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 Teens and Social Skills

Question

How do you get teenagers with Aspergers to recognize that the social skills that you are trying to teach them (often to no avail) are imperative if they are to get on in life with regard to finding friends, a job etc.? Kids with Aspergers often seem in such a world of their own that they cannot appreciate the importance of those social skills. In our case, we have an adolescent who thinks that they are always right anyway and so see no need to modify their behavior.

Answer

The teen years can be a trying time for moms and dads and kids alike. As moms and dads, we know that our adolescents have a lot of growing up to do. As adolescents, our kids cannot figure out how we made it to adulthood with so little knowledge and understanding! The truth is, these years bring about difficult adjustments on both parties, and this happens whether or not you are dealing with Aspergers.

Adolescents with Aspergers have lived through the elementary and middle school years and have struggled with social skills weaknesses all along. Through years of classroom experiences, a social base has been built. It may not be strong but it is there. All you have to do is find a way to add to it. The same is true for basic living skills. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful.

• Find resources to help you choose appropriate tasks/skills for your adolescent. You can find books that are geared towards adolescents with Aspergers. These books highlight the skills needed that may not come naturally.

• Instead of pushing your adolescent to recognize his need for these social and basic living skills, try building them into his daily schedule. As the parent, you can require his participation in daily chores, personal hygiene, and even part-time employment.

• Reinforce your chore/responsibility requirements with rewards and consequences. Be consistent.

• Use calendars, written schedules, and visual daily lists to plan your adolescent’s daily commitments. While it is true he may not appreciate having chores and planned responsibilities, chances are he will become accepting when faced with negative consequences.

Sometimes moms and dads have to find sneaky ways to teach their kids. It sounds like this may be one of those times in your home. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to bring in another trusted adult. Involving a favorite teacher, a relative, church leader, or coach may help your adolescent see that these skills you have been pushing are indeed very important.

Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

Helping Students with Aspergers: A Snapshot for Teachers

Children with Aspergers will respond quite well to specific classroom adaptations. Here are the recommended methods a teacher can employ with their Aspergers students: 
  1. Implement Creative Programming - Through the student’s IEP, educators can develop class schedules which will be motivating and challenging to the student while addressing his/her needs.
  2. Intervene Early - The earlier intervention begins, the earlier children can learn the needed skills for adulthood and friendship.
  3. Obtain In-Depth Training - learn the differences among the kids with Aspergers in elementary, middle school and high school.
  4. Recognize Children’ Strengths - Many children with Aspergers will go on to make great contributions to society. However, we must tap into their strengths and offer support so that they do not drop out of school because academic and social demands are too high.
  5. Understand How Social Impairments Impact Learning and Peer Relationships. Some children require weekly sessions with trained staff members who can help them “solve the puzzles” they encounter in everyday activities and help alleviate depression caused by perception of social failure. Provide ongoing social skill instruction to help children form relationships with peers.

Role of Inclusion—

1. Carefully structure seating arrangements and group work. Kids with Aspergers should not be seated near class bullies or aggressive children. Rather, sit them next to children who can serve as a “peer buddy.” See where the youngster works most effectively; near the teacher or near a quiet open space. Avoid self-selection when children are being assigned to a group. Teach children how to function as a team and accept all members.

2. Connect with Each Other, Parents, Internet, and Other Support Groups. To avoid the feelings of many educators and families who feel isolated in their attempts to support children with Aspergers, create regular communication through meetings, telephone or e-mail among inclusion and special education educators and parents. Create a Home School Coordination- Improve the behavior of this student by combining school and home effort. Work on goals that the youngster should meet. Then send home a note indicating if the youngster has met that goal. If s/he has done so, reward him/her (in school and at home if the appropriate behavior is being exhibited there as well).

3. Don’t Take it Personally. Don’t be insulted by the student who interrupts, speaks too loudly or misses your jokes. Separate the youngster from the syndrome (be perturbed with the behavior, but support the youngster) and try to imagine the world as viewed through his eyes. Model warmth and acceptance. Refrain from impatience and irritation so peers will too.

4. Help Your Classroom Become a Caring Environment. Create and maintain your classroom as a safe, supportive and accepting community by expecting and ensuring that all children respect, support and take responsibility for each other. Help create a strong sense of belonging among all the diverse children in your classroom.

5. Prepare for Changes in the Routine. Since most children with Aspergers thrive on clear expectations and routines there are many different methods a teacher can use to help create smooth transitions. Write class schedules and time frames on the blackboard, or use a picture schedule for younger kids. Designate classroom jobs, space and time with certain activities (e.g., computer). Explain changes in the routine well in advance (e.g., “On Thursday, we will have an assembly. That means you go straight from your second period class to the auditorium.”).

