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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Aspergers and "Problems with Balance"

Question

My Aspergers child has great difficulty with balance – is this a normal Aspergers trait or something else?

Answer

Both Aspergers (high-functioning autism) and Sensory Integration Dysfunction often go hand in hand. It is common to hear that a child with Aspergers also has difficulty with balance and other gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and unusual tolerance (or intolerance) to sounds, lights, smells, and touch. These complaints cause as much of a problem for children with Aspergers as the actual language, communication, and social weaknesses that are a direct result of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

There are therapies that address the symptoms of Aspergers and sensory issues. However, there are activities you can do at home with your child that will help develop sensory integration. There are separate sensory systems that create a person’s sensory profile. Here is a list of these sensory areas:
  • Fine motor skills are necessary for grasping, writing, tying shoes, and working buttons and zippers. These skills include all physical skills related to the strength and control of the small muscles of the body.
  • Gross motor skills are necessary for walking, kicking, jumping, and coordination. These skills include all physical skills related to the strength and control of the large muscle groups of the body.
  • Proprioception is the ability to properly use the big muscles and joints of the body.
  • Tactile is the ability to properly interpret touch.
  • Vestibular is the ability to balance, body movement, and knowing where your body is in relation to space. Closely related, but not exactly sensory systems, these skill areas are often incorporated during occupational/sensory therapies.

When working with children with Aspergers and sensory issues, keep in mind that many physical play activities can be adapted to your home therapy program. Sensory therapy should look like play and it should be fun. Here are some activities you can try, along with the sensory systems each activity will benefit:

Proprioceptive—

• Encourage pushing or pulling heavy weight, such as a basket of books or toys.
• Have the child jump into a foam pit or onto a padded mat.
• Have the child jump on a trampoline.

Vestibular—

• Have the child walk on a balance beam
• Push the child on a swing.

Tactile—

• Have a finger painting session.
• Mash and roll out Play-Doh.
• Play catch by tossing a textured, weighted ball.
• Use mud, pudding, or shaving cream to play in with hands and feet.

There are many books and videos that can help you develop a home play therapy plan for your child with Aspergers and sensory issues. One such guide is the video entitled, “Learn to Move, Move to Learn, Dinosaurs” by Jenny Clark Brack. This video is a theme-based lesson geared towards young children.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

Is there any method I can use during the meltdowns...?

Question

I have three teenagers with Asperger's and my spouse does also. Needless to say, our home is stressful at least once a day---usually more---every day. The conflict upsets our preschooler and leaves me in the middle to maintain peace and order. It is challenging to keep them from misreading, reacting to, and feeding off of each others' moods/verbalizations. Is there any method I can use during the meltdowns, especially if I come in when it's already angry and chaotic? I've tried getting them to separate and cool off, but they seem locked into engaging with each other. And, if I leave the room or the house I often end up with holes punched in walls, broken items, etc.

Answer

The parent’s behavior can influence a meltdown’s duration, so always check your response first:
  1. Calm down
  2. Quiet down
  3. Slow down
  4. Prioritize safety
  5. Re-establish self-control in your son/daughter, then deal with the issue

1. Take 3 slow, deep breaths, and rather than dreading the meltdown that’s about to take place, assure yourself that you’ve survived meltdowns 100 times before and will do so this time too.

2. Keep your speaking voice quiet and your tone neutrally pleasant. Don’t speak unnecessarily. Less is best. Don’t be “baited” into an argument. Often Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) kids seem to “want” to fight. They know how to “push your buttons,” so don’t be side-tracked from the meltdown issue.

3. Slow down. A meltdown often occurs at the most inconvenient time (e.g., rushing out the door to school). The extra pressure the fear of being late creates adds to the stress of the situation. Aspergers kids respond to "referred mood" and will pick up on your stress. This stress is then added to their own. So forget the clock and focus on the situation. Make sure the significant people in your life know your priorities here. Let your boss know that your Aspergers youngster has meltdowns that have the capacity to bring life to a standstill, and you may be late. Let your youngster's teacher know that if he or she is late due to a meltdown -- it’s unavoidable, and he or she shouldn’t be reprimanded for it.

4. Prioritize safety when your Aspergers child is having a meltdown. Understand that he can be extremely impulsive and irrational at this time. Don’t presume that the safety rules he knows will be utilized while he is "melting down." Just because your Aspergers youngster knows not to go near the street when he is calm doesn’t mean he won’t run straight into 4 lanes of traffic when he is having a meltdown. If your Aspergers child starts melting down when you’re driving in the car, pull over and stop. If he tends to “flee” when melting down, don’t chase him. This just adds more danger to the situation. Tail him at a safe distance, and maintain visual contact.

5. When your Aspergers youngster is calm and has regained self-control, she will often be exhausted. Keep that in mind as you work through the meltdown issue. Reinforce to your youngster the appropriate way to express her needs and requests.

Remember that all behavior is a form of communication, so try to work out the message your Aspergers son or daughter is trying to convey with his or her meltdown, rather than responding and reacting to the behavior displayed.

