High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome


High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome

Darren is 16 and in Transition year at a large secondary school. The primary focus of his attention at the moment is his computer and the online role playing game “World of Warcraft”, and would spend hours playing every night if he could!

Darren has never particularly enjoyed secondary school. There is always too much going on, too many people, too much noise and increasing demands. School started to become more stressful for Darren and his parents felt that he was continuously anxious, and that this anxiety was growing.

Darren struggled through his Junior Cert and found 3rd year a difficult time. The added pressure of exams, changing social structures and his own changing life all contributed to feelings of stress and anxiety. He achieved good results in history and maths, but his parents and teachers at the time felt that he could have achieved good results in all subjects.

Darren has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome

Darren received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 11 years old and in 5th class. Darren is coming to terms with the fact that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, although he often does not understand what it means or why he has to have it! Darren has only had one really good friend who as i...

Darren received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 11 years old and in 5th class. Darren is coming to terms with the fact that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, although he often does not understand what it means or why he has to have it!

Darren has only had one really good friend who as it turns out also has Asperger’s Syndrome. Darren is not part of a group of friends in school. He finds group situations very difficult. Even when a teacher chairs a group discussion in class he finds it difficult to follow what is going on and spends so much time and energy simply trying to follow the discussion that he doesn’t contribute his own opinions. Often wondering later why he did not add to the discussion as he did have some crucial information which may have swayed the discussion.

Darren’s difficulties are very typical for those who have Asperger’s Syndrome. The way in which Darren processes information is exacerbating his difficulties. It is as if he can only deal with small pieces of information at a time – dealing with those small pieces very well – but when there is lots of information it is as if Darren is overloaded and as a result, shuts down or retreats. This is exactly what happens in a group situation for Darren, with more than one person talking or when there are many things going on at the same time, he finds it impossible to follow and contribute.

Darren’s parents decided that a Cluas programme may help him to process information more quickly and therefore find school life easier. When Darren came to Cluas for the first time his auditory processing and listening skills were assessed and it was found that Darren did indeed have an auditory processing difficulty. The standardised tests showed that his most significant difficulty was with competing sounds – that is dealing with lots of auditory (sound) information at the same time.

Shortly after his assessment at Cluas, an individualised programme, specific to his needs was developed and Darren started his Cluas programme shortly thereafter.

He completed Listening Tests at the mid and end point of the first stage which showed slow and steady progress in his auditory processing. Darren appeared nervous and anxious during these first reviews at Cluas, however he became more comfortable over time and Darren started to open up and contribute more.

When Darren came back for stage 2 review, he surprised both the Cluas staff – he was friendlier, more open, and appeared to be in great form. His father described how the past month had been one of the easiest for Darren, that he was listening better, seemed more relaxed and more confident. His father also described how his posture, balance and co-ordination all had showed improvements – and while he was still at times an awkward teenager it was much better than before! His Listening tests mirrored these improvements; we could see that he was better able to process auditory information and that his hyper sensitivity to sound was much reduced.

With stage 3 the improvements continued and Darren appeared happy and content. His father described how while there had been some ups and downs during the past month, on the whole things were much better than before. During the one month integration period between stage 2 and 3, Darren had become much more outspoken, his father describing him as being cheeky, answering back and pushing boundaries at home. This was new for the family as Darren had always been a quiet, (overly) obedient and co-operative young man. While his father had struggled with these changes he was also delighted as Darren was now acting much more like a “typical teenager”.

With stage 3 completed, a review was organised. This review showed that Darren had made significant improvements in his Auditory Processing and Listening skills, however there were further gains to be made. His father described how Darren was now like a different person and that he and Darren were delighted at the results.

Following the results of the review it was recommended that Darren could benefit from further stages and his father is considering arranging more stages to be completed during the summer holidays. He feels that this will put him in good standing for his leaving cert years.

The anxiety and stress that seemed to be a feature of every day is significantly reduced, and this has allowed Darren to broaden his horizons and not be constantly worried about what the school day is going to bring.

Darren is full of dreams and wishes for the future. He thinks that he would like to study computer science in university, perhaps focusing on computer game design. He has realised that he will need to work hard in 5th and 6th year to secure the points for the course that he would like to do.

At the encouragement of his father he has joined a “Role Playing Game” club which meets every Friday evening and friendships are starting to develop.

Darren still has difficulties relating to Asperger’s Syndrome but these are not as significant as they were a year ago. He is a happier young man, his self confidence and self esteem are growing all the time and he sees a bright and contented future for himself.



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