6. Promote Positive Peer Interactions. Create ways to connect the student with empathic peers in order to promote social acceptance and friendships. Use role playing and games - Try the program “Magic Circle” where children are seated in a circle and are encouraged to share their feelings and listen to others. This type of activity helps promote active listening skills and recognition of each individual. Help the student engage in successful conversations and reflection by using comic strips, since the pictures, words and symbols identify what the people say and do and emphasize what people may be thinking. Social stories which describe typical social situations and explain the meaning of various comments and identify appropriate responses are also good. Direct the youngster to participate in activities or clubs in which their abilities might neutralize their social deficiencies (e.g., math groups). Make sure they are not involved in groups that are frequented by bullies. Identify the student’s special gifts and teach him/her to share those gifts through tutoring, class presentations, or community service.

7. Provide a Safe Haven. Children with Aspergers can become overwhelmed by noise, crowds, chaos or trying to engage in social interactions (e.g., an assembly, recess time), which can lead to anxiety and stress. Offer an alternative to attending these events. Try earplugs or headphones to assist in screening out troubling noise. Make sure the youngster has a trusted contact person with whom they feel comfortable with (e.g., special education teacher, school psychologist, guidance counselor or principal, older responsible pupil). Give access to a quiet, private place (e.g., school library, tutoring room, empty classroom or office) where the student can spend lunchtime, study hall or any other free time alone, can rest and refresh themselves to alleviate the stress that accompanies the constant effort to fit in.

8. Use Available Resources/ Make Needed Accommodations. Children with Aspergers often respond well to visuals, graphic models and technology. They often have impaired gross or fine motor skills. Encourage the use of computers for written assignments and exams. Allow for extra time or quiet space if needed. When significant amounts of notes need to be taken, pair the student with Aspergers with a buddy in order that the student can photocopy the notes missed. Allow time on the Internet. The effort and anxiety associated with interpersonal connections is greatly reduced because then children only have to deal with the written word. However, limit the amount of time on the computer in order that a potential obsession does not develop and that the computer does not become a substitute for human contact.

Characteristics of Aspergers—
  • Cognitive abilities which are average or above average (they are often known as “little professors”)
  • Depression, frequent school absences, low school motivation due to being socially vulnerable and easy targets for teasing and bullying
  • Difficulties with subjects that require inferential reasoning, abstract concepts, problem solving, extensive calculations or social judgments
  • Fine motor problems which lead to poor penmanship and low writing motivation
  • Friends and new acquaintances may be acknowledged with tight and enthusiastic hugs instead of formal greetings like “Hi, how are you?”
  • Gross motor clumsiness which leads to poor skills in competitive sports and physical activities
  • Hypersensitivity to noises or smells
  • Lack of emotional reciprocity or empathy
  • May begin to talk about the latest topic of concern which is of interest only to themselves (e.g., train schedules), may be age inappropriate or boring but the person does not pick up on looks of disinterest or snickers from the group
  • May move into the personal space of others, not recognizing body language, facial and verbal cues that he/she has transgressed
  • May not make direct eye contact
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
  • Rigid and inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
  • Speech and language peculiarities such as: stilted and formal language, voice too loud or monotone or hyperverbal.
  • Stereotyped and repetitive motor movements

Personal Challenges for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder—

Listed below are behaviors that a youngster on the Autistic Spectrum might encounter on a daily basis. Autistic spectrum disorder includes children with conditions such as autism, pervasive developmental disorder, and Aspergers.

Social Interactions:

• inappropriate use of eye contact, avoidance or extended staring
• little sense of other people’s boundaries
• not accepting hugging, cuddling or touching unless self initiated
• poor use of nonverbal gestures
• trouble with back and forth social interactions
• wanting to be left alone at times

Interest and Activities:

• defensive to touch which isn’t self initiated
• difficulty waiting
• history of eating problems
• lack of fear or real danger
• lining up and or/ ordering objects
• pacing or running back and forth, round and round
• repeatedly watching videos or video segments
• resisting change
• strong attachment to inanimate objects
• very sensitive to sounds

Qualitative Impairments in Communication:

• difficulty understanding abstract concepts
• problem understanding jokes
• problem with getting the order of words in sentences correct
• problems answering questions
• problems using speed, tone and volume appropriately
• problems with reciprocal conversations

Learning Characteristics:

• delayed response time
• good visual skills
• hyperactivity
• needs help to problem solve
• problems organizing
• short attention span to some activities and not others
• well developed long term memory

Observable Problems Behaviors:

• aggression- biting, hitting, kicking, pinching
• low motivation
• temper tantrums
• toileting problems

Motor Problems:

• balance
• clumsiness
• motor planning- can’t make body do what it needs to do
• stiffness
• tired easily

Environmental Challenges that Lower Ability to Function Competently—

Personal:

- not being understood
- not understanding
- not having choices
- making a mistake
- being touched

Major Changes:

- alterations in school, work, home, community
- time changes
- staff or teacher absent
- cancellation of event or activity
- having to wait too long

Environmental Confusion:

- crowds
- noise
- not having enough space
- losing things of value
- surrounded by too much movement
- surrounded by too much visual stimuli

Relationships:

- being corrected
- being denied
- being late
- being ignored
- being left out
- being teased
- being scolded

Sensory Challenges—

Sound/ Auditory:

- reacts to unexpected sound
- fears some noises
- making self induced noises
- confused about direction of sound
- distracted by certain sounds

Sight/Vision:

- has been diagnosed as having a visual problem
- is sensitive to light
- has difficulty tracking
- upset by things looking different
- closely examines objects or hands

Smell/Olfactory:

- sensitive to smells
- explores environment by smelling
- reacts strongly to some smells
- ignores strong odors

Touch/Tactile:

- defensive about being touched
- prefers deep touching rather than soft
- dislikes feel of certain clothing
- over or under dresses for temperature
- upset by sticky, gooey hands

Taste:

- has an eating problem
- dislikes certain textures or foods
- tastes non-edibles

Movement/Vestibular:

- seems fearful in space
- arches back when held or moved
- likes rocking, swinging, spinning
- avoids balancing activities

Perceptual/Perceptual Motor:

- has difficulty with time perception
- problems with use of some tools
- difficulty with body in space
- relies on knowing location of furniture

Social Skills which may be Personal Challenges—

Personal Management/Self Control:

- waiting
- finishing work
- taking care of belongings
- turning in assignments on time
- changing activities
- accepting correction

Reciprocal Interactions:

- imitating
- sharing
- taking turns
- offering help, comfort
- inviting others to join
- asking for a favor
- letting someone know you are hurt or sick

Reciprocating Social Interactions Appropriately:

- listening
- commenting on a topic
- answering questions
- accepting help
- responding to teasing
- making a choice
- giving eye contact appropriately

Manner of Interaction:

- being polite
- being kind
- being considerate
- being honest
- not walking away when someone is talking

Abstract Social Concepts:

- being good
- timing
- fairness
- friendship
- caring
- lying
- humor

Group Behaviors:

- come when called to a group
- stay in certain places
- participate with group
- follow group rules
- winning and losing
- pick up, clean up, straighten up

Effective Behavior Interventions of Problem Behaviors–

What makes Aspies do what we do?
  • Biological Influences
  • Instructional/ Reinforcement History
  • Setting /Events
  • Stimulus Events

In order to create an effective intervention for problem behaviors, educators (and parents) need to take into consideration a variety of aspects.

1. Hypothesize the function of the behavior

• Social Attention
• Escape/ avoidance
• Wants tangible item or activity
• Sensory Feedback

2. Gather Information

a. Antecedent : Does the behavior occur……

- When you are attending to other people in the room?
- Following a request to perform a difficult task?
- When a request for an item or activity is denied?
- Repeatedly, in the same way, for long periods of time, even when no on is around?

b. Consequence: When the behavior occurs, do others….

- Attend to the student?
- Leave the student alone?
- Negotiate or give the desired item/activity
- Allow the student to engage in inappropriate behavior? 

3. Plan an Intervention

a. Based on information gathered, are environmental changes needed?

- Move student closer to teacher.
- Limit materials available to student.
- Remove distracters.

b. Based on information gathered, determine how people should react to the challenging behavior each time it occurs.

- Plan to ignore.
- Plan to attend.
- Plan to remove privileges.
- Plan to redirect.

4. Identify a Replacement Behavior

a. What appropriate behavior is “functionally equivalent” to the challenging behavior?

- Manipulating a stress ball or twist pen to replace inappropriate hand movements
- Teaching the student to ask if he can use the computer later to replace tantrum behavior
- Teaching student to raise his hand to replace attention-seeking behaviors
- Teaching the student to communicate his wants appropriately to replace escape/ avoidance behaviors

b. Complete replacement behavior planning guide with team…

- Which behavior is the team going to target for replacement?
- What functionally equivalent behavior is the team going to train in place of the problem behavior?
- In what situations will training occur?
- Who will be responsible for conducting the training sessions?
- What motivation system will be implemented during training?
- Describe how the team will evaluate if and how the student uses the new response.

