generally speaking there are only so many types of interventions one can try. Therefore, it’s critically important to re-examine key areas to see if something got missed, or if something needs to be tweaked or changed (or some member of the team needs to be swapped out), to follow through faithfully, and to assess the results.

You don’t necessarily have to do everything on the list. The items are just things to think about or check on. Think of it as walking the perimeter of a circus tent, checking each of the guy ropes to make sure the tension is neither too tight nor too loose to support the tent, and making any necessary adjustments.

Because AS/ASD is a pervasive condition, assume that virtually every program a child on the spectrum attends needs to be geared (at least in part) toward children with Asperger profiles, and every professional working with the child needs to have some AS/ASD expertise. The world is full of otherwise excellent professionals who may not be helpful if their toolkits do not include a real understanding of, and plenty of experience, with AS/ASD. Please call AANE for referrals.

Areas to review:

  1. Accurate and up to date evaluations (A neuropsych evaluation every three years is basic.)
  2. Parents who understand AS and have adjusted their expectations and parenting style accordingly
  3. Regular, predictable routines, including good sleep hygiene and reasonable eating patterns
  4. Some form of physical activity on a regular basis
  5. For some children, OT or Sensory Integration
  6. Appropriate school programs/IEP goals and services,
  7. Educators who understand AS and have adjusted their expectations and teaching style accordingly.
  8. Excellent, open, regular home/school communication: regularly scheduled monthly team meetings; daily/weekly journal or checklist; as-needed/emergency communication channel
  9. If public school educators cannot meet a child’s needs, and do not listen to parents’ concerns, parents may need to hire an educational advocate or special education attorney.
  10. Some children (teens) may need out of district placements; some may need a therapeutic school, possibly residential.
  11. Therapy from an AS-savvy therapist (possibly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  12. Medication from an AS-savvy psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist
  13. Social skills instruction/coaching/opportunities on a regular basis with similar peers
  14. Finding something besides academics which the child can enjoy/excel at. For some kids, hippo-therapy, dog obedience/agility training, or just a family pet.
  15. Especially important for teens: Some sense of direction/vision of a future life
  16. Especially important for teens: Some adult mentors besides parents
  17. Therapy, respite, support for parents.

Some children are very complex, and may take a long time to respond to interventions, or may not respond as hoped. Sometimes pure survival is an accomplishment—securing time during which children can continue to develop, and may outgrow some of their earlier challenges.