Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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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.

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...


TRON!! said...

Violent is an under statement, im 16 an was never taught any coping skills because it was discovered at a late stage. I would usually get more angry at myself and the last time it happened I ripped the top of a table of (that was screwed down) and have a fractured knuckle at the moment from punching a wall, and the fact that im 6.4 and quite strong does not help. I find if I force my self to talk to someone it helps. But it really gets to you when you hear the lads talking about how many birds (girls) they scored over the break and how loads of the lads are going out with people, that really gets you down on your self because you fell like a black sheep because you have never done any of these things. Those can and up as explosions of rage. But I find that if you just talk about what getting to you it makes it a better because other people will admit they have faults too.

Anonymous said...

I guess this all started when I found out I had Asperger’s Syndrome in my Senior year of high school. I know I shouldn’t use it as an excuse, but I can’t help it. I’ve been feeling so down since I’ve been out of high school. I’m 19 and I do attend a community college, but I have no desire to attend any longer. I’ve failed over half of my courses; I should be almost done with by now, but I’m just halfway done. I’m always on the computer, and I’m very experienced at web developing and gaming, but that doesn’t even make me happy no more. All I feel like doing is sleeping, waking up to eat and then sleeping again. I’ve tried getting jobs, but every job I get I NEVER hear back from them even after I call them, never been on an interview or anything. My case manager is depressing me more because I have no desire to complete goals they have set, etc. My personal mentor type person can’t help me, I have no desire, nothing I do makes me happy.

Austin's Mom said...

Dear Anonymous December 15, 2010,

I am a mom of an aspie boy with a lot of life challenges, just like you. Since you are searching for answers, I'm sure you know by now that you are not alone. What I want you to know, is not only are you not alone, but you are important and special, just for being you. Although you are going through a tough time right now and your future seems scary and miserable, you have the ability within you to be just as successful as anyone else…it will just be harder for you. You have to want it more. You have to try more. You have to get yourself out of that bed, get out there and make things happen for you, MORE. Is it fair that you have to work so much harder than everyone else? No, absolutely not. But, you have to be happy doing what you can do. Look for the good in things and be grateful for them. Remember that no matter how miserable you might be, you are probably luckier than someone else who doesn‘t have it as good. Someone who doesn’t have people around them to help. Someone who might not even be physically capable of the easiest things in life. Try helping others. Volunteer. Consider finding a local church where you feel comfortable. Get to know the people there and ask how you can get involved. You are important and there is a place in this world where you can find happiness. You won’t find it in bed. Get out there. I will be thinking & praying for you! Austin’s Mom.

Anonymous said...

I am an aspie and have the meltdowns from time to time but I have learned also do not bottle up feelings because it all comes out one tim or another and that having a friend or significant other REALLY helps.So let it all out to parents or just tell someone whether it be wife,mom,brother,therapist just someone and it will get better.

Misty said...

My son has Asperger's as well and his teacher is very frustrated and concerned with him. He feels that the other kids get preferential treatment and he gets angry when they pick on him and his teacher does not hear him out. He is 9 and in third grade. I do not know what to do. I told his teacher that his fixating on things and getting upset easily is part of the syndrome and she needs to realize he is not trying to be bad or misbehave. I feel really sad for everyone who struggles with Asperger's. They should have a support group or something. Other kids who are like him, get it. But most do not and now even the school seems to be uncompassionate. I am just glad I found this site.

Carol said...

To the anonymous writer who doesn't want to do anything but eat and sleep: You need to tell your doctor, right away, so s/he can evaluate you for possible depression. I have 2 children (one a teen, one an adult) for whom anitdepressants have been essential to help them not feel overwhelmed by their obstacles. Please tell someone what you told us.

Carol said...

To Misty: The single most helpful thing I did for my son was sign him up for social skills classes. I put it off because of the expense, but I kept looking around until I found a recommended group I could afford. My son is progressing in his social skills AND for the first time he has a friend who has invited him over for a Saturday more than once. Because both families know what it's like to have an Aspie, we are patient with each other's children when they act inappropriate. It has helped my son's overall mood enormously, and he is better able to handle the stress of school, because there is a bright spot in his life now.

Anonymous said...

To Misty, My son has Aspergers and ADHD. He has been on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) through his school for 3years now.He is in 2nd grade. It has been great, we have set out a plan that helps with my son. Routine lists,social skills,break rooms, etc. This helps the teacher to follow the plan that you have set up for your son. This will help with everyone's frustration on how to handle things in the classroom setting. And your son may not feel as frustrated that the teacher is not listening.

Anonymous said...

My son is nearly 11, we have taken him to a few pediatricians and he has seen psycologist since he was 3. Not one has assessed him for anything. My son has recently become more agressive and is lashing out at anyone who looks at him the wrong way. He has lost his friends and hates going to school. He shows many signs of being aspergers and finally a Doctor has listened to me and is currenly sending him for assessment. We are feeling very desperate at the moment as he is so sad and very volotile. Does it get easier?

Anonymous said...

Hi Has anyone tried the Mark Hutten Ebook and online Parent course?

Anonymous said...

Yes ...I have. His program was a God-send!

Anonymous said...

tron, i am an aspie m/22 and i had the problems you had but i found a way to help learn control is you need to find a way to release it in a controlled manner something like martial arts or boxing. it is the best way to learn control over yourself and your mind more importantly.

Anonymous said...

My son is 12. We have a much more normal life in the past few years. He used to have meltdowns but the program "Love and Logic" helped tremendously. He has trouble now only in school. His anxiety is quite high and his school continues to treat only his behavior as a behavior disorder vs as Asperger related which just escalates the his meltdowns. He has gotten quite aggressive with his paras which is causing bigger problems. I am currently coming up with a program with the district to better help my son.

I thought if I worked with him at home to give him a tool box of what to do with those negative emotions he may be more successful at school.

My son is currently facing a legal issue for a para getting bruised during one of his meltdowns.

Anonymous said...

My grandaughter, Andrea was diagnosed late. She was a freshman and got bullied which prompted the diagnosis at 14.I have learned that she has become violent and has meltdowns about once a week. She is hateful towards her younger sister who is 16, Andrea now is 17 She is seeing a therapist who is planning on sending her to a facility if she gets violent again. I believe she threatens her sister and is verbally abusive to her parents. How can I help?

Phil Mante said...

As an aspie myself I find myself angry quite often when things change so quickly and dramatically that it really sets me off. I can't work long days either so whenever i'm given multiple long shifts I tend to freak out a lot, and i'll definitely try and get at least some of the shifts shortened, but it makes me even more mad when my most recent boss (who i've found doesn't seem to care much about her workers.) doesn't even want to listen to me when I ask.

And depression is a really big one for me. In school a lot of kids used to bully me, and whenever I fought back I always seemed to be the one that got punished while the bully got off scott free. There was one girl who always told me to f**k off whenever i even took a glimpse of her. I've thought about killing myself many times, but I can't ever do it. I've come to accept the fact i'm more solitary than other people and that my social life is pretty lame.

I also feel a portion of my anger and depression comes from my dad's misconception of the bible (You know, that crap about how folly is in the heart of a child, but a rod of correction drives it away.) and how he used it to deal with me at the age of 3.

charlie price said...

My son is 11 aspie, mad on games and obsessed with collecting games and consoles etc and has even resorted to stealing games and a dsi off friends as he wanted them! Were at our wits end and don't know what to do, he screams and shouts if we ban games or discipline him and has massive meltdowns its tearing us apart as a family please help x charlie x

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

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