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

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Aspergers and Post High School Education

"My 18 year old with AS just graduated from high school. What are the best options for post high school education?"

The future is looking brighter than ever for young people with Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). As most parents know, kids and teens on the spectrum are usually very intelligent, but suffer from a lack of social skills, communication abilities, and sensory issues. The recent surge of information, education, and treatment options are starting at younger ages, increasing the chances - and the choices - for post high school education.

There are several secondary education options to investigate for your AS youngster:
  • Technical or vocational schools: These schools offer career training in a relatively short amount of time, with the added benefit of being close to home. If your youngster is thinking of a career in computer repair, air conditioning and heating repair, general office duties, or computer technology, a vocational school is worth a look. Check your local schools for the programs available in your area. Many of these schools offer federal financial aid, as well as state or local aid.
  • Community college: If your AS teenager is interested in earning an Associates degree, the local community college may be the solution. These schools are close to home, yet offer the ‘real’ college experience. For young people who are uncomfortable with the thought of going away to college, this alternative can give them that big school experience at a more manageable volume.
  • Specialty schools: Single concentration schools are popping up everywhere. These schools cater to one certain specialty. For the young person with AS or HFA, special interests can mean sure success when it comes to choosing a career path. Some examples of specialty careers are culinary arts, cosmetology, graphic arts, fashion design, and animation.
  • Colleges and Universities: It is no longer unusual to find young people with AS and HFA going away to a college or university in search of a higher-level degree. These schools are starting to make necessary accommodations for students on the spectrum, offering more assistance on campus.

Young people with AS and HFA are demonstrating their capabilities by adapting to college life quite well, as long as the preparation has been in place during high school. Possibilities for financing their education are numerous with federal and state financial aid and scholarships.

Preparing your youngster early by working on social skills, organizational skills, and living skills will ensure a successful adjustment from high school and home life to the college experience. Finding the right post high school opportunity is not only possible -- it is promising.

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

The Truth About Asperger's Syndrome & Criminal Behavior


This post explores the question whether teens and young adults diagnosed with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) have a greater probability than typically-developing peers of becoming involved in delinquent or criminal activity.

The alternative perspective under consideration is that the characteristic traits and behaviors associated with Aspergers (e.g., poorly developed theory of mind, obsessions, etc.) may lead to a greater vulnerability to accusations of offending behavior despite no criminal intent, especially when there appears to be little regard for the effect of certain behaviors on other people.

Although several studies have suggested an association between violent crime and Aspergers, few have examined the underlying reasons. Research needs to determine to what extent psychiatric factors contribute to offending behavior in this population.

Of the 37 cases described in one recent research project, 11 cases (29.7%) had a definite psychiatric disorder and 20 cases (54%) had a probable psychiatric disorder at the time of committing the crime. These findings underscore the role of psychiatric disorders in the occurrence of violent crime in teens and young adults with Aspergers and highlight the need for their early diagnosis and treatment.

The review of available findings and observations by Allen et al (2007) set out to highlight evidence by which to support or refute the suggested association between Aspergers and offending against the law that has become a subject for much debate.

Reference is made, for example, to the work of Haskins and Silva (2006) whose initial research data indicated that teens and young adults with Aspergers are over-represented among the population of known offenders relative to their prevalence in the general population.

On the other hand, Howlin (2004) has argued that any association that is perceived between Aspergers and crime is the result of a small number of cases which have given rise to much publicity and to (speculative) causal attributions in the media.

Allen et al recognize how this kind of link may come to be perceived in that, in his original description, Asperger (1944) noted that some kids carried out what could be defined as malicious acts either of an aggressive or sexual nature without any apparent regard for the impact upon other people.

However, the question is raised about the actual intent or motive behind these and other offensive actions; and Howlin argues that significant underlying factors include a reaction to a lack of social understanding of situations (or of being misunderstood by other people), the pursuit of some obsessional interest, and a failure to anticipate consequences.

There is also the possibility that the individual concerned would not have the capacity to avoid pressures from peers to engage in malicious or delinquent activity.

This view concerning problems in verbal and non-verbal communication, social understanding, and flexibility of thought or action has become commonly expressed; and reference is made to a number of factors which could explain why someone with Aspergers may have an increased risk for offending behavior:
  • An (innate) lack of concern for the outcomes of actions
  • Failure to understand (formal) questioning and an over-frankness
  • Impulsive behavior which may be stimulated by an underlying anxiety
  • Misreading of social signals and a lack of knowledge of social rules which may underlie accusations of sexual misconduct
  • Obsessional interests which may be reflected in behavior such as stalking
  • Resistance or limited motivation to change may underlie a persistence of inappropriate behaviors
  • Social immaturity, and a misinterpretation of “friendships”, with a vulnerability to being led by others into inappropriate or illegal behavior

It has been suggested (by Debbaudt 2002 among others) that certain types of illegal acts may have diagnostic significance and lead to the identification of previously unrecognized Aspergers. These include an (obsessive) harassment of other people, acting-out for no observable reason, computer crime, and offenses arising from misjudged personal relationships.

Allen et al have also been able to identify a number of forensic case studies which have provided illustrations of how the particular characteristics of Aspergers may predispose the people to offending.

Their summary indicates that there are three key types of offense that are consistently reported: sexual offenses, violent offenses, and arson. Frequently, there was a ready admission of the actions, with the reasonable implication that the offenses themselves and the reactions afterwards reflect central features of Aspergers, namely preoccupations, self-centered “logic”, interpersonal naiveté, and low empathy.

However, the authors identify a problem applicable to a case study approach in that, when assessing the circumstances of some offense committed by a person identified with Aspergers, it is virtually inevitable that there will be a focus upon aspects of this condition that can be linked to the offending behavior. There is a lack of evidence concerning variables that differentiate among people with Aspergers who have been involved in offending and those who have not.

Just because someone with Aspergers offends does not mean that this condition is a inevitable and universal risk factor for offending ... (and one is reminded of the consistent finding that a number of risk factors, e.g. living in a high delinquency area, poor achievement at school, etc, may differentiate between groups of teenagers whose probability of offending are respectively high and low, but such variables may be much less accurate in predicting the behavior of a given person).

In respect of experimental studies, reference is made to the work of Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright (2004) who demonstrated that the capacity for empathy is indeed lower among people with Aspergers than in the general population.

However, while this limited empathy might be thought to be a risk factor for offending, it was further shown that the characteristic problems of interpreting the behavior and feelings of other people are not associated with any wish to cause harm to those other people.

When it was pointed out that their behavior could be hurtful, this sample of people with Aspergers offered expressions of regret, but they could not see that their own actions were responsible for causing the hurt.

In other words, there is support for the hypothesis that limited or absent theory of mind, (an inability to read the signals and reactions of other people), coupled with unusual and repetitive interests, is significant for offending behavior among people with Aspergers.

As far as actual prevalence of offending behavior is concerned, inconsistent findings emerge from existing studies.

Tantam (2003) found that acts of violence towards others, such as lashing out, were common in an Aspergers population; and there is a consensus among various studies that sexual offenses, aggression, and arson are particularly prevalent.

However, the problem with much of the evidence available for review by Allen et al is that it is based upon very selective samples of people with Aspergers, typically those attending specialist hospitals.

It is consistently noted that there is an over-representation of such people among the population of known offenders in these hospitals, but the question is raised whether this kind of statistic which applies to people who have committed serious offenses, can be generalized to the overall Aspergers population. There is the further possibility that the significant association is between offending and some co-morbid condition rather than with the Aspergers per se.

