The Autism Society Event and Education Recordings Archive

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5351 Asperger's Syndrome: Clinical Presentation and Practical Strategies At Home and School [ASHA Session]

Saturday, July 9, 2011: 3:15 PM-4:30 PM
Sun 3-4 (Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center)
This presentation gives the audience a clear understanding of the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, its clinical presentation and practical strategies to address challenging areas. Content areas reviewed include diagnosis, co-morbid disorders, IEP and curriculum concerns, repetitive thoughts and behaviors, theory of mind, ADHD, communication, anxiety and depression, sensory needs or avoidance, and behavior as communication. All content areas will include the clinical definition, real-life examples and practical strategies to effectively support the student/child as well as parents and siblings. Asperger’s Syndrome – Clinical Presentation and Practical Strategies at Home and at School

This session will begin with the history and research of Leo Kanner, Hans Asperger and Lorna Wing; all researchers and clinicians in the field of what we now call autism spectrum disorders. This background will give a good understanding of the differences of the diagnoses as well as how they came to be in addition to early symptoms that are easily identifiable by parents.

Following the historical introduction, the presenter will identify 10 challenging areas that she feels most children with Asperger’s syndrome face; including her own child. They are as follows:

  • Repetitive Thoughts and Behaviors – This section will include research on OCD and the difference between true OCD and repetitive thoughts and behaviors as well as personal and professional examples of how these symptoms presents themselves at home and in the classroom. It will also provide strategies for addressing this concern without enabling it, such as boundaries, time limits, limited interests and teachers using it as a reinforcement or motivator.
  • Theory of Mind – This section will include the clinical definitions of Theory of Mind as well as Executive Function. Real life examples will follow, along with practical strategies to use at home and at school such as visual schedules, predicting, task analysis and generalization of skills.
  • Communication – This section will include communication as it relates to behavior, literal thinking, abstract thinking, misunderstandings, interpretation and perspective as well as social skills. Real life examples will follow with strategies to include social scripts, predicting, scripting, roll playing, visual schedules and ways in which to address student frustration.
  • Co-morbid Diagnoses - This section will review additional diagnoses that are common to children with autism, their manifestations in the classroom and at home, as well as strategies to address these challenges. Strategies will include the use of an ABC chart to determine triggers as well as how multiple diagnoses overlap and the complexity of these concerns.
  • Depression and Anxiety – This section will include the clinical definitions of both depression and anxiety and how the symptoms manifest themselves in the classroom, at home, through behavior, through school work and social interactions. The strategies will include strategies to work through anxiety, parent’s choice of opting out of activities, predicting as a way to control anxiety and the creation of social interactions.
  • Behavior – This section will include the identification of behaviors that impede a child's access to education and social interaction at school and at home such as non-compliance, self-injurious behavior, aggression towards others and escalation patterns. Strategies will include the use of behavior plans, tracking of antecedents, behavior and consequences, use of intermittent reinforcement, predicting, consequences vs. pro-active supports and visual schedules.
  • Sensory Needs and Avoidance – This section will identify sensory needs and sensory avoidance and how these needs or behaviors manifest themselves at home and in the classroom. It will also describe the relationship of this challenge to behavioral concerns. In addition, this section will discuss the role of the occupational therapist in addressing these concerns. Strategies will include a description of sensory breaks, timing of activities, daily schedule and the use of sensory toys and materials.
  • Brief Review of Medication and Hospitalization – This presentation will not advocate for one or both, but will simply identify options for parents if appropriate.
  • IEP - This section will include strategies for writing an appropriate IEP with goals that will reflect the child’s needs and accommodations and/or modifications to support the IEP goals.  This section will also give advocacy strategies for parents.
  • Spectrum of Placements – This section will review all placements to include full inclusion, resource support, special day class with mainstreaming, special day class, special school, non-public school and residential placement. This section will review advantages and disadvantages of all placements and how to determine which one is right for your child.

Learning Objectives:

  • The audience will be able to identify and give examples of academic, social-emotional, psychological and behavioral areas deemed challenging for a child with Asperger's Syndrome.
  • The audience will learn effective practical strategies to use with their child/student at home and at school to address academic, social-emotional, psychological and behavioral needs.
  • The audience will learn how to accommodate/modify curriculum to meet the needs of the child/student and write IEP's to reflect those needs and accommodations.

Content Area: Education


Melinda Docter, Ed.D.
Director of Operation - TEACHTOWN

Dr. Docter is the Director of Operations for TEACHTOWN-software for children with autism. She was previously a principal at Village Glen school for children with autism and Junior Blind of America. She recently published a book, Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide to Helping Your Child Thrive at Home and at School.