Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Working with your child's school to develop inclusive practice...

The historical tendency has been for students with learning difficulties like autism and Aspergers syndrome to be segregated from the general classroom and taught in settings like special education or even home schooling. Because Aspergers syndrome children have average to above average intelligence, many educators believe that, with certain adjustments, these children can be included as part of the regular educational process, especially when they reach middle school and beyond.

Such inclusive practices take the commitment of the school system, the teachers, the student and the family to make such a situation work effectively. Teachers need to be taught the value of structured learning with a minimum of abrupt changes and they may need to understand the best ways the Aspergers child learns. For example, if the child is a visual learner, he or she needs as much opportunity to learn that way as is possible.

The school may need to offer some special tutoring or mentoring to help the child keep up with what’s going on in the classes. Classmates may need a talk on Aspergers syndrome so as to avoid some of the confusion and teasing that can go on when kids don’t understand the nuances of dealing with a peer with Aspergers syndrome.

Sometimes the teacher needs to make adjustments, like setting stricter routines in their teaching practices, teaching in different ways and even making changes in things like the color of ink they use on the overhead projector.

There is much evidence to suggest that children with Aspergers syndrome do better in an inclusive program with the right blend of socializing and educational techniques that maximize the learning potential of the child. If you’re child is a candidate for inclusive practice in education, speak to your child’s principal to begin the process of making it happen.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome.

Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns

Parents with children who have Aspergers syndrome and High-Functioning Autism will often tell you about times their child has had a “meltdown” or type of temper tantrum that can disrupt the lives of the whole family.

These types of behaviors can be as rare as once a month or can happen several times per day, leaving parents sometimes frustrated and exhausted. There are, however, things a parent can do to minimize the strength and length of these tantrums.

The first thing to pay attention to is your own response to the tantrum. Are you calm and quiet? Have you taken steps to assure safety? Are you thinking clearly? Take slow, even breaths and reassure yourself that you’ve survived these meltdowns before and it doesn’t have to be the dreadful experience you anticipate it to be.

Speak with a soft, neutral and pleasant voice. This relaxes both you and your child. Stay away from unnecessary words and keep your movements slow and purposeful.

Many meltdowns happen as a result of rushing around or trying to get somewhere. It’s vital to take the time to slow down and rearrange your priorities. Forget that you have a timetable and concentrate on helping your child settle down first.

Keep safety a priority. Children in this stage can be impulsive and can forget every safety rule they were ever taught. If the child is having a meltdown while you’re driving, stop the car and take care of the issue. If your child tends to run away from you, resist the urge to chase them as it can make the situation worse.

Hold your child if necessary or talk with them in an attempt to redirect their behavior. In other situations, let the meltdown run itself down. Bear in mind that the child will often be exhausted after a meltdown so that you may need to give them the time to rest and get their breath back after such an event.

Remember that these types of behaviors represent ways you child is trying to communicate with you. Think about what the behavior represents and make attempts to avoid the behavior the next time.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome.

Aspergers Syndrome and High Functioning Autism

Aspergers syndrome and high functional autism are considered separate diagnoses along the spectrum of autistic disorders. Even so, there are many similarities between the disorders so that some consider them to be different labels for the same condition.

Both those with Aspergers syndrome and those with high functioning autism have difficulties with sensory functioning and cannot tolerate certain noises or certain kinds of tactile stimuli. By definition, those with either disorder have an IQ which is at, near or above the normal intelligence range. Both conditions involve a child or adult who has learned to function in society or in their surroundings by relying on the skills they happen to be good at.

Children with high functioning autism and those with Aspergers syndrome think better in visual terms. They see pictures in their heads when recalling something and don’t have a particularly good ability to think in words. Both diagnoses are associated with a relative inability to understand nonverbal cues and facial expressions.

The primary difference noted in the diagnostic criteria for each disorder is the finding of a greater speech delay in high functioning autistics when compared to those with Aspergers syndrome. Others feel this represents a continuum and that this shouldn’t be enough to establish one diagnosis over another. Albert Einstein, for example, was felt to have characteristics of Aspergers syndrome, yet he couldn’t speak until he was three years old.

Unfortunately, there are no specific blood tests or other diagnostic tests to differentiate between the two diagnoses. Instead the diagnosis is based on clinical judgment and observation. Some children with tentative high functioning autism will catch up on verbal skills and will carry the same diagnostic appearance that Aspergers syndrome patients do. Their IQ may be at least as high as other children labeled with Aspergers syndrome.

Children with Aspergers syndrome and high functioning autism are both high functioning and, in general, they can all read, write, speak and understand. In the end, the final subtleties between the two diagnoses may just be a matter of semantics and may not represent a true difference in diagnoses.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome


•    Anonymous said...  With asperger's being no longer diagnosed in countries that follow the dsm 5 it really starts to no longer matter, does it? I mean I know many hold on to the diagnosis as they prefer it somehow and I have been told (here in Australia ) my son's diagnosis will stay the same too, but it's long considered as a form of autism. I do NOT see the difference to hi-fu autism. I know a couple of asperger kids, they are all quite different of each other in their development.
•    Anonymous said... Great post! Thanks.
•    Anonymous said... I have even heard that high functioning should be dropped since that is really subjective.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed on Monday with Aspergers and the doc said in two months they are taking it out of the "autism" category.
•    Anonymous said... Tony Attwood that one must be careful to distinguish dichotomous between HFA and AS. At page 45 of the Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, he concludes that HFA and Asperger's have the same social behavior. He warns against academic dichotomy, which means to divide a whole into two non-overlapping parts. He then suggests that the whole is about a specter. Furthermore, he refers to different practice throughout the world, sometimes AS is used where HFA is used elsewhere, and vice versa. Moreover, he points to recent research indicating no difference in cognitive, social, motor, or neuropsychological tests. He concludes that both diagnoses may be used in the same cases. He also notes that HFA is used when symptoms are detected earlier than is common in AS. But it could also mean that parents and others have earlier discovered the autistic traits.
•    Anonymous no longer matters ...Aspergers is high-functioning autism now. Same disorder - different name.

Post your comment below…

The Six Characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome

"We just discovered that our son has Asperger Syndrome. I wish we had a summary of the difficulties associated with this disorder so we could know what to expect (and what to work on)."

Sure! There are basically six "areas of difficulty" associated with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism that you will need to consider. Here's the summary:

1. Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions

Those with Aspergers display varying difficulties when interacting with others. Some children and adolescents have no desire to interact, while others simply do not know how. More specifically, they do not comprehend the give-and-take nature of social interactions. They may want to lecture you about the Titanic or they may leave the room in the midst of playing with another child. They do not comprehend the verbal and nonverbal cues used to further our understanding in typical social interactions. These include eye contact, facial expressions, body language, conversational turn-taking, perspective taking, and matching conversational and nonverbal responses to the interaction.

2. Impairments in Language Skills

Those with Aspergers have very specific problems with language, especially with pragmatic use of language, which is the social aspect. That is, they see language as a way to share facts and information (especially about special interests), not as a way to share thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The child will display difficulty in many areas of a conversation processing verbal information, initiation, maintenance, ending, topic appropriateness, sustaining attention, and turn taking. The child's prosody (pitch, stress, rhythm, or melody of speech) can also be impaired. Conversations may often appear scripted or ritualistic. That is, it may be dialogue from a TV show or a movie. They may also have difficulty problem solving, analyzing or synthesizing information, and understanding language beyond the literal level.

3. Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines

Due to the Aspergers child's anxiety, his interactions will be ruled by rigidity, obsessions, and perseverations (repetitious behaviors or language) transitions and changes can cause. Generally, he will have few interests, but those interests will often dominate. The need for structure and routine will be most important. He may develop his own rules to live by that barely coincide with the rest of society.

