Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Counseling

Essential Points of a Support Network Approach for School Counselors Working with Children Diagnosed with Asperger's

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Counseling

Essential Points of a Support Network Approach for School Counselors Working with Children Diagnosed with Asperger's

Article excerpt

Children diagnosed with Asperger's face various types of difficulties. They have displayed dysfunctions in domains such as social interaction, atypical speech and movement patterns, and cognitive and sensory difficulties (Attwood, 2007; Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004; Boucher, 2009; Gibbons & Goins, 2008; Safran, 2005). Their families have to endure excessive stress because of working with these children (Ben-Sasson, Soto, Martmez-Pedraza, and Carter, 2013; Mori, Ujiie, Smith, & Howlin, 2009). The excessive stress will cause depressive symptoms among parents of these children (Zablotsky, Bradshaw, & Stuart, 2013). When these children enter the community, they are likely to receive unfavorable reactions from peers and adults.

Children diagnosed with Asperger's are prone to be bullied and show atypical behaviors in social environments (Gill & Liamputtong, 2013; Sofronoff, Dark, & Stone, 2011). All these different phases of difficulties mark the complexity noticeable for school counselors working with children diagnosed with Asperger's.

Living under the harsh reality, children diagnosed with Asperger's demand full attention in schools to help them succeed in education. School counselors, whose main mission is to ensure students' academic success, need an all-around strategy to address the educational concerns, which result from the unique difficulties of Asperger's Syndrome (AS). Many books and articles have provided abundant information on the etiology and symptoms, as well as interventions, of AS (Attwood, 2007; Cao, Shan, Xu, & Xu, 2013; Freed & Bursztyn, 2012; Hadwin, Baron-Cohen, & Howlin, 1999; Harpur, Lawlor, & Fitzgerald, 2006; Hendren & Martin, 2005; Hull, 2011; Pavlides, 2008; Rubio, 2008; Tsai, 2007); however, school counselors should call for the specifically designed strategy that will help them work effectively with unique difficulties faced by children diagnosed with Asperger's.

Gibbons and Goins (2008) listed major concerns in behavioral, academic, socializing, and transitional issues that are of concerns for schools counselors working with children diagnosed with Asperger's. They had suggested that school counselors should combine resources in schools, families, and the community to serve these children. The authors of this article intended to draw knowledge from literature and to use their experiences in mental health and school counseling to provide essential points that could be used to establish a support network for helping children diagnosed with Asperger's in school education.

Review of Literature

Asperger Syndrome (World Health Organization [WHO], 2010) is also known as Asperger's syndrome (Wing, 1981, 1998), high-functioning autism (Boucher, 2009), and Asperger's disorder (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). Both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10) have listed AS in the category of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) (APA, 2000; WHO, 2010). A trend now is to use the term autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to describe autistic disorder, AS, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) (Shattuck et al., 2007). The new DSM-V has adopted this trend to give the diagnosis of "autism spectrum disorder" to AS (APA, 2013, p. 51). This means AS will not be a standalone diagnosis but become a diagnosis of ASD with a specified severity level.

Categorizing AS to be a subtype of autistic disorder continues to raise debates among scholars because AS demonstrates noticeable functional differences (Boucher, 2009; Ozonoff, Rogers, & Pennington, 1991; Safran, 2005; Wing, 1998). AS was described in DSM-IV-TR to show milder abnormality in language and cognitive development, self-help ability, and adaptive functioning (APA, 2000). …

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