Aspergers syndrome is called a “high functioning” type of autism spectrum disorder. It is no longer recognised as a disorder on its own, but rather as part of a broader category known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The symptoms of an individual with aspergers are much less severe than in someone diagnosed with ASD.

When you first meet an individual with aspergers, you may notice that they are extremely intelligent individuals, however they may have some difficulty interacting and engaging with those around them. The symptoms of aspergers develops in early childhood and is noticeable by parents when their child does not make eye contact, or they do not know how to react in social situations and may seem socially awkward. Individuals with aspergers also are unable to read emotions of others and cannot link body language to how a person may feel or is reacting to them or to a situation. The individual with aspergers themselves is unable to show emotions, such as anger towards someone who is being nasty or laughing in humorous situations. People with aspergers may also speak in a very monotone way but being as intelligent as they are, they will speak at lengths about themselves or topics that they hold at high interests.

People with aspergers also often dislike change, they become set in a routine of what they may eat and how their day is planned out.
An aspergers diagnosis can be made by mental health experts such as psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and paediatricians, they will observe the child in different situations to see how he behaves and communicates in certain situations before diagnosis is made.

There are many different types of treatments that can help people living with aspergers. At the Star Academy, we use an approach called applied behavioural analysis, which is evidence based treatment, to help a child that is on the autism spectrum. We understand that each child is unique and their needs are specific thus we focus on understanding why behaviours occur and develop ways to increase behaviours that are positive while decreasing behaviours that bring about a negative impact in the child’s life. We work on arming children with skills that are helpful for them to engage in society in a more acceptable way. We work on academics, language, social skills, self-help skills and so much more. These are all designed to help the children become more independent and able to lead as normal and happy a life as possible.

Children with aspergers syndrome will benefit tremendously from receiving treatment that has been proven to work and which will ensures results, hence why applied behaviour analysis is the recommended choice for children with aspergers. Early intervention is key and will help not only the child but their families because they will be more at ease knowing the child is on the road to success!

When asked if autism has a cure of if there are treatments to cure autism, the answer is that this is different for every individual. The reason for this is because every single autism case is a different one. There might be a few common traits or problematic behaviors that will occur in more than one individual but overall each person diagnosed with autism has their own set of specific traits or problematic behaviors which will then need specialized and individual (one on one) treatment. Successful cures for autism include behavioral therapies as well as medical or in some cases a combination of the two. A very successful behavioral therapy most commonly used is ABA (applied behaviour analysis). There have been patients that have been in ABA treatment and many problematic behaviors have been cured or cease to exist after the treatment. Treatment has no time limit, this meaning that it can be over a short period of time for some but for others it can be for much longer. This does not mean that the treatment is not effective, it could just be dependant on the patients severity or how receptive they are to the treatment. The “ABA cure” if you will, can be seen as harsh to many. There are many arguments and different opinions to it by many different people including older patients who still have autism. However the results are phenomenal till date. It is the notion that taking one undesirable behaviour, finding the route of this problematic behaviour and changing its course (treatment) to lead it to a more desirable behaviour which will allow the patient to live a better life (cure). ABA works well when it is paired with consistency, the treatment has a more effective end result (cure) when it is repeated continuously and adapted to by the patient. Many autism cures are also said to have a very big connection with the medical side of the human body. One that is very common amongst patients with autism and has come up in most patients is called gut bacteria. It is said that the bacteria in the gut can cause the severity of the problem behaviour to increase. The most common form of gut bacteria is yeast. The higher aggravated it is the more the patients have to deal with during their treatment on the route to a cure. Yeast can come from sugars, foods and just an unhealthy gut. Therefore it is advisable that through the treatment process a specified diet that is specific for that patient and the type of medical conflicts that could be causing more damage rather than cure, would aid the patient’s medical side and could possibly lead to a faster treatment with the end goal being a cure. In conclusion patients with autism or those seeking for treatment on their behalf should consider both behavioral therapies as well as a thorough check medically and any form of medical therapies that would aid in autism cures and treatments.

