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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Technology and Asperger's Children


"What specific technology is available to help the Aspergers student in school, especially one with gross/fine motor issues?"

Like most children, those with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism have a strong interest in computers and video technology. As a result, both computers and video recording should be integrated into the academic curriculum for a child with Asperger’s. The technology of computers and video recording will provide the student with a consistent form of learning, as well as being entertaining.

Computers- Computers now have hardware that can be adapted to the needs of a child with Asperger’s. These devices will help the child focus on computer-generated tasks, and they increase a child’s motor skills.

Computers with touch windows give the child the ability to navigate through a program with ease. In addition, the child can interact with a program without having to rely on a computer mouse. A touch screen decreases the hardware required to operate the computer, and the child can directly relate his or her actions to the action shown on the computer screen.

The standard computer keyboard can be replaced by an alternative keyboard known as Big Keys. This is a keyboard that has been designed for younger children, and each key is one-inch square. In addition, the letters are color coded to assist the child in finding a specific letter. For example, vowels and consonants are color coded separately. The Big Keys keyboard is produced by Greystone Digital, and their website can be accessed at www.bigkeys.com

Video Technology- A child with Asperger’s will enjoy video technology due to the repetitive nature and predictability of video recording. Repeated viewing of a video results in learning a variety of skills and knowledge.

Video technology can teach writing skills (e.g., letters, words, sentences) as well as language comprehension skills (e.g., syntax, object names, shapes, sizes). Also, task-oriented behavior, such as closing a door or making a bed, can be taught with a step-by-step video demonstration.

It is important to note that the technology found in computers and video recording need to be tailored to an Asperger's child. Some of the basic concepts of the computer, such as typing and disc storage, might need to be slowly and patiently explained and demonstrated. In addition, a video camera needs to be focused and adjusted before use. A child with Asperger's will want to push buttons or turn lenses at random. Video recording needs to be taught very slowly so that the child acquires knowledge and mastery over the tasks and doesn’t experience frustration.

An Asperger's child is an individual and any learning experience must be individualized to meet the child’s needs. Using computer and video technology will contribute to independent functioning and decrease the child’s reliance on other people to complete a learning task. Above all, when teaching any child a step-by-step process, the adult must be patient with the child’s learning process and also be willing to explain the mistakes that a child might make while mastering a learning task.

Crisis Intervention Tips for Asperger's Children

"I know you talk about how 'prevention' is key when trying to deal with meltdowns in children with AS, but what about when the child is already full-swing into a meltdown? Is it just too late at that point to make any difference?"

It's never too late to intervene, but the task of actually putting the brakes on a meltdown will be much more difficult once it is underway. Having said that, here are some suggestions...

Crisis Intervention Tips for Parents of Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

1. A step isn't completed until the child has given you his verbal consent to the conditions of the step. For example, [parent gently restraining the child] "I will let you go when you stop slamming your bedroom door. O.K.?" Be prepared to repeat steps if additional meltdowns occur before moving on to the next step.

2. Allow the child, whenever possible, to make choices as you move through the crisis intervention steps. For example, "Do you want to take your time-out in your bedroom or in the living room?" However, do not offer choices if they would compromise what you are trying to achieve.

3. Have a calm voice and demeanor, but convey firmness.

4. Help the child to see you as a problem solver. Let him know that you are aware of how difficult the situation is for him. Tell him your job is to help with this difficulty. Explain clearly that your help does not mean avoiding the situation or doing it for the child, but rather helping him to do it. For example, "You have a problem, and I am here to help you solve it."

5. Ignore or interrupt irrelevant comments. Respond with: "That doesn't make sense, I can't pay attention to that," or "That is off the topic, so I will have to ignore what you are saying," or "I can't help you with your problem while you are talking nonsense."

6. Keep your goal in mind as you go through the crisis intervention steps. For example, "My goal is to help my child use his words to express his frustration rather than using physical violence." Also, create new rules for responding in the future.

7. Make it clear to the child that you are in control. Don't plead or make second requests.

8. Practice/rehearse what has been decided as the appropriate solution to the problem. This may involve completing an activity, accepting a change, or restoring the environment after a meltdown.

9. Say what you mean and mean what you say at all times during the crisis.

10. Stay on topic during the crisis. The child may bring up extraneous or unrelated issues to try to justify his behavior.

Dual-Diagnosis in Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

"We have been to many professionals over the years to get help for our son. It seems as though each therapist or psychiatrist we see comes up with a different diagnosis. First, our son had ADHD ...then he had OCD ...then it was ODD ...now it's Aspergers. Who are we to trust? Can he really have all of these disorders? Help!"

When parents seek help for their youngster with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, they encounter varied opinions from family, friends, teachers, and even professionals. For example: "he'll outgrow it" ... "leave him alone" ... "he's just being lazy" ... "he's just being defiant" ... "it's no big deal" ... "he just wants attention" ... "he's probably got ADHD" ...and so on. Many professionals try to work with the Aspergers youngster as if his disorder is like other developmental disorders, but it is quite different. In most cases, there is a great misunderstanding by many people of the needs of these special children. 

For the inexperienced, recognizing the defining characteristics of Aspergers can be difficult, and misdiagnoses are quite common. This is further complicated by the fact that an Aspergers youngster or teenager has many of the same characteristics found in other disorders. These various characteristics are often misinterpreted, overlooked, under-emphasized, or over-emphasized. As a result, the youngster may receive many different diagnoses over time or from different professionals. 

For example, if a kid with Aspergers demonstrates a high degree of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), that might be the only diagnosis he receives. However, this is a common characteristic of Aspergers kids. The same holds true if obsessive or compulsive behaviors are displayed – the youngster gets labeled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) instead of Aspergers. 

The following traits are also commonly seen in those with Aspergers in varying degrees. However, just because these traits are there, it doesn't mean that the youngster should be diagnosed differently; these traits should be noted as significant features of Aspergers:
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty with pragmatic language skills
  • Hyperlexia (advanced word recognition skills)
  • Motor deficits
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Sensory difficulties
  • Social skills deficits

Professionals who do not have much experience with Aspergers have a hard time identifying the defining characteristics. For example, social skill deficits may be noted by a professional, but then they are often downplayed because the child or adolescent appears to be having appropriate conversations with others or seems to be interested in other people. But with an Aspergers kid, the conversations are not generally reciprocal, so the boy or girl must be carefully observed to see whether or not there is true back-and-forth interaction. 

Also, many Aspergers kids have an interest in others, but you need to clarify if the objects of their interest are age appropriate. Do they interact with peers in an age-appropriate fashion? Can they maintain friendships over a period of time or do they end as the novelty wears off? These are the types of observations and questions that must be asked in order to ensure a proper diagnosis. 

Another example of an overlooked area is the narrow routines or rituals that are supposed to be present. This does not always manifest as obsessive-compulsive behavior in the typical sense (e.g., repeated hand washing or neatness), but rather in the insistence on the need for rules about many issues and situations. These kids may not throw tantrums over their need for rules, but may require them just as much as the child who has a meltdown when a rule is violated. In essence, there is no single profile of the typical Aspergers child.