4. Motor Clumsiness

Many individuals with Aspergers have difficulty with both gross and fine motor skills. The difficulty is often not just the task itself, but the motor planning involved in completing the task. Typical difficulties include handwriting, riding a bike, and ball skills.

5. Cognitive Issues

Mind-blindness, or the inability to make inferences about what another person is thinking, is a core disability for those with Aspergers. Because of this, they have difficulty empathizing with others, and will often say what they think without considering the other person's feelings. The child will often assume that everyone is thinking the same thing he is. For him, the world exists not in shades of gray, but only in black and white. This rigidity in thought (lack of cognitive flexibility) interferes with problem solving, mental planning, impulse control, flexibility in thoughts and actions, and the ability to stay focused on a task until completion. The rigidity also makes it difficult for an Aspergers child to engage in imaginative play. His interest in play materials, themes, and choices will be narrow, and he will attempt to control the play situation.

6. Sensory Sensitivities

Many Aspergers children have sensory issues. These can occur in one or all of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste). The degree of difficulty varies from one individual to another. Most frequently, the child will perceive ordinary sensations as quite intense or may even be under-reactive to a sensation. Often, the challenge in this area will be to determine if the child's response to a sensation is actually a sensory reaction or if it is a learned behavior, driven mainly by rigidity and anxiety.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


•    Anonymous said... All true! I think HFA is difficult because people don't realize our son has a disability or they forget...for example, I get tired of hearing during IEP meetings that he has "control" issues and that they need to use a behavior plan related to this. When most likely he had anxiety over a new topic or a new transition. I wish schools would become more educated about the topic and teach their para-professionals.
•    Anonymous said... Awesone information !!!!!! Explains ny girl totally ...
•    Anonymous said... Brilliant summary
•    Anonymous said... Ditto
•    Anonymous said... For teens, Social Thinking has great books geared toward kids who struggle. Great workshops too.
•    Anonymous said... HFA and Asperger's are pretty much the same. Asperger's was just removed from the DSM in favour of Autism Spectrum Disorder to reflect all divisions with. It is truly a rainbow....
•    Anonymous said... how do you get your child diagnosed. What doctor to see? We are no longer in the public school system - we homeschool. my health issurance will allow me to bypass my pediatrician - I don't need a referral as long as I stay in my list. so I just need to know what type of doctor to call.
•    Anonymous said... I also make sure that she knows that people will see it as rude if she doesn't say "hi" but still give her the choice. Yes, it's harder for her to speak to strangers, but its a skill she'll need in the future. If I don't push her, she'll spend all her time in her comfort zone and never expand it.
•    Anonymous said... I suffer from people saying are you sure he's aspie? I have put a lot of hard work into him with facial expression training and getting him talking at all. Wish they were at my house for a melt down moment. I love the detail in this answer wish someone had told me this when I got diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said... It is funny how diverse the kids are within the same diagnosis, however, they mostly all share these same qualities. One of our biggest struggles is the constant meltdowns...
•    Anonymous said... Mine in a nutshell!
•    Anonymous said... Mine too.
•    Anonymous said... My aspergers child hated change, so we have a good set routine, and for warn him several times when we know there's a schedule change. He also doesn't socialize much , so we don't force the hellos to our friends or work associates- I try to work in as much of his thoughts and opinions
•    Anonymous said... My lil girl. It makes life interesting.
•    Anonymous said... My little girl is now blossoming into a young adult at age 13 and now she is showing many traits that are growing to a severe impairment at times. I finally had to put her on medication because the emotional rollercoaster that she was on started to take me along for the ride and started to affect my own behavior. Is there anyone who can help me to understand how to teach her how to comprehend how to use process elimination and empathy? Now that her hormones are heightened it has made it impossible to even understand what she is thinking or talking about and vise versa. I feel like we are complete strangers and if I try to approach her about anything(and I mean anything) we are the ones who make her miserable and there is no way to repair, fix or prevent any future instances or occurrences from happening. I am just afraid that she is going to be lost if we can't get her to understand, understanding.
•    Anonymous said... My son exactly!!
•    Anonymous said... My son has all of the above issues but was diagnosed AS as he had a lot of cross overs in the assessment. They found it really difficult as to what way they were going to go with the diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said... My son has HFA too he prepares to write Matric IEB later this year. He has much support and has come a long way at 18 years. He also prepares for his driving license later this year. He is strong and thriving in mainstream school in SA!
•    Anonymous said... my son is 5.5 years old. He made an exclamation of 'hubba hubba' one time in reference to surprise about something. Hubby and I both laughed and told him that hubba hubba is usually something a man will say to a pretty lady. He thinks about it and says "you don't look very pretty now though mommy." I cracked up! and he knew he had said something off so quickly corrected himself with "but I like your pants because they're red and red is one of my favorite colors." lol! but that's an example of #6.
•    Anonymous said... My son main challenge is rigidity of thought and logic. Once you win the logic argument, it is law. But he doesn't generalize each thing is new. However age and experience is helping, making getting along easier.
•    Anonymous said... Now that just sums up my little man xx
•    Anonymous said... so accurate -the toughest part is how other kids are turned -off cause the behavior can be annoying ...also my son tells jokes a lot
•    Anonymous said... sounds like us too, all these apply except #4.
•    Anonymous said... That also sums up my 15year old daughter especially number 6 xx
•    Anonymous said... That's my 13 year old daughter, in a perfect nutshell.
•    Anonymous said... The big one to remember (doesnt apply to all kids) is "inappropriate facial expressions". If your kid always smiles or smirks when being told off, chances are its involuntary. It's something my daughter with Aspergers does, and we ignore the smirk now. As does the school we moved her to. Her old school was punishing her for "smirking" and refusing to see that it wasnt a sign of defiance.
•    Anonymous said... This explains both of my kids...I have a daughter who is 11 is a HFA or PDD....and my son who is 9yrs old has Aspergers...but all of this applies to both..and we just got our offical dignoisis this I'm still learning too..Anyone have the weighted blankets for their kids?
•    Anonymous said... We find one if the hardest parts of HFA is that he often seems just like the other kids so his actions are often taken with the wrong assumptions about his motivation and needs. He is often skipped over for help because he "seems" ok and because he makes up for difficulties with intelligence.
•    Anonymous said... What is the difference between HFA and Asperger's?
•    Anonymous said... Yup. Pretty dead on for my buddy Max!
•    Anonymous said...  This is Harry!!
•    Anonymous said... A very good summary, the perfect description of my son too
•    Anonymous said... Great list and good information. Parents looking for answers should be aware that all kids with Aspergers are different and have some of these behaviors to varying degrees. We thrive on routine and social stories/discussions.
•    Anonymous said... I don't have any children with ASD but find posts like this very helpful and informative. Thank you.
•    Anonymous said... I have a teen who was diagnosed with this several years ago. It is very challenging. What might be some great protocols to help?
•    Anonymous said... It's not a typical speech impairment or delay. It's how they use language. Pragmatic language is a struggle for every kid with Aspergers that i know. It means they have trouble with language comprehension, telling stories, and participating in conversations. My oldest had speech therapy for years when he was younger working on all of those issues. He does much better now. It was subtle when he was very young. But as he got older and into school it became very clear that he needed help.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter has many of these in one way or another.
•    Anonymous said... My son, down to the letter.
•    Anonymous said... Pretty accurate for my so as well. The speech to clarify can become an issue as they sometimes speak very fast. Their minds think a whole lot faster than "normal" if we can call it that. But that is some of the issues I have with my Aspie. He knows more words than I do I think. Loves to read, but has low tolerance when others can't understand his train of thought.
•    Anonymous said... See I was told by the MD when my son got diagnosed that Aspergers child do not have speech issues/impairments in any way. So he got the autism diagnoses. Had he not had speech issues he would have gotten the Aspergers diagnoses. Not that it matters 6 months after his diagnosed they changed it in the books to ASD and decided to lump it all as ASD if they are on the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said... Sound like my little buddy
•    Anonymous said... That's my boy.
•    Anonymous said... That's my girl, in every way!
•    Anonymous said... This an be a daunting time but please be reassured that there is light at the end of the tunnel please feel free to add me and we can chat I have a 7 year old boy that was recently assessed as having aspergers and I find there is a lot of support for the child but not many parent groups with others that are dealing with the same issues I find the best thing that helps mr.7 is a lot of routine and visual aids
•    Anonymous said... This is a great breakdown! Concise and oh so accurate for my guy.
•    Anonymous said... This is explained well. Thanks
•    Anonymous said... This is our Hailey...
•    Anonymous said... Waiting for my daughter's diagnosis to be confirmed this sound's like her.
*   Anonymous said... Great list pf 14 yr. old grandson, who is a high functioning Aspie certainly exhibits most of these wonderful assets. Can't say that about all the "non aspie" children his age.
•    Anonymous said... I am coming to believe that #6 Sensory Issues is a significant contributor to all the others, or even the primary cause, because the typical self-filtering or coping method is withdrawal and the anxiety about things like riding a bike seems to be based on the fear of the pain of an imagined fall, because those bumps and bruises hurt ten times more. That's my evolving perspective as the father of a 7 year old Aspie Girl who was just diagnosed about 1 year ago.
•    Anonymous said... I found out this last spring that my 28 yr. old son has Aspergers. Since then I have researched and been reading and learning (there's so much info out there). He too is high functioning. Guess all I can say to all out there it doesn't matter or old or young just keep learning and stand by their side.
•    Anonymous said... I have aspergers. I had problems with sports, but I suspect it was mostly the social part I couldn't handle. My son has bad coordination and team-work is not for him, my daughter has poor endurance, but great muscle strength. My 2 children have aspergers, lying is something that gives them such bad feelings they do anything to avoid it. I on the other hand lied as a child, but it was from bad self esteem and fear of conflict. I was and still am very sensitive to other peoples feelings, so are my children. When they see starving children on tv they cry and can't sleep, they want to help these children, so compassion is huge, the same for me. I think aspies are misunderstood. There are many emotions there. Autism is called "spectrum" because the symptoms vary alot from case to case.
•    Anonymous said... I think executive functioning should be on the list. I suppose it fits in with cognitive functioning, but deserves a special mention.
•    Anonymous said... I wish I had of known this when our son was young.. I adapted as best I could without knowing he wasn't diagnosed until he was 12.. After many years of going to incompetent Dr, psychologist etc it wasn't till he tried ending it that we found CYMHS they r awesome..
•    Anonymous said... It's hard to know What to expect all children are different my son is high functioning just has relationship issues
•    Anonymous said... It's true, the sensory aspect really dictates everything they do. Very tricky to balance, but knowing their cues is imperative.
•    Anonymous said... My son thinks people are "mean or being rude" to him when they are just expressing their opinions.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed at 8 although school suspected autism at age 5. I didn't really know about Asperger's or high-functioning autism as it is know referred to. At times, with hfa you almost forget their difficulties until they have a tantrum.
•    Anonymous said... One thing that I have learned over the last couple years is just when you think you've got it figured out, something else pops up. It's a lot of ups and downs, but if you learn to celebrate the "ups" more than grieve the "downs" it helps!
•    Anonymous said... This article is spot on. My 7 yr old has just started junior school. His social problems are starting to become more obvious and he is starting to realise it is something he struggles with. He isnt officially dxd yet, but once he has it on paper the school offer great social groups. In the mean time this piece gives us some great advice that we can adapt for his age x
•    Anonymous said... Yes! What a great list, very accurate information.

