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Asperger's Syndrome (cont.)

Treatment Overview

Treatment for Asperger's syndrome strives to improve your child's abilities to interact with other people and thus to function effectively in society and be self-sufficient. Each child with Asperger's syndrome has differences in the number and severity of symptoms, so treatment should be designed to meet individual needs and available family resources.2 Specific treatments are based on symptoms.

Securing services

Start by contacting your local school district to find out which services are available for your child. Become informed about your child's educational rights. Federal law requires public schools to provide appropriate educational services for people ages 3 to 21 who have disabilities (including Asperger's). Also, there may be state and local laws or policies to aid children with Asperger's.

You will meet with school personnel to identify goals and establish an individualized education program (IEP). IEPs are designed to fit the child's specific needs based on the evaluation of his or her level of disability.

School programs

Look at what is being offered at different schools to find out which services your child needs and where you can best find them. Qualities to look for include:

  • Small work groups with individual attention.
  • A communication specialist with an interest in social skills training.
  • Opportunities for social interaction in a structured setting and in supervised activities.
  • A concern for teaching real-life skills and encouraging a child's special interests and talents.
  • A willingness to individualize the curriculum.
  • A sensitive counselor who can focus on your child's emotional well-being and serve as a liaison with the family.
  • An emphasis on respect for diversity and empathy for students.

Stay informed about what is happening in your child's classroom. Frequent communication can be managed with a communication diary that goes back and forth between teacher and parent.

Treatment strategies

Treatment is geared toward improving communication, social skills, and behavior management. A treatment program may be adjusted often to be the most useful for your child.

Take advantage of your child's strengths by encouraging him or her to explore interests at home and at school. Activity-oriented groups and focused counseling can also be helpful.

Many children with Asperger's syndrome also have other coexisting conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, and depression. These conditions can place extra demands on parents who are already dealing with a child with extra needs. These conditions may require treatment with medicines and other therapies. For more information, see the topics:

Prevention

Researchers have not yet found a way to prevent Asperger's syndrome. Some advocacy groups claim the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes Asperger's and autism. But numerous studies have not found a link between these conditions and the vaccine.3 Doctors recommend that you have your children immunized, because not doing so puts them and others in your community at risk for serious diseases and even death.

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