HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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How to Discipline Aspergers Children

Disciplining kids displaying Aspergers (high functioning autism) behavior will often require an approach which is somewhat unique to that of other kids. Finding the balance between understanding the needs of a youngster with Aspergers and discipline which is age appropriate and situationally necessary is achievable when applying some simple but effective strategies. These strategies can be implemented both at home and in more public settings.

General Behavior Problems—

Traditional discipline may fail to produce the desired results for kids with Aspergers syndrome, primarily because they are unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Consequently, punitive measures are apt to exacerbate the type of behavior the punishment is intended to reduce, whilst at the same time giving rise to distress in both the youngster and parent.

At all times the emotional and physical well-being of your youngster should take priority. Often this will necessitate removing your youngster from a potentially distressing situation as soon as possible. Consider maintaining a diary of your youngster's behavior with a view to ascertaining patterns or triggers. Recurring behavior may be indicative of a youngster taking some satisfaction in receiving a desired response from peers, parents or teachers.

For example, a youngster with Aspergers may come to understand that hurting another youngster in class will result in his being removed from class, notwithstanding the associated consequence to his peer. The solution may not be most effectively rooted in punishing the youngster for the behavior, or even attempting to explain the situation from the perspective of their injured peer, but by treating the root cause behind the motivation for the misbehavior...for example, can the youngster be made more comfortable in class so that they will not want to leave it?

One of the means to achieve this may be to focus on the positive. Praise for good behavior, and reinforcement by way of something like a Reward Book, can assist. The use of encouraging verbal cues delivered in a calm tone are likely to elicit more beneficial responses than the harsher verbal warnings which might be effective on kids who are not displaying some sort of Aspergers characteristic. If necessary, when giving directions to cease a type of misbehavior, these should also be couched as positives rather than negatives. For example, rather than telling a youngster to stop hitting his brother with the ruler, the youngster should be directed to put the ruler down.

Obsessive or Fixated Behavior—

Almost all kids go through periods of development where they become engrossed in one subject matter or another, but kids with Aspergers often display obsessive and repetitive characteristics, which can have significant implications for behavior.

For example, if an Aspergers youngster becomes fixated upon reading a particular story each night, they may become distressed if this regime is not adhered to, or if the story is interrupted. Again, the use of a behavior diary can assist in identifying fixations for your youngster. Once a fixation is identified, it is important to set appropriate boundaries for your youngster. Providing a structure within which your youngster can explore the obsession can assist in then keeping the obsession within reasonable limits, without the associated angst which might otherwise arise through such limitations. For example, tell your youngster that they may watch their favorite cartoon for half an hour after dinner, and make clear time for that in their routine.

It is appropriate to utilize the obsession to motivate and reward your youngster for good behavior. Always ensure any reward associated with positive behavior is granted immediately to assist the youngster recognizing the nexus between the two.

A particularly useful technique to try to develop social reciprocity is to have your youngster talk for five minutes about a particularly favored topic after they have listened to you talk about an unrelated topic. This serves to help your youngster understand that not everyone shares their enthusiasm for their subject matter.

Bridging the Gap between Aspergers and Discipline and Other Siblings—

For siblings without Aspergers syndrome, the differential and what at times no doubt appears to be preferential treatment received by an Aspergers sibling can give rise to feelings of confusion and frustration. Often they will fail to understand why their brother or sister apparently seems free to behave as they please without the normal constraints placed upon them.

It is important to explain to siblings or peers of Aspergers kids and encourage open discussion about the disorder itself. Encouragement should extend to the things siblings can do to assist the Aspergers youngster, and this should be positively reinforced through acknowledgement when it occurs.

Sleep Difficulties—

Aspergers Kids are renowned for experiencing sleep problems. Kids with Aspergers may have lesser sleep requirements, and as such are more likely to become anxious about sleeping, or may find they become anxious when waking during the night or early in the morning.

Combat your youngster's anxiety by making their bedrooms a place of safety and comfort. Remove or store items which might be prone to injure your youngster if they decide to wander at night. Include in the behavioral diary a record of your youngster's sleep patterns. It may assist your youngster if you keep a list of their routine, including dinner, bath time, story and bed, in order to provide structure. Include an image or symbol of them waking in the morning to provide assurance as to what will happen. Social stories have proven to be a particularly successful tactic in decreasing a youngster's anxiety by providing clear instructions on how part of their day is likely to play out.