Note: A meltdown is not the same as a tantrum. Tantrums are caused by kids not getting their own way and then "acting out" in order to try and get what they want. A meltdown is often triggered by sensory overload (e.g., hypersensitivity to noise, light, heat, etc.). This leaves them feeling irritable, agitated, and stressed.


How to PREVENT Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children and Teens

Aspergers and ADD

Question

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

Answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:


COMMENTS:

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

Post your comment below…

Grandparents Raising Asperger's Grandchildren

Question

Are there many other grandparents like me helping to raise kids with Aspergers? And what qualities do you think we bring to this task?

Answer

There are many grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members who are involved in helping to raise kids with Aspergers (high-functioning autism). The degree to which relatives are involved in the care of the kids can vary greatly, but grandparents often have a special place in kid’s hearts.

Grandparents bring a unique set of skills to the raising of their grandkids. Many grandparents have the ability to spend a great deal of time with their grandkids because they are retired or have cut back on their work schedule. This gift of time is typically accompanied by patience. Parents are often harried, rushing from here to there to get things accomplished according to the schedule. Grandparents often don’t have those pressures. This gift of time and patience can be especially important to a youngster with Aspergers. Grandparents can often ease the chaos of transition periods for a youngster with Aspergers. Grandparents are often more patient when explaining something or encouraging a youngster to try a new experience.

Grandparents often have reached a place in their lives where they care less about what other people’s perceptions of them are. This can be a special gift when raising a youngster with Aspergers. Grandparents tend to be more accepting and less embarrassed by public outbursts or tantrums, or even behaviors that might strike others as odd.

Grandparents often have more time to try to develop new and different ways to relate to a youngster with Aspergers. They are often less discouraged when a strategy meets with failure and tend to look at the big picture, rather than the small detail.

Grandparents can be a gift not only to the kids with Aspergers but also to their moms and dads. They can function as trusted caregivers for their kids, as well as being a sounding board for concerns or fears or frustrations the parents may have. Sometimes, simply being there for the parents and offering support can be very important.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

13 year old Aspie daughter had her day in court...

Hello Mr. Hutten,

I would like to share with you and you can feel free to share with others something wonderful that happened to our family yesterday. 

After almost a year and half of being bullied, harassed and assaulted on the school bus, our 13 year old Aspie daughter had her day in court with the perpetrator (another 13 year old bully). My daughter was terrified to testify, but I assured her that her family was there to protect her. We also were blessed to have a witnessed to one of the horrific beatings that my daughter endured come forward. She was terrified as well. 

The States Atty's office in Upper Marlboro, Maryland brought forth the case. It was a long process, without any assistance from the school system. Anyway, to make a long story short, the bully was found guilty on all three charges of second degree assault. The judge remanded her into custody on the spot. She was taken away in handcuffs. There was high drama in the courtroom. It had been such a long and lonely process, I did not know what to expect, but imagine my daughter witnessing the detention and handcuffing of her tormentor in front of her...it was amazing. 

While it is not a joyous occasion to see a 13 year old child in handcuffs, I am blinded by the many, many long months of harassment and assaults that my child suffered and continues to suffer. This is a partial victory for my daughter Amina. Please include this in your newsletter for others to see. The Justice System can and does work. Thanks, Kim.

My Aspergers Child

Mother Tells Her “Aspergers-related” Story

My son has a very mild case of Aspergers , but I have always held him to a high standard of behavior especially in regards to other kids… you hit/bite you get a time out, privileges taken etc.

My boyfriend has 2 children 7 and 8. The 8 yr old is mildly autistic. I have 3 family members who are autistic (all on the more severe side) so I have some experience in this, so dating him didn’t phase me at first.

He does not discipline them at all. His son plays "chicken" when my 11 yr old is mowing… almost gets run over, my son swerves to miss him and runs over some flowers, and I think my boyfriend was more upset about the flowers than the fact that his son caused it by jumping in front of the tractor.

We had a bonfire, and his son kept playing in the fire, waving smoldering sticks and waving them around, running at and near the fire.....if I hadn’t said anything I believe my boyfriend would have ignored all of this even when his son tripped and almost fell into the fire, had MY SON not caught him in time.

The kicker...his son bit my son who is 11, the next day. My son did not retaliate, went to the bathroom to look at the bite and have a bit of a cry. No punishment, no time out in fact his son was allowed to play video games 2 minutes later.

My boyfriend says, he gets that way… ummm so did my kids when they were 2 or 3. My nephews were never allowed to bite, hit, and play with fire. He doesn’t want to be "mean to his kids".

I’m kinda at a loss. I saw my sister raise a severely autistic child, with the full line of issues, behaviors, and social problems.

I think it’s just lazy parenting. His son is capable of behaving… he goes to day care and school and hasn’t bitten. He doesn’t run out in front of cars or ride his bike in a dangerous manner.

My Aspergers Child

I suspect my husband has Aspergers. What should I do?

