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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Employment Support for Aspergers Employees

Question

We would be most interested in employment support for Aspergers employees, such as best practices for placement, behavior management on the job, workplace accommodations, coping skills on the job, how to develop a mentoring relationship with co-workers ...basically how to place and maintain employment.

Answer

For an individual with Aspergers, finding (and keeping) employment can be a very difficult endeavor. It all depends on how well an individual is prepared for his field of interest. Choosing a career that focuses on an individual's special, or limited, interest will raise the chances of successful employment. Jobs that have a set daily routine are also good options.

Career planning should start early, preferably during the high school years. The high schools years are a time of self-discovery. The young person with Aspergers can begin to prepare for a job in his field of interest by planning to investigate the following options:
  • Apprenticeship-Specialized careers can be learned this way. Although, not as common as other options, finding a position as an apprentice will get you intense training in all aspects of a trade or career.
  • College-More individuals with Aspergers are attending college than ever before. Some stay home and attend a community college, while others go away to four-year institutions.
  • Job training-Some companies will train an individual who is knowledgeable, yet inexperienced.
  • Technical school-These local schools offer short courses that yield a certificate, and sometimes a diploma, in certain technical skills. Examples are computer fields and auto mechanics.

Since individuals with Aspergers are usually extremely intelligent, most of the problems lie within the social aspects of employment. Social communication, understanding body language and other unspoken social cues are necessary in the workplace. Time management and organizational skills are also essential.

Several important therapies can help prepare an individual with Aspergers for employment. These therapies should actually be incorporated in the daily schedule while an individual is still young and in school. As skills are learned and practiced, they become more natural. Before seeking employment, the following skills should be practiced:
  • Behavioral therapy-This therapy is performed under the guidance of a trained behavioral therapist, and includes anger management and general coping skills.
  • Organizational skills-Learning to use visual schedules and lists, calendars, as well as learning time management skills comes about when organizational skills are practiced.
  • Social skills-All areas including, personal space, gestures and cues, facial expressions, and social communication, should be practiced. Social skills classes provide directed practice under the watchful eye of a trained therapist.

Once an individual with Aspergers finds employment, he must continue to practice these therapies in order to ensure continued success in his field of interest. Developing a daily routine that incorporates a daily schedule, social skills reminders, and rules to work by will provide the basics for continued employment.

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

I need to find someone to evaluate my daughter for Aspergers...

Question

I need to find someone to evaluate my daughter for Aspergers. She is 5 and 3/4. Previous evaluations have missed the issues that I am concerned about so I only want to bring her to someone who has Asperger's expertise. Could you direct me to someone who can do this in Westchester County, NY?
Thanks, Julie

Answer

We suggest:

Gayle Augenbaum, MD [Child Psychiatrist]
125 East Main Street
Mt Kisco, NY 10549-2325
(914) 244-4133‎

More referrals can be found here...

Advocating For Your Aspergers Child

Question

My child is 15 and I feel there are times when I will be advocating for him when he should be doing it for himself. Any advise where to draw the line?

Answer

As moms and dads, we sometimes struggle when our kids reach the age of emerging independence. We must begin to let go a little and allow them to be self sufficient in their early teens in order to grow and develop into self-supporting adults. In addition, teenagers with Aspergers can often feel intimidated, automatically stepping aside and allowing a parent or trusted adult to make important decisions, even when they are completely capable.

Helping your youngster with Aspergers begin to accept some responsibility does not have to be difficult. If your child is to become an effective self-advocate, he will need to be aware of the following points:

1. Your son should participate in counseling and group therapy to help keep himself focused. Counseling sessions are useful for people with Aspergers. This is a place where your child can talk about how his strengths and weaknesses make him feel. In group therapy, your son can learn new strategies for coping with social situations.

2. Your son should become active in his IEP process and know his written goals. Your child should be encouraged to take part in his IEP meetings. Once your son acknowledges his own strengths and weaknesses, his input can help the team set reachable goals.

3. Your son must recognize his weaknesses. Just as with his strengths, your child must also be mindful of his weaknesses. People with Aspergers sometimes struggle with language based academics, for example. Social skills and sensory problems may be weak areas for your child.

4. Your son must know his strengths. People with Aspergers are often gifted with an above average I.Q. It is possible that your child excels in one or more academic subjects. People with Aspergers also usually have an intense interest outside of academics, such as music or computers. Knowing his own strengths will help your child gain much needed self-confidence.

Aspergers is nothing of which to be ashamed. Aspergers is a part of who your child is but it does not define him. Once your son realizes this, and that he is capable and intelligent, he should be able to step up and take on some of the responsibility of self-advocacy. In the meantime, remember, your child is still a youngster. Make the switch slowly by pushing gently. And foremost, your son still needs you.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

Helping Aspergers Children Manage Time

Question

I have an 16-year-old child with Aspergers. He is an excellent student now that he is doing his high school online through a public charter school. However, he has no concept of time so he is often cramming at the last minute to finish his assignments. How can I help him learn to manage his time better so that he can do his work without added stress and anxiety?

Answer

Nothing creates stress and anxiety quite like procrastination. While some individuals are just natural procrastinators, others, like your child, have a genuine problem understanding the concept of time. This is a common characteristic of Aspergers.

Online schooling is a great option for teenagers with Aspergers. Removing the classroom distraction does wonders for your child's thought processes. The lessening of sensory assault, the one-on-one instruction, and no bullies are definite pluses! As an added thought, please consider social skills group classes and other social outlets to prevent total isolation. Clubs and community groups that are geared towards his special interests (i.e., history book club, chess club, and band lessons are common choices) will provide much needed social skills practice in a comfortable environment.

Organization is another weak area for many children with Aspergers. Since children with Aspergers are prone to struggle with depression, anxiety, and stress, the addition of poor organization can cause real problems. Organizational skills are necessary for young adults. High school teachers and college professors expect students to contribute acceptable work in a timely manner. Finding solutions that work now will lead to positive changes and less stress in the future. Here are some things you can do to help your child manage his time better:

• Visual timers can be very helpful tools when organizational skills are being taught. These timers have a colored line that gets smaller as the time passes, giving the user a true visual image of running out of time. Each daily task or, in your child's case, each school subject, can be timed with the visual timer. Congratulations on finding the solution for your child's school issues. High school can be very overwhelming for teenagers with Aspergers. With your guidance and a plan of organization, your child is sure to finish high school and move on to adulthood ventures with confidence and control.

• Visual schedules are a necessary part of your child's routine. Use lists and reminders to keep him moving along. Encourage him to keep a daily, weekly, and monthly calendar. To do lists, written schedules, and assignment lists will give him the structure he needs to begin organizing his life.

• Designing an ordered workspace is a good place to start. A designated place for everything, comfortable seating, quiet surroundings, and a calming decor will help diminish distractions.

• Creating a routine is essential for your child. As an individual with Aspergers, he craves routine and order. A daily routine will set him on the right path. He may need guidance to develop a routine. Work with him to create a smooth flow to his day.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

Are there any medications or techniques to address the zoning out??

Question

I have a 9 year old son who was mildly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was in second grade. He is very social, likes to tell jokes, is involved in a swimming team at the YMCA and has lots of play dates. His main problem is in school and doing homework... he tends to be in this "low arousal state" where he appears to be "zoning out". He has a para which basically helps him to stay focused. He is about 5 reading levels behind grade level. He has trouble with inference and thinking outside the box. Math word problems are difficult. He doesn't exhibit any depression, hyperactivity, temper tantrums, or stemming. He is very pleasant to people and makes eye contact. Are there any medications or techniques to address the zoning out?? I know he's paying attention since when presented with a question, he usually answers correctly. Again, this only occurs during school and homework. He also has been heavily stuttering out of nowhere for over a year. He receives speech 3x's to 2x's and adaptive phy.ed. Any information would be great.

Answer

One of the unusual abilities that Aspergers kids have is “hyper-focus”. Like all Aspergers traits, hyper-focus is a double-edged sword. On the one hand when combined with the special interest and Aspergers long-term memory, it is responsible for the genius label as it applies to Aspergers children. On the other, it's responsible for many learning and obedience issues.

Hyper-focus is commonly found in Aspergers kids who also have the ADD/ADHD. In recent years, the definitions of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) have merged, in the medical sense under the banner of ADHD. Personally, I'm not keen on this merging of diagnosis because while the two share similar definitions, there are some fundamental differences between them. While both ADHD and ADD kids have, by definition, attention issues, the hyperactive youngster is more likely to have attention problems due to hyperactivity itself while the ADD youngster is more likely to have a hyper-focus problem.

Consider the differences between the two:

1. A youngster who does not respond when his name is called because he is distracted or is shouting and jumping from chair to chair.
2. A youngster who is intently starring at a spinning wheel, or playing with some lego bricks and does not respond when his name is repeatedly called.

