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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Q & A on High-Functioning Autism

Question

I have a 5 year old son that has high functioning autism and he doesn't like to sleep in his own bed. We have tried everything. It's frustrating because he will continue to come into my bed and that is very difficult to deal with. If we try to put him in his bed it will trigger an outburst and it will last well into the night. Which makes us very tired and emotionally drain. How do I transition him back into his bed and help him understand he has to stay there and he can't sleep in my bed. Now that he is getting older and bigger it's very difficult.

Answer

Routine is key backed up by social story/Pecs or some kind of visual cue. For example the routine could be story - bath - hot drink - bed. The social story could feature his favorite cartoon character, animal or something like that. Then it's down to good old fashioned perseverance with the routine rigidly every night - and you should see change.

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Question

My HFA son refuses to do what is asked of him at school. He has days where he completely shuts down and will not write or perform math assignments. The school is trying to make accommodations for him, yet he refuses to even try. They hear, and we hear come homework time, that it's too hard or the answer is zero. We are very frustrated and don't know how to move him past this.

We believe it is attitude. He also has lots of fine motor issues. Penmanship is very poor as is spelling. He cannot tie shoes, button buttons or snap snaps cut with scissors... I thought we were making progress with school when we got some assistive technology and then I come to find out they were still expecting him to write it before typing...he perseverates on Star Wars and the teacher says he is being silly. He puts his head down during math time. He has had a very difficult time learning his math facts--can solve them with strategies but if he can't do a problem immediately he melts down, at least at home. At school he puts his head down and refuses to even try the work. He is extremely inflexible and very easily frustrated. I don't know if this helps, but this is our biggest hurdle yet to overcome.

Answer

It's possible he may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work clumped together. Has anyone tried breaking work down into bite sized chunks for him as they may be more beneficial. Equally dependent on his age and how appropriate this is - can the teachers or yourselves hone in on the Star Wars thing as a positive? So use this in Maths, English, Geogrpahy - in fact most subjects you could slant with a Star Wars angle to improve his interest and ability in them. He may well have a "mental block" on maths for example but I bet he doesn't have such a block if maths can be presented with Star Wars (e.g. measuring angles of the Millenium Falcon to the Death Star, or working out percentages of storm troopers killed in Return of The Jedi etc.)

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Question

I have an 11yr old (year 6 at school). I recently had a meeting with his class teacher and she is having trouble getting him to complete class tasks. He is obsessed with reading (which he does during class time instead of listening) then gets extremely upset because he does not know what is going on in the classroom. I have told the teacher to use this as a reward for completing work which she is doing but he will often just sit at his desk and not do anything for each subjects class task (e.g. complete so many maths questions). I have suggested we draw up a contract (visual) and get him to sign it and refer him to this when he is off task. My question is do you have any resources or previous experience with such a contract which may help us get it right? And give us ideas on how to construct one. The teacher is extremely helpful and willing to do whatever I suggest.

Answer

It needs to be in clear "black and white" language with no ambiguity. He needs to be involved in it as much as possible (but clearly within certain boundaries of what it's actually there for - no point in a contract that says "Johnny has 10 ice creams each school day" just because that's what he wants")! It could be themed in line with tastes. Also a contract is only as useful if it is regularly re-visited - by both you and each teacher (daily would be best). Here are some contracts to view that may give you some ideas on how to create one specifically for your son.

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