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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Aspies and Impaired Humor Comprehension

Research has shown that people with Aspergers (high functioning autism) are impaired in humor appreciation, although anecdotal and parental reports provide some evidence to the contrary.

Flexible thinking is vital in comprehending jokes. Punch-lines in jokes are funny mostly because they are unexpected. In addition, big picture thinking is needed in understanding jokes, as it allows the listener to discern how the surprising punch line fits together with the joke body. As Aspies (i.e., people with Aspergers) often demonstrate rigid thinking, a desire for the preservation of sameness, and difficulties with big picture thinking, it seems that they have trouble perceiving and producing “normal” humor.

Research suggests that Aspies produce and perceive humor in ways that are different from their same-age peers. They tended to prefer jokes with straightforward endings more than did peers in the control group, and their humor production was often less organized. However, research also suggests that boys with Aspergers both want to laugh – and to make others laugh. Thus, rather than calling this finding “impaired humor appreciation,” a better term might be “humor nonconformity.”

The ability to engage in social interaction is not one skill, but a set of skills that includes facility with language, interpreting nuances, reading facial expressions, regulating emotions, and understanding the possible motives and wishes of others. While Aspies typically have average to well above average verbal cognitive abilities, they often have difficulty using language in ways that connect them to others.

Research asserts the importance of humor in developing and maintaining relationships. It has been shown to reduce social uncertainty and anxiety, increase intimacy, and allow for the safe expression of delicate issues (e.g., sexual interest).

Since “normal” humor (i.e., humor that facilitates relationships) plays such a vital role in relationships, the possibility of humor-related “abnormalities” would help explain some of the social difficulties seen with Aspies.

The difficulty of an Aspie having an “abnormal” sense of humor is that he is less likely to draw others to himself through this “social tool.” This is especially true during adolescence, when peers ostracize those who are different. Difficulties understanding humor can create a feeling of isolation in Aspies when they are surrounded by laughing peers who got the joke. Also, they may become ideal targets for “emotional bullying’ (e.g., without understanding the sarcasm in a put-down, Aspies are not likely to fight back). With decreased ability to make others laugh, Aspie teens have less access to a powerful medium for facilitating relationships.

The awareness of these issues has implications for possible intervention. Parents can coach their Aspergers child on elements of humor. Humor skills can be explicitly taught with some success. By giving Aspies these skills, they are given a more equal chance with regard to social interaction.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers Men and Relationship Difficulties

Question

Through my own research, and now consultation with a Master's level psychologist, I am convinced, after almost 5 years of excruciating loneliness, isolation, depression, and heartache, that my husband has Asperger's. He is a very, very smart, attractive guy who can be the kindest person I know...but he can also be unbelievably stubborn (or so I thought) and verbally/emotionally abusive. He is completely detached from me and our young daughter, and after five years of marriage, we have had sex maybe 20 times, and have not had any sexual contact (even so much as a "real" kiss) in 18 months. While this is devastating to me, my husband seems totally unaffected by it, and now I guess I understand why... he has always said that it is my problem to deal with...I'm the one that wants it, not him. With no history of depression or anything like it, the isolation and constantly being blamed for everything wrong with the marriage, and having every little thing about me picked apart daily, I spiraled into a major depression that I am just finding my way out of.

Having discovered Asperger's, I have been able to let go (with God's help) of so much of the hurt and resentment that wouldn't leave because the heartbreaking events were almost daily. I really do see my husband in a different light, and it is helping me to cope for the time being. I was always baffled by his behavior because I truly believe he is a good man, but even in describing some scenarios that have played out in our home to my counselor; he can sound like an abusive monster. I love him with all my heart, and I want nothing more than to keep my family intact, and for our daughter to experience as healthy a childhood as we can possibly provide. My main problem lies in my husband's refusal to acknowledge that anything is going on.

He has extreme sensory issues (very very very limited diet, and has told me it makes his skin crawl when I kiss him softly, etc., etc., etc.), but he insists that it couldn't be Asperger's or any other thing that can be "labeled" (his word). I tried very calmly and lovingly explaining that if he was in fact living with Asperger's, that is certainly did not mean anything was "wrong" with him...that I felt from my reading that it simply is an explanation for some of his thought processes, etc., and that most people with Aspergers are extremely bright, productive individuals. I wanted him to see it as the positive thing that I did, but he completely shut me down and got very angry. I apologized for bringing it up, and told him that I loved him and meant no disrespect at all. I already feel like he is annoyed with me and with life in general about 95% of the time, so I just wanted to get back to a peaceful situation as quickly as possible.

If he will not acknowledge the situation, how can we get help? I am so willing to walk to this road with him, but I cannot continue to walk it alone...being blamed for everything...it takes all of my emotional energy just to get from day to day...I am constantly exhausted and drained...any thoughts?


Answer

Many partners assume that emotionally unavailable "Aspies" (i.e., people with Aspergers and high-functioning autism) choose to reject intimacy because they have fallen out of love. This is not the case. Remaining emotionally-distant is rarely a choice; it's more like a case of “social-ignorance disease” (also called mindblindness) that often operates at a subconscious level.

As if being unable to healthily connect in a relationship weren’t bad enough, those who suffer from Aspergers usually want a connection the most, but don’t have the proper circuits operating in their brain to establish one.

If you’re married to an emotionally unavailable Aspie, you should always consider marriage counseling before you make the final decision of separating or getting a divorce. In counseling, when each person expresses his/her thoughts and feelings about the relationship in front of a therapist whose job it is to remain objective, new light is shed on the problems in the marriage. The Aspie may feel more inclined to present his side in a way that his partner can understand. Also, the person suffering in the relationship because of their partner’s emotional unavailability can openly discuss the pain it causes without the fear of being tuned out or dismissed.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

50 Positive Characteristics of Aspergers

Most kids, teens, and adults with Aspergers (high functioning autism) have a bunch of positive traits that more than make-up for any negative ones. One Aspie asserted, “Thank God I have Aspergers!” Let’s look at just a few of the positive traits associated with the Aspergers condition...