Because of these subtleties and nuances, the single most important consideration in diagnosis is that the clinician making the initial diagnosis be familiar with Autistic Spectrum Disorders – in particular, Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism They should have previously diagnosed numerous clients who fall on the spectrum. To make a proper, initial diagnosis requires the following:
  1. It is important to include a speech and language evaluation, as those with Aspergers will display impairments in the pragmatics and semantics of language, despite having adequate receptive and expressive language. This will also serve to make parents aware of any unusual language patterns the youngster displays that will interfere in later social situations. Again, these oddities may not be recognized if the evaluator is not familiar with Aspergers.
  1. The youngster should see a neurologist or developmental pediatrician (one familiar with Autistic Spectrum Disorders) for a thorough neurological exam to rule out other medical conditions and to assess the need for medication. The physician may suggest additional medical testing (e.g., blood, urine, fragile X, hearing).
  1. Both parents and the Aspergers youngster should have sessions with a psychologist where the child is carefully observed to see how he responds in various situations. This is done through play or talk sessions in the psychologist's office and by discussions with both parents. The psychologist may ask parents to complete checklists or questionnaires to gain a better understanding of the youngster's behaviors at home and/or school. If the boy or girl is in school, the psychologist may call the student's teacher or ask her to complete additional checklists. The checklists or questionnaires used should be ones that are appropriate for children with Aspergers. It is important to determine the IQ level of the youngster as well. An average or above-average IQ is necessary for a diagnosis of Aspergers.
  1. An evaluation by an occupational therapist familiar with sensory integration difficulties may provide additional and valuable information.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook





COMMENT:


My name is Kim and I am writing in regards to my daughter, Naomi, who is eleven and will be in the 5th grade. I apologize ahead of time if this becomes a bit lengthy. When Naomi was in first grade, her teacher mentioned that she thought Naomi could possibly have Asperger’s. I did some research and because Naomi shows emotions and can read emotions, I dismissed this notion Although she does misplace her emotions, laughing inappropriately a lot. However, I did at this time recognize some repetitive behaviors but thought well that’s not enough to search any further. Naomi has been in speech for language impairment (receptive and expressive) since first grade and this year was reevaluated to see if she still qualified for services. After 3 years, her scores dropped significantly. In addition, her 4th grade teacher toward the end of the school year mentioned to me she thought Naomi may have Asperger’s. The combination of these two events sent me on a tail spin. I started searching and studying and was totally astonished by what I was finding. Of course, I had a couple more years of observing more behaviors since I first looked up Asperger’s. I always knew Naomi was different and we have struggled for years with her but really kept most of these struggles to ourselves and close family members. I kept thinking her maturity level would get better but found this year it had seemed to plummet and my concerns for her only having one more year before middle school really hurt my heart for her. I wanted to get help this summer hoping that we could get something in place this school year to prepare her for middle school. Our family doctor referred us to a pediatric psychiatric. He spent an hour with my husband and I the first visit and the second visit was suppose to be the same for Naomi. He only spent 30 minutes with her. I think this is because she does not elaborate on anything with others, sort of like school she shuts down. I had prepared and reflected back for weeks before going and made extensive notes on behaviors we have observed. When my husband and I returned for the 3rd visit, we were told she had generalized anxiety disorder. He noticed our faces drop and said, “I can sense you are not satisfied with what I’ve said.” I didn’t want to seem unappreciated of his professional opinion but in my hearts of all hearts I know my girl and I just feel like there is more to it.


Reflections of Naomi


Very Literal-
Naomi’s uncle tells her she has grown a foot. She looks very puzzled and sadly a little scared and looks down at her feet.
I tell her that I ran into someone at the store. She replies “Oh, did you hurt them.”
I was explaining to Naomi that we would be having these appointments because her teacher felt she was having some trouble….before I could explain with her language skills, she burst out crying saying she never gets in trouble and only pulled a card one time in first grade when she didn’t know that she wasn’t suppose to look at other people’s papers.
Eye appointment-Couldn’t read the smallest line after being ask several times because she didn’t see a line on the chart.
Routine-
Naomi is compelled to dress in a certain order. She gets upset if her shoes are in the bathroom and a sibling is showering. I have worked with her and she is beginning to realize that she can eat or brush her hair while waiting on her shoes but it is like she still has this need to do it.
She knows this certain route we take to the orthodontist and if it changes she letting me know we are going the wrong way.
When she was younger she wanted us to repeat back everything she said before going to bed. After we would leave the room she would keep saying goodnight and wait and if we didn’t repeat it back she would yell it out louder. Then she would say, “see you in the morning” and wait for us to repeat. This was over and over for a long time. We would tell her she had to stop and go to bed. She would get very upset. This was every night probably for a couple of years.
This last school year for the first six weeks, Naomi would ask me every day before getting out of the van “am I a car rider today?” I would reply, “Yes, you are a car rider every day and have always been a car rider.” She has been a car rider for 4 years.
About five years ago, several family or friends passed away. Every night for at least a year she would ask me “Are you going to be here in the morning?”
Still tells me and she is 11 that she’s got to use the bathroom (it’s almost like because I told her when she was potty training: “make sure you tell me if you need to use the bathroom” that it has become ingrained into her and even if I tell her she doesn’t need to tell me anymore she can’t stop. NOT every time but still a lot of the time-and I mean at home.


Dates and Times-


If Naomi knows when any appointment is she will remind you constantly. I had to schedule her appointments so she didn’t hear because she would tell me every day or every other day for a month until that appointment time.
One teacher told me that she always would remind her about certain dates or times.
If we have company coming and she knows what time that are suppose to come and they are late; Naomi will ask every few minutes where they are at until they arrive and tension mounts the later it gets.
If the time clock at a basketball is not started or the period doesn’t get changed she gets very anxious. Once at team camp, they forgot to start the clock for 3 minutes. That was the longest 3 minutes EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! She doesn’t play sports we were watching her sister.


Emotionally-
No middle ground with Naomi
She is either extremely happy or very upset
Still cries over a bunny that died 2 years ago (sometimes not sure if she is just trying to get attention)
Laughs inappropriately a lot of the time
Very small things that seem like nothing can set her off. She could go on and on and on for an hour sometimes (having a tantrum or meltdown?).
Doesn’t want anyone to be upset with her
She worries about everybody. If someone is hurt she has lots of compassion. (if someone her daddy knows at work father dies, she will cry and she doesn’t even know them)
She cries over people on biggest loser being so over weight (she feels sorry for them)
She comes home from school upset. She will say “Mommy, I never get a card pulled.” I will tell her that’s good Naomi. She repeats and I ask her if someone got a card pulled and she starts crying. Same thing if someone gets pebbles taken out of the jar. She gets upset and tells me.
Along this same line, she tells on her brother and sister all the time for everything under the sun. If they didn’t say thank you or if they didn’t carry their dishes over to the sink or if they don’t answer when I call them she yells and tells them they need to answer me.
There was a field trip I could not attend this school year. She said the night before she couldn’t sleep because her heart was beating so hard.
Crying and throwing a fit for 30 minutes and out of the blue she starts laughing
Makes random noises a lot.
Especially when she was younger would go outside and be singing songs with words that didn’t make sense or going from one subject to another
If she is upset and you ignore she gets louder and louder (screams answer me or listen) If you answer her and it’s not what she wants to hear or she doesn’t understand the answer she keeps on and on and on


