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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Aspergers and ADD

Question

My soon to be 12 year old has ADD. But now we are suspecting Asperger syndrome. We wonder if it could be one or the other - or both. Is this possible? How can we tell the difference? He and I butt heads because he will not stay on task for chores unless I stand over him, and even then can't seem to get it together. He gets angry if asked/told he needs to do chores. And no, none of them are that hard, and he will admit that after a long painful, drawn out affair.

Answer

Clear cut boundaries exist between Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism), though the two are sometimes linked. Some members of the medical establishment see them as existing simultaneously in one person, whereas others say that is impossible. The truth is that there is no agreement on the two issues.

It's true that Aspergers and ADD share certain commonalities, but the causal factors are far different. For example, individuals with each may talk too loudly or too much, neither can regulate behavior, and both can be social misfits. But the why behind those issues is where the dissimilarities come in. Individuals with ADD know what they need to do and just forget to do it, but individuals with Aspergers don't know what to do. They have no idea that personal relationships are two-sided because they see the world as existing for and about them.

But there are other issues aside from the social where the two disorders seemingly coincide, but are driven by dissimilar mental processes. Though individuals with Aspergers can appear to be disorganized and forgetful, it's because they concentrate on everything around them. No aspect of their environment is more important than another. So, whereas individuals with ADD may be distracted by a fly on the wall in the classroom, someone with Aspergers may feel that the fly is as important to study as what the teacher is saying. They tend to focus on insignificant issues, without meaning, and they don't understand rules. ADD individuals understand them – they just have no mechanism for following them to the letter.

Aspergers can take different forms, as well. Some children live in a fantasy world of their own making. In that world, everything goes just the way they want it to all the time. There's nothing wrong with being a character in a book, for instance, and dressing in costume all the time.

Obsessive-compulsive Aspergers individuals make a world of rules and rituals for themselves, and follow each of those to the letter. They may appear to be distracted like individuals with ADD, but they're actually obsessing, for example, on how many times they turned the faucet on and off or how many minutes they brushed their teeth.

These similarities make it hard for doctors to properly diagnose Aspergers early in a youngster's life, and they may be misdiagnosed with ADD. It's not until the youngster reaches school age that they show the symptoms of social inadequacy. Aspergers sufferers have no idea that other individuals have thoughts, feelings, and motivations unlike their own. This isn't true of individuals with ADD, who know they shouldn't speak out of turn, but just can't help it.

Finding proper help for an Aspergers youngster is very important. Diagnosis, though, may take years of trial and error, which makes starting treatment early very important. With the proper help, kids with Aspergers can live a much fuller life than without it.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns 


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… All of mine, bar the toddler (too young to tell) have diagnosis of both.
•    Anonymous said… I know that ADHD can often be a differential diagnosis with ASD, or a concurrent one with ASD
•    Anonymous said… Kids with ADHD and ASD suffer from executive functioning issues. Being told to clean up is so overwhelming that they just do not know or understand where to start. They don't think, okay I will just start over in this corner, they think where do i start, I can't do this and consequently then don't do it. You have to show them specifically the tasks and break them into smaller parts. Getting angry is natural because the task evokes a feeling of frustration and fear. My son has aspergers and ADHD, yes they are comorbid and are diagnosed together and yes, life is very difficult with such a child. But with your help and guidance, they will be able to succeed.
•    Anonymous said… Mine is both ADHD and ASD. What you describe sounds more of an ASD behaviour.
•    Anonymous said… My 21yr old son is ASD, SPD, diagnosed two yrs ago, I've been at him to clean up his room (sanctuary away from overwhelming people and other stuff), for years now. There have been times where I've gone in there and cleaned out where he won't look/think to look...and I've gotten away with it. Lol but this week..he wanted new speakers to play his music.....so I took him to get them...then he wanted tubs to put stuff in and store....but I had no idea, the extent that he would go to later on. He gutted his room, vacuumed it, removed furniture, rearranged his room and now it's less cluttered. I knew the cleaning day would come...but this was monumental. He said he didn't realise how much stuff was in his room till he started moving things out. He's proud of himself...I am too...but the dishes I asked him to put away two days ago are still in the dish rack and the bin is still out the front waiting to be brought in. Executive disfunction...yep!
•    Anonymous said… My son has aspergers and ADHD. He struggles to concentrate and constant fidgetting and moving ( he bounces)
•    Anonymous said… Our son is also ADHD and on the Spectrum. We deal daily with him being overwhelmed and angry... always trying to help him to stay on task. I feel like I could be a terrorist negotiator as my son will try to keep us hostage with his behavior. Oh yes, I've negotiated through the biggest toughest meltdowns you've ever seen and have won my son's heart...because I keep our expectations high for him. Always helping him stive to accomplish the hard stuff and rewarding when and where we can. There are good days and very hard days with our Aspie...but that's what you do as a parent. Many of us here know that it's not easy parenting children with ADHD/ASD, but just know you can do it! My biggest hurdle has been asking for help...but have found it necessary in order to survive. I don't know why I am saying all of this...but I feel there are parents going through some hard times right now and you feel like giving up, but be encouraged. God chose you for this special assignment and he's equipped you with everything you need; emotionally, financially, and spiritually. You can do this! May God's peace be with you.