Question

I suspect my husband has Aspergers. What should I do?

Answer

Approaching your spouse with the idea that he may have Aspergers (high-functioning autism) can result in two completely different responses. Either he is concerned and interested in pursuing an answer to some obvious issues, or he is in complete denial. He may even decide that the problem stems from you.

In all honesty, most individuals with Aspergers are well aware that they don’t process things like other individuals. Relationships of any variety have been difficult since childhood. Sensory issues have plagued them, like noises others don’t hear and lights that others can ignore. The way they carry themselves seems less than graceful to fairly clumsy. Their obsessions overtake any attempt at normal social conversation. Yes, they know they are quirky, but have no concept of the reasons behind these differences.

Let’s assume that your spouse knows that something is different about the way he interprets life. In this case, he may be searching for the reason and welcome your involvement. You can find resources on the Internet that will help you understand him better and decide what action you both need to take, if any. On the Internet you can find articles that describe Aspergers in terms that he can relate to, and also several mini-evaluations that can help him decide if he wants to pursue a diagnosis.

Now let’s assume that he denies the possibility of Aspergers. As his wife, you have to respect his decision to keep things the way they are. But, this doesn’t mean you have to join him in denial. If you are married to a suspected adult with Aspergers, you can use a little help yourself to cope with his eccentric behavior. In either circumstance, the advice is virtually the same.

Contact your local chapter of any Autism or Aspergers support association. They offer assistance in all areas: therapy, steps to a diagnosis, family support, spouse support. Once you find the resources and support you need for yourself, you will be able to pass your knowledge on to your spouse. How you relay this knowledge, either directly or indirectly, depends on his response to the subject of Aspergers.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The 14 yr old has been having meltdowns and the 16 yr old is reacting to them...

Question

I'm in the middle of a separation that has many levels of drama and it's taking me a lot to manage. Meanwhile, I have 4 children - 3 boys and a girl. I have a teen that is on the Autism spectrum and one 2 yrs older. The 14 yr old has been having meltdowns and the 16 yr old is reacting to them which only escalates things in to fist fights and hole punches in my walls and asking for the male neighbors to come over and support me to bring order. The older one is suffering from the loss of his dad who at the same time resents for what he feels he suffered in abuse at his hands but, longs for him. It's just so much and I'm concerned that things will totally break before I can figure how to get past everyone’s hurt and now resentments and anger with each other. Help!!!!


Answer

Re: Siblings reacting to meltdowns...

Having a youngster with any type of developmental disability can be very stressful for the parents and the siblings of that youngster. This may be seen to be even more so at times for kids with (physically) hidden syndromes like Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism.

Kids with physical disabilities have a more visible and obvious disability. Whereas kids on the autistic spectrum tend to look exactly like other kids but can behave very differently.

For siblings this behavior can be difficult to understand even when they are aware of their sibling's Aspergers. Many siblings can think of their Aspergers sibling as simply naughty or rude – particularly if they are quite young and unable to fully understand the issues involved.

Siblings may often feel embarrassed around peers, frustrated by not having the type of relationship with their sibling that they wanted or expected, and/or angry that the youngster with Aspergers requires so much of the parents' time. This can often mean the youngster not wanting to ask friends over to play, as they fear their sibling may embarrass them.

It is hard enough for parents of the youngster with Aspergers to understand why their youngster has this syndrome, much less why they behave the way they do.

Teach siblings about Aspergers to the extent that they are able to understand. Let them know that it is okay to be frustrated with their sibling who is affected, but it won't help their relationship.

Let siblings know what that youngster needs, again to the extent that they can understand and provide as normal of an environment as possible. Try to make this as concrete as possible, and provide real life examples of what you mean that they can follow and relate to.

Obviously some family dynamics can make this tricky - but try to make some special parent-child time with the non-Aspergers sibling at least weekly.

In order to do this you may need to look to your family, friends or local social services to offer the youngster with Aspergers somewhere to go for some respite (while you can then do some activity with their sibling).

This may mean staying in and watching a video or just chilling out in peace. Or it could involve a set activity like swimming, the cinema, walking, shopping etc. Whatever it is try to make it youngster-focused so that your youngster gets to determine what you do (within reason!)

It is often tempting to coddle the youngster with developmental disabilities, like Aspergers, and expect the other kids to do so as well. But, the youngster with Aspergers will benefit and learn social skills from their siblings as well, and they should be entitled to a reasonable amount of sibling rivalry as well as any other youngster.

You don't want to deny the youngster with Aspergers the typical childhood, which includes fighting over toys and television shows. These formative sibling relationships and experiences have a major effect on kids as they grow up (regardless of Aspergers).

So to summarize, siblings need to know enough about their brother or sister's issues to give them an understanding at their level. They also need to know that it is OK to feel some negative emotions at times toward their sibling, and where ever possible, they need a little "special" time with you on their own.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

Can Aspergers be treated? Yes!

Is there a cure for Aspergers?

