Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clinic Notes: Asperger's, ABA, and Crime

I see a number of children diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in my clinic. When they first present academic performance is the problem parents complain about the most followed by social problems. Children with Asperger's generally do well in math, spelling, and have trouble in science and social studies where they have to summarize information. Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and other ABA procedure are usually effective in managing the academic problems that Asperger's children have. The social problems associated with Asperger's are more difficult. We use a lot of social stories to teach social skills and how to behave in various situations and this works fairly well. But there is always a social situation that we did not anticipate that causes problems, especially for the adolescent. I wasn't surprised to see the news report this week where, allegedly, a teen with Asperger's stabbed a fellow student to death. The Asperger's defense has been used successfully in murder cases as well as other criminal charges, but I take no comfort in that. Seeing that no child with Asperger's commits a crime is a serious responsibility for ABA therapists.

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