Therapist for a 15 y/o boy with Asperger's


Our 15-year-old son was just diagnosed with mild, high functioning autism which is practically indiscernible, especially by his teachers that only see a kid that has never gotten in any trouble, typically earns A's and B's, and is respectful and easy to deal with.  And, while all this is true, they don't see how he struggles to keep up especially with being able to self-advocate and self-regulate, struggles with class debate/participation despite having far higher than average articulation and verbal skills yet due to lack of dynamic social skills, struggles to even speak at all in a classroom with his selective mutism which is a symptom of the HFA. they simply ding him for "class participation."  The ECHS merely put him on a 504Plan, but after the HFA diagnosis I will push for an IEP, as the 504Plan does nothing for him, especially since the teachers often fail to follow it or are hard-working, well-meaning yet simply don't understand his  "lack of speaking up" is beyond his control and not a behavioral thing. 
The diagnosis was just received, but what I'm looking for now is advice on therapist good with teens to help with foremost social communications and HFA. The pediatric specialist that diagnosed him referred me to Katherine McCarthy (and Helmit Relanger team) in Berkeley but I called days ago with NO response, so I'm already not impressed.  Another referral she gave was for Lenord Levis. If anyone has experience with these doctors or has recommendations for others please let me know. 

I already tried to work with Seven Bridges. Got as far as spending hours with paperwork and bringing our son to the first 20-minute appointment but fear we've wasted our time since they never even gave us a quote for out-of-pocket cost after claiming our (very good) insurance won't cover the cost. (this was b4 the diagnosis) They simply put him on a time that "works." Sorry, I'm not looking for someone merely wanting to make money. I'm interested in a doctor and/or team that truly cares. Thank you. 

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

My son has a similar profile as your son, but he was diagnosed earlier, at age 11. There are two schools in the Bay Area (and maybe more) that serve middle and high school age children with HFA. The Springstone School in Lafayette has a middle and high school program and there is also Orion Academy high school in Moraga. For years, I tried to get him help in the public school system by way of the 504/IEP system. Even with legal help, you are in for a long, exhausting, and probably fruitless struggle. Like your son, my child was getting good grades in public school. As far as BUSD was concerned, my child's other issues were not their concern. I realize that is not true, legally and otherwise, but that is the way my son was treated. My son was bullied relentlessly, by students and teachers. The best decision I ever made for him was to remove him from BUSD. He is now thriving at Orion high school. He has wonderful friends, he is learning an array of skills to help him with his social anxiety, selective mutism and sensory processing issues. He is surrounded by people who understand him, push him to grow and believe in him. The academics are challenging and interesting. 

Unfortunately, Orion and Springstone are expensive. I wish you and your son the best of luck and I am hoping you find the right resources for him.  

My daughter has recently started therapy with this practice in Lafayette.  She's only had two sessions thus far, but it might be worth checking out.  They work with children/adults with high functioning autism, highly gifted, and sensitive indiiduals.  You might give them a call to see if it would be a good fit for you son.

Anatasia Kim Phd works with teens on the spectrum. She is at The Wright Institute in Berkeley. She is likely to be helpful. Our child with autism, adhd and anxiety has been seeing her for 6 months and it has made a remarkable difference.

We have had  great experience with Dave Macarchick - who comes right to the house (no more driving to an appointment) and works directly with your child in the home environment. Dave has tremendous experience but is not technically a therapist (see his website) He has a unique ability to meet kids (and their issues) right where they are at.  He worked with my Asperger's son  from 2nd grade through high school,  progressing from basic behavioral challenges and impulse control to navigatng the finer nuances of social challenges. My son is now on the President's list at a univeristy in the midwest (and still loves to check in with Dave when he is home on break). We are a long way from where things started. He also got my son through all sorts of phobias  as well as behavioral and social challenges - and they had fun in the process (!). I highly recommend him.   My son has 2 younger siblings at home and Dave was able to work on the family relationships and dynamics as well as support my husband and I in our parenting of the situation.

This is his info:

Dave Macarchick 415-828-0864 (415 number but he is based in East Bay)  

Here's a page from his website:

Feel free to contact me with questions.

Thank you to all that have responded to my message! I forgot to mention that my family pays into UnitedHealth quite deeply, and so I am only interested in therapist/services that accept UnitedHealth or are within that network. Many of the doctors referred to me sound great, yet very expensive. Again, we are looking for therapist and social skills groups for our 15-year-old son diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.  Location is also key, we live in El Cerrito so Berkeley, Albany, EC, Richmond and surrounding area best. Thank you!