The National Autistic Society (2004) presented the view that only a minority of people with Aspergers become offenders and that there is no association between autism and crime ... (although one might ponder whether autism and Aspergers are comparable in this respect given that the people with Aspergers are more likely to work in mainstream settings and to be exposed to the behaviors and relationship patterns of a range of peers while seeking acceptance and relationships of their own and pursuing their particular interests and goals).

The NAS further argues that the very rigidity of adherence to rules and routines would decrease the probability of law-breaking ... (although, again, one might ponder whether any literalness about rules, and a kind of tunnel-vision, may cause some interpersonal conflicts and increase the risk of misunderstanding, anxiety, and reactive aggression).

The present authors (Allen et al) highlight the continuing inconsistency of findings concerning whether offending is more or less prevalent in an Aspergers population than in the general population, complicated by methodological differences between studies in terms, for example, of criteria for the diagnosis of Aspergers among target samples and for defining the offending behaviors.

Prevalence of offending appears lower in an Aspergers population than in the general population when a whole range of types of offense is considered; but higher in respect of aggressive behavior such as criminal damage (perhaps attributable to reactions to perceived victimization).

However, while offending may be a relatively low-frequency phenomenon among people with Aspergers, it seems likely that those who do offend will experience marked difficulties with the subsequent judicial processes, starting with the arrest, any element of restraint, and with the questioning.

Problems are likely in their remembering the sequences and timing of events or in over-compliance to suggested interpretations of events; and their apparent competence in (expressive) language may mask their particular vulnerabilities and anxieties.

The implications include ensuring that staff working in the criminal justice system are aware of the nature of Aspergers and ASD generally, and of the particular profile of strengths and weaknesses in given people; that language used in investigating events is kept simple and unambiguous; that approaches are not threatening; and that the person is supported by a familiar person who has experience of working in the field of autism.

Allen et al conclude by making a plea for ongoing research to study truly representative samples of people with Aspergers rather than those already involved with the judicial system in order to identify the similarities and differences between people with Aspergers and controls in respect of the risk for offending; and to explore further the factors which differentiate offenders from non-offenders within the overall Aspergers population.

It was noted by Allen et al (op.cit) that any association that may be perceived, rightly or wrongly, between Aspergers and offending will have been influenced by the dramatic or even sensational way in which certain cases have been reported in the media.

A recent example concerned an 18 year old, diagnosed with Aspergers and experiencing the characteristic social and communication weaknesses (and, reportedly, associated bullying), who, during a party which had been particularly daunting for him, responded to the teasing from a 10 year old girl by attacking her with fatal consequences.

The young man was convicted, and, when sentencing him to a long prison term, the judge referred to the Aspergers condition and his uncertainty whether the disturbance of personality could be traced to the Aspergers, but justified the sentence by describing the young man as presenting considerable danger to young girls.

A similar implication of some direct link between autism and violent crime was made in the trial of the man accused of the murder of a TV presenter in 1999, when specialist opinion highlighted a number of diagnosed conditions co-morbid in this man with no way of determining which condition or combination of conditions could be associated with the crime. (The conviction has now been declared unsafe, and a re-trial is to be held.)

The general moral is that the action (or alleged action) of one given person with his or her idiosyncratic profile of strengths and needs, and history of experiences, and which occurs in a particular setting and involves a particular set of circumstances, should not be regarded as typical of all the people who share a diagnostic label, especially one associated with a spectrum condition.

The further moral appears to involve an early recognition of the condition, and the precise nature of the behavioral profile and symptoms, with a view to increasing awareness of the needs and strengths on the part of extended family, peers, and relevant others, thus to minimize situations likely to evoke fight or flight reactions.

In a conference presentation, Allen et al (2006) provided a summary of their general themes. First, they set out the possible predisposing factors among people with Aspergers that could increase the probability of offending:
  • Anxiety or even panic reactions which may be translated into aggressive actions
  • Impulsiveness (perhaps linked to co morbid ADHD)
  • Lack of awareness of likely outcomes, hence a willingness to initiate outcomes with unforeseen consequences
  • Misunderstanding of social and interactional conventions or rules
  • Naïve social awareness and misinterpretation of relationships leading to exploitation
  • Obsessions and preoccupations
  • Resistance to changing behavior
  • The lack of empathy, or lack of insight into the effects of behavior; a denial of their own responsibility

They go on to cite supportive evidence from other researchers to highlight this kind of commonality across cases, with deficient empathy typically seen as the most significant factor.

While noting the relatively few people with Aspergers identified among those of their sample known to have committed offenses, they listed the commonly-cited precipitating events, as described by their sample of adults with Aspergers, for the aggressive or destructive or otherwise offending actions.

The percentage of respondents referring to particular circumstances was as follows:
  • Bereavement 13%
  • Bullying 50%
  • Change in the support arrangements 19%
  • Change of domicile 25%
  • Family conflict 50%
  • Onset of additional mental health problems 31%
  • Sexual rejection 50%
  • Social rejection 69%

The point emphasized by these authors was that, in their survey covering a very large number of people, the actual incidence of crime among people identified with Aspergers was low. On the basis of this kind of empirical evidence, the team held that there is little support for any hypothesized association between Aspergers and criminal activity.

This is not to belittle the impact of the offenses that are committed, but the implication concerns how to interpret the actions. It is accepted that some of the behaviors associated with Aspergers reflect a lack of communication, or misunderstandings, coupled with an inability to predict the outcomes; but whether the offending actions should be interpreted as having a knowing and criminal intent is questionable, with implications for determining how judicial and mental health systems should best respond in safeguarding the interests both of the person and of the community.

In a commentary on the presentation, Dr Tony Attwood held that it is important that such findings are given publicity in order to counter any view among the general public that Aspergers is a direct and common cause of anti-social or threatening behavior.

Attwood shares the concern lest high profile cases where the central figure is identified with Aspergers (or is believed, or claims, to be so-identified) will reinforce a false assumption that anyone validly diagnosed with Aspergers may commit similar actions.

This concern is justified given the reports in the national press (e.g. Bright 2005) that kids and adolescents with developmental or psychological difficulties, including Aspergers, are being unreasonably targeted for anti-social behavior orders (ASBOs).

The examples, identified by the British Institute for Brain Injured Kids, are given of a 15 year old boy with Aspergers given an ASBO to counter his tendency to stare over the neighbors’ fence into their garden; and of another 15 year old boy identified with Tourettes given an ASBO seeking to stop his swearing in public!

In a further case, an ASBO was served upon a 13 year old girl with Aspergers who had been swearing in the street (and where it turned out that there had been an angry altercation between her parents and the neighbors and she had been copying the language used).

The concept of “zero tolerance” has been identified by staff at the institute as problematic if it is taken literally and involves unreasonable demands upon some kids and teenagers.

The NAS has taken a similar line in expressing concern that the definition of anti-social behavior is too vague. In particular, it is held that “behavior which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress” could describe some of the core symptomatic behaviors of many people with autism.

One NAS initiative has involved a pilot program in a number of UK schools to help teenagers with Aspergers to become aware of the risk of crime and associated issues, given that their social and communicative vulnerability will increase the risk of their being placed in dangerous situations.

The program is seeking to enhance social awareness in the target group and to enable them to remain safe from exploitation or from (unwitting) involvement in offending activities.

One common area of potential offending is with the use of computers.

Aspergers is not a specific risk factor for hacking activities, but there has long been the concern (as expressed, among others, by Temple Grandin) that many people with ASD and Aspergers are drawn to computer-based learning or recreation, and to jobs which utilize IT interests and skills, so that, without monitoring and mentoring, there is a risk of a drift into hacking activities.

It may well be, again, that there is no criminal intent but that the people who are identified as hacking into the systems of large organizations are motivated by the presenting challenge to their computing skills.