At School—

Another Aspergers characteristic is that kids will often experience difficulty during parts of the school day which lack structure. If left to their own devices their difficulties with social interaction and self management can result in anxiety. The use of a buddy system can assist in providing direction, as can the creation of a timetable for recess and lunch times. These should be raised with class teachers and implemented with their assistance.

Explain the concept of free time to your youngster, or consider providing a separate purpose or goal for your youngster during such time, such as reading a book, or helping to set up paint and brushes for the afternoon tasks.

In Public—

Kids with Aspergers can become overwhelmed to the point of distress by even a short sourjourn in public. The result is that many parents with Aspergers simply seek to avoid as much as possible situations where their youngster is exposed to the public. Whilst expedient, it may not offer the best long term solution to your youngster, and there are strategies to assist with outings.

Consider providing your youngster with an ipod, or have the radio on in the car to block out other sounds and stimuli. Prepare a social story or list explaining to the youngster a trip to the shops, or doctor. Be sure to include on the list your return home. Consider giving your youngster a task to complete during the trip, or having them assist you. At all times, maintaining consistency when dealing with Aspergers and discipline is key. It pays to ensure that others involved in your youngster's care are familiar with your strategies and techniques, such as those outlined above, and are able to apply them.

Most importantly, don't hesitate to seek support networks for parents with Aspergers syndrome, and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge those who have dealt with the disorder before you have developed. The assistance you can gain from these and other resources can assist you in developing important strategies to deal with problems with Aspergers in a manner most beneficial to your youngster.

Knowing when, how, and how much to discipline your youngster with Aspergers can be quite challenging. You may be filled with worry for your youngster and her future. You may be learning more about becoming her strongest advocate. In so doing, you will need to find balance in your role as a parent and disciplinarian. There may be a fine line between being an effective parent and being perceived as zealous or coddling of your youngster.

Your youngster’s diagnosis is a label that describes a sliver of who that individual is as a human being. Your youngster is many other things; her diagnosis does not exclusively define her (remember the self-fulfilling prophecy). In valuing your youngster’s gifts and talents concurrent with understanding her diagnosis, be cautious about going to extremes. You have every reason to be a strong advocate on behalf of your youngster and in protection of her rights. But this does not exempt her from being disciplined by you or, where appropriate, by youngster care or day care providers, or educators.

Over-protectiveness—

Some moms and dads can become overprotective. They may make frequent excuses for their youngster’s words or actions. And they may not discipline where most others agree it to be warranted. When this occurs—regardless of the youngster’s way of being—the balance of authority shifts. The youngster gains more and more control while being protected in a sheltered environment with little to no discipline.

The Latin root of the word discipline means “to teach.” Moms and dads who are overprotective and do nothing to discipline their youngster are teaching some very artificial life lessons that will significantly hinder their youngster in the real world. One mother openly despaired that she envisions caring for her son with Aspergers for the rest of her life. This may indeed be the case if she micromanages every aspect of his life.

The Dignity of Risk—

There is what is known as the “dignity of risk.” It speaks to the luxury we must allow persons with different ways of being to make long- and short-term mistakes, but not without support and guidance. This will be a great challenge to you as a parent who is naturally protective of your youngster. But it is the only way your youngster will be able to learn and prepare for greater independence in the future. Disciplining your youngster should be a teaching and learning opportunity about making choices and decisions. When your youngster makes mistakes, assure him that he is still loved and valued. In other words, focus on the issue at hand, not the person (i.e., yelling, “How could you be so stupid?” is not an option).

For example, the parents of the adolescent who drove the uninsured car should demonstrate their discipline by first discussing his great error in judgment in addition to entering into a dialogue about good, better, and best choices in the future. It will be especially helpful—and will maximize the learning opportunity—if, in partnership with the boy, they write it all down to make it as concrete as possible. They may also decide that another form of discipline (such as withholding allowance or grounding him) is an entirely appropriate way to reinforce the seriousness of his actions.

This is not to suggest that they should not have intervened if they had had prior knowledge of his intentions; they certainly should have! But, where possible, look for small opportunities to deliberately allow your youngster to mess up and make mistakes for which you can set aside discipline-teaching time. It will be a learning process for you and your youngster.

An Aspergers youngster may throw tantrum or behave aggressively when he is disappointed or frustrated as other kids do. But he is not doing it intentionally, because as an Aspergers youngster, he is unable to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings. He doesn't know that other people hurt when he hit them. He may learn this as he gets older, but it may take sometimes. So how do parents of Aspergers kids tell them to not hit other people? How can they handle their misbehavior? Here are a few short but helpful pointers to help parent in disciplining an Aspergers youngster.