No. Aspergers (high-functioning autism) can currently not be cured and the condition is life-long. However, with correct treatment and therapy, many people with Aspergers can go on to lead normal lives and may even excel in certain areas of occupational functioning.

Can Aspergers be treated?

Yes, most definitely! However, because Aspergers is a relatively new diagnosis in the field of developmental psychology and psychiatry, many treatment approaches are still in the developmental stages and lots of work still needs to be done in this area. One thing has definitely been established - the sooner treatment begins - the better! This applies especially to remedial, educational and therapeutic intervention. While there is no specific treatment or 'cure' for Aspergers, there are many interventions which can significantly improve the functioning and quality of life of people and kids with Aspergers.

Social Skills Training—

This should be one of the most important components of a treatment program. Kids with Aspergers can be helped to learn social skills by an experienced psychologist. Body language and nonverbal communication can be taught in much the same way as one would teach a foreign language. Kids with Aspergers can learn to interpret nonverbal expressions of emotion and social interaction. This can assist them with social interaction and peer relationships and prevent the isolation and depression that often occurs as they enter adolescence. Teenagers can sometimes benefit from group therapy and can be taught how to use the teenage 'slang' and language forms of their peer groups.

Educational Intervention—

Because kids with Aspergers may differ widely in terms of IQ and ability levels, schools should learn to individualize educational programs for these kids. Some of them may cope well in a mainstream class with additional support, while others may need to receive specialized education. In all cases, teachers should be aware of the special needs of Aspergers kids, who often need a great deal more support than first appears necessary.

Psychotherapy—

Psychotherapeutic approaches which focus on supportive therapy, the teaching of social skills and concrete behavioral techniques are more effective than approaches which concentrate on emotional in depth therapy, which may be too uncomfortable and stressful for the person with Aspergers. Kids can benefit from play therapy and 'story' therapy aimed at raising awareness of nonverbal communication, development and teaching of empathy and learning of social skills.

Diet—

Although there is no conclusive evidence, there are strong suggestions that changes in diet may significantly reduce the symptoms of some kids with Aspergers. Many moms and dads report that their kids become much more manageable when certain classes of food are eliminated from the diet. These include dairy products, sugar, gluten, wheat and some artificial colorants and preservatives like MSG and tartrazine. It is worthwhile consulting a trained nutritionalist to assist with dietary intervention and moms and dads should not simply eliminate important foods from their kid's diets without expert advice.

Psychopharmacological Interventions or Drug Therapy—

Many kids and adults with Aspergers do not need any form of medication, while others need to be treated symptomatically While there are no specific 'Aspergers' drugs, psychiatric drugs can be used to treat some of the problems which may manifest or be associated with Aspergers, such as ADD/HD, depression, mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, aggression, obsessions and compulsive behaviors and anxiety. Many of the drugs used to treat the other Pervasive Developmental Disorders like Autism are also used to treat some of the associated symptoms of Aspergers. These include Ritalin, Adderall, Paxil, Strattera, Prozac, Risperal and others.

Like many psychiatric drugs, these often come with unwanted side effects and the risk of addiction and their benefits should always be weighed against the potential harm they could cause, particularly in the case of kids. Remember that you should always consult your doctor before altering or discontinuing any prescription medication. It is also important to realize that there are effective herbal and homeopathic alternatives to many of the prescription drugs. As with any medication, it is always best to consult your doctor before changing or discontinuing any prescribed medicines.

Natural alternatives—

Herbal and homeopathic remedies can be viable alternatives to the synthetic drugs and may be just as effective, with far fewer risks and side effects. Depending on the symptoms that need treatment, Native Remedies recommends the following remedies to assist in an overall treatment plan. Herbal remedy for depression, mood swings, repetitive behaviors, irritability, and aggression. These may all be symptoms of serotonin imbalance and may show improvement with the use of our 100% herbal MindSoothe Jr. formula. The ingredients of MindSoothe Jr. have been clinically proven to assist in balancing serotonin levels and act as SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) in much the same way as the synthetic SSRI's do.

Herbal remedy for anxiety (calm and soothe)—

Tranquilizing drugs may be very effective in calming autistic kids and adults, who can easily become highly distressed and volatile over seemingly small changes in their environment. However, many tranquilizing drugs are also addictive and individuals may build up tolerance, resulting in the need for increasingly higher doses. PureCalm is a herbal formula which has been especially formulated to calm and soothe kids and adults without the risk of side effects and potential addiction. Available in easy to administer drop form, the dosage may be adjusted to suit kids or adults. PureCalm may be taken on its own when needed for quick symptomatic relief, and is also safe to use with most prescription and herbal medicines.