There are no hard data concerning the actual incidence of this computer crime among people with Aspergers or ASD, but a small number of publicized cases may have allowed there to develop a belief (which may or may not be true) that such actions are more common among people with Aspergers than among the general population.

Therefore, while seeking to avoid inappropriate stereotyping, one might still recognize (as noted by Baron-Cohen 2001 among others) the overlap of traits of people with Aspergers and of people prone to computer hacking. However, Baron-Cohen stresses that any link can only be speculative in the absence of any actual research evidence.

Meanwhile, Szatmari is quoted in the same 2001 publication as dismissing any such link arguing, instead, that people with Aspergers tend to stick to rules and routines almost to a fault.

However, it is possible that, in addition to the “abstract” intellectual challenge involved, there may be some instances where the hacking is motivated by a sense of injustice or by a claimed quest to identify poor security.

Whether this kind of action is more common among the Aspergers population remains subject to debate; and, presumably, there remains the possibility that it is more identified but not more prevalent among the Aspergers group given their likely frankness or lack of concealment about what they are doing.

Finally, one can refer to the work of Bowen and Plimley (2007) who accept that people with ASD can be particularly vulnerable to becoming either victims or perpetrators of offending actions.

They, too, highlight the characteristic problems with social communication and interaction, inflexibility, etc, which can lead to a misunderstanding of their actions and reactions (including on the part of staff in the judicial system).

The implication is not that people with ASD are more likely to commit some offense, but that they need help to stay safe and to avoid actions which were not motivated by a criminal intent but which may be interpreted in that way.

These authors go on to cite the comments of teachers experienced in working with teenagers with ASD to the effect that behaviors accepted and tolerated in childhood, such as outbursts of temper, pushing into people, touching, expressing highly personal comments or questions, etc, are not tolerated and may be interpreted very negatively during adolescence and into adulthood.

It may also be the case that the teenagers can present as confrontational or provocative (which, presumably, may be the starting point for an escalation of behavior into more overtly aggressive interchanges); and they may also be persuaded into delinquent acts, such as petty theft or damage to property, by peers.

Their interviews with those teenagers who had experience of involvement with the police revealed the probability of mutual misunderstandings as a result of some or any of the characteristic aloofness, or apparent rudeness and insensitivity, or literalness, etc.

Bowen and Plimley recommend providing people with ASD some kind of identity card describing the presence and nature of the condition and presenting symptoms.

This concept was described as being supported by their sample of teenagers (and their parents) who felt that behaviors could be open to misinterpretation as deliberately provocative or dangerous or offensive when the real issues concerned communication problems, a lack of recognition of consequences, and stress in the face of uncertain or challenging situations leading to apparently aggressive actions.

Social stories are also recommended as a means of teaching the people concerned about how to avoid those behaviors open to misinterpretation, such as being able to differentiate appropriate and inappropriate touching, social rules, road safety etc.

Further, the advice is for identifying “triggers”, i.e. those events or experiences giving rise to idiosyncratic but negative reactions which may be perceived as deliberately provocative or aggressive acts.

One might summarize much of the implication from the studies reviewed as a matter of seeking fully to understand what lies behind and motivates the observable behavior. If triggers are operating, one needs to be clear what they are ... seeking to gain the perception and to tap the experience of the people concerned as opposed to maintaining one’s own untested hypotheses about the sequence of events.

This could be summarized as ensuring a functional assessment of behavior ... the precise antecedents, the intended purpose, the payback, etc ... with a view either to averting those circumstances which evoke the inappropriate behaviors or to identifying acceptable means of achieving the desired outcome.

Once more, the need is for identification of the needs as early as practicable in order that the particular “style” of the person can be observed and increasingly appreciated over time with the opportunity to introduce strategies to reduce maladaptive behaviors and reactions, and generally to increase appropriate day-to- day social functioning.

Further, despite the high incidence of diagnosed cases of Aspergers and ASD, it appears that the nature of these conditions remains unclear or confused among significant numbers either of the public, typically-developing peers, or of professionals whose role may bring them into frequent contact with teenagers.

The need is for ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the nature of Aspergers and ASD, and the range of permutations of symptoms that may be observed among the persons so-identified, thus to increase an understanding of the needs and an avoidance of misinterpretations leading to inappropriate judicial disposals which may serve only to compound the needs.



REFERENCES—

Allen D., Peckett H., Evans C., Hider A., Rees H., Hawkins S., and Morgan H. 2007 Asperger Syndrome and the criminal justice system. Good Autism Practice 8(1) 35- 42

Allen D., Evans C., Hider A., and Peckett H. 2006 Asperger Syndrome and offending behaviour : exploring the links. Conference presentation - Autism Cymru, Cardiff. May 2006

Asperger H. 1944 Die Autistichen Psychpathen in Kindersalter. Archiv fur Psychiatrie und Nevrenkrankenheiten 117 76-136

Baron-Cohen S. and Wheelwright S. 2004 The empathy quotient. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 34(2) 163-175

Baron-Cohen S. 2001 Cited in Zuckerman M. Hacker reminds some of Asperger Syndrome. USA Today 29/3.01

Bowen M. and Plimley L. 2007 Keeping out of trouble. Special (July) 31-33

Bright M. 2005 Charity pleads for tolerance as autistic youngsters face ASBOs.

Debbaudt D. 2002 Autism, Advocates, and Law Enforcement Professionals. London : Kingsley

Haskins B. and Silva A. 2006 Asperger’s disorder and criminal behaviour. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 34(3) 374-384

Howlin P. 2004 Autism and Asperger Syndrome : Preparing for Adulthood. New York : Routledge

National Autistic Society 2004 Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Involvement in the Criminal Justice System. London : NAS

Satzmari P. 2001 (Also cited by Zuckerman M. op.cit)

Tantam D. 2003 The challenge of adolescents and adults with Asperger Syndrome. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 12 143-163

The Observer (Home Affairs) : May 22nd 2005 

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COMMENTS: 

Anonymous said... So sad how a lot is misunderstood. Police killed a young man w/ Aspergers because someone called in a domestic dispute and he was holding a knife. So instead of using different measures or even finding out that he didn't understand, a man is dead. This happened in Florida, first week of June. So sad.

Asperger's Adults and Marriage/Parenting Difficulties

"Is it common for a 'neurotypical' woman to be resentful toward her husband AND father in the case where both have Asperger's? I would say they are 'emotionally unavailable'. My son was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism, and it dawned on me that both my husband and father are the same way in many respects! So now I am really having a hard time swallowing this. I feel like the world has just crashed down on top of me."

You're not alone. Being partnered to an individual with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) comes with its own set of difficulties. Of primary concern is the lack of intimacy and reciprocation of emotion. This is the most common reason for marriage breakdown associated with AS and HFA. This neurological disorder makes it extremely difficult for the AS/HFA man or woman to interact emotionally in an appropriate way with others.

In a marriage situation, the so-called "neurotypical" partner may be content with doing the bulk of the emotional work of the relationship, particularly if that person is a woman. However, once kids arrive, further difficulties can arise as the AS/HFA mom or dad can’t effectively engage with their youngster, and the other parent can observe feelings of distress in the growing boy or girl as little empathy is displayed towards that youngster. When the partner expresses frustration at this lack of affection and intimacy, the AS/HFA individual is often puzzled by the outburst as understanding is absent. It is easy to see how arguments and unhappiness result. It is not surprising that around 80% of such marriages end in divorce.

For partners and family members of an AS/HFA man or woman, counseling can help in learning to overcome feelings of anger, hurt, disappointment, and depression. Joining a support group can also assist on overcoming the feelings of isolation associated with being a relative of an AS/HFA person.