You have just been told that your child/teenager has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. You are filled with anxiety and a baffling array of questions that leaves you in a state of shock and disbelief. How do I manage to raise a child with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa? What help is out there? You search the internet for hours on end trying to find some sort of help here in South Africa. With the limited resources to consider living in South Africa, you fall further into a pit of hopeless and helplessness.

Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa is not a life sentence of limited resources or lack of adequate schooling system. At the Star Academy, we offer personalised intervention tailor made to fit your child with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. The programmes are designed to look at both the strengths and challenges that your child with Asperger’s syndrome have and foster a road to recovery.

Using an evidence-based treatment planned called Applied Behavioural Analysis, the Star Academy has helped many persons with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. People living with Asperger in South Africa have different support needs based on level of functioning, age, lifestyle and personal beliefs. The Star Academy support and nurture these differences and embrace the differences. Persons living with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa are different but not less. And here at the Star Academy, we look at the child not the diagnosis. Each child with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa are not made from the same cookie cutter neither should their interventions. The individualised intervention plan drawn up by trained and highly educated supervisors ensure that your child with Asperger’s syndrome living in South Africa is aimed for recovery and quality of life.
Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa has become part of the fabric of society. Many people, both ordinary and famous, rich or poor are equally diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mozart to name a few have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome but their diagnosis didn’t hinder their successes. Their quirky absorptions in, say, physics, sporting stats or investment strategies add enormously to human advancement. Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa is equally beneficial to our South African context. Instead of drawing lines of division between us, let us embrace people with differences and utilise their talents to push society further.

The Star Academy are at the forefront of combating the stereotypes and discrimination with people living with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. We fight for the ones who feel a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. We fight for the parent who cannot see the future for their child with Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. We fight for the children who feel different and out of place. Together we can make a difference! Every child deserves to the right interventions. Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa is recoverable!

– Nicole Mtshali

Upon first interaction, one can notice something different in children with Asperger syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome in children can be loosely characterised as someone who has heighten intellectual abilities on one side of the coin and somewhat social awkward on the other side with obsessive behaviours. Asperger’s syndrome in children can be defined as a “high-functioning” variation of Autism. In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), added Asperger’s under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, the term Asperger’s syndrome is still used by many professionals. So what does Asperger’s syndrome in children look like. Asperger’s syndrome can be one of the most misunderstood syndromes in children and can result in children being boxed in stereotypical and prejudices.

Asperger’s Syndrome in children can include but not limited to the following symptoms or behaviour.

  • difficulty making friends of the same age, children with ASD may feel more comfortable with adults or much younger children
  • engages in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is still listening or trying to change the subject
  • displays unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures
  • does not empathize with or seems insensitive to others’ feelings and has a hard time “reading” other people or may have difficulty understanding humour
  • doesn’t understand the give-and-take of conversation or engage in “small talk”
  • seems egocentric or self-absorbed
  • may speak in a voice that is monotone, rigid, jerky or unusually fast
  • may be extremely literal or have difficulty understanding the nuances of language, despite having a good vocabulary

At the Star Academy, Asperger’s Syndrome in children can be managed in a respectful manner and teach the necessary skills to navigate the child’s world, free from any form of stigma and discrimination. At the Star Academy, we offer more than just a programme that will greatly benefit your child, we offer hope in recovery. Asperger’s syndrome in children is recoverable! With an individualised programme offering client-centred interventions, the Star Academy strive to make a difference in each child that walks through our doors. Asperger’s syndrome in children should be treated more than just the diagnosis. The Star Academy strive to break the boundaries of the label and offer evidence-based therapy that surpasses the labels that children with Asperger’s syndrome face every day.

Early intervention is the key! Don’t wait to take a step into the right direction, get your child the help today. Asperger’s syndrome in children is not a death sentence. Recovery is possible! There is always hope! Help spread the awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome in children. Awareness fosters more recovery cases and help change the very fabric of society.