Please post your comment below…

Parenting Aspergers Teens: Changes in Adolescence

"My Aspergers son will become an official teenager next week (13th birthday). Any advice on what parents should do differently with an Aspergers teen vs. a child?"

First of all, there's no need to worry. Children with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) eventually go through adolescence on their way toward becoming strong, focused adults -- regardless of the misinformation you may have been fed. While adolescence is a difficult time for all teens, it can easily be much worse for those dealing with Aspergers. With the right education and support, most Aspergers teens go on to graduate from high school.

Because they tend to be loners and have odd mannerisms, Aspergers teens can be shunned from popular groups of kids -- and can be the focus of teasing. Even so, these teens develop feelings for others they become attracted to, though they can’t always express their feelings correctly. This can lead to frustration and anger in the Aspergers teen who develops his/her first tentative relationships. They are more likely to face rejection from their peers and be left with a low self-esteem as a result.

Often, a teen with Aspergers fares best with one or two close friends with whom they can practice adolescent social skills and "growing up" behaviors. Even one relatively close relationship can make the difference between a depressed, awkward teen -- and one who is beginning to learn valuable social skills with a select few others.

Parents and family may need to help facilitate relationships between their Aspergers teenager and other teens his own age. Offering to have other teens overnight or taking their teen to an activity with one or two other acquaintances can help facilitate closer connections between their child and others his own age.

Having a teen "love experience" is often much more difficult for Aspergers teens. Their tendency to want to be alone comes into conflict with their desire to be close to another person. Psychotherapy and family support can go a long way toward helping a teen with Aspergers get through the difficult adolescent time.

In summary:
  • With the right education and support, most Aspergers teens go on to graduate from high school. 
  • Teens with Aspergers fare best with one or two close friends with whom they can practice adolescent social skills.
  • Parents may need to help facilitate relationships between their Aspergers teenager and other teens his own age.
  • Psychotherapy and family support can go a long way toward helping a teen with Aspergers get through the difficult adolescent time.

Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

Adult Diagnosis of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

"I have a new boyfriend who is handsome, but quirky. I'm wondering if he has Asperger Syndrome. I wouldn't hold that against him if he has this disorder, but knowing that he does - if he does - would sure explain a lot of things for me. Is there a way to know for sure before approaching him on this matter?"

As more and more doctors - and society in general - understand more about Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism, the condition is being diagnosed in grown-ups as well as kids. Sometimes the diagnosis doesn’t come out in adults until their own son or daughter is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Typical symptoms associated with Aspergers in adults include: 
  • adhering strongly to routines and schedules
  • an average or above average intelligence
  • difficulty controlling their feelings
  • difficulty empathizing with others
  • difficulty thinking abstractly
  • difficulty understand the emotions of others
  • missing the subtleties of facial expression, eye contact and body language
  • poor conversational ability
  • some inappropriate social behaviors
  • specializing in specific fields or hobbies

If your boyfriend has several of these traits, then he may want to seek an official diagnosis. 

A way for you to approach the matter is to lead with strengths. Most people with Aspergers have significant areas of strength (even if this has not been translatable into tangible success). Bring up areas of strength with your boyfriend. Next, tactfully point out the areas in which he may be struggling. Then, suggest to him that there is a name for that confusing combination of strengths and challenges, and it may be Aspergers.

Like kids with Aspergers, these adults are often seen as odd. In years past, such individuals muddled along in society - sometimes on the fringes – while others were diagnosed with different types of mental illnesses. Now that Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism have been brought into the public light by cases of people who either have succeeded despite the disorder or committed crimes as a result of having previously undiagnosed Aspergers, more adults are being picked-up and treated for the condition.

Often these aren’t adults specifically asking for help for suspected Aspergers, but rather have anxiety and/or depression, issues around self-esteem, or other mood issues that bring them to doctors or therapists that are now making the correct underlying diagnosis.