Seems to be obsessive-
List making over and over of the same thing at times even erased and rewritten over the top. List of foods. List of people at her school. People in the world. Same list over and over on different paper. I started saving and have a file folder full (This has slowed down)
When she was younger she would work the same puzzle over and over and over
Colored same picture probably 100 times would copy it over and over




Maturity level-
She talks really small (like she is 4 ) It has gotten to the point (especially at home that I am wondering if it has almost become the normal and I can’t remember her regular voice.
Fixated on princesses
Poor hygiene (not wanting to wipe) putting dirty under clothes in drawers
Wetting clothes at times
Been wearing a bra for over a year and can’t put it on correctly


Socially
Very inward at school
If a teacher request Naomi to do errands like going to get something from the office or take something to the classroom across the hall –she will not
Doesn’t want to get in trouble at all and makes sure she tells me when she gets home if anybody else gets in trouble
Doesn’t play kickball on playground (ask her why)-she says she’s afraid she won’t understand what to do and will be embarrassed. With this being said, I really feel like she would want to deep down. Her brother and sister both play basketball and at times I think she would have liked to but she doesn’t want the coaches to yell at her and is afraid to be out in front of everybody.
All teachers have loved her and students seem to be protective especially knowing she as peanut allergy
Gets behavior awards at school
LOUD AT HOME
Hangs on to me if others approach and we are out in public
Whispers if she wants to tell me something and others are around (at a ballgame or even at her Nana’s)
Tells on everybody all the time no matter how big or how small
Gets along with children who are younger than her because they like the same things


Miscellaneous
When Naomi was younger and I would be talking to her and the expression on her face would be as if she just didn’t get what I was saying as if it was going over her head. She will use words inappropriately (let me tell you a question) and say words that are not words
Ask her what 77 minus 1 is equal to and she is most likely will not be able to verbally tell you.
Recently, I owed her $10. Gave her a twenty and was showing her I was taking $10. She did not understand this at all. No matter how I showed her. She thought I was giving her too much. Finally, she just agreed she understood but I knew she didn’t.
She will agree a lot of the times if she doesn’t understand. This concerns me because she could easily be taken advantage of.
For two years I have had to walk to the sink at the orthodontist with Naomi (even if I am sitting 2 feet away) and finally the last few times she has gone by herself.

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 More comments:

•    Anonymous said... We often focus so much energy on finding a diagnosis that we forget at the end of the day the label does not define what our child needs or who they are. Figuring out how your going to help your child reach their maximum potential is what matters!
•    Anonymous said... They are all very similar and intertwined. I just think teaching them how to cope with the umbrella of symptoms is the most important part. They are just labels that's all. Each kid is unique and different and we as parents just need to help them along the way.
•    Anonymous said... My son has them all plus sensory disorder and he has Aspergers
•    Anonymous said... I have been through same problem. Some things you mentioned are misdiagnosed because they are similar to parts of aspergers. Main thing I keep in mind is no one knows my son better than me and just because someone has letters behind their name doesnt mean they know everything.

Post your comment below…

Your Asperger Child: How to Change Thinking

"Once my Aspie son has an idea in his head, he won't budge. For example, somewhere he heard that looking into the sun will blind you (which is true). But he has taken this to a whole new level by refusing to go anywhere without his sunglasses. If he doesn't have them before we walk out the door -- it's meltdown city! I've told him countless times that as long as he isn't staring directly into the sun, he's not going to lose his eyesight. This discussion goes in one ear and out the other, and this is just one of dozens of examples. My question is: how do you change the mindset of a stubborn child who refuses to listen to reason?"

In all discussions with a child about a situation, there will be two aspects:
  1. the selling of an idea (your part)
  2. the buying of an idea (your son's part)

Both parts must always be considered together. The best "sales pitch" is incomplete if the new idea is not accepted or "bought." This process requires constant monitoring of progress by the "salesperson," who should look and ask for feedback from the "buyer" regarding this step-by-step approach. A cardinal rule is to never move ahead to the next step without checking to see if the "buyer" is moving with you. If he is not, repeat the last step in another way.

For your youngster with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, this means that you need to convince him that there is a better way to look at - and react to - a situation than what he has shown you. He needs to hear what you are saying, maybe even see it, and then accept it if a better behavior is to occur. 

But you must realize that new thinking doesn't occur easily, because your Aspergers son is not a blank slate. He already has a competitive version of your idea. Different stories and interpretations are present in his mind that will compete with your new story or mindset. If the new mindset or thinking is to succeed, it must replace, suppress, complement, or outweigh every other story or competing version or idea. Only the most powerful argument will win-out when it comes to changing the opinion of an Aspergers child.

Your prior history with your Aspergers youngster is a very powerful force in this equation. All previous unproductive discussions and interventions that you have had with him will make your job that much harder, and must be replaced as well. To deal with these factors, you must be persistent, stick to the point, not allow irrelevant items to be brought into the conversation, and provide GOOD reasons for the new thinking (in this case, being outdoors without eye protection is not likely to lead to blindness).