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi - I am really delighted to find this. cool job!

Jan said...

I've got one (maybe two) of the Kids with both ADHD and Apserger's. It is tough to make the call between willfulness, distractability and insufficient knowledge and practice to do the chores correctly. I have started making very specific lists of the steps or mini-tasks needed to complete each household chore on their lists. This gives each a concrete, written set of instructions so that each can double check their own work. When a kid tells me that the task is complete I ask them to check the list. Often I will hear "Oops forgot that one." from the other room and then whichever one is doing the chore will then complete the task without my direct help. I wish I could say that I thought of this years ago but I only came up with these lists as my older one is getting ready to graduate from high school. He is going to need some way to help him remember all of the myriad of household tasks if he is to eventually live on his own. I looked all over for detailed checklists for household chores and didn't find much so I started making my own. They need to be very specific and written very clearly to be used independently. Good luck.

Truf said...

Yes, we have the same issues here with my 8 year old, and I hope someone comes up with a suggestion. Anything, even changing his clothes, becomes an ordeal - and don't get me started on homework! He can spend 10 minutes staring at a sock after being told to put his socks on.

Anonymous said...

Same with homework for my 9 year old daughter. Sometimes she does them without any issue (rarely!) and I try to remind her of those times when she's having a fit about doing them...

Anonymous said...

Yes, we had the same problem. I tried giving one instruction at a time for chores. "Just pick up trash" etc, that helped a little. But we also got some meds for the ADD to help at school, and it's helped at home, too

Anonymous said...

I dont even ask my son to do anything except what concerns him and even then i get omg i wish i didnt have any teet or omg i wish i could stink forver---or i wish i was bald etc..

Anonymous said...

I think you have to give the control over to him. With (at first) BIG incentives for him completing a task (and make the task short, and doable). I would write down the task, and break it in steps if you need to. Give him a time frame it needs to be done. With a highly motivating reward when it is completed. Make sure he understands what your expectations are, and then give him freedom to succeed or not on his own. If he completes the task, reward immediately with praise and whatever the "reward" is. Brag about it on the phone with friends and to anyone who is around. Mention how proud you are in his earshot. If he fails to do or complete, in a matter of fact way say, something like, "too bad you didn't finish making your bed. You could have had that _________ you've been wanting. We'll try again tomorrow." And leave it. Do not argue or entertain negotiations. I also let my son pick chores he'd rather do. He would rather empty the dish washer or vacuum, and he hates feeding the dog (smell). So I try to give him chores that he'd "rather" do. (Though cleaning up his belongings are not optional). Hope this helps some.

Anonymous said...

My son is 13 and has aspergers and we have the same frustrations, but I was advised to help him with the chores and yes work with him on a daily basis. Sometimes its not feasable so guess what the chore doesn't get done... I have to pick our battles everyday.. Keep the faith
23 hours ago · Like · 2

Anonymous said...

We had this problem with chores, homework and everything else. Until, on the advice of a therapist, we have typed up an expectation list that we keep on the fridge. List each chore/requirement, with every day of the week written, like a calendar. Example: homework without a problem. Make your bed. Put your dishes in the sink. No backtalk. No Yelling. Put your toys away. Etc. For each infraction, remove a privilege of your choice. And for every day of compliance, give a reward that they will like. (like extended time on the computer, etc.) For every 3 days, make the reward bigger. Now, because this is clearly written out in black and white for all to see, there is no getting around it. You MUST stick to the list, despite tears, begging, or anything else! If they get a check for something wrong, just say "Tomorrow's another day." After a couple of weeks, my son has been an ANGEL! This works!

Anonymous said...

Oh, as time moves on, and he's got one chore down well (like making his bed) then still require him to do that (with less or no reward) and add something else with the motivating reward). Reward systems generally work for most ASD kids, as long as they are continuously tweaked.

Anonymous said...

Can you use a visual chart? Out each responsibility on a new card and have him move them to the 'DONE' pile as he completes them. Give him a reward or some kind of positive reinforcement after he has completed all of his tasks? I know when I speak to mine -- instructions go in one ear and out the other....

Anonymous said...

Sounds very familiar.....chores school work homework just not interested. That also can be part of the teenage stage as well it is very hard to distinguish between the two. Can be very hard work have tried rewards point system towards rewards run out of ideas.

Anonymous said...

i have the same thing when ever i ask my 12 year old to do anything at times, some days he is really good an does things without us asking him , like brings me a cuppa an breakfast in bed at weekends, but thats only because he wants something lol

Anonymous said...

my son has Aspergers and ADHD and its a constant battle to do small chores and homework. He gets overwhelmed so i try breaking his work into smaller segments and that does help but I still have to be there to help him stay on task.

