Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Teaching Social Skills to Aspergers Teens: Tips for Parents

"How should I deal with my 13-year-old Asperger’s son now? Should I simply accept him as he is now, or should I actively try to teach him ways to socialize in order to ‘fit in’ better (e.g., look in a person’s eyes when talking, how to be a friend, conversations should be two way instead of him delivering a monologue, etc.). Are these skills even teachable?"

These skills are very teachable, and you should definitely work on them with your child. This type of teaching should begin even earlier than age 13. But, at age 13, your child is likely to learn them more easily than he would have at a younger age.

Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism often have a difficult time during adolescence. They become isolated socially and face rejection and bullying due to the fact that they act differently from others. They long for friends, but have very weak social skills. There are some teens that do well during these years (if they are indifferent to peer-pressure and focused on a special interest of their own). Encouraging your child to develop a special interest may help him form friendships with other teenagers that have the same interest.

One of the biggest issues for most Aspergers teenagers is that they don’t care about the usual fads, adolescent activities, and peer expectations. Sometimes their interests are more appropriate for younger kids. Males may be rejected if they are not interested in sports. Some of these issues can be resolved by helping your child learn about fads, adolescent life, and sports. Even if your child isn’t very interested or doesn’t want to participate in them, it will help him understand his friends. Teach him how to talk about celebrities, teen rituals, and sports using social stories and role-playing. Focus on teaching him how to speak briefly, and then wait for the other person to respond before he speaks again.

Encourage your child to initiate contact with friends, leave phone messages, and arrange social activities. Encourage him to join clubs, especially those that focus on a special interest of his. Some teenagers enjoy talking with other “Aspies” in internet chat rooms, forums, and on message boards.

It helps Aspergers teenagers if moms and dads are involved in arranging social interactions with friends. Parents should help organize and supervise appropriate activities. Teaching your son how to join a group, become a part of it, how to converse on common topics, make eye contact, etc., will definitely be a big boost to his emotional development.

Behavioral therapy with a counselor also helps Aspergers teens learn how to function. Any kind of therapy takes effort on the part of the teen and his mother or father. The success of therapy depends on the teen’s own desire to fit in.

Social stories can be used to teach appropriate behavior in a variety of settings. Social stories may be used by parents, therapists, or educators. Social Stories are a tool for teaching social skills and provide accurate information about situations that your child may find difficult or confusing. A situation is described in detail, and focus is placed on a few key points:
  • the actions and reactions that might be expected of the child
  • why certain actions and reactions are expected
  • important social cues
  • events and reactions the child might expect to occur

The goal is to (a) increase the child’s understanding of a particular situation, (b) make him more comfortable in social interactions, and (c) teach some responses that are appropriate for the context of the social exchange. 


Anonymous said... I started teaching my kid ways to socialize since she was 2, because in the park she always wanted to play by herself, and I always tried her to play with others. Today she is 9, and she still have problems to make friends, but she has improved a lot. Yes, you can teach your kid how to socialize. Just remember that it will take a lot of effort and you will not see the results right away.

Anonymous said... Why would you want to change who he is? Society prehaps should adapt to him. Pressure to be like others and to fit in with others is stressful and unnecessary.

Anonymous said... i do accept my son the way he is but i also teach him what is acceptable socially.

Anonymous said... My daughter is 8, and it is hard for ME to see her watch other kids, look like she wants to play with them, but doesnt know how. She is a high funtioning Aspie, but with social things she doesnt do well with. Now if there are younger kids she sometimes attempts to play with them, mentally she is only 5, but the lil kids are intimidtaed by her size and dont understand she just wants to play.

Anonymous said... I could have written that myself !!! LOL Mine comes home from school crying that she's not allowed to play with the kids she understands, and doesn't understand the kids she's allowed to play with

Anonymous said... I constantly ask myself this same question.

