HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Aspergers/HFA Kids and Lack of Cooperation

"Any tricks for getting a very stubborn 4 year old high functioning autistic child to do what he is told. He truly has a mind of his own. For example, if our requests don't make sense to him, he refuses to do what we ask, which usually results in a mother-son tug of war."

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Helping Your Aspergers or HFA Child Succeed In School

"My daughter is 10 years old, high functioning and now in middle school. Her teachers are constantly sending me notes saying she isn’t working up to her ability and they can’t get her to stay on task or ask for help. When she’s home, I can get her to do well with homework. I obviously can’t go to school with her everyday. What are some ways the teachers can get her to stay on task without making her stand out to the rest of the class? She is also legally blind and doesn’t want to appear different in any other way."

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Asperger's: Common Questions & Quick Answers

What are some of the traits of Asperger's (AS)?
  • A child with AS wants to fit in and make friends, he just does not know how to do it.
  • AS usually affects a child's social skills, communication skills, and behavior.
  • AS is a problem of child development.
  • The child usually functions well in every day life, but he has problems interacting with others.
  • AS causes a wide range of developmental problems in children.
  • AS is a brain disorder.
  • It is one of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDD).
  • Other PDD's include Autism, Rett's syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
  • AS is sometimes called High-Functioning Autism.
  • Unlike an autistic child, a child with AS has fewer problems with language, and usually has average to above average intelligence.

What causes AS?
  • The cause is unknown.
  • It may have something to do with genetics, or how the brain works.
  • Parents do not cause AS.

Who can get AS?
  • Anyone can get AS.
  • Parents of a child with AS are more likely to have another child with AS.
  • It is more common in boys than in girls.

What are the signs of AS?

The signs and symptoms of AS are similar to those of other behavioral problems. It is very important that a doctor sees your child if you think he has AS.

Social Skills—
  • Has problems making friends
  • Lacks social skills
  • Seems unaware of others' feelings
  • Unable to carry on conversations

Communication Skills—
  • Cannot start a conversation or keep one going
  • May have problems with nonverbal communication or body language
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Does not use or understand hand gestures
  • Does not change his face when talking with others (e.g., not smiling when telling something funny)
  • Does not understand other people's facial expressions (e.g., not understanding why someone would smile at a joke)
  • May have a short attention span
  • Repeats a word or phrase over and over again
  • Words may be very formal and loud

Behavior—
  • Clumsy
  • Does not like changes in every-day routines
  • Only interested in a few things (e.g., collecting rocks, listening to music)
  • May have obsessive behavior
  • Collects categories of things such as rocks or paper clips
  • Knows categories of information like Latin names of flowers or football statistics
  • May have problems with reading, writing or math skills
  • Lacks organization skills
  • Repeats certain behaviors over and over again

How is it diagnosed?
  • The doctor will watch your child and ask you about his symptoms. How have his social and language skills changed over time? His behavior?
  • It is usually diagnosed between 3 and 9 years old.
  • The child may need to be seen by a developmental pediatrician or psychiatrist (i.e., special doctors who are trained to diagnose AS).
  • He may need tests.
  • AS cannot be diagnosed at birth.
  • AS can be difficult to diagnose because the child can function well in every-day life.
  • A doctor should see the child as soon as any signs or symptoms are noticed.

Is it contagious?
  • No. AS is not contagious.

How is it treated?
  • Treatment depends on the level of functioning of your child. A child with higher intelligence will have a better outcome.
  • Types of treatments include: (a) behavioral modification, (b) education and training, (c) language therapy, (d) medicines for specific behavioral problems, (e) parent education and training, (f) psychotherapy, (g) sensory integration training (i.e., the child is treated to be less sensitive to things that bother him a lot), and (h) social skills training.
  • It is important if all of the child's caregivers are involved in the treatment. This can include family members, close friends, babysitters, teachers, etc.
  • Your child will most likely continue to have some problems throughout his life (e.g., there is an increased risk of developing depression or anxiety), but he will be able to make friends and have long-lasting relationships.
  • With treatment, your child can learn to live with the condition. Many children are able finish high school, and then eventually attend college and get a job.
  • There is no cure for AS.

Can it be prevented?
  • AS cannot be prevented because we do not know what causes it.

When should I call the doctor?
  • Your child has a legal right to receive special services at school. Talk to your doctor or teachers for more information. They can help you decide what school setting and education plan will be best for your child.
  • Call your child's doctor, your child's school, or a support group for help. There are many organizations that can help you cope and teach you how to manage life with a child with AS.
  • Call your doctor if your child shows behaviors of AS from the signs and symptoms list above.
  • Call your doctor if you have any questions about your child's condition.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers/HFA Children and Split Personality

"Is it common for a child with an autism spectrum disorder to have a split personality (so to speak)? My daughter is a really good kid at school, but then a complete monster at home. Is this normal?"

