Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Defiance in Teens with Aspergers & High-Functioning Autism

"My son is now 13 ...he was diagnosed at the age of 8. All of a sudden he is acting out, cussing all the time, lying, etc. Are these years the hardest, or is this just the beginning? When he finally hits puberty, will things get better?"

Yes, the teen years are the hardest, whether your son has Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) or not! I think he probably has “hit” puberty, but it’s just beginning. Raging hormones and frustration with social interactions at school can cause a lot of anger and bad behavior during the teen years. Many teens need counseling to negotiate this time in their lives successfully. Consider counseling for your son -- starting now.

Your son is exhibiting rebellious behavior, and this type of behavior fulfills the child’s needs. Your son may have the need to:
  • Avoid responsibility – Attending school, obeying parents
  • Get something – His way in a decision, your attention, control over a situation
  • Manage pain – Physical and/or emotional stress that must be alleviated
  • Fulfill sensory needs – Relief from heat, cold, or to satisfy thirst

Your son is unlikely to identify with your feelings or comprehend others’ objections to his behavior. The only explanation you should use with him is to specifically state that the objectionable behavior is not permitted. Your son needs to follow rules, and following rules can help to focus and modify his rebellious behavior.

Behavior modification is a therapeutic approach that can change your son’s behavior. You need to determine the need that his rebellion/aggression fulfills and teach him an acceptable replacement behavior. For example, your son can be taught to ask for, point to, or show an emotion card to indicate the need that he is trying to fulfill. Sometimes, self-stimulating behaviors such as rocking or pacing are taught as replacement behaviors, but it will take time for your son to integrate these behaviors into his daily activities. If your son is severely out of control, he needs to be physically removed from the situation. Granted, this may be easier said than done, and you may need someone to help you; yet, behavior modification can be helpful, and it must be started as soon as possible.

For children and adolescents with Asperger’s, the importance of maintaining a daily routine cannot be stressed enough. A daily routine produces behavioral stability and psychological comfort for Asperger’s children. Also, it lessens their need to make demands. When you establish a daily routine, you eliminate some of the situations in which your son’s behavior becomes demanding. For example, by building in regular times to give him attention, he may have less need to show aggression to try to get that attention.

Ideally over time, your child will learn to recognize and communicate the causes of his aggression and get his needs met by using communication. Unfortunately, children who get their needs met due to aggression or violence are very likely to continue and escalate this oppositional behavior.

A behavior therapy program may help your son; however, an individualized program has to be designed for your son because children and adolescents with Asperger’s vary greatly in their handicaps and/or family circumstances. Treatment approaches that work well with other diagnoses may not work with Asperger’s. Consult a psychiatrist who can oversee a treatment plan as well as any medication regimen that your son may be need.

Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


•    Anonymous said... Its so good to not feel alone in this. My son emailed the principle and councilor this week with a page of cuss words, then says "he doesn't remember it". He never talks at home like that. Trying to find alternatives for anger, like using a punching bag. But that day I had no idea he was even upset that is what scares me. Praying lots and lots.
•    Anonymous said... My Son doesnt like going outside at all eather!... Not very nice if he's got a little Sis that does want to go and do nice things tho... But tried to take him out today, but it was Far to Busy! Really made him have a Noise overload in his head till now... We'v been back for 10 hours... Must be horrible for him...
•    Anonymous said... my son like that as well. Does not want to go outside because the kids are making poor choices
•    Anonymous said... Not only does the stew of Aspie issues flare up at new situations and new social expectations. But puberty hits and the hormones kick in like they do in non-Aspie kids.
So you get a double dose of Teenage attitude.
•    Anonymous said... Puberty makes them begin to resemble something of aliens. lol Seriously though they do become quite difficult. The acting out, cussing, lying, etc., all are magnified x 3 during this time. Counseling and keeping the schedule has helped us. In the end however not much helps lately. Praying a lot. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said... There may be commorbid conditions. Mine has ODD and ADHD. But, yes, teens will always test limits. Be thankful he's a boy; ) Deep breaths. And approach delicately. Never demand, request. Always give him time to respond, and make a consequence that fits the "crime" and stick to it. Consistency is key to any austism spectrum disorder. Hugs.
•    Anonymous said... We have been through hell with my son since he turned 13 and now he is 16. I try to see the silver lining with him having to deal with ASD - one is that he doesn't want to leave the house because of his heightened social anxiety - so I know where he is at all times! At least he is not out hooning around and making bad choices with other idiot teenage boys. I'm hoping that by the time he is happy to engage again with society he will be dealing with other guys whose frontal lobe has developed (him too).
•    Anonymous said... You have to adjust your responses to the outbursts and also reinforce what good choices look like for your child as well as what bad choices look like.
The teen years are rough for everyone, but Aspergers and kids in the Autism Spectrum have it even harder. Pick your battles. You do not always have to win an argument. Actively listening and explaining what is going on is the best win for both you and your family.