For the AS/HFA individual himself, counseling is of some assistance, but social skills training will better equip the individual in dealing with others, whether they are partners, kids, or fellow employees. Social skills training involves (a) teaching the person to recognize facial expressions and associate them with certain emotions, (b) learning body language skills and being able to interpret what is being communicated, and (c) learning to verbally interact with others at a more functioning level.

This type of training is a learned procedure, as it does not come naturally to the person with AS or HFA. However in doing so, it makes for easier social interaction, less misunderstanding and social isolation. If AS and HFA adults desire better relationships, they must also be willing to ask for - and act on - advice in situations in which they know they find difficult to negotiate. The attitude of both partners is crucial for the successful learning process to occur. It requires hard work and much patience for partners and family members, and a willingness to accept constructive criticism on the part of the AS/HFA person to smooth out the rough edges of these relationships. But, like any relationship, willingness on both sides can certainly lead to improved daily interactions.

An autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disorder, and mainly manifests in the inability to successfully relate emotionally to others during everyday interactions. There exists a lack of awareness in interpreting social cues (a skill that most of us take for granted). Given that inability, it can be extremely difficult for the family and friends of a person with AS or HFA to cope with many of the behavior patterns typically exhibited.

Since AS and HFA are relatively recent classified disorders, an adult's diagnosis may occur after the diagnosis of his or her youngster or grandchild. When this occurs, family members often then relate the behaviors of the newly-diagnosed youngster to that of the lifelong behavior patterns of a parent. This "Ah-ha" moment is often accompanied by relief on the part of the parent, partner, or youngster of an AS/HFA parent, but with it comes grief when the realization hits home that there is little likelihood of gross changes in the AS/HFA individual. For example, the daughter whose son is diagnosed with AS or HFA may then realize that her dad had the same set of symptoms, and the reason for her father's apparent disconnectedness, coldness, and inability to empathize with her suddenly becomes crystal clear.

Coping with a family member with AS or HFA can be frustrating and demoralizing, particularly with an individual who is undiagnosed. There can be a lot of misunderstanding by the youngster of a mom or dad with AS or HFA, and certainly psychological damage can occur. Once an effective diagnosis is made, at least there is some understanding for other family members as to why the AS/HFA person behaves the way that he or she does. 

One of my clients had a father-in-law who exhibited all the classic symptoms of AS. Previous to the father-in-law's diagnosis, this distressed client had suffered enormously at the hands of this man, as had her husband and kids. She had called him "The Hologram." Her explanation was that "he looks like a normal human being, and he's smart and has a good job, but there's just nothing there." Hence the name she had dubbed her father-in-law in order to cope with the stress that family get-togethers inevitably brought.

The term "hologram" was an unwittingly apt description of her father-in-law. There was no intimacy, no understanding, no empathy, just a pragmatic approach to life that didn’t take into account the emotions of the people he dealt with. Nor was he able to adapt himself to the changing needs of different individuals or situations. The diagnosis of this man's grandchild led to a realization by his own kids as to why their father was the way he was. It answered a lot of questions, and gave these kids some closure regarding the childhood hurts they had experienced due to their father’s inability to relate to them.

When a partner is diagnosed with AS or HFA as a result of a youngster within the family being diagnosed, it can come as a "double whammy" to the family. This is particularly the case when the youngster and his or her parent are diagnosed at the same time, since the “neurotypical” (i.e., the person without AS) is now in the position of dealing with two AS family members in the one home.

Similarly, the diagnosis of a youngster may make the mother or father worry that he or she has the disorder too. This can also cause intense personal suffering for the child since finding out that one's mom or dad has AS opens as many wounds as it does explanations. 

The problems in dealing with AS/HFA grown-ups can be numerous, and include:
  • A sense of frustration that you can’t "get through" to this person
  • A sense of hopelessness that the person doesn't love you
  • Concerns over whether to stay in the relationship
  • Depression related to the knowledge that the individual won't get better
  • Difficulties accepting that the partner has the condition
  • Failure to have your own needs met
  • Failure to understand why this person can’t relate to you in a "normal" manner
  • Feeling overly responsible for this person
  • Feeling the need to constantly explain his or her inappropriate behaviors and comments to others, along with feelings of trepidation due to the effect of this constant vigilance.
  • Lack of emotional support from family and friends who don’t understand the condition
  • Lack of intimacy in the relationship

AS and HFA make for difficulties in understanding the emotions of others, as well as interpreting subtle communication skills (e.g., eye contact, facial expressions, body language). This often leads to the AS or HFA individual being labeled as rude, uncaring, cold, and unfeeling. While it is natural for those who interact with him or her to feel this way, it is unfair! This is because an autism spectrum disorder is a genetic, neurological condition which renders the AS/HFA person mentally unable to readily understand and interpret the emotional states of others.

One of the problems associated with the individual on the spectrum is the lack of accurate diagnosis. Because AS is a disorder that has only been recognized and singled-out from other autistic spectrum disorders in the last decade or so, to date there has been little information about the behaviors of grown-ups with this disorder. As kids, these grown-ups would have stood out among their peers as being "unusual," but at the time, there was no accurate diagnosis available. Thus, there are still many AS and HFA men and women in the community who remain undiagnosed.

The other problem is that, even when diagnosis occurs, some people with AS or HFA may refuse to go into therapy or accept available assistance, because they don’t believe that they have a problem. One of my client's who had a father with the disorder was relieved to finally discover the reason for her father's emotional aloofness, but was devastated when that same father refused to go to counseling. He simply asserted, "There's nothing wrong with me!"

In this case, there was no denial involved on the part of the father. He simply couldn't understand his daughter’s pain, her feelings of rejection, or her desire for a real "father-daughter" relationship. None of it made any "sense" to him. In addition, his interactions with the family and in-laws were fraught with difficulties. Eventually, this daughter decided to limit interaction with her father, because it caused too much stress in the family.

In other cases, people with AS or HFA may be genuinely shocked when told that their actions are hurtful or inappropriate. However, the behavior is likely to be repeated unless there is some form of intervention, and the affected individuals genuinely desire to change.

Some people with AS or HFA can maintain ongoing relationships; however, due to their neurological inability to effectively communicate on an emotional level, there are numerous difficulties. Even dating can prove to be a problem, as the subtle "language of love" which operates during the courtship phase is often a mystery to the AS/HFA person. This can apply to even the most academically gifted man or women. 

Recent research into the sexual behaviors of grown-ups with AS or HFA indicate that they have similar sex drives as the general population, but seldom possess the social skills to deal with the high level of intimacy required for such a relationship. In fact, research suggests that the divorce rate for couples in which one partner has AS or HFA is around 80%.


Comment:


My boyfriend (who I love dearly) and I have really been struggling ever since early March when we had a pregnancy scare. Neither of us has ever had a pregnancy scare before. We have both generally been very careful about protection with previous partners and have never faced unplanned pregnancy before with past partners. He has Asperger's. I am 35. He is 34. I have a son and a daughter, aged 3.5 and nearly 2 from a previous marriage. When I told him I thought I may be pregnant..I told him I wouldn't know for sure till I missed a period and was able to take an accurate pregnancy test..but even just hearing that it was possible he vomited a couple times and became consumed with anxiety. Since then, I did get a positive pregnancy result on a test. But when we re-tested a couple days later, it was negative. 