Anonymous said... My son is 14 and he is different but he dose his best to fit in and it works he is very popular with many of his friends he go, s to under age disco, s and dances, and he is very lucky , but iv just let him be who he is and yes he has been bullied when he was younger but lucky he has gone forward in being a teenager and has gone leaps and bounds, my other aspie child is very different and she is nearly a teenager not sure how she will go but iv bought her up to be confident , in her normal self and with her differences made them special and all her friend love her , so all I cam say is love who they are and appreciate there differences and they will be fine ......:)

Anonymous said... Re: Why would you want to change who he is? Society prehaps should adapt to him. Pressure to be like others and to fit in with others is stressful and unnecessary... ...Unfortunately society is not likely to adapt to the Aspergers child. In fact, if the Aspergers child does not learn how to "fit-in", he/she may very well find himself/herself on the receiving end of some form of abuse. Sad fact for sure.

Anonymous said... In order to succeed socializing is a key component help him to learn skills that will help him navigate a social setting when necessary. There is a difference between choosing not to socialize and not knowing how to. You want him to know how to. We don't change our children that is impossible we equip, empower and build their skills. Socializing is a skill.

Anonymous said... I sure would teach him all that as its important. Sure its hard work for us but its well worth it. 

Anonymous said... They definitely are teachable. Some of it will depend on how much he wants to fit in. I was desperate to fit in, so I learned to look at people's mouths instead of eyes. I often don't say much to people to begin with, I tell them straight-up that I would love to get to know them but I struggle sometimes because I have Aspergers. Try to teach your son the important stuff... Good listening skills, the ability to try and see things from another's point of view, and most importantly that there are other people with Aspergers who he can vent to when the world frustrates him. He needs to feel comfortable being himself, even if he doesn't always fit in (no one ever fits in everywhere, Aspie or not). It took me til I was 29 to be told by my ASD son and daughter's psych that I have Aspergers. My own psych confirmed it. All I knew was that I never felt right. It used to make me really depressed. Now I know why I always felt like a freak, I love being Aspie. I accept myself, and I'm much much happier.

Anonymous said...This article could have been written about my 14 year old son. It is a constant effort to coach him through his social interactions. Luckily he is not defiant, and he is making progress, but it is slow . I wish society could be more forgiving, but it's tough out there, so I won't give up. Thank you for a great article.

Anonymous said... Your never going to be able to teach him anything.....All you can do is hope he grows out of his me I've tried everything. And also me and my wife don't believe in meds.....That's just another addicting drug to add to an already bad situation.

Anonymous said...  Abso-freakin-loutly! Is that a serious question lol ?? My son is now 15 we/ he will never stop learning and growing! I think if I just left things as is , even though there are struggles my son Liam goes through, he would be disappointed in me if I didn't stay growing in this life with him and help him, yes help him not push him for all the negative commenters, to be his best him. Think about it, is it really any different if he didn't have Asperger? I also have a younger son, 14, its my responsibility and privileged to help him in any way to figure out his life, get him any help he needs as he grows. There are sooo many things you can do to still challenge him and yet make his life fun at the same time. Just get some help, lots and lits of help lol cuz us Asperger/autism moms need it! Don't give up just because it may seem hopeless at times or frustrating, it will be worth it in the end! God bless, Good luck, were here for you!

Anonymous said... All kids are and my wife are not being discouraging. Even his doctor said all I can do is hope he grows out of some of his ways and over the last two years he has started to actually grow up some.

Anonymous said... as soon as I adopted my son, I asked a doc to take him off his meds. He's fine now. He's 15 and as he gets older, I see less awkwardness and more maturity. It's just a process but mostly you just have to keep pointing them in the right direction.

Anonymous said... Aspergers is just ONE part of your child! It is not the definition of your child ... Of course You should "accept" him - what else are you going to do, shun him!? Oh yes, please - lets do what everyone else in society is doing so he has no sense of safety!!! Grrr. This is 2015, people! Of course you should teach your child manners and expect him to behave accordingly (tho no one is perfect.) It's an on-going thing - social skills, learning to read social cues from peers - it's an every-day practiced task .... It takes patience & training. and for what it's worth - I feel like there is nothing wrong w/ using meds if that's what works for you ... I used to say "I never ..." Well guess what - life has taught me to never say "never" and never say "always." Can we please stop judging one another & try to be supportive?! If you're a parent of a child who is on the spectrum, you should at least know this much: you've met one kid on the spectrum, you've met one kid on the spectrum .... No one is alike in their diagnosis. So please - when everyone else in the world is shunning our amazing kids, can we please try to show them a little love & understanding?