– Nicole Mtshali

What is Aspergers? To most people without awareness, they will think of the 1988 movie, “Rainman” where the main actor is portrayed as an adult with Autism or Aspergers. Naively misguided due to a large gap in awareness, society has put a stereotypical labels on those with Aspergers. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) which also classifies Aspergers as a mild form of Autism, people with Aspergers can include but not limited to the following symptoms:

  • difficulty making friends of the same age, children with ASD may feel more comfortable with adults or much younger children
  • engages in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is still listening or trying to change the subject
  • displays unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures
  • does not empathize with or seems insensitive to others’ feelings and has a hard time “reading” other people or may have difficulty understanding humour
  • doesn’t understand the give-and-take of conversation or engage in “small talk”
  • seems egocentric or self-absorbed
  • may speak in a voice that is monotone, rigid, jerky or unusually fast
  • may be extremely literal or have difficulty understanding the nuances of language, despite having a good vocabulary

Many parents with children with Aspergers are caught in a catch 22 situation. On one hand they children exceeds the intellectuals abilities compared to their peers but also face social, motor and sensory processing challenges. The Star Academy provide advance programming services to help the child with Aspergers manage and control such challenging behaviours. Children with Aspergers can recovery. It is possible for a person with Aspergers to live a normal life.

It is also possible for your child with Aspergers to attend a mainstream schooling system with the help of many highly trained instructors at the Star Academy. We offer in school facilitation or shadowing to offer a person with Aspergers to navigate the many hurdles at school. The schooling environment for people with Aspergers can be daunting and anxiety can result from the inadequate skills needed. Typical children navigate this daily however persons with Aspergers are fighting so much more than just their own internal concerns. With adequate support and consistent interventions, a person with Aspergers can ultimately functioning within their own environment.

For parents with a child with Aspergers, there is hope for recovery, there is hope for the future and there is hope for a better life. Awareness and information is the key in changing society. Resource yourself with what is available and make the change today. The clock is ticking against us and early intervention for a child with Aspergers is the way forward. Give your child with Aspergers the best chance they can get.

– Nicole Mtshali

Asperger’s Syndrome as a diagnosis no longer exists, as it was subsumed under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, the term is still commonly used both inside and outside of the autism community. Asperger’s Syndrome was considered the mild end of the autism spectrum, and yet the impact of Aspergers symptoms on the individual and the family should not be underestimated or dismissed. This article outlines some of the Aspergers symptoms that can present themselves in home and school life.

  • Impairment in imagination
  • Impairment in non-verbal communication skills such as using and responding to body language, gestures and facial expressions
  • Difficulties in establishing and maintaining friendships
  • Difficulties in interpreting and appropriately responding to social cues
  • Difficulties in learning abstract concepts
  • Impairment in social conversation skills
  • Underdeveloped emotional self-control skills
  • Difficulties in perspective-taking
  • Lack of insight into the thoughts, feelings, preferences, beliefs and opinions of others
  • Peculiarities in spoken speech such as odd accents or flat intonation
  • Limited eye contact
  • Lack of understanding when it comes to social reciprocity
  • Lack of tact, leading to them making insensitive comments or having inappropriate reactions to the words and actions of others
  • Literal or “black and white” thinking without an ability to grade reactions to situations appropriately
  • Difficulties with changes in routines or with transitions
  • Rigidities or inflexibilities
  • Other deficits in executive functioning skills such as organizing and planning
  • Difficulties in understanding figures of speech or otherwise figurative language
  • Sensory processing issues, making environments that are completely tolerable for other people, very uncomfortable for them
  • Slight to moderate impairment in motor functions making things like pencil control more difficult for them than their average classmate

It is important to state that although these Aspergers symptoms can make life difficult for the individual and the people around him/her, people with Asperger’s Syndrome are still people in their own rite and have many endearing traits and qualities. They are some of the most intriguing people you will meet, and with their penchant for honesty, they are good friends to have!

In conclusion, the Aspergers symptoms may not be as severe as the symptoms of classical autism, but because many children and adolescents with Aspergers are expected to cope independently in mainstream settings and need to be functional, contributing members of their family units, individuals with Aspgers symptoms deserve just as well tailored intervention programmes as those with classical autism symptoms in order to achieve their best individual outcomes. A diagnosis of any neurodevelopmental disorder can be challenging. An Asperger’s diagnosis will be taken just as hard as an Autism diagnosis and support should be provided accordingly.