Discipline is about teaching your youngster good and appropriate behavior. Discipline is about helping them to become an independent and responsible people. Regardless, your youngster is special need or not, you still need to discipline him with the consideration of his special needs. In particular, you need to keep in mind of his unusual perception of pain. Therefore, hitting them or any physical punishment is big no-no. The hitting will not teach that their behavior is unacceptable. In contrast, it may encourage them that hitting others is an acceptable behavior. It may even encourage self injurious behavior. In fact many experts strongly agree to not use physical punishment on autistic kids and advised them to find alternative methods of discipline method.

The best method is through positive discipline, where you focus on his acceptable behavior and provide rewards so that your youngster would be encouraged to repeat the behavior. To do that, first you need to establish ground rules. The ground rules must states specifically of what is consider as an acceptable behavior and what is not. You must catch and reward them when they are well-behaved and following the rules. A reward need not necessarily be a physical or expensive reward. It can be a genuine praise or word of encouragement. Most importantly, the reward must be clear and specific. The youngster should be able to know exactly the behavior that earned the reward. Rather than saying "Good job," say "Thank you for cleaning up your room."

Some Aspergers kids are not able to generalize information. They are usually not able to apply what they learn in one learning context to another learning context. For example, he may learn that hitting his friend at school is not acceptable, but he may not necessarily understand that he cannot hit his sister at home. That is, once the situation change, it will be a totally a new learning experience for him. Be consistent and provide many repetitions in disciplining them. If there is punishment, make sure that the punishment is always the same for the bad behavior. Consistent environment and many repetitions will help your Aspergers youngster to learn and remember the differences between right and wrong.

Disciplining an Aspergers youngster is not easy, but with your loving care and understanding of him will make the task much easier to fulfill. I feel by accommodating his special needs and the loved he feel, he takes discipline a lot better. Be persistent and enjoy every small success. He may not be the captain of a football team, but he is taking small steps to become an independent and responsible person.

My Aspergers Child: How to Discipline Aspergers Children

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re: I am wondering what is the difference between discipline vs punishing? What I mean is, what is considered discipline and what is considered punishing?

Answer: Discipline is:

• "Time-outs" that are open-ended and governed by the child's readiness to gain self-control
• Acknowledging or rewarding efforts and good behavior
• Consistent, firm guidance
• Directed at the child's behavior, never the child
• Giving children positive alternatives
• Listening and modeling
• Logical consequences that are directly related to the misbehavior
• Physically and verbally non-violent
• Positive, respectful
• Re-directing and selectively "ignoring" minor misbehavior
• Reflection and verbal give-and-take communication
• Teaching children to internalize self-discipline
• Teaching empathy and healthy remorse by showing it
• Understanding individual abilities, needs, circumstances and developmental stages
• Using mistakes as learning opportunities
• When children follow rules because they are discussed and agreed upon
• When children must make restitution when their behavior negatively affects someone else

Punishment is:
• "Time-outs" that banish a child for a set amount of time governed by the adult
• Being told only what NOT to do
• Children are punished for hurting others, rather than shown how to make restitution
• Consequences that are unrelated and illogical to the misbehavior
• Constantly reprimanding children for minor infractions causing them to tune-out
• Controlling, shaming
• Criticizing the child, rather than the child's behavior
• Forcing children to comply with illogical rules "just because you said so"
• Inappropriate to the child’s developmental stage of life
• Individual circumstances, abilities and needs not taken into consideration
• Negative and disrespectful of the child
• Physically and verbally violent and aggressive
• Reacting to rather than responding to misbehavior
• Sarcastic
• Teaching children to be controlled by a source outside of themselves
• Teaching children to behave only when they will get caught doing otherwise
• When children follow rules because they are threatened or bribed

Discipline is guidance. When we guide children toward positive behavior and learning, we are promoting a healthy attitude. Positive guidance encourages a child to think before he acts. Positive guidance promotes self-control. Different styles of discipline produce results that are different. Discipline requires thought, planning, and patience.

Punishment, on the other hand, is usually hitting, spanking, or any type of control behavior. Basically there are four kinds of punishment:
• Penalizing the child with consequences that do not fit the crime: Example: "Because you told a lie, you can't have your allowance."
• Physical: Slapping, spanking, switching, paddling, using a belt or hair brush, and so on.
• With words: Shaming, ridiculing, or using cruel words.