Herbal remedies for ADHD, hyperactivity and concentration—

Like the benzodiazepines and tranquilizing drugs, the psycho-stimulants come with documented side effects and potential for dependency. Yet many moms and dads find it very difficult to deal with Aspergers kids who also have symptoms of ADHD, hyperactivity and concentration problems. For the treatment of hyperactivity, restlessness and lack of concentration, Native Remedies has developed two highly effective remedies: Focus ADHD Formula is a 100% herbal remedy which has been especially formulated to treat the symptoms of ADHD in kids and adults alike. Focus comes in a tincture an is easily administered as drops in some juice or water. Native Remedies also offers BrightSpark, a safe and effective homeopathic formula. BrightSpark can be effectively used on its own or it can be combined with Focus ADHD Formula for severe or stubborn cases or for kids with defiance and anger problems.

Herbal remedy for tantrums—

Many Aspergers kids have violent tantrums, sometimes seemingly without cause. Tantrums may often be a result of the youngster's frustration at being unable to communicate or understand, and may also be a response to changes in routine or environment. Tantrum Tamer, a specially formulated homeopathic remedy, uses proven homeopathic ingredients which can greatly reduce or eliminate distressing and hard to handle tantrums. Tantrum Tamer dissolves easily in the mouth and is pleasant tasting and readily accepted by kids. Remedies may be used independently or in combination.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children

What are the pros and cons of the APA’s plan to change the diagnosis of Aspergers to autism without the current separations?

In February 2010, the American Psychiatric Association released a draft of the possible revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM. The current version, the DSM-IV, contains somewhat complicated diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which includes Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, Aspergers, and includes reference to Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.

The AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION plans to revise the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, simplifying the criteria and removing the distinctive divisions. With this revision, there will no longer be a diagnosis of Aspergers or PDD-NOS. All individuals who meet the criteria will be given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The reasoning for these changes is to create a more consistent diagnosis, and a spectrum-type diagnosis may solve the problems of inconsistency. This will eliminate the need to diagnose an individual based on the severity of the condition.

Two individuals with the diagnosis of PDD-NOS may have dissimilar abilities. The same is true for two individuals diagnosed with Autism, or with Aspergers. Because these diagnoses are all part of the larger spectrum, you will find differing abilities throughout. The AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION feels the new DSM-V criteria will create a uniform diagnosis for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Some experts and individuals are not in agreement with the proposed revisions. There are definite pros and cons to the proposed changes in the opinions of medical professionals and the public, including those directly affected by these revisions. Here are the most common pros and cons.

Pros—

• All related health problems can be recognized and treated. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder often suffer with anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, seizures, and sensory integration dysfunction, along with Autism.

• More services could be available for all levels of ability. Most services require a diagnosis of classic Autism, leaving out the mildly affected individuals.

Cons—

• Some individuals believe that the less affected individuals will not want the stigma of Autism placed on them. Aspergers carries a more neutral connotation than Autism.

• Some individuals feel that milder cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder, those normally diagnosed as PDD-NOS or Aspergers, are more likely to be missed or not to qualify for the new ASD diagnosis.

• To the person affected by Aspergers, the diagnosis is part of who they are, and changing that to Autism may be extreme and cause anxiety.

Many individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are comfortable with, and even embracing of, their diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. It can even be a sense of identity and pride. To take this away and just “lump” individuals in the much broader Autistic Spectrum category is a mistake. Also over time, the general public is slowly becoming to hear about and understand (at least a little bit) what Asperger’s Syndrome is. So if the diagnosis is lost in a broader Spectrum – this understanding level will need to start all over again. Finally on a practical level what about all the support groups, practitioners, authors, resources, educational programs etc, that are all specifically set up to help individuals with the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome? They will all have to change or cease to exist – which can only impact negatively on the lives of individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and their families.

Because of the division of agreement, the AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION has posted the proposed revisions online at www.DSM5.org The public will be able to post comments on the website until April 20, 2010. The AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION will include the voice of the public in the final decision on whether these revisions become permanent.

Online Parent Support

I don't want to be a prisoner in my home...

We don't feel so alone anymore. I feel for all of you. We have a 12 yr. and he's very smart and sneaky. No putting holes in walls yet but I'm waiting. He's very small for age so it's not to violent yet. He likes to tell me (mom) how he's going to kill me. Every detail. Does anyone elses kids threaten in this way? All the doctors say lock your doors at night and lock up knives. REALLY!!! I could have figured that out on my own. But I don't want to be a prisoner in my home.

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COMMENT

When a child threatens to hurt someone, take it seriously. Children and adolescents who threaten violence are significantly more likely to behave violently than those who do not make threats, according to a study of more than 9,000 youngsters reported in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Temper Tantrums in Aspergers Children

Parenting Aspergers Children: Preventing Problems Before They Start

Question

Are there some ways to prevent some of the discipline-related problems encountered with Aspergers children (e.g., meltdowns associated with receiving a consequence for misbehavior)? I say ‘prevent’ because it seems that once my son knows he is going to be punished, it quickly escalates into meltdown, which by then is much too late to intervene (i.e., it just has to run its course at that point). In other words, can a parent ‘predict’ - and thus prevent - a potential meltdown?