Hyper-focus is possibly the cause of the problem only in the second case.

One of the basic tenants of positive parenting and positive schooling is that the obedient youngster should be rewarded. In school for example, a youngster who is obviously paying attention will receive a reward while one who is not may be rebuked or simply ignored. This technique is generally quite effective with neuro-typical kids.

Unfortunately, this technique does not work with hyper-focused kids who go into daydream state - or "zone out" - automatically. Zoning out is not disobedience. This youngster is not trying to be naughty - they just happen to go into that state automatically.

The best remedy for these kids is for the teacher to work more closely with them and for more one-on-one time to be allocated. In schools, this isn't always practical and hyper-focused kids can often miss out on necessary attention and can fall behind. Often, such kids are labeled "slow" and are put into remedial classes simply because they lack the ability to remain "on-task".

Hyper-focus has a lot of advantages. It allows one to think more abstractly and with greater complexity. It is a particularly useful skill to have when you need to be able to model complex systems or think in an extremely logical manner (for computer programming). In the adult world, hyper-focus allows Aspergers people to deal with excessive levels of detail while still retaining a top-down approach.

Aspergers kids tend to hyper-focus mainly on their special interests and they are able to take in and process large amounts of related information as a result.

The best way to make use of hyper-focus in primary school kids is to attempt to line their work up with their special interests whenever possible.

For example, if your youngster's special interest is trains, then giving them sentences to write about trains or mathematics problems regarding carriages, train sizes or weights or giving them scientific projects on the use of electricity or steam in trains will allow the youngster to use their special interest to further their normal learning.

The DSM-IV manual used to diagnose autism, Aspergers and other mental disorders does not recognize “hyper-focus” at all (only the symptoms of hyper-focus are discussed).

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

CAST: The Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test

Question

What is the best way to have a child tested for asperger's?

Answer

The best approach to testing is to have your child examined by a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist [ask for a Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation].

For your own personal information, you can use the CAST test below. An Asperger test known as CAST is a valuable tool for evaluating children who might have the disorder. CAST stands for Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test. It's easy to administer and well organized. Exams like this have been developed to help families with high-functioning children receive the necessary screening. The Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test is also used for epidemiological research. The Aspergers CAST Test for children is a test that will enable parents to have a better sense of what the criteria for Asperger's looks like. For some of you, it will settle your nerves, for others, you will now have a better sense of what's going on with your child, enabling you to make appropriate choices with a better idea of where your child's challenges lay.


Aspergers CAST Test For Children

Child's name_______________________________
Age______ Sex: M / F
Birth Order: Twin or single birth______________
Parent / Guardian______________________________
Parent(s) occupation___________________________
Address______________________________________
_______________________________________
Phone#______________________________________
School_______________________________________

Please read the following questions carefully, and circle the appropriate answer:

1. Does s/he join in playing games with others easily?
Yes
No

2. Does s/he come up to you spontaneously for a chat?
Yes
No

3. Was s/he speaking by 2 years old?
Yes
No

4. Does s/he enjoy sports?
Yes
No

5. Is it important for him/her to fit in with a peer group?
Yes
No

6. Does s/he appear to notice unusual details that others miss?
Yes
No

7. Does s/he tend to take things literally?
Yes
No

8. When s/he was 3 years old, did s/he spend a lot of time pretending (e.g., play-acting being a super-hero, or holding teddy's tea parties?
Yes
No

9. Does s/he like to do the same things over and over again, in the same way all the time?
Yes
No

10. Does s/he find it easy to interact with other children?
Yes
No

11. Can s/he keep a two-way conversation going?
Yes
No

12. Can s/he read appropriately for his/her age?
Yes
No

13. Does s/he mostly have the same interests as his/her peers?
Yes
No

14. Does s/he have an interest that which takes up so much time that s/he does little else?
Yes
No

15. Does s/he have friends, rather than just acquaintances?
Yes
No

16. Does s/he often bring things to show you that interest s/he?
Yes
No

17. Does s/he enjoy joking around?
Yes
No

18. Does s/he have difficulty understanding the rules for polite behavior?
Yes
No

19. Does s/he have an unusual memory for details?
Yes
No

20. Is his/her voice unusual (e.g., overly adult, flat, or very monotonous?
Yes
No

21. Are people important to him/her?
Yes
No

22. Can s/he dress him/herself?
Yes
No

23. Is s/he good at turn-taking in conversation?
Yes
No

24. Does s/he play imaginatively with other children, and engage in role-play?
Yes
No

25. Does s/he do or say things that are tactless or socially inappropriate?
Yes
No

26. Can s/he count to 50 without leaving out any numbers?
Yes
No

27. Does s/he make normal eye-contact?
Yes
No

28. Does s/he have any unusual and repetitive movements?
Yes
No

29. Is his/her social behavior very one-sided and always on his or her terms?
Yes
No

30. Does your child sometimes say "you" or "s/he" when s/he means to say "I"?
Yes
No

31. Does s/he prefer imaginative activities such as play-acting or story-telling, rather than numbers or a list of facts?
Yes
No

32. Does s/he sometimes lose the listener because of not explaining what s/he is talking about?
Yes
No

33. Can s/he ride a bicycle (even if with stabilizers)?
Yes
No

34. Does s/he try to impose routines on him/herself, or on others, in such a way that it causes problems?
Yes
No

35. Does s/he care about how s/he is perceived by the rest of the group?
Yes
No

36. Does s/he often turn conversations to his/her favorite subject rather than following what the other person wants to talk about?
Yes
No

37. Does s/he have odd or unusual phrases?
Yes
No

SPECIAL NEEDS SECTION

• Have teachers/health visitors ever expressed any concerns about his/her development?
Yes
No
If yes, please specify___________________________________

• Has s/he ever been diagnosed with the following:

Language delay
Yes
No

Hyperactivity/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
Yes
No

Hearing or visual difficulties?
Yes
No

Autism Spectrum Condition, including Asperger syndrome?
Yes
No

A physical disability?
Yes
No

Other? (please specify
Yes
No
If yes, please specify___________________________________


My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers Children & Behavioral Problems at School

Question

I have a 7 year old son who has yet to be diagnosed but, it is looking as if he has aspergers. He is having major behavioural problems at school which include hitting other children, staff etc. He is an only child and although there are some behaviour issues at home, the main problem is when he is in a group situation like school. Has anyone else had this experience and if so what did you do?

Answer

First of all, you should have him tested by a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists (ask for a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation) to determine if he, in fact, has Aspergers.

There are all sorts of reasons why Aspergers kids misbehave in school. By the time an Aspergers student is reacting with violence, it's too late to institute a quick fix. Here are five ways to start dealing with problems or potential problems early, when there is still time to work with teachers and administrators to make school a tolerable place for your youngster.

1. Be realistic about your Aspergers youngster's abilities—Pushing and motivating and holding high expectations can drive some kids to be all they can be, but it can drive others straight into anxiety and depression. Would you want to work at a job, day in and day out, where you always had to be at the top of your abilities, handling things you weren't quite on top of and hoping things turn out alright? Kids can't quit, and they have very little recourse in terms of demanding better working conditions, but they can find all sorts of ways to act out their anger and despair. Be honest and compassionate when considering what sort of classroom your youngster will learn best in and what sorts of supports he or she will require. Academics are important, and it's not wrong to make them your biggest concern, but emotional support and feelings of mastery are important, too.

2. Be respectful of authority yourself—We all know how important it is to fight for our kids and be strong, effective advocates. That struggle may lead us to conclude that some teachers and some administrators are not worthy of our respect, and their judgment is subject to doubt. But be very, very careful how you communicate that to your youngster. You may think the message you're giving is that grown-ups can be wrong, and you will always stick up for him, and she should value herself even when others criticize. The message your youngster receives, though, may be that it's okay to be disrespectful to teachers, the rules don't apply to her, and you will clean up every mess he makes. That's an attitude that's sure to cause major problems at school, and beyond -- if you teach a kid to question authority, sooner or later he's going to question yours.

3. Listen when your Aspergers youngster talks—I suggest that kids don't answer the question "How was school?" because they know moms and dads only want to hear good news. Moms and dads should reconnect with what it really feels like to be in school -- the uncomfortable desks, the stuffy classrooms, the disengaged teachers, the work that is either too easy or too hard. Think about what it really feels like to be your youngster at school. Ask questions about feelings, and really listen to what he or she says. Don't be quick with a pep talk and a pat on the back. Having someone to listen, without judging, can help defuse some of the frustration that might later erupt in dangerous behavior. And if you listen closely, you may be able to figure out other ways to lessen your youngster's emotional burden.