Anonymous said...

have you tried testing it out to see if it really is an attention issue or if he just doesn't want to do chores? here's an example, Billy, i need to you to 1. take out the garbage, 2. put the clean dishes away and 3. eat that bag of m&ms in the freezer.

Anonymous said...

My 11 yr old son is responsible for dishes, garbage, and his bedroom. We even have a to do list on the fridge. If u were outside listening you would think I was ripping out his fingernails when I ask him to do dishes!!

Anonymous said...

I have a 15yr old with aspergers and adhd and she flatly refuses to do anything houseworky. Can't even get her to bath herself - she is rotten :( she will not even sort her laundry between lights and darks - final straw was shutting her in her room until it was sorted and she kicked the door down :\ she is only newly diagnosed tho so i'm clueless with who to handle this at the mo - i'm searching for answers!

Anonymous said...

Asperger's is so new to me but what I have learned in the last week is that when giving instruction to my 14 years old son is to show him how to do the chore. Our problem lies with not understanding HOW to do what has been asked of him. I've learned that it may take 'showing him how' to complete the task at least 2-3 times before he gets it. This may or mY not work for all children but it's worth a try. Once the task is completed, provide high praise and a reward....something he really enjoys like ice cream.
21 hours ago · Like

Anonymous said...

Same issue and my daughter is 16! I've found that if I give her one chore at a time and explain how it should be done, she does it. She still fusses, but I think that's just being a teenager :-)

Anonymous said...

My 10 yr old has Aspergers and ADHD. We use a system that isn't rewarding exactly but removing rewards ( like Video games) if we ask him to do a chore and he won't. I think it's more effective for him if we say, if you don't do X then you won't do X instead of saying you can have X if you do X. The meaning is different.
@ Gina, shutting her in her room is bound to have a negative affect. There are lots of resources on Asperger Disorder.

Anonymous said...

I got my son to cooperate by teaching him that if he doesn't cooperate with us, we don't have to cooperate with him. I stopped doing his laundry, doing his dishes, explained to him he was too young (at the time) to cook on the stove and told him he'd have to eat sandwiches until he was old enough to learn to cook but then I didn't have to teach him or do grocery shopping because I don't have to do chores if he doesn't!!! That got his attention. :) I then explained to him that no one likes to do chores but we do them because we care about the people we live with and we respect ourselves, otherwise we'd live in a pig sty and we'd eat in dirty dishes, smell bad from wearing dirty clothes, etc. That got through to him. Now he grumbles about not liking them, but he does his chores. The most important is to add that Christmas and b-day shopping is also a chore and so is baking a birthday cake, planning a b-day party... you get the idea...

I know... I'm a mean, tough mom lol (I actually hate it but it's necessary sometimes) and no I didn't stop doing the chores for very long. He got the point pretty quickly. Works on neuro-typical kids too btw... those who have that sense of entitlement... oh and when he completes a chore I make sure I give him what he likes the most, a hug. So give some reward for chores completed.

Anonymous said...

my 15 yr old is the same way, drives us crazy, @ Gina it is a struggle for me too, just try to be patient and teach them the importance of doing things in a educational, logical way instead of "because I said so", wont always work but worth a shot

Anonymous said...

‎9 y/o son with ADHD and Aspergers here. We don't do a lot of chores, but the ones he does are broken down into small pieces. Not "clean your room" but "pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper" followed by a reward, then "pick up the legos and put them in the bin" followed by a reward. That pretty much takes up all day Sunday. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Some great ideas here. Our son would go ballistic if the door was shut so he'd do a chore. The chore wouldn't get done & we'd have a meltdown & trauma to deal with.

With our 9-year old son who has Asperger's, ADHD and a mood disorder, we have a system that works for him. Constant praise so well MOST of the time. We demonstrate over & over & remind & praise. Yes it's aggravating, but he gets rewards for doing things & thrives with praise. Keep trying, be patient & love.

Anonymous said...

yes basically with nearly all tasks.hes very defiant with lots of everyday tasks...Its very difficult to get him to do basic tasks and emotionally exhaustingfor me at times.. suggestions would be greatly appreciated, hes nearly 12yrs
4 hours ago · Like

Anonymous said...

My son is 9 & even after being shown how to do it & told to do it, though he is happy to help, he gets distracted with in seconds & forgets what he is doing! Then when you remind him you get the dreaded blank stare!

Anonymous said...

These are a lot of good suggestions, but what I really need is for my 11 y-o son to wash the dishes and do things that are awful to him , since he has sensory issues as well. !! He will Need to learn these things in the future anyway!! Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Midwestern Mom said...

My son has ADHD/Asperger's also. I have tried charts/rewards, they don't work very well for us. Giving advance notice of the chore (like a day in advance) and reminding him that morning that he is expected to do a certain chore that night helps. My son is in 3rd grade and I still have to sit with him THE ENTIRE TIME he is doing homework. If I step away, even for a minute, something will distract him and next thing I know, he has wandered off. Giving small step verbal commands, also helps--put on your sock, go get your shoes, put books on shelf, etc. and then watching to redirect him if he gets distracted.

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.”

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

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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