Answer

Sooner is better than later. Most people tend to wait until a problem arises and then attempt to deal with it through the use of a consequence. Consequences can be positive (gaining something) or negative (losing something). At times, consequences are discussed prior to an event, but usually in terms of a motivator: "If you do this, you will gain (lose) something else." More often we use consequences in the middle of a problem, such as, "If you don't stop that, you're going right to bed." Or, "You won't watch any TV if you don't leave your sister alone." Or, "You're in time-out right now. I've had it." All of these statements are made when the behavior is out of control. You have given many warnings and you are now acting out of frustration. However, none of these comments will lead to positive change in the short or long run.

With an Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) youngster it is far better to anticipate the occurrence of a behavior and then plan for it. Many problem behaviors are repetitious, especially in the same situation. Even when they don't occur every time, they may still be frequent enough to warrant this approach. A rule of thumb is if a behavior repeats itself at least half of the time, moms and dads need to prepare for it. For example, if homework, bedtime, or dinnertime have been frequent problems in the past, chances are very good they will continue to be so in the future.

Future vision is the ability of an individual to know what is going to happen in an upcoming situation because of its constant reoccurrence. When you know what is going to happen you can prepare your youngster for the event prior to its occurrence by discussing what usually occurs and what needs to occur. For example, going out to dinner is often a problem time. So talk with your youngster about what normally happens, how he acts, how you do, and then follow that up with a discussion and see if you can get a firm commitment from your youngster that he is going to follow these new behaviors. If he responds in a positive way, you have increased the likelihood that things will go better when you go out for dinner.

If you happen to miss the opportunity to prevent a problem, there is often a small "window of opportunity" in which you can still salvage the situation. In the example above, suppose you have forgotten to say something before you left for dinner. As events begin to unravel, you have a very brief period of time – sometimes only a minute or two – before you'll be in a messy situation. Seize this opportunity. It may be the last best one in that situation.

To make interventions effective you need to create an environment in which your youngster feels comfortable, anxiety is decreased, and your youngster has an understanding of the events taking place around him. The environment needs to provide consistency, predictability, structure, routine, organization, logically explained rules, and clear rewards/consequences in response to these rules. When this is in place, your youngster will begin to feel competent. I am reminded of a student who had been expelled from his kindergarten class as the result of unmanageable behaviors – even with one-on-one support. After his first week in my class of eight Aspergers students, without any additional support, he said, "Hey, I like this new school. I know the way." A number of things must be in place to create "the Aspergers world."

First, the physical environment must be consistent. In all locations you need to identify consistent areas where specific activities are completed, such as that homework is always completed at the desk in his bedroom or at the kitchen table. These areas/activities should also have consistent behavioral expectations, which are explained to your youngster, such as, "At my desk I do calm sitting." Calm sitting is modeled and practiced. You need to identify clear physical boundaries, such as a planned seating arrangement in school or a planned play area at home. Use consistent materials that are clearly marked and accessible, like toys that are within easy reach and stored in or right by the area they will be used in.

In addition, expectations, such as the rules, rewards, and consequences, should be visually available. Once again, these must be clearly described to your youngster. After this has been completed, use charts with stickers or stars to keep track of reward systems. Use the letters of your youngster's name placed on a chart to keep track of consequences. Throughout the day, if letters have been received, they can slowly be erased for positive responding. This provides a wonderful visual response for appropriate behaviors, and you can deliver this feedback, depending on your youngster's needs, every ten minutes, fifteen minutes . . . three hours – you decide what works best.

Second, your relationship with your youngster must also be consistent in both word and action. He must see you as a predictable person, a person in control, a calm person, and, finally, a person who keeps his word. Being "easy" or giving your youngster a "break" will hinder your effectiveness. You make rules and stick to them. You make requests and follow through; you don't make second requests, and you don't plead. Your interactions must be stable, allowing your youngster to anticipate how he will respond. He must see you as someone who can help him understand the world around him. The highest praise I can receive from a youngster is being thought of as his helper or problem solver – "Ask Mrs. Simpson, she knows how to help." "Mrs. Simpson is a problem solver." "Did you know Mrs. Simpson's job is to help me figure things out?" If you are only seen as a problem causer, your effectiveness will be minimal. You must be highly organized and pay attention to details as you create a structured environment for your youngster. However, you must be able to remain flexible within this structure. By doing so, you will provide the structure your youngster needs to learn to be flexible.

Third, reinforcers will need to be very individualized, as the Aspergers youngster or teen often does not respond to typical reinforcers. You must be well aware of what your youngster views as a reward. Incorporating obsessions into a reinforcement system is an appropriate way of offering a strong reinforcer and of also controlling access to an obsession. You need to make sure your youngster is aware of how the reward/consequence system works. Natural consequences can also be highly effective and will remove the "giving" or "denying" of the reward from you. An example of a natural consequence is: "If you finish your morning routine within a certain time limits you will have time to watch a favorite TV show before school. If you take too long, you will not be able to watch the show." Favored activities should follow less favored or challenging activities. A word of caution: reinforcers can also cause difficulties if they are used too frequently. Not only will they lose some of their potency, but struggles can arise over the giving or not giving of the reward.

