The components required to build a therapeutic relationship with children diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome
The aim of this study was to explore and describe the components required to build a therapeutic relationship with children diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Through this study therapists and other professionals working with these children could be guided to form functioning and healthy therapeutic relationships with children diagnosed with AS. An inductive, qualitative method was used to gain insight into the components required to build a therapeutic relationship with children diagnosed with AS by exploring the opinions and experiences of a selection of therapists from different therapeutic contexts that work with children diagnosed with AS. Six participants working with children diagnosed with AS at schools for children with learning difficulties, Autism and AS or therapists who form part of the referral teams of these schools in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan took part in the study. Participants consisted of Occupational therapists, Speech therapists, Counselling Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists. The researcher used semi-structured interviews to explore and describe the opinions of the participants on the components required to build a therapeutic relationship with children diagnosed with AS. The results of this study indicated that building a therapeutic relationship with a child diagnosed with AS requires multiple components and a holistic outlook. Preparation in the form of research and being knowledgeable on the AS diagnosis, as well as obtaining thorough background information on the specific child was found to be fundamental. An awareness on the part of therapists and other professionals regarding child-related aspects such as co-morbid disorders; sensory considerations; therapeutic environment; coping with change; obsessions and dependence on the therapist was found to be of value. Other fundamental components that seem to be a requirement for building a therapeutic relationship with children diagnosed with AS were the therapist characteristics: body language and attitude. Therapeutic considerations, such as the importance of setting boundaries and remaining consistent, as well as the teaching aspect involved in building a therapeutic relationship became evident. Furthermore, the education of parents, siblings and other family members, as well as the importance of having fun while building a therapeutic relationship were recognized as important components. Teamwork was another crucial component identified which included parental and family involvement, as well as collaboration with other professionals and teachers.
- Humanities