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Books books books! I could tell my girl something a dozen times and its like talking to a wall. Once its written down, for some reason it sinks in almost instantly.
Why not go to an *eye* website and find something that you can print off .. maybe you can find something that says *prolonged exposure to sub can damage eyes* ... maybe just seeing it like that will make it *click* that it will just damage the eye instead of blinding him.
•    Anonymous said... Doctors and nurses can help too. My son refused to wear socks despite my every attempt to get them on his feet. Finally last year I had the school nurse call him in with her white jacket on and explain to him how socks were necessary, especially with stinky snow boots. She gave him "scientific" hygiene tips and a pair of socks that I provided and wrote him a "prescription" to wear them every day. I haven't had a problem since getting him to wear them.
•    Anonymous said... First of all, I'd like to let you know that i totally understand your own frustration with the unflexibility of your child, it can be so frustrating to us as parents who just want our child to listen to reason. At times my son would get an idea in his head and to me it sounded so unreasonable but in his mind seemed so logical. It does get easier when they get older because you can just let them do the research themselves, when they are younger they tend to not understand idioms. I focused on teaching the understanding that all things people say are not always exact, and if they have a doubt do research... Im pulling for you, it gets easier, i promise!
•    Anonymous said... Having this same problem, I try to let the small battles go. But once my son has an idea formed, there is no letting it go. I have noticed that if someone else tells him, besides his Father or I, he does have more of a tendency to believe them.
•    Anonymous said... HUGS. I have had some success with having my son research the topic on the internet, and then write a couple of ideas down, such as things he can/should do, and things he can't/shouldn't, based upon the research. He won't believe what I tell him, but he will listen to "scientists." And yes, pick your battles! Some things are important in the long term (for self-esteem, education, etc) and some are not.
•    Anonymous said... I allow mine to have his individuality.. When we go through these stages I always make sure I have backup.. ie an extra couple pair of sunglasses in the vehicles in my purse etc etc..
•    Anonymous said... I can empathize & I agree that showing him the info in written form can help since visual cues often work where talking doesn't . Having teachers, etc. reinforce it would be good as long as it's not all at once, just when it naturally comes up. Otherwise, he might feel overwhelmed/ganged up on. Not sweating "small" stuff is good too
•    Anonymous said... I don't try to change my child's mindset, instead for the time being, I let him continue to have what he needs, as long as it doesn't harm him, and continue to let him know that it works a particular way. I also encourage other adults around him (Scouting Leaders, Teachers, Parents of friends, etc) to tell him the same thing, thus showing him it's not just Mom or a Parent in general who is telling him this. You will run into this more and more as he learns more at school and his mind runs wild with the knowledge. My son is now 13 and is doing much better with understanding that everything he hears isn't 100% true, that there are other ways to look at things, although sometimes it doesn't come quickly. Hang in there!
•    Anonymous said... I think some of this gets easier with age and your continual teaching and instructing. Mine used to cry and meltdown even if the diversion in the schedule was getting ice cream something she loves. Now she is 9 and says it is still very hard to deviate the plan but she does it with no meltdown because she is beginning to understand this world is always changing. I always try to give her a list of where and what we are doing so this helps and if I think a change will happen I express it up front. She still has these at times but way less than before.
•    Anonymous said... My aspie son does the same but I let it take its course providing it does not cause him harm. Anyway wearing sunglasses is not a bad thing as it protects the eyes from harmful uv rays and cuts down on wrinkles. I try so hard to get my son to wear them.
•    Anonymous said... my heart goes out to you and to your son. No one can understand that for all of us there are just no easy answers. Keep strong and keep connected.
•    Anonymous said... My son does that occasionally and then we start reasoning with him. In this case, I would say "so many people go outside and their eyesight is fine" if they lost their vision would they still be going outside?" He will think about it for a minute and then say "okay, that sounds ridiculous". There still are some things that he is very stubborn on though.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 14 and, for me, it's getting more difficult with age. I'd love to just "enjoy him" and I find I'm enjoying him less. Much of it has to do with this exact poster's question. At 14 people (and I so I realise I need to work on myself) expect him to b able to reason and understand and agree to cultural norms. It truly is like talking to a brick wall and its crazy making for me (and him). These things don't seem to ease his anxiety if I 'allow' them to run their course. His perseverating actually increases his anxiety and ensures he's even more isolated and depressed once he becomes aware he doesn't fit in or is liked (something else that's increased with age - his awareness of his 'situation'). He understands that he doesn't understand cultural norms and it actually devastates and/or angers him, and definitely alienates him more. I worry for his future and for our relationship. We r desperate for advice in this area!
•    Anonymous said... My son is 16 and, when he was younger, his ideas needed to be everybody's ideas and he didn't understand why they weren't. He took (and still does depending on what it is) everything so literal that when somebody said it was raining cats and dogs outside, he cried and cried and looked out the window thinking he was going to see cats and dogs falling from the sky. What Lori and Angela say is 100% correct and sometimes the only thing that you can do. Now that my son is in his mid-teens, he still has moments where his ideas need to be everybody else's ideas, but I just gently tell him that he needs to do or think what he thinks and not force those things on others because everybody is going to have their own mindset, just as he does. Whether he thinks what others think is right or wrong, he still needs to respect other's way of thinking just as others respect his. Once he is able to process through what I say, it seems to make sense to him but it is just giving him the time to identify those certain mindsets for himself and come to his own conclusions, whether they are right or wrong.
•    Anonymous said... My son wore a bike helmet for months bc he was convinced the sky was going to fall. We just went with it. I've found that most of these fixations run their course if you reinforce a positive outcome and Not focus too much on it unless its a danger or harmful in any way. Wishing you luck and patience in these situations. I hope it gets easier for you both.
•    Anonymous said... One lesson I learnede was to try and invade their thoughts with them and then redirect to something else.Example I heard was a little girl would not go sit at restaurant with family,as she was ocd about tracing letters on a sign in the building.The mom had to go to the sign and trace the letters with her hand on her daughters,and then gently break away from it with her. If you can figure out how,getting inside his thoughts and going thru it to another alternative may help. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said... Pick your battles carefully. Put your foot down about the important things, not wearing sunglasses. I do, however, also like the idea of looking up reference info to show him in hopes it could lower his anxiety.
•    Anonymous said... The child's reasoning is sound reasoning for him at that time. My son would have an absolute fit when his early elementary class (regular class) would deviate from the "literal" instructions the teacher would give- of course, as you all know, the instructions were not to be taken literally but rather idiomatic. He will learn for himself when he sees the thousands of people walking around without sunglasses that he doesn't need to wear them all the time. We take so much solace that now our son, now 12 years old, asks for clarity when he senses that there may be something he is not quite understanding the way everyone else is.
•    Anonymous said... You don't. You just have to deal with it. My son is now 23 and those ideas he got into his head somehow long ago are still with him.
•    Anonymous said… My son is an adult now. Asbergers was not a thing when he was younger. I would have given anything for someone to tell me the following when he was a child: your son lives in an exceptional world. I can almost promise you that he is never going to adapt to your world because he simply cannot. You, however, can adapt. It will be a lifelong journey, but to adapt...you have to REALLY listen without your own agenda or itinerary. Listening without expectation or judging based on our truth. Listen without arguing. Your son will begin to feel that talking to you is SAFE and you will be introduced into a world thst will surprise and challenge you. It is amazing. As you begin to understand how and why he thinks like he does...you will learn how to teach him truths that matter to him because you are speaking his language. I promise you will never convince him that you sre right through any amount of reasoning.
•    Anonymous said… science, really, if you can find information on the retina in an (almost) age appropriate format (usually aimed at a slightly older age group as aspies are often ahead intellectually) and show it to him, I always find my boy feels safer when he has as much information as possible, and a safe boy has less meltdowns x
•    Anonymous said… That is an amazing insight. My son is 5yo. On the end of the diagnosis stage. I really appreciate your view. Thank you. It will help me immensely!

Please post your comment below…

Characteristics of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

"How can you tell if a child has Asperger's Syndrome? And should we take him to a specialist to have him formally diagnosed?"

I'll answer the second question first: Yes, if you suspect Aspergers, then by all means seek a diagnosis so you will know for sure. It's better to know than not to know. If your child has Aspergers and doesn’t know, it affects him anyway. If he does know, he can minimize the negative impact -- and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that you have Aspergers, you will often fill that void with other, more damaging explanations (e.g., "I'm a failure, weird, a disappointment, not living up to my potential, etc.").

Here are the core symptoms of Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism). If these symptoms characterize your son, then strongly consider consulting a professional:

1. Cognitive Issues-- Mindblindness, or the inability to make inferences about what another person is thinking, is a core issue for kids with Aspergers. Because of this, they have difficulty empathizing with others, and will often say what they think without considering another's feelings. The Aspergers youngster 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 (i.e., 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 Asperger youngster 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.

2. Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions-- Children and teens with Aspergers display varying difficulties when interacting with others. Some 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 a friend. They have difficulty comprehending the verbal and nonverbal cues used 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.

3. Impairments in Language Skills-- Kids 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 youngster will display difficulty in many areas of a conversation processing verbal information, initiation, maintenance, ending, topic appropriateness, sustaining attention, and turn taking. The youngster's prosody (i.e., pitch, stress, rhythm, or melody of speech) can also be impaired. Conversations may often appear scripted or ritualistic (i.e., 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.

4. Motor Clumsiness-- Many kids 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. Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines-- Due to the an Asperger kid's anxiety, his interactions will be ruled by rigidity, obsessions, and perseverations (i.e., 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.

