Asperger Syndrome & Therapy

What is Asperger syndrome?

This profile was developed as a concept and introduced by Lorna Wing in the 1980s and the term comes from a study by Hans Asperger.

People with Asperger Syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. This is a lifelong syndrome and therefore can not be cured.

If is often a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Some people with Asperger syndrome also have mental health issues or other conditions, meaning they will need different levels of support.

People with this syndrome are often above average intelligence, they do not have a learning disability but may have some specific learning difficulties. They may have difficulties processing and understanding language.

Asperger’s syndrome affects around 700,000 autistic people in UK, this is around 1 in 100 people. It appears more in men than women.

Some people with Asperger’s will state that they see the world as overwhelming, which will cause anxiety. Understanding and relating to others, to include taking part in family, school, work or social life can also be much harder.

Other people may appear to know how to communicate and interact with each other but this is somewhat a struggle for someone with Asperger’s, therefore making it more difficult to make and keep friendships.

People with Asperger’s will have intensive and highly-focused interests and these may change over time.

Sensory sensitivity is common is Asperger’s, reporting to have over or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, taste, smells, pain and colours.

Therapy with people who have Asperger's

It is firstly important that you understand this syndrome before considering working with clients who have a diagnosis of it.

Effective treatments can improve how someone with Asperger’s cope with social challenges, emotions and other behaviours which may impact on their life.

There are several types of therapy used to improve Asperger’s symptoms.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

This type of talking therapy is typically used to help a person with Asperger’s regulate their emotions and impulses. It can target anxiety and depression and encourage individuals to change their thoughts and perceptive.

Good evidence suggests this therapy can reduce anxiety in autistic people.

A CBT counsellor will look at cognitive distortions - all or nothing thinking, polarised thinking, inaccurate thinking - this will help a client begin to rationalise things in order to change the future.

CBT will help you understand how the thoughts you are having do not help you control your emotions or behaviour.

Sensory integration & occupational therapy

As sensory issues can be a problem with children with Asperger’s, additionally they may struggle with fine motor skills. This type of therapy helps to stabilise their senses and an occupational therapist will show children how to perform exercises that can improve balance, eye-hand co-ordination and responses to sounds. The idea is that having better control of your senses, you can better regulate your movement and emotions.

Applied behavioural analysis

This has been used from 1960's using different approaches such as positive reinforcement in order to teach or change certain behaviours and skills in children and adults. A therapist will customise the program to each person’s needs.

Family therapy

Giving parents training so that they can feel equipped to assist the individual who has Asperger’s.  This therapy will help a family interact better and provide strategies to help with skills in the home.

Alternative therapies

A lot of children who have Asperger’s will be offered an alternative therapy to aid and elevate some of their difficulties.

A massage can help calm someone, yoga can improve relaxation and balance.

When working with Asperger’s, it is important to ask the client how they feel their syndrome affects them, as not everyone will experience all symptoms.

Looking at a clients’ diet will also help when considering working with this condition.

Psychoanalytic approach

This helps to look at the person’s unconscious and past. This type of therapy will try to increase the client’s awareness of self and influence over relationships. This might be a challenging approach for Asperger’s.

As individuals with Asperger’s often avoid or isolate it is important through therapy to address the unhelpfulness of these behaviours, helping the client see how this behaviour can also maintain negative thoughts and therefore, not helping them to break a cycle of depressions or anxiety or in fact preventing them from forming or maintaining relationships. 

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