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Preparing Family Members for Your Aspergers Child's Behavior: Tips for Holiday Gatherings


The following is a letter (or email) that you can send to relatives and hosts of holiday gatherings who might need a crash course in what to expect from your Aspergers (or high functioning autism) child. Feel free to copy, paste and print this letter. You can use it as is, or edit it to make it more applicable to your unique situation:

Dear _____, (e.g., Aunt Sally)

I understand that we will be visiting each other for the holidays this year! Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful.

As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disorder called Aspergers, or what some people refer to as High-Functioning Autism. Aspergers is a neuro-developmental disorder which sometimes makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can’t see, but which may make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt, but it is only because I have to try to understand people, and at the same time make myself understood. Children with Aspergers have different abilities. For example, some may not speak much, and some write beautiful poetry. Others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein had a form of autism), or may have difficulty making friends. We are all different and need various degrees of support.

Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated, too. Being around a lot of other people sometimes feels like standing next to a moving freight train – and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I may feel frightened and confused some of the time. This is why I like to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can stay pretty calm. But if something changes, then I may have to relearn the situation all over again!

When you talk to me, I may not be able to comprehend everything you are saying to me if there is a lot of noise and distraction around. I usually have to concentrate to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you, but I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything, but not knowing what is most important to respond to.

Holidays can be hard for me because there are so many different people, places, and things going on that are out of my ordinary environment. This may be fun and adventurous for most kids, but for me, it can be hard work and extremely stressful. I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if you had a private place set up to where I could retreat.

If I can’t sit at the meal table, please don’t think that I am misbehaving or that my mom and dad have no control over me. Sitting in one place for very long is often very hard for me. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people. When this happens, I just have to get up and move about. But please don’t stop eating on my account. Go on without me, and my mom or dad will handle the situation the best way they know how.

Eating in general can be hard for me. If you understand that Aspergers is a sensory processing disorder, it’s no wonder eating is a problem. Think of all the senses involved with eating (e.g., sight, smell, taste, touch) and all the complicated mechanics that are involved (e.g., chewing and swallowing).  This is something that some kids with Aspergers have trouble with. I am not being picky. I just can’t eat certain foods because my sensory system is overly-sensitive. (Hope you understand.)

Also, please don’t be disappointed if my mother or father doesn’t dress me in fancy clothes. It’s because they know how much stiff and itchy clothes can drive me nuts! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes, or I will just be miserable. When I go to someone else’s house, I may appear bossy and irritable. In a way, I am being controlling, because that is how I try to fit into the world around me. I like things to be done in a way I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn’t mean you have to change the way you are doing things. Just please be patient with me and understanding of how I have to cope.

My parents have no control over how my Aspergers makes me feel inside. Kids with this disorder often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The professionals call it “self regulation,” or “stimming.” I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, or any number of different things. I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to the environment. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The professionals call this “perseverating,” which is similar to self-regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable. Perseverative behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.

Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average home is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. This may be fun for most kids, but it can be hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act-out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don’t possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules. In any event, I will try very hard to be on my best behavior when we get together during the holidays.

Thanks for listening. I’m looking forward to seeing you.

________ (Aspergers child’s name)


From: www.MyAspergersChild.com

Transition Services for Aspergers Teens

"I have a 17 year old with Asperger’s. She was a late diagnosis (wasn’t diagnosed until age 15). How do you help a teen with transition services (e.g., getting a job, learning to drive, going to college, etc.) when she doesn’t have any desire to learn or do any of those things?"

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"Job Interview Tips" for Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Marcus and his boss, Mr. Whitfield
The economy is pretty shaky right now, and many businesses are making some changes. For some, that might mean a job interview, which can be especially stressful for those teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism.

The most important thing to do before going into a job interview is to try to relax. We’re going to set up a relaxing “space” now, before the job interview, so you can use it during the interview:

Take a breath. Seriously, right now, as you read this, take a deep breath. Breathing is a way to calm yourself, move your chattering thoughts into the grounding influence of your body, and exist in the present moment. The more you can get into the habit of taking a deep, conscious breath, the more your body will connect it with slowing down and relaxing. Practicing a deep breath in a safe, calm environment will help you access those same calming feelings when you repeat the breath during your job interview. Also, it can be helpful to think of a soothing phrase like, "It’s OK." …"You’re fine." …"You can do this" (keep the phrase short, positive and silent).

