Asperger's Syndrome

Sensory and Physical Development Needs of Children with Asperger’s Disease

During the diagnosis and training process of children with Asperger’s disease, most of the focus will be on the children’s social skills and emotional and behavioral problems. However, we must also pay attention to the deviations in children’s sensory and physical development, because these basic problems can also affect their daily life and learning.

When looking at the diagnostic indicators of “Asperger’s disease”, many scholars pointed out that Motor Clumsiness is a problem faced by most such children, and parents also pointed out that their children will have the following Case:

  1. The handwriting is messy. Letters written with too many strokes, or the strokes done in the wrong order. Words and sentences floating above or below the line. Words or sentences written on too much or too little a slant. Letters and words spaced unevenly or running into each other.
  2. Poor sitting posture during class and writing, like a “soft-skinned snake”
  3. Unable to pack things by themselves, often leaving items in the classroom, and schoolbags are like “trash cans”
  4. Failure to tidy up clothes after going to the toilet. The legs of shirts are often exposed and the clothes are disheveled. They are often teased by classmates and their concentration is impaired.
  5. Frequently fails to complete class tasks on time, such as copying the previous class manual or preparing the next class textbook
  6. Although active, he cannot master sports hall activities, such as ball games and gymnastics

Now let us look at how occupational therapists help these children through Dada’s case!

Dada is a boy in primary school who has symptoms of “Asperger’s syndrome” and has problems in communication, self-care, reading and writing, and social and emotional problems. Occupational therapy evaluation showed that he had a very serious tactile defense problem. He would be very afraid of unexpected physical contact and would be very resistant to certain textures. He also failed to process visual information effectively. For example, his eyes were attracted by small letters on the floor and he was unable to complete the activity. His hearing is extremely sharp and he will be startled by sudden sounds to the point of screaming, and his concentration in studying will be greatly affected. In addition, his small muscle development, hand coordination, finger strength and finger use are all very weak. For Dada, seemingly simple activities such as catching bean bags, imitating body movements, operating scissors and playing with park facilities are actually very difficult. The initial session of therapy started with Dada’s sensory experience. I asked him to draw his own body and use different colors to indicate those parts that often gave him uncomfortable feelings.

In addition, I also asked him to tell me which sounds he liked or disliked, and what things he liked or disliked seeing the most. Through this process, I hope Dada understands that these sensory experiences are an important part of life, but some of these sensory reactions hinder his concentration and learning. In the subsequent treatment, I arranged a lot of activities focused on touch, vision and hearing, and used equipment such as skateboards, swings and therapy balls to strengthen Dada’s posture control, hand-eye and bilateral coordination, and promote the development of his sensory integration. I also asked parents to perform massage, brushing protocol, therapy ball and strength training exercises at home to improve Dada’s sensory integration disorder. In addition, going to the park to play with jungle gyms, throwing balls, bean bags, etc. are also simple and beneficial activities.

At school, I suggest teachers approach Dada from the front and encourage social pats on the shoulder and handshakes. In addition, Dada should be seated a little distance from his classmates to prevent him from being accidentally touched. Students should also understand that Dada is easily disturbed by some delicate sounds, and he will react by covering his ears. When teaching, you can use more colored chalks or highlighters to point out the information that needs attention. You can also consider giving Dada longer and more specific instructions to complete class tasks.

After two months of treatment and home training, Dada has made significant progress. One time, the school held a special assembly, and Dada sat on the ground like other classmates. Dada’s mother tried to find her son’s back. It was not difficult to find Dada looking around, leaning left and right. But that day, my mother searched for a long time but could not find him. It turned out that he was sitting seriously! As a mother, I can’t believe it! In fact, Dada’s improvement in sensory motor skills has led to improvements in his concentration, writing, self-care and gaming skills. This experience is really the result of the joint efforts of the school, parents, children and therapists!

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