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 "Sex Education"

Question

How should I approach the topic of sexuality with my 13-year-old Aspergers son?

Answer

The subjects of puberty, relationships, and sexuality are major sources of anxiety for teens with Aspergers (high functioning autism). Sexuality is often a tough subject for moms and dads to negotiate, as well. They often take a neutral position with these topics, hoping their kids learn about relationships by example and that the heavier, difficult topics are taught in school health class. While this approach does not always end poorly, it is a recipe for disaster when Aspergers is involved.

Teaching your teenager with Aspergers sexuality and puberty information is crucial. This is not information you want him to learn from his classmates, or worse, by doing his own Internet searches. Mother/fathers of kids with Aspergers should start with the very basics of sexuality, and move on to dating and relationships, since the social ability of a person is so intertwined with their sexuality.

Here are several important points to consider when teaching your youngster with Aspergers sexuality, puberty, and relationship information:

1. Adolescents with Aspergers need sexual education. During puberty, adolescents with Aspergers will develop the desire for sexual interactions. It's important to be explicit about the changes in their body and their emerging feelings. Moms and dads may want to help adolescents feel positive about their changing bodies. However, subtle explanations about sexuality will not register or may be misinterpreted. To help the adolescent understand sexual boundaries, moms and dads or caregivers must give detailed instructions as to what's appropriate depending on the adolescent's age and social abilities. Books or videos that are age appropriate may help the person with Aspergers better understand sexual relationships and behavior.

2. Be frank and straightforward. Speak using easy to understand descriptions and correct terminology.

3. Intimacy can be a struggle. People with this disorder struggle with the back-and-forth nature of intimate relationships. Dating and courtship can be confusing, as they rely on so many subtle or hidden rules and meanings. A teen with Aspergers may find empathy a foreign emotion, causing the other partner to feel isolated and alone. With social skills training and behavior therapy, the skills necessary to achieve an intimate relationship are within reach.

4. Make sure the information you are sharing is age-appropriate. For example, you would be less detailed for a 9-year-old than you would for a 16-year-old.

5. Repetition is necessary when teaching kids with Aspergers. Short sessions repeated over time will work best on any subject.

6. Sensory issues may impact sexuality. Hypersensitivity or under responsiveness are common in adolescents with Aspergers. This can impact their sexual behavior, either reducing the desire to be close or causing them to be overly needy of sex. When it comes to sexual behavior, they may not understand boundaries or limits. Moms and dads may want to use appropriate visual aids to explain touching others inappropriately, keeping their bodies appropriately clothed and touching private parts in public.

7. Sexual relationships challenge adolescents with Aspergers. The subtle cues of dating and sexual relationships may be difficult for adolescents with Aspergers to navigate. The syndrome is commonly known by a lack of social awareness or skills, communication difficulties, obsession with a particular topic or subject and poor coordination. Their social skills may impact the type of sexual relationships they develop. There is very little research into sexual behavior and adolescents with Aspergers. However, most adolescents who suffer with the syndrome show interest in sex. Society's norms on sexuality will not be intuitive to the person with Aspergers. The subtle cues of dating and sexual relationships may be difficult to navigate.

8. Use visual aids, like books and videos to engage your teenager in the conversations.

* A word about Aspergers adults:  Adults with Aspergers may present the sexual behavior of adolescents. Since Aspergers is a developmental delay, adults may experience sexual behavior similar to adolescents. They may be delayed in their social skills, which would manifest in their sexual relationships. These adults need to be made aware through observation or research which sexual behavior is age appropriate. Obsessive behavior is a symptom of Aspergers and may carry over to sexual relations. Also, some medications used to treat symptoms of the syndrome may also impact sexual desire.

On the issue of sexuality, there are two extremes, and you often find Aspergers teens clustered at both. On the one hand, there are the shy, prudish teens who consider it a big deal to unbutton the top button on their shirt or to wear shorts. At the other end, there are teens that think nothing of nudity and aren’t concerned who sees them. Surprisingly, there are also a number of confusing teens who flip back and forth between the two extremes.

Both types of Aspergers teens create social issues with the "prudish" type often being subjected to bullying over their appearance. They also often have problems attending gym class. These Aspergers teens often face longer-term life and relationship issues because social rejection in the teen years can often have lasting consequences. All too often, these teens have major issues with dating and with meeting others. In this regard, some of worst problems stem from their conservative dress sense and the fact that they would never set foot in many of the places where social activities are conducted (e.g., dances).

Not surprisingly though, it's the more "relaxed" types of Aspergers teens who tend to get themselves into the worst trouble. There's no mistaking the problems that girls who are just a little too forthcoming when talking about sexual issues or who flirt inappropriately attract amongst the less controlled members of our society. Male issues tend to be more likely to involve the police, or violence.