Promoting Positive Classroom Behavior of Children—

The suggestions written below can be used to help kids with Aspergers but can be used in any classroom to help promote a positive atmosphere.

a) Rules - Establish, teach and enforce classroom rules. Rules should be positively stated and identify the specific behaviors you wish to see displayed

b) Premack Principle - Method of maintaining and increasing compliance with rules through the use of positive reinforcement. A desired activity is available to children on the completion of an undesired activity (e.g., a student who stays in their seat for a period of time can earn an opportunity to work on the computer).

c) Contingency Contracts - Children and educators formalize agreements concerning specific behavior for the exchange of reinforcers by writing an agreement. It outlines the behaviors and consequences of a specific behavior management system. (See the link on this site titled "Contracts")

d) Self Recording - The student monitors his or her own behaviors by using a data collection system. Children can be taught to increase their on task behavior during a class by placing a + in a box when they are paying attention for several minutes and a -–if they are off task.

e) Self Evaluation - A self-management system that has been used to promote appropriate behavior in many general education programs. Children are taught to evaluate their in class behavior using a rating scale. For example, a student can rate his on task and disruptive behaviors using a 0-5 point rating scale ("unacceptable" to "excellent"). The student earns points (which can be exchanged for reinforcers) based on both student behavior and the accuracy of his ratings.

Ways to Decrease Inappropriate Classroom Behaviors –

Listed below are various ways to decrease inappropriate behaviors and increase appropriate ones for kids with Aspergers.

- Redirection - Introduce a novel stimulus to recapture the student’s attention by delivering verbal and nonverbal cues to the student to stop misbehavior, offering assistance with a task, engaging him/her in conversation, reminding him/her to focus attention on the task, or modeling calm and controlled behavior.

- Interspersed Requests - Used to motivate children to perform a difficult or unpleasant task by initially asking them to perform several easier tasks, which they can complete successfully in a short amount of time. This helps promote “behavioral momentum”.

- Differential Reinforcement - Techniques used to decrease inappropriate behaviors by reinforcing the occurrence of positive behaviors, which cannot coexist with the appropriate behavior. (See the link on this site titled "Differential Reinforcement")

- Extinction - A strategy in which the positive reinforcers maintaining a behavior are withheld or terminated, resulting in the reduction in the behavior. (See the link on this site titled "What is ABA" ---then read about 'Ignoring')

- Checklists and Schedules - Provide visual structure and motivation needed to complete assignments and remain on task by checking off assignments and activities upon their completion.

Adaptation of Oral Presentations/Lectures for Children—

Some children require modifications to be made in order for them to understand what is being taught. There are various types of adaptations. Listed below are a few which can be used to help any student achieve to their highest potential:

Pausing - to help children retain lecture content pause for 2 minutes every 5-7 consecutive minutes of lecturing. During the pause children can discuss and review content, ask questions or engage in visual imagery.

Visual Aids - Visual supports such as charts, graphs, lists and pictures can be used to highlight main points, maintain attention, promote eye contact and address the needs of visual learners.

Guided Notes - Outlined and guided notes in which the student fills in the blanks provide a foundation for note taking, and promotes on task behavior. Since many kids with Aspergers have difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing, this is a method that can be implemented to help them throughout lectures.

Active Student Responding (To encourage active participation) choral responding- in which children answer simultaneously on a cue from a teacher during fast paced lessons.

Response Cards - cards are simultaneously held up by all children to display their responses to questions or problems presented by the teacher

Cooperative Learning Groups/ Peer Tutoring - helps with social interaction

Other Strategies—
  • Use repetition by asking children to answer the same questions several times during a class period.
  • Reinforce correct responses and appropriate behavior with descriptive statements that identify what made the answer "right".
  • Group student with peers who participate and attend.
  • Select children randomly to respond and remind them that they may be called on next
  • Change activities frequently
  • Vary the presentation and response modes of instructional activities.
  • Decrease the complexity and syntax of statements.

Affective Education Strategies to Implement in Any Classroom—

Rapport - Maintaining rapport with children can help establish a positive classroom environment. Educators can establish rapport by talking to children about topics in which they are interested, sharing their own interests, providing opportunities for children to perform activities in which they excel, and complimenting children.