He was watching me pee in a cup and inserting multiple tests (6 or 7 total) into the urine himself, timing the test with a stopwatch, having me test at different intervals...Anyways, we only got negative results when we marathon tested together a couple days after the initial positive result. Turns out, I had a natural expulsion of the fertilized egg, embryo..a naturally occurring, very early term abortion. I began bleeding out on a Sunday when I was at his house. And I told him that I thought I had my period and that it seemed everything was going to be all right. I took a pregnancy test on Friday at home by myself to confirm that I was not pregnant. The test came back positive because there was still pregnancy hormone in me. The expulsion bleeding had finished on Thursday and I was taking the test the next day, Friday. When he and I tested on Sunday multiple times, all night long, at his insistence, we only got negatives. He has been so stressed out from the initial moment he knew I might be pregnant. He has been so anxious and so terrified. 

He's been consumed by the stress. He couldn't work for 2-3 weeks. He is an electrical engineer who has been at his job for 10 years. He couldn't function well at work and was catching negative, watchful attention from supervisors. That is better now that nearly 3 months have passed. He was so anxious he couldn't eat hardly anything for 2-2.5 weeks without terrible indigestion. He won't sit next to me. He doesn't want to touch me or for me to touch him. For a while he would give me a kiss as we said bye, or a hug....but very often no contact at all unless I am sort of asking for a kiss, or a hug. Absolutely no sex or anything vaguely sexual since the beginning of March. But he tells me he feels incredibly close to me like he could tell me anything. That he feels like we have become incredibly close over the past couple months. 

He had been an avowed atheist since I met him in October 2011. The night we did the marathon pregnancy testing I said something to him about God looking out for us as we got only negative test results. He said he also felt the presence of God strongly and asked me to kneel and pray with him. We kneeled and I prayed a prayer of thanks and gratitude, and asked God to guide us and support us in having the strength, wisdom, knowledge, to follow His will and act accordingly. My boyfriend sobbed much of that night. He was so shook up by everything. He has since told me that he has never felt closer to another human being ever in his entire life than when he and I kneeled together. He talks about how remarkable it was that he an avowed atheist asked me to kneel and pray with him. He says he is a person who does not pray and he really wanted to pray with me that night. He is very clear even now that he felt the hand of God with us, between us, helping us that night. I felt God's presence too. My boyfriend says that sometimes when I speak to him about God's love, reassuring him that God loves him, has always loved him, is not personally hurt by my boyfriend's long-term rejection of religion, he says that God is speaking through me to him. 

He talks about how he was so far from God for so long, but that he can feel God in his life again particularly when I talk to him about God, when I prayed with him. I love my boyfriend dearly. I want us to make it. Maybe we just need to pray together more regularly? I will accept what God has in store for us. But you seem to have a special, unique understanding of how those of us who love individuals with Asperger's really struggle to understand, be supportive, develop and maintain healthy relationships with the partners we love and dedicate ourselves to. Do you have any suggestions regarding how my boyfriend and I can get over the intense stress he still feels about the pregnancy scare? Sometimes I think we will just become a more God-fearing conservative couple and one day get married and have sex again then :) He says that is definitely a possibility. He has wanted so much to get over his anxiety and fear about being around me. He has been so frustrated that he couldn't seem to get past it. He has said that he wants nothing more than for us to be able to go back to being as happy and relaxed, as we were before the scare. 

He said he wants to feel comfortable with me again. Sometime in April, he was driving home from my house which is 30 minutes from his house. He was not in the best shape to drive but didn't listen to me about waiting. He went for a walk with me and then insisted it was time to go, he had to go, and just took off. I couldn't stop him. I worry about him so much when he drives like that. I was texting him to ask him to let me know when he got home safe. He crashed his car that night. He was not hurt. No one was hurt. He basically just didn't make a turn and went off the road and wrecked the car. He had long since been saying he wanted to get a new car so the damage to the car was not terribly upsetting to him. But the ensuing police and insurance investigations were very stressful for him. He was really freaked out that I had texted asking him if he was all right, if he had got home safe. So, he called me the next morning told me about the accident, and told me not to text him anymore about anything and that he would call me, we could call each other as a way of keeping in touch. Until then, we had relied heavily on texting as he explained early on that he was not good on the phone and often found it too much to go through a phone conversation at the end of a long day. 

He has an unbelievable chock full activity schedule that frequently includes 2 or even 3 evening activities after a full day at work. His weekends are packed with 40 mile bike rides, 20 mile runs, all kinds of stuff. Anyways, now we speak on the phone very regularly, at least every other day, and often speak for 2, 3, 4 hours at a time. For a while he was calling me every day as he left work. Then he said he started feeling differently about me and wasn't sure he was feeling it anymore, and had stopped calling every day. He was breaking up with me I thought. But in the same conversation he told me he had come to feel incredibly close to me over the past couple months, that we get along incredibly well, that he feels that God speaks to him through me, that God is reaching out to him through me. He was sobbing nearly hysterically during this conversation where he tired to break up with me, but didn't in the end. I was calm and reassuring and told him I was not worried because I had faith that it would all work out according to God's will and plan for us in the end. I told him I would always love him and be there for him in a friend capacity if he couldn't feel comfortable dating me right now, or ever again. Please help us understand how to work through my love's residual stress about the pregnancy scare, the car accident, his terror of having a kid before he's ready. 

 I also told him that I considered that he had gotten off relatively unscathed with the car accident relative to the risks he had taken repeatedly with driving. I told him I was very glad that he seemed to have learned an important lesson about driving safely, a lesson that was not to be taken lightly. He agreed that the car accident and the related lesson were also evidence of God actively present in his life, taking an interest in him, trying to help him learn and be better. Thank you for any insights, advice, suggestions, you can offer. It is really hard sometimes. But I do trust God and I do believe He is here with us always as we strive to be better as individuals and hopefully continue on as a couple. There is something about you, your website, your e-book, your voice on your phone voicemail prompt, the tone of your email. I believe you really want to help people with Asperger's and their partners. I feel that you are called in your heart to do this work. I feel comfortable reaching out to you for help and support. Thank you for being there for people like us who struggle. 


Response: 

RE: Do you have any suggestions regarding how my boyfriend and I can get over the intense stress he still feels about the pregnancy scare? 

Your boyfriend can greatly benefit by openly giving and receiving support and by recognizing and sharing his feelings with you, with your respective families, and with a therapist. When men share their feelings, it helps deepen the relationship, reduce stress, and promote health for all concerned. You should know, however, that sharing feelings doesn't always go as planned. Just as you experienced a wealth of conflicting emotions, it's normal for your boyfriend's feelings to cover a broad range—from feeling thrilled, loving, and tender to devastation and shock. He may be curious about what your child could be like, or he may believe he is totally unprepared for fatherhood. He may feel uncertain about your relationship, or he may be unsure he wants the relationship to continue. He may feel angry, trapped, or sad, believing the pregnancy will interfere with the things he believes to be important. 

Good luck in any event, Mark 

Follow-up to response: 

Thank you Mark. Talking about it is the one thing he has completely refused to do. He will not permit me to bring up anything related to the pregnancy scare or how it was resolved. He says it is so painful for him to even begin thinking about those events that he has to talk about it he won't be able to endure the pain and won't be able to be around me anymore. In the weeks after the scare he was telling me things like it was painful for him just to be in my company at all because being near me evoked all his painful, terrified, anxious, sick feelings about the pregnancy scare and how we didn't agree about how to deal with it. He pushed incredibly hard for abortion. 

I don't believe in abortion in my personal life. I think every woman should be able to choose for herself. But it's not something I personally feel right about doing.Our disagreement over abortion became a moot point when the pregnancy aborted itself. Even yesterday, the issue of abortion came up in a political discussion we were having and he instantly told me he didn't want to talk about that subject. He gets upset at any reminder of the pregnancy or how it ended. Before we got all the negative pregnancy test results, he was pushing me really, really hard to have an abortion. I told him that I didn't believe in abortion and that I would raise the kid on my own rather than do that. He said terrible things like he would have absolutely no involvement in the child's life and that I was going to have to take him to court to get child support or any financial help. He said it would ruin his life to have a kid at that juncture. He said his dreams were being ruined. That he had dreamed that one day he'd have a normal sort of life with a blissful wedding day, and have a house with a white picket fence, before any children came along. He said his conservative parents and brothers would disown him and that he would lose his life insurance policy his parents have for him. 