Most Aspies:
  1. are able to easily forgive others
  2. are conscientious, reliable, and honest
  3. are enthusiastic and have a propensity for obsessive research, thus developing a broad and deep base of knowledge in subjects of interest
  4. are free of prejudice
  5. are intelligent and talented
  6. are less inclined to be fickle or bitchy than their neurotypical counterparts
  7. are more likely than those of the general population to pursue a university education
  8. are not inclined to lie to others
  9. are not inclined to steal from others
  10. are not likely to be bullies, con artists, or social manipulators
  11. are not motivated by an intense social drive to spend time with whoever happens to be available
  12. are persistent, and when they set their minds to something or make a promise, they can usually be trusted to follow through
  13. are unlikely to launch unprovoked attacks, verbal or otherwise
  14. are untainted by the judgments that people often make regarding one another's social position or social skills
  15. are very accepting of the quirks and idiosyncrasies of others
  16. bring a highly original perspective to problem solving
  17. can be selective, choosing honest, genuine, dependable people who share their interests
  18. can bring up a variety of interesting facts
  19. can listen to people’s problems and provide a fresh perspective, offering pure assessments based on the information provided
  20. can recall fine details that others miss
  21. can relax and be themselves without fearing social censure
  22. don’t attack the reputations of those around them
  23. don’t discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, age, or any other surface criteria
  24. don’t force others to live up to demanding social expectations
  25. don't have hidden agendas
  26. don’t play head games
  27. don’t take advantage of other’s weaknesses
  28. don't usually recognize hierarchies, and so are unlikely to give someone superior status simply because that person is wealthy or has attained a high position in an organization
  29. have a good work ethic
  30. have a lot of passion when engaging in activities they like, which may translate into a talent for certain athletic pursuits
  31. have a tendency to adhere to routines
  32. have above-average intelligence
  33. have an acute sensitivity that supports creative talents
  34. have exceptional memories
  35. have extreme endurance
  36. have high integrity
  37. have no interest in harming others
  38. have one or more highly developed talents
  39. have talents for swimming, rowing, running, bodybuilding, or other activities that require sustained physical effort
  40. have values that aren't shaped by financial, social, or political influences
  41. judge people based on their behavior – not the color of their skin or socioeconomic status
  42. like to spend time alone and are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  43. loathe small talk and trivialities, preferring instead to talk about significant things that will enhance their knowledge base
  44. make very good employees if able to control their pace and work within either a solitary or socially supportive environment
  45. pay attention to detail
  46. stick to their positions, even in the face of intense social pressure
  47. tend to become proficient in the technological media required for lucrative employment in the “information age”
  48. tend to prefer individual sports to team sports, as there are no social demands and they can exercise complete control over the activity
  49. who develop an interest in sport or fitness are likely to work at it every day, often for long periods of time
  50. will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong

Amusement Park Precautions for Aspergers and SID Children

Dear Mark,


I can't tell you how much I appreciate your newsletter! It really encourages me and gives much-needed guidance. Our daughter is six years old and has sensory integration dysfunction. While she has never been diagnosed with Asperger's, she has many of the symptoms, so I find your articles extremely helpful. We have had to pull her out of the public schools and are homeschooling her for 1st grade. She is doing much better. Her OT says that she is like a different child this year.


Anyway, here is my question. My husband and I have been planning a trip to Disney World for our daughter for her 7th birthday. She has been begging to go for the last few years, but we have put it off not knowing if she could handle it. She is doing better with loud noises, crowds, etc....but I'm not sure she can handle the sensory overload of DW. She has an incredible imagination and loves fairies, princesses, etc.....I know she wants to do it, but I'm not sure she is ready. And then again, if it's an "on" day while we're there, she might be fine. It's an awful lot of money to spend if we get there and she can't do it......ugghhhh. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Should you attempt the trip? Yes.

Here are some tips that apply to Aspergers children, although the same would apply to children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID):

1. A gift of a journal or sketchbook is helpful and can provide a good outlet for frustrations and other emotions, as well as a way to make a permanent record of the trip. The records of the trip that your daughter makes may well become a treasure in years to come.

2. Bring a few of your daughter’s favorite items from home (e.g., a particular spoon, plate, clock, etc.). Familiarity, texture and feel are important to children with Aspergers. For example, a fork with sharp edges or an unfamiliar feeling handle may bother her.

3. Bring her pillow and favorite blanket from home. This will help your daughter adjust to changes in sleeping arrangements. She may insist on favorite toys as well. She should be allowed to bring books or other reading material, or anything else she is used to having at bedtime that is portable and light.

4. Bring whatever instruments, song books, stories, or games you have traditionally used to help her unwind.

5. Explain everything you possibly can in advance, with details. Being prepared fully helps your daughter relax and enjoy the trip more, which means you will, too.

6. Give her a bag or small backpack to pack full of things to do on the trip. These items should be ones she chooses herself.

7. In the car, allow your daughter to bring an iPod or MP3 player with her favorite music on it. Listening to familiar music is soothing and will have a calming effect on her.

8. Keep it simple. Don't plan 25 things to do in one day. Add in extra adjustment time for each change of location.

9. To the extent possible, keep the same schedule and meals that your daughter is used to at home. Save the Chinese restaurant for later, and remember to bring her favorite cereal, sandwich fixings, and snacks.

10. Allow for frequent ‘time-outs’ (about 10 minutes in length) during the day’s events. For example, find a fairly quite area with a picnic table and have a snack or read to her.

11. She may want to wear earplugs or listen to soothing music on her iPod during the day’s events to screen out unfamiliar sounds.

12. Sunglasses are also helpful in that they screen out some of the unnecessary visual stimuli.

In addition, consider your daughter’s specific symptoms and make allowances accordingly. Here is a summary of SID symptoms:

• Symptoms of Auditory Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive-- Covers ears and startled by loud sounds, distracted by sounds not noticed by others, fearful of toilets flushing, hairdryers and/or vacuums, resists going to loud public places (even cafeteria at school).

Hyposensitive-- May not respond to verbal cues, loves loud music and making noise, may appear confused about where a sound is coming from, may say "what?" frequently.

• Symptoms of Olfactory Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive-- Bothered or nauseated by cooking, bathroom and/or perfume smells, may refuse to go places because of the way it smells, chooses foods based on smell, notices smells not normally noticed by others.

Hyposensitive-- May not notice unpleasant or noxious odors, smells everything when first introduced to it, may not be able to identify smells from scratch 'n sniff stickers.

• Symptoms of Oral Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive-- Picky eater with extreme food preferences and limited repertoire, may gag on textured food, difficulty with sucking, chewing, and swallowing, extremely fearful of the dentist, dislikes toothpaste and brushing teeth.

Hyposensitive-- May lick, taste or chew on inedible objects, loves intensely flavored foods, may drool excessively, frequently chews on pens, pencils, or shirt.

• Symptoms of Proprioceptive Dysfunction:

Under-responsive-- Constantly jumping, crashing, and stomping, loves to be squished and bear hugs, prefers tight clothing, loves rough-housing, and may be aggressive with other kids.

Over-responsive-- Difficulty understanding where body is in relation to other objects, appears clumsy, bumps into things often, moves in a stiff and/or uncoordinated way.

Difficulty Regulating Input-- Doesn't know how hard to push on an object, misjudges the weight of an object, breaks objects often and rips paper when erasing pencil marks.

• Symptoms of Tactile Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive-- Refuses or resists messy play, resists cuddling and light touch, dislikes kisses, rough clothes or seams in socks, resists baths, showers, or going to the beach.

Hyposensitive-- Doesn't realize hands or face are dirty, touches everything and anything constantly, may be self-abusive, plays rough with peers, doesn't seem to feel pain (may even enjoy it!)