As you think about and prepare for your job interview, continue to practice the breathing technique. When you get stressed about what might go wrong, take a breath and say to yourself, "It’s OK." When you remember things that went wrong in past job interviews, take a breath, calm yourself, and then figure out the lesson of that situation.

Your future employer expects you to breathe, so this calming technique is something you can use during the job interview. As you walk into the job interview room, take a breath. If you have a break during the job interview, remember to take a breath. Tell yourself, "You can do this." Of course you can!

Here are some more "job interview" tips by Marcus, a 17-year-old young man with Aspergers:

1. All the same rules apply in the workplace as they do anywhere else. But the one difference is that there is something at stake - your job. This means it is extra important to keep a clean slate, or you might be a target for scapegoating, which is a very nasty threat to your job.

2. You will meet three different kinds of people in the workplace: Meek, Assertive, and Aggressive. Aim to be the assertive type.

3. Remember that first impressions are extremely important.

4. If in doubt -- keep quiet. This is often seen as a good quality in the office.

5. If you are doing your own research, you may find yourself in a situation where you wish to patent copyright or create proof of ownership of a piece of work you have produced. The easiest thing to do is to make a copy, seal it in an envelope, and post it to your home address. It gets the date stamped on it in the post. Don't open the envelope when it arrives, but keep it sealed and stored away in a safe place. Recorded delivery may be more reliable and legally airtight. Also, keep any notes you have written while producing your work. You now have legal proof that it is your work and should not have to worry too much about it falling into the wrong hands.

6. In an interview, body language is extra important, and you want to look confident and relaxed. You are also expected to sit still with your arms by your side or on your lap and a good posture. You are expected to speak clearly and professionally.

7. Know what your skills and talents are. Like it or not, as a person with Aspergers, some jobs will be more suitable for you than others.

8. Prepare as many possible answers for as many possible questions as you can, but don't over-rehearse your answers.

9. The interviewer will often drop you a few hints towards the end of the interview (using mainly body language) to let you know whether you are likely or unlikely to get the job.

10. There are courses and classes around that teach interview techniques. You may want to take a class on this subject.

Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance


BEST COMMENT:
Found the interview advice tips very help full. Our son is waiting to see if he has got an engineering apprenticeship. If he is offered a place, it will involve an interview with the company which may be interested in taking him on. We are keeping our fingers crossed for him. These tips may come in handy. Thanks Marcus!

LEGO Engineering Online Class for Students with Special Needs

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I am writing to you about All About Learning, Inc. and our wonderful enrichment programs being taught throughout Michigan, and over 30 other U.S States. We use creative ways to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Operating since 2002, with classes ranging from LEGO Engineering, Robotics, to Video Game Making, we are proud to teach thousands of students each year.

We are also proud to announce our "LEGO Engineering On-Line Class” for children with special needs such as Aspergers, Autism and ADHD. Please read the following program description:

LEGO Engineering Online for Students with Special Needs

The class consists of engineering theory and instruction plus 6 very complex building exercises. Lessons harness the motivational effects of LEGOs to teach math and science, 3 dimensional shapes, patterning, comparing and contrasting objects, extending patterns, shapes, language arts, listening and following directions and learning mechanical vocabulary. This class is an on-line version of our ever popular Elementary Engineering held in a classroom. Once registered for this course, you will be sent a LEGO kit with over 1,000 very advanced LEGO pieces. When you receive the kit in the mail, then you are ready to take the class. Yes, you keep the kit when the class is over! Intended for K-8 students.

Video Game Making Class

This instructor facilitated On-Line class will teach how to design and modify your own exciting arcade style video games. You'll learn how to control characters, objects and outcomes in your game, then increase the difficulty level and add more features. Learn how to design your own version of PacMan and several other games. Students will participate in this class at home using their own computer, or, in a school computer lab. For ages 10 thru adults. 7 weeks.

We have experience working with grant programs and children with special needs. Please visit our website at: All About Learning

Helping Your Aspergers Child Survive the Holidays

This is an article designed to help parents of children who have Aspergers through the holiday seasons... 

We all have fond memories of our own childhood, when we looked forward to putting up the decorations, eating mouth watering meals and receiving all those longed for presents at Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

As parents we naturally want our children to enjoy it all and have as much fun as we did so we talk, anticipate and prepare with mounting excitement as the celebrations draw nearer. However for those families who are raising a child with Aspergers, it may all add up to an almighty headache! Children with Aspergers have a real hard time coping with all of these celebrations, and if they have their birthday on top of that… well you may as well pack up and go away until Spring!

