As a young counselor, my first work before receiving my masters was working as a case manager and facilitator at Judivine-A Center for Autism. At the same time, I was Big Brother to three emotionally disturbed adolescent boys as a volunteer through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. My training was essential on a basic level and the experience even more so for the work I accomplished working with the behaviorally, emotionally, and socially disordered adolescent population.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), aka Asperger’s Syndrome
At present and on average, I have a case a month with a client presenting with ASD that at times has not been diagnosed correctly.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome and why is it so hard to get an accurate diagnosis? First thing, it is of utmost importance that a Licensed Professional either a Medical Doctor (MD), Psychologist (PhD), or Counselor/Social Worker (MA, MSW) trained in Asperger’s Syndrome make the diagnosis.
One of the most damaging things that I see in my practice is when a teacher at a school tells mom in front of the student he may “have” Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD).
As a parent, here are some of the signs to watch for:
- an insistence on routines
- aversion to change
- sensory sensitivities (which may interfere with eating, sleeping, and make routine care (e.g., haircuts, dental hygiene) difficult).
In school ASD students exhibit:
- difficulties in planning
- difficulties with organization
- difficulties with change
- a lack of social and communication abilities (which may hamper learning through social interaction or in settings with peers).
At present Autism Spectrum Disorder is diagnosed four times more often in males than in females.
What You Should Know and What You Should Do
First of all- this is important-he is not broken because his needs are different! An important need is hugs from his family; a tactile environment is where he will thrive!
I have documented great success in working with ASD boys in The Quest Project®. Based on my experience I can offer the following advice.
If your son is diagnosed with ASD I highly recommend a case manager and/or assigned advocate for your child. A patient advocate shadows the individual and keeps record of changes in behavior, emotion, and community involvement and reports immediately to the case manager. Additionally, an in-home therapist is extremely important as the characteristics of ASD dictates an aversion to any routine changes and potential to regress and need a higher level of care.
Be proactive and insist on the things I listed above at a minimum. I believe with moderate cases of ASD, opting for home schooling is a reasonable choice if at all possible. Additionally, enrolling in an on-going group that teaches social skills, emotional regulation (big), anger management, and communication skills can be helpful. I have documented great success in working with ASD boys in The Quest Project®.
Have you noticed signs of ASD in your son and want more advice? If so, please let me know how I can help.