• Symptoms of Vestibular Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive-- Avoids playground and moving equipment, fearful of heights, dislikes being tipped upside down, often afraid of falling, walking on uneven surfaces, and avoids rapid, sudden or rotating movements.

Hyposensitive-- Craves any possible movement experience, especially fast or spinning, never seems to sit still, is a thrill seeker, and shakes leg while sitting, loves being tossed in the air, never seems to get dizzy, full of excessive energy.

• Symptoms of Visual Dysfunction:

Hypersensitive-- Irritated by sunlight or bright lights, easily distracted by visual stimuli, avoids eye contact, may become over aroused in brightly colored rooms.

Hyposensitive-- Difficulty controlling eye movements and tracking objects, mixes up similar letters, focuses on little details in a picture and misses the whole, loses his place frequently when reading or copying from the blackboard.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers Children Who Abuse Their Siblings

Question

How can I help my youngest child age 4 cope with my 12 year old Asperger child’s sneaky aggressive behavior toward him? My four year old loves his older brother but is constantly being manipulated and abused. He does this very sneaky and tries not to get caught.

A typical example: My Asperger child will appear to cuddle with my child on the couch while he's secretly smashing the air out of him until the 4 year old screams. It's hard to watch my loving four year getting hurt every time I turn my back.


Answer

Research reveals that 53 out of every 100 kids abuse a sibling (higher than the percentage of grown-ups who abuse their kids or their spouse). What some children do to their sibling inside the family would be called assault outside the family. 

Here are some important facts related to sibling aggression. Researcher suggests that:
  1. A younger sibling who is very aggressive increases an older sibling's level of aggression.
  2. An older sibling who is very aggressive increases a younger sibling's chances of being aggressive too.
  3. If mothers/fathers show hostility in their family interactions, their kid’s level of aggression increases.
  4. Parental hostility related to economic pressures has an impact on kid’s aggression.
  5. Just having a sibling influences a youngster's level of aggression.
  6. Aggression runs in families.
  7. Although parental hostility is a risk factor for childhood aggression, marital conflict between mothers/fathers is not.
  8. Other family risk factors that increase the likelihood of childhood aggression are economic pressures, single parenting, violence in the home, and maternal depression.
  9. Boys are more physically aggressive in sibling relationships than girls, but girls can be just as aggressive in non-verbal ways.
  10. Sister-to-sister relationships have less fighting than brother-to-brother or brother-to-sister combinations.
  11. Having a nurturing older sister protects younger kids from becoming aggressive and even protects them from developing substance abuse issues, but having an overly aggressive older brother has the opposite effect.
  12. Kids tend to show more aggression toward siblings at younger ages, and then outgrow it.
  13. Kids learn how to be aggressive by watching their older brothers/sisters.

As moms and dads, we may be tempted to ignore fighting and quarrelling between kids. We may view these activities as a normal part of growing up. We say, "Boys will be boys" or "They'll grow out of it." However, thousands of adult survivors of sibling abuse tell of the far-reaching negative effects that such unchecked behavior has had on them as kids and grown-ups.

Sibling abuse, as all forms of human abuse, may be sexual, physical, or emotional:
  • Sexual abuse includes unwanted touching, indecent exposure, intercourse, rape or sodomy between brother/sister.
  • Physical abuse ranges from hitting, biting, and slapping to more life-threatening acts such as choking or shooting with a BB gun.
  • Emotional abuse is present in all forms of sibling abuse. It may include teasing, name calling, belittling, ridiculing, intimidating, annoying, and provoking.

Kids often abuse a sibling, usually younger than themselves, to gain power and control. One explanation for this is that the abusive youngster feels powerless, neglected and insecure. He/she may feel strong only in relation to a brother/sister being powerless. The feeling of power kids experience when they mistreat a brother/sister often reinforces their decision to repeat the abuse.

How can you identify normal “sibling rivalry” versus “sibling abuse”? Here are some useful guidelines:
  • How does the abused sibling respond? Victims often respond to abuse from a sibling by protecting themselves, screaming and crying, separating themselves from the abuser, abusing a younger sibling in turn, telling their moms and dads, internalizing the abusive message, fighting back, or submitting.
  • How often does it happen and how long does it go on? Acceptable behavior that is long and drawn out may become abusive over time.
  • Identify the behavior. Isolate it from the emotions associated with it and evaluate it.
  • Is the behavior age-appropriate? Remember that generally you should confront fighting and jealousy even if you tend to think it is "normal."
  • Is there a victim in the situation? A victim may not want to participate, but may be unable to stop the activity.
  • What is the purpose of the behavior? If it tears down another person, it is abusive.

If you suspect abuse, it's important to act quickly to stop it. An effective parental response involves the following steps:
  • As a parent, you play a critical role in teaching kids how to mediate disputes without aggression. By setting rules and expectations for how your kids interact with each other, they are more likely to find ways to resolve their differences without aggression throughout their lives.
  • Be a good role-model of positive and esteem-building behavior.
  • Bring all kids involved into a problem-solving process.
  • Figure out alternative solutions to the problem.
  • Get enough fact and feeling information to assess the problem accurately.
  • Help kids to arrive at a child-set goal (goals set by moms and dads often become rules that kids will not follow).
  • How you handle aggression between siblings is critical. A common complaint among kids is, "He started it!" If you continually punish one youngster, and do not properly address issues with another youngster who could be instigating aggressive situations, you will likely breed resentment between siblings that could result in even more aggression. Assuming the older youngster is the aggressor could mean that you are missing a younger child's aggressive impulses and letting them go unchecked.
  • Minimize the violence your children see on T.V. and in the movies.
  • Reward sensitive, positive behavior among siblings.
  • Specify appropriate ways of acting and consequences should abusive behavior occur in the future.
  • State and restate the problem to make sure you understand it clearly.
  • The most important role you play with your youngster is that of a model for behavior. Your kids are more likely to do as you do, not as you say. If they see that you handle stressful situations by becoming aggressive or belligerent, they will learn this behavior. It is important to be aware of the behaviors you are teaching your youngster. Do you drive aggressively while screaming angry insults at other drivers? Are you rude or aggressively demanding toward others, such as restaurant or other service workers? Your kids learn through these interactions.
  • Work together to set up a contract which states the rights and responsibilities of each youngster.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Drugs to Treat Aspergers Symptoms

Question


Our 8-year old son was recently diagnosed with Asperger's/ADHD. The psychologist said the next step is to meet with our family doctor to prescribe meds to help him be more successful in 3rd grade. While he is doing well academically, it takes him a couple of hours to complete 30 min. of homework every night, and he is having behavior problems in school. Are medications our only option to help him with behavior? He attends a private school which does not have a counselor, but the teacher and principal have been really working with us to help him function in class. This is very overwhelming for us-problems at school and our home life so stressful. Our parenting techniques we used on our first two sons definitely don't work with our Asperger son who is very defiant and rude. Yikes--where do we start?


