Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Help for Aspergers Children Who Get Bullied

"I've decided to home-school my Asperger's son starting this year (even though it's in the middle of school year) because of the bullying that went on in his public school last year. Am I being over-protective? Also, how can Asperger’s children be helped with bullying so they can return to public school at some point?"

Unfortunately, the majority of kids with Aspergers and High functioning Autism experience bullying or victimization at school. There are many reasons for this, but mainly it is because these young people stand out from typically developing children due to their problems in social situations. Kids who bully are socially savvy and are able to keep from getting caught, which makes bullying difficult to spot and stop. Children with Aspergers have a low social IQ, so they either do not notice the bullying, retaliate, or get the blame for it shifted onto them! It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to address this issue.

Your decision to home-school your child is a wise one in this situation. Be sure that he knows he must tell you right away when he is bullied. Warn him against being aggressive or provoking the bully. Help him practice being assertive and not showing fear. Encourage your son to stick with friends at all times when he is away from home. Also, warn him against trying to appease the bully (e.g., if the bully says he should steal something and then they’ll be friends, your son should be taught how to say no).

The myth of the over-protective mom in this case is bogus. Parents MUST assume a protective role with their Aspergers sons and daughters. These kids are extremely vulnerable, and independence should be introduced gradually in controlled, non-threatening situations.

Your next step is to see if anti-bullying laws exist in your area and get a copy of the law. Your son’s rights are contained in these laws. Many states have anti-bullying laws that should contain the following:
  1. The word “bullying” must be used in the bill/law/statutes and the law must mandate programs, using the word “shall.” Some other words used are, “hate crimes” harassment, discrimination, or intimidation.
  2. The law must be an anti-bullying law, not a school safety law. Anti-bullying laws discuss individual student.
  3. There must be definitions of bullying and harassment. Any child can be a bullying victim and all children should be protected.
  4. There should be recommendations on how the policy will be implemented. Log on to: for more information.
  5. An effective law involves education specialists at all levels, i.e.; the State Superintendent of Education’s office, school district and school personnel, parents and students.
  6. Laws should include a date by which policies must be in effect.
  7. There must be consequences for reprisal, retaliation, or false accusations and procedures for reporting bullying anonymously.
  8. There must be school district protection against lawsuits. Parents of bullies should know that they can be sued for their child’s behavior and school districts should know that they can be sued if they fail to comply with anti-bullying law.

Next, make an appointment with the school principal to see a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy. The vast majority of schools have disciplinary policies to address this type of misconduct. Explain what happened to your son and demand to know what steps are being taken so that he can return to school without harassment. If the school principal refuses to cooperate with you to get bullying in the school stopped, speak to the School Board, publicly stating what is happening. You will get a response! If you know of other bullying victims, get their moms and dads to work with you. If the school district still won’t cooperate, get a child advocate or attorney and take steps to see that they do.

Notify the police if your son is assaulted. Get a restraining order so that a bully is required by law to have no contact with him. Take legal action.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Anonymous said... As an adult on the spectrum, I will say the only thing that ever worked was fighting back, physically if necessary. Teachers normally did not intervene when they witnessed bullying. Parent and teacher intervention was not effective, and the teachers didn't really care. Teachers generally did not take insults, kicking, or another student threatening to stab me with a pocket knife seriously. Their responses: "Just ignore them" and (if I was merely being called a "psycho retard nerd" or being told to go to a mental institution) talking about sticks and stones. When I was 9, I did stupid things because I thought my classmates had a right to order me to. When I was 11, bullies made my life a living hell. By the time I was 13, I knew to hit back and the turds found other kids to pick on. I later unlearned this behavior in high school (no longer necessary), and about half the kids who picked on me went on to (found this out by searching public records online) have criminal records. My boyfriend (also on the spectrum) had a similar experience, except that he started fighting back a couple years later and his school life became tolerable a couple years later. If the school is truly interested in intervening that's one thing, but more often they gave it lip service and then turn a blind eye. And the kids know it.

Anonymous said... My son's SpEd Teacher designated an aid to be on recess to make sure kids didn't bully or talk him into doing unsafe things.

Anonymous said... I took my Son out of school 7 years ago for the same reason. I was in the office everyday for 2 weeks begging them to make the kids stop or punish them for it. They did NOTHING, actually blamed him for it. So I took his education in my hands. well his actually, we went for unschooling, and it has been great. The fighting about going to school stopped of course, who wants to get hit everyday for nothing. I had no idea he had Aspergers until April this year. As for how to get a stop to it, who knows. Seems the schools don't care so we have to protect our kids the best way we can.