Aspergers Society South Africa – Aspergers Syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder with traits of having difficulties with social interaction, nonverbal communication and repetitive and routine behavior patterns. Aspergers has recently been included into the vast Autism Spectrum. This also indicates that AS symptoms are less severe than those that are present on the spectrum.

Aspergers society is an organization in America that provides necessary resources to those people who are families or parents to a child with AS. These resources include education, professionals and support groups that are easily available. They also provide articles with necessary information pertaining to the vast number of questions that families need answered.

Aspergers Society South Africa – Education

To integrate AS children into mainstream schools is a great challenge for many children and parents. AS children may be able to cope in a mainstream school but are still susceptible to experiencing sensory problems, such as visual or auditory over stimulation, not being abler to adequately deal with large number of people surrounding them, anxiety etc. Through the society, suitable schools are made available to parents in which to enroll their children in. The society also provides information for home schooling and how to go about doing and managing this. The society also provides school related resources to parents such as speech therapists, OT’s, psychologists, doctors etc. These all help in the successful integration of an AS child into mainstream school.

Aspergers Society South Africa – Support groups

Parents of AS children benefit greatly from support groups because they help in the understanding of the disorder. One of the main reasons is that parents get to know that there are other people in a similar situation to them which helps in lessening the pressure of the unknown. By sharing experiences, their own resources and feelings, parents gain a lot of necessary information needed to deal with their own specific situation. Any help is a great help. There are also support groups for the person with AS themselves where other people with AS come together and have a discussion pertaining to their personal struggles etc which helps in knowing that there are people out there who are similar to you and share some of the experiences that they might.

Aspergers Society South Africa – Professionals

Parents of children with AS realize that their child will need a vast number of professionals to help their child deal with their specific difficulties. Professional such as speech therapists, OT’s, neuropsychologists, biomedical doctors, ABA facilities etc. are greatly needed by all to help in the fight to help the children. The society provides city specific links to necessary professionals who are trained to specifically help children with AS. These professionals are also tried and tested because many of the other parents have already used or are currently using these doctors.

Is there a need for such a society in South Africa?

No doubt that having such a group readily available in South Africa would be of a great help to families of an AS person but there are many readily available resources here. Off course the first idea would be to Google and that would yield you great results but why not rather try out an organization like The Star Academy. They provide a wholesome take on AS and related disorders. They also provide a holistic approach towards AS and have a treasure cove of many related professionals to help these parents. The Star Academy can also provide a child specific program, tailor made program to help a child with AS overcome their problems. They also provide great support of mainstream school integration and help with providing a facilitator to go with the child to school in case of any issues occurring. The also have a great knowledge of biomedical interventions which can be of great help to any child that has AS. You could even say that The Star Academy is the aspergers society of South Africa as they are based around the country and are always available to help no matter where you are.

Aspergers Onderrig, alhoewel uitdagende gedrag dikwels die primêre struikelblok is vir die ondersteuning van studente met Asperger se sindroom (herklassifiseer as ASD volgens die DSM 5), is daar min gepubliseerde studies om opvoeders te rig op die mees effektiewe gedrag benaderings vir hierdie studente. Wat ons vandag by Star Academy ken en implementeer, is grootliks gebaseer op die navorsing deur Ivor Lovaas gedoen, en ondervinding wat sterk op strategieë van die Toegepaste Gedragsanalise- (oftewel Applied Behaviour Analysis) metodologie berus. Wat egter duidelik blyk, is dat effektiewe gedragsondersteuning hoogs geïndividualiseerde praktyke vereis wat primêre probleme met sosiale begrip en interaksies, pragmatiese kommunikasie, angs vermoë, voorkeure vir samehorigheid en reëls en ritualistiese gedrag aanspreek.