6. Sensory Sensitivities-- Many Asperger kids have sensory issues. These can occur in one or all of the senses (e.g., sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste). The degree of difficulty varies from one child 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 his/her 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

Aspergers Checklist: Sensory Sensitivities

"Is it common for a child with Aspergers to be very picky about things, for example, will only eat certain foods ...will only wear certain clothes ...etc.?"

The short answer is 'yes'. What you're referring to here is called "sensory sensitivities," which refers to any abnormalities of the senses (i.e., sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste) a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism may have. The Aspergers child generally has difficulty in at least one of these areas, though the degree will vary from person to person. Some children may have difficulty in multiple - or even all - areas. 

For example, the child may perceive ordinary sensations as unbearably intense, in which case he will begin to anticipate these experiences, feeling anxious well before the experience occurs. It will be very important to determine if the response is due to sensory or behavioral (learned) difficulties. Often a behavior may initially stem from sensory difficulties, but then becomes a learned behavior (habit). How you address the behavior will depend on which it is.

Here is a sensory sensitivity checklist (the Aspergers child will not usually have all of these traits):

1. Has difficulty in visual areas:
  • Engages in intense staring.
  • Avoids eye contact.
  • Stands too close to objects or people.
  • Displays discomfort/anxiety when looking at certain pictures (e.g., the child feels as if the visual experience is closing in on him).

2. Has difficulty in auditory areas:
  • Covers ears when certain sounds are made.
  • Displays extreme fear when unexpected noises occur.
  • Displays an inability to focus when surrounded by multiple sounds (e.g., shopping mall, airport, party).
  • Purposely withdraws to avoid noises.
  • Is fearful of the sounds particular objects make (e.g., vacuum, blender, DustBuster).

3. Has difficulty in olfactory areas:
  • Finds some smells so overpowering or unpleasant that he becomes nauseated.
  • Displays a strong olfactory memory.
  • Can recognize smells before others.
  • Needs to smell foods before eating them.
  • Needs to smell materials before using them.

4. Has difficulty in tactile areas:
  • Has difficulty when touched by others, even lightly (especially shoulders and head).
  • Displays anxiety when touched unexpectedly.
  • Complains of clothing feeling like sandpaper.
  • Has difficulty accepting new clothing (including for change of seasons).
  • Has difficulty with clothing seams or tags.
  • Does not respond to temperature appropriately.
  • Underreacts to pain.
  • Overreacts to pain.
  • Has difficulty using particular materials (e.g., glue, paint, clay).
  • Complains of a small amount of wetness (e.g., from the water fountain, a small spill).

5. Has difficulty in gustatory areas:
  • Makes limited food choices.
  • Will only tolerate foods of a particular texture or color.
  • Needs to touch foods before eating them.
  • Displays unusual chewing and swallowing behaviors.
  • Has rigidity issues tied in with limited food preferences (e.g., this is the food he always has, it is always this brand, and it is always prepared and presented in this way).
  • Cannot allow foods to touch each other on the plate.
  • Must eat each individual food in its entirety before the next.
  • Has an easily activated gag/vomit reflex.

6. Engages in self-stimulatory behaviors (e.g., rocking, hand movements, facial grimaces).

7. Is oversensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects).

8. Is undersensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects).

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook 


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Absolutely. It may not be for everything, but for certain things in particular. My son, will not wear jeans EVER and only wants to wear basketball-type shorts, but will eat almost anything. It just depends on the child.
•    Anonymous said... Being a parent of an Aspergers child, you need to always think outside the box when your child seems to react differently to things you wouldn't think would be a big deal.
•    Anonymous said... Describes my daughter's sensory issues perfectly
•    Anonymous said... Funny everyone says about the jeans.... Mine won't wear shorts! Even on a really hot day, he still wears jeans and he's super obsessed with minecraft and other electronic games but he's pretty good with eating almost any food.
•    Anonymous said... Mine will wear jeans but they absolutely must be of a certain weight and texture. Thankfully, her diet is varied enough to cover the bases and is relatively healthy. She definitely sticks to the same foods & brands!
•    Anonymous said... My son 9, always makes strange sounds when he eats! He doesn't like food touching & will only eat food prepared the same way eg: raw carrots. He is also obsessed with minecraft & is so precise with everything.
•    Anonymous said... my son absolutely refuses to use public washrooms
•    Anonymous said... My son can't wear any shirts w/ a tag. Has a hard time eating cold items foods.
•    Anonymous said... My son doesn't like jeans either, prefers to wear soft jogging bottoms, otherwise has to have his belt as tight as possible. He thinks they will fall down otherwise, even if the adjustable buttons inside are done up as tight as possible! Breakfast is worst time of day for us. He will only eat one thing for months on end until he hates it and then we have to find something else
•    Anonymous said... My son hates jeans..and has a very limited diet of "white foods" x
•    Anonymous said... My son would only wear soft shirts, no collars, hates buttons, no tags and must use only mechanical pencils. He likes baggy jeans but must have his belt pulled as tight as possible. When he was younger, he hated being dirty, hated loud sounds, hated things out of order, everything had a place...I thought in the beginning he was OCD. And food was always a big issues but that is getting better with age.
•    Anonymous said... Our sons are very similar in their texture sensitivities.
•    Anonymous said... So funny everyone seems to b mentioning jeans. Mine won't wear it either. He wears his school uniform everywhere. Since it is Dickies pants, I'm fine w that. I see the similarity in Dickies and jeans. But it's a huge difference to him. Food is a big issue w us. More comes off his list every year, but doesn't seem to replace it w anything healthy. He's 16 and still eats like a toddler. No casseroles, cause that mixes food, yet he loves pizza/hamburgers/tacos big time! We only fast food once a week. But he asks for it every day!
•    Anonymous said... That's too funny... My boy is 16 and that is all he will wear, i.e. jeans, but they can only be from a particular place and a particular brand. Let me tell you, only being able to shop at one place to buy him jeans has not been easy over the years. Just like Lori, mine is into all that "junk food" stuff, pizza, tacos, macaroni and cheese, pasta roni, etc., but, from what I hear, I have gotten lucky because he will at least try different things.
•    Anonymous said... Wow, I always thought we were the only anti-jeans home.
•    Anonymous said... Yes and then some. It's a challenge, but you must plan for it and/or around it; use everything you can to plan and to make the environment comfortable to your child. Prepare others in his world with the info they need to know as they meet and/or interact with your child.
•    Anonymous said... Yes and you will also find they can get obsessed about certain things and talk on that subject all day, my youngest is Thomas and Ninjago, 2 topics that have had to be band from the dinner table.
•    Anonymous said... Yes definitely, they are all different. My son won't wear jeans at all, completely refuses. They are "too tight" even if they are super light and big with a wide cotton waistband. One example of many. But he will eat anything- he's less orally sensitive though. There can be a hundred different sensitivities - an occupational therapist can test for those.
•    Anonymous said... Yes my 8 year old will never wear jeans either
•    Anonymous said... Yes strict routines, only wears certain clothes so make sure you buy lots of sizes in their choice, have a buffet style dinner so no foods touch each other etc
•    Anonymous said... yes, my son, 9, is bothered even by tagless underwear sometimes, and would not wear anything that would make a sound when he moves since he is hypersensitive to sounds. He is also hypersensitive to smells and would rarely eat while at school
•    Anonymous said... Yes. As they get older it changes a bit.
•    Anonymous said... Yes. Ritual and routine are very important. My son would melt down if he couldn't use a certain bathroom at home. He had to do things in a certain order before school with no variation. He is getting better now at calming if some break in routine is necessary.