Humor - Good natured joking helps develop a good relationships and a positive classroom atmosphere. Humor helps children see a situation from another perspective and decreases the likelihood of conflicts.

Dialoguing - Dialoging involves meeting with the children to assist them in identifying the problem, discovering their perspective on that problem, phrase it in their words, and discussing solutions for resolving the problem. It helps children understand their behaviors and problem solve alternatives to inappropriate behaviors.

The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Can you help me teach my Aspergers child organizational skills?

For individuals with Aspergers, organizational skills are a mystery. We all need strong organizational skills. Teaching these skills starts very young and continues through childhood, as they increase in difficulty. Kids with Aspergers lack these natural skills and must be taught these skills if they desire to be productive adults.

When you think about teaching kids with Aspergers organizational skills, you automatically think of lists, schedules and daily planners. While these are an important part of organizational skills, they are only a tip of the iceberg. Organizational skills are also known as executive functions. The executive functions affect abstract thinking, memory, task oriented goal creation, and mental adaptation in a wide range of situations.

Beginning at a very young age, we should teach our kids with Aspergers organization skills that are age-appropriate, such as, paying attention, understanding time, cooperation, memory work, basic research, basic planning. As our kids get older, these executive functions become more complex as they learn to manage projects, set goals, remember the small details, and organizing and planning assignments.

To begin teaching your child with Aspergers organizational skills, you should first assess his weaknesses. In the meantime, you can help your child by working on time management and organization. These are two of the most important skills needed for success in school and in life. Here are some suggestions that may help.

Time management—

• Breaking assignments down into manageable pieces is a very practical skill to teach. For example, if your child has to read a book and write a report, the manageable pieces would be to locate the desired book, read the book, write down the basic book report information, and summarize the book in writing. At the same time, you will teach him to assign a period of time for each piece so he can learn how to plan his assignments.

• Speaking of planning and timing assignments, planning is essential to time management. Every opportunity should be used to encourage planning. If you are going on an outing, have your child plan what he expects to happen during that outing. For example, if you are going to the zoo, have your child make a list of what exhibit he wants to visit first, second, third, and so on.

• Visual timers help kids see how much time is left, which will do a greater job at teaching the concept of time in minutes or hours. These timers usually have a number display as well as a red line that gets smaller as time runs out.

Organization—

• Desktop organization and de-cluttering should take place regularly. When your child’s workspace becomes disorganized, he will lose his ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Setting a time for him to put things away, make notes in his planner, and clean up his workspace.

• Encourage your child to make written lists. Having a list will help him stay on task. It will also help his memory skills.

• Find a simple daily planner or agenda book and have him write down everything each day. Homework assignments, favorite television shows, anything that is important to him can go in his daily planner.

• Visual schedules, either written or picture schedules are a valuable tool for your child. Since he has Aspergers, he prefers a routine. Having a visual schedule to refer to will make him more aware of his routine and help him cope with changes when they occur.

Executive functions are complex. These are just a few tips to get you started. Once your child has gained strength in these basic organizational areas, he will be able to function better at school and at home.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

What do you do if you think your child may have Aspergers?

Question

What do you do if you think your child may have Aspergers? Should I schedule an appt. with his pediatrician or is there someone more specialized that we should see? I have suspected this with him for some time, but he is only three years old and I am nervous about putting something on him that may not apply. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer

It is unlikely that Aspergers will be diagnosed before school age. Some diagnosticians are clearly of the view that Aspergers cannot be diagnosed before a child starts school. The reason for this is that it is thought that social skills may not have been fully developed at this point due to the lack of exposure to social settings prior to starting school.

Get as much information as you can. Make notes and correlate what you know of your child’s behavior with the information you have gathered. This is a good step for empowering yourself before you visit your doctor, and it will show him/her that you have been concerned enough to have done your homework. Once you have convinced the doctor, request a referral to an Aspergers specialist. This might be a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. A team on your side can help. If you still have problems, take the private option and pay for a “comprehensive psychiatric evaluation” from a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Is it a good idea to try to stop obsessive behaviors?

Question

I have a 5 year old son with Asperger's. Is it a good idea to try to stop his obsessive behaviors? Perhaps taking some of the toys he plays with repetitively or inappropriately.

Answer

Aspies' obsessions should not be curtailed unless they are totally inappropriate. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with getting into the child's world and experiencing their obsession with them. In fact, you MUST do this to ever truly reach and connect with an Aspie. (FYI: In schools, teachers who practice this are the ones who are successful with Aspies most often.) How can we expect Aspies to come out to our world if we refuse to visit theirs?