4. Request an FBA—If the school is sending home complaints about your youngster's behavior -- and expecting you to do something about it -- put the ball back in their court by requesting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). This will force school personnel to really think about your youngster's behavior, not just react to it. An FBA examines what comes before bad behavior and what the consequences are for it; what possible function the behavior could serve for the youngster; and what sorts of things could be setting him or her off. If a youngster finds classwork too hard or a classroom too oppressive, for example, getting sent to the hallway or the principal or home could become a reward, not a punishment. Conducting an FBA and writing a behavior plan based on it is probably the best way to head off discipline problems. If teachers and administrators refuse to go along with it, you might need to do a little behavior analysis on them.

5. Volunteer at your Aspergers youngster's school—Being a presence at your youngster's school -- whether you volunteer at the library or help in the lunchroom, serve as class parent or staff special events -- pays numerous dividends. It gets you known by the administration in a non-adversarial context. It lets your youngster know that school is important to you and a place you want to be. It gives you an opportunity to observe what goes on in that building, from the conduct of the students to the morale of the teachers. If you can't spare the time to volunteer during the school day, attend every Home and School Association meeting you can, and be sure to show up for Back to School nights and teacher conferences. When school personnel get to know you as an involved and interested parent, they're more likely to be your ally when problems come up.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Tantrums and Meltdowns at Home and School

Aspergers Children & School Refusal

Question

What do you do if your 9 year old with Asperger's is refusing to go to school ever again? Do take him kicking and screaming?

Answer

Some Aspergers kids experience fear or panic when they think about going to school in the morning. These kids may tell their moms and dads that they feel nauseous or have a headache, or may exaggerate minor physical complaints as an excuse not to go to school. When the Aspergers youngster or teen exhibits a developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from their home or from those to whom they are attached, they may be experiencing a Separation Anxiety Disorder. Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by the youngster exhibiting three or more of the following for a period of more than four weeks:

1. persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures
2. persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped)
3. persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation
4. persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home
5. persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings
6. recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
7. repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
8. repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation

In addition to the symptoms described above, Aspergers kids with an unreasonable fear of school may also:

• display clinging behavior
• fear being alone in the dark
• feel unsafe staying in a room by themselves and frequently go check to find their parent or have a need to be able to see their parent (e.g., a teenager in a shopping mall who feels a lot of distress if they can't always see their parent may be exhibiting a symptom of separation anxiety)
• have difficulty going to sleep
• have exaggerated, unrealistic fears of animals, monster, burglars
• have nightmares about being separated from their parent(s)
• have severe tantrums when forced to go to school

School Refusal Warning Signs—

While one student may complain of headaches or stomachaches, another may refuse to get out of bed, while a third repeatedly gets "sick" and calls home during the school day. Symptoms can run the gamut and may even include combinations of behaviors. Here are some typical warning signs that an Aspergers youngster is suffering from school refusal disorder:

• Anxiety or panic attacks
• Depression
• Drug/alcohol use
• Failing grades
• Fatigue
• Frequent physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches
• Physical aggression or threats
• Risk-taking behavior
• Social problems

Many symptoms, particularly physical complaints, can mimic other disorders. When these occur in combination with a pattern of not attending school, a complete evaluation should be made by qualified professionals to determine whether a student has school refusal disorder or another psychological or possibly even a physical disorder.

Separation Anxiety Disorder can be exhausting and frustrating for the moms and dads to deal with, but it is worse for the Aspergers youngster who feels such intense fear and discomfort about going to school. If moms and dads are unable to get the youngster to school, the youngster may develop serious educational, emotional, and social problems.

Because the anxiety is about separating from the parent (or attachment object), once the youngster or teen gets to school, they usually calm down and are OK. It's getting them there that is the real challenge.

School avoidance or school refusal may serve different functions in different kids or teenagers. For some Aspergers kids or teens, it may be the avoidance of specific fears or phobias triggered in the school setting (e.g., fear of school bathrooms due to contamination fears associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, fear of test-taking). For other kids or teenagers, it may serve to help them avoid or escape negative social situations (e.g., being bullied by peers, being teased , or having a very critical teacher).

When school refusal is anxiety-related, allowing the Aspergers youngster to stay home only worsens the symptoms over time, and getting the youngster back into school as quickly as possible is one of the factors that is associated with more positive outcomes. To do that, however, requires a multimodal approach that involves the student's physician, a mental health professional, the moms and dads, the student, and the school team. The same therapeutic modalities that are effective with Panic Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are also effective for school refusal, namely, exposure-response prevention (a form of cognitive-behavior therapy that may include relaxation training, cognitive alterations, and a graded hierarchy of steps towards the goal).

There is some research that suggests that education support therapy may be as effective as exposure therapy for treating school refusal. Working with the school psychologist, the student talks about their fears and is educated in the differences between fear, anxiety, and phobias. They learn to recognize the physical symptoms that are associated with each of these states and are given information to help them overcome their fears about attending school. The student is usually asked to keep a daily diary where they record their fears, thoughts (cognitions), strategies, and feelings about going to school. The time of day that they arrived at school is also recorded, and the record is reviewed each morning with the school psychologist. Although it might seem like a good idea to incorporate positive reinforcement for school attendance, that may backfire and merely increase the student's stress levels and anxiety.

Parent training in strategies to work with the Aspergers youngster in the home is also an important piece of any school-based plan to deal with the student with school refusal.

When it comes to school refusal, accommodating the Aspergers youngster by letting them stay home is generally contraindicated, unless there are other issues. So what can moms and dads do? Here are some tips:

• A youngster's reluctance to go to school can be irritating to moms and dads. Expressing resentment and anger is counterproductive. And you won't feel the urge to do so if you adopt specific strategies to assist your Aspergers youngster.

• Be open to hearing about how your youngster feels. However, lengthy discussions about the youngster's problems are not always helpful and can be experienced as a burden by the youngster. The focus must always be that you want to help your youngster be free of worries and fears.

• Do not deny the youngster's anxiety or worries, but acknowledge them and reassure him/her. For example: "I know you're worried I won't be there to pick you up, but there's no reason to worry. I'll be there."

• Do not quiz the Aspergers youngster about why s/he feels scared. The youngster often does not know why. By not being able to provide an explanation, in addition to being anxious, the youngster feels guilty about not making sense of what is happening. Better to acknowledge that the fears make no sense and that the Aspergers youngster has to fight them.

• It is most important to tell the Aspergers youngster exactly what s/he is to expect. There should be no "tricks" or surprises. For example, a youngster may be told that he should try to stay in school for only one hour, but after the hour he is encouraged or asked to stay longer either by the school or parent. This will backfire. The youngster will eventually refuse future arrangements for fear that they will be modified arbitrarily. Part of being anxious is anxiety about the unknown and the “what if?”.

• Punishment does not work, but kind, consistent, rational pressure and encouragement do.

• Try to find ways to enable the Aspergers youngster to go to school. For example, a youngster is likely to feel reassured if times are set for him or her to call the mother from school. In extreme cases, mothers may stay with the youngster in school, but for a specified length of time which is gradually reduced.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

ASPERGER'S SYNDROME: CLINICAL FEATURES

Question

Do you have rating scale or checklist about interpersonal behavior for Aspergers children? Thank you so much for your attention.

Answer

We have included several “checklists” on a variety of parameters below:

ASPERGERS: CLINICAL FEATURES

One of the primary features of Aspergers is their passion for favorite topics or special interests. Some of these areas include:

• astronomy
• dinosaurs
• extraterrestrials
• geography
• history
• machines or machinery
• maps
• math
• metereology
• music
• reading
• science
• social studies
• space travel
• trains
• weather

Socialization deficits—

• Are inflexible and incapable of coping with change
• By school age express desire to fit in socially
• Described as being "in OUR world, but, ON THEIR OWN terms"
• Different from "typical" Autism
• Difficulties making social connections
• Easily stressed and emotionally vulnerable
• Frequently described as “odd” or selfish
• Highly frustrated by their social awkwardness/alienation
• Lack effective interaction skills — not desire
• Lack understanding of human relations and rules of social convention
• Naïve and lack common sense
• Preoccupied with own agenda
• Seldom interested in other's interests/concerns
• Unable to “read” others' needs and perspectives
• Unable to appropriately respond to social cues

Social Problems—

Many Aspergers kid’s social problems are not recognized until they enter preschool. The first things noticed may be a tendency to avoid spontaneous social interactions, to have problems maintaining a conversation and to have a tendency to repeat phrases and make odd statements. They may not make many friends and often have difficulty keeping them. Emotional responses such anger, aggression, or anxiety may be excessive or inappropriate to the situation. ASPERGERS kids also prefer a set routine to frequent changes in the environment.

