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

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Adult Children With Aspergers: Tips For Parents

Does your “adult-child” with Aspergers (high functioning autism) often resist your guidance?

As the parent of an adult child with Aspergers, you may have discovered that as he gets older and feels the need to assert his independence, it may be harder and harder to take advice from you. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s important for our older children to learn to solve their own problems. Especially as they become our adult children. Still, it’s tough to see the effectiveness of, “Because I said so,” recede into the distance.

If you see a continuing need to be involved in your child’s life as he grows into an adult, you may need to acknowledge that he is becoming his own person, and find appropriate ways to influence his decisions. This can be a real challenge.

Individuals with Aspergers often have trouble with subtle distinctions. They may think, “Adults are independent. Being independent means making my own decisions. If I take my mother’s advice, I’m not acting like an adult.” So, what do we do when we want to respect our adult child’s quest for independence and still help them over or around the obstacles he will likely face?

My 23-year-old grandson, Kyle, was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 12. He has a B.A. in music, but has gone back to school to complete a two-year college program in business. He hopes what he learns about business will help him land a full-time job. He’s living at home and working part-time at our local YMCA.

While he’s done well in his business classes, Kyle recently had difficulties with some long-term assignments for a complicated accounting class. He was frustrated and his mother was concerned. Kyle made it clear that he wanted to prove he could handle this without our help.

The solution involved my daughter engaging the assistance of Kyle’s “job coach.” The coach met with Kyle to work out a new plan, including studying in the library away from distractions. They came up with a schedule for completing parts of the assignments. This schedule included, if necessary, approaching his professor before the projects were due, to request additional time.

On his own, Kyle enlisted a “study buddy” to explain some of the difficult concepts involved and started breaking down the obstacles that had caused his frustration. His mother was greatly relieved. We were also impressed with Kyle’s initiative in seeking help.

As a parent of a child with Aspergers, you may have gotten used to constantly having your hands on the safety net. You may have spent a lot of time wondering when to deploy it and when to whip it behind your back and say, “What safety net!?” But if you can gradually forgo the direct approach and guide your adult child to find the help he needs, even if it’s not from you, you may just reach the Holy Grail point for parents. That’s the point where your "grown-up" is competent and confident enough to ask for your advice because he values it -- not because he’s afraid he can’t succeed without it.

Click here for more information on how you, the parent, can foster the development of high self-esteem and confidence in your older Aspergers child.


Best Comment:

I have a very smart son with Aspergers. I did not realize this until he was a Senior in high school. Many of his teachers thought he had ADHD but in some classes he got As, in other classes he barely passed. Meaning he only worked on the classes that interested him.

This is what he does when we (my husband and I) are trying to talk to him about his life. He is mute. He will not speak, He is expressionless. Sometimes I see a pained look on his face but he will not articulate his thoughts.

He refuses to tell us what he is thinking.

When he was in a big mess academically at school, high school or community college, he would never tell us what was going on. He would never explain nor would he tell us what he needed to succeed. He has never tried to negotiate, tell us he will try harder, or even, I hate this subject it is dead boring to me, would have been a relief to hear.

He barely managed to finish High School. We had to place him in the alternative High School his senior year because he was failing most of his classes. at the comprehensive HS. The alternative HS was a place that offered a bare bones curriculum and students did their homework at the school. It was not a college bound curriculum. We hated to do it but we wanted him to graduate and get a HS diploma.

He went to one semester of community college, he failed to register early, so he was not able to get the classes he wanted or needed for a 4 year transfer. He failed everything except Astronomy. We pressed him hard to enroll for a second semester, which he did and then he quit after two days of classes.

He did tell me after he quit the second semester: "Nobody talks to me there" and he was in tears about, about 'all my failures'. That is about the first and last time he has ever expressed himself to me about how he feels about school. He spent about six months at home, doing nothing, laying in bed a lot. I begged him to get on an anti-depressant. He finally did. By last July he had gotten himself a job as a dishwasher at a high end restaurant in the next town over. He refused to try and get a job at the shopping mall near us because he was afraid of seeing someone from his old comprehensive HS. Evidently he had run into someone at the Mall who was snotty to him and bragged about the great college they were going to go to....and scorned him because he ended up at Village HS and was going to go the community college route. We live in a town of High Achievers and helicopter parents super sized.