Anonymous said... Be thankful your child didn't need meds. Mine could not have attended school if we didn't use them for anxiety and he is now a pleasant 17 year old. His behaviors have constantly changed and improved over the years. Maturity and experience help. We still limit too much exposure to crowds, smells, stress, but he is so much more willing to try different situations now.

Anonymous said... I don't give my Apsie 13 yr old daughter meds. I have never treated her like she is different, she gets enough of that at school. Aspie kids are NOT dumb, stupid, or idiots. They learn. Right now my aspie kid is helping my sister in law out with organizing stuff. She is the laziest child, part of this may be the apsie in her, part I know is the 13 yr old. I make my kid go places sometimes, not all the time, just sometimes. Take him swimming at the public pool. If that's too much, go early when it first opens. Take them to the mall, even if it's a 15-30 min trip. Never give up, and never think anything is impossible! My kids teach me this everyday!

Anonymous said... I thinks dads in general are negative. My son's father told him he was sick of his aspergers. Just stop it. HELLO!!!! It isn't going away. You have to deal with it. Two young men in Seattle that have aspergers started a self help and coaching. Aspergers experts.they are awesome.

Anonymous said... I work with children and aspergers children, its in my family and I'm told I am. Teach your children love, kindness and acceptance. I am always real with children I have had some lovely experiences of aspergers children, I love their honesty. We all have to fit into this world, thus sometimes cruel world, but they'll be fine if they have guidance.

Anonymous said... Jamie wow that is very discouraging. Where there is a will there is a way. I will never give up on my son and if one way does t work we will find another. My son is 8 and we take each day as it comes. We have looked foe things he is good at and it turns out he is a great springboard diver. We are looking to get him a service dog (they have great success with aspergers kids) we see a therapist every other week because he like going and talking to him. His meds doctor has been great and monitors him closely. We still have bad days and we still have our struggles but really what kid doesnt. Things sink in you just can't give up

Anonymous said... Love is the best medicine x

Anonymous said... Meds are more then likely not for Aspies, but for anxiety. My son has major anxiety and could not even leave his room without them. Being an Aspie is not a problem at all! Unless you blame the anxiety from having Aspergers. Learning daily and trying to get through.

Anonymous said... My aspie is beautiful xx and from a young age has been a blessing .. he events teaches me stuff and in return he wants to learn to socialise we reach each other . And I wouldn't have him any other way .. the anxiety comes in stages and at his age it's up to me to recognise when and what to do quickly.

Anonymous said... Okay, I'm confused. Are you a parent? Then it is your job to teach your child how to function and act in their world. I'm confused why if a child is an Aspie, you aren't supposed to parent? I'm an Aspie, my son's an Aspie. Most people think he is neurotypical in brief meetings, and that I am outgoing. Why? Because we work to learn how to convey behaviours that are socially acceptable. That doesn't mean we are completely without our quirks. My son is 11 and feels more comfortable in his skin knowing he can respond appropriately in certain situations, and minimize awkwardness. Once he gets to know someone, they've already achieved some comfort in his presence and are accepting of his quirks. He'll never be a cookie cutter person, but he also will have the know how to convey compassion and empathy to the people he cares about, even if he doesn't fully understand the problem they are having.

Anonymous said... We help our son as much as we can.he has special help at school,special docs etc we haven't given up its just that the more things change the more they stay the same it just gets discouraging to us at times.....that's all...prayer is the thing that works the best.without God we couldn't deal with it as we do.but it is hard but with Gods help he will grow up into a fine young boy and we do love him.

Anonymous said... We tried to connect with other families with kids that are simular and we joined a social group. We go out to other kids houses and special outings by our group. We found that the more confortable our son is with something the more like he is to be more social. An example is finding friends for our son, he is now confortable going out in public with his friends or with groups where he has already meet people. He has taught some of his friends the things he like (yu gi oh) and they have taught him some of their's. That way they are not always talking about their one thing. Also if you can find a group for things your son likes then he can talk with them about stuff. The more you get out the more confortable he will be. Not sure where you are but there is a group called TAG teens w/ aspergers group in our area and we do a lot of fun things together. It's a nice time for parents to talk too.