Answer

There is no one specific medication for Aspergers (high-functioning autism). In some cases, specific target symptoms are treated with medication though (e.g., a stimulant for inattention and hyperactivity; an SSRI such as Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft for obsessions or perseveration and associated depression and anxiety; low dose antipsychotic such as risperidone for stereotyped movements, agitation and idiosyncratic thinking).

SSRI medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that are effective in treating many cases of anxiety and depression. The medicine may improve a few of the problematic symptoms of Aspergers including:

• Aggression
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Hyperactivity
• Impulsiveness
• Repetitive movements
• Self-injurious behaviors
• Self-stimulatory behaviors

Antipsychotic medications are also considered. Thought processes that are typical of Aspergers can be the source of great stress. Among the most stressful is transitioning and dealing with changes. Some behaviors result from thought processes that are obsessive in nature. The Aspie is unable to tolerate changes in routine and may become fixated on order. Antipsychotics alleviate the anxiety associated with obsessive thinking patterns and compulsive behavior. Other symptoms antipsychotic medications may address include:

• Idiosyncratic thought processes
• Irritability
• Repetitive movements
• Self-stimulatory behaviors

Common medications include:
  • Abilify (This drug may be effective for treating irritability related to Aspergers. Side effects may include weight gain and an increase in blood sugar levels.)
  • Celexa
  • Intuniv (This medication may be helpful for the problems of hyperactivity and inattention in children with Aspergers. Side effects may include drowsiness, irritability, headache, constipation and bedwetting.)
  • Lexapro
  • Paxil
  • Prozac
  • Revia ( This medication, which is sometimes used to help alcoholics stop drinking, may help reduce some of the repetitive behaviors associated with Aspergers.)
  • Risperdal (This medication may be prescribed for agitation and irritability. It may cause trouble sleeping, a runny nose and an increased appetite. This drug has also been associated with an increase in cholesterol and blood sugar levels.)
  • Zoloft
  • Zyprexa (Olanzapine is sometimes prescribed to reduce repetitive behaviors. Possible side effects include increased appetite, drowsiness, weight gain, and increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels.)


Other examples of alternative therapies that have been used for Aspergers include:

• Avoidance diets— Some parents have turned to gluten-free or casein-free diets to treat Aspergers. There's no clear evidence that these diets work, and anyone attempting such a diet for their child needs guidance from a registered dietitian to ensure the child's nutritional requirements are met.

• Melatonin— Sleep problems are common in kids with Aspergers, and melatonin supplements may help regulate your child's sleep-wake cycle. The recommended dose is 3 mg, 30 minutes before bedtime. Possible side effects include excessive sleepiness, dizziness and headache.

• Other dietary supplements— Numerous dietary supplements have been tried in Aspies. Those that may have some evidence to support their use include Vitamin B-6 and magnesium, Vitamin C, Carnosine, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

• Secretin— This gastrointestinal hormone has been tried as a potential treatment. Numerous studies have been conducted on secretin, and none found any evidence that it helps.

Other therapies that have been tried, but lack objective evidence to support their use include:

• antibiotics
• antifungal drugs
• chiropractic manipulations
• hyperbaric oxygen therapy
• immune therapies
• massage and craniosacral massage
• transcranial magnetic stimulation