 He said he had had high hopes for the relationship with me until this happened. I talked about having a loving, supportive community of friends and that somehow I would make it with the baby and my friends's support even if he abandoned us. He said he wouldn't continue to see me if I kept the baby and that he had been among those many who love me until very recently, i.e. hearing about the potential pregnancy. He never once asked me how I felt about anything. He bullied me about getting an abortion and getting rid of this problem for him until I collapsed in tears devastated. I told him I was going home because nothing was being accomplished and that if I was indeed pregnant, I didn't want the fetus to endure all this stress. He begged and pleaded for me not to leave him alone and then we did a marathon of pregnancy tests. He insisted on driving to walmart at least 3 times through out the night to get more tests. 

 The tests came back negative and we thought God was giving us another chance to do things right together, come back closer to Him. That's what I thought. I think my boyfriend kind of saw it as God was letting him off the hook from a responsibility, a life development he absolutely wasn't ready for. That's how he described it last week during the 4.5 hour conversation when he was trying to break up with me, but then ended up telling me how close he felt to me, sobbing for hours, asking me what I wanted to have happen with us, with our relationship, asking me how I felt about him. 

When he was breaking up with me, he began by saying stuff like he felt that I wasn't really into him anymore either, that I wasn't feeling it either. At times, I feel resentful and mad that he was so unsupportive of me during what was also a very difficult time for me. I also sometimes feel resentful that he won't touch me even to show affection if not have sex. Though I know that the lack of physical and verbal affection is closely tied to the Asperger's even separate from all the stress and anxiety he is feeling right now. There were moments when I was utterly relieved the pregnancy was lost as I recalled how completely unwilling he was to be supportive of me in any way if I chose to keep the kid. I remember thinking and saying that I was relieved that I was not going to have to co-parent with someone so unwilling, disinterested, unsupportive. I knew he's be stressed but I never imagined he's react as negatively as he did, the initial night and for months following. After reading your e-book, I realized that it may not be a good idea at all to plan on starting a family ever with a partner with Asperger's. In the weeks that followed the initial scare, he would say things to me like, "We will do that (get pregnant) again when you are ready." At this point, I had explained at length that I absolutely didn't feel ready to have another kid, and wasn't at all ready to take that step with him either. 

I was just trying to accept responsibility for the mistake we made and care for the kid alone, or with his help. I always said he was under no obligation to stay with me, that we could co-parent without being a couple if he (we) were too stressed by the early and unexpected pregnancy to be able to remain together as a couple. Last night, he told me over the course of our second long phone conversation that night, that he had recently realized that he may never want to be a dad, that he might not want kids. He said he previously had imagined he would or should one day have kids because that seems to be what people do, how it goes for everyone. I told him that that was totally fine and that I don't believe everyone needs to have kids. I told him I think it's important for people to recognize and be honest with themselves and others if that's really not something they want in their lives, and that that's totally fine. I also said I already have 2 kids and therefore am not longing for kids as I might be if I didn't have any. 

He underscored the fact that it was really great that I already have kids, since that was something that was important to me in my life. He said it is really great that I already have 2 kids, even though I have struggled a lot since the divorce with my kids being very little, because it is very possible I may never have an opportunity to have more children. Thank you so much for your advice. I have read your last email over several times already so I can assimiliate it into my understanding of things and remember what you said. 


MORE COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... I am experiencing everything in this article. When my daughter was diagnosed and I learned more about it I too had that moment when I looked at my husband and understood why he was the way he was.
•    Anonymous said... I found out last year that my son has Asperger's, and he was 11. Like Pamela said it was like a lightning bolt hit me, and all the pieces came together. I see it in other family members, but only concentrate on my son. I can't force others to accept it, address it or admit they have many of the same issues, but I can help him adjust and understand the how and why's. Once you bring it to the part that matters, the rest isn't so devastating to our peace of mind.
•    Anonymous said... I had a similar experience. I advocated for my son and as a result, he is doing amazingly well now, but it's been a long hard road and his father has never accepted the diagnosis nor did he see the similarities in himself. We spit up six years ago because of it, but he still fights me each time I try to get his support on helping our son. Sometimes, there are no answers and you just have to do what you can and hope the other person at least stays out of the way.
•    Anonymous said... I have such compassion for you. My son was diagnosed at age 5 and the lightbulb went off. Suddenly, my husbands fathers family's quirky behavior made sense. It's normal for you to want to be angry but try and understand that ultimately this will help you or your family. It has been five years for us. These kids are a beautiful amazing gift. You will adjust and cope and appreciate the wonderful silver linings that come with this diagnosis. Hugs.....
•    Anonymous said... I will read the article after saying this-yes I do feel resentful towards my husband at the moment since the penny dropped for him about AS (long after me not so strangely). I think it was the final bit in the puzzle and now I can finally grieve for all the unhappy years of bewilderment while he seemed blissfully happy if a little confused at times. It has been a couple of weeks and I am finally feeling like I can bear him around now but I think it must be a normal part of the grieving process? What I do resent is him saying he doesn't know what to do when I ask him if he will seek a formal diagnosis and help. I have struggled through 32 years of unhappiness and self doubt and think he could make some effort now. I am burnt out and feel old and ugly fro years of what amounts to albeit unwitting abuse from him and I suppose it is knowing where to direct the anger since it cannot be at him...
•    Anonymous said... If you still have an aspie husband as well as a special needs child, you are a very strong person. My EX husband refuses to accept our son's diagnosis and has been very obstructive toward his needs. Of course he also doesn't recognize his own disability 'cause that would force him to deal with our son's. Good luck to you and stay centered!
•    Anonymous said... My husband gets frustrated with me and often will walk away with comments of "Stupid Aspergers!" and "Of course you wouldn't get it, always your Aspergers!" and I feel his frustration because I can't imagine no "solution" to the way I am. The more emotional he gets, the less I get and the more I shut down because I literally can not understand him when he is that emotional and thhe further we grow apart. We will eventually get past the barrier when we both are calm, but getting to that point causes a lot of drama and stress on both of us. So yes, I can understand that frustration because you always hope that the issues can be worked out and have that hope that it will all get better, but with Aspergers... some things just are what they are and expectations needs to be real when it comes to what your are going to get out of those people. But, if you fell in love with your husband for who he is and love your father for who he is, those people have not changed, just your understanding about them. (That's how I feel about it anyway, obviously this is an article, but if anyone feels the same way, that's what I would say to them)
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed at 9 then I started looking at my hubby. The apple doesn't fall far. You are not alone. I felt comfort that a lot of things that bothered me were explained.
•    Anonymous said... Praying for this person because I too have to deal with this and it is very hard
•    Anonymous said... There's a great book called "Alone Together" about living with an aspie partner. It's tough sometimes and very common to identify all the others in your family with Aspergers. It's ok to grieve!
•    Anonymous said... This past year..I found out my son who is 9 is an Aspie, my daughter 11 who as pdd..and I was reading some books..I realized that too ... I was probably married to an Aspie, and it explained some family members as well...you will cry ..you will get frustrated...but remember there are really great qualities..they are extremely LOYAL..very SMART..and at the end of the day.. you and I was given this GIFT. Hugs to you!!
•    Anonymous said... We were all mad at each other before; now the only difference is we know why.
•    Anonymous said... When the Dr. told us that our son has Aspergers, the first thing my husband said was that he had often wondered if he did too. When I read the book, "Look Me in the Eye" I felt like I was reading a history book of my husband's life. It was so enlightening and it helped me understand so much about our relationship. So, like you I have been emotionally alone. But I've found that I can discuss the issues in an intellectual way at least. It's not easy but taking one step and one day at a time helps. If it weren't for my faith and trust in The Lord, I'd never manage. Just know that you're not alone.
•    Anonymous said... You're not along, its okay to grieve and part of the grieving process is anger. Its a rough road, especially at first, but it can be worked with. Just as I do not give up on my son, I do not give up on my husband. My husbands family appears to all be ASD as well, and that gives me the belief my son will be fine too - better even, because we acknowledge ASD in my son, and get him the help and support he needs (whereas my husband and his family deny ASD). Grieve, breath.... it will all be okay.