Dit is belangrik om ‘n geïndividualiseerde opvoedkundige plan in plek te hê om jou Aspergers kind te help presteer. Dit kan hulle help om op skool te slaag, sosiale vaardighede te bou en hul selfvertroue sowel as onafhanklikheid te verbeter, en ‘n aktiewe lid van die klaskamer te word. Daar is verskillende tipes leer omgewings vir kinders met Asperger se sindroom, naamlik toegewyde skole, toegewyde klasse, geïntegreerde klasse, onttrekkings klasse, hoofstroom klasse met direkte ondersteuning en hoofstroom klasse met indirekte ondersteuning. Daarmee saam, wissel Asperger se skole in die tipe ondersteuning wat hulle bied. Verskillende skole bied verskillende akkommodasie, aanpassings en dienste aan vir kinders met Asperger se sindroom. Dit is egter nie jou enigste opsies nie. Met ‘n toegewyde Star Academy-span bevorder ons inklusiewe onderwys in hoofstroom skole, met geïndividualiseerde onderwysplanne, om u kind te help om suksesvol te wees. Ons vind dikwels dat solank u kind die voorvereistes vir ‘n hoofstroom skool behaal en / of met voldoende ondersteuning betree, die hoofstroom-skoolomgewing beter sosiale gedrags-modelle bied en meer geleenthede om die sosiale en perspektiefnemings-vaardighede te oefen wat u kind nodig het.

Die doel van ons Star Academy-skool fasiliteringsprogramme vir Aspergers Onderrig is om ‘n opvoedings plan vir die kind aan te pas wat hulle die beste skoolomgewing vir hul vermoëns sal bied. Ons doel is dat die kind ‘n aktiewe en uiteindelik onafhanklike lid van die klaskamer moet wees. Die toekenning van ‘n opgeleide Star Academy-fasiliteerder aan die kind sal die kind toelaat om op dreef te bly en uiteindelik die einddoel – die verwydering van die fasiliteerder en die onafhanklikheid van die kind by die skool – te bereik.

Sodra ‘n Star Academy supervisor toegewys is, sal die supervisor met die ouer ontmoet, ‘n inname assessering uitvoer op grond van die 8 areas van menslike funksionering, en die gekose skool benader om die skool plasing te bespreek. Met die eerste ontmoeting met die skool sal die supervisor bespreek wat nodig is om die betrokke kind suksesvol in die skool te plaas en watter doelwitte ons moet bereik. Die aanvanklike ontmoeting met die skool sal items dek, soos hoeveel ure per dag die kind by die skool geplaas moet word met fasilitering, op watter tye van die dag en watter lesse die kind moet bywoon en enige ander spesifieke besonderhede wat relevant is tot die kind.

By die Star Academy maak ons gebruik van ‘n integrasie tussen ‘n verskeidenheid omgewings. Byvoorbeeld, sommige kinders mag die oggend by die skool met hul Star Academy-instrukteurs bywoon en dan vir die res van die dag terugkom na die Akademie vir een-tot-een-ABA-sessies. Sodra die Star Academy supervisor u kind geassesseer het, sal hy / sy ‘n aanbeveling maak ten opsigte van skoolure teenoor een-tot-een onderrig.

Op die outisme spektrum word die simptome van Asperger se sindroom as relatief lig beskou. Kinders met die sindroom het wel spesiale onderwysbehoeftes en die toepaslikheid van hul opvoedkundige situasie is ‘n kritieke deel van hul akademiese- en persoonlike sukses van die voorskoolse jare tot en met universiteit.

Ouers moet ‘n verskeidenheid faktore ondersoek wanneer hulle besluit oor ‘n onderwysplan vir hul Asperger-kind en skool, terwyl hulle ook in ag neem dat die uiteindelike doelwit die volle onafhanklikheid van die kind in die samelewing is. Hierdie faktore sal insluit:

  • Logistiek en nabyheid van die skool
  • Vorige sukses en ervaring van skole en organisasies met inklusiewe onderwys en opgeleide professionele persone om ‘n gesamentlike benadering te vorm
  • Kwalifikasies, opleiding en ondervinding van personeel
  • Grootte van die klas
  • Onderwyser se interaksie met die kind

By die Star Academy verstaan ons dat daar geen silwer koeël is wanneer dit kom by die werk met kinders op die Outisme Spektrum nie en dat min algemene strategieë die gewenste resultate sal lewer omdat geen twee kinders op die spektrum dieselfde is nie. ‘n Aspergers-skool kan begrip bied vir die akademiese onderrig van ASD-kinders, maar akademiese groei is nie die enigste area waar hierdie kinders professionele ondersteuning benodig om hulle te help met die ontwikkeling van sekere vaardighede wat later in die lewe nodig is nie. By die Star Academy ondersteun ons jou kind op alle gebiede waarin hulle hulp nodig het, om ‘n suksesvolle lid van die klaskamer te word.