By finding the correct underlying diagnosis, more help can become available even to those who’ve likely had the diagnosis their entire lives – but were unnoticed or labeled something else.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Best Comment: "I did finally find a counselor who deals with adults with aspergers. I had no problem finding counselors who dealt with kids, but adults is a whole other matter. Actually finding someone who could do a diagnosis was easy. The larger companies around here (with multiple counselors) typically all had a diagnostic section that handled that sort of thing. Its the treatment side of things that got dicey. Reading the online blogs and websites, I think that will change over time. Relatively speaking, Asperger's and HFA are pretty new disorders. It didn't even exist in the DSM until I was in high school! I imagine there are a lot of adults out there dealing with these issues, and as time progresses, more and more clinicians will become better equipped to handle it."

How can children with Aspergers cope with anger and depression?

"I have a 6 y.o. son with Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning). When he gets upset, he throws his head back and hits his head on the floor or anything he is near. I am so worried about him. He also won't play with other children, he throws things at them's so hard! He is starting to have these fits at school as well. He also seems somewhat depressed a lot of the time. We didn't have these issues prior to elementary school. Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. I just want my happy child back."

Unfortunately, anger and depression are both issues more common in Aspergers Syndrome (High-Functioning Autism) than in the general population. Part of the problem stems from a conflict between longings for social contact and an inability to be social in ways that attract friendships and relationships.

Even very young "Aspies" seem to know that they are not the same as other kids, and this gets emphasized in the social arena of the classroom. Many cases of depression, in fact, begin in elementary school (usually due to bullying and being an "outcast"). Anger, too, stems from feeling out of place and being angry at one’s circumstances in life.

Ideally, the focus should be on prevention and on helping Aspergers children develop communication skills, social skills, and develop a healthy self-esteem. These things can create the ability to develop relationships and friendships, lessening the chances of having issues with anger or depression.

Anger outbursts can also occur when rituals can’t get accomplished or when the child's need for order or symmetry can’t be met. Frustration over what doesn’t usually bother others can lead to anger and violence. This kind of anger is best handled through cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on maintaining control in spite of the frustration of not having one's needs met.

Communication and friendship skills can be taught to Aspergers children, teenagers, and even grown-ups. Mastering these skills can eliminate much of the social isolation these individuals feel. These skills can also avert - or reverse - depression and anger symptoms. (Click here for more information about helping with friendship skills.)

In worst case scenarios, some "Aspies" become so depressed that they may commit suicide (usually in adolescence). Others become angry enough that they get violent and hurt - or kill - others as a result. The challenge becomes recognizing these individuals (who are the exception by the way) before they do harm to self or others and getting them into therapy so that tragedy can be avoided.

How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children


•    Anonymous said...I'm so sorry. I wish there was a special place for our high functioning kiddos because they are more aware of the social stimulation and expectations around them. My son was forever changed by school expectations!! The anxiety and stimulation is just too much....look for options or try medication for anxiety. That is what helped my son. He started hiding in bushes and refusing to return to class in second grade. It is frustrating getting phone calls from school! I feel for you.
•    Anonymous said...Try to get an IEP for him at school ASAP. His stress and depression is likely due to a large amount of forced socialization that didn't occur before Kindergarten. Aspergers children cannot be forced into interaction, they will only melt down if you do. Have your school evaluate your son to see what options are available. If possible, ask his teacher to create a space for him in the classroom that he can retreat to if need be. This will greatly reduce his stress and any risk to other children. My son had similar problems when he started school last year. He had so many suspensions I lost count. He now has a class that he goes to once per week that teaches social skills, and he has improved so much! It is absolutely worth looking into. Contact the school guidance counselor. They will know the appropriate first step in your area.
•    Anonymous said...Well I would have his meds looked at. It gets harder to get them under control but really needed. Some schools aren't much help.

Please post your comment below...

Aspie Anger Control

"Is it common for children with Asperger's Syndrome to be rather explosive? My daughter can fly off the handle in a heartbeat for what seems to be rather trivial matters (to me anyway)."

Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism easily can have as much of a problem controlling their anger as other children. Because children and teens with Aspergers have difficulty understanding emotions and their impact on others, however, they often have more difficulty than other children reigning in their anger.

In addition, teens with Aspergers aren’t living in a void in which they don’t understand that they’re different from other kids. Often teased by their peers, they can have incipient anger they don’t understand and can’t easily control.

Helping these children and teens with anger control issues requires direct communication about the affect of their anger on others as well as methods of improving their low self-esteem and poor sense of self-worth, which is often at the root of the child’s anger.

Anger that’s acted-out badly needs to be treated like any other unwanted behavior. Some form of reasonable consequence directed at getting the point across that the behavior is wrong needs to be combined with a pragmatic discussion of the meaning behind the anger and other ways to control the anger. Remember that what punishes the Aspergers child can be much different from what punishes other children.

If the anger seems to be a part of your child’s frustration over how he/she is being treated by others or from depressive feelings, finding better avenues to discuss what is really going on can help him/her deal with the issues without using anger as an outlet. Most Aspergers children are of greater than average intelligence and have the resources to understand the relationship between their anger and the underlying social issues their dealing with.

In situations where the anger seems to be an overwhelming issue, families should not hesitate to speak with a family therapist or other psychotherapist for help. 

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children and Teens 


•    Anonymous said... As the saying goes "if you've seen one kid with autism you've seen one kid with autism". They are all different just as neuro-typical kids are. The daycare our son was at starting noticing issues with transitions at 2 yrs old. Had him evaluated at home and they saw no issues because he was at home. Long story short the daycare kept us informed and said he would not do well in the 3yr old class due to its size and structure. Had him evaluated again by having a doc give us forms for all his caretakers old and new daycare to fill out including us. He narrowed it down to aspergers or ADHD. Tried rydalin for one day and it sent him over the edge (which it will do if you are not ADHD) Been in speech and OT ever since then and we take courses and read up as well and he's doing beautifully. Can still see the asperger issues but they are getting milder all the time.
•    Anonymous said... I am blessed, I have enough ASD myself that I "get it" when my 15 yr old totally goes Bonkers over NOTHING! We have to work to find the triggers, hard since they don't often Share what they feel. They really do have a Reason for their explosions, We just don't always know what the reason is! Hard work developing communication so we can understand their reasons, but its worth the work!
•    Anonymous said... its all just trial and error. You'll have periods of regression and then again of progressio just don't give up, ull find what works for ur family.
•    Anonymous said... Mine def has explosive anger and he is 5...
•    Anonymous said... mine does, at the drop of a dime.
•    Anonymous said... Mine doesn't get upset about anything. He gets a little ticked sometimes but never angry explosive. He is very mellow in fact. Does that mean he doesn't have AS?
•    Anonymous said... Mine is also quite explosive.
•    Anonymous said... Mine sure does and often about the dumbest/weirdest things!
•    Anonymous said... My 8 year old has for years with nothing helping so far.
•    Anonymous said... My son did throughout elementary and most of middle school. He is now 15 and through many talks, discussions and maturity, he seems to be controlling his anger/frustration rather well. I have always been open and honest with him about how others can be, why they can be that way and how he is "different" than most kids his age. In time he kinda grew into his own, better understood himself and his own actions and I'm so proud of him. I would explain to him why things would effect him the way they do but he was never to use having Aspergers as an excuse to not be in control of his own actions and emotions. We have an open relationship and he knows he can talk to me about anything. That has been our biggest tool I think. He also did receive consequences when he would misbehave. I don't treat him differently just because he has Aspergers. Also very important. They get treated differently enough as it is.
•    Anonymous said... seems trivial to you - but not to your asperger's child. To them, expectations and perceptions are different than they are to you. It is difficult to think on their level. I almost lost my daughter a few times because of her outbursts, but she is learning and maturing and it is getting easier. Good luck!
•    Anonymous said... this sounds like the methods we are using with our son too. He's only 7 & it's only just begun to improve, but it's so great to read your post & hear how well it's worked for your son at 15, gives me hope! His sensory & social difficulties 1st became apparent around age 2, w/ diagnosis starting at age 4. Up until last summer we had never discussed with him what his diagnosis were or what they meant. He had a bad meltdown at a store one day & as much as I tried to hold it together, when the clerk got in his face & scolded him (making the meltdown escalate drastically of coarse), I LOST it! Ended up yelling at the clerk & blurting out "my son has Autism & thanks to you this meltdown is about to get a thousand times worse! In the future please keep your comments & opinions to yourself unless you know for sure what you're dealing with!" Needless to say, I felt awful later (once I calmed down & got him to a safe place) for lashing out at that complete stranger! turned out to be a blessing in disguise! Since he had heard every word I said to her, he asked "mommy what is Autism & am I going to be ok?" The dreaded question & praying I could answer it correctly... We talked for a while about it & that seemed to be a turning point for him! It helped him understand why he feels the way he feels sometimes & that has helped him deal with those feelings. We never allow it to be an excuse for bad behavior, & there are always consequences when that happens, I think accountability for actions is very important because that is "the real world". A few months later, I heard him explain (as best he could) to a Neuro typical child that he had something called Autism & that's why he needed a break away from them to calm down! Priceless!