Please post your comment below…

Natural Treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome?

"What supplements, if any, would be helpful for children (and even adults for that matter) on the autism spectrum?"

Aspergers kids commonly have fluctuating moods throughout the day as their emotional development is still in its early stages. Moods may differ from moment to moment based on the youngster’s feelings and the trials of daily life. Events that may seem small and insignificant to adults, may become huge calamities for young minds and this can sometimes cause chaos and distress in the family. Although these ‘childish storms’ may soon blow over, they can come and go many times in the average day – depending on the age and disposition of the youngster.

From worries over imaginary monsters to fretting over the opinion of other kids at school, the moods of both Aspergers kids and teens can be commonly affected by many seemingly normal events, causing mood swings and concern.

On the whole, adults have normally learned how to weather these storms as their nervous systems and emotional development has matured. However, even for adults, routine ‘ups and downs’ may occur as part of daily living and can sometimes become difficult to manage.

Natural remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to gently and safely support the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as to encourage normal and efficient balance of emotion and a soothed state.

There are now many published clinical studies demonstrating the ability of a range of herbs to support the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and maintain balanced mood, feelings of well-being and promote emotional health.

MindSoothe Jr.™ is an herbal remedy especially for Aspergers kids and formulated by a Clinical Psychologist to support balanced mood and feelings of well-being. Regular use promotes the health of the brain and nervous system, helping to support healthy production of essential brain hormones and chemicals related to nervous system health and emotional well-being, thereby helping to maintain balanced mood and optimum performance.

MindSoothe ™ is a 100% safe, non-addictive, natural herbal remedy that has been especially formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for adults and teens, and comes in a compact capsule form, making it easy to take. MindSoothe can be used to safely maintain emotional health, balanced, mood and harmony in the brain and nervous system, without harmful side effects.

Sometimes erratic, unpredictable impulsive behavior can escalate to frenetic, flustered, and wild outbursts in even the most normal and even tempered youngster.

Aspergers kids may commonly resort to yelling and kicking - even biting - in order to express their feelings and get what they want. This behavior may become increasingly difficult for parents to manage and can cause numerous disruptions to the family’s daily routine. These bursts of childhood temper tantrums are most common during the pre-school years, but may occur from time to time in older Aspergers kids and even adults if they occasionally lose their tempers – which can happen to all of us from time to time.

Natural remedies can help to support a balanced demeanor and homeopathic and herbal remedies are of great benefit in helping to restore calm and a positive demeanor after a common emotional episode. Natural remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to support the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system.

Tula Tantrum Tamer ™ is a registered homeopathic remedy which helps Aspergers kids to maintain balanced mood, calm demeanor and reasonable attitude by providing a sound platform to support emotional peace and stability. As a result, Tula Tantrum Tamer can make all the difference to a youngster who is prone to tantrums and emotional storminess.

PureCalm™ is a 100% safe, non-addictive herbal remedy that has been specially formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for adults and Aspergers kids. PureCalm can especially benefit those individuals needing support for balanced mood and to assist with common nervous tension.

Our brain is like a virtual filing cabinet where the completed tasks, acquired information, and experiences are all processed and then stored - nothing is lost, instead we sometimes need to just take a little more effort to retrieve. Healthy brain functioning, including concentration and focus, are essential if we are to successfully complete our everyday tasks.

Natural remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to support the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system, helping to maintain efficient concentration and memory functioning.

Focus Formula ™ is a 100% safe, non-addictive, natural, herbal remedy. Formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for both Aspergers kids and adults, Focus Formula has been used for many years to safely maintain health and systemic balance in the brain and nervous system. Focus Formula contains a selection of herbs known for their supportive function in maintaining brain, nervous system and circulatory health, and well-being.

BrightSpark ™ is a safe, non-addictive, registered homeopathic remedy containing 100% homeopathic ingredients especially selected by a clinical psychologist. BrightSpark will help keep your youngster alert while at the same time preventing common restlessness, thereby helping Aspergers kids to concentrate and balance moods. BrightSpark can also be especially effective for Aspergers kids who tend to "act out" or for those who have routine difficulties controlling their tempers or getting along with other Aspergers kids.

A regular and peaceful night’s sleep is a useful indicator of overall physical and emotional health. Healthy sleep patterns are a crucial aspect of a youngster’s development. Aspergers kids commonly resist going to bed – especially when their minds are busy and they can think of a million more exciting things to do! However, Aspergers kids who routinely get away with late bed times may struggle to cope the next day – especially at school – and may become ratty and difficult.

A good night’s sleep is just as important for adults who need to replenish their resources after a demanding day of work and family responsibilities. For many adults, a natural sleep tonic can make all the difference to supporting regular sleeping patterns.

Serenite Jr. ™ is a safe and effective herbal remedy specially formulated by a Clinical Psychologist to promote junior night time harmony and to assist parents in their task of naturally settling fussy little ones.

SerenitePlus ™ is a herbal formula specially formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for teenagers and adults. The natural ingredients are chosen for their relaxing and calming properties to assist with occasional routine sleeplessness and to relax and wind down at night.

For the Brain and Nervous System—

For Aspergers kids:

BrightSpark is a registered homeopathic formula used to reduce routine impulsive, restless and erratic behavior – so helping your youngster to listen more calmly, carefully, and attentively.

Focus Formula is used to support brain health and maintain a healthy supply of blood and nutrients to the brain – thereby supporting the brain’s functions of concentration, memory and healthy mental focus, while promoting corresponding health in the nervous system.

MindSoothe Jr. is used to maintain emotional balance, a reasonable attitude and feelings of well-being in Aspergers kids, also supporting the balance of neurotransmitters produced in the brain like dopamine and serotonin, both linked to the maintenance of balanced mood.

PureCalm is an excellent on the spot remedy for nervous system support - widely used to lessen common feelings of being flustered, bothered or on-edge, and to soothe the nerves.

Serenite Jr. is used to support healthy sleep patterns in babies over 6 months and Aspergers kids up to 12 years old.

Tula TamtrumTamer is a registered homeopathic remedy used to reduce the frequency and strength of common childhood tantrums, calm and soothe fiery tempers, while promoting a balanced mood and reasonable attitude.

For Aspergers adults:

SerenitePlus is a herbal formula specially formulated by a Clinical Psychologist for teenagers and adults. The natural ingredients are chosen for their relaxing and calming properties to assist with occasional routine sleeplessness and to relax and wind down at night.

PureCalm is an excellent on-the-spot remedy for nervous system support - widely used to lessen common feelings of being flustered, bothered or on-edge, and to soothe the nerves.

MindSoothe is used to support emotional well-being and stability , lessen general feelings of the blues, support a healthy motivated attitude, a well-adjusted outlook and positive temperament, as well as support healthy sleep patterns.