Om hierdie besluite te neem, kan enige ouer die skrik op die lyf jaag. Terwyl ‘n Aspergers-skool ‘n gepaste plasing kan wees, verbreed toegang tot hoofstroom onderrig met ‘n geïndividualiseerde onderwysplan in plek en ‘n span van Raad-gesertifiseerde Outisme-tegnici tot jou beskikking, u opsies. Wanneer dit kom by die ontwerp van programme en opvoedkundige planne vir kinders op die Outisme-spektrum, verstaan die span by die Star Academy al die faktore en invloede wat betrokke is. ‘n Geïntegreerde model met geïndividualiseerde programme moet toegepas word om te verseker dat alle faktore nie net vir die kind in ag geneem word nie, maar die gesin as geheel.

Samevattend is daar geen twyfel dat ‘n kind met Asperger se sindroom ondersteuning nodig het op skool en ander ontwikkelingsgebiede nie. Alhoewel Aspergers-skole of spesiale skole opsies is, maar soos reeds genoem, moet Asperger-skole eerder in die hoofstroom-klas geïntegreer word en die etiket en die uitsluiting wat daarmee gepaard gaan, moet verwyder word. Geïndividualiseerde programme, wat in samewerking met skole toegepas word, of toegewyde individuele terapie wat gebaseer is op ervaring en navorsing, lewer egter beter resultate en vinniger ontwikkeling vir die kinders. Dit is noodsaaklik om ‘n opgeleide persoon, soos ‘n Raad Gesertifiseerde Gedragsontleder (Board Certified Behaviour Analyst) of Raadgesertifiseerde Outisme Tegnikus (Board Certified Autism Technician), in hierdie verband te raadpleeg ten einde die regte onderwysplan, intervensie plan, skool plasing en ABA-instruksie op te stel.

Ons hoop om u te bemagtig met die inligting om u te help om besluite te neem oor behandelings opsies en Asperger-skole. Ons moedig ouers aan om hul eie navorsing sover moontlik te doen. Die Star Academy se webwerf is gevul met hulpbronne wat daarop gemik is om opvoedkundige besluite vir ouers te vergemaklik en ondersteuning te bied. Vir verdere inligting oor die beste opsies vir u kind met betrekking tot Asperger-skole of ander ondersteuningsprogramme wat u as ouer kan implementeer en programme wat vir u kind toeganklik is, kontak gerus die Star Academy vir Aspergers Onderrig.

– Amber Brooke-Smith

As children with ‘Aspergers Syndrome’ (a previously used diagnosis, which is now reclassified as part of the autism spectrum) all have different needs and skills, an ‘Aspergers School’ should be equipped to provide individualized programmes. The Star Academy (with branches in Johannesburg and Pretoria) not only specializes in implementing individualized programmes, but the child’s progress is continuously monitored. In this way, the programme can be adapted as soon as progress is being made. Consequently, new skills can be focused on and acquired.

The Star Academy mainly focuses on the development of programmes based on Applied Behavioural Analysis theory and principles, with the goal being to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning. As ‘Aspergers Syndrome’ is most effectively treated when a collaborative team approach are followed, The Star Academy works closely with parents and relevant stakeholders such as teachers and caregivers. A child with ‘Asperger Syndrome’ might also see several professionals. Consequently, The Star Academy collaborates with other professionals as a multidisciplinary approach contributes even more to a child with ‘Aspergers Syndrome’ accelerating in the development of skills and lessening undesirable behaviour. The Star Academy as school for children with ‘Aspergers Syndrome’ (amongst being a school for any child on the Autism Spectrum) therefore contributes to skill development and extinction of undesirable behaviour across a variety of settings and people.