Anonymous said... Very little can actually be done..schools try..they say they have zero tolerance...they have these policies but I too have found not much can be done and who has the time or energy to take on the system when you have to deal with day to day issues. Home schooling also fixed this problem for me and my child. And boy am I tired of hearing about the lack of socialization...and that kids need Ito toughen up for the real world...and we can't protect them forever etc etc.......

Anonymous said... We are going through the same thing! And it started early in kindergarten !!!! I am mortified for first grade and if it doesnt work we are taking her out and homeschooling.

Anonymous said... I'm talking about mainstream schooling. Yes sometimes if lucky you can get aids to do a watching at lunch or recess.

Anonymous said... I wish that homeschooling was an option for us. Unfortunately, I cant afford to quit my job to be home with him. My son is 13 and they are going to designate safe place and/special person for him to be able to go to when he is in distress. I hope this helps. (Im relieved the school year is over next week, but it also creates a new bunch of issues with summer child care issues).

Anonymous said... At the school my son is starting at they have had 6 children with as who have started that have come from bullying my son as got as high functioning it will be his first year with a statement I am trying to be positive we will see how it goes

Anonymous said... I feel for all of you. My 10 year old will be starting middle school in the fall. My wife and I are both anxious and excited. They supposedly have better programs for children on the spectrum than grammar school, but they also have children from other schools; that my son won't know and they won't know him (small school). I put it in God's hands and and pray for guidance and patience.

Anonymous said... Check out this video from abc news. I recently went to an autism conference where Dr. Jed Baker was the featured speaker. He started a program for junior high students where they get NT peers to help kids on the spectrum practice their social skills. Bullying has dropped dramatically for these kids.

Anonymous said... I don't think we can keep bullying from happening. Why are these kids targeting your son? Because he is different. They have been taught by our society that their value is in their sameness. The teachers unconsciously encourage their behavior and sometimes they are overt in their directions to exclude a child because their behavior is not fitting with the norm. We also value humor at the sake of others so its "funny" to get the different kid to hurt himself. These are all deep rooted media backed values of our society...PS teachers cannot stop this behavior, the only solution is to pull your kids out of school. imo

Anonymous said... My 10 year old son is constantly bullied on the school bus and I am desperate to keep him safe. The transportation dept is not doing anything besides transporting kids, and despite my many emails and phone calls they are not handling the matter. My son with Aspergers, ADHD, anxiety, and OCD is being emotionally assaulted and physically harmed. I have called the police, but the problems persist because it is multiple kids. What more can I do? 

Anonymous said... Anything that helps your kid thrive and build confidence in himself isn't being overprotective. Aspies especially need that extra time to come to terms with understanding themselves before they're pushed into the limelight. Homeschool is a great way to get that extra time and let them learn about themselves and the world around them without the unusual, cruel pressure of public school.

Anonymous said... Homeschooling is the best thing we ever did for our son and our family. My son with Aspergers is thriving and it has benefited our entire family. We love the lifestyle so much that we brought our oldest son home this year.

Anonymous said... I guess it depends on what is happening at school. My son is 20 and I don't believe he would have been as involved or have the social life he had in HS if I didn't let him go out in the world and experience it. Now that he is out of HS, I feel he only socializes at work and if he didn't work, he would only have his father and I. Looking back, I know he misses school. I would really think about this. I know people don't think an aspie doesn't need the interaction with others but I know from experience, they want it.

Anonymous said... I pulled my daughter out halfway through the year too. She loves homeschooling. Enjoy your new adventure!

Anonymous said... That's exactly why we are homeschooling so no you're not overprotective. My son knows that other kids are mean and he cannot control that fact. He has no desire to want to return to public school. He also likes being able to move at his own pace and pick his curriculum out himself.

Anonymous said... We homeschool as well.....started a few weeks after grade one....doing grade 8 now

Anonymous said... What is so great about homeschooling is it gives kids an opportunity to create their own social life, and the social/group opportunities available to homeschool kids make it more likely that he will meet people who are like him, who are outside the norm, and he will likely find more acceptance within that community than a traditional school. Contrary to how many people view homeschooling, most people I know who do it have very active social lives and participate in lots of activities with other homeschoolers.