Your Aspergers teen’s tendencies will generally start to become obvious from an early age (typically around 5 or 6 years). One parent states, “My children are sent outside fully clothed to play, but frequently when I look out of the window, I see the discarded piles of their clothes on the ground and find them happily jumping around stark-naked on the trampoline where all our neighbors can see them. No amount of correction seems to get the message through. Even worse, they seem to have an unhealthy fascination with their organs and with ‘potty talk’ when their friends have mostly outgrown this.” The big problem with this delay is that it brings the parent uncomfortably close to puberty (a time when such frolicking and talk ceases to be innocent and becomes altogether more dangerous).

Like all teens, Aspergers teens are curious about their bodies and those of others around them. It's fairly normal for some younger kids to show themselves to others ("You show me yours and I'll show you mine"). Unfortunately, this is where the sexual and social delays and fascination with the wrong subjects can cause big problems. It is not uncommon for an Aspergers youngster to remain focused on the "show and tell" stage for much longer than their friends.

The other issue affecting teens with Aspergers is obsession. Aspergers teens are well known for forming fixations on objects, concepts and even people. These obsessions need to be monitored carefully lest they get out of control. It's not at all uncommon for Aspergers teens to develop sex obsessions, even without a partner. Most of these obsessions are perfectly safe behind closed doors, but if they are even discussed openly, there could be social problems (Aspergers teens have a tendency to say just a bit too much).

It's much more critical that “sexuality” gets discussed with Aspergers teens (versus teens that do NOT have Aspergers), because Aspies have more naivety and greater scope for trouble.

What exactly should be discussed?

Here are some ideas to help you, the parent, get started and keep the discussion going:

• Clearly state your feelings about specific issues, such as oral sex and intercourse. Present the risks objectively, including emotional pain, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Explain that oral sex isn't a risk-free alternative to intercourse.

• If you're uncomfortable, say so — but explain that it's important to keep talking. If you don't know how to answer your adolescent's questions, offer to find the answers or look them up together.

• Don't lecture your Aspergers teenager or rely on scare tactics to discourage sexual activity. Instead, listen carefully. Understand his/her pressures, challenges and concerns.

• Let your Aspergers teenager know that it's OK to talk with you about sex whenever he or she has questions or concerns. Reward questions by saying, "I'm glad you came to me."

• Your Aspergers teenager needs accurate information about sex — but it's just as important to talk about feelings, attitudes and values. Examine questions of ethics and responsibility in the context of your personal or religious beliefs.

• When a TV program or music video raises issues about responsible sexual behavior, use it as a springboard for discussion. Remember that everyday moments — such as riding in the car or putting away groceries — sometimes offer the best opportunities to talk.

Be ready for questions like these:

What if my boyfriend/girlfriend wants to have sex, but I don't? 

Explain that no one should have sex out of a sense of obligation or fear. Any form of forced sex is rape, whether the perpetrator is a stranger or someone your Aspergers teenager has been dating. Impress upon your teenager that “no” always means “no”. Emphasize that alcohol and drugs impair judgment and reduce inhibitions, leading to situations in which date rape is more likely to occur.

What if I think I'm homosexual or bisexual?

Some Aspergers teenagers wonder at some point whether they are gay or bisexual. Help your teenager understand that he or she is just beginning to explore sexual attraction. These feelings may change as time goes on. Above all, however, let your child know that you love him/her unconditionally. Praise your child for sharing his/her feelings.

How will I know I'm ready to have sex?

Various factors — peer pressure, curiosity and loneliness, to name a few — steer some Aspergers teens into early sexual activity. But there's no rush. Remind your child that it's OK to wait. Sex is a “grown-up” behavior. In the meantime, there are many other ways to express affection — intimate talks, long walks, holding hands, listening to music, dancing, kissing, touching and hugging.

If your Aspergers teenager becomes sexually active — whether you think he/she is ready or not — it may be more important than ever to keep the conversation going. State your feelings openly and honestly. Remind your teenager that you expect him/her to take sex and the associated responsibilities seriously.

Stress the importance of safe sex, and make sure your Aspergers teenager understands how to get and use contraception. You might talk about keeping a sexual relationship exclusive, not only as a matter of trust and respect, but also to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Also, set and enforce reasonable boundaries (e.g., curfews and rules about visits from friends of the opposite sex.

Your child’s doctor can help, too. A routine checkup can give your Aspergers teenager the opportunity to address sexual activity and other behaviors in a supportive, confidential atmosphere — as well as learn about contraception and safe sex. For females, the doc may also stress the importance of routine HPV vaccination to help prevent genital warts and cervical cancer.

With the parent’s support, your Aspergers teenager can emerge into a sexually responsible adult. Be honest and speak from the heart. If your teenager doesn't seem interested in what you have to say about sex, say it anyway. He/she is probably listening – if not to you, to someone else (who may or may not have good advice).