Social rejection of Aspergers kids—

Because of their social ineptness ASPERGERS kids are often the focus of bullying, scape-goating, hazing and teasing. This often leads to anxiety, feelings of rejection, depression and withdrawal.

Adolescence may bring on crises for ASPERGERS kids because the very social skills they lack are central to adolescent social developmental. Successful adolescents have sensitivities to social nuances and variations in language that nerds lack.

For some teenagers, computers are an alternative from stressful social situations. Computers also provide a more linear, modulated form of socialization that ASPERGERS kids are more skilled and comfortable at handling. Since many ASPERGERS kids become very computer proficient, they become valuable resources to their peers. It also provides a media for social interaction in which they can feel competent and valued.

ASPERGERS adults can lead a normal life. They tend to pursue vocations that relate to their special interests, sometimes with great success, as with Einstein and Newton. Some are able to complete college and even graduate school. However, most will continue to show subtle differences in social style. The social and emotional demands of marriage can be demanding for them.

Use of Language—

• Concrete language rather than abstract
• Difficulty understanding humor
• Early years: repetitive phrases or language or stock phrases from memorized material
• Excessively formal or pedantic language
• Hyper-verbal (highly developed vocabularies)
• Laugh at “wrong time” with jokes or interactions
• Many have good sense of humor
• Misused or not used cultural slang or social idioms
• Problems with taking turns in conversations
• Prosody-speech volume, intonation, inflection, rate is frequently deficient or unusual
• Rote skills are strong
• Some have normal or early language development
others have speech delays, then rapidly catch up, making diagnosis between AS, autism, and speech disorders difficult
• Typically revert to favorite topic area
• Usually like word games and puns
• Weak pragmatic-conversational-skills

TEACHING STRESS REDUCTION SKILLS—

AS kids are:

• are often anxious and worrisome
• easily overwhelmed
• highly sensitive
• often engage in rituals

Practical Suggestions:

• consistent routines
• let them know what to expect
• minimize fears of unknown
• minimize transitions
• prepare them for altered plans, schedules or changes
• provide predictable, safe environments

Examples:

• Introduce to teacher, therapist or para-professional before work begins.
• Learn about youngster's favorite topics or special interests
• Take tour of building youngster will be working or learning in.

AS kids typically display impaired Social Interaction—

Practical Suggestions:

• Create cooperative learning situations
• Educate peers
• Praise classmates when supportive
• Promote empathy and tolerance
• Shield them from bullying and teasing

Examples: Use AS youngster's strengths in exchange for liabilities to foster acceptance:

• Encourage participation in conversations
• Insensitive or inappropriate comments from AS are usually innocent
• Model two-way interactions
• Rehearse proper response repertoires
• Teach and support proper reaction to social cues
• Teach WHAT to say, WHEN, and HOW to say it
• Teach/model correct emotional responding
• Teaching WHY & WHAT response is appropriate is necessary

COMMUNICATION AND GESTURES—

Six steps for understanding challenging communications:

(1) Try to figure out what your youngster is communicating with the challenging behavior.

• “I can't remember what I'm supposed to do”
• “I'm mad…scared…confused”
• “This is too difficult for me”

(2) Consider how you can adapt the situation.

• Youngster expressing confusion? -> consider how to make the situation easier to understand. Make it more concrete, routine, or predictable
• Youngster overwhelmed or overstimulated? Try reducing amount of time in situation, or avoiding it in future.

(3) If the message must be communicated, come up with alternate way in which your youngster can communicate his or her needs or wishes more appropriately.

• Help your youngster develop appropriate ways of conveying requests/needs. If screaming when confused by a task, teach youngster to raise hand, ring a bell, or say: “I need help with this…this is too hard”

(4) Practice the “new way” of communicating.

• model more appropriate phrase or nonverbal signals
• have youngster practice the “new phrase” or behavior
• during the situation, remind (prompt) youngster to use new phrase or behavior

(5) Reward your youngster for using the strategy by showing that it gets his or her needs met.

• if asks to leave situation, provide her with immediate break
• if needs attention, stop what you're doing and provide some time/interest
• if your youngster requests help assist her immediately

(6) Be sure that the challenging behavior is no longer effective in getting your youngster's needs met.

• ignore problem behaviors
• provide prompt for the “new, appropriate one
• if youngster screams to avoid situation, prompt her to use an appropriate phrase. Do NOT allow her to leave the situation while she is screaming.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

Balancing Time Between the Aspergers Child and His Siblings

Question

How can I balance things so that I spend enough time with my son with Aspergers and his siblings?


Answer

Every mother struggles to create balance in her life. Work, household chores, spouse, and kids all compete for a woman’s attention. A youngster with Aspergers will demand attention. Other people and areas of life will fall to the wayside as the mother struggles to meet the needs of that youngster.

It is possible to accomplish the goal of a balanced home life. It will take planning and dedication, skills you already exercise every day as a mother. Here are some areas that you can work on.

Be an involved parent. Support all of your kids at school and at home. Get in the floor with them to play, watch movies, or just hang out. Talk about everything. Know what’s going on in their lives, show interest in their friends, and recognize their hobbies and special interests. Make every minute count for all of your kids.

Do your homework. Find books that will help you deal with tough issues and give you guidance on how to improve the relationships within your home.

Make therapy a family project. It can actually be fun. Spreading the work among several people will make it easier to stick to a therapy plan. It will teach your kids about teamwork, social skills, and what it means to be part of a family.

Make time for work and for play. Household chores should be shared by all. It is important for all of your kids that you keep your youngster with Aspergers involved. He needs to learn these important life skills and his siblings need to experience a home of fairness. On the other hand, make sure you schedule plenty of structured and free playtime. Your kids need to play together. Your typical kids will learn the value of tolerance while your youngster with Aspergers will learn those important social skills.

Schedule time with each youngster. One-on-one time is invaluable for building your kid’s self-confidence. Plan regular alone time with each of your kids. Encourage each youngster to talk about things that happen with their siblings. Be open and honest about Aspergers. These outings are the perfect time to answer questions the siblings may have about your youngster with Aspergers.

My Aspergers Child

Parents’ Management of Tantrums in Aspergers Children

Kids with Aspergers have been known to have a tantrum or two. Think about why a youngster may have a tantrum. That's right, they work! Tantrums can get kids what they want, or they would not have them. What do kids want? Candy, attention, favorite toys, not to go to bed, to continue self-stimulating, not to take medicine, more cookies, no more broccoli, and on and on.

Kids want what they want, when they want it. There are some things you can do to prevent tantrum behavior (e.g., teach kids to wait) but that cannot help you when you are at the shops with a screaming youngster! The best solution for a tantrum is a commitment from all people who have regular contact with your youngster to ignore the tantrum and never give the youngster what he is fussing for as long as he is still having a tantrum. Here's how to do it and stay sane.

What Is A Tantrum?

A tantrum is a form of communication. It's a way for the youngster to say: "Look, moms and dads and the whole world, you'd better give me what I want!" A tantrum is a normal reaction to frustration (not getting what you want) that has grown into a behavior problem. It is normal for a youngster to express anger when disappointed. Anger is a healthy response as long as it is expressed in a socially acceptable way.

When a youngster expresses anger, our first reaction may be amusement. It's cute when a toddler gets mad. Their face frowns up, they say cute things, and they seem so pitiful. Our second reaction, unfortunately, may be to give in to them. This is when a normal anger reaction may turn into a tantrum. The youngster learns quickly that this tool they have just discovered is like magic. It gets the youngster what he wants.

As time goes on, moms and dads get angry too and begin to punish, ignore, yell, and, eventually, to give in again. This is why many moms and dads say, "I tried ignoring, but it did not work." You cannot ignore for a while. You must always ignore, in all situations, or it will not work. The youngster must learn that you will never give in to him when he is fussing. What happens when we ignore, yell, or punish for a while and then give in? The youngster has learned that for a tantrum to work, it must be loud and must last for a long time! To stop a tantrum, you and all who have regular contact with your youngster will have to agree to never give in to a tantrum. This is very hard to do! If you cannot commit to this, then stop reading now and find a way to enjoy the tantrums.

Counting Procedure—

One strategy is to let the youngster know that reinforcement is currently not available. It can be used when a youngster wants something that he can have, but not by throwing a tantrum.

Mother/father: “No crying.” (Start counting as soon as the youngster takes a breath but stops as soon as the crying begins again.)
Mother/father: Repeat “No crying” (Resume counting each time the youngster stops crying.)
Eventually stops crying for a full count of 10.
Mother/father: "What do you want?"

Where a youngster has echolalia, he may begin using the number sequence as a request for the desired object. The numbers should then be counted non-verbally using your fingers instead. In some cases the counting procedure may actually escalate the tantrum because the presence of the mother/father still suggests that he can get what he wants. This can be especially true if the tantrums have worked in the past to get the youngster what he wants. Planned ignoring should then be used.

