Asperger's and activities

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Asperger's and activities

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Now, a lot of kids with autism spectrum disorders are pretty socially isolated, and a lot of times parents will come to me and want suggestions about which types of extracurricular activities to get them enrolled in, or clubs or sports. But the reality is that there's no one good answer. The reality is that extracurricular activities should really be based on your child's interest. Many parents will come in and their kid will be enrolled in karate classes, for example. And usually that's because they want their child to know how to protect themselves and be able to defend themselves if they get into any kind of trouble. They'll also have them in swimming classes because they want them to be safe in the water. Or even have them in music classes because they want them to expand their musical abilities. But the reality is that if your kids aren't interested in martial arts or swimming or music, then that's not really going to be a good source of friends for them. And we have to think about extracurriculars as being a source of friends for our kids in the spectrum. And so think about what is your child interested in. If they're interested in technology and computers, then maybe getting them enrolled in a computer club or computer classes would be a good idea. Or if they're into anime, maybe art classes or an anime club or gaming, there's gaming clubs everywhere. So really start to think about extracurricular activities in a new way. But really it should be based on what your child is interested in, not what you think that they should be interested in.

Watch Liz Laugeson, PsyD's video on Asperger's and activities...

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Liz Laugeson, PsyD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  Dr. Laugeson is the Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is a collaborative research initiative between The Help Group and the UCLA Semel Institute, dedicated to developing and expanding applied clinical research in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  She is also the Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based clinic providing parent-assisted social skills training for adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. 

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, and Australia. Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

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