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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Asperger's Syndrome and Substance Abuse

Pain, loneliness and despair can lead to problems with drugs, sex and alcohol/drugs. In their overwhelming need to fit in and make friends, some Aspergers teens fall into the wrong high school crowds. Teens who abuse substances will use the "Aspie's" naivety to get him to buy or carry drugs and liquor for their group.

Growing from childhood into adulthood can be very difficult for those diagnosed with Aspergers, and the typical pressure of drinking can lead to substance abuse, especially since substance abuse can seem like a temporary “cure-all” or an escape method for coping with other issues. If the symptoms of Aspergers have never been successfully treated or acknowledged, this can make alcohol/drugs abuse an even more likelihood, just as there is an increased risk for substance abuse for anyone with untreated disorder such as depression.

Despite wanting to have friends and engage with others, the awkward attempts and social deficits of individuals with Aspergers often make them the outsider in their peer groups. “Aspies” are often bullied or made the butt of mean-spirited jokes. Older children, teens and adults may simply be ostracized. Their repeated, but often rebuked attempts at friendships, and their painful awareness of their differences from their peers, often lead individuals with Aspergers to develop anxiety and/or depression, which may lead to alcoholism and/or drug abuse as a way to cope.

Aspergers comes not only with its own characteristics, but also with a wide variety of comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive–compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug abuse, alcoholism, and relationship difficulties (including family/marital problems). It may predispose individuals to commit offences and can affect their mental capacity and level of responsibility as well as their ability to bear witness or to be tried. The syndrome can color psychiatric disorder, affecting both presentation and management, for children and adults across a wide range of functional ability.

It is important to understand that Aspergers does not cause substance abuse. Substance abuse can be caused by a number of circumstances, including social reasons, depression, and even genetics. However, those with Aspergers may be slightly more susceptible to substance abuse, just as those with depression or bipolar may also be. Alcohol/drugs is often seen as a way to self-medicate oneself or deal with problems. Perfectly “healthy” people are just at as much risk for substance abuse as someone with Aspergers may be.

Effects on Families and Relationships—

There is often a tremendous amount of stress on families (parents, grandparents, siblings) of children and teens with Aspergers, as well as spouses who are married to adults with Aspergers. Not everyone reacts similarly, nor do all families experience the full range of potential issues, but some of the issues to be aware of include the following:

• Having a romantic or intimate partner with Aspergers can affect the relationship in a number of ways, most notably in the areas of communication and emotional give-and-take. Incorrect assumptions made by the individual with Aspergers often lead to self-protective strategies of distancing oneself entirely and then not responding at all to one's partner. An emphasis by the non-affected partner on expressing feelings is likely to lead to frustration and dissatisfaction

• Parents may experience a range of concerns and emotions as they attempt to understand what caused the disorder. They may ask, "Was it my fault?" and inappropriately assign self-blame. They may feel guilt and grief over having an individual in their family they love who will suffer a lifelong disability. They may wonder and worry about what others will think, and feel personally inadequate. They may fret about how they will explain Aspergers to their family and friends, what can they do to help, and what financial resources will be necessary to help. And, they may worry about what will happen to this individual in the future, when the parents are no longer there to support him or her

• Siblings may often feel embarrassed around peers, frustrated by not having the type of relationship with their sibling that they wanted or expected, and/or angry that the child with Aspergers requires so much of the family's time and resources at their expense

Treatments—

Treatments are not cures, but there are a number of different interventions that have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms associated with Aspergers. There are primarily three different environments for receiving services: schools, the physician's office, and various specialists' offices (including rehabilitation therapists, and mental health professionals).

School districts are required to provide a range of services from support in the mainstream classroom to special education classes, depending upon the needs of the individual.

A physician's treatment usually involves prescribing medication to address symptoms associated with Aspergers: attentional issues, obsessive-compulsive issues, anxiety and/or depression.

Rehabilitation therapy includes speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, vision therapists, and art or music therapists.

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

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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. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

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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. The hardest part is you feel like you’ll never actually get to know your child and how he/she views the world.

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