Planned Ignoring—

Planned ignoring, or tactical ignoring, is a strategy to deal with behaviors that thrive on attention. It is not to be used when the tantrum causes harm to the youngster, others, or property. To ignore the youngster harming self, others, or property would be teaching a behavior that is much worse than a tantrum. If your youngster is harming self, others, or property, ask the professionals working with you for another strategy. Here's how to implement planned ignoring for tantrums:

Consistent response from everyone—

Everyone who has regular contact with your youngster must agree to use this approach for each and every tantrum. If your youngster can understand you, when he is calm, tell your youngster that you will not pay attention to any tantrums (use words he understands) and that you will not give him what he wants as long as he is having a tantrum.

Complete ignoring of the tantrum—

Whenever and wherever a tantrum occurs, it must be completely ignored. This means no positive or negative attention. The tantrum should be treated as if it did not exist and that it will change nothing for the good or bad in your youngster's life. Do not look at your youngster (except out of the corner of your eye to assure your youngster's safety). Do not talk to your youngster, correct your youngster, yell at your youngster, reason with your youngster, comment on the tantrum, or explain your actions to your youngster. Do not touch your youngster (except to protect him from harming himself, others, or property). Step over your youngster if you have to. No hugs, spankings, pats, squeezes, etc. Do not give your youngster anything to distract him, especially the item he is fussing for.

Lavish praise to other kids for their appropriate behavior—

Do not talk to others in the room about the youngster's tantrum. Talk to other adults about the news, sports, or weather. Focus on the other kids or people in the room and what they are doing right. Also, do not ignore good behavior when it occurs at other times. When you see your youngster behaving well, sitting quietly, tell him so: "I like how you are sitting so quietly!" This will let the youngster know that you pay attention to good behavior, not bad.

If you are alone, occupy your attention with other activities—

Read a book, call a friend (this may be a good idea as long as the friend will support you in your new, tough-love stance with your youngster - but do not call anyone who will convince you to give in), listen to music, watch television, sweep the floor, anything to distract you from paying attention to your youngster's tantrum.

Positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior—

When the tantrum stops (in the beginning, this may take a long time), wait a few moments, and then praise your youngster for the next appropriate behavior. Do not discuss the tantrum and do not give your youngster the item or privilege he was fussing for until 30 minutes have passed. At that time it is appropriate to say: "Now ask me again for a cookie (or the item that set the tantrum off - if it is appropriate to have at that time)." Praise the youngster for appropriate asking and give the item, if appropriate. This positive reinforcement will encourage appropriate behavior.

When to Intervene in a tantrum—

If your youngster begins to hurt himself, others, or property during a tantrum, you must intervene. If your youngster is trying to hurt others, remove the others from his reach and give the others your full attention. Do not talk to your youngster while intervening. Continue to ignore the tantrum. If your youngster is hurting himself, remove any items that may harm your youngster or move your youngster to a safer place. Do not talk to your youngster and use only the amount of physical contact necessary to assure your youngster's safety. Make all your actions appear to be matter-of-fact. Treat the tantrum with as little attention as possible. Not unlike the way you deal with an unpleasant noise from outside over which you have no control.

If your youngster was in the middle of completing a task for you when the tantrum began, ignore the tantrum but make sure the youngster completes the task, even if it means hand-over-hand help. For example, if you asked your youngster to pick up the toys and then the tantrum began, do not allow the tantrum to get the youngster out of the chore. Without talking to the youngster, help him pick up the toys and put them away. When the task is finished, walk away without praising your youngster, unless the tantrum stopped. You may also wait for the tantrum to stop and then have your youngster complete the task.

Getting help in dealing with tantrums—

Talk with supportive people who understand what you are doing with your youngster. Hopefully, you have a spouse, minister, friend, family member, and/or professional to share your progress with. This will help keep you on track and will help you deal with the strange looks you will get from people in the community who do not understand what you are doing to your youngster.

Have someone else observe your ignoring to make sure you are not providing any inadvertent attention to your youngster. Stick to the planned ignoring for at least one month before thinking about changing tactics. Behaviors that have been around for a long time will take longer to extinguish. If the tantrum behavior occurs again after it has stopped, apply the planned ignoring all over again. Your youngster must get the idea that tantrums do not help them or hurt them, they just get ignored!

Tantrums as a request for attention—

Kids with Aspergers often communicate through their behavior. That may well be what is going on in a tantrum. You may acknowledge that you understand that the youngster is trying to tell you something but "you must use your words" or communicate in some other way.

As long as the youngster is not fussing, give praise when the youngster uses his words. Also, make sure you listen, don't ignore good communication (get up and meet the need or request if it is appropriate - or explain why it is not appropriate). Often we moms and dads get busy and put the youngster off for too long once he has asked appropriately for something. Show your youngster that appropriate communication is rewarded and honored.

A tantrum can be a request for attention. Moms and dads have a natural tendency to run to their kids when they are in distress. Unfortunately, kids can learn to get attention just by screaming. It is important that you stop reinforcing the behavior by giving attention to your youngster. Instead, give lots of positive attention during appropriate behaviors. For example, approach him when he is playing quietly and offer lots of hugs and kind words (or whatever works as positive reinforcement for the youngster).

Never give attention to the problem behavior again. Time out or ignoring will work if the problem behavior is an attempt to gain attention. If the youngster is using self-injurious or destructive behavior to gain attention, don't leave the youngster alone. Block the behavior and protect the youngster but do not say anything and do not provide any “soothing” touches.

Be aware of sensory issues that can cause tantrums—

Some tantrums are related to sensory issues. A tantrum may occur due to your youngster's hearing a noise, seeing something that they dislike or are afraid of, smelling something, etc. If you suspect this, look into the sensory issues and consult your youngster's occupational therapist for sensory integration ideas. Some kids enjoy tantrums because they lead to the mother/father holding the youngster. I know some therapists recommend holding a youngster to relieve the tantrum. Just my opinion: I think this gives too much attention and may actually reinforce the tantrum.

Some kids do things in a tantrum that cause them self-harm (e.g., banging head, hitting self, etc.) and can lead to self-injurious behavior - sometimes this is a sensory issue also. Researchers believe some kids hurt themselves to release endorphins in the body that then provides them with a sensation they enjoy. If your youngster is hurting himself, please contact a psychologist or psychiatrist or other medical professional for evaluation.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Tantrums in Aspergers Children

Intervention Programs for Aspergers Children

Question

We found out 4 weeks ago that my son has aspergers and possible ADHD plus sensory issues. I do not know where to begin. I feel as though I am getting nowhere …some intervention programs we have contacted don’t give much information …I am starting to work out what aspergers is and what it means … I went to a work shop and I did not find that helpful at all …they were meant to narrow down the best intervention programs out there but they never did. The team that told us our son has aspergers sort of said “here you go, this is what he has off you go find an intervention program.”

We have looked at a few but they don’t seem right for our son, no one can help me and advise me what intervention program is best for my son … we sort of want a program that is related to aspergers. No one can help us find a course or workshops to teach our son at home the skills the therapist will teach him.

If anyone can help me narrow down good intervention programs for aspergers or if there is any workshops, or books, or DVD’s that can give us advise tips how to teach our son on communication, social, meltdowns we would be so grateful to anyone.

Answer

Here's a great resource:
The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome.

My 5 year old was just diagnosed with aspergers...

Question

My 5 year old was just diagnosed with aspergers. Where do I start to help him and where do I start to educate myself? I feel alone and scared. I live in a small area and I don't even know if we have anyone here that is well educated to guide us. How do I find that out?

Answer

A great place to start is with The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook: Help for Parents with Aspergers Children.

Raising Aspergers Children: Symptoms and Parenting Strategies

Aspergers is a developmental disorder falling within the autistic spectrum affecting two-way social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and a reluctance to accept change, inflexibility of thought and to have all absorbing narrow areas of interest. Individuals are usually extremely good on rote memory skills (facts, figures, dates, times etc.) many excel in math and science. There is a range of severity of symptoms within the syndrome, the very mildly affected youngster often goes undiagnosed and may just appear odd or eccentric.

While Aspergers is much more common than Autism it is still a rare condition and few people, including professionals, will know about it much less have experience of it. It seems to affect more boys than girls. In general terms they find making friends difficult, not understanding the subtle clues needed to do so. They often use language in a slightly odd way and take literal meanings from what is read or heard. They are happiest with routines and a structured environment, finding it difficult to decide what to do they fall back on to their preferred activities. They love praise, winning and being first, but find loosing, imperfection and criticism very difficult to take. Bad behavior often stems from an inability to communicate their frustrations and anxieties. They need love, tenderness, care, patience and understanding. Within this framework they seem to flourish.