Anticipation for a child with Aspergers leads to increased levels of anxiety which they cannot control. They become overloaded, and then you have a massive meltdown at the time when you are all supposed to be enjoying and celebrating the season of peace and goodwill! The party may be ruined and everybody upset, especially your child who is trying so hard to fit in and be like everybody else. 

So how can you achieve the impossible and enjoy the holiday season while at the same time keeping your Aspergers child calm and behaving appropriately?

The first simple step to take is to simply reduce the time talking about the festive occasion. Remember he can't easily control his emotions, and to chatter constantly about the event will simply lead to stress and anxiety. It is useful to enlist the help of others in your home in this and keep any conversations to a minimum while your Aspergers child is around.

Another great strategy to help is to keep any physical changes to your home to the minimum, so by all means decorate, put up cards and a tree, but just don’t make a big fuss about it all. A good tip is to not put out any presents until the day they are to be opened as your Aspergers child will have a hard time keeping their hands off and will became anxious and potentially oppositional.

Although it’s important not to overload your child, it is equally important to explain any changes to her routines. So prepare your child for any changes by calmly telling her the day before what will be happening. Visual supports always work well, so use photos or simple pictures to explain what will be happening. It is also important to explain to your child what is expected of her (e.g., to say "hello how are you" to guests and sit at the table to share the meal).

Your child will also need to be given permission to leave the festivities, and you can rehearse this together with some simple role-play. This is really important as it gives your child an exit strategy and also allows her to get through the celebrations without going into meltdown. Additionally if you see that he is becoming distressed, you can also activate an exit cue so your child gets out before the situation deteriorates. 

Following these simple steps should lead to a much more positive experience for everyone, and will provide your Aspergers child with the love, support, reassurance - and above all confidence - to participate fully in these wonderful occasions.

So to summarize briefly, it is important to keep preparations and discussions around the holidays to a minimum when the child with Aspergers is around. Preparing her as to what will be expected of her at this time, as well as incorporating an exit strategy, will help further. Good luck!
 
The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome


Comment:

I want to thank you for this. Holidays....all holidays...are very hard for my boy and the family, and its good to know im not alone or imagining this.

Aspergers Girls and Relationships

"Please can you tell me about girls with Aspergers and their friends and relationships?"

People who study and treat Aspergers state that the number of girls with Aspergers is equal to that of boys; however, the girls are not diagnosed as often because the syndrome presents itself differently in girls. The common behaviors seen in both girls and boys with Aspergers are as follows:
  • Difficulty reading social cues and body language
  • Problems with social skills
  • Demonstrating impatience
  • Difficulty developing empathy for others

A notable difference between girls and boys with Aspergers is that boys will act out aggressively when they are frustrated. As a result, they get attention from adults while the girls remain silent about their frustrations. The girls appear to be shy or passive and adults overlook their problems; they have average or above-average intelligence that helps to hide their social awkwardness.

There is a book entitled Pretending To Be Normal; it is an autobiography written by Liane Holliday-Willey, who has Aspergers. It discusses the difficulties that girls have with Aspergers. The thesis of the book is that girls do not understand how to process their feelings and express their emotions in socially acceptable ways. As a result, they become people-pleasers. They are seen with smiles on their faces that mask the problems they are having. There are many social scientists who believe that girls are better at camouflaging their disorder because they are socialized to be passive and submissive.

Passivity isn’t the only detectable symptom of Aspergers in females. Young females with Aspergers learn to mimic the behaviors of other children, and this happens when there are role models present. If no role models are available, girls with Aspergers do not learn proper behavior; they will learn behavioral “scripts” that facilitate their interactions with other people. Also, they might use dolls as substitute friends and create their own insulated lives with their dolls.

During the elementary school years, girls with Aspergers will find one good friend who is matronly. This friend becomes the link between the girl and the outside world. This friend can provide support and encouragement to the girl, but if the friend moves away, the girl with Aspergers can experience extremely negative consequences.

The sooner that a young girl is properly diagnosed with Aspergers, the sooner she can obtain professional help. With the support of a doctor and friends, she can learn appropriate, socially acceptable behaviors. Also, she can develop independent living skills.

To begin helping a girl with Aspergers, read the book Girls Under The Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Solutions for Addressing Everyday Challenges by Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D., and Danielle Wendel. This book was authored by an experienced professional and a mother of a young girl on the autism spectrum. The authors provide insightful, first-hand accounts of girls’ lives along with research-based strategies and practical techniques for addressing the unique needs of girls on the spectrum while nurturing their gifts and talents.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome
Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders? Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

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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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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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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