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Abilify worked great for us emotionally, but started giving him spasms after a few weeks (his dr. never saw it before so it was a rare reaction)...so look out for that.
•    Anonymous said… According to ADHD experts 25% of kids actually have BVD (eyes out of sync), 1/3 Vitamin D deficiency, and 20% gluten intolerance. All things should be tested before a diagnosis of ADHD. My son was misdiagnosed for 5 yrs on meds when his strabismus (lazy eye) was causing double vision; we had no idea. VT is curing him (75% effective in curing BVD). Also 21 to 50% of autistic kids have BVD too like my autistic son. Symptoms have significantly improved. Son off of all meds, in VT, and getting vision accommodations www.covd.org
•    Anonymous said… Also we went thru several meds before we found what worked. Prozac and Ritalin made our daughter so aggressive and moody. But Concerta (similar to Ritalin but longer lasting) helped her focus for school
•    Anonymous said… CBD oil....hemp oil extract...proving wonders for many different illnesses.
•    Anonymous said… Don't do the homework! Tony Attwood said autistic children should not do it and at only 8 there us overwhelming evidence that homework doesn't help a young child's education. Instead it is spoiling your family time and opportunities for enrichment. It would be better just to read together everyday.
•    Anonymous said… For us and the family it's a godsend. I was at breaking point, my son was miserable and my husband has a disability. We couldn't cope any longer, if it was just the asd the courses I've been on I feel I could manage him. This ADHD is a whole added stress. I couldn't actually care less what people's opinions are as I know for a fact my son would be worse off without them.
•    Anonymous said… get tested for magnesium deficiency and also epsom salt baths work great to help the kid sleep. There are directions on the back of the box, do atleast 2 baths a week for you child at night and you will see how relaxed they get.
•    Anonymous said… I am sorry that your brother had such a difficult time and that you were there to witness it. There is so much more information now and medications that are better then what was available 30 years ago. Doctors now (at least good ones) look to find the right medication to open the potential for the child not make them zombies. I respect your opinion and I think you will make the right choice for your family. I just wanted to share with you what I have learned from having a Aspie with ADHD.
•    Anonymous said… I am waiting to see specialist to get my 10 yr old aspie some meds but I'm a bit scared he'll be more aggressive than what he is already, but suppose we all have to go through this trial and error process, I just really hope what ever they prescribe works for him 1st time round
•    Anonymous said… I do not believe in medicating Asperger's kids. You can't cure it with a pill. His issues can be managed and controlled with diet, and therapies.
•    Anonymous said… I don't know what the oil is but agree on the meds. They are just to make it easier for others, not the child. Those pills damage the children and are related to many school shootings.
•    Anonymous said… I have 2 boys with asd and my oldest has anger issues and adhd. We put him on a few different meds when he was 8 and diagnosed. The school as well as my family could not handle him any longer with out some kind of help. The dr gave him abilify, buspar and adhd meds. Last year they added intuniv also and it has helped. He has learned how to control some of his anger issues. A lot of it is just maturity and learning to cope with stressful situations. Oh and he is 14 now and is and has always been on the honor roll.
•    Anonymous said… I have the same situation. I saw a dramatic change with ADHD by having him in a very strict gluten-free, coloring-free diet. Now about the aspergers there are not meds for that, therapies for social skills is a must. If the can't give him accommodations at school to help him you're in the wrong place. Drs and teacher love to have the kids in meds, regardless of side effects or even creating a dependence in stimulats.  all I can say is you need to fight for him kneeling down an prayer and with this broken world.
•    Anonymous said… i haven't seen any that specifically link the progression no. I have not really looked specifically for that. It's more of a feeling and question that I have. But, I have seen plenty that show the connection of the meds and drug addiction. With the studies showing the meds chemical equivalency to cocaine. Which makes me wonder if it can upset the chemicals in the brain causing further issues.
•    Anonymous said… I just had a very bad experience with kids and meds. Not my son.. He has never been medicated...but with my brother. He was diagnosed ADHD at age 8 as well as gifted. His IQ was well above genius level. He was put on Ritalin. Then Wellbutrin. And others over the years ( this was in the late 80s and early 90s). He would go from being a zombie, to not being able to eat, to blowing up like a balloon with weight gain depending on the meds. Then after years on meds he had a diagnosis added at age 17. Bipolar disorder. Which by definition is a chemical in balance in the brain. It has always made me wonder if having such a young child on meds could have contributed to this imbalance. Then additional meds. At 26 a new diagnosis schizophrenia. While I can't know this is the cause… It does beg the question what exactly happens to a growing brain on such harsh chemicals.
•    Anonymous said… I think every parent has to make a decision and we all are just trying our best. I just hope all will do more research because every child is worth it and can be helped without those harmful drugs. I'm not some anti vaccination mom, all anti meds, all natural type mom... I just know what these drugs can do and it's dangerous.
•    Anonymous said… i understand but think what it may be doing to his brain chemistry long term. These kids have issues with brain chemistry already. Add in a drug that has a chemical equivalence to cocaine and what could that do? I am not judging you. It just worries me.
•    Anonymous said… I was very much anti meds for several years. I finally caved and it was disasterous. My daughter went from having meltdowns to every single sing being exagerated. Her sensory system was completely over stimulated all the time and there was nothing that we ciuld do to help her. We tried several different types of medication and stopped. When off meds, She continued to do worse in school. She couldnt complete her assignments and really kept falling furth and further behind. And having daily drawn out meltdowns because she couldnt keep up with the other kids. I got a new pediatrician and spoke to her about what was happening. Her response was that we had one more medication that we could try. She said not to get our hopes up because nothing else had worked. My daughter is happy now. Her meltdown have been cut in half. She went from full time special ed. to having two main stream classes. Her behavior has improved. Her communication skills have improved slightly Etc. Her father and I feel so relieved not because she can concentrate, but because she doesnt have to fight with it any more. Life is sincerely easier for her. My son tried his first medication at the same time my daughter started hers. He is doing amazing. It was the first medication that she ever tried and it made her crazy. It takes time to find the right medicatio. With the proper dosage but once you do, it can be a life saver, not only for you and others who are trying to help your child, but also for your child. Medications are not you're only option though. You can try to curb the behavior and try to teach him to pay attention. You can also try an ABA therapist and see if they can't help as well.
•    Anonymous said… I'm curious about your brother's experience and his evolving diagnosis. My brother also had/has sever ADHD, was medicated from a young age and now has emotional disorders, mainly depression. My husband also has ADHD and has been on and off medication over the years. Now my son who has ADHD/ASD is for the first time on meds after trying diet and supplements for years with no success. It is like a miracle to have him do his school work and participate in activities without getting distracted every millisecond but I worry about the long term effects. The docs always assure me that it is safe but I wonder...DO you have any information/studies to confirm the link you suggest between long term medication use and further imbalance? TIA
•    Anonymous said… I'm just curious do you have an autistic or aspergers child? Or a child with adhd? How about a non verbal autistic child with O.C.D and a.d.h.d? I am not for drugging children up to the point their just physically there
•    Anonymous said… my ASD/ADHD child did very well on Abilify as well. However, after several months and having to raise her dosage, she started to have excessive blinking of her eyes she could not control, like a tic. It is suppose to be a very rare side effect.
•    Anonymous said… My Aspie/ADHD son has been taking Straterra , a non-stimulant, since he was 5 without any major side effects. He was monitored for growth, sleep, eating- no issues. He is now 18. He did have a low dose of Buspar when having anxiety transitioning into middle school, but only for a short time. I would suggest keeping things simple- one task at a time, fully explaining what, how, and why. Positive reinforcement with a chart also gives them concrete goals.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter does not do well without meds. She is completely miserable and unable to function without them, and makes everyone else around her miserable./exhausted. With meds she is able to enjoy so much more of her life, at school, with friends, taking music lessons etc. She is happier and she has told me so. She still has many challenges, but the meds bring her to a level where she can work through them better. Meds were very scary at first, but they were a life saver for us and I will never regret giving my daughter a chance to have the best childhood she can.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter is the same, aspergers, bad behavior and takes forever to do hw, we got her an iep but docs say no to meds because she is already on a drug to prevent seizures. I honestly think a med wont fix it, Kids like this see the world differently and we need to accommodate them and work with them instead of fighting them and trying to normalize them. So no, I don't agree about meds. Ask your doctor about magnesium, possibly have him tested for vitamin deficiencies, you may do this privately through a naturopath as well if the doctor wont, you can also do it privately yourself, there are several online testing centers that work with labs in your area to receive this type of testing. Also try epsom salt baths at night and see if they relax your son.
•    Anonymous said… My oldest does not bring home school work anymore. He does it in the school only. Too much anxiety and it was torture. No need to do that to him.
•    Anonymous said… My son has ASD/ADHD as well and takes methylphenidate xr. Tge medication does affect his appetite (he only eats breakfast willingly, and snack, the rest of the meals he needs prompting), but it's like we turned his brain on. Homework that used to take hours to accomplish can be done in 30 mins or less most days. Unfortunately, due to the overlap in inattentive symptoms between ASD and ADHD you'll only ever be able to manage the ADHD side of things with meds. For the inattention that comes from Asperger's you'll need to find other ways to motivate your child. Does your kiddo have a special interest? See if you can work his interest in to his homework. Check out the book "Just Give Him the Whale" it has lots of suggestions on how to use a special interest to motivate an Aspie. Good luck! Remember, this is hard but you're not alone.
•    Anonymous said… My son has Aspergers and is on methylphenidate. He has never had any side effects and as a result functions extremely well with no support in school. There are side effects with all sorts of drugs. If he had epilepsy, would you not give him anti seizure medication? It's the same principle, if it gives him a fighting chance to live a good life, it has to be tried. If he reacts badly then you go back to the drawing board. Good luck to you and your family xx
•    Anonymous said… My son is now 17 and a senior in high school. I feel we were in the position as you. He was diagnosed asperger's/adhd. He refused to take a pill, so they gave us a patch called Daytrona. It enabled him to focus at school and get through his homework.
•    Anonymous said… My son takes medication and it helps some but not always. We tried abilify as well but that didn't work at all and made him gain 20 lbs!
•    Anonymous said… my son was the same. We've tried every ADHD med & Concerta had the least side effects for him but then he became aggressive on it. As soon as we stopped it, the aggressiveness went away. His psychiatrist who also has Asperger's explained to me that ADHD meds work differently in their brains than they do in Neuro typical brains. 😟
•    Anonymous said… My sons on methylphenidate and I can hand on heart say it's saved our family! I tried everything else and please do what you feel is right. If you want to try meds do it.
•    Anonymous said… Not all children can be "managed and controlled" with diet and therapy. Stop being so simplistic about this on everyone's comments. There are children who need medication and those who don't. Thankfully your child must not be one who needs it.
•    Anonymous said… Not everyone's Asperger's child is the same. They are all "somewhere" on the spectrum. The symptoms one child is experiencing may not be what another child is experiencing.
•    Anonymous said… Seriously no meds! Please look up about those medications. They have found that those meds only harm children by destroying parts of the brain.
In cases of school shootings, do your research, because those are typically always cases of kids who once we're forced to take those meds. I once knew a kid who was forced on those. While he did better at focusing, his grades didn't change. All he did was become a robot for the damn school. He became boring, still lacked friends, and his artistic talent? GONE!! Completely washed away. When he turned 16, he started lying about the meds and not really taking them. After a few months, he started drawing again and actually being a happy teen. Sadly though, he has a lot of issues because of those damn pills! This story is not to scare anyone but it's truth!
•    Anonymous said… So many people treat us parents who Medicate like child abusers! But for us, we were at rock bottom and my eldest sons was getting hit at etc due to his impulsiveness of his ADHD. I'm not abusing my son I'm helping him regulate his moods until he's able to himself.
•    Anonymous said… The key to medicating is finding the right medication in the correct dose. A lot of times the first, second and even third medication doesn't work so people give up. Medication should never cause child to "veg out" nor should it cause extreme emotions. My son tried many medications. Just the difference between a regular and extended release version of the same med can be like night and day. My son is not just Dx with Aspergers. He deals with Mood disorder, OCD, anxiety, seasonal depression and insomnia. Prior to medication at 5 & 6 years old he was trying to get out of the car on the freeway and running away from me and across busy streets after meltdowns.
•    Anonymous said… The wristband is to help with their focus issues. It vibrates so that your child stays on track. What I've learned is that when my son feels confident (doesn't get behind in class, gets better grades, teachers aren't annoyed bc they have to stay on top of him), that his all around attitude is better. Maybe the teachers mean no harm, but kids can pick up on their body language and know when he/she is frustrated with them. And if your child is like mine, anybody who is frustrated at them automatically hates him, thinks he's a jerk, thinks he's stupid, a bad kid, etc... It's expensive but, in my opinion, it's worth it to see my child succeed.
•    Anonymous said… Vyvanse really helped my son (for ADHD). It lasts all day, well into evening for doing homework. Also, you don't have to worry whether school personnel gave it or not. Seroquel XR in the evening helped with other behaviors. Both have significant effects on the body, but with the help of a specialist school for Aspergers as well, my son has graduated from high school and is trying college. Natural supplements include calcium/magnesium/zinc/vitamin D and Nordic Naturals fish oil. No one regimen is ideal for any child and no parent wants their child on "drugs". It was also necessary to try a lot of different medications before the ideal combination was reached. You will love it when your son voluntarily does homework by himself and voluntarily apologizes for a temporary lapse into rude behavior or back talk. Best wishes to you, all parents and children.
•    Anonymous said… We are dealing with this exact problem. We started abilify this week. I keep praying it is going to relieve his symptoms.
•    Anonymous said… We found out several years after our son's ADHD diagnosis that he also had three learning disabilities that was the reason why he was still struggling in certain areas. Once the ADHD has been addressed it might be worth checking out LDs if there's still struggles with academics.
•    Anonymous said… We had the patch on my daughter, it worked well. On in early am, off at dinner. You have to monitor sleep and eating- it is a stimulant.
•    Anonymous said… We have gone back & forth with meds. Anxiety adds to the autism/ADHD diagnoses we received. We do use a med to help her fall asleep and stay asleep because she is a wreck otherwise. We requested school accommodations - reduced assignments, extra time for both assignments & tests, and the ability to re-do or retake for additional credit.
•    Anonymous said… we started with mainly dietary. Put him on the GAPS diet for a while and now he eats no processed foods. Additionally he takes supplements that help brain function. We limit screen time to one hour per day. He is in cognitive and occupational therapies. He takes melatonin at night to help him sleep. He has done so well on this protocol. It's like I have a different child.
•    Anonymous said… With the same diagnosis (albeit it's the Adult form of ADHD; I was only diagnosed as being with it at 36), I'm currently on Strateras (100 Mg; increased after my most recent consultation from 80 Mg) also known as Atomoxetines or Atomoxetine Hyrochloride (1 Daily) as well as Rivotrils .5 Mg Tablet (4 a Day; 1 + 1 + 2) as well as Zolpidems (a benzo I think?) to help me sleep which I only take if or as reqd. Am "enjoying" reading the Status Updates & replies as a result of my belated diagnosis (no fault lies with my Psychiatrist by the way; Aspies weren't a thing when I was growing up in Southern Ireland & ADHD kids were just seen as easily bored/distracted who couldn't concentrate and/or were troublesome. I managed to control it in a lot of cases (though plenty times I didn't in hindsight!) & manage it when I had a routine. Never thought I'd be grateful for being a blue-collar working class employee but looking back now I'm so glad I was & had that routine to keep me together.