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Aspergers and Comorbid Conditions

"Is it common for a child with Asperger Syndrome to also have other disorders? My son had been diagnosed with ADHD, but now they think he may also have Asperger Syndrome."

Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism are known to have several comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions are those conditions or diseases that go along with having Aspergers. One of these conditions is known as ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sometimes, these children can be misdiagnosed as only having the more common ADHD, with the Aspergers being missed.

Obsessive compulsive disorder can be a comorbidity with Aspergers. In some cases, this doesn’t show-up until the Aspergers child is an adult. What both conditions have in common is the need for order, and the presence of compulsive, sometimes irrational, repetitive behaviors. Some scientists believe that there is a neurological relationship between the two conditions.

Because those with Aspergers know they are different and have difficulty relating to others, they often suffer from acute or chronic depression. Others can have anger or violent symptoms out of frustration for being “out of place”. There have been reports of suicide and suicide-attempts among those with Aspergers. The symptoms of depression can respond to antidepressant therapy and also to psychological therapy, aimed at helping the Aspergers individual feel more accepted and acceptable to others.

In addition, seizures are a common comorbidity of Aspergers with some researchers believing that up to 30 percent of Aspergers children also have a seizure disorder. Medication can work in some cases, while other sufferers require specialized brain surgery to be free of seizures. While the Aspergers itself has no known cure or medications specifically designed for it, many of the comorbidities can be treated effectively. Not only can seizures and depression be treated, but the ADHD and obsessive compulsive symptoms have known medical therapies directed at helping them. Using these medications can often make Aspergers symptoms more tolerable and increases the functioning of the individual who is experiencing it.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


•    Anonymous said... Mine has both. Diagnosed about 5 years with ADHD and with Aspergers when he was 8.
•    Anonymous said... Mine was diagnosed with Aspergers, then they mentioned he also has ADHD.
•    Anonymous said... My 11 yr old grandson was diagnosed bipolar when he was 3 & as Aspergers in elementary school.
•    Anonymous said... My 7 year old son has ADHD and Asperger's and according to his neurologist this is very common.
•    Anonymous said... My son also has anxiety and depression disorders to deal with, which are getting markedly worse with puberty.
•    Anonymous said... My son has adhd and Aspergers
•    Anonymous said... My son has been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and Asperger's. I have also noticed a worsening now that he is 10.
•    Anonymous said... my son was diagnosed with ADHD at 7 and Aspergers at 11 sometimes I think you can spot when things arent straight forward not that things are ever straight forward with any condition as such, i just mean there can be extra behaviours that can point to other conditions like Aspergers
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD at age five and Aspergers at age seven.
•    Anonymous said... My take (based on my experience) is depression is more of a causality of the conditions these kids must deal with, and not a direct chemical disorder in the brain(the conventional cause of depression). I wasn't diagnosed with ADD until college, and never formerly diagnosed with aspergers, but have and show many of the traits. Depression was a result of my inability to properly socialize with others. Left unabated it leads to apathy, and was only abated by my family's strong support.
•    Anonymous said... My take on this is that Asperger/autism (ASD) is the primary neurologic condition, and that these other diagnoses are just symptom clusters that frequently appear in people with ASD. That said, treating the symptoms can help overall function so in that way it's helpful/sensical to have another diagnosis. But it's not a new "disorder."
•    Anonymous said... Technically, according to the DSM, you can't be diagnosed with ADHD and a spectrum disorder on Axis 1, although some psychologists do it. It is a tough call for some evaluators because ADHD symptoms definitely are often seen with Autism. Paired with social isolation,or self-stimming behaviors, the default diagnosis is the spectrum disorder.
•    Anonymous said... Yes. Depression... and my kiddo too is getting worse with puberty. They diagnosed him with apraxia to explain his speech slowness, I took him in for ADD testing in 4th grade and that's when they finally diagnosed him with Asperger's... which explained ALL of the observations I'd had... and yes Kristina, it's getting worse, or at least different, with puberty...
•    Anonymous said... Yes... ADHD then Aspergers then Sensory Integration.

More comments below...

Aspergers and Medication

"Are there any medications on the market to treat a child Asperger's Syndrome? If so, which ones have had the greatest benefit to those with the disorder?"

Because there is no identifiable biochemical problem in Aspergers Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, and because many researchers believe the syndrome is a result of fundamental changes in the brain structure, medications will probably never treat or cure it. On the other hand, there are several medications that have been found to control some of the symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome or the comorbidities found with the condition.

A medication called atomoxetine has been found to improve some of the aspects of Aspergers Syndrome that mimic those of attention deficit disorder. Several studies have used the drug to reduce symptoms of irritability, social withdrawal and repetitive speech seen in this disorder.

Medications normally directed toward treating obsessive compulsive disorder have been tried in children with Aspergers Syndrome who have shown obsessive and compulsive tendencies. While the medication doesn’t treat some of the core symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome, it has been shown to improve OCD symptoms.

Antidepressants can be attempted in those Aspergers individuals who suffer from secondary depression. The depression isn’t generally a part of the Aspergers Syndrome itself, but is found as a result of some of the distressing life circumstances often found in Aspergers Syndrome. Many of these children and teens know that they do not fit in with others, and while some prefer social isolation, others lament their lack of ability to get comfortable dealing with others. This and other issues of self-esteem, etc., can lead to depression, which is often manageable with antidepressant medication.

Finally, people with Aspergers Syndrome often suffer from debilitating insomnia. While it’s best to use non-drug ways of controlling the symptoms, some people can make use of sleeping medication that doesn’t have to be addicting. Sometimes a short course of sleeping medication can get the individual back into a regular sleeping pattern.

Medications directed at anxiety may be necessary when the person with Aspergers suffers from nervousness or irritability surrounding their life situations. "Aspies" can become quite distressed by things not being the same or as expected, and anti-anxiety medication can help with this.

In truth, there is no single medication or class of medications that works to treat many of the core symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome. Some of the secondary or related symptoms can be effectively managed, however, with certain psychotropic medications.

