Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Treatment Tuesday - Asperger's Syndrome


This assessment is for Mara, who is writing a YA novel about a child with Asperger's Syndrome. She asked about the likelihood of a teen with Asberger's taking a driving test, failing, and then wanting to take the test again. My response is below.

First of all, Asperger's is an autism spectrum disorder. These indivduals typically have more language preservation (as well as cognitive development in general) than people with Autism, but they are similar in that people with Asberger's have difficulties in social situations and also have restricted, stereotyped patterns of behaviors and interests. See this article here for more information about the disorder itself.

Now, on to Mara's question and the feasibility of her plot element centered around driving. I believe there are several "aspies" (as they call themselves) who drive, and drive well...but by and large, a fair percentage don't. On this website here (http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt53942.html) there is a sampling of posts by people with Aspergers who are writing in about whether they drive, why or why not. People with Asbergers have limited social interaction (although not as much as those with Autism) and actually most fear social encounters. So if this character managed to fight that enough to get behind the wheel with an instructor next to him...and then fails, it might be a tad unlikely for him to want to take the test again. At least any time soon.

Thanks for writing in, Mara! Hope this helps.

Just as aside for any author writing about a person with a developmental or mental disability: It's important in today's time to make sure to refer to these individuals as "people/children with Aspergers," or whatever disorder they might have, and not Asperger children or adults. The disorder does not define them as a person, and Regional Centers that work with them adhere to a person-centered planning model, which does not look at a disorder/disability from the medical model of what's wrong with a person. It would be considered offensive to refer to them any other way.

This service is for fictional characters only, so any resemblance to real life examples is entirely coincidental. Any other fictional character assessment questions can be directed to charactertherapist@hotmail.com.

Thanks!
Jeannie
"The Character Therapist"

4 comments:

Mara said...

Jeannie,

Thanks ~ Yes, it does help. It's a good example to research, research, and research!

I'm looking forward in reading your posts.

Mara :-)

Jessica said...

What a cool blog Jeannie! Maybe I'll send you a question sometime about my characters. :-)
Congrats on the word count! You're almost done. Woohoo! :-)

Ralene said...

I love this new section, Jeannie. I think it's going to be a great addition to your blog!

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