Home > Family Services > 10 Providers for Teens with Asperger’s – Recommendations from Parents Who Have Been There

10 Providers for Teens with Asperger’s – Recommendations from Parents Who Have Been There

Over 700 parents of teenagers with Asperger’s Disorder have registered on MyAutismTeam.com – a site where parents of children on the autism spectrum connect, share recommendations of local providers, and share tips with each other.  That’s about 20% of all parents on the site.   These parents have spent years building up their “autism teams” – all of the providers needed to help their children develop and thrive.  They have endured a lot of “trial and error” to find what therapies (and which providers) work best for their teens.  We looked at all the parents of children with Asperger’s Disorder on MyAutismTeam, narrowed it down to those with teens on the spectrum, and read through their stories and teams.   Summarized below are five of the more common, and five more unique, types of providers on these parents’ teams.

5 Common Team Members for Teens with Asperger’s

5.         Pediatrician – Every child needs one, but finding one with some understanding of autism and sensitivity to the needs of a child on the spectrum is important.   Autism was not nearly as recognized 10 years ago (when many of these parents were first seeking answers) as it is now, so some parents have had to “break in” their pediatricians over the years – sticking to their guns and insisting on a referral for a diagnosis when the pediatrician has told them something like, “Speech delays are normal for a boy of his age”.   You may not find a pediatrician with formal training in autism, but it’s helpful to find those that regularly see kids on the spectrum.   If you need help, there are over 670 pediatricians marked “Autism-Yes” on MyAutismTeam (meaning another parent or our partner, Autism Speaks, has indicated that the pediatrician is experienced working with children on the spectrum.)   If you can recommend a fabulous pediatrician, please find them on MyAutismTeam and add them to your team.   A word from you can save another parent months of “trial and error.”

4.         Psychiatrist / Psychologist – For initial and ongoing evaluations that not only help guide the types of therapies you pursue for your child, but also help in securing necessary services from schools and insurance companies.  A psychiatrist has a medical degree and can prescribe medications.  A psychologist has a doctoral-level degree in psychology.  (Note: Many parents report seeing a Neurologist as well.)

3.         Dentists – It’s hard enough to bring a neurotypical child to the dentist every six months, but to a child with Asperger’s and sensory sensitivity, a trip to the dentist can be daunting (even for a teen).  That’s probably why so many parents list a dentist as part of their Autism Teams.    Finding a dentist that is sensitive to those needs and skilled at working around them is a big deal.   Some parents seek out dentists that put their patients under anesthesia to make the process go more smoothly.  Check out Autism Speak’s Dental Tool Kit for more tips on making visits to the dentist office less stressful and more productive.

2.         Early Intervention Therapists – When asked “What therapies worked best for your child” more parents respond that ABA, occupational, social integration and speech therapy were the most effective in helping their children make progress.    They seek these therapies out through their IEPs at school, privately if they can afford them, and through other local resources where they exist.  One of the most common challenges parents discuss on the site is helping their teens build social skills and relationships with other kids their age.   BethComptonMathie ofMorristown,Tennessee explains, “My son used to have friends but the older he gets, the harder it gets. [He] is focused on video games.”  She has tried social classes over the summer and her son now works with a psychologist who visits the school each week from the same summer program.  Other parents have reported that occupational therapists have vastly improved their child’s handwriting.

1.         Respite Care –  Every parent needs a break of some sort.  A time to run an errand , do something for themselves, or just recuperate.  Many parents list the local chapters of Easter Seals as an invaluable resource for finding respite care and preserving their personal sanity.   As one veteran mom responded on lessons she’s learned, “I wish I knew how important it was that I make myself a priority. It’s the little things that I carve out in MY life to self-nurture that give me the strength to live, laugh and love more deeply today and be the best parent I can be.”

5 More Unique Providers You May Not Have Considered

5.         Martial Arts Instructors – Martial arts from an understanding instructor can promote focus, discipline, self-confidence, and physical stamina.  Numerous parents on MyAutismTeam start their child in martial arts classes at age 5 or 6.  In some instances it’s an activity that dads do with their children.

4.         Horseback Riding Therapy –  Occupational therapy through horseback riding can be a wonderful experience for kids with special needs.   CaddysLady of Vancouver Washington lists two such providers on her autism team.

3.         Attorneys – Sometimes attorneys specializing in special education law have been helpful for parents struggling to get the appropriate services from their school district or in securing coverage of key therapies from insurance companies.    One New Jersey mother of a 20 year old with Asperger’s has an attorney to help secure the things the services that come after the teenage years.  “After 2 years of fighting for Transitional Education, and winning in Court, my son has almost completed his first 30 days in a specialized school.”

2.         Piano Lessons – Quite a few parents have piano teachers on their autism teams.    I think a mother of 5 year-old (not a teenager) with Asperger’s, Sharon Esch ofAlbuquerque,New Mexico, sums it up perfectly.  “Music seems to be a great therapy for [my son], giving him an opportunity to work on fine motor skills in a way that doesn’t seem like work.  Also, I think he enjoys the immediate response of hearing music when he plays, something he controls himself.”

1.         Barbers – Like the dentists, every child needs a barber, and every child on the spectrum needs a barber who “gets it.”   For a particularly inspired and touching account of the bond between one teen turned adult on the spectrum and his barber read Laura Shumaker’s brilliant piece, “Mentor, Helper Friend.”

Who’s On Your Team?

You can see all of the parents of children with Asperger’s Disorder on MyAutismTeam and read through their stories and see their teams.  You can also post on their walls and ask them questions.  If you have fabulous local providers you can recommend to other parents just starting out on this journey, we hope you’ll join MyAutismTeam and share your wisdom!