Best comment:

Medication will help in very specific ways. Medication helps in reducing panic attacks, anxiety and aggression and explosive behavior. AS kids have restricted interests by definition of the disorder. They focus in on details on whatever it is they are talking about. Even with medication. But it helps to have the medication reduce some the stress. A good book to refer to for doses for AS kids is "Clinical Treatment of Autism" by Dr. Eric Hollander (From Mt. Sinai Autism Center) For example, AS kids start at low doses of Zoloft (25mg up to 50mg) or Prozac (10mg up to 20mg).

What else is needed is a different approach. Many activities need to be rehearsed in very small steps over years of exposures. And with a positive reinforcement plan. I have found Yale University Parent and Child Conduct Clinic very helpful. I have been trained by them on the phone over the last two years.

Here are some strategies:

1) Avoid stores with him until you can work on a behavior plan with him on this. When you have time, he needs to be taught to shop from a list, stick to a budget, ignore items he sees that are not on the list and that shopping is a reward to be earned by doing both. Tagging along with parents shopping is going to be irritating to him for a long time in the future.

2) Only pair him up with kids that are younger or not challenging personalities. Make the social activity predictable (movie, with defined snacks), or (park and a drink and chips we bring with) or (bowling 2 games and a snack and drink). Rehearse the social activity. And praise all positive behavior. Often as they get older, they will start to be able to be more flexible with peers.

3) Practice talking at meals about pleasant things that others are interested in. Don't allow dinners to be all special interests all the time. Practice at some meals taking an interest in the parent’s interests or other members of the family. This is a skill that takes time to develop. If he was shut out of conversation all day at school, then dinner may be his time to talk about his interests. It may have to wait until a less stressful time of the year to practice this skill.

3) Church is going to be difficult. All those people and the noise from all directions. It is an irritating place for many AS kids. My daughter goes to Sunday school (and I have taught the class for 8 years) not church services (except for Christmas and Easter when there is lots of music and we attend the children's mass).

I think parent's need support from a behaviorist. Parents of typical kids and teachers will not understand that these kids need very small steps and exposures to life in general.

Teachers and school staff will push too hard, it is only a certified behaviorist of autistic kids that understand behavior shaping is a slow process of gradual change with positive supports.

A better day for your son would be:

1) Lunch at his favorite place with you only. Agree on your limits ahead of time. The less limits the less irritated he will be. So pick an affordable place with food choices that you approve of.

Practice menu choices. Without a fight. Practice budget. When he can go to the lunch place without a meltdown over menu choices he is ready for your boyfriend to be there and then his son.

The goal of this exercise is to have a positive social experience. Don't expect to go to a busy noisy rushed place at lunch on Saturday with a group of people and expect him to be well behaved. It all has to be rehearsed and practiced.

2) Find him a church setting where there is very small Sunday school groups for kids his age. Let the teacher know he needs support and understanding.

3) Melatonin tablets are very helpful for relaxing AS kids at bedtime. This really works. The Mayo Clinic recommends them an hour before bedtime. I forgot the dose I use for my daughter, look at the Mayo Clinic web site on Asperger kids and medications. It has made a huge difference for my daughter. She use to get very anxious and had a busy mind at bedtime. Now she is asleep within an hour.

4) Follow this plan: One outing a day, one place, and allow 1 hour or more. Don't rush him to leave. Give him a warning. Offer a small reward if he leaves calmly when it is time.

There is so much to share about parenting an AS child. This is a rushed summary, and I am rushing through the details. But it is meant to give you an idea of the strategies that work. You will find a behaviorist very helpful. Yale was affordable for me. $75 for 45 min and I did get some money from insurance back. 

 More comments:

•    Anonymous said...  1. It's not a 'disorder' 2. No there is no suitable medication 3. Start finding ways to ease the anxieties, not turn children into Zombies with drugs. Rant over
•    Anonymous said...  Allison, My almost 12yr old grandson has been on Risperdol since he was 3. He has had no side effects other than weight gain which is under control with diet. His parents did take him off one summer & everyone, including our Aspie, was miserable due to daily meltdowns. Monitor closely but don't let peers pressure you to DC meds for no good reason.
•    Anonymous said...  Catapres nightly to assist sleep (age 7)
•    Anonymous said...  Dietary changes, ABA & OT therapy, and counseling have all been beneficial for our son/family. Our son no longer does OT, counseling is on an as needed basis and he'll most likely be done with ABA therapy too. As for the diet, that is a lifestyle change. We've also found great support through our church family & getting him involved with youth group & more structured type activities that he enjoys.
•    Anonymous said...  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so this is mine. Why do people get so tetchy over words? Who cares what it is called as long as no offensive words are used. Why are people so against medication? Surely it is up to the individual parent. I know for sure I would much rather my daughter be stable than having her slit her wrists all the time because her mother didn't think she was worth enough to help her with medication. Many other therapies have been tried but failed because of her lack of communication ability be it verbal or otherwise. I would not deny my daughter calpol if she had a headache and would not wish for her to suffer the pain instead so who am I to deny her a chance of an anxiety free life just because of my belief against medication! Rant over!!
•    Anonymous said...  Go to the Amen clinic. They are wonderful!
•    Anonymous said...  I always caution, when considering medication for children, people to make sure they clearly weigh the pros and cons. Some medications for social issues (depression/anxiety) end up seeming to work and then backfire with symptoms that are even more aggravating including suicidal tendencies or violent outbursts. For so many medication works for many things, but since, as the article says, autism has not been found to be any particular imbalance that can be corrected, it may well be the best option is for us to make our environments more aspie/autism friendly than to try to force change at a medicinal level in them.
•    Anonymous said...  I would suggest starting with therapy, and see what direction that sends you in. There are so many medications you can put them on but lots of them have many cons.
•    Anonymous said...  I would suggest therapy also. Our son is not on any meds, but has been seeing a therapist for 2 years, and it has made a world of difference in his behavior. Medication may help some, but for us, we want that to be the very last option we choose.
•    Anonymous said...  My boy uses meds to help with his focus at school. I have had to educate our school a lot about reinforcing bad behavior. Education is the key. I would probably use meds even if we homeschooled. He tells me it is liked having steering and breaks. He feels more in control.
•    Anonymous said...  My daughter was on Risperdol and went off the deep end. She hasn't been on any meds (except melatonin) since age 7. Now shes in full blown puberty and NEEDS anti anxiety meds. No amount of therapy has helped, and she could hurt herself or someone else if she can't calm down.
•    Anonymous said...  My son began taking medication for anxiety when he was a teen. It has helped a ton. He still gets anxious, but it is not completely debilitating anymore. The medication side effects are very minimal as he takes a low dose.
•    Anonymous said...  My son is an aspie that also has adhd. He's six and takes vyvanse and tenex. I hated putting him on meds but sometimes you just have to.
•    Anonymous said...  Risperdol has been a life saver for my 14 year old son with Asperger's. His aggression has reached scary proportions and this med has helped with his anger and meltdowns. He also takes Lexapro for his high anxiety. I agree that it's the parent's choice...we all want the best for our children medicine or not. I honestly do not think my son could live with our family if he wasn't on medication.
•    Anonymous said...  risperdol has been a life saver for us as well, though with my son only being 5 years old I'm not sure how long I'll be willing to keep him on it, at least not for long term, we're thinking to just use it for the months he's in school. He also takes Fluvox for his OCD which has really helped him as well.
•    Anonymous said...  There is no medication for Asperger's. There are, however, medications for comorbid diagnoses such as OCD or ADHD. For Asperger's in and of itself, there is none.

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Aspergers and Family-Stress

"I have two boys, one of which has Aspergers. My husband has been diagnosed as well. I often feel like I'm in a constant state of playing mediator (and sometimes feel like I'm parenting 3 children, rather than 2 children and one adult). Is this common for Aspergers families, and what can I do to reduce our stress?"