Post your comment below…

Aspergers Checklist: Cognitive Issues

"Can you help me understand how my Aspergers child thinks? His rationale is quite confusing at times, and I find we are rarely on the same page with simple day-to-day issues." 

In looking at the cognitive aspects of the child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, there are four main areas to consider: (1) mindblindness, (2) cognitive inflexibility, (3) impaired imaginative play, and (4) visual learning strength. We'll look at each of these in turn:

1. Mindblindness (theory of mind): This refers to the child’s ability to predict relationships between external and internal states. It is the ability to make inferences about what another person is thinking. More specifically, the Aspergers child:
  • Is unaware that others have thoughts, beliefs, and desires that influence their behavior.
  • Views the world in black and white (e.g., admits to breaking a rule even when there is no chance of getting caught).
  • Is unaware that others have intentions or viewpoints different from his own; when engaging in off-topic conversation, does not realize the listener is having great difficulty following the conversation.
  • Displays a lack of empathy for others and their emotions (e.g., takes another person’s belongings).
  • Is unaware he can say something that will hurt someone's feelings or that an apology would make the person "feel better" (e.g., tells another person their story is boring).
  • Prefers factual reading materials rather than fiction.
  • Has impaired reading comprehension; word recognition is more advanced (e.g., difficulty understanding characters in stories, why they do or do not do something).
  • Displays difficulty with inferential thinking and problem solving (e.g., completing a multi-step task that is novel).

2. Lack of cognitive flexibility: This refers to the child’s ability to problem solve, to engage in and maintain mental planning, to exert impulse control, to be flexible in thoughts and actions, and to stay focused on a goal until its completion. More specifically, the Aspergers child:

A. Is distractable and has difficulty sustaining attention.
  • Has difficulty with organizational skills (e.g., What do I need to do, and how do I go about implementing it?).
  • Has difficulty with sequencing (e.g., What is the order used to complete a particular task?).
  • Has difficulty with task initiation.
  • Has difficulty with task completion.
  • Has difficulty with direction following.
  • Has difficulty when novel material is presented without visual support.
  • Engages in competing behaviors (e.g., vocalizations, noises, plays with an object, sits incorrectly, looks in wrong direction).

B. Has poor impulse control, displays difficulty monitoring own behavior, and is not aware of the consequences of his behavior.
  • Displays rigidity in thoughts and actions.
  • Shows a strong desire to control the environment.
  • Has difficulty with transitions.
  • Has difficulty incorporating new information with previously acquired information (i.e., information processing, concept formation, analyzing/ synthesizing information), is unable to generalize learning from one situation to another, may behave quite differently in different settings and with different individuals.
  • Engages in repetitive/stereotypical behaviors.
  • Displays a strong need for perfection, wants to complete activities/assignments perfectly (e.g., his standards are very high and noncompliance may stem from avoidance of a task he feels he can't complete perfectly).

C. Displays inflexible thinking, not learning from past mistakes (note: this is why consequences often appear ineffective).

D. Can only focus on one way to solve a problem, though this solution may be ineffective.
  • Does not ask for help with a problem.
  • Does not ask a peer or adult for needed materials.
  • Continues to engage in an ineffective behavior rather than thinking of alternatives.
  • Is able to name all the presidents, but not sure what a president does.
  • Is unable to focus on group goals when he is a member of the group.

3. Impaired imaginative play: This refers to the ability to create and act out novel play scenarios. While the Asperger child may seem to engage in imaginative play, a closer look reveals play that appears to have an imaginary theme (in terms of characters and topics), but is actually very rigid and repetitive. It is important to observe free-play/free-time choices. Is the play really novel, or is it a retelling of a TV show or video? If the play is novel, can it be changed, can playmates alter it, or is the same play repeated over and over? The Aspergers child:
  • Uses limited play themes and/or toys.
  • Uses toys in an unusual manner.
  • Attempts to control all aspects of the play activity; any attempts by others to vary the play are met with firm resistance.
  • Follows a predetermined script in play.
  • Engages in play that, although it may seem imaginary in nature, is often a retelling of a favorite movie/TV show/book (note: this maintains rigidity in thoughts, language, and actions).
  • Focuses on special interests such that he dominates play and activity choices.

4. Visual learning strength: This refers to being able to learn most successfully through visual modes. This is especially true for the Asperger child. Visual information remains stable over time, allowing the child to process, respond, and remember the information (e.g., I don’t have to worry about forgetting, I can take my time, the information is still there). Not only is this child a visual learner, but he is also a visual thinker. Visual learning compensates for many of the child’s areas of need. The Aspergers child:

A. Benefits from schedules, signs, cue cards.
  • Uses visual information to help focus attention (e.g., I know what to look at).
  • Uses visual information as a “backup” (e.g., I have something to look at when I forget), especially when new information is presented.
  • Uses visual information to provide external organization and structure, replacing the child’s lack of internal structure (e.g., I know how it is done, I know the sequence).
  • Uses visual information to make concepts more concrete.
  • Uses visual information as a prompt.

B. Has specific strengths in cognitive areas.
  • Displays average or above average intellectual ability.
  • Displays average or above average receptive and expressive language skills
  • Has an extensive fund of factual information.
  • Has an excellent rote memory.
  • Displays high moral standard (e.g., does not know how to lie).
  • Displays strong letter recognition skills.
  • Displays strong number recognition skills.
  • Displays strong word recognition skills.
  • Displays strong oral reading skills, though expression and comprehension are limited.
  • Displays strong spelling skills.

Aspies in the Teenage Years: What the Future Holds

"I would like to know what to expect from an Aspergers child in the teenage years. My son was diagnosed 6 years ago. I know they say that they can suffer from this and that, but what is the long-term goal, what can we expect, what not to expect?"
Young people with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism often have a difficult time between the ages of 13 and 19. They may be socially excluded and face rejection by their peers if they act differently from others. They want to be accepted and liked, but often don’t know how to behave and communicate appropriately. School is demanding and they long for friends. The goal for your Aspergers child is to make it through the teen years with the following:
  • his self-esteem intact
  • at least a friend or two
  • knowledge that his family loves him
  • a high school diploma
 
There are some teens that manage to navigate these years successfully because they don’t care about peer pressure and focus on a special interest of their own (e.g., chess or computers). So, encouraging your son to develop a special interest may help him at this time of life. A special interest may encourage friendships with other teens that have the same interest as well, making it easier to talk to and make friends with others.

A big problem for Aspergers teens is that often they don’t care about fads, clothing, celebrities, and teen communication devices (e.g., cell phones or Facebook). Your son’s interests may be more appropriate for younger children. Boys may be rejected if they are not interested in sports. Some of these issues can be resolved, though.

Help your son become aware of teen fads and how to talk about sports, celebrities, rituals, and school events. Encourage him to leave text messages for and arrange social engagements with peers. Perhaps he could join school clubs, especially those that focus on his special interest. Explain to your teen that he does not have to tell everyone that he has Aspergers. Your son may enjoy talking with other Aspergers teens in internet chat rooms

Your son may ignore personal hygiene and wear clothes and a hair cut that are not in style. Find a same sex friend who will help your teen choose appropriate clothes to wear. Monitor your teen’s hygiene and create reminder notes or charts for him about daily bathing, tooth brushing, etc. Reward him for good hygiene, if that’s what it takes! 