Focus ADDult contains a selection of herbs known for their supportive function in maintaining brain, nervous system, circulatory health, and overall well-being.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


COMMENTS:

Anonymous said… amazing if it works! My Aspie is 2 1/2 and out of control. I'd love to try these, we'll try anything if it helps him. Can they be used on kids as young as him? Also where do you get them from? We're in Australia, do they deal internationally?
Anonymous said… I just took my son to a holistic doctor and he gave him a vitamin B complex,magnesium,vitamin c and oats.No improvement so far but its only been a few days.
Anonymous said… I SWEAR by the Focus Formula and brightSpark...both work very well on my son. He is HF Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, and SPD...I am actually going to be ordering the Sleep one for him too. This company offers a 100% money back guarantee if you are not pleased...but you have to use it for a week or so until you see the difference. Worth a try and I'm telling you they WORK!! :)))
Anonymous said… I've just ordered my first shipment of the products put together for Aspergers children from native remedies and I live in the uk. I'm yet to try any kind of herbal remedies, this will be the first time I have used anything other than Meletonin that helps him to sleep. I personally dont see the harm in trying out herbal remedies and if they work then that's a bonus. I'm more scared of ever having to medicate him with prescriptions from the doctor so I am exhausting all herbal remedies but also looking at special food diets thar help break down harmful chemicals in our children that can sometimes cause the behaviour they express.
Anonymous said… My son was diagnosed with PDD, depression and anxiety last week but for the past 5 weeks he has been taking BrightSpark. I have noticed a calmness over him. I have just ordered Mindsmoothe and Pure Calm for added help.

Feel free to post your comment below...

The Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet for Autism Spectrum Disorders

"What are your thoughts on the GFCF diet for children with AS?"

It has been suggested that peptides from gluten and casein may have a role in the origins of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and that the physiology and psychology of these disorders might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides.

Gluten and casein are getting a lot of attention in the ASD community and from physicians in the biomedical movement. Some moms and dads, physicians and researchers say that kids with AS and HFA have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after these substances were removed from their diet. Some also report that their kids have experienced fewer bouts of diarrhea and loose stools since starting a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.

Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains (e.g., oats, rye, barley, bulgar, durum, kamut, spelt) and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, flavorings, artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.

Casein is a protein found in milk and foods containing milk (e.g., cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whey, some brands of margarine). It also may be added to non-milk products like soy cheese and hot dogs in the form of caseinate.

There is growing interest in the link between AS/HFA and gastrointestinal (GI) ailments. One study found that kids with AS born in the 1990s were more likely to have gastrointestinal problems (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, vomiting) than AS kids who were born in the early 1980s. Some young people use the GFCF diet mainly to ease gastrointestinal problems and food allergies or sensitivities.

According to one theory, some young people with AS and HFA can’t properly digest gluten and casein, which form peptides, or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the child’s behavior, perceptions, and responses to his or her environment. Some researchers now believe that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain youngsters. Research has found peptides in the urine of a significant number of kids with AS and HFA. A physician can order a urinary peptide test that can tell if proteins are not being digested properly.

Researchers continue to examine the effectiveness of the GFCF diet, which has not gained widespread acceptance in the U.S. medical community. One recent study found behavioral improvements in kids on a GFCF diet, while another study found no significant effects from the diet.

Medical tests can determine if an AS or HFA youngster has an allergy to gluten, casein and other foods (e.g., eggs, nuts, soybeans). Before changing the youngster's diet, parents should consult with a physician to make sure they are providing a healthy diet and, if necessary, nutritional supplements.

Some advocates of dietary intervention suggest removing one food from the diet at a time, so parents will know which food was causing a problem. It also is helpful to ask young people who don’t know about the dietary change if they see any improvement after a few weeks. It's often suggested to remove milk first, because the body will clear itself of milk/casein the quickest. Gluten may be removed a month after the elimination of milk. It may take up to six months on a gluten-free diet for the body to rid itself of all gluten. That is why most advocates suggest giving the diet a trial of six months.

The diet can seem like a lot of work, at first. Parents must carefully read the ingredients on food packages. Beware of "hidden" casein and gluten in ingredient lists (e.g., curds, caseinate, lactose, bran, spices, certain types of vinegar, etc.). It may be hard to locate an acceptable substitute for milk, although many AS and HFA kids do adapt to the GFCF soy, potato, almond and rice milk substitutes available. Look for varieties that are enriched with calcium and Vitamin D. In addition, many moms and dads provide vitamin and calcium supplements to their kids on the diet.

Many communities have health food stores or regular supermarkets that stock flour, bread, crackers, cookies, pretzels, waffles, cereal, and pasta made of rice, potato or other gluten-free flours. There also are online retailers that sell GFCF foods and vitamins. Also, some web sites list commercially-available GFCF foods (e.g., Heinz ketchup, Bush's Baked Beans, Ore-Ida Golden Fries). Some prepared foods originally developed for young people with Celiac Disease (a form of gluten intolerance) now come in casein-free varieties, too. To save money, some families choose to make their own GFCF foods.

Some of the foods that can be eaten on a GFCF diet include:
  • amaranth
  • beans
  • buckwheat flour
  • corn
  • eggs
  • fish
  • fruits
  • meat
  • nuts
  • oil
  • potatoes
  • poultry
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • shellfish
  • sorghum
  • soy
  • tapioca
  • teff
  • vegetables

Besides gluten and casein, some moms and dads report that removing corn and soy led to equal or greater improvements in their AS and HFA kids. Because soy protein is similar to gluten and casein, some diet proponents recommend removing it if the youngster seems very sensitive.

Although the theory behind the GFCF diet may appear rather peculiar in some respects, there are a number of pieces of evidence which seem to support its use on at least an experimental basis. The ideas are compatible with virtually all the accepted biological data on AS and HFA and are thus worthy of consideration.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook
 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Big improvement on it. 1 of the books I read when looking at it talked about leaky gut, and it was best to haqve your child to get tested for the proteins that get leaked from the gut into the blood stream, if this wasn't happening it wouldn't work. In NZ we can't test for, but we get kick back in behaviour if having too much dairy. We found it was more dairy that affected his behaviour than the gluten. Mind you we have also removed artificial products, but I am 1 of the lucky 1's that has a child that will eat most things and enjoys fruit and veges especially green veges.
•    Anonymous said... My son(6) has been on the GFCF diet for 8 months now. We worked with a biomedical doctor named Dr. Woeller. He recommended quite a few all natural supplements to make up for the loss in vitamins. I don't think the diet alone helped much with behavior, but I do believe it has helped with his stomach problems. The vitamins have been the main source of behavior improvement.
•    Anonymous said... Personal experience: it didn't help us. Doctor: my son's doc says that he has seen very few children on whom it has "worked", so he suspects (without having studied it) that those children were gluten intolerant or sensitive, while most children wtih AS are not. It think it's worth a try to see if it works -- though it can be an expensive and time-consuming (for the parent) diet. We have actually found that eliminating food dyes helped with my son's hyperactivity (not his AS). Good luck!
•    Anonymous said... We went with a "clean" diet. Not alot of processed foods. Within 2 days of taking away milk, my son at 13 had a clearer mind. We have also gone gluten free. Yes, a very time consuming diet.
•    Anonymous said... We've done the gluten free with our kiddo when his eczema was so extreme, long before we even considered there was something else going on. We also didn't see a change in either behavior or eczema. However, lately we have been wondering about a nutritional deficiency of some sort. He probably is my most healthy eating child by nature but there are things such has his complexion, ability to heal after bites and scratches, etc that make us wonder about some sort of deficiency. Any suggestions for what to look into there?

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