Being a member of a family in which one or more members have Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) can be extremely stressful at times. Sometimes it seems as if the entire family focus is on the Aspergers child and on the various tantrums and behaviors that come with it. Family members, and especially parents, can feel a low level of anxiety in anticipation of what could happen next.

It’s vital to take steps as a parent or sibling to take time for yourself away from the situation when things feel overwhelming. Take turns with the other parent so you each have peaceful times away from the situation. If possible, spend one on one time with other children in the home. This will reduce their stress level as well.

Get plenty of sleep. If your Aspergers child has difficulty sleeping, speak with his/her doctor to find ways to help your child sleep better so you can get your sleep, too. Don’t be afraid to take naps so you have enough rest to cope with whatever comes.

Don’t skip meals and eat as healthy as you can. If your child is on a special diet, make sure that the rest of the family and you get the type of nourishment that suits you best and revives your energy levels.

Consider exercising with or without your child. Take walks or bicycle rides to calm your nerves and increase your body’s endorphin levels. Stress levels automatically decrease with exercising just a few times per week.

Some herbal supplements like kava kava, valerian root and St. John’s Wort have relaxation and calming properties. In serious situations, these herbs can come in handy when you just can't seem to stem the anxiety on your own.

If the family appears to be in crisis over the stress and anxiety of some of its members, family therapy can be very helpful. Individual therapy is also an option for those family members needing extra help. Often the therapist can coach you in the coping skills necessary to stay healthy and to raise your Aspergers child as best as is possible.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns


•    Anonymous said... I expect it is common. My husband is not diagnosed, but I have certainly come to understand him better since our son's diagnosis. I just wish I knew better what to do about our problems.
•    Anonymous said... I feel the same way most of the time.
•    Anonymous said... i too have aspergers hubby and 2 a/s grown kids,yes i too felt the same,now all grrown up,just me and hubby now and life not so hard,i had councelling[for aspergers family]and got a career,but its still very hard,
•    Anonymous said... not to be funny here, but my two pdd kids are aged 5 and 6 and i have a typical 21 y.o. and a typical husband BUT I feel I am always parenting the husband... That is commen in many families! I also play mediator!!! men are men!

More comments below…

Books to share with your AS child...

Children with ASD struggle when trying to learn social skills, and the lack of social skills may have a bigger impact on their life than any other aspect. Peers can bully them for their differences and it is important that these children learn these skills as early as possible to minimize the effects of bullying and rejection from peers. Knowing these skills will help them be stronger people and make them less vulnerable to the actions of others.

Children learn from stories that share the same experiences that they may be having. Reading to your ASD child also provides the opportunity to provide the repetition that they need to absorb learning of new skills. It also provides the opportunity to role play skills that they don't seem to comprehend simply from the story. Further, the reading of these stories lets ASD children that they are not alone in the challenges that they face.

Diane Murrell, the author of two stories is the parent of children with ASD and has a first-hand understanding of the challenges they face. Tobin Learns to Make Friends teaches some of the skills necessary to make friends.

Children with ASD want to make and keep friends but often lack the skills to do so. Murrel highlights some of the skills necessary using incidents of shouting, crowding, sharing, borrowing, interrupting, taking turns, being kind, having good manners, and following rules.

Also by the same author -- Oliver Onion - The Onion Who Learns to Accept and Be Himself -- builds on the friendship building skills that were learned in "Tobin Learns to Make Friends." This book is aimed at children aged 4-10 and helps children with ASD accept who they are.

Suitable Careers for Adults with Aspergers

"Are there some careers that people with Aspergers Syndrome do well in compared to others? My son (high functioning) will graduate from high school in a few weeks, and I am feeling a bit concerned about his future. His one and only interest currently is computers."

Because adults with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) have normal to high intelligence, they often go into some very interesting and lucrative careers when they get older. In many cases, the field they enter is related to one or more of those things they were fixated on as a child. For example, if an Aspergers child has a fixation on the weather, he or she can think about a career in meteorology.

Other careers include working in the music industry. Aspergers individuals often develop striking musical abilities and can then work in this field as a later career. 
Careers involving mathematics or science are also common in Aspergers. This can include becoming an accountant, working in economics or scientific research, working as a university professor or other mathematical or scientific area. Often, the interest in math and science are natural gifts for these children, and the transition from avocation to vocation is usually a seamless one.

Careers in writing are not uncommon for Aspergers individuals. Writing is a solitary task, and often times, the Aspergers individual can learn to use words on a page to create books, articles and other material that overcomes their natural need to think in pictures.

Usually, the process of exploring careers needs to be done sooner for Aspies than with other individuals. Talking with guidance and career counselors is a good idea in order to explore possible options. Tours of different careers or shadowing a scientist or mathematician may help the Aspergers adolescent to get an idea of which type of career would be the best for him/her.

Older Aspergers teens should be doing plenty of reading about careers and jobs specific to those with Aspergers. Two books, Aspergers Syndrome Employment Workbook: An Employment Workbook for Adults with Aspergers Syndrome (paperback) and Employment for Individuals with Aspergers Syndrome and Non-Verbal Learning Disability by Yvona Fast are available in some bookstores or at There are plenty of ideas as to how to begin searching for an appropriate career in these publications.

There is nothing to limit a young person to just the areas listed above. Many Aspies have found success in other areas of employment. Pay attention to your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the interests he/she exhibits.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


•    Anonymous said... As Jon Willis said. His was computers as well and he has done that and managed to build onto it. Go with the flow while building up experience and courage to step out a little bit more. Aspies can do and will achieve. Mary Camp-Autism. Have you read this ?
•    Anonymous said... Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg are a part if an initiative to get high schools to start teaching code, which is something that a lot of aspergers kids really understand! Computers are a great career track for anyone!
•    Anonymous said... Contact the school. Does he have an IEP? If so, they can refer to voc rehab for transitional services. My daughter has ASD. She is very bright but could not cope in some classrooms & has IEP even with A's & B's. Every state has a Voc Rehab. They will be a job coach for him so he can test different jobs or they will offer college support. Both in effort to prepare him for the work force. Its a fed gvt program funnelled down to the states. Ultimately its an effort to rehab folks with disabilities so they can earn a living and not spend life on ssi/ssd
•    Anonymous said... Have you watched the documentary on John Robinson,?
•    Anonymous said... I am quite sure that there are specialists in this area who assess those with ASD to assist in working out their strengths for this purpose!
•    Anonymous said... I know that is covered in the adult assessment here in Australia. Not sure about other places though. I wish you and your son all the best!!
•    Anonymous said... It has long been suggested that Bill Gates is an aspie. Computers will be enough if he decides to go that route.
•    Anonymous said... I've found that "growing up" is subjective, and often times, over rated. I don't think of it as moving out of my comfort zone, rather extending it into other areas.
•    Anonymous said... Many tech careers, engineering, art for some, a lot of aspie symptoms improve or refine with age and the aspie gifts start-a-shinin'
•    Anonymous said... My husband has Aspergers and he works in IT. He doesn't talk on the phone but in these times of smart phones he can be contacted pretty much anytime anywhere by email. It took him a long time to find a workplace in which he felt comfortable but I think that's the case for many people Aspergers or not!
•    Anonymous said... My husband has finally discovered Library Studies: cataloguing and little human contact!
•    Anonymous said... My son's therapist told me that most kids do better after high school.because they can focus on their interest, not a bunch of stuff they could careless about. Computers arent going away, so I would see about grants and scholarships to an ITT or other tech school for certifications and job position placement.
•    Anonymous said... Nothing wrong with a Career in computing, can command big bucks if you are lucky.
•    Anonymous said... Ps IT is often great for folks with ASD. Almost a perfect fit. Check out on youtube the documentary i watched on discovery on the story about John Robison. It will touch you & inspire you. It's called Ingenious Minds: John E. Robison. I am betting your son is much like him. Your son will be successful just hang in. I was where you are a year ago. My daughter is now in college. She does struggle every day but she is doing it one day at a time. Good luck to you & I hope the info is helpful
•    Anonymous said... Recently (last few years) I found out that I myself have aspergers. Since being diagnosed as a type one diabetic, I've been forcing myself into situations and roles that I find myself initially shying away from our despising the thought of, just to conquer my own psyche. Before being diagnosed with t1D, I had a crippling fear of needles, which as you can imagine I had to overcome quite quickly. This has become the mantra to my life. "You can do what your brain Screams you cannot. You only have to try." I'm now working in a face to face and phone based sales and solution position, and I'm loving it so far. I still occasionally get the old urges to retreat into my computer for solace and familiarity, but the more and more I squash those urges, the easier it becomes to face new challenges everyday. Any job, or role, would suit an ASD fine as a career, but they have to get comfortable with the idea of having challenging situations which trigger the "panic station" response to be overcome. It is possible, but to begin with it's not easy.
•    Anonymous said... The thing is, aspie kids have challenges but are most often quite gifted human beings. Geek chic baby. I think Sheldon on TBBT is wildly popular because he nails it in a lot of endearing ways.
•    Anonymous said... With many Aspergers people it takes longer to what some people would say"grow up" and be mature enough to take on roles away from our comfort zone.