“Aspie” teens are sometimes not very well-informed about sex and dating. Boys may be very na├»ve or too forward with girls. Hormones cause rampant emotions, which Aspie teens can’t handle. If they get angry, they may physically attack others or have a “melt down.” 

You must teach your teen about sex. Provide books for him to read. Choose books that aren’t overly “clinical.” Be specific and detailed about safe sex. Never be judgmental or punish him when he confides in you; instead, counsel him. Boys need to be told that masturbating should take place only at home, in private. Aspies often respond to “rules” by obeying them. Establish some rules for your son (e.g., “We have a rule in our house that teenagers should not have sex because they are too young to handle the emotions and problems that may occur”).

Some Aspie teens develop problems with drugs and alcohol because they are eager to do what other teens do. They are not able to determine a “good” crowd from a “bad” crowd. Other teens may take advantage of your son’s eagerness to be liked and convince him to buy and/or take alcohol or drugs. You must always know where your son is, who he is with, what he is supposed to be doing, and the characters of the other teens he hangs around. Emphasize that drugs and alcohol are illegal. Since Aspies are rule-oriented, so this may help your son avoid problems.

Aspergers teens may have school problems because of the difficulty in dealing with more than one teacher. Each classroom is a different environment, which may be confusing. Some teachers may be hostile. Some assignments may be overwhelming. Keep in close touch with your son’s teachers. A placement into Special Education may be necessary when an Aspie teen enters middle school. Some Aspies need special classes even though they didn’t before. Make sure your son has a “safe place” at school where he can share emotions with a teacher, nurse, guidance counsellor, or psychologist. If your son experiences harassment and/or rejection at school and the staff does not help, a special education placement or a therapeutic boarding school can give professionals a chance to assist your teen academically and socially. 

Suicide may become a possibility for a few teens with Aspergers. If you have any worries about this, get help immediately from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Use reasoning and negotiation with your son, instead of orders. If possible, give him two choices rather than telling him what he must do in a situation. He will have more control over his life and feel less resentment. He will be less likely to listen to you (like all teens!) at this age and may exhibit anger and impatience. He may hate school and resist everything you want him to do. Depression is common. If these problems occur, your son may need counseling. 

Most Aspies learn to drive successfully because they obey the rules! Have your son carry a cell phone and a card that explains Aspergers. Teach him to call you in a crisis and to give the card to any police officer who stops him. Role play with him so he knows what to do and say if stopped by an officer.

Some Aspies do well in summer jobs in an area of special interest or with little contact with the public. Occupational therapy will help your son get ready for adulthood. Special programs are available that teach job and living skills. This will reduce his dependency on you. 

Above all, ask for help from professionals when you or your son need it.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


COMMENTS:

Anonymous said… All of this is happening with my 15 year old Aspie. It can be heartbreaking for the parent. I just take it day by day.
Anonymous said… Great article 
Anonymous said… Great article! My Aspie is 39 & married now but that article was spot on with ways to help them through it.
Anonymous said… I have a 16 year old son that has not been diagnosed yet, but it is very obvious to us he is an Aspie. Personally, I am very happy he is not interested in the 'teen fads", makes life much easier in my opinion. He could use a few friends though.
Anonymous said… I will be homeschooling my son next year. I knew this would start happening. Just glad I have the option to homeschool:)
Anonymous said… Nice article. My son who is now 17 has faced some of those issues and through counseling has been able to over come many difficulties. He had a much rougher time in the early teens. Now he is more comfortable in his own skin. He doesn't necessarily follow trends in clothes, has let his hair grow. Still needs reminders with hygiene every now and then, but I believe he is on the road to independence. I want my son to have as beat normal life as possible, I don't want his condition to limit his potentials and who he will be. He can achieve greatness cause he is a good kid. He gives me a hard time,but what teenager doesn't. I take it as a phase and guide him in all I can. His school has been very supportive and his peers accept him for who he is. Even when people snicker about him, he pays them no mind. I do like the advice about the Aspergers card in the wallet. He is learning how to drive and this is a good idea for when he will be driving by hi self and gets stopped by the police. Thanks for sharing this article.
Anonymous said… Thank you for the article. My son turns 13 this year, I am sure I will be putting this info to good use.
•    Anonymous said... My son Liam is now 14. The best thing I did was have a behavior specialist come to the house once a week, which insurance covers, to help with things throughout the years like facial recognition, conversation with others, even just sitting in his chair and not crawling under the table when he got upset. He grew, matured, and learned, slower then the other kids yes, but still slow and steady learned to manage his behaviors. Now that he is a teenager he decided to do virtual school at home because the business of school, hallways, and other kids faired to distracting for him. He is doing great. Good grades, on a bowling team, has a few friends. Best thing you can do is join you child in something if they are not noise sensitive. It gives them a sense of belonging to a team. Liam started when he was 7 and is still on the team. He does his own laundry, vaccums his room, manages his schedule, takes care of his cat. Can't wait till he can get a job. So proud of him. So to answer your question an hour later lol you have lots of great stuff to look forward to if you get the right help. Also the behavior specialist made me feel like I had someone on my side and I wasn't alone. Relieved some of the stress.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter uses a note book to communicate with teachers, when she feels she can't talk or ask something. She has a brilliant sen support net work at school too and I have one main person who communicates everything to me. Her mood swings can change so quickly that each day is different, just make sure you keep talking to each other x
•    Anonymous said... I found Social Thinking books for teens excellent resource for your teen and you to read (very appealing to teens for how to on social stuff while insightful for parents) An advocate for you and student at school is huge. I truly enjoy communicating with my son and his perspective. Reason, logic, and showing you respect his viewpoint, but he must do the same. Clear, consistent logic. Plus if you want to hear about your teen's day tell them about yours, a chance to walk him through social situations at school.
•    Anonymous said... expect nothing, take each day as it comes and keep clear communication with him as much as possible, try to get him to tell you his feelings and opinions on things so you'll have an idea of how he's perceiving the world, make sure school are on board and check with him which teachers he trusts the most, these are the ones you need the most contact with so you can be part of the same team in helping him, as for hormones, expect the same as you'd expect from any teen.
 

Please post your comment below…

Aspergers Checklist: Motor Clumsiness

Motor Clumsiness: This refers to difficulties with motor functioning and planning. The Asperger individual can have difficulty with both gross and fine motor skills.

A. Difficulties with gross motor skills:
  1. An awkward gait when walking or running.
  2. Poor balance.
  3. Difficulty when throwing or catching a ball (appears afraid of the ball).
  4. Difficulty coordinating different extremities, motor planning (shoe tying, bike riding).
  5. Difficulty with motor imitation skills.
  6. Difficulty with rhythm copying.
  7. Difficulty with skipping.

B. Difficulties with fine motor skills:
  1. Difficulty with handwriting/cutting/coloring skills.
  2. An unusual pencil/pen grasp.
  3. Rushes through fine motor tasks.
  4. Difficulty applying sufficient pressure when writing, drawing, or coloring.
  5. Difficulty with independently seeing sequential steps to complete finished product.
  6. Frustration if writing samples are not perfectly identical to the presented model.