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How To Survive Christmas With An Aspergers Child: 20 Tips For Parents

Anticipation for the Aspergers (high functioning autistic) youngster is often a negative emotion that leads to overload resulting in a meltdown. Rather than having a time of “peace” and “joy,” the Aspergers youngster runs the risk of behaving like a demon-possessed maniac, creating havoc amongst his siblings, upsetting Aunt Jane, and giving you an “attitude” when you try to diplomatically reprimand him.

So, how do you manage to foster some Christmas spirit amongst your family while keeping your Aspergers youngster calm and behaving appropriately?

Here are some tips:

1. Be prepared for your Aspie to hand back that present he considers “crap”.

2. Be prepared to watch that DVD you got them over and over again.

3. Consider his dietary needs. Often at this time of year, diets go out the window. But letting your kids fill up on junk is just another disruption in the routine they value so highly. Know their limitations. A few cookies won't hurt anyone, but your youngster won't be in a better temper having skipped the cereal he likes to have EVERY morning in favor of Grandma's famous oven-baked egg casserole, which he hates.

4. Cut back your gift list. Have you ever had to prod your Aspergers youngster to move on to the next gift? Aspergers kids move at their own pace, and it's often a slow one. Some may be overwhelmed by too many things to open. Get them what THEY (not you) will like best, and let them be content with it. Learn to be okay with your kid carrying his Nintendo DS into a corner to try out his new game while others open their gifts.