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Anonymous said...

My son is 11 and we are starting to have some 'disrespect' issues. Sometimes it's hard to tell if it's normal tween hormones, or part of the Aspergers. Hang tough! We are taking away is favorite things, like his DS.

Anonymous said...

My son is 10 and having attitude & disrespect issues as well. Remember their 'authority' issues come into play - I take away his ps3 - that usually works.

Anonymous said...

My son is 14 and disrespect is a huge problem and he just doesnt care he tells me take away everything I dont care and he deosnt but @Mitze I feel the same way cant tell if its Aspergers or acting up teenager. hes very angry and has braces and refuses to brush his teeh he tells me I wasted my money some days Im at my wits end.

Anonymous said...

my daughter was diagnosed same as your son. what i have may be a lie to us, but it is reality to them. they see things in black and white much like a young child, and cannot handle abstract thinking. therefore, if it is said, it did happen. therefore, it is important to stick to the facts when dealing with them. experience tells me it is going to get worse before it gets better. the cussing is probably frustration and rebellion. good luck!

Terry Dupuy said...

My 14 yr old was diagnosed 4 yrs ago as Aspergers. One recommendation is seeking a child psychiatrist and look into rispidol. It is prescribed for irritability in autistic persons. It has made a night and day difference in his outbursts and frequency of "meltdowns." I am not usually an advocate of medication... but this one certainly has made a difference.

Anonymous said...

I think that is more to be caused by adolescence than Aspergers.

Anonymous said...

My lad is 13 n puberty has hit hard n he is like the devils child when he has meltdowns.....ten times worse than when he was younger.

Anonymous said...

When myson. Turned 12 i actually took him off all his meds abd he did great for almost two years. Even getting straight a at school. Then he suddenly began lying and angry all the time. The doc blamed it on puberty. I refused to believe it and fought with him for months until he became suicidal and homicital. I finally gave in and put him back on meds and he is back to his old self. No lying gettinv great grades no suicidal thoughts and even talking about a future living on his own. He will be 16 in feb. The doc blames changing hormones and im now left to agree with him. Good luck. Were all fighting the same battles

Mary McNew said...

My son is 17 now but until very recently we went thru some dark times. When he was around 12 he began going thru puberty and things got really rough. He started having more outbursts, horrible depression, and had more trouble at school with bullying when he entered jr high. He had always been picked on but things took a harsher more mature turn. He started having more sensory issues due to the florescent lighting and noise on the bus. A lot of these things I didn't know until after the fact. He was in such distress after school every day that I ended up home schooling him and that's when he finally made me aware of and helped me understand what was happening on a daily basis. It was sad and disturbing. So my advice is to be firm but very very patient. Try to remember what puberty was like for all of us and then imagine what it would be like with all the "extra" things aspergers brings to the table. It is an extremely turbulent few years but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep fighting the fight because the prize is worth more than gold! <3

Susan said...

My son gets extremely angry and disrespectful when asked to stop playing anot Xbox farming game.

Susan said...

He is 11 and extremely intelligent.
But so not nice when set off!

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...

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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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content