We thought he was doing great at this restaurant, they asked him to buy kitchen knives and they were starting to train him to do kitchen prep work and pantry work. I was proud of him for keeping a tough job that many kids would have said, this is beneath me, this is too hard, I quit. He also seemed to have friends at this restaurant, and we ate there once and the manager told us 'he is a good man'....wow, all great.

However, he quit the job two weeks ago. And he did not tell us. We figured it out for ourselves when he did not go into work two days in a row. He had also barricaded himself in his room and was avoiding us and refusing to speak to us.

I finally got into his room last Sunday at 4:30 in the morning when I was awake, worrying about him, heard him stirring about, I heard him open the door and decided, I am going to walk into his room and I did.

Predictably enough he did not want to talk to us. Finally he said, "I wasn't fired, I quit." His Dad immediately asked did you give two week’s notice? And he said, ten days. We said you can have two weeks off then you need to find a job, or take classes at a trade school, a college, a cooking school, to get some skills, and get a job. I asked him if there was a new hire at the restaurant that was bullying him, he said no. He took a ton of bullying in public school, that was nightmare.

I am not looking forward to talking to him about what his plans are now. Because he will not tell us. He will give us the silent treatment.

What is he doing with himself right now? He sleeps all day and is up all night on his computer. He has also been teaching himself to read and write Japanese very diligently. Classic aspergers right? We told him he gets two weeks off to do as he likes, then he needs to start job hunting, and get a job, or go back to school or a combination of both.

I know he is brilliant but he does not accept the diagnosis of Aspergers. I went to a two day conference with Michelle Winner Garcia, if you do not know who she is, find out, she is brilliant at teaching people on the Asperger spectrum social skills, she works with kids, she works with adults with doctorates from Harvard. My son refuses to meet with her. His response to anything I say about Aspergers is "I DON"T CARE". Her take on my son is, well at his age he is going to have to bump around for a few more years on his own before he will be willing to seek help.

How do we deal with his mute behavior? I know it is intentional, I know it is his way of refusing to interact but it is maddening to deal with. We want to give him a few options, such as you can go to a local trade school and learn to code for computers, you can take a Japanese language program at USF as a visiting student, you do not need to enroll in their degree program, you will get a Certificate. I could see him becoming a 'document translator' for Japanese.

I fear he will always be under employed or unemployed if he does not work on his social issues and get the education he needs to have a career worthy of his brain power.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I am writing to you as a desperate mother of 23 year old son with Asperger's still living at home. My son goes to school but believe me, that's all he does. He sits in his room, in the dark, playing World of Warcraft every possible minute he can. I have limited his video game time somewhat but that in itself has done nothing to change what is going on. This situation is so very depressing and stressful for me and is actually damaging my relationship with my boyfriend as we fight about this constantly.

As silly as this sounds, I am afraid to hope that your material really works and can help us. I have tried so many things and nothing has worked. I am a single mom of 5, two on the autistic spectrum, and am overwhelmed much of my day. Can you really offer me hope?

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were trying to talk with our son, Stephen, last night. When I brought up the fact that he has Asperger's, which was diagnosed by a neuropsychologist about three and a half years ago, he became very angry and said, "No I don't have Asperger's and I will never talk about that again.", and he then accused me of being mentally ill and continued with his profanity laced monologue about himself. My husband and I both know he has Asperger's but he doesn't want to get help from anyone else and he makes our home life tense and hopeless. Our 22 yr.old son who graduated from college in May is living at home right now and has started working locally and wants to save to return to grad school in a year or two. Our oldest is living and working in Boulder after getting a master's degree last year and our college freshman daughter seems to be adjusting to her new routine. I will travel to Montreal to visit her for her b'day next week.
We will just continue doing the best we can and hope he moves on with his life eventually but realize he will probably live with us for the rest of our lives going from one obsession to the next. He can't be reasoned with in a rational manner.

I will consider getting myself help when I can think clearly again. Going through bouts with this son really derail me emotionally for a while. My faith in God and His love for me keep me grounded through the worst of times but I feel very alone right now.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter who is only 10 so I DO get what having an As child is like. Even though I know that when she interacts "socially" by playing online games with friends for a couple hours is good, I allow her to play much more than is good for her on some days. It is more for me some days as a Mom...it is hard to just be a Mom. Being a mom with a grown OR young kiddo with special needs is a greater challenge. I have no answers but know that you are not alone. I pray everyday that my daughter will step out into her many interests; art, science, ANY activity she shows any interest in but she is shy a bit inside and I believe is intimidated by her lack of social skills. I get her out and she has fun, but boy oh boy, dragging them out of the house is a big fight! My advice if any since I have 3 brothers; 26, 24, 22 that ALL play WOW and a lot of video games-pull the internet plug. No internet, no gaming. I can control my ten year old twins though much easier so sorry if this sounds hypocritical. I am techno dino and these days it is SO hard to monitor my twins' use of all these devices!
8 hours ago · Like

Anonymous said...