5. Don’t be shocked if your Aspie asks everyone who gives him a gift how much it cost.

6. Don’t invite anyone over to your house that you’ve gossiped about in the past. All kids have a mind like a sponge, but your Aspie has a mind like a steal trap! Your youngster telling that uncle or mother-in-law, “Mom thinks you’re a drunk” is not conducive to a joyful occasion.

7. Don’t make big plans for Christmas at a hotel, Holiday Park, or at Aunt Mary’s. This may be safe for some families, but your Aspergers youngster will be most comfortable at home where he can escape the mayhem of Christmas day to retreat to his sanctuary of solitude – his bedroom!

8. Don’t place any gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve (out of sight, out of mind). No visual reminders that Christmas is approaching minimizes the waiting time for your Aspergers youngster. And we all know that being patient and the having the ability to wait are not usually strengths in Aspergers kids!

9. Expect an element of ignorance from family members and friends who do not understand Aspergers behavior. If you’re having people over, try to choose those who know, understand, and like your Aspergers youngster.

10. Let him wear himself out. If your Aspie has a poor sleep pattern at night, you will be grateful when he does sleep!

11. Lower your expectations. The brilliant gains your Aspergers youngster has gained this year may well be lost in the holiday chaos. But remember it is HIS holiday as well as yours, and it may not resemble your own cherished childhood memories. That's okay. A few deep breaths will go a long way. Nourish your own flexibility, and don't expect too much flexibility from your youngster.

12. Make sure all kids have the SAME number of gifts. If they have a present that was more expensive, be sure to make up the numbers with little things. There’s nothing worse than a Christmas morning meltdown.

13. Make sure you have plenty of new batteries on hand. When you tell a youngster with Aspergers you forgot to buy the batteries, you can expect a meltdown.

14. Make sure your day is well planned out. Just like any other day, your youngster will want order and routine to their day. He will want to know what time dinner is and who’s visiting and when.

15. Prepare ahead of time. Schedules will be off. Mealtimes will be different. Special events get in the way of the treasured routines that help make Aspergers kids feel safe and secure. Where possible, preserve the routine. When that's not possible, sit down with your youngster ahead of time and explain what will be different. Use a picture schedule or a written list if this works for him. Post a calendar. And give plenty of advance notice if plans change.

16. Remove the word “Christmas” from your vocabulary. Simply put up the tree and decorations, cook the pudding and mince pies, send cards to friends and family, and just go shopping. Also, have a meeting with the rest of the family and ask their assistance in this area too.

17. Scale back the parties. For Aspies, social get-togethers can be minefields. Remembering social graces, how to look and act "normal," striving to fit in-all these are stressful to an Aspergers youngster. And if you're wincing, waiting for Uncle Waldo to frown at something your youngster says, your kid will feel this too. As much as possible, confine gatherings to arenas where the youngster feels comfortable and accepted.

18. Stay out of the stores. The Aspergers youngster craves routine and predictability. The Christmas crowd at Walmart offers neither. Many Aspergers kids are sensitive to the sensory overload of loud music, arguing customers, even Christmas light displays. Leave them at home if you possibly can.

19. Visit Santa with caution! If you haven’t done so yet, be prepared if your Aspie is a non-believer. Anything could happen! He may call the man with the white beard a FAKE, laugh at his fat belly, or ask him if he has a real job.

20. When your Aspergers youngster is present, cut back on conversation about the BIG day. I know that our inner-child tends to get excited about Christmas too, but we often unthinkingly contribute to the overwhelming anticipation by relating our plans and expectations for the Christmas season to our kids as we go about our preparations.

Hope this helps!

Merry Christmas to all…

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers: Quick Reference for Clinicians

Aspergers is a form of pervasive developmental disorder characterized by persistent impairment in social interactions, repetitive behavior patterns, and restricted interests. Unlike autistic disorder, no significant aberrations or delays occur in language development or cognitive development. Aspergers is generally evident in kids older than 3 years and occurs more often in boys.

Kids with this disorder often exhibit a limited capacity for spontaneous social interactions, a failure to develop friendships, and a limited number of intense and highly focused interests. Although some individuals with Aspergers may have certain communication problems, including poor nonverbal communication and pedantic speech, many have good cognitive and verbal skills. Although individuals with Aspergers have fewer memories, the experiences of remembering are qualitatively similar in people with Aspergers compared with healthy control subjects. Physical symptoms may include early childhood motor delays, clumsiness, fine motor difficulty, gait anomalies, and odd movements.

People with Aspergers have normal or even superior intelligence and may make great intellectual contributions while demonstrating social insensitivity or even apparent indifference toward loved ones. Published case reports of people with Aspergers suggest an association with the capacity to accomplish cutting-edge research in computer science, mathematics, and physics. Although the deficits manifested by those with Aspergers are often debilitating, many people experience positive outcomes, especially those who excel in areas not dependent on social interaction.

People with Aspergers have exhibited outstanding skills in mathematics, music, and computer sciences. Many are highly creative, and many prominent individuals demonstrate traits suggesting Aspergers.

Although normal language and cognitive development differentiate Aspergers from other developmental disorders, the severe social impairment associated with this condition overlaps with disorders such as high-functioning autism (HFA).

Key features of the deficit manifested in individuals with Aspergers pertain to their inability to understand the thoughts of other people and themselves. A typical youngster can recognize the thoughts of other children and himself and hypothesize how other people are likely to respond to life occurrences. The lack of this comprehension in an individual with Aspergers is termed a deficiency in the formation of a theory of the mind.

Frequency—

• Likely, many individuals with Aspergers are undiagnosed in North America. Many individuals with Aspergers are probably members of the general population without awareness of their diagnosis. Family and friends probably accommodate the signs of Aspergers as idiosyncrasies of the individual.

• Because of the divergent diagnostic criteria used in the United States and Canada, estimates of Aspergers frequency widely vary. Various studies indicate rates ranging from 1 case in 250-10,000 kids. Additional epidemiologic studies are needed, using widely accepted criteria and a screening instrument that targets these criteria.

Mortality/Morbidity—

People with Aspergers appear to have normal life spans; however, they seem to endure an increased prevalence of comorbid psychiatric maladies (e.g., depression, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette disorder).

Race—

Aspergers has no racial tendency.

Sex—

The estimated male-to-female ratio is approximately 4:1.

Age—

Aspergers is commonly diagnosed in the early school years and less frequently during early childhood or even adulthood.

Clinical—

Developmental history:

• Include a thorough evaluation of social behaviors, language, interests, routines, physical coordination, and sensory sensitivity, starting from birth.

• Interview mothers/fathers about prenatal history and maternal health factors that may have affected the pregnancy.

Social problems:

• An affected youngster may not display affection to mothers/fathers or other family members. A lack of bonding and warmth with mothers/fathers and other guardians may seem apparent, typically resulting from the youngster's lack of social skills.

• Kids with Aspergers may have difficulties with peer relations and may be rejected by other kids. Depression and loneliness may occur in adolescents with Aspergers.