Kids with Aspergers are for the most part bright, happy and loving kids. If we can help break through to their 'own little world' we can help them to cope a little better in society. They have a need to finish tasks they have started. Strategies can be developed to reduce the stress they experience at such times. Warnings that an activity is to finish in x minutes can help with older kids. With younger kids attempts to 'save' the task help - videoing a program, mark in a book etc.

As the kids mature some problems will get easier, but like all other kids new problems will emerge. Some teenagers can feel the lack of friendships difficult to cope with as they try hard to make friends in their own way but find it hard to keep them. This is not always the case, many have friends who act as 'buddies' for long periods of time. Social skills will have to be taught in an effort for them to find a place in the world ... so take all opportunities to explain situations time and time again ..... and one day.......it may work!

Please bear in mind that booklets such as this do tend to detail all the problems which can be found within a syndrome but that does not mean every youngster will have all of them. Each youngster will also have different levels of achievements and difficulties. They are after all just as the others ... individuals!

Is Aspergers The Same As Autism?

The debate on this question still continues, some experts say that Aspergers should be classified separately, others argue that the core difficulties are the same, only the degree to which they are seen in the kids actually makes the difference. One expert - Uta Frith - has referred to Aspergers kids as 'Having a dash of Autism'.

Autism is often interpreted as a withdrawal from normal life - to live in the persons own fantasy world. This is no longer the real meaning of Autism. The severity of the impairments is much greater than in Aspergers, and often the youngster will have little or no language. Learning problems are more common in classic Autism. In Aspergers speech is usual and intelligence (cognitive ability) is usually average or even above average.

For the moment it is taken that the similarities are enough for both Autism and Aspergers to be considered within the same 'spectrum' of developmental disorders. Whilst a clear diagnosis is essential, it can change through life. The autistic traits seen in young kids can often seem less severe as the youngster matures and learns strategies to cope with his/her difficulties.

Key Features—

The main areas affected by Aspergers are:

• Communication
• Narrow Interests / Preoccupation's
• Repetitive routines / rituals, inflexibility
• Social interaction

Social Interaction—

Kids with Aspergers have poor social skills. They cannot read the social cues and, therefore, they don't give the right social and emotional responses. They can lack the desire to share information and experiences with others. These problems are less noticeable with moms and dads and adults, but it leads to an inability to make age appropriate friends. This in turn can lead to frustration and subsequent behavior problems. They find the world a confusing place. They are often alone, some are happy like this, others are not. They are more noticeably different among peer groups in unstructured settings i.e. playgrounds. Their naiveté can cause them to be bullied and teased unless care is taken by assistants or buddies to integrate and help protect them. They can often focus on small details and fail to see the overall picture of what is happening in any situation.

Communication—

Both verbal and nonverbal communications pose problems. Spoken language is often not entirely understood, so it should be kept simple, to a level they can understand. Take care to be precise. Metaphor s (non-literal expressions - 'food for thought') and similes (figures of speech - 'as fit as a fiddle') have to be explained as kids with Aspergers tend to make literal and concrete interpretations. Language acquisition - learning to speak - in some cases can be delayed. They make much use of phrases they have memorized, although they may not be used in the right context. A certain amount of translation may be needed in order to understand what they are trying to say.

Spoken language can sometimes be odd, perhaps they don't have the local accent or they are too loud for a situation or overly formal or speak in a monotonous tone. If the youngster with Aspergers has a good level of spoken language you must not assume their understanding is at the same level. Some talk incessantly (hyper verbal) often on a topic of interest only to themselves without knowing the boredom of the listener.

Difficulties in using the right words or forming conversations are part of semantic-pragmatic difficulties. They appear often to talk 'at' rather than 'to' you, giving information rather that holding proper conversations. Body language and facial expressions of a youngster with Aspergers can appear odd (stiff eye gaze rather than eye contact) and find 'reading' these things in others gives rise to further difficulties. Early age is known as Hyperlexia. Some kids have remarkable reading abilities although you should check if they also understand the text. The ability to read fluently without understanding the meaning is known as Hyperlexia.

Narrow Interests / Pre-occupations—

One of the hallmarks of Aspergers is the youngster's preoccupation (or obsession) with certain topics, often on themes of transport - trains in particular-or computers, dinosaurs, maps etc. These pre-occupations, usually in intellectual areas change over time but not in intensity, and maybe pursued to the exclusion of other activities.

Repetitive Routines / Inflexibility—

Kids often impose rigid routine on themselves and those around them, from how they want things done, to what they will eat etc. It can be very frustrating for all concerned. Routines will change from time to time, as they mature they are perhaps a little easier to reason with. This inflexibility shows itself in other ways too, giving rise to difficulties with imaginative and creative thinking. The youngster tends to like the same old thing done in the same old way over and over again!. They often can't see the point of a story or the connection between starting a task and what will be the result. They usually excel at rote memory - learning information without understanding, but it can still be an asset. Attempts should always be made to explain everything in a way they can understand. Don't assume because they parrot information back that they know what they are talking about.

Education—

If the youngster with Aspergers is to be educated in a mainstream school it is important that the correct amount of support is made available. In order to get the correct support a Statement of Special Educational Needs should be drawn up from the various advice supplied by you and the specialists. This procedure, when it begins, can take 6 months and be a very stressful and confusing time - don't be afraid to contact people who can help, this need not be a professional it may just be someone who has done it all before.

It is beneficial if the school of your choice is willing to learn about the difficulties that they and the youngster will face, some schools are better than other on this score. Looking at several schools will give a better picture of exactly what is available. The support currently offered in mainstream school is by Special Support Assistants (SSA) for a certain number of hours each week based on the youngster's needs in order to help the youngster access the curriculum and develop in a social setting. A support teacher with specialist knowledge of Autism should support the youngster, SSA, teacher and school in understanding and teaching the youngster. Other professional input may also be required such as speech and language therapy to help develop skills.

The home/school link is vital, a diary can prove invaluable giving two way communication on achievements and problems on a regular basis.

Parenting Strategies—

Parenting your youngster with symptoms of Aspergers can be a daunting task. You may have just discovered that your youngster has a diagnosis of AS and you are thinking “What now?” Or you may have a youngster who you know is different and/or a health professional has said that he or she has some attributes of Aspergers or Mild Aspergers but is still considered in the normal range. You are probably feeling a little overwhelmed and it might seem like you are the only person or family going through these issues. We know because that’s exactly how we felt.

Like you, we are moms and dads who would like nothing more than for all of our kids to reach their maximum potential. Because they only match some of the assessment criteria needed for an Aspergers diagnosis, we have had to find help for our kids ourselves. And we have found this help in some of the most unexpected places. This makes us uniquely positioned to show you how to get help from a variety of sources for your “normal” youngster or kids.

I wonder, do your youngster’s specific behavioral problems seem worse after lunch or a party? He or she may be intolerant to certain types of food. We can give you information about food intolerances and share with you our expertise of what we have learned. While there is not much scientific evidence that foods affect AS, we can show you information that you may want to look into.

Have you noticed that your youngster doesn’t like loud noises, bright lights, tight or loose fitting clothes and reacts inappropriately to any of these particular things? Does your youngster crave fast movement or are they almost impossible to get moving in the morning? The good news is there is an answer. They may have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). There is growing evidence that links SID and Aspergers. Sensory Integration Disorder is easily manageable with techniques you can learn and do at home.

Do you find routines hard to establish and maintain? Using Visual Aids for your Aspergers youngster might just benefit you and your youngster as it has benefited us.

Moving Forward—

All this might seem a little daunting at the moment. However, with experience and help, including ours, you can teach your youngster to rule their Aspergers rather than have their Aspergers rule them.

On the pages of this site, you will find reference to many useful books and resources that help us and our kids cope with life. The books include those on AS as well as Sensory Integration and Food intolerances. You will also find information and links to other sites that provide information on other disorders related to Aspergers.