Anonymous said... Wow.... some people can be soooooo negative frown emoticon

Anonymous said... Yes try smile emoticon just every day life coaching ,passing life skills onto him by watching you, accept him but every child needs our teaching smile emoticon X I end up saying hi to people for my son but one day slowly he started to say hi back once he accepted you can have friends outside school too he gradually new saying hi was ok smile emoticon.

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Asperger's Syndrome and Tics

"I'm 16 years old and I have Aspergers. My parents and my friends tell me that I'm always blinking my eyes. Does everybody with Aspergers have tics? What causes it? What can I do to stop it?"

Aspergers and High Functioning Autism can have many complications such as tics. Tics are rapid sudden movements of muscles in your body. Tics can be vocal, too. Both kinds of tics are very hard to control and can be heard or seen by others. However, some tics are invisible (e.g., toe crunching, building up tension in your muscles).

Simple tics involve just one group of muscles and are usually short, sudden and brief movements such as twitching the eyes or mouth movements. Some simple tics can be head shaking, eye blinking or lip biting. Simple vocal tics can be throat clearing, coughing or sniffing.

Complex tics involve more than one muscle group and are longer movement which seem more complex such as jumping, hoping, touching people, hitting yourself or pulling clothes. Other complex vocal tics can be repeating words of others or yourself all the time or repeating out loud what you have read.

Tics may increase as a result of negative emotions such as stress, tiredness or anxiety. But they may increase due to positive emotions as well, such as excitement or anticipation. These emotions are often experienced in those diagnosed with Aspergers. A strong urge can be felt before the tics appear, but sometimes with intensive therapy, these urges can be suppressed. When tics - or urges to have tics - are suppressed, there can be a build-up of other tensions or even stress. Often when the tic is gone, those who suffer from it feel a sense of relief.

Whenever kids with Aspergers focus their energy on something else (e.g., laying computer games or watching TV), their tics often decrease due to relaxation and/or distraction.

Shoulder shrugging is one of the most common simple motor tics. Others include:
  • eye blinking
  • facial grimacing 
  • head twitching
  • jumping
  • kicking
  • lip biting
  • nose wrinkling
  • repetitive or obsessive touching

Common vocal tics include:
  • barking
  • coughing
  • grunting
  • hissing
  • sniffing
  • throat clearing

Transient vs. Chronic Tics—

It's perfectly normal to worry that a tic may never go away. Fortunately, that's not usually the case. Most tics are temporary and are known as transient tics. They tend to not last more than 3 months at a time.

In rarer instances, children have tics that persist for an extended period of time. This is known as chronic tic disorder. These tics last for more than a year. Chronic tics can be either motor or vocal, but not both together.


Tics can sometimes be diagnosed at a regular checkup after the doctor asks a bunch of questions. No specific test can diagnose tics, but sometimes doctors will run tests to rule out other conditions that might have symptoms similar to tics.

Embarrassment Associated with Tics—

Aspergers children and teens don't see themselves having a tic (they're not walking around with a huge mirror at all times). So it's only natural that they may think that their tic is the worst tic ever. Of course it isn't, but it's still a concern for those who "tic." And these exaggerated thoughts can cause unnecessary feelings of embarrassment or worry, and actually make the tic worse.

Nobody wants to make tics worse, but is there any way to make them better? While you can't cure tics, you can take some easy steps to lessen their impact. Here's how:
  • A tic? What tic? If a friend of yours has a tic, don't call attention to it. Chances are your friend knows the tic is there. Pointing it out only makes the person think about it more.
  • Avoid stress-filled situations as much as you can — stress only makes tics worse. So get your work done early and avoid the stress that comes with procrastination and last-minute studying.
  • Don't focus on it. If you know you have a tic, forget about it. Concentrating on it just makes it worse.
  • Get enough sleep. Being tired can makes tics worse. So make sure to get a full night's rest!
  • Let it out! Holding back a tic can just turn it into a ticking bomb, waiting to explode. Have you ever felt a cough coming on and tried to avoid it? Didn't work out so well, did it? Chances are it was much worse. Tics are very similar.