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How to deal with bullying of the Aspergers child...

"My child with Aspergers just revealed to me that he has been bullied by one particular peer since the start of the school year. I guess my son didn't mentioned it before because he didn't realize until recently that this other student was actually doing something "wrong" and hurtful (go figure). Is it too late to address this issue now that there are only a few weeks of school left? What should I do?"

Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism often exhibit behaviors that are peculiar enough to hold the attention of children who do not have the best interests of the child in mind. Besides simple teasing, bullying of Aspergers children can happen in situations in which they have little ability to protect themselves.

Fortunately, if such bullying happens in school, it can be managed more easily (provided your child divulges that it is going on). Most schools are cracking down on bullying and are treating such behavior as assault and punishable by legal means. Parents have every right to speak with the principal, teacher or counselor in order to ask their help in controlling the bullies. Some schools have behavioral support staff whose job is to get to the bottom of behavior issues and crack down on bullies.

Teach your child to walk away from bullies, preferably before they get started. Help him/her learn to recognize those situations that may lead to bullying (e.g., after school, on the playground, during lunch, etc.), and teach him/her to be more vigilant and stay near adults in such circumstances.

Sometimes, just having another friend around may reduce the incidence of bullying. If your child has problems making friends on his/her own, facilitate friendships with mature, understanding children who can both be a friend to your child and can help out if bullies try to tease or hurt your child. Facilitating friendships may mean inviting a child over for a meal or for some games or television. It may mean taking the two kids to a movie or on a shopping trip.

Bullies are a fact of life for many (if not most) children with Aspergers. The more a parent can do to intervene with the help of other adults (and other children), and the more a parent can teach the Aspergers child mechanisms for self-preservation that don’t include fighting back, the better able the youngster can be in dealing with this difficult situation.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook 


•    Anonymous said... A lot of times the "bullies" are just regular kids that are reacting in the usual ways to the ASD reactions to being overstimulated & overcrowded. For example - Z tends to touch/bother the kid in front of her when in line, so the teacher always moves her to the front. The other kids think that's not fair, so at lunch and recess they make a point not to allow Z to play with them, and they say hurtful things to Z.  Z repeats over and over that she likes cats, and says peanut butter at the most random/inappropriate times. This makes other children uncomfortable around her. The class clown makes the other kids laugh by making snide comments about Z. Laughter helps make them feel more comfortable, even if it comes at the expense of the one they laugh at. In a wholly NT society, the group shunning of such behavior would make the child doing it stop and think about how doing things differently and being called "teacher's pet" is a bad way and they would most likely stop and conform to the norm. But for an ASD child this is extremely difficult to grasp, and not only that, it is completely wrong to expect an ASD child to "act normal". Teachers can try to combat this by educating the children about the child's condition, but it is hard for them to understand (and teachers themselves barely understand half the time) and it is tiring, takes up a ton of time, and they get extremely frustrated with Z because she is a distraction more often than not. It's not Z's fault she's a distraction, she is simply reacting to the pressure of being in a classroom with florescent lights, 20+ children all talking/moving at once, and the torture of having to sit still in one place for too long. The way the school handled our situation was to put her in a smaller class with other kids with behavioral issues, i.e., the Alternative School. The social stigma surrounding going to the Alternative School means that neighborhood kids who used to play with Z now will not, because their mommies and daddies say that only bad kids go to the Alternative School. So the shunning goes on and on and on. At least at the Alternative School, there are fewer kids in the classroom (7 children instead of 20+). She gets more one on one time with the teacher and has a chance to actually learn.
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely NOT too late. A lot of times Aspies dont realize it is bullying because they are so used to not fitting in..
•    Anonymous said... I fear this happens more than we know.
•    Anonymous said... It took two years before I realised how bad the bullying was at my daughter's first school. Not until she was suicidal at 9 years old. the school denied the problem, telling me she was making it up. So much bullying goes under a teacher's notice. I now home school, after three schools and a constant attack on her self-worth and the stress of coping with crowds and noise and lack of proper support. For the first time she is now making friends and keeping them, feeling safe around teens now she is not having to deal with them full time.
•    Anonymous said... It's never too late
•    Anonymous said... it's never too late to mention this to the teachers... and help the other child realize he is wrong with his behavior too!
•    Anonymous said... my daughter has had probelms at school with one girl who also has her own probelms as she is in care this girl is alot older and has so far laughed at my child who has aspergers , locked her in a room , pulled a chair from under her so she hurt herself , my child has always forgiven her as she wants to be friends and be part of the group , last week though this girl bent her hands back and really hurt her , she has been excluded now and as she leaves school this year , the school only allowing the girl in when her personal tutor in , and only half days, since she been gone my daughter has really been happy , and is fitting in with the other kids in her small inclusion group , and all her tics have gone as shes not got the anxiety from the last few months with this girl, i would confront the teacher and talk it though good luck x
•    Anonymous said... Never too late. My eldest has just been on a camp and my husband went as well and a few of girls from my son's class mentioned that there are a couple of kids giving my youngest a hard time. He has not told us nor has he reacted. Told his teacher when I took him to school Thursday as my son told me 1 child which was no surprise and by that afternoon it had been dealt with and his teacher is going to ask the girls who else is doing it so they can be dealt with. I am very lucky at the school we are at as there are a lot of kids, mainly girls who watch out and report bullying of my 2 boys when they see it, and school do something without having to catch the bullies in the act. Our last school we had issues for 2 years and always got the excuse we have to catch them at it, it was verbal so very hard to catch, we took our kids out of that school.
•    Anonymous said... That is very true! Or they get so used to being bullied that they assume everyone is doing it and they give up!
•    Anonymous said... This sounds so familiar and terrible. I don't understand how children can be so cruel, but mostly I don't understand how schools that say that understand and want to help don't really do anything proactive. And the understanding they give lasts for one incident only. My boy is in yr 8 and has been strangled, beaten up and held down by 3 boys, dragged along the ground. And so many other little tormenting things in he class room. He's been suspended 4 times since starting high school because there view is if my boy were able to take no for an answer and not try to interact with others they wouldn't resort to hurting him to get their point across. So in part they feel he's responsible for the kids hurting him so he gets suspended. Go figure!!!!

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My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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