Posted byEric Peacock, GM of MyAutismTeam

@ejpeacock

  1. October 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I’m totally with the Martial Arts thoery :) It helped me a lot. It still helps we as well. I’ve come a long way because of it.

  2. October 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I have a 16yrs.old grandson has Asperge, or should I say, was told years years ago. He has been going to Summit Academy for 6 yrs. Austin is his name.Now that he is at the Summit High School building. He will not go to school at all. When I do get him there, after school is out,he stays alone in his room. Will not social with family. Can’t get him to go anywhere with me.

  3. spiritofthelamb
    October 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Eric! I think you ought to add Optometrist to the list. If a child on the spectrum is so hard to evaluate because they memorize the eye charts, they need a special needs Optometrist for that initial eye exam. I took my son repeatedly to eye doctor after eye doctor, both Ophthalmologists and Optometrists – not special needs. My son was 12 before we found Dr. Joanne Bailey, who first found my son’s astymagatism, discovered the severity of eyestrain he was experiencing, and became the ONLY one I will use to evaluate him. An eye exam is critical because, as students, our kids don’t need another barrier to their education.

    • October 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      Great suggestion! Thanks for sharing.

  4. October 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    thxs. eye doc. will do. austin does Martial Arts, he has blue belt.

  5. spiritofthelamb
    October 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    BE BRAVE! Start your own social group, like I did. Best thing I’ve done for my local community since the local arts center shot down my proposal to start a Special Needs Arts Program. I mentor another mother who runs a social group, with the promise of “it you build it, they will come…..” It’s a great way to give your child a forum to hang with other teens that face similar challenges. If you build it, they WILL come!”

  6. Ranae
    October 29, 2011 at 11:46 am

    We live in Des Moines, IA. I was wondering if anyone can point me in a direction to have a “real” eval. and diagnosis for my son. He’s been diagnosed thru AEA and his school and his pediatrician but I’d like some more testing done for him as his father is in denial! Plus, it would give me piece of mind that we are headed in the right direction with his therapy and such. Any advice would help. Thank you!!

    • Laurey
      October 30, 2011 at 3:03 am

      I live in Cedar Rapids and have had good luck with the U of I. I bekieve you can either contact the Childrens psychiatry outpaient clinic or the Center for diease and development. My son went to the Child Psych unit and was tested and then pointed in the right direction for therapies.

  7. angie.g
    October 29, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Regarding the eye doctor, ours has a program that can use pictures or letters in random order, so the kids do not just memorize it. :)

    He also benefits from riding therapy as well!

  8. October 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I am a music therapist in Sacramento, CA. I currently work with over a dozen teens and twenty somethings who have Aspergers or high functioning Autism. We have found learning an instrument with the proper guidance and understanding of their unique learning abilities is a key to unlocking so many skills and talent.

  9. October 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I love the idea of starting a special social group. I have a 16 yr old who has Autism and her refusal to go to school because of a couple of rowdy teens really limits her socializing as well as education. Not exactly sure how to start building a group, where to have them meet (our house is a bit loud as we have dogs and birds.) But, you now have me thinking of possibilities.

  10. 2xboysmom
    October 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    The hardest thing I’ve done as a mother of a child with HFA/AS was take him for an eye exam. His first eye exam took 2 hours and required holding him down to administer 2 sets of eye drops – the first for numbing, the second for dialation. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the first set in well enough, so the second set stung. I was so disappointed with the way we were treated. I would never visit that optometrist again, because despite being told upfront of my son’s sensory issues and fear of having anything in his eyes, they insisted upon dialation! I would have loved to have this resource so I could have chosen a doctor who was autism-friendly. On the other hand, the dentist hasn’t been a problem, and I worried more about that than the eye doctor.

  11. October 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    For us, the one provider I would add is dance instructor…yes I said dance instructor. My son started taking tap class with his sisters last year. His instructor is FANTASTIC, and she has brought out a side of him that I thought I might never see. He is making great strides in interpersonal relations, gross motor skills, and personal discipline!!! Thank you Stephanie Lopez – Movements in Dance, Fairmont WV.

  12. Betsy Becker
    October 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Great suggestions! My son’s entering the “tweens”. We’ve been lucky to just find an optometrist that worked well for him this time around and discovered that up ’til now his glasses were the wrong script due to issues listed above. The newer computer-aided exams help a lot, as well as finding a doc that clicks. Also, we’ve had him in piano since he was 5 and it’s been a Godsend for fine motor and self-soothing skills. GreatClips hands out Dum-Dums after haircuts. This works awesome as an instant reward for enduring the trims that we can actually get him to, BTW.

  13. bonnie
    October 30, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Great suggestions. My son is sailing on his own and feels so free. And he has a great program behid him and had his first race yesterday.

  14. October 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Rowing. If you are lucky enough to live near water – rowing is a small well focused team, it provides the opportunitiy to function as part of something – but everyone concentrates on the goal – so idle chitter chatter is reduced. My son got out of the house and started thinking of himself as something other than a bibliofile. Kudos to Mr. B for suggesting the Upper Arlington rowing teams Summer Program a few years ago. We have now expanded into biking and were up to 35miles a day………. Not coaches nor all team sports are created equal. If you find a good one add them to your support web.

  15. October 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Almost forgot – Educational Advocates. They help to focus on the RULES & know of positive resources. If you focus on the rules during any negoation – you remove the emotion. By removing the emotion it no longer becomes an us VS them – it becomes these are the rules – be them IDEA law or State Educational Policy. Sometimes you need help finding the rule book – or figuring out which rule applies – or just removing the emotion. A GOOD Educational Advocate does all of that and coaches YOU how to do that independentally as well.

  16. October 30, 2011 at 11:03 am

    its a great sugestion i have my nephiu with autisem but we live in albania and here its not a school for this child i dont not what we do…

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