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Resources to Help Children with Asperger's


Resources to Help Children with Asperger's
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Asperger's is a form of high-functioning autism that is increasingly being diagnosed in children. While experts disagree about the causes of the increasing occurrence of this disorder (and about whether it results from an actual increase in the incidence of the disorder or an increase in the diagnosis), there is no doubt that more and more kids have some form of Asperger's Syndrome. In addition, experts disagree about whether Asperger's Syndrome is a distinct disorder or part of the range of autistic spectrum disorders. However, there is help available for children with Asperger's, including special education schools.

Here are other resources to help children with Asperger's and their parents:

Books About Asperger's

Some helpful books about Asperger's include John Elder Robison's wonderful memoir Look Me in the Eye about his life with undiagnosed Asperger's (he was diagnosed as an adult). Temple Grandin's The Way I See It offers this brilliant animal scientist's view of her own experience growing up as an autistic person. While she was largely non-verbal as a child, her parents and caregivers helped her develop the skills and social abilities to mature into a fascinating adult who offers a valuable and different perspective on what it's like to have autism. Dr. Grandin has also contributed a great deal to her field of animal science, as she has great insight into the feelings of animals. She has also been a wonderful resource for people with autism and their parents and teachers.

Kids with Asperger's can better understand their own lives and situation by reading Kathy Hoopmann's All Cats Have Asperger's Syndome. The book shows kids the common behaviors and feelings that some people with Asperger's experience, and the funny pictures of cats showing these behaviors help kids see their own behaviors in a sweet and not as critical light. In addition, my book Asperger's Rules helps students with Asperger's and high-functioning autism understand the unwritten rules of the classroom and the school day, including how to figure out what teachers want, how to participate in classroom discussions, and how to handle novel situations such as concerts and parties.

Organizations for People with Asperger's

OASIS, the Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support center at MAAP has a wonderful website at aspergersyndrome.org. The site offers articles and books that help children and adults understand Asperger's and other forms of autism, and there is also a helpful directory of local and national organizations that help people with Asperger's.

ASPEN, the Asperger Syndrome Education Network, is a support group based in New Jersey that features conferences about Asperger's for families and professionals. In addition, their website offers articles and recommended reading about the disorder. They have a number of local chapters throughout the state of New Jersey. Their conferences, which I have attended, are incredibly helpful for the parents and caregivers of people with Asperger's, as well as for teachers, psychologists, and other professionals who work with children with Asperger's. The conferences feature a balance of clinical and practical information, and previous conferences have included well-known figures such as John Elder Robison, the author of Look Me in the Eye, and Michelle Garcia Winner, the author of Thinking About You Thinking About Me. Her work helps children with autism and Asperger's develop social skills and social awareness, and her work has been implemented in many schools. ASPEN's conferences generally feature a keynote speaker and helpful afternoon break-out sessions about topics such sensory issues, advocating for kids with Asperger's in school, and using technology to help people with Asperger's.

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