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers and Tics

Question

My son is 16 years old and has developed a severe tic. He shakes his head and moves his shoulder up and makes a grunting noise. This has only happened in the last few weeks. Could this be stress due to gcse's coming up?? He is becoming extremely anxious about it as everyone notices it!!

Answer

Aspergers can have many complications such as tics. Tics are rapid sudden movements of muscles in your body or tics can be sounds. Both kinds of tics are very hard to control and can be heard or seen by others. However some tics are invisible like toe crunching or building up tension in your muscles.

Simple tics involve just one group of muscles and are usually short, sudden and brief movements such as twitching the eyes or mouth movements. Some simple tics can be: head shaking, eye blinking or lip biting. Simple vocal tics can be: throat clearing, coughing or sniffing.

Complex tics involve more than one muscle group and are longer movement which seem more complex such as jumping, hoping, touching people, hitting yourself or pulling clothes. Other complex vocal tics can be: repeating words of others or yourself all the time or repeating out loud what you have read.

Tics may increase as a result of negative emotions such as stress, tiredness or anxiety, but positive emotions as well, such as excitement or anticipation. These emotions are often experienced in those diagnosed with Aspergers and there for tics in kids or adults with autistic disorders can be more common. A strong urge can be felt before the tics appear and sometimes with intensive therapy these urges can be suppressed. When tics or urges to have tics are suppressed there can be a built up off other tensions or even stress. Often when the tic is gone those who suffer from it feel a sense of relief.

Whenever kids with Aspergers focus their energy on something else, like play computer games or watching TV, their tics tend to decrease due to the resultant relaxation effect.

My 8 year old grandson with Aspergers has several simple tics and a few complex ones. His tics appear mainly in his face and are there for very visible to others. He twitches his mouth and eyes all the time. He bites his lips in various ways so the skin around it is always red and irritated. Even though he feels the urges to do so he seems unable to control the movements. He is in tic therapy for this and as a mother it is painful to see this expression of anxiety or stress in your own youngster.

Bottom line: Try not to worry about it too much; it will go away once they grow older or are able to express their feelings in another way. Most kids with tics will be tic free sooner than later.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers Adults and Depression

Question

Any info to help w/22 yr. old college grad--floundering, drinking, depressed; appears high functioning, but truly isn’t...

Answer

When diagnosis of the adult Aspergers occurs, it is often as a result of a child or grandchild being assessed with the disorder. It then becomes apparent to other family members that the undiagnosed adult they have struggled for so long - to understand or relate to - also has the disorder.

When an adult is diagnosed with Aspergers as a result of a child within the extended family being diagnosed, it can come as a "double whammy" to the family. This is particularly the case when a child and a spouse are diagnosed, since the remaining member of the family group is now in the position of dealing with two Aspergers in the one home.

Similarly, the diagnosis of a child may make the parent twig that one of the parents had the disorder too. This also causes intense personal suffering for the person concerned since finding out that one's parent has the disorder will open as many wounds as it will explain.

The problems in dealing with adult Aspergers sufferers can be numerous, and include:
  • A sense of frustration that you cannot "get through" to this person
  • A sense of hopelessness that the person doesn't love you
  • Depression related to the knowledge that the individual won't get better
  • Difficulties accepting that the partner has the condition
  • Failure to understand why the person cannot relate to you in a "normal" manner
  • Feeling overly responsible for the person; feeling a need to constantly explain their inappropriate behaviors and comments to others. A feeling of trepidation due to the effect of this constant vigilance
  • If the adult Asperger is a marriage partner, concerns over whether to stay in the relationship are at times overwhelming
  • Lack of intimacy in the relationship and a failure to have your own needs met Lack of emotional support from family and friends who do not understand the condition

There is less information on Aspergers in adulthood. Some people with mild Aspergers are able to learn to compensate. They become indistinguishable from everyone else. They marry, hold a job and have children. Other people live an isolated existence with continuing severe difficulties in social and occupational functioning.

People with Aspergers often do well in jobs that require technical skill but little social finesse. Some do well with predictable repetitive work. Others relish the challenge of intricate technical problem solving.

I knew a man, now deceased, who had many of the characteristics of Aspergers. He lived with his mother and had few social contacts. When he visited relatives, he did not seem to understand how to integrate himself into their household routine. When the relatives would explain the situation to him, he was able to accept it. However, he was unable to generalize this to similar situations. Although he was a psychologist, his work involved technical advisory work, not face-to-face clinical sessions.