My son is 24, has graduated from IIT with a bachelor's in electric engineering, and is presently attending RI College for a masters in education. Homework is definitely not an issue. I am trying to work with him on his emotional management, temper tantrums in particular, for my behavior modification class project. He loses it if things don't go in the order they're suppose to. When he was a child, he could not play a game with other kids unless they followed the rules. I was hoping you could give me some ideas for a replacement antecedent or consequence. I have 3 ideas thus far. 1. As a preemptive measure, use coping thoughts such as "this may not go as planned, and it's ok. I can be adaptive". 2. In the instance that there's no time for a prompt, "this didn't go the way it's suppose to. It sucks, but I will find a way to make it work". 3. Balancing emotions by using evidence to support what he is feeling and evidence that contradicts what he is feeling and what to do to cope in a healthier way.

Elizabeth McClure said...

When my child was 9 years old he was misdianosed with schizophrenia, ADHD,Depression, and possibly mild Austism. After MANY struggles in high school and also ending up in juvenille hall for saying something to someone because they picked on him. He was then rediagnosed as having Depression. I took him to pyschologists only to have him fight it all the way. He has no interest in getting help with the issues he has. After years of watching him struggle with finding friends or keeping them, and losing jobs because of his inablility to socially interact. He is now 20 yrs old. I researched all the symptoms he has and I am 100% certain that he has Aspergers. He is smart but very immature. Spends most of his time in his room watching youtube on Pokemon and playing guitar. He is an excellent guitarist and writes the most beautiful lyrics and songs. But everything else he struggle with...He doesnt have a drivers license because he just doesnt pay attention and I have paid for many sessions with driving school...they told me he is not ready and Im not sure if I should even press the issue because he may be putting himself and others in danger. He has had 3 jobs and all he has been fired saying he just isn't up to there standards. It hurts so much to see him struggle. My oldest son got him a job but he may be losing it because his thought process is much slower than most. He doesn't know how to socialize and most of the co-workers can't relate to him. It breaks my heart that he rejects any form of help that I want to get for him. He is now an adult but I am afraid that should I die he will not be able to take care of himself. I need to get him a proper dianoses and some form of disability benefits or he will end up homeless when I pass away and I don't want that for my son. Can someone help me find the help I need? I want him to be productive but I don't think it will ever
be to the level of completely taking care of himself. If anyone has any advice please respond.

Anonymous said...

I am the father of a 20 year old son who has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome for about 5 years. He has all the traits of being on the spectrum, poor hygiene, on the computer endlessly and he has what I call acquaintances that he calls friends. Very rigid thinking, a creature of routine and habit and terrible social skills.

He is currently on summer break, but is attending college for one reason and one reason only, he longs to become a professional alpine ski racer. His grades show this. :-)

This college is near a lot of ski schools and ski areas. We have basically supplemented this dream of his, not wanting to crush the only thing he seems to find pleasure in. When it comes to ski racing he is highly motivated, almost to the point of obsession. But his mother and myself don't think he has what it takes for his chosen profession.

He rebels at the thought of going to therapy or seeking professional help. He sees no problem with his life. :-)

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of a 31 year old son, Joshua, that I have watched suffer for all of his adult life. I am just coming to the realization that I am sure he is suffering from Aspeger Syndrome. Do you have any thoughts on who or what type of doctor I will need to get him a clinical diagnosis? I mentioned to him that I think this is what is going on with him, and, of course, he did not take it well.

