I just gave a workshop this afternoon with Linda Baker on developing programs for Middle School students with Asperger's. While we were chock full of practical ideas for helping AS kids out at home and in school, I think the attendees were most taken by Linda's list of "Guiding Principles." I made some quick notes while Linda was speaking and have only a minute to mention a few of them:
- Motivation. Key to success is whether or not the AS child wants to change. Sounds obvious but is nonetheless important. If the child is not motivated, then increasing motivation to change is the place to start.
- Black and White Thinking. We have to help AS kids see the "gray area" in life. They typically think, for example, that someone is either "stupid" or "smart;" or "good" or "evil." We need to help them see the graded nature of such things.
- Mood States. These kids are not tuned in to changes in their own mood. We need to help them "self-monitor" changes in emotional state.
- AS kids are ALWAYS ON THE EDGE when in school.
- We need to persuade AS kids to do the correct thing by convincing them that it is the "logical thing to do" (ie., appeal to reason).
- Comfort. They don't receive much comfort throughout the day.
Gosh, we've come so far since our 30 minute video on AS came out in 2000. This is an exciting time to be working as a clinician/researcher in this field.