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Asperger’s Syndrome and Crime

Hot Topic of Discussion - Asperger’s Syndrome and Crime

It has always been a hot topic for discussion whether there is a direct association between Asperger’s Syndrome and violent crimes and offenses. Some media reports suggest that a person with Asperger’s Syndrome may be more likely to develop criminal behavior because of issues with social skills/communication. However, arguments from the other end of the spectrum dispute these findings, stating that people with Asperger’s Syndrome are more likely to be victims than offenders. And I have to say I am pretty much in favor of this end of the debate from personal experience.

Efforts to further increase the awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome is still needed to extend the understanding of this condition in order to recognize and avoid misconceptions and confusion. Awareness of this condition within criminal courts also has grown over the past few years, and certain measures have been in effect in order to respond to the nature of Asperger’s Syndrome. But it’s still a work in progress!

For more information on this hot topic, go to:

Cursing in Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

"My 4 year old son has Asperger's (high functioning) and is constantly swearing. I've tried time-outs, taken games away, used positive rewards for not swearing, and so on. He just can't seem to quit. He tells me he HAS to get the words out. His favorite cuss word is "dammit" (which he got from me), and he uses it all day long. Any suggestions?"

Because of an inability to (a) control impulses, (b) understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior, (c) empathize with others’ feelings, and (d) manage frustrations in dealing with daily life, kids with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism often behave inappropriately at home or in public. The use of profanity is particularly inappropriate and is something about which you must be direct and forceful. Your child may refuse to accept that his behavior needs to change (since he hears you using the same curse word that you don't want him to use), in which case, he probably won't respond to the strategies that you have tried so far.

Here are some pointers:

Sit down and have a talk with your child. Establish firm rules for his behavior. Let him know that cursing at home or in public is inappropriate and disrespectful of others. Ask him why he curses. He may respond by saying that he gets frustrated or angry when certain situations occur. If you can address the situations, you may be able to find ways for him to avoid them or handle them more appropriately.

Behavior modification techniques using a visual chart can be very effective.  Make a house rule: no cursing. List the curse words he is not to use. Make a visual chart of the rules. List a consequence for each day he curses (not each time he curses). Choose a consequence that deprives him, for one day, of something he loves to do (e.g., no watching TV, no playing video games, etc.). List a reward for each day that he follows the house rule (e.g., extra TV or video game time, money, a special privilege, etc.).

Also, pick one replacement word that is acceptable for your son to use whenever he "HAS to get the words out" (e.g., ding nabbit, awe shucks, bleep-idy bleep, scooby doo). Be creative here. You will probably never get your son to give up his favorite word, but you may be able to help him find a new favorite word. You should start using the replacement word regularly as well. In this way, "dammit" will lose its attraction over the new word that he hears coming from you.

Lastly, model frustration-tolerance for your son whenever YOU become frustrated. He is obviously following your lead, so only say and do the things you want him to say and do.


•    Anonymous said... I soooooo totally understand!! My almost 16 year old cusses like a sailor!! He got it from his military dad but my gosh has taken it to new heights and it's worse when he's playing his xbox !!! Ugh
•    Anonymous said... it's highly likely it Tourette's syndrome. The tics may not start for a couple more years, but that "need"to get the words out is very typical. Also the lack of improvement with what you're doing. If possible please see him as possibly having ts and that his swearing is completely involuntary. Try to just ignore it. Making an issue about it makes it worse because Tourette's is an inhibition problem. The more forbidden something is the more the urge to do it. Another sign is hitting the ones he is closest to, often the mother. Sending you patience!
•    Anonymous said... just say no we don't use those words, but if you're feeling angry or frustrated you can use What The! instead. This forms of swearing are on all the tv shows so they should see and hear it and think this is cool when they hear it on Tv. It will take a few months of saying the above for it to sink in.
•    Anonymous said... My son makes a lot of sounds and gestures as his way of stemming. His psychiatrist said when he started on Adderall that it can unmask Tourettes like symptoms. Might be something you want to check into. A lot of these kids have dual diagnosis and its very real.

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Parenting Young Adults with Aspergers

"My 20 year old Asperger’s son (unemployed) is staying out all night and not telling us where he has been. I am worried as he is not really ‘street wise’ and probably at big risk."

