Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Educational, career, and/or vocational support, as well as behavioral support are the primary interventions for individuals with Asperger's syndrome and their caregivers. These interventions need to be individualized to address each person's unique strengths and challenges.
Individuals with Asperger's syndrome may benefit from formal social skills training; ideally provided in a group setting with peers.
Participation in organized, supervised, and structured activities may provide these children with opportunities for social interaction and facilitation of social relationships.
Supportive psychotherapy may be beneficial in dealing with frustration, depression, and anxiety. A direct, problem-solving focus is generally more successful than an insight-oriented approach.
Specific behavioral interventions may need to be implemented to reduce problematic or disruptive behaviors, such as perseverations, odd behaviors, and tantrums.
Interventions in school settings including the following:
Parents and teachers have the opportunity to help individuals with Asperger's syndrome develop appropriate social behavior. Teachers can model appropriate social behavior and encourage cooperative games in the classroom. They may also be able to identify suitable friends for children with Asperger's syndrome. Parents can also help children learn appropriate behaviors by modeling skills such as
appropriate emotional responses, flexibility, sharing, and cooperation. The strategies used by teachers, therapists, and parents should be coordinated so that they are implemented consistently by various people across
Children with Asperger's syndrome may benefit from one-on-one attention in the classroom to receive modeling and coaching of appropriate behavior. Skills, concepts, and cognitive strategies should be taught in an explicit and rote fashion.
In addition to academic goals, improvement in independent functioning and self-sufficiency should be a priority. A program should focus on enhancing communication and social competence.
Accommodations may need to be implemented for difficulties with graphomotor skills (writing).
Self-advocacy skills training should be included in the educational program.
Communication and language strategies including:
Speech/language therapy that addresses the ambiguous use of language and the use of language in social settings can be of great value.
The learning and practice of communication and social skills by children with Asperger's syndrome does not imply the eventual spontaneous implementation of these skills in natural settings.
Children can be taught specific problem-solving strategies or to memorize specific phrases to use in specific, frequently occurring situations.
Specific and explicit instructions and training on how to interpret other people's social behavior should be provided and practiced. Similar principles guide the training of the individual's expressive skills.
Children should learn to ask people to rephrase confusing expressions. They should also be encouraged to ask that confusing instructions be repeated, simplified, and/or written down.
Parents, teachers, and peers can teach children to interpret conversational cues of others; to reply to and discuss topics initiated by others; when and how to interrupt; or how to change or shift topics.
Role playing may help children become aware of the perspectives and thoughts of other people.