Symptoms and Treatment
Children with Asperger’s and Autism have impairments in social interactions, communicating with others verbally, and executive functioning. Some also experience theory of mind deficits.
Many also experience affective disorders in addition to Asperger’s or Autism, including depression, anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Our therapy approach targets the anxiety and OCD components of your child’s experience, as they are likely to cause the most emotional upheaval and disruption.
Anxiety and OCD
Anxiety is extremely common among children with Asperger’s and Autism. It can take on many forms, including:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Specific Fears and Phobias
- Generalized Anxieties
Your child’s realization that they are different from their peers, and the ostracization from those peers that occurs as a result, both make bullying common for children with Asperger’s. Environmental factors such as these contribute to fears, such as trauma, but it is important to keep in mind that, in our experience, the blueprint of an anxiety disorder is passed down genetically from parent to child.
Many children with Asperger’s or Autism tend to have perfectionist attitudes about certain aspects of their lives. This can be witnessed through OCD behaviors, repetitive patterns of behavior, and difficulty coping with change.
Cross the Bridge Counseling primarily uses the following techniques to treat children with Asperger’s and Autism:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Social Dynamics
- Reality Therapy
- Play Therapy
In Play Therapy, we work to make your child feel comfortable among a group of peers using the social dynamic of play. We use a team approach, with multiple therapists working together with both you and your child.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is founded on the idea that an individual’s thoughts directly affect the emotions and behaviors that they exhibit. Negative thoughts can result in negative emotions, which in turn produce negative behaviors. Often this results in a cyclical feeling or process, and this cycle is what CBT focuses on — breaking the cycle of negativity and changing your child’s thought processes.
Our CBT treatments differ based on the needs of each individual child and focus on the active role of the child in therapy and the importance of forming a helpful therapeutic relationship. Our therapists will set specific goals for therapy with parents, and then use literal, easily understood language during sessions with the child to avoid confusion. We also strive to use visual, non-verbal means of communicate and engage with the child, and encourage them to enjoy therapy. In some cases, we also use role-playing to teach children that their initial cognitions and beliefs can be changed over the course of a safe, sometimes familiar situation.
Parenting A Child with Asperger’s
Learning that your child has been diagnosed with Asperger’s or Autism can often trigger an uncertain or a grief response. This is completely understandable. Anger and denial are also part of a normative grief process, but if you feel stuck in this stage, you should seek assistance from a mental health professional because of the damage your response can do to your relationship with your child.
Parents who choose to believe in their child’s full potential can make a big impact on their child’s self-esteem and how the world comes to see their child. Parents who come to realize what their child has to offer are viewed as empowering by their child and become someone to listen to and admire. The counselors at Cross the Bridge can help you accept and learn how to support your child with Asperger’s or Autism, and help you spread the knowledge you gain here to your other family members.
Small steps and taking it one therapy session at a time will go a long way in making permanent, positive change in your child. Go slow, have realistic therapeutic expectations, and monitor progress – that’s the way to create positive and lasting change.