In certain cases, tics are bad enough to interfere with someone's daily life, thus medication may be prescribed. Don't let a little tic dictate who you are or how you act. Learning to live with - and not pay attention to - the tic will make you stronger down the road.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:


Anonymous said... Thank you for this information. my son just developed a new tic today....rolling his eyes. i will surely have to explain this to his teacher. he has other simple and complex tics such as rubbing his face to the point of developing chaffing and rubbing his hair.he also tugs his clothing and clears his throat. i can now explain these actions . thanks heaps from a mother of an amazing aspergers kid.

Anonymous said... What bout high pitch screams? My son does alot iv tryd everthin to stop it nothin works iv bin kickd out of shops ppl shoutin at me to shut him up

Anonymous said... Thats wot my boy does 2, anybody wud fink im killing him, hav evn had 2 explain 2 my neighbours about him. an gemma dont let anybody make u feel that way, just explain that he has sensory special needs n if they dont understand that then id complain!! x

Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group said… Re: screams. Screaming is a form of tics. With all tics, trying to stop them - and giving a lot of attention - makes it worse. Cardinal rule re: tics -- the more attention you give them - the more they grow.

Anonymous said... Im finally starting to accept my son has this syndrome..along with adhd n ocd as well..i know hes as tired n misrable as i am with his mind always spinnin but i choose not to medicate.we tried some n he was a zombie n now ive learnd he has a gland disease

Anonymous said... And hormone issues..i just wonder if this is a big part of his difficultys..hes only 5 years old..hes starting school in aug n i know they very much pressure adhd parents to medicate..i refuse.n they refuse to give him an aid n said he cud go 2 special ed

Anonymous said... Well aint happening! He is super smart,just needs 1 on 1 guidance from someone who cares n understands but they refuse to fund it..any suggestions??

Anonymous said... i understand your desire not to medicate. i found for years and years and finally gave in at age 7. my son could not function and was about to be put on a 72 hour hold he was getting so out of control. i was the biggest advocate for living holistically but my son (I actually have two boys on the spectrum) is by far doing better and now can actually benefit from his behavioral therapy instead of just hearing it but not taking it in at all. i would try a company called native remedies and see how their homeopathic stuff works before anything else. try behavioral therapy and see how it goes. e mail me if i can be of further assistance because i am not sure if i will get a message about this thread or not.....sometimes when it is a page you do not get the alert that someone posted back.

Anonymous said... My son has started sniffing constantly!! I am going to start hypnosis on Sunday. Hope that helps!!

Anonymous said... Thanks 4 advice guys ur all great an help me loads threw this x

Anonymous said... My son as gone through a lot of tics from eyetwiching blinking moveing head now lates ones are looking up anr round with his eyes and he keeps saying he has to touch things hard with his finger he i in the process of going throug cahms etc i think he has asd as he has had all symptoms since being a baby he is 8 now.

Anonymous said... Just be you . You blink more but you see and notice more than others . It's a gift .. It may not feel like it now but treasure it and own it . I get a twitch in my left eye now and then . It's normal you don't need to learn or change anything . Your perfect just the way you are.

Anonymous said... My 14 year old son has a tic disorder which causes him to blink. He does not have autism / aspergers but my older son does we have tried many things. But the more attention you or others pay to it the more you will do it. Eliminate sugars and other stimulants, get lots of sleep, and try to reduce your stress smile emoticon good luck buddy!

Anonymous said... My 9 year old son was recently diagnosed with Aspergers and has had tics for some time...eye blinking & clearing his throat. We were told by NHS he may get help with relaxation techniques to help combat stress/anxiety but still waiting! He is often aware of the tics but we try to not make a fuss/ignore them & distract or calm him.

