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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can I do for my daughter with high functioning Asperger's?

    My 14 yr old daughter has just been diagnosed with high functioning aspergers.

    A lot of bits of the puzzle fell into place & answered a lot of questions. I'm not sure where to go to from here though.

    My biggest concern is her complete obsession with sci fi/ horror/ thriller movies & that she frequently ‘lives’ in that world escaping reality.

    It's all she fixates on and talks about.

    Please help, I'm worried she's going to lose the few friends she has as they grow and do normal teenage stuff and she won't.
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  • 4

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    Shannon Storey

    Occupational Therapist (OT)

    My passion for working with children with disabilities and their families has developed over the past five years. Since graduating from Sydney University, I have ... View Profile

    Hi Lisa.
    Great question. 
    Continue to introduce her to new tasks and ideas. For example you could organise a baking day, or a movie night where you have already picked the movies. Have these activities go ahead regardless of her participation. Exagerate your enthusiasm to encourage and develop her own. 

    When she continues to rave on about her movies, acknowledge what she is saying then stop giving it any attention. Move onto a different topic, something that you are intereseted in or would like her to be interested in. Or just general conversation.

    You could also try letting her know that she is talking too much about it. Without being too wordy or direct, try telling her (not at the same time) ‘All you talk about are your movies’. ‘I want to talk about something else’. ‘Im not interested in them like you’. ‘Other people dont know what you are talking about’. The aim of these verbal cues is to put ideas into her head to make her think and make the decision for herself to not constantly speak about these movies. It is important for her to make this decision, as opposed to just because you told her not to, so that it is across all settings, not only at home and with you.

    Hope this helps.

    If you would like anymore information regarding this topic feel free to get into contact with me.
    Kind Regards
    Shannon Storey
    www.liveactiveclinic.com.au 

  • 4

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    Rachel Tosh

    Speech Pathologist

    Rachel is a speech pathologist specialising in speech, language, literacy and feeding therapy with more than 10 years of experience. Her aim is to help ... View Profile

    Strong interest areas often provide a high level of control for a child in a highly unpredictable world so it is important not to shut off that escapism entirely for her. You can help normalise some of this for her by shaping her conversations and activites eg. rather than just sitting and watching movies encourage her to read up on some of the other films that the actors have appeared in and from there talk about that type of film (eg comedy/romance) or identify a setting for one of her favourite films and see if she is interested in talking about that (eg if it's a film about the world freezing then discuss traditional life for Inuit peoples etc). By looking for opportunities to shape rather than brickwall her interests you are more likely to maintain your all important relationship together whilst also helping her to broaden her world interests and her ability to relate to other conversation topics. Cueing her for changes of topics and explicitly explaining how they relate to the topic she is talking about will help too. For example, “You have been talking about that film for a long time now and it made me think about something else interesting….Let's talk about (new topic) for a while because that film made me think about that.”

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    Frankie84

    HealthShare Member

    Hi,

    I just wanted to put my two cents in as I am a high functioning ASD also. I wasn't diagnosed until adulthood but I can tell you that my adolescence was similar - in front of the movies. They made me feel good and I still  have fond memories on them. Don't worry about her watching them. However, you do also need to try to get her to experience new things. Make sure you do not overload her. If she's doing something new, give her plenty of time to do “normal stuff” afterwards, whether that's watching her movies or whatever else, otherwise she is likely to associate the experience with how she feels by the end of the day which may be exhausted, unsettled, anxious etc. If she knows she can enjoy these things and still feel good she is more likely to try them again. People with ASD need time to calm down or re-centre (more than others). That may be movies for her.
    As for friends, you may find it worthwhile getting her some direct help in learning how to make and maintain friendships. Or you could talk with her about what is important for these things. Remember that she has to “learn” it whereas it comes natural to others. You need to teach her everything including taking an interest in the other people and their lives and how to read facial expressions. Psychologists can help with this if you are unsure.
    At 14, I was in a bunch of “unhealthy” friendships. I basically followed them around, did what they did, and was mostly uninvolved. Eventually, I left that group and spent my lunches alone. Soon, others like me found me and we made a group of what I like to call “the outsiders”. We are still friends though we don't see each other often. When you find similar people, the friends stay. There will be people like her who loves movies. Perhaps she's a little quirky too? She may find (or have) people who enjoy that and are quirky too. When these people enter her life (or if they already are) you will not have to worry about her friendships. 
    She will never be a social queen and don't try to make her one. 
    The biggest thing I needed help with at her age was homework/school work. I didn't know it at the time, but my difficulties learning (I was very smart but I'd get stuck on strange things) were to do with my ASD problems. These may differ to your daughter's so I won't get specific. Homework was hopeless for me. I couldn't get myself to do it, I became overwhelmed with the thought and so upset that I needed to put a movie on before it was more than I could handle. Before I knew it I was in detention for not completing homework repeatedly on time. If this is her, you may need to teach her ways to process her homework at home. She may need guidance or visual aids to help. Speak with an OT about this.
    I must go but please ask me anything you like. Being 14 with ASD is not easy. Watch for depression (i can help with advice there too). 
    Good luck. People with ASD are the  best kind of people but it can be sad to watch them struggle.
    From a Woman with HF ASD and a mother of a daughter (3yo) with ASD

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