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July 2004

Disorder affects children’s ability to adapt socially

By Lori Marinko, Coordinator of the Connections Autism Program
Sharon Regional’s Behavioral Health Services

Asperger’s Syndrome, a neuropsychiatric disorder, is a high functioning form of Autism that is being diagnosed in greater and greater numbers. Children with this disorder experience the inability to understand the feelings of others, and may often exhibit single-mindedness, lack of verbal skills, insensitivity to social cues, and/or withdrawal and obsessive indulgence in special interests.

Children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome are often misunderstood by their families, peers, and the staff in their schools. They crave to have friends and personal relationships; however, they don’t know how to go about developing these relationships. It is striking the level of difficulty that children diagnosed with Asperger’s have in establishing friendships and understanding social situations.

Since it is so difficult to “read” a situation, these children frequently experience behavioral difficulties with others. For example, someone may be joking with them, but these children do not understand the “joke” and therefore respond in a harsh or angry manner, which often causes the relationship to deteriorate.

Treatment for children with Asperger’s includes social skills training, visual strategies, and communication skills training. Depending on the child’s needs, therapists will assist the child by practicing skills in both artificial and actual social situations, helping the child develop a “self awareness” of their rate and rhythm of their speech, and preparing the child to better meet the needs and demands of everyday social life.

Sharon Regional’s Behavioral Health Services offers a full spectrum of mental health and substance abuse care. From a comprehensive outpatient center to inpatient programs for children, adolescents, and adults, Sharon Regional offers the most comprehensive selection of behavioral health services between Pittsburgh and Erie.

For more information or assistance, please contact the Connections Autism Program of Sharon Regional’s Behavioral Health Services at 724-983-5445.

For more Information call our Health Information Center at :
724-983-5518 or 800-346-7997

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