As the main goal of an ‘Aspergers School’ should be to enable the child to fully be a part of the mainstream school environment (as the child often has the prerequisite skills for the mainstream school environment), school facilitation is often regarded as a ‘bridging’ intervention from the ‘Aspergers School’ to the mainstream school. When a parent contacts The Star Academy, the child is initially observed in his or her classroom environment if he or she is enrolled in school. This is done by the supervisor assigned to the child. During this initial phase, the supervisor speaks to all relevant stakeholders. Consequently a holistic perspective can be developed on how the child can be supported to develop to the best of his or her abilities. Hereafter a workshop is held, which is led by the supervisor. The child, the child’s parent(s) and the identified members on the child’s team (including an assigned team lead), all attend the workshop. During the workshop, the child’s current level of functioning, demonstration of skills and possible challenges, are further explored. After the workshop, the supervisor writes an intervention plan based on all the relevant data that could be gathered to enable the child to develop to his or her full potential. The team members make sure that the intervention plan gets implemented. According to the need of the child, he or she might first only have sessions at The Star Academy’s centres. However, with children with ‘Asperger Syndrome’ it is often the case that school facilitation starts very shortly after the initial workshop. During school facilitation, a school facilitator (someone on the child’s team), accompanies the child to school, and facilitate learning with the school, in the least invasive manner.

With the right support provided by an ‘Aspergers School’, a child with ‘Asperger Syndrome’ can learn to overcome the social and communication challenges that he or she might be experiencing. Consequently they will be supported and enabled to do well in school and go on to succeed in life.

Aspergers in children, Asperger syndrome, or Asperger’s, is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013, it became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). One of the reasons for the inclusion of Asperger’s syndrome in the ASD group, is that the ASD group of related mental health issues shares some symptoms. Therefore, Asperger’s syndrome is technically no longer a diagnosis on its own. Even so, lots of people still use the term Asperger’s.

The condition is what doctors call a “high-functioning” type of ASD. This means the symptoms are less severe than other kinds of autism spectrum disorders. Symptoms include a lack of social skills, communication challenges and sometimes problems with motor regulation. Symptoms may also include the lack of ability to understand the perspectives and feelings of others. The challenges experienced in understanding the perspectives and feelings of others, often manifest in difficulty understanding nonverbal signals and difficulty in deciphering body language. Furthermore, an orientation toward detail and an interest in systemizing are also generally found in children with formerly known ‘Asperger syndrome’.

Aspergers in children generally leaves language and cognitive skills intact. Thus, strong verbal language skills and intellectual ability is what distinguish formerly known ‘Asperger syndrome’ from classical Autism. Apart from the mentioned symptoms and challenges often experienced by children with Asperger, they often also demonstrate specific strengths. These strengths can include remarkable focus and persistence, the aptitude for recognizing patterns and attention to detail. A small percentage of individuals with autism also present with ‘savant’ abilities – incredible talent in areas such as language, math, art or music. This is the presentation of autism favoured for presentation in movies.

Aspergers in children: For a child to be diagnsosed with ‘Asperger syndrome’, he or she should have been diagnosed by either a psychologist, pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician or a psychiatrist. All of the mentioned mental health experts specializes in ASDs and should therefore be consulted if any signs or symptoms of a possible diagnosis of ‘Asperger Syndrome’ are observed. As the condition is often treated with a collaborative team approach, a parent of a child with ‘Asperger Syndrome’ might see several professionals for their child’s care.

Every child with ‘Asperger Syndrome’ is differently and consequently a different approach to treatment is needed for each child. Treatment may include social skills training, speech-language therapy (to improve communication skills, for example teaching the child to include intonation when he or she speaks), cognitive behavioral therapy, parent education and training, and applied behavioural analysis (a technique that encourages positive social and communication skills and discourages undesirable behavior).

With the right treatment, the social and communication challenges seen in Aspergers in children can be overcome and/or compensated for so that these children can go on to do well in school and succeed in life.