Joshua started "acting up" at around the age of 14, about the time his father and I divorced, so I blamed it on that. However, he started making some terrible choices and the anger started and the bluntness, which seemed like hatred toward his sister and me. He is really a good person inside, and I know that. He is very intelligent about many things, but can't figure out how to hold a basket of laundry and open the door. He is good looking and strong as an ox, but he is also like a bull in a china shop. He gets offended easily when you question his judgement. He goes off into rants where I can't get a word in edgewise. He thinks "deeply". He does not find humor in sarcasm, while he likes a normal joke. He makes comments in front of people that are tasteless, but at the same time he can speak with the clarity of college proffessor. He sees no reason why it is wrong to tell his 7 and 8 year old nephews that he will take them to "clubs/bars" with him when they get older (which drives their Mother and me crazy). He can find and secure a job anytime that he wants to, but he can't keep it for more than a few months. The first time he is criticised, he goes off of the deep end. For years I thought he suffered from depression, because he will isolate himself from anyone that loves him for days or weeks at a time. He will break down and cry so hard and heartfelt and get in such a deep state of mind that I thought for sure he would have a nervous break down. We have struggled with the money issues..and as I would try to reason with him about making a budget and not spending money that he doesn' have, he would try to tell me "Mom, I just don't understand..you don't get it, I can't figure it out". It has been hard for me, because I know how smart he is, but I have also seen how tormented he is. While he would love to have nice expensive things, he really doesn't value or take care of material possessions. He has told me many times that he feels like he should have lived in another time, when people would barter for things instead of putting so much emphasis on money. He hates judgemental people. When we have family get togethers, and particularly when my husband/his step father's family is around, he will play with the little kids and make a point not to be around the adults (because they are very judgemental). There are so many traits that I have discovered while researching Asperger's. I feel sure that God has shown me "what" is going on. Now, I just need to figure out how to help him, me, and our family get through this. My fervent prayer is to see him happy.

Mark Hutten said...

RE: Our adult Aspie son does things that annoy us, and the discussion usually ends with him totally understanding what we are saying and agrees with us that it needs to stop. At a later time, it's like whatever was said goes through one ear and out the other. We try to be patient with him, but at times that's almost impossible.

When this happens over and over again and we reach that tipping point, we tend to "yell" at him immediately, or if we have a heated discussion at some point, it turns into a full blown argument, and I find myself yelling at him (yes I'm Italian). When this happens, I feel as if he withdraws and reduces whatever self-confidence he may have.

When this happens, one of two things occur: He will start to become very defensive and starts to yell (yes he takes after his Mom), or he'll say something to the effect of "all right, all right" and gets very, very quiet. Again, hitting his self-confidence with what I would define as a mental baseball bat.


1. Can you offer some advice as to how we as parents deal with these annoying habits?

2. Do we continue over and over again ask him to change that?

3. Do we just move out and turn the house over to him?? :-)


Answer: Sounds like there may be some unresolved anger, and even resentment, on the parents' part (understandably so).

Let's step back and look at the larger picture here...

Your values are out of alignment with the principles involved.

Your values may be something like: I want my son to be happy ...or comfortable ...or successful ...or whatever. In any event, the result is over-protection and an indulgent parenting style (we've already talked about that one).

The principle (or natural law) involved is: Adult children are meant to leave the nest and start their own family.

You are violating this law, and suffering the consequences accordingly.

Instead of worrying about annoyances, you need to get your values and the principle involved to be one in the same: I value my son becoming independent, even if that means going through a very painful period where I have to stand by and watch him suffer or flounder.

Unfortunately, you have bigger fish to fry than being annoyed by your son's habits.

Kimimila said...

Kindred spirits, yes that is what I found here: parents of adult Aspies. About two years ago I read the lengthy Wikipedia article on this topic and realised my ex-husband has it: full-blown, and then it struck me: my son as well, but he was unwittingly taught social skills by me from the age of 6 months old - hallelujah!

So having friends has always been a way of life for him. He is 25 now and has lived independently since he was 19 and has held various jobs with the same employer. He can be fairly frugal (so those are great advantages from what I read!).

How sad I am though that I found out so late. How differently I would have been able to see him instead of judge him (as 'sociopathically shy', for instance).

When he turned 23 he turned his back on his family. I was devastated. I live on another continent and he did not respond to any of my e-mails, SMS'es, voicemails and snailmails. I then left the ball in his court. Almost one year after I stopped sending snailmails he sent me an e-mail. He'd been thinking about me, missed me, and wanted to fix things, although he did not know how.

I was wary because I'd read a lot about family estrangement and knew that they are often 'repeat offenders'. I had suffered mentally and emotionally greatly during his silence and did not want to set myself up for another letdown of the same kind. I suggested we phone or Skype and assured him that I would not ask nasty questions or discuss our contact with anyone else. He said that it would be awkward but that it would be a small price to pay for getting back in touch.

