Asperger's Syndrome in Young Children: A Developmental Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Laurie Leventhal-Belfer; Cassandra Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Many Faces of Young Children
with Asperger's Syndrome

How does a young child with Asperger's Syndrome act? How does he communicate? Relate with others? What kinds of things does he enjoy doing? To fully answer these questions, one must understand that Asperger's Syndrome, like other conditions, can present quite differently from one child to the next, depending on the child's temperament, strengths, experiences, and environmental supports and stresses. This chapter will illustrate the diversity of young children with Asperger's Syndrome based on their presenting problems. The three cases we present will show the importance of respecting the child's uniqueness and understanding his areas of strength as well as his weaknesses in order to form a thorough understanding of the child and develop interventions attuned to his needs. With time it is likely that the diagnosis will be more finely differentiated to encompass the diverse group of children who have significant difficulties in the areas of communication, symbolic play, and social relationships with peers.

In describing the three cases for this chapter, we found it helpful to differentiate the children according to their presenting problems. Many of the children sent for assessments are referred for behaviors we typically describe as externalized behaviors: the child is acting out or is overtly expressing symptoms. Other children are referred for behaviors more commonly considered internalized behaviors: the child is shut down or withdrawn. And some children present with a mixture of both externalized and internalized behaviors. To illustrate the diversity of the presenting issues we will describe one child who could be considered representative of each of these groups. We will describe the child's early development, the behaviors that caused the parents or caregivers to be concerned, what was learned from the evaluation process, the recommendations the family received, and the paths of interven-

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