Jacob presents as a 7 year-old boy, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and Sensory Integration Disorder. He has a very high IQ, enjoys music, art and watching movies and/or TV shows which he would imitate precisely from beginning to end. His mother is concerned because the school psychologist seems to be at wits end trying to provide behavioral intervention strategies to use with Jacob. She has sought my help in aiding the school psychologist as well as meeting with Jacob for outpatient therapy.
Individuals with Asperger’s generally have normal intelligence and normal early language acquisition. However, they show difficulties with social interactions and non-verbal communications. They may also show perseverative or repetitive behaviors. The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of Asperger syndrome. Individuals with AS experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others (for example, showing others objects of interest), a lack of social or emotional reciprocity, and impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture.
Jacob has a hard time adjusting to his new classroom routines and frequent behavioral outbursts are noted. He frequently hits other children and/or teachers, yells out in the classroom, leaves his seat, crawls around on the floor and also leaves the classroom and/or circle time. He also frequently covers his ears. Without appropriately developed social cognition, individuals have difficulty forming social relationships with others and this is evidenced by poor social behavior (Baron-Cohen, 2000).To people who interact with individuals with autism it appears that social cognition is impaired, while individuals with the disorder often report that their perception causes them the most difficulties. His mother reports he is affectionate at home and has great social relationships with his family.
A recent study by Solomon, Ono, Timmer, & Goodlin-Jones 2008, found that many individuals with ASD are affectionate towards members of their families and others make dramatic efforts to understand and comply with social rules. His social communication deficits were documented, treated and reviewed. These deficits include the inability to engage in age-expected interactions, such as play as young children, and building friendships as adolescents (Semrud-Clikeman, Walkowiak, Wilkinson & Portman-Minne, 2010). “Self-management” strategies to treat (reduce or eliminate) certain behaviors was initiated (Semrud-Clikeman et al, 2010).
Following 13 treatment sessions and the start of medication, aggression and disruptive behaviors were reduced, covering his ears remained unchanged. Observers judged the child’s behavior to be more appropriate following treatment than prior to treatment. Self-management appeared effective in reducing the occurrence of at least one atypical communication behavior and improving overall appropriateness for this child. Research into the reasons social interactions appear to be so difficult, when there is obviously a desire, lead to various theories suggesting that they suffered from dysfunctional social cognition systems (Semrud-Clikeman et al, 2010).
The concept of self is not a fixed object, but a changing illusion-like system of sensations (of the body), emotions (and desires), thoughts (of facts and information), perception (the way we organized and judge information) and consciousness. These five combinations make up the mind. Without the connections of these five systems, the self does not function (Chen, 2008). “Theory of Mind refers to the notion that many autistic individuals do not understand that other people have their own plans, thoughts, and points of view. Furthermore, it appears that they have difficulty understanding other people's beliefs, attitudes, and emotions” (Chen,...
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