There are many things you can do to help your youngster better understand the world and in doing so make everyone's lives a little easier. The ideas below are only suggestions which you may or may not find helpful:

• Begin early to teach the difference between private and public places and actions, so that they can develop ways of coping with more complex social rules later in life.
• Don't always expect them to 'act their age' they are usually immature and you should make some allowances for this.
• Explain why they should look at you when you speak to them.... encourage them, give lots of praise for any achievement - especially when they use a social skill without prompting.
• Find a way of coping with behavior problems - perhaps trying to ignore it if it's not too bad or hugging sometimes can help.
• In some young kids who appear not to listen - the act of 'singing' your words can have a beneficial effect.
• Keep all your speech simple - to a level they understand.
• Keep instructions simple ... for complicated jobs use lists or pictures.
• Let them know that you love them - wart's an' all' - and that you are proud of them. It can be very easy with a youngster who rarely speaks not to tell them all the things you feel inside.
• Limit any choices to two or three items.
• Limit their 'special interest' time to set amounts of time each day if you can.
• Pre-warn them of any changes, and give warning prompts if you want them to finish a task... 'when you have colored that in we are going shopping'.
• Promises and threats you make will have to be kept - so try not to make them too lightly.
• Teach them some strategies for coping - telling people who are teasing perhaps to 'go away' or to breathe deeply and count to 20 if they feel the urge to cry in public.
• Try to build in some flexibility in their routine, if they learn early that things do change and often without warning - it can help.
• Try to get confirmation that they understand what you are talking about/or asking - don't rely on a stock yes or no - that they like to answer with.
• Try to identify stress triggers - avoid them if possible -be ready to distract with some alternative 'come and see this...' etc.
• Use turn taking activities as much as possible, not only in games but at home too.

Remember, they are kids just like the rest, they have their own personalities, abilities, likes and dislikes - they just need extra support, patience and understanding from everyone around them.


Children with Aspergers: Tips for Teachers and Parents

Children with Aspergers are unique, and they can affect the learning environment in both positive and negative ways. In the classroom, the Aspergers child can present a challenge for the most experienced teacher. These children can also contribute a lot to the classroom because they can be extremely creative and see things and execute various tasks in different ways. Teachers can learn a lot when they have a child with Aspergers in their class, but the teacher may experience some very challenging days too.

Here are some tips for teachers and parents to consider:

Aspergers children and showing work: Many teachers require children to "show their work"; in other words, illustrate how they got the answer to a problem."Showing work" is a demand that usually accompanies math homework. This may not be the best strategy with the Aspergers child, and may in fact lead to a big disagreement with the child. Since many Aspergers children are visual learners, they picture how to solve the problem in their heads. To make them write out how they got they answer seems quite illogical to them. Why would you waste your time writing out something you can see in your head? The requirement of "showing work" simply does not make any sense to them, and it may not be worth the time it would take to convince them to do the requirement anyway.

Aspergers children frequently are visual learners. Despite difficulties with eye contact, many Aspergers children are visual learners. Much of the information presented in classrooms is oral, and often children with Aspergers may have difficulty with processing language. Often they cannot take in oral language quickly, and presenting information visually may be more helpful. Many Aspergers children are "hands-on" learners.

Avoid demanding the child with Aspergers maintain eye contact with you. Eye contact is a form of communication in American culture; we assume a person is giving us their attention if they look at us. The Aspergers child experiences difficulty with eye contact; it is extremely hard for them to focus their eyes on a person for any extended period of time. Limited eye contact is a part of the disability. Don't demand an Aspergers child look you in the eye as you are talking to them--this is extremely difficult for them to do.

Don't assume the child with Aspergers is disrupting class or misbehaving to get attention. More often than not, children with Aspergers react to their environment, and sometimes the reaction can be negative. Sometimes the child may be reacting to a sensory issue, and other times the child may be reacting to a feeling of fear. The Aspergers child feels fear because of a lack of control over his/her response to the environment or because of a lack of predictability. The child with Aspergers does best with clear structure and routine. A visual schedule can be helpful for the child.

Every youngster with Aspergers is different. As a teacher you want to take the information you have acquired and apply it, but every Aspergers child is different, so it's difficult to take knowledge you have gained from one experience, and apply it to a situation with another child with Aspergers. Remember that each youngster with Aspergers is unique, and strategies that have worked with other children in the past may not work effectively with the Aspergers child because they perceive the world in a unique way, and they sometimes react to their environment in unpredictable ways.

If the child with Aspergers is staring off into space or doodling, don't assume they're not listening. Remember the Aspergers child may experience difficulty with communication, especially nonverbal communication. What appears to the teacher to be behavior illustrating a lack of attention on the part of the child may not be that at all. In fact, the Aspergers child who is doodling or staring off may actually be trying to focus him or herself through the act of doodling or staring. The child is unaware that nonverbally s/he is communicating to the teacher that "I'm not listening, or I'm bored." Doodling or staring may actually help the child with Aspergers focus more on what the teacher is presenting. You might simply ask the child a question to check if he or she is listening.

Sensory issues affect learning for the child with Aspergers. Often Aspergers children are distracted by something in the environment that they simply cannot control. To them, the ticking of the clock can seem like the beating of a drum, the breeze from an open window can feel like a tremendous gust, the smell of food from the cafeteria can overpower them and make them feel sick, the bright sunshine pouring through the windows may be almost blinding to them. This sensory overload the Aspergers child experiences may overwhelm them, so focusing can be difficult and frustration occurs. Frustration can then lead to disruptions from the child. To cope with frustration the child might choose to repeatedly tap a pencil on a desk (or another disruptive behavior) to focus themselves because s/he is experiencing sensory overload. What appears disruptive to the teacher and the rest of the class may actually be a way for the Aspergers child to cope with the sensory overload. Obviously, a teacher does not want disruptions in the classroom. Take time to evaluate the classroom in terms of sensory stimulation, and how the environment affects the child with Aspergers. Perhaps some modifications can be made, or the child can be taught some coping skills that are not disruptive to classmates, like squeezing a squishy ball in their hand or some similar activity.

Children with Aspergers experience difficulty with transitions. Often a child with Aspergers gets "stuck" and has difficulty moving from one activity to another. They may need to be coached through the transition, and if a typical school day is loaded with lots of transitions, the child faces increased anxiety. Moving from one activity to another is not a challenge for most children, but for the child with Aspergers transitions can be monumental tasks. Some possible strategies a teacher, paraprofessional, or parent can use: visual schedules, role-playing or preparing the child by discussing upcoming activities. Appropriate strategies are dependent on the age of the child and his/her abilities.

Children with Aspergers may experience difficulties with focusing as well as lack of focus. Focus involves attention. Sometimes Aspergers children focus all their attention on a particular object or subject; therefore, they fail to focus on what information the instructor is presenting. All their energy is directed toward a particular subject or object. Why? Because that object or subject is not overwhelming to them and they understand it. To overcome this problem, the teacher can try to establish some connection between the object or subject of interest and the area of study. For example, if a child is fascinated with skateboarding, the child could learn reading and writing skills through researching a famous skateboarder and writing a report. Math skills could be taught by looking at the statistics involving competitive skateboarders. The possibilities for instruction are endless, but it will take some time and creative planning on the part of the teacher.

As a teacher, paraprofessional or parent of a youngster with Aspergers, it's important to recognize the youngster's gifts as well as limitations. Children with Aspergers present a challenge for the people who work with them, but these kids also enrich our lives. So when you're feeling frazzled, take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow is another day. This youngster will grow up and make a contribution to our world in some way we can only imagine, and you can help this youngster.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums at Home and School

ASD and School Behavior Problems

Question

Mark, I have a daughter age 6 who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (unspecified) at age two. She received intensive therapy, 40 hours plus, per week utilizing various techniques. She is now 6. She is extremely friendly to even strangers, her IQ is 133… she is great with the exception of some behavioral problems. She is in first grade and is getting in trouble and being punished regularly for things such a marking on things she should not mark on, refusing to write. I need help.

Answer

You need to have a functional behavior assessment performed (go to www.MyAspergersChild.com and type “functional behavior assessment” in the search box for more on this).

Consider the following scenarios: A child with an ASD has a behavior meltdown, in the school hall way. He begins to scream and hit other child. A grown-up is able to redirect the child and thus eliminate the behavior. Afterward, the team meets to discuss behavioral approaches for the future and to try to find out what led to this behavioral incident. As the team discusses potential reasons for the behavior, they discover that the child has been the victim of intense bullying and teasing. In response, the team questions what they can do in the future to eliminate behavioral difficulties. The issue of dealing with the bullies is never discussed.

Another child has a history of behavioral challenges that were minimal during elementary school, but have intensified in middle school. The team realizes that middle school presents special challenges because of changing classes and working with multiple staff.

Accommodations are discussed that may assist the child in making numerous transitions throughout the school day. Despite these efforts, behavior incidents continue to occur. The behaviors are most likely to occur in the cafeteria or in hallways, which are incredibly noisy. It is suggested that in the future, in-school suspension be considered when there is a behavioral challenge. This is the approach used with other child, and the school has a strong zero-tolerance policy. The child is warned repeatedly. Despite these warnings, behaviors continue and actually escalate, resulting in removal from the educational setting.

Responding to Problematic Behavior—

When a youngster with ASD engages in problematic behavior, a typical response includes trying to identify what is going on within the youngster that leads to this behavior crisis. Questions are asked, such as, “Why is he exhibiting this behavior?” “Why is she hitting others?” or “What will stop this behavior?” All too often, this last question keeps us focused on consequence procedures that are child specific. However, simply focusing on the child as the sole source of the behavior provides limited insight into potential solutions and problems. In these situations, there are multiple issues to consider.