Anonymous said... My son 7 has ASD and has just been diagnosed with tourettes.. he has rapid blinking of his eyes and a neck twitch, which was very noticible especially when he became anxious. He was also anxious and annoyed him when it happened because of frequency. He is now on medication ( not implying to anyone to medicate each to own) but his has improved and he also has told me he doesn't feel the tics anymore. 

Anonymous said… My son does. Docs say it's his way of stemming or relieving built up tension.

Anonymous said… My son who is now 15 had a tic where it sounded like he was clearing his throat and a tic where he shrugged his shoulders constantly. These started to interfere with daily life such as school. His neurologist put him on medication for about 2 years. He quit the medicine about 8 months ago and the tics have not returned yet. We are hoping he has outgrown them. He always said he didn't control them his body just needed to do it.

Anonymous said… My son has had throat clearing, grimace style winking and most recently deep breaths that sound like an asthma attack (but isn't!). He's not aware of when he has tics and we just ignore them so he doesn't get anxious. They always go away pretty quick. I also let school know so that they don't think he's just trying to be annoying  😊

Anonymous said… Yes my sweet fella does- but got worse w ADHD meds -

Anonymous said… I wouldn't try stopping them unless they were bothering you. Probably make it worse if you tried to control it.

Anonymous said… My 15 year old does that loud, discusting throat clearing sound. My husband thinks he can get him to stop by taking away computer time but I dont even think he is aware of it most of the time. @ Beth- what medication helped?

Anonymous said… My son would do that, sometimes he picks it up still, he managed to stop himself. Every time he would do it I'd tell him,..." you're grunting kiddo, reign yourself in."

Anonymous said… The last thing you want to do is make him feel he is doing something wrong. Our school had daily behavior reports that my son was aware of. He never had so many tics develop as he did during that time. I put an end to the daily critique and in no time he was able to overcome his hyper sensitive awareness to 'be perfect'. See my comment below.

Anonymous said… I can ask him if he can remember what triggered the throat clearing/grunting and how he was able to stop himself from doing it. Maybe he can offer your son some help.

Anonymous said… Medication can cause tics and so will anxiety. Self-calming techniques are best.

Anonymous said… My son developed many tics while going through daily behavioral reports in school [all the students did]. I stopped his reports because he was becoming overly critical of himself. He started setting his feet straight before sitting, reaching for the doorknob several times before opening it, excessive handwashing, grunting etc...we got him to stop doing them all in less than two months. The only one we could never conquer [since early childhood] was the skipping back and forth after school, or after sitting for long periods, accompanied with flapping. I talked to him recently about it because he is going to be 16, and he is conciously making an effort to recognize when he is doing it an applying himself to end it. We would gently tell him whenever he was ticcing and that he needed to reset his thoughts or reign it in. He did the rest himself. No meds, no punishments.

Anonymous said… We believe the skipping and flapping is from idling too long. He gets off in his own, more enjoyable world and runs around in it for 15 minutes or so.

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What is the best way to teach social stories?

"What is the best way to teach social stories? Should this be done by parents, a therapist, or in a peer-group setting? And are social stories good resources for the home-schooler?"

Indeed, social stories can be effectively used to teach appropriate behavior in a variety of settings. Social stories may be used by parents, therapists, or in peer group settings. And home-schooling parents often use social stories effectively. Social stories are used to address many  psychological and social symptoms, including:
    • A lack of imagination in play or expression
    • Consistent shyness, anxiety, and unhappiness
    • Depression during the years of adolescence and early adulthood
    • Difficulty in relationships with others
    • Feelings of isolation from others
    • Obsessions, including irrational fears and anxieties
    • Timidity

      The Importance of Social Stories

      Social stories are a teaching device for kids. The stories are used to teach everyday social skills to youngsters who have a diagnosis of Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism. The stories contain accurate and useful information for someone encountering situations that they may find difficult or confusing. The stories approach a topic by describing it in explicit detail and focus on teachable skills needed within the story. A typical social story will discuss a given situation, how someone is expected to react in that situation, and why the reactions are appropriate.

      Deciding on an Appropriate Social Story

      Social stories are individualized in that each youngster is seen as an individual whose problems accompany a diagnosis of Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism.

