Living with Autism/Asperger’s
Raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s presents unique challenges which can feel demanding at times.
Both autism and Asperger’s are characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviour. We now know that a person on the autism spectrum will not “grow out of it” and has little control of their—often antisocial—ways of relating to other people. We also know the importance of early intervention and the power of offering tools to those who don’t naturally have the social skills that most of us take for granted.
I practice Floortime™, a relationship-based therapy for young children living with autism. Floortime is an alternative to Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy. During Floortime sessions, we work in partnership with the parents to improve six key developmental areas of the child using different types of play (sensory, object and symbolic). Interacting with children through these play-based activities increases their breadth of emotional states and experiences, which also contributes to their intellectual growth.
The six milestones of the Floortime™ technique are:
Shared attention: self-regulation and interest in the world
Engagement: intimacy, or engagement in relationships
Two-way purposeful interactions
Complex communication: social problem-solving and a continuous flow of interaction
Meaningful and symbolic ideas: emotional ideas
Abstract thinking: emotional thinking
Through these sessions I help the parents guide their children to facilitate more and more complex interactions using this multi-dimensional format to address the individual needs of the child and the family as a whole. I often work together with other professionals, such as speech and occupational therapists, to support the needs of the child. My goal is to help prepare and integrate children affected by Autism into the community at large rather than trying to modify their behaviour without that insight.
I have a special interest in working with children and teenagers on the Asperger Spectrum Disorder (Aspies or Aspergians).
One of the major differences between Asperger's and autism is that there is no speech delay in Asperger's. In fact, many children with Asperger's Disorder have good language skills, however, they tend to use language in an atypical way and struggle with understanding hidden social clues, therefore making friends and forming relationships can often be challenging for them.
Many children or adolescents I have worked with expressed feeling like they didn’t fit in, therefore my work with Aspergians or aspergirls is aimed at empowering them. Accepting these children for who they are and helping them understand that they are not alone can boost their outlook dramatically.
As a therapist, my role is to show the children how being neuroatypical allows them to see the world differently and help them understand how their condition affects them and their relationships. By developing insights into their interpersonal struggles, aspies or aspergirls can improve their people skills while also remaining true to their personality, and pursue their interests without being held back by their lack of social skills.
See my article on how to celebrate and support neurodiversity.