That was one month ago. He has not responded to my accepting his suggested days to Skype. Weeks later he apologised for having been insanely busy and that he would write a long e-mail 'today or tomorrow'. It did not arrive. I'm so keen to put him on my blocked sender list. LOL

If I was not convinced that he is an Aspie, I would do just that. Still, I am not a doormat and will not be treated as such. It is not in my nature to await. Or wait. My sister did this to my mother for over 20 years (on-off, on-off, on-off). It broke my mother's heart and spirit but she kept on loving and needing my sister. Family estrangement is BIG on my son's father's side, because none of them discuss emotions.

Is there anything I can write to my son that indicates that I am close to the end of my tether? Would it sink in? As far as I know he does not know or acknowledge that he has Asperger's. He certainly would never accept it from me.

Thing is, how will it affect his life if he doesn't know? Will never know? What if he gets kids himself that have it too? He and his dad almost killed each other during my son's last year of high school, this my son told me. Two Aspies under one roof, neither of which know they have it. Horrors!

Any suggestions anyone?

Shelia Barrett said...

Wow. I have read all the comments. We are definitely not alone in our struggles as parents. I can relate to almost all of your post. My son is 33. Just graduated summa cum laude at grand canyon university with a bachelors in communications. He is a fabulous writer and can spend ours at the computer writing his 1st book or rewriting and revising his personal dictionary. He recently started a blog. I'm very proud of him. 3.5 yrs ago he made a bad decision that could have life long consequences. He was arrested for assault. He was given a misdemeanor charge for which I am thankful for but none the less he was in the wrong. Now I'm afraid he may never land a job without the assistance of his Father in his business which may not be a good idea either. What imI'm really hoping and praying for is that his dream of bring a published author comes true with his first book. Its his passion. Folks, its a hard journey we are all on. I wish I could be more encouraging but what gets me thru is my christian faith as well. Without it, I cringe to think what our lives would be like. God bless you all.

Used to believe said...

I have a 27 yo son with ADD, depression, and I'm just now realizing Aspergers.i chuckled when I read previous comments...what else can you do when you've already been to insanity and hell trying, trying, trying to make life work for your child?
My son is bright but got a GED because of not graduating on time.Started community college x2, quit x2. Delivered pizza 2 1/2 yrs, quit...now stays at home sleeping and playing video games. I'm 65... The bright spot is that I have enough money to put in a trust fund so he will be fed and housed once I am gone.
The problem I have is that I always believed in love as a force in the universe. Now I have a child that cannot love and won't be able to experience that in his entire life. My "way of being" in the universe is shot to hell and I feel that all the effort I have made my entire life is a joke- a waste of time: nothing.

Warrior said...

You are not alone. I don't even know where to begin. My son is 20 and I share your fear. My son is a bright underachiever. He is unable to see his future and lives in each minute. Again, you are not alone.

Texastomato Annes said...

I searched and found this website while sobbing. I just got off the phone with my son who is out of state in grad school. He is 27 years old. This particular University has the reputation of having an excellent undergrad program for student with Aspergers and so I made the assupumption that there was an overall "university awareness" of Apsgerger's . I was very wrong, while the program and awareness for students with Aspergers may be wonderful in the undergrad, the grad program seems to have no clue, even though they accepted him knowing he had Aspergers. He has done fine grade wise but the teachers don't get him at all and he doesn't think he can get any favorable letters of recommendation even for an online program. This in fact has actually already been proven as he got denied admission from an online program and they told him it was solely based on his professors letter of recommendation. They said his grades and paper he wrote were all good. This is a professor that my son thought he had a good relationship with, so my son is devastated. I have reached out to some programs in our state and hoping to get him some much needed help with socialization and what to do next. My son wants a good job but right now no matter how smart he is I don't think he could even get one do to all the oddities and nuances that come with Aspergers. My heart is so broken for him. I hate myself for not looking into more support earlier. Everything seemed ok, but now that he is entering the "real world" i realize he is not equipped. I know that God has a plan and I am earnestly praying he leads me to find the right people to help us. I cannot imagine what is like to wake up everyday and not understand how to navigate conversation or represent yourself the way you want to. I wish there was a way for parents of adult children with Aspergers to all actually meet and hug each other. While having an Asperger child has its own challenges and sadness, I feel much more isolated as the mom of an adult with Aspergers.

Worriedmom said...

Yes, my daughter is 20 and I have these moments when I think OMG she will never develop close relationships with anyone but me. It feels like too much weight on my shoulders at times. So between fear, quilt and more fear I think I may go insane. Yes, I would like that hug right about now.

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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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