Fourth, at both home and in school, develop a daily routine so that your youngster knows what he is doing and when. Posting the schedule and reviewing it when your youngster becomes "stuck" can provide the necessary prompt to move on. In addition, compliance is not a struggle between you and your youngster, but rather simply a matter of following the schedule. The individual views the schedule as a guide. As noted, a guide will always serve to decrease anxiety, which in turn decreases behavior issues. I have heard my students tell visitors who enter our classroom, "That's our schedule; don't erase it or we won't know what to do." This is said even by students with excellent memories, who from the first week of school could perfectly recite the daily schedule for each day of the week (again, during sabotage, a goal will be to decrease the importance of the schedule as the year progresses).

The important detail is to review the schedule. We have seen many situations where detailed schedules are written, but never regularly and carefully reviewed with the youngster. As you review the schedule, you not only lessen anxiety, but you also provide an opportunity to discuss appropriate responding. When you develop a schedule at home, you may number the items on it, such as 1, 2, 3, but try to avoid assigning times to each event or activity. It is often difficult to do things to the minute, and failure to do so can lead to further upset for an Aspergers youngster. You may also choose to establish a routine for only a small portion of the day, if you feel a day-long schedule would be too great a change for your youngster. For example, you might create a schedule for an activity, such as going to the mall, as an easier place to start. For a teen, rather than using a written schedule, you could use a desk calendar or day planner. Again, this accomplishes the goal of providing a visual guide. We will discuss the use of schedules in greater detail later on in this chapter.

The creation of this environment will take time and will require you to examine more details than you knew existed in any environment. Your reward, however, will be the miracle of watching your youngster leave his anxieties and problematic behaviors behind. You will see him begin to really trust you and take chances he never thought he could. You will witness his gradual and steady steps into a larger world.

It's time to expand your ideas of how to use language and to explore how you can use it as a powerful tool to decrease anxiety and increase compliance. Remember, gain your youngster's attention before you begin to speak. You should be physically close to him (though not in his personal space) and, for the young youngster, on his eye level. Your language should convey meaning, provide the "road map" or "game plan," and enable your youngster to respond more appropriately. These kids don't have the road map we all have and take for granted, which allows us to maneuver in the world around us. Language used in a concrete, predictable manner becomes a way to teach alternative behaviors. For example, even after social skills training, saying to Sam, age nine, "Today after school, Mom is taking you to the playground to make and play with a new friend," doesn't provide enough information. He doesn't know what that means or what is expected of him. Instead, I would provide Sam with a "game plan."

When your youngster misinterprets a situation, your language can be used to reframe the situation, allowing your youngster to reinterpret it appropriately. This reframing can also be used when your youngster engages in inappropriate behaviors. Through your language, you provide alternative responses for the future. More important, your language can be used to introduce new ways of thinking or rethinking previously held beliefs.

An example of this would be the introduction of new foods into a youngster's repertoire. This was a goal for Michael, an eleven-year-old who would eat very few foods. More disturbing, the particular foods he ate made him seem unusual to his middle school peers (the same soup brought from home each day, cold noodles, etc.). In beginning to work with Michael, the idea of eating new foods was introduced by linking the eating of new foods with age-specific skills. The discussion began by asking him to recall different skills he had learned at different ages (crawl/walk/run, cry/sounds/words, drink from a bottle/sippy cup/regular cup, etc.). This led to the development of a new system to classify how a youngster changes: the preschool way, the elementary school way, the middle school way, the high school way. Trying, eating, and then incorporating new foods into his diet was put into this system with specific foods for each category. Items such as pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers – typical adolescent foods – were included in the middle school category. This language approach was paired with a step-by-step program to actually introduce the new foods. In addition, we helped Michael to view eating these new foods in a different way (we reframed his approach to new foods).

A social story and cue card with "the middle school way" were also created. Initially, Michael bought the school lunch only on Tuesdays. Once this went smoothly, we met again to choose the next new food to try. Providing him with the visual of a weekly lunch menu helped to lessen his anxiety. Every Friday we outlined what he would eat each day of the following week. We also wrote down on which days he would bring a packed lunch and on which days he would buy lunch and what he would buy. Initially, to allow Michael some choice, he had complete control over his packed lunch.

After a new food had been introduced and accepted by Michael for two weeks, another new food would be introduced the following week. The same pattern was repeated, unless he initiated a change (for instance, he wanted to try a new food sooner, which he sometimes did after success with the second new food). His middle school goal was to eventually buy school lunch three days a week and pack lunch two days a week. Once this was established, we began to work on the foods he brought from home. This task became quite simple, because buying lunch had generated many new and appropriate food choices for Michael that he could also bring from home.

Throughout this period, "the middle school way" was mentioned as frequently as possible. Whenever Michael did something new or was successful in any new area, I labeled it "the middle school way" and pointed out he could not have done this in elementary school. This intervention, though presented as a whole, had three distinct parts:
  • A gradual step-by-step approach was used to introduce the eating of new foods.
  • A reframing of Michael's thinking about new foods was reinforced at every opportunity.
  • A system was developed to pair eating new foods with a rule ("the middle school way").