• People with Aspergers may have particular difficulty in dating and marriage. Boys and men with Aspergers may decide to marry suddenly without the dating and courtship that typically precede a union. They may also be unaware that friendship often precedes courtship and engagement. People with Aspergers may want to marry despite the lack of awareness of the many social interactions that usually lead up to matrimony.

• Outside the realm of immediate family members, the affected youngster may exhibit inappropriate attempts to initiate social interaction and to make friends. Within the immediate family, the youngster is often loving and affectionate.

• Individuals with Aspergers are vulnerable to depression, even suicide, after a perceived rejection in a social situation such as dating and marriage. Clinicians must be aware of the risk of depression and institute prompt interventions when major depression occurs.

• Individuals with Aspergers may benefit from counseling and social skills training. Attwood (1998) provides exercises for mothers/fathers to use to foster social skills in their kids. These activities can be modified for the needs of adults with Aspergers. Psychotherapy is often helpful for people to recognize their deficits in social skills.

• Separations from mothers/fathers because of work and divorce may be particularly stressful for these kids. Changing homes, communities, and neighborhoods may also exacerbate symptoms.

• Socially inappropriate behavior and failure to understand social cues may be reported.

• The youngster may not understand why individuals become upset when he or she breaks social rules.

Communication abnormalities:
  • Body language or nonverbal communication may be awkward and inappropriate.
  • Facial expressions may be absent or inappropriate.
  • Pragmatic errors are commonly produced by kids with Aspergers in response to questions. Kids with Aspergers often produce irrelevant responses.
  • Use of gestures is frequently limited.

Speech and hearing:

• Affected kids demonstrate several abnormalities in speech and language, including pedantic speech and oddities in pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm.

• Kids often exhibit auditory discrimination and distortion, particularly when the youngster encounters 2 or more individuals speaking simultaneously.

• People with Aspergers may vocalize their thoughts without censoring. Personal remarks inappropriate to most social environments may be uttered routinely.

• People with Aspergers often exhibit practical speech problems, including an inability to use language in social contexts, a lack of sensitivity about interrupting others, and irrelevant commentary.

• Miscomprehension of language nuance (e.g., literal interpretations of figures of speech) is common.

• Some people with Aspergers may display selective mutism, speaking not at all to most individuals and excessively to specific individuals. Some may choose to talk only to individuals they like. Thus, speech may reflect idiosyncratic interests and preferences of the individual.

• Speech may be unusually formal or used in idiosyncratic ways that others do not understand.

• The amount of speech may also widely vary and reflect the individual's current emotional state more than the communication requirements of the social setting. Some people may be verbose and others taciturn. Furthermore, the same individual may demonstrate excesses and paucity of speech intermittently.

• The form of language chosen may include metaphors that are meaningful only to the speaker. The message meant by the speaker may not be understood by those who hear it, or the message may be meaningful only to a few individuals who understand the private language of the speaker.

Activities:

Kids exhibit peculiar and narrow interests, excluding other activities. These interests may be so important that the kids do not develop typical relationships with their family, school, and community.

Sensory sensitivity:
  • Kids may be particularly sensitive to the texture of foods.
  • Kids may exhibit synesthesia, including a sensory response to an environmental stimulus in a different sensory modality.
  • Kids may show sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, sight, smell, pain, and temperature. For example, a youngster may demonstrate either extreme or diminished sensitivity to pain.

Physical findings:
  • Affected kids may exhibit anomalies of locomotion, balance, manual dexterity, handwriting, rapid movements, rhythm, and imitation of movements.
  • Clumsiness is common.
  • Children exhibit impaired ball-playing skills.
  • Lax joints are often observed (e.g., an immature or unusual grasp for handwriting and other fine hand movements).

Prognosis—
  • Children with Aspergers may be taught specific social guidelines, but the underlying social impairment is believed to be lifelong.
  • People with Aspergers tend to have a better prognosis when they have supportive families who are knowledgeable about Aspergers.
  • Comorbid psychiatric disorders, when present, significantly affect the client's prognosis.

Social Behaviors in School Settings—

• Auditory integration training helps some kids with social interactions.

• Because changes in schools, classrooms, and teachers may exacerbate symptoms, attempt to minimize alterations to the client's schedule and educational environment.

• Kids can learn to watch other kids for social cues and for behaviors to imitate.

• Kids may benefit from a full-time, trained, 1-on-1 teacher aide to shadow them in the classroom and to coach appropriate behavior.

• Kids, adolescents, and adults with Aspergers typically benefit from a weekly, therapist-guided, social skills group with peers.

• Teachers can explain appropriate means of seeking help when the youngster demonstrates problematic social behaviors in the classroom. Videotapes may facilitate self-monitoring of adherence to classroom rules.

• Teachers can model socially appropriate behavior and encourage cooperative games in the classroom.

• Teachers have many opportunities to help kids develop appropriate social behaviors.

• Teachers may help kids in challenging social situations by supervising breaks between classes and lunchroom and playground activities.

• Teachers may identify suitable friends for kids and encourage prospective friendships.

Interaction with Other Kids—
  • Kids may benefit from an organized club, chaperoned by adult leaders who provide advance preparation and a discussion forum.
  • Mothers/fathers can help kids learn appropriate play by modeling and rehearsing such skills as flexibility, cooperation, and sharing.
  • Mothers/fathers should encourage an affected youngster to invite a friend to their home.

Communication and Language Strategies—

• Because interpretation of metaphors and figures of speech is often difficult, caregivers should explain these language subtleties when they arise.

• Caregivers, through modeling, can teach affected kids how to interpret the conversational cues of others to reply, to interrupt, or to change topics.

• Kids can be taught to memorize phrases for specific purposes (e.g., to open conversations).

• Kids can be taught to refrain from vocalizing every thought.

• Kids can learn to seek clarification by asking individuals to rephrase confusing expressions. Encourage kids to ask that confusing instructions be repeated, simplified, clarified, and written down.

• Encourage kids, when appropriate, to admit that they do not know an answer.

• Role-playing may help a youngster learn to understand the perspectives and thoughts of other individuals. Encourage the youngster to stop and think how another person will feel before the youngster acts and speaks.

• Some kids with Aspergers may have good visual thinking abilities; they may be encouraged to visualize using diagrams and visual analogues.

• When communicating a series of instructions to a youngster with this disorder, pause between each separate statement.

Career Counseling and Orientation—

• People may need special help to prepare for job interviews and to maintain an appropriate demeanor in a work environment.

• Career choices using technology, especially the Internet, are often particularly suitable for individuals with Aspergers. Computer science, engineering, and natural sciences are common career choices for people with this disorder. Other special interests may be developed into careers.

• Career choice is crucial for persons with Aspergers because social impairment limits their success in many occupations.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Articles in Alphabetical Order: 2007 - 2009

                                           2007—



                                           2008—



                                           2009—
 

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.

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."

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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.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content