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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

Treating High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

High-functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome can be treated with a variety of therapies. Behavioral training is the primary method used to help people with high-functioning autism overcome problems with social interaction. Here are therapies that are often used:

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a method of rewarding appropriate social behavior and communication skills. This method is based on the theory that rewarding behavior encourages it to continue.

Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) is a structured way of teaching communication and coping skills. The system uses the child's strengths in memorization and visual skills.

In addition, other treatments may be recommended based on the child's needs. These include:

  • Medications to treat obsessive behaviors, anxiety, inattention, hyperactivity, or depression
  • Physical or occupational therapy for assistance with motor skills
  • Speech and language therapy to help with communication and language development
  • Social skills therapy to work on language and social issues in the context of a typical group interaction

Living With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

High-functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome present ongoing challenges from childhood through adulthood.

In children: Young children may have problems at school in areas of behavior and communication. Because the focus in early grades is often on memorization of facts, they may do well academically.

In older children and teens: As children grow older, a lack of social skills and the presence of obsessive interests or behaviors may put the child in the position of being teased. Forming new friendships may become increasingly difficult.

In adults: It may be difficult to live independently as an adult. Work and personal relationships may be hard to establish and maintain.

How Loved Ones Can Help a Child With High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's Syndrome

Family and friends can help if they understand what high-functioning autism is and know the symptoms and treatments associated with the disorder.

Family members can advocate for a child with high-functioning autism or Asperger's by being sure that the child receives medical treatment and any other services available. For example, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) requires that students with a disability be provided a free and appropriate education, which may include special services.

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