Adults may benefit from group therapy or individual behavioral therapy. Some speech therapists have experience working with grown-ups on pragmatic language skills. Behavioral coaching, a relatively new type of intervention, can help the adult with Aspergers organize and prioritize his daily activities. Adults may need medication for associated problems such as depression or anxiety. It is important to understand the needs and desires of that particular adult. Some grown-ups do not need treatment. They may find jobs that fit their areas of strength. They may have smaller social circles, and some idiosyncratic behaviors, but they may still be productive and fulfilled.


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

Problems with Sensory Overload

Question

My children (3 teens---2 still at home--plus a 3-yr-old) all have Asperger's. They have the disability as well as dealing with others (including one parent) who also have Asperger's. As a result, people are oversensitive to sensory input and comments and, of course, go from 0 to 100 in seconds. I have a great deal of difficulty heading off the mood escalations and defusing the situation once it has started. I need any suggestions for quicker resolution, etc. that will help us function more effectively.

Answer

Children with sensory issues can be taught to understand how they are “wired” and adjust to the blended flood of incoming sensory messages that is their norm. Learning to understand their triggers will help them cope. For some, the labels on their shirts, or itchy socks, may overwhelm their senses and shut down their ability to listen to parents. Becoming aware of the irritation will enable them to remove the cause and then, better process auditory messages.

Providing a less stimulating environment is the key to helping these children. Many Aspergers children outgrow their sensory-overload issues. By adolescence, many of the symptoms are better managed as the child learns coping skills. Helping the child identify their overwhelming sensations and providing quiet spaces can speed the process of understanding their own triggers and enable them to be more functional and better adjusted.

Sensory overload is when Aspergers youngsters are faced with so much sensory stimuli that they can't process it all, and they then find a way of dealing with that situation that - to them - seems out of control. For example, if you have your Aspie at the mall and people are coming up to tell you how cute he is and there is background music playing, then you may have a youngster that begins to throw a tantrum – and to you it may seem like there was absolutely no reason for it. But for an Aspergers child, such a situation is more than he can take. It is too much information for him to try to process, and he breaks down.

As Aspergers kids with sensory issues get older, they will outgrow some of these problems on their own. Other kids will require the help of Occupational Therapists, and still others will have sensory problems with them for a life time.

The cause of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (the formal term for sensory problems) is not yet known. Kids who have other disabilities and kids who were born extremely premature are more likely to have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, but it is also known to be a condition that some otherwise healthy kids have.

Because of the mystery that surrounds this condition (and the limited information), most people aren't accepting or understanding of children who have this problem. Therefore, if you find that your youngster has this condition, you should find a great therapist and have them give you information to share with your youngster's school and other family members so that they are better prepared to help him or her.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns

Aspergers Children and Relationship Difficulties

Aspergers may lead to problems in social interaction with peers. These problems can be severe or mild depending on the individual. Kids with ASPERGERS are often the target of bullying at school due to their idiosyncratic behavior, precise language, unusual interests, and impaired ability to perceive and respond in socially expected ways to nonverbal cues, particularly in interpersonal conflict. Kids with ASPERGERS may be overly literal, and may have difficulty interpreting and responding to sarcasm, banter, or metaphorical speech. Difficulties with social interaction may also be manifest in a lack of play with other kids.

The above problems can even arise in the family; given an unfavorable family environment, the youngster may be subject to emotional abuse. A youngster or teen with ASPERGERS is often puzzled by this mistreatment, unaware of what has been done incorrectly. Unlike other pervasive development disorders, most kids with ASPERGERS want to be social, but fail to socialize successfully, which can lead to later withdrawal and asocial behavior, especially in adolescence. At this stage of life especially, they risk being drawn into unsuitable and inappropriate friendships and social groups. People with ASPERGERS often interact better with those considerably older or younger than themselves, rather than those within their own age group.

Kids with ASPERGERS often display advanced abilities for their age in language, reading, mathematics, spatial skills, and/or music—sometimes into the "gifted" range—but this may be counterbalanced by considerable delays in other developmental areas. This combination of traits can lead to problems with teachers and other authority figures. A youngster with ASPERGERS might be regarded by teachers as a "problem youngster" or a "poor performer." The youngster’s extremely low tolerance for what they perceive to be ordinary and mediocre tasks, such as typical homework assignments, can easily become frustrating; a teacher may well consider the youngster arrogant, spiteful, and insubordinate. Lack of support and understanding, in combination with the youngster's anxieties, can result in problematic behavior (such as severe tantrums, violent and angry outbursts, and withdrawal).