First, the federal law guiding special education services, the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), requires special procedures and safeguards to be used when considering discipline for child with disabilities. These IDEIA provisions regarding discipline were designed to ensure that kids with disabilities maintain their ability to receive an appropriate education, even though the symptoms of their disability may include behaviors that require interventions. These provisions consider the amount of time a child may be removed from class or school due to behavior, and require the school team to analyze whether the behavior is related to the child’s disability. This process is called manifestation determination. If the behavior is determined to be due to the disability, the law requires that a functional behavior assessment be conducted that results in an individually designed behavior support plan. This plan should use positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports to address the behavior and teach alternative ways of responding.

When conducting a functional behavior assessment, professionals and family members examine setting events or triggers that may increase the probability of these behaviors. These setting events may not be readily apparent. For example, a child with ASD is ill, has had a difficult morning ride on the bus or has not slept. These conditions will increase the likelihood that a behavior incident will occur. For most of us, stresses in life, changes in morning routines or skipping our morning coffee may set us up to be moody and agitated. These are setting events. Setting events that we often do not consider are related to the culture of the school. Schools that struggle with bullying, high rates of suspension or expulsion, or even high staff turnover may be settings that promote problematic behaviors. If this is the case, then schools should take a systematic approach in creating a school culture that is responsive to child and staff.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns at Home and School


Best Comment:


Well, I guess it’s time for me to tell our school administration about my son. I initially wanted to wait on this as I was trying to grasp what Aspergers was, make sure he really has this and really understand it. I feel I have the tools to do this now, two diagnoses from two professionals, a neurologist and a psychologist and after the two incidents that happened at school, I must say something.


First incident: I received a call from the school that my son was doubled over in pain in the office because he said his stomach hurt. I arrived at the school to pick him up in the office. The secretary said that he was in the bathroom (I told her to encourage him to go over the phone as he has had this problem/ his 8 yrs of life) Well, I waited and waited and waited...I told her he was taking too long. I then decided to knock on the bathroom door. He was not there. I walked over to his classroom and looked into the window and there he was! I went back into the office and told them that he was in his classroom. The office called him back so I could assess the situation. He now felt fine and wanted to stay at school. He loves school and could have easily pretended he was sick or just come home but that is not how he is. The office had no clue their student went m.i.a on him and if they had looked him in the eye and told him to make sure he came back and check on him after 3 min he would have been back. In his mind, he was ok and went back or just forgot and had his mind on one idea.


Second incident: My son was called into the office (he never gets called to the office!) because he spelled out loud an inappropriate word at school. The note said that he said the F word for which he does NOT know nor ever heard. I was in shock, tears, you know it! They said he heard this from a kid at camp over the summer. I asked him what he said. He said "mom, I spelled Sucker" When he went to the office, the administrator asked him to spell what he spelled out on the playground and the admin said he spelled it with a F. My son told me that spelling that with an F is NOT a word and does NOT make sense. I know in my heart that the admin heard it wrong. An F and an F sound alike when said out loud. What really bothered me was that the admin thought my son was lying or changing his stories in the office. When he said to the admin, I did not spell that, I spelled sucker. the admin said "you know what you spelled!" that is just wrong and then after being questioned my son started to get confused and cry and told the admin...uuhh I forget, which he does! It was not the admins fault. I blame myself. They need to know my so does not lie. He is a truth teller! I told my son that he has a detention for spelling sucker and that is not a good word. I’m hurt and angry because now he has been exposed to the F word because the admin. Thought that is what he said. It’s so unfair! I did not bring up Aspergers etc when I was in the office crying and trying to make sense of all this. I did not want to use that as an excuse. I called for the impromptu meeting in the office, they did not.


My son is also going through testing for an auditory processing disorder (on Wed) and other language issues. His speech is unclear at times, slurs words (may have been why the admin thought he used an F) and had a hard time expressing himself at times. The school does not know this. The only teachers that know of his diagnosis are his current teacher, teacher from last year and the music teacher. I will now be setting up an appointment with the administration.


My son told me that he did hear the word sucker from a kid at camp and that the boy did not get into trouble for it but he somehow knew it was bad. He said "Mom, it is a bad word to say and that is why I SPELLED it!" From the mind of a child with Aspergers. Thank you, God that he did not say the F word even though the guy in admin thought so. I know what he said...they can believe what they want.


I wrote a letter stating that for the record, my son did not spell what they thought he spelled, but I stand by the school 100% and YES, he should have a 20 min. detention for spelling the word SUCKER.I do not allow that word in our home and as a matter of fact the word Stupid is a bad word in our home. Stating the facts and supporting the school at the same time, shows the school I’m not a crazy parent without a brain.


My son attends a private school that we love! The admin who heard him wrong, is an amazing individual. I respect him but I think his "hearing aid" needed to be turned up that day! Ahhhh, I need to laugh.


Thanks for listening, my eyes are swollen! ( :

Aspergers Teens and Employment

Question

I want to help my child with Aspergers to get employment in the field that he does well at, but there is no one out there who will give him a chance-Help!

Answer

The job market can seem like a cold, cruel place. So many individuals are competing for a hand full of jobs, hoping to break into their field of interest. It truly is a rat race. There are things you can do to help your child find his place in the battlefield of employment.

You’ve already given him a good start by encouraging him to find a career that is focused on one of his interests. Individuals with Aspergers can have very strong obsessions. The amount of attention your child places on his obsessions guarantee that he will be extremely knowledgeable in that area. Not only that, the personal involvement makes him intensely happy.

“Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism-Updated and Expanded Edition” by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy is an excellent resource to use while planning to help your child find the perfect opportunity. This is a thorough account on employment prospects and opportunities available for individuals with Aspergers.

An internship is a good way to get a foot in the door of a possible employer. Many companies that are under hiring freeze still have work that another person could be doing. By offering time as an intern, your child could receive valuable on-the-job training in his field of interest. It’s true that he wouldn’t be a paid employee, but once that hiring freeze is lifted, he’ll be first in line for the job.

Volunteering is another option. Although not as structured, volunteering is similar to an internship, meaning no pay. Volunteer opportunities can be found in every community. They may not be directly related to his field of interest, but he could learn how to be a good employee in many different situations. Not to mention, the volunteer hours will look really good on his resume.

Do not discredit the idea of your child accepting a job unrelated to his area of interest. Sometimes you have to work up a little bit to that preferred position. A company that does business in his area of interest may have openings in another department. Lateral moves happen all the time. And if it doesn’t, he will have solid work experience to add to his resume when he’s ready to make the jump into his desired field.

Finding employment based on your child’s interest will assure a successful and enjoyable career. These tips and suggestions should get you started building your child’s resume and enabling him to secure the job of his dreams.

Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

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.

If your child suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, expect him to experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over a very small incident, or may experience a minor meltdown over something that is major. There is no way of telling how he is going to react about certain situations. However, there are many ways to help your child learn to control his emotions.

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.

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing a child with a neurological disorder. Violent rages, self-injury, isolation-seeking tendencies and communication problems that arise due to auditory and sensory issues are just some of the behaviors that parents of teens with Aspergers will have to learn to control.

Parents need to come up with a consistent disciplinary plan ahead of time, and then present a united front and continually review their strategies for potential changes and improvements as the Aspergers teen develops and matures.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers 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.

Although they may vary slightly from person to person, children with Aspergers tend to have similar symptoms, the main ones being:

=> A need to know when everything is happening in order not to feel completely overwhelmed
=> A rigid insistence on routine (where any change can cause an emotional and physiological meltdown)
=> Difficulties with social functioning, particularly in the rough and tumble of a school environment
=> Obsessive interests, with a focus on one subject to the exclusion of all others
=> Sensory issues, where they are oversensitive to bright light, loud sounds and unpleasant smells
=> Social isolation and struggles to make friends due to a lack of empathy, and an inability to pick up on or understand social graces and cues (such as stopping talking and allowing others to speak)

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent?

Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Parents face issues such as college preparation, vocational training, teaching independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their child, if necessary. Meanwhile, their immature Aspergers teenager is often indifferent – and even hostile – to these concerns.

As you were raising your child, you imagined how he would be when he grew up. Maybe you envisioned him going to college, learning a skilled traded, getting a good job, or beginning his own family. But now that (once clear) vision may be dashed. You may be grieving the loss of the child you wish you had.

If you have an older teenager with Aspergers who has no clue where he is going in life, or if you have an “adult-child” with Aspergers still living at home (in his early 20s or beyond), here are the steps you will need to take in order to foster the development of self-reliance in this child.

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