Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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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…


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,
Does Aspergers come and go? I have a 5 year old tentatively diagnosed with Aspergers but whilst he's always special there are weeks when it's like a switched is turned on and everything turns 'bad' - these are the times when we struggle to enjoy him as a person. His resilence becomes very low, he argues everything we say, he refuses to play at all with others nicely ...well you know the sort of symtoms. But then after a week or so, the switch goes again and he's back to loveable with a few quirks!
is this normal?

Mark said...

It's normal -- and related to his stress-level.


Anonymous said...

Although i haven't got a diagnosis i can see that my husband has aspergers as well as our son from reading up on it. there are some excellent books on amazon about living with men with aspergers which i found has given me strength to detach the behaviour from the person which is not easy. the thing i find most upsetting is if i cry my son laughs and my husband ignores me like i don't exist

Anonymous said...

Argh... I think my hub has it too...

Anonymous said...

My husband has little patience and our son gets his Asperger's traits from me even though I was never diagnosed, so someone is constantly mediating in our house between the other two. We all have a pretty good sense of humor though, so that helps a lot.

Anonymous said...

Trying to figure that out myself. I started going out once a week with friends and taking a couple days a month to myself and just going away to re-group. Its helping, but its still stressful at home :( I've read everything imaginable and that is just not helping. I can honestly say its HARD to handle!

Anonymous said...

I thought maybe I posted this in my sleep as it's my life now too. It's very hard and trying, especially when the adult Aspie and child Aspie argue with each other and you have to be the mediator between 2 kids. Another question to this is, how do build a parent/child relationship when both of them have Aspergers? My son has become very resentful to my husband because of their fighting and his low tolerance of my son's stressful times. They have good days when they get along but overall it's a contentious relationship. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice on handling stress, but you forgot one thing: meds! In addition to counseling, I had to go to my doctor for my own anxiety and depression before I could get healthy enough to handle our very tumultuous situation. I'm glad I did, as I was beginning to get physical symptoms from the stress.

Anonymous said...

Read "Enzymes for Autism." I have 3 aspies, on of which is my hubby. The dynamics in our home have improved so much!

Anonymous said...

My hubby has it and 15 year old son ongoin hard work have 13 year old daughter too.we have months of everything goin well and then 1 day of sheer awfulness hard work and ongoin .the love I have for my son daughtr an hubby keeps megoin sad but TRUE xxx

Anonymous said...

New to this site but this sounds just like my household i have 3 aspies and more times than not i am deflecting a row mediating a row or waiting for 1 to start :( xx

Anonymous said...

yes sounds like my family,now my 2 a/s daughters are grown and left ,only me and aspergers husband left at home,but still not easy,quieter yes,more peacefull yes,but still hard coping with my hubbys arguing and his o,c,d,yes its so hard,

Anonymous said...

My husband and I recognized a lot of traits like ADD and some OCD in ourselves when researching it for my son who has ADHD and Aspergers. My husband and my son also go at it over sometimes the stupidest of things. I always thought it was inherent pig-headedness meets testosterone, but after reading this I'm not so sure, lol.
Yesterday at 1:02am · Like

Unknown said...

Being the only neuro- typical is a nightmare! My life has never been mine to live as I want. You lose urself to keep the peace. Believe me when I say: Living like this can scar you for life. You never blossom because you are in a constant compromising caregiver position. Married for 25 years without empathy from anyone is sheer agony. I used to be the crazy emotional one; that side of me got squashed along with any dreams or expectations of loving behavior. This is my life. I will always be married to an Aspergers spouse and a parent of 2 ASD adults.

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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to read the full article...

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content