Punishment is usually used because:
• It vents adult frustration
• It's quick and easy
• Parents don't know other methods
• Punishment asserts adult power

Punishment does not promote self discipline. It only stops misbehavior for that moment. Punishment may fulfill a short-term goal, but it actually interferes with the accomplishment of your long-term goal of self control.

The consequences for children include the following lessons:
• It is okay to hit people who are smaller than you are.
• It is right to hit those you are closest to.
• Those who love you the most are also those who hit you.
• Violence is okay when other things don't work.
Yesterday at 9:05am · Like · 2 people

Anonymous said...

I have an 8 year old Aspie who's behaviour is getting worse and desipline is getting harder. He is refusing to do school work (he is in a special class geared for children like him) so they send it home along with homwork resulting in 4 hours of work a night and many, many tanturms. Their corrective approch is to have him write 20 sentences sentences on "I will no yell in class" or an essay on how he can control his anger. I'm not certain this is the best way to correct misbehaving. My husband and I take away his afterschool TV time or any "fun" time we had planned. We also have a reward chart for him every week with a fun family activity that we do on the weekends if he gets a certain amount of stars for doing what was asked. Nothing seems to be working, his behaviour is worse then ever. Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying reading this thread. I'm sick and tired of being kicked, punched, screamed at, and everything else by my 5 year old son. His therapists/psychiatrist offer no guidance - only that there's no easy fix.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like my little boy Devon. He hasnt yet had a diagnosis for Aspergers hes awaiting the assessment but he clearly has a form of ASD. The only problem is that his behaviour is horendous at home and everywhere else apart from school. He seems to keep a lid on the major behaviour issues at school probably because hes scared of getting into trouble at school, but them he lets it all out once he leaves the school gates. All the the professionals keep saying is well see how he goes and he isnt like that at school etc etc. Its so frustrating i feel like screaming at them! Ive got to the point where ive needed to record him on my mobile just to prove to everyone that im not a liar - It shouldnt need to be like that! People all over the world cry out for help and nothing is done until its too late! We know its no easy fix but a little support would make a whole lot of difference.

Anonymous said...

Shana, your son sounds like mine. The school just don't know what to do right now with a child who is smart but has behavior issues usually it is behavior issues and behind in learning. So he has to write sentences for when he is bad.
about an hour ago · Like

Anonymous said...

It may be that he is less stressed at school, because his school may have a consistent and routine schedule, which seems to be a huge positive and critical to kids with aspergers. As my son's doc noted, kids with aspergers aren't setting out to intentionally annoy or hurt anyone. They look for reward and generally try much much harder in school to get things "right" than their non-aspergers classmates. By the time the end of the day comes, they've exhausted themselves. and if you think about it, who's schedule is routine on the weekends? Thats another point at which they can easily become stressed. I don't know what the answer is, but it may give you an insight into whats going on. I don't think it has anything to do with being scared of getting in trouble, but more to do with school is more structured and routine.

Anonymous said...

I'm the step mom of an 8 year old boy with Asperger's. His father and I have full custody. His mother was granted overnight visits about a year ago. Every time he comes home from a weekend visit, his behavior is markedly worse than it was before he left. He almost seems like he's acting out. Exhibiting very unageappropriate behaviors such as urinating in his bedroom, completely emptying full bottles of shampoo to make "bubble beards", chewing on pretty much anything he can get into his mouth, etc. Since I cannot convince either my husband nor his biological mother that he needs to be in counseling, is there any advice for trying to deal with these issues?

Anonymous said...

I to have a 6 yr old aspie. He is like dr jekyl and mr hyde. When at home he is fun and calm. I have tried putting him in sports but example baseball started and he was interested. His personality changed as soon as he got on the field he was hitting, sticking out tongue pretty much annoying his team mates and their parents. I didnt know what else to do so i took him off the team and worked with him myself. Any suggestions as I hate for him to be left out

Alexa Thornley said...

I have a four year old with Aspurger's it hasn't been formally diagnosed . The only doc that has seen him has said he doesnt have autism. Which on the other side of the spectrum of aspurgers. He acts like this ALL the time. I'm afraid to take him anywhere because of it and I don't know what to do as far as dicipline goes.

Dominique Denardo said...

It's so hard when my 10 year old with Aspergers meltdown. The screaming is unbelievable. I admit i am too permissive so today we stepped up the discipline and he blew his lid. I am permissive because I feel so bad for him. At school he has no friends and is completely ostracized.

Glee Lumb said...