      An appropriate social story captures the areas of the youngster’s life that are challenging. The Aspie’s behavior is evaluated by parents and teachers at home, in public, and at school. Parents, teachers, and therapists look at the child’s tantrums, withdrawal, social, and escape behaviors. They target these behaviors, and use a social story that addresses the behaviors.

      Here's an example:

      Lining Up—

      At school, we sometimes line up. We line up to go to the gym, to go to the library, and to go out to recess. Sometimes my friends and I get excited when we line up, because we’re going someplace fun, like out to recess. It is okay to get excited, but it is important to try to walk to the line. Running can cause accidents, and my friends or I could get hurt. I will try to walk to the line (the behavioral goal for the child).

      As you can see, social stories are short and to the point. They are structured to describe social situations, explicitly describing what the Aspergers youngster can expect from the situation, and what society expects of the youngster.

      The Benefits of Social Stories

      Social stories are beneficial in that they focus on “theory of mind” impairments (i.e., mind blindness), which are inabilities to understand the feelings and behaviors of others. In addition, social stories not only provide information about social situations, but also help the child learn how to handle them. Socially relevant information, with illustrations and text, have been shown to be highly effective with young people on the autism spectrum.

      Social stories in video format can be viewed here...

      Helping Siblings Cope with Aspergers

      "My AS son is 11 and my youngest son is 4. My 11-year-old verbally attacks my 4-year-old and my 4-year-old just stands there looking dazed and confused. How can I get my 11-year-old to stop doing this and how can I protect my 4-year-old from it? It is really starting to take a toll on my relationship with my husband. (The 11-year-old is his stepson and the 4-year-old is ours together.) Not to mention the toll it is taking on my 4-year-old. He loves his brother so much and wants nothing more than to spend time with him. His feelings get so hurt when his brother yells, screams, calls names, and tells him he hates him. I have tried sending 11-year-old to his room, talking to him, taking things away, watching the situation and trying to stop it before it happens, but it happens so quickly, it’s hard to see it coming. What can I do?"

      First of all, find a time when you and your husband can sit down and have a talk with your 11-year-old, without the 4-year-old being present. Calmly, each of you should tell him how sad and upset you feel when he yells and screams at his little brother. The goal is to make him feel guilty about this behavior and to understand that it is unacceptable. Point out to him how awful it would be if you and your husband acted that way toward him. Ask him how he would feel if you yelled, screamed, and called him names. Be specific describing such a situation to help him understand how bad he would feel. Then make the point that his little brother feels the same way.

      Tell him that he cannot continue yelling, screaming, and calling names and that if he does, he will be punished. The punishment should be “time out” in a room (other than his bedroom) alone for 15 minutes with no fun activities available to him, following by apologizing to his brother. Do this every time he acts inappropriately. Each time after his time out, sit him down and explain again why he must not act this way and that it is unacceptable. Find out why he had “a meltdown.” Help him find an alternate way that he could have handled the situation. Have him practice it. You may have to do this many, many times.

      To stop verbal abuse, you may need to use other forms of behavior modification as well. You must determine the need that your son’s behavior fulfils and teach him a replacement behavior. For example, if he yells when his brother uses his things, teach him to come to you with a single code word, and when he does, help him handle the situation. This takes time. If the youngster is severely out of control, then removing the youngster from the situation is required. As you know, this may be easier said than done.

      Behavior modification should be started early. You may need the help of a counselor or psychiatrist to help you deal with this now before it escalates into physical abuse. Hopefully your 11-year-old will learn to communicate the cause of his anger and get his needs met by doing so. Unfortunately, kids who get what they want because of misbehavior are likely to continue and escalate such behavior.

      Your son may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or another disorder in tandem with Aspergers. Some theorists claim that ODD is a result of incomplete development; the ODD youngster has never completed the developmental tasks of normal kids. The youngster is stuck at the 3-year-old level of development and never grows out of it. In this case, medical intervention may be necessary.

      Another theory about ODD is that it is a result of negative interactions, possibly interactions that occur away from home. This theory states that having successfully used anger and abuse as a way to get needs met, the Aspergers youngster continues to use it.