When using language to teach new responses, developing and writing the keywords or phrases to be used when introducing or generalizing these new concepts will be important. In the above example with Michael, "the middle school way" was a keyword for behaving in an age-appropriate manner. By making the words and phrases visual, you guarantee both greater understanding and usage of the phrases. Remember, using the phrases, not simply writing them, makes them effective. The words or phrases can be developed by you or by your youngster. Unusual phrases, ads, or catchy sayings are often attractive and easy to remember. The first step is choosing the area you want to work on with your youngster. Then select (or have your youngster select) a word or phrase to be used as a quick reminder for appropriate responding. With use, the key word or phrase alone will convey the concept and what appropriate responding will look like. This will allow your youngster to generalize a skill more easily. When the phrase is used in a new situation, he will know what to do, because the phrase corresponds to the new behavior. After one has been mastered, add other phrases as needed. Below is a sample list of phrases we have found to be effective:

Sample List of Key Words and Phrases
  • Being flexible (it is very important that this concept is taught early, even to a youngster as young as five – in my classroom this is as important as reading and math)
  • Being okay (getting yourself together to handle a situation)
  • Bumping (refers to interrupting others when they are speaking)
  • Conversations go back and forth (used as a reminder when learning how to converse with others)
  • Dealing with disappointments (refers to what to do when something doesn't go the way we thought it would)
  • Don't be a "me first" (used with those kids who have an obsession about always being first: in line, when playing a game, being called on, etc.)
  • Don't get stuck (refers to not allowing a problem to control you or stop you from moving on; this skill is taught)
  • Drop the subject (refers to talking on and on)
  • Eyes up here (key phrase to help with attending and focusing)
  • Get your control (key phrase used during a crisis)
  • Good choices/bad choice
  • In your head (refers to statements that should not be said aloud, usually statements about a person's physical appearance or statements that would hurt another's feelings)
  • Just do it (refers to times when the youngster must quickly respond in a particular way without question; especially useful when the youngster is involved with peers or when returning to mainstream settings from special education)
  • Keep your problems small (used when the youngster's behaviors are just beginning to escalate in a negative way; serves as a reminder to maintain control)
  • Kiss ("keep it small and simple")
  • Looking and listening (often referred to as L and L)
  • Lower/raise your volume (to help the youngster to modulate voice volume; often paired with a hand signal)
  • Making changes (variation of the previous two above)
  • MYOB ("mind your own business")
  • Off the topic (said to the youngster when his response is not on the topic being discussed)
  • Personal space (not hugging, touching, etc., others when it is not appropriate)
  • Problems and solutions (refers to a technique used to either prevent a tantrum or assist the youngster in regaining control during a tantrum)
  • Respond quickly and quietly (often referred to as Q and Q)
  • Salvage the rest of the day (refers to not allowing a problem to ruin the rest of the day)
  • Say one thing (when answering questions or discussing a topic with too much detail – this skill should be practiced)
  • School sitting, school walking, etc. (refers to a specific manner of doing something that has been demonstrated to the youngster previously)
  • Show me (add the phrase for what you want the youngster to do)
  • Stick up for yourself (refers to the type of response the youngster must make when being teased or taken advantage of by others)
  • Stretching the topic (attempting to go off topic by trying to make your new topic – usually a special interest – appear related to the original topic)
  • Switching/substitutions (key words used to remind the youngster about being flexible)
  • Tell me what you have to do (often used after giving directions)
  • That doesn't make sense (used when the youngster says something that is inappropriate, for instance: fantasy talk, mislabeling another's or their own feelings, giving misinformation on a topic)
  • The preschool way, the elementary school way, etc.
  • The rule (It is very helpful for the youngster to have appropriate responses described as the rule; it appeals to their sense of seeing the world in black and white. Often simply stating that a desired response is "the rule" brings immediate compliance.)
  • The way (used to let the youngster know that you don't like the tone of voice they are using; e.g., "Can you try another way of saying that?")
  • Thinking with your body (learning to use your body to communicate)
  • Thinking with your eyes (learning to use your eyes to communicate)
  • This is a choice/This is not a choice
  • Use your words (controlling yourself by using words when you are upset or frustrated, rather than responding with a meltdown)

What moms and dads say is important, but how moms and dads say it can be the difference between success and failure. Sometimes a calm, even voice is needed; other times, a more dramatic tone may be called for. When you change the tone of your voice, point it out to your youngster. He doesn't use varied tones of voice to convey different meanings. By pointing this out, you communicate your meaning and you increase his awareness of the importance of paying attention to vocal tone. This should also be done with facial expressions and body language – two other modalities Aspergers kids don't use when communicating to or processing communication from others. Vary your facial expressions and body language, and explain and show how it helps moms and dads to understand what others are saying.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children and 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.

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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.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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

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

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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to read the full article...

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content