Two traits sometimes found in ASPERGERS individuals are mind-blindness (the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and alexithymia (the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in oneself or others), which reduce the ability to be empathetically attuned to others. Alexithymia in ASPERGERS functions as an independent variable relying on different neural networks than those implicated in theory of mind. In fact, lack of Theory of Mind in ASPERGERS may be a result of a lack of information available to the mind due to the operation of the alexithymic deficit.

A second issue related to alexithymia involves the inability to identify and modulate strong emotions such as sadness or anger, which leaves the individual prone to “sudden affective outbursts such as crying or rage.” The inability to express feelings using words may also predispose the individual to use physical acts to articulate the mood and release the emotional energy.

People with ASPERGERS report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to poor social skills. The complexity and inconsistency of the social world can pose an extreme challenge for individuals with ASPERGERS. In the UK, Asperger's is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act; those with ASPERGERS who get treated badly because of it may have some redress. The first case was Hewett v Motorola 2004 (sometimes referred to as Hewitt) and the second was Isles v Ealing Council. The same applies in the United States with the Americans with Disabilities Act, amended in 2008 to include autism spectrum disorders.

The intense focus and tendency to work things out logically often grants people with ASPERGERS a high level of ability in their field of interest. When these special interests coincide with a materially or socially useful task, the person with ASPERGERS can lead a profitable career and a fulfilled life. The youngster obsessed with a specific area may succeed in employment related to that area.

What is Aspergers like?

• It affects individuals all of their lives, but as individuals get older they get better at social and coping skills.
• Many great scientists, writers and artists are thought to have had Aspergers, including many Nobel Prize winners.
• Individuals with Aspergers can do well when others understand the effects of the syndrome on their behavior and learning, and provide a supportive environment.
• Individuals with Aspergers find it hard to relate to other individuals.
• Some individuals who are said to be eccentric loners may have Aspergers.
• The effects of Aspergers can vary from slightly unusual behavior to quite aggressive and anti-social behavior.
• They have trouble understanding the feelings of other individuals and they do not seem able to read body language. For example, a person with Aspergers may not realize when they have hurt someone's feelings, or when someone doesn't want to listen to them.
• They like everything to be the same, and everything to be in the right place. They can get very upset if something is done 'the wrong way'.
• They may talk a lot about their own interests, but have problems getting the message across or giving others the chance to talk.

Secondary School—

• It can seem as though they are really bright because they know a huge amount about something they are interested in, but they might have trouble keeping up with other subjects.
• Other students get better at interpersonal relationships as they grow older, but it can become more difficult for a student with Aspergers to be involved in friendship groups. However, they may enjoy groups which follow their special interest (e.g., science clubs).
• Secondary school can be very stressful for students with Aspergers because they have a different timetable each day, several different teachers, and have to move between classrooms. These changes can be really stressful for someone who likes everything to be the same.

Teenagers with Aspergers are usually able to manage stressors better than younger kids, and behavior problems at school may be less of an issue at secondary school. However a teenager with Aspergers may be so worn out after 'holding it together' all day at school that he or she may 'fall apart' at home.

• It may be possible to negotiate with teachers to reduce the amount of homework or extend tasks over a longer time.
• Feeling tired after school is often a problem, and facing up to homework at the end of the day can be very stressful for someone who has already had a stressful day.

A school counselor can help to work out strategies for dealing with problems, which might include a place to work alone if things get too hard sometimes.

Adult Life—

• If partners and kids are able to learn more about Aspergers, they are often more able to understand the behavior and live more comfortably with the person who has Aspergers.
• Individuals with Aspergers also need to understand relationships better and learn more about how their behavior and emotions can affect others.
• Most individuals with Aspergers can form strong bonds with a few friends, marry and have kids.
• Peer support groups can also be helpful for partners and kids. Check on the internet to see if there are support groups in your area.
• Their anxieties and difficulties with the subtleties of relationships can be confusing and upsetting to partners and their kids.

Problems for Brothers and Sisters—

It can be difficult if you have a brother or sister with Aspergers.

• Parents often have to spend a lot more time with the youngster who has Aspergers, so that you can feel you are missing out.
• Their behavior can be difficult to live with because they don't relate to others well.
• They may have frequent tantrums when things don't go their way, and this can be embarrassing to you, especially if your friends are around.
• You may have to watch out more for your brother or sister to protect them from others, such as protecting them from being bullied.

Understanding more about Aspergers may help you interact more successfully with your brother or sister.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children

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.”

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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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