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

Aspergers Checklist: Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines

Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines

This refers to the Aspergers child’s rigidity, obsessions, perseverations, and need for structure/routine/order.

A. Rules are very important as the world is seen as black or white:
  1. Takes perfectionism to an extreme — one wrong answer is not tolerable, and the child must do things perfectly
  2. Has difficulty with any changes in the established routine
  3. Has a set routine for how activities are to be done
  4. Has rules for most activities, which must be followed (this can be extended to all involved)

B. The child has few interests, but those present are unusual and treated as obsessions:
  1. Patterns, routines, and rituals are evident and interfere with daily functioning (note: this is driven by the child’s anxiety; the world is confusing for her; she is unsure what to do and how to do it; if she can impose structure, she begins to have a feeling of control)
  2. Has developed narrow and specific interests; the interests tend to be atypical (note: this gives a feeling of competence and order; involvement with the area of special interest becomes all-consuming)
  3. Displays rigid behavior:
  • Has unusual fears
  • Has narrow food preferences
  • Carries a specific object
  • Plays games or completes activities in a repetitive manner or makes own rules for them
  • Insists on driving a specific route
  • Arranges toys/objects/furniture in a specific way
  • Is unable to accept environmental changes (e.g., must always go to the same restaurant, same vacation spot)
  • Is unable to change the way she has been taught to complete a task
  • Needs to be first in line, first selected, etc.
  • Erases over and over to make the letters just right
  • Colors with so much pressure the crayons break (e.g., in order to cover all the white)
  • Only sits in one specific chair or one specific location
  • Cannot extend the allotted time for an activity; activities must start and end at the times specified
  • Selects play choices/interests not commonly shared by others (e.g., electricity, weather, advanced computer skills, scores of various sporting events) but not interested in the actual play (note: this could also be true for music, movies, and books)
  • Has narrow clothing preferences
  • Feels need to complete projects in one sitting, has difficulty with projects completed over time

C. Failure to follow rules and routines results in behavioral difficulties. These can include:
  1. Anxiety
  2. Tantrums/meltdowns (e.g., crying, aggression, property destruction, screaming)
  3. Non-compliant behaviors
  4. Increase in perseverative/obsessive/rigid/ritualistic behaviors or preoccupation with area of special interest, engaging in nonsense talk
  5. Inability to prevent or lessen extreme behavioral reactions, inability to use coping or calming techniques
  6. Emotional responses out of proportion to the situation, emotional responses that are more intense and tend to be negative (e.g., glass half-empty)

Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism have very few things that really interest them, but those interests are very important and may help them alleviate anxiety. They also cope better when there are set routines in their lives. Because change causes anxiety, Aspergers children will want to live by rigid rules that they construct for themselves. They want their own rules so that they can be the “king” or “ruler” -- and they have a difficult time understanding why society has a different set of rules.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Autism & Asperger's Resources


Actors for Autism - Actors for Autism is a non-profit organization comprised of individuals in the entertainment industry who are dedicated to the advancement, education and exposure of people on the autistic spectrum.
                          
Aspies.co.uk - This site details natural interventions taken to help a child with Aspergers Syndrome.
              
Autism Conferences - Your online source for autism-related speakers, conferences, books, videos, CD-ROMS and other resources. 
              
Camp Huntington - Camp Huntington is a co-ed, overnight, seven-week program for children with hidden abilities. Our program offers a unique approach that we call adaptive therapeutic recreation. Our campus is located in the beautiful hamlet of High Falls, New York within the Catskill Mountain region.
              
Dr. Tony Attwood - Current information on Asperger's Syndrome from the world's leading expert.
 
FAAAS - Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome.
 
Family Studies Research Program - The Family Studies Research Program in Mount Sinai's Department of Psychiatry conducts studies directed toward better understanding and characterizing familial/genetic factors in psychiatric disorders through molecular genetic and genetic epidemiological techniques. We are currently conducting a genetics study that involves families that have more than one child diagnosed with autism or Asperger's Syndrome.
              
Flint Academy - Welcoming and educating all children, in an inclusive-model school, providing a classical education within a Christian environment, and utilizing research-based, specialized education techniques for students who are advanced, typically developing, or have special education needs.
              
ICDRC - We hope to unfold what we know about the biology of autism, and we hope to share our experiences in diagnosing and treating the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms which manifest the neurobehavioral patterns we refer to as autism.
 
Innovative Concepts for the Autistic Network - This web site is the creation of Laura Elliott, a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist, who has worked with high functioning autistic students from preschool to high-school age.
              
Liane Holiday Willey's ASPIE page - Liane's safe and enjoyable virtual hang out for those interested in learning and sharing about Asperger's Syndrome.
 
Living with, Understanding, and Overcoming Autism - Living with, Understanding, and Overcoming Autisms provides facts and animations documenting a fifteen year research project using Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung’s concepts to understand, then overcome autism, Asperger Syndrome and a Savant Brain.
              
MAAP Services - Maap Services, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information and advice to families of More advanced individuals with Autism, Asperger's syndrome, and Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).
              
Personal Coaching Systems - In Los Angeles, PCS #1 serves non-public school students, specializing in autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger's Syndrome. We also serve students diagnosed with mental retardation, emotional disturbance, and severely handicapped.
 
Sacarin Listening, Movement and Development Center - Sacarin Listening Movement and Development Center integrates the Tomatis - Auditory Training Method, Sensory-Motor Integration, and neuro-cognitive consulting. Interactive Metronome and qEEG are complementary tools we offer to help our young clients to reach excellence. Our parent consulting and coaching is a central piece in providing an effective and brief intervention solution to children and their families.

Stone Mountain School - Summer programs for children with high-functioning autism and Aspergers, as well as those with ADHD and Learning Disabilities. Outdoor adventure camp in western North Carolina, with three 2-week sessions.
              
TEACCH Home Page - The page Features information about TEACCH and articles about autism by TEACCH professionals.
 
The Autism Tissue Program - This is a joint effort of the Autism Society of America (ASA), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and the M.I.N.D. (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute at the University of California, Davis to help understand the developmental disorder of autism.
 
The BHARE foundation - The purpose of this web page is to provide you, the parent, with information about the different options that are used in the treatment of autism.
 
The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding - The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting social understanding between individuals with autism spectrum disorders and those who interact with them in the home, school, workplace, and community. We hold an annual international conference, and provide support groups and workshops in the Grand Rapids, MI area. We sell and develop resources relevant to ASD. We are the official web site for Carol Gray and Social Stories™.
 
The Harris School - The mission of the Child Development Center of the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute is to further the emotional health and educational development of young children.
 
The Monarch School - A therapeutic school in Houston Texas serving Children with PDD, autisim, asperger's syndrome and executive functioning disorder.
 
The New England Center for Children - An organization dedicated to providing comprehensive educational services to children with autism and related disabilities from the initial diagnosis to adulthood.
              
Unlocking Autism - Opening the doors to autism awareness.
 
Wisconsin Early Autism Project - The clinical staff of the Wisconsin Early Autism Project have many years of experience specializing in the treatment of autistic children, and the effectiveness of our program is backed by solid research. We are directly affiliated with Dr. Lovaas, who pioneered this successful treatment of autism at UCLA.
              

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