You have good cause to be concerned about this. Young people with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism have a lot of difficulty recognizing when someone is lying to them, using them for their own purposes, or befriending them in order to get them involved in inappropriate activities. Many “Aspies” are surprised that someone would even try to take advantage of them. While they understand if something is true or false, they can’t understand why someone would use the truth to create lies, say one thing but mean something else, or believe something that is not true.

The slow or confused processing of emotions many people with Aspergers experience can impede awareness of dangerous situations and stop rational thought. The emotional warning signs that are meant to protect them from difficult or harmful situations may malfunction, or work so slowly that they lose effectiveness. This means that these individuals are less prepared to defend themselves verbally or physically in an argument or conflict or say “no” to inappropriate activities. Consequently, your adult child may fall victim to exploitation or worse through no fault of his own.

Even though he is a grown-up, you must still try to protect your (socially naïve) child as he is not ready for the same amount of freedom as other grown-ups. Does he have a trustworthy friend or relative who could be a mentor and help him by going out with him and keeping him out of trouble? This mentor can try to help your son understand that many people act friendly, but may want to get him involved in foolish or dangerous activities. Also, the mentor could help him get involved in clubs or groups in which he will meet responsible friends.

Therapy is definitely called for in this situation. You and a therapist may be able to convince your adult child to tell you what is going on when he is outside the home. Also, he needs to tell you when “friends” want him to do something wrong or dangerous. Convince him that by doing so, he is doing the right thing, obeying the law, and keeping himself and others safe.

Sit down with your adult child and have a long talk about what he shouldn’t do when he is with friends, including inappropriate sexual activity, criminal activity, take drugs, drinking, driving after drinking, and so on. Make it very clear to him the negative consequences of doing each of these things in very specific terms. Make it clear that he must not engage in these activities – even to gain the friendship of others.

One of the good things about young adults with Aspergers in this situation is that they can be very “black and white” in sticking to rules. So, if you can emphasize some of the laws around certain behaviors (e.g., petty crime, certain sexual behaviors, use of alcohol/drugs, etc.), you have a much better chance of compliance. In such situations, quite rigid thinking can be a good thing if it helps to keep your adult child on the “straight and narrow.”

Also, consider the possibility of a temporary group home or an assisted living situation for your son to help him learn to become independent and act responsibly, thus preparing him for living on his own some day. In addition, it's probably a good idea to put your name on all his bank accounts so that both of you must agree before he can access his money.

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

Aspergers & Split Personality

"Is it common for a child with Asperger’s to have a split personality? My son is a really good kid at school, but then a complete monster at home. Is this normal?"

Asperger’s Syndrome is known to manifest itself differently with different children. Also, children with Asperger’s Syndrome may react differently to various situations depending on their individual personalities. Your child may feel more comfortable with the familiar surroundings at home, and feel freer to act out more at home than in public, where he is surrounded by strangers and in a less familiar environment. The stress of school may be relieved by a “meltdown” or other difficult behaviour at home. This is a common occurrence.

Dr. Tony Attwood, a clinical psychologist, is a world renowned expert on Asperger’s Syndrome. Here is what he says about split personality and Asperger’s: “Quite a few children with Asperger’s Syndrome are Dr. Jeckylls and Mr. Hydes. They are saints at school, but they soak up the anguish, then squeeze it out on their brothers and sisters when they get home. We do not know why this happens…”

Asperger’s is treated in two ways, and both of them help manage the anxiety that accompanies this illness. The first is cognitive psychology, and the second is prescription medication. The first thing you need to do in order to help your son is to find a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome. This specialist will be able to help your son. He or she will help you and your son discover the reasons behind his behavioral changes.

In addition, a specialist will help you do two things:
  1. Modify the situation or the environment in which he lives to reduce difficult behaviour;
  2. Create interventions for handling your son’s anxiety.

Please don’t be intimidated. Changes don’t have to be complex or unmanageable. The changes you need to make might just involve changing lighting to a lower level, adjusting sound levels in your home, or creating a new schedule.

If initial interventions do not help, a psychiatrist can prescribe medications which will provide your son with the help he needs. It’s important to note that psychotropic (mood-altering) drugs like Zoloft or Prozac can help children, but they can also cause serious problems for children. If the psychiatrist prescribes medication, ask about dosage levels and, more importantly, side effects. Just about all drugs have side effects, and it’s important for you to know about them so you know what to expect. You know your son better than anyone else; ask yourself if he can handle side effects like nausea, hypersensitivity, or prolonged sleepiness. These are all possible, depending on the medication prescribed.

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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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content