      ODD does not usually occur alone. About 35% of ODD kids have an affective disorder and 20% may have a mood disorder, such as Bipolar Disorder. Other ODD kids have personality or learning disorders. It is imperative that your son is evaluated for other disorders.

      My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children on the Spectrum 


      *   Anonymous said... Social stories on sharing, correct behavior, controlling outbursts, etc.. are a good start. it seems the communication level is way off between the brothers. the age difference is the most obvious, but also, how they approach one another. It's hard for the 4 yr old to understand AS, so he'll approach his brother when the mood strikes, not knowing if his older brother is even approachable at that time. I see this with our 15 yr old son & our 6 yr old son w/AS. I would suggest that you ask your son's doctor/therapist about Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT). We did this for 6 months & it made a world of difference. It teaches you & family how to communicate with an AS child, how to set rules/boundaries & discipline efforts that really work!! I was amazed at the positive changes in our lives!! It takes a month before you see changes, but stick with it... positive changes will come!! Praying for your family!!
      •    Anonymous said... I have given my daughter a trashcan and told her to say her words in it.That way everybody knows that it is not intended to hurt them,just an Aspie out of control.So when she needed to say things she could grab the trashcan.Incidentally I don't think we have need of the trashcan much anymore.Same thing when I taught Kindergarten many years ago and the potty mouth years emerged.I just told they kids they could only say those words in the bathroom and to feel free to go to the bathroom and say them to their hearts content.When they figured out it wasted their playtime they quit.Of course,there were not Aspie kids but the daughter and the trashcan are.
      •    Anonymous said... Recommend reading and applying 'The Explosive Child' by Dr Greene - explains why rigid, chronically inflexible, easily frustrated children have meltdowns & how to handle situations
      •    Anonymous said... This is one of my biggest struggles with my 13 yr old and 8 yr old. This has always been very difficult to deal with, and hard to figure out where to even start. For me it is not his choice in words, but seeming apathy and dislike for her. She asks often why he hates her, and has begun to take every word he says personally.

      •    Anonymous said... About protecting your 4-year old- watch for the pre-signs that your son is having a hard time, or escalating- sometimes they go from 0-10 with no warning, but try to find out what his triggers are and remove them. For example, the trigger may be video games, so remove all electronics preemptively. If he becomes escalated- remove your 4-year old immediately to another room, and back away from your son- do not give him any verbal, as he most likely cannot process verbal information when he is escalated coming at him. Give him space most importantly, and remove your other children from the room to protect them. We have been fortunate to have home ABA services and it has changed our home environment completely, we have 2 other young children which their lives have also improved since the therapy in the home. This is long-winded, but I really hope your son gets the services he needs smile emoticon
      •    Anonymous said... My 12 year old aspie will verbally attack his 11 year old sister. She has learned over time to (with our direction) that he doesn't mean it, and doesn't have control. When he triggers, she's trained herself to walk away. When she was younger we used hand signals. So when her brother would start to escalate we'd give her the signal and she would walk away. It took some time for her to understand the signal, but once she was old enough to understand her brothers behaviors she walks away before he escalates. They play together extremely well now! There are still times when she has to walk away, but she knows what will trigger his behaviors and is in more control.
      •    Anonymous said... Thank you so very much for all of the invaluable information! I am on the site and I am also going to post more here on the page.
      •    Anonymous said... We use many strategies from Michelle Garcia Winner on to help our son know what is expected, what is unexpected and that other people form their opinion of you based on your actions within social situations. Writing it down in a chart helps our son "see" it. Hope the information is helpful for you.
      •    Anonymous said... You need to get a home ABA therapist to help your son, this is not done intentionally and is not in your son's control- he needs to be taught these things explicitly and in a supportive, understanding, therapeutic manner. Your school system is required under IDEA to provide these services to you as part of his IEP- they will typically give you a bank of hours, such as 25 hours at a time. But, the important thing is- not all BCBA's are the same- you need to have someone who knows what they are doing, i.e. experienced, Master's degree prepared at a minimum and with the BCBA certification. Hope this helps, but just remember that your son is not doing this on purpose.

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