My amazing little boy with ADHD an ASD has seen both sides of this. Punishment always produced the same results as stated above...not good for any of us. One day, a practitioner gave us a 10 page printout of how to work with our son. Error free learning, positive discipline only, a scaffolding or structure to help him succeed, pictures to show him the way, stories about what his day would be like, and lots of fun little games to make transitions better. He did a stint with an occupational therapist to help us all know what he needs in his world to keep him calm and capable. We were part of the therapy and learned so much!After six months, he is doing great. By great, I mean that he loves himself, feels successful, is more calm, has a good relationship with family, friends and teachers, and is kind more often than not. The more positive we are, the more progress we make.

April Cardenas said...

That is my son all the way home in public families houses just not at school and my son is a twin his sister had an informal testing done where they sent home a ton of test for me to fill out and her scores stated aspergers and was told the other Dr would do the formal testing never happened then they said they want the school to do it my son also went in for evaluation she said from everything I've described he has all the signs for aspergers as well but insurance requires permission from them for those test she gave me for his sister and again they want the school to do the testing mean while I'm losing it I have 5 other kids and wish getting help wasn't so hard

April Cardenas said...

I have 5 yr old twins one boy one girl my daughter has had issues since day one and was behind on all mile stones Easter seals was with us till age three then turned over to the school district she is very emotional worries a lot has strange behavior doesn't know how to tell certain emotions in an appropriate manner you have to be careful what you say to her or what others say to her because she will dwell on it and become angry or cry and WONT stop no matter what you do and very loudly I might add she hits a lot over every and anything shows very little to no emotions when she does hurtful things to ppl and very stubborn and has a blank look on her face when you ask her to do things like she's just not computing what you just said....now my son on the other hand we started dealing with night terrors at 4 months old he met all mile stones some early very smart excelled fast then we hit one and the temper tantrums started horrible tantrums all day every day he would slam his head on the tile on the sliding glass door on walls and did I mention at about 6 months naps where a thing of the past and prior they were short lived and since then sleeping is such a struggle we have now graduated to tantrums of a larger scale along with self harm violent hitting and extremely stubborn has a lot of anxiety doesn't do well with the tv or radio loud nor chaos or fitting or argueing going somewhere is so stressful he doesn't really like going anywhere he throws a fit when we have to leave to go anywhere and help is so hard to come by here just glad to here there are other ppl going through the same and I'm not crazy

Unknown said...

I feel your pain. My daughter is 9 and we are still waiting for assessment. She is the model pupil at school, Barr getting distracted and constantly falling out with and making new friends. She is awful at home and when we have a long day out and can be really nasty to her three year old sister which is heart breaking. Her step father and her are at logger heads all the time and I struggle with disciplining her. It always spirals out of control and ends up turning into punishment which I then punish myself for. I'm at a loss of what to do. We have a task chart but I think we need to expand it into behaving nicely with others. Any suggestions!?

Unknown said...

I also have enjoyed reading the comments. It helps to know that we are not alone. My daughter is 5. She was diagnosed with developmental delays at age 2 for speech. We qualified for speech therapy, and that helped her a lot. We really started to notice problems when she started Kindergarten here in SC. After days of being sent home from school because of her behavior and melt downs, the school finally did an evaluation on her. I kept on insisting that something more was going on with her. She doesn't seem to act that bad with me at home. A few ago, they diagnosed her with High Functioning Autism. They are trying to develop a plan for her at school to help and teach her with her behavior. However, not even two days after I had a meeting with them over this plan, she gets sent home from school for biting another child and throwing a toy that hit another child in the face. The first thing she asked me when I had to come pick her up was, "Can I go to Legacy?" Legacy is how she refers to the after-school daycare. Of course here, she has more freedom and there are less children. It almost seems like she is doing these things to be sent home. She doesn't like school. I know they are trying but I don't think she should be in the normal classroom with 24 students and two teachers. At this point, I am just trying to find a place that specializes in Autism that she can go to. Also, I'm trying to do a lot of research on things I can do here at home. But it looks like I might have to quit my job to give her more help. Thank you everyone, for sharing your stories.

Christalena said...

My son Robert is such a happy child. Does well in school academically and socially. He does have his days of " high activity". However when he gets home he lets it all out. Especially when it comes to " screen time, which usually consist of YouTube videos about airplanes and nature. How much screen time should a child with Aspergers get. He plays outside in the back yard, plays the violin, loves reading and is on the track and field team for the 2016 Special Olympics in Michigan. When he can't have screen time he loses it! Help.

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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