Genesis Counseling Center
Asperger's Disorder

Asperger's Disorder is a condition that falls at the upper end of the Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD) Spectrum.  Unlike more severe forms of PDD, Asperger's Disorder is characterized by cognitive functioning that falls in the normal or above average range and generally normal language functioning, although there are a range of subtle abnormalities of speech and language invariably present.

Children with Asperger’s Disorder exhibit cognitive functioning which demonstrates impairments in neuro-integrative and executive functioning and particularly difficulties in comprehending the way other people experience empathic and intuitive social connections. These children may also suffer from some of the emotional and social consequences of these neuro-cognitive impairments.  An example of this may include being socially rejected by peers, with resulting feelings of loneliness or sadness.   
It is vital for the parents of a child with Asperger’s Disorder to continue to provide the child with encouragement and understanding and to view his or her behaviors and frustration as indications that the child is being overwhelmed by miscomprehension, anxiety, and sensory over-stimulation. Children with Asperger’s are most vulnerable to unstructured situations where things are not predictable or to an abrupt, unanticipated change in expectations or routine.

The following are specific recommendations:

  1. When the child is performing in the home-school environment, it would be best if parents try to be flexible as well as firm but friendly. If the child behaves inappropriately, parents are likely to find a non-confrontational style of discipline more effective.  Children with Asperger’s Disorder may misinterpret angry or confrontational tones of voice, and these are likely to sometimes contribute to negative behavior.
  2. Many inappropriate behaviors may be due to the excessive stress and pressure that the child likely feels regarding academic and social functioning.  Consequentially, the child may benefit from relaxation techniques to help relax both at home and at school when feeling anxious, nervous and/or under pressure.  The Asperger’s child will also need directed instruction and cues regarding the use of these techniques.  This can be accomplished through individual therapy.
  3. Psychological Testing will be in order so that the above characteristics can be further objectively evaluated and a complete treatment plan can be jointly decided between the psychologist and the parents.  A consultation with a psychiatrist may also be helpful so that a determination can be made on whether pharmacological interventions are appropriate.
  4. Counseling is recommended to address behavioral issues and anxiety. Parents are encouraged to participate in a support group for adults who have children with similar problems. The Tidewater Autism Society has numerous programs addressing the needs that are commonly present for children with Asperger's Disorder.  Parents may also benefit from reading the book Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Atwood.
  5. A child with Asperger’s Disorder will benefit from participation in a social skills group.  This would help promote increased understanding of difficulties that arise when interacting with same age peers.  Such a group is offered at Genesis Counseling Center.  Parents can sign their child up for this group by calling (757) 827-7707.