Do not hesitate to enlist professional help for your teenager with Aspergers. Sexuality can be a stressful, anxiety filled topic. Your teen’s doctor and/or psychologist can help you if you have difficulty. With the right resources and professional assistance, if necessary, you can successfully prepare your teenager with Aspergers for adult relationships.

My Aspergers Teen: Discipline for Aspergers Teens

Aspergers Children and Manipulative Behavior

All folks manipulate others in some way. While this may seem like a character flaw, individuals use manipulation because it works. In fact, moms and dads and educators use manipulation to change behaviors in kids on a daily basis.

Manipulative behaviors can be a positive sign that the youngster is learning how to navigate the social world. At the same time, in some cases, manipulation is misunderstood or confused with frustration. Is a youngster with Aspergers (high functioning autism) screaming because he is in pain - or because he wants to do something? Misunderstanding manipulation and frustrations is easy to do with Aspergers.

Manipulation is sometimes used by the Aspergers youngster to get what he wants or needs. Every instance of manipulation leads to an underlying legitimate request by the youngster. Yet, it is important to see that manipulation can also lead to behavior that is aggressive or otherwise extreme.

Various forms of manipulation can be seen in Aspergers kids as follows:

• Confusion Promotion: To manipulate the mother or father, the youngster brings up topics that are related, but not important for the discussion. In this form of manipulation, the goal is to confuse the mother or father to get what they want in a roundabout manner. Moms and dads often learn to ask direct questions to reduce the confusion level and not to give in to frustration over being confused.

• Playing Individuals against Each Other: Aspergers kids are very smart and this leads to more complex forms of manipulation, such as playing individuals against each other. This situation may result in confusion and frustration. The youngster may end up with what they want simply because of the lack of understanding in the group. This type of situation often happens between siblings or within a group home setting.

• Temper Tantrums: The standard temper tantrum is an example of a type of manipulation found in kids with Aspergers. In this situation, the youngster makes a request calmly. It may be unreasonable. When the youngster does not get his way, he may meet this negative response with yelling, destroying things, banging, stomping and even rolling on the floor. Moms and dads who are struggling with kids using temper tantrums learn to ignore them completely, except where the youngster may be injured.

Moms and dads and caregivers end up frustrated when it comes to Aspergers children and manipulation. You may be unsure of how to stop the poor behavior and get back to having a truthful and open relationship. Solutions often require patience and the ability to see what the underlying, unmet need is.

Here are some suggestions:

• Create an open environment as much as possible. Encourage your youngster to state what they want as directly as possible. Some Aspergers kids may not be able to communicate effectively.

• Disengage from the behavior occurring, but not the individual. If you feel powerless or unable to manage the situation, direct the individual to someone else.

• In manipulation, moms and dads and teachers may end up feeling powerless. In this situation, overcompensation may occur. A mother or father may become more controlling, for example, which pushes the manipulation farther. When you spot that powerless feeling, stop and assess the underlying circumstances first.

• Remember that the need is not the problem. The problem is the bad behavior and that should be the issue dealt with by the mother or father.

• Simply detach from the power struggle. Stop the process. If it continues, the manipulation will worsen, effectively causing the mother or father to become more controlling. This ends up leading to punishment.

For moms and dads in intense situations where manipulation is occurring readily, it may be helpful to find an Aspergers parent support group, either online or locally. Meet with the group and learn strategies for tackling your youngster's particular needs. Some Aspergers experts can also offer information and guidance on handling specific situations.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Understanding Your Aspergers Child

If you’re situation is like most parents’ situation, your Aspergers (high functioning autistic) child’s behavior seems a bit odd at times. Here are a few tips to help you understand what’s going on with him or her:

1. Despite what has been widely written, kids with Aspergers do have emotions. In fact, more often than not, they are rich with emotion – not devoid of it. More modern literature is starting to reflect this more accurate position. The difference is that the response is different in them. Kids with Aspergers are often very lonely and can become depressed as a result of feeling out of place in the world. Reaching out to a youngster who has Aspergers may open more questions for you than provide answers, but a greater effort is likely to yield a greater reward in the long run.

2. If your Aspergers youngster says ''I need help with ___'', that is what he needs help with, even if it doesn't seem possible. The other side of the coin is if the youngster says ''I am capable of ___'', it is a good idea to trust that.

3. Many Aspergers kids are very intelligent and may have extraordinary skills that you may or may not understand, but at the same time, your youngster may lack what will seem to you to be common sense.

4. You and your Aspergers youngster do not experience life the same way, so their obstacles, interests, complaints, frustrations are likely to seem illogical to you and to those around you. There are many issues that contribute to the way they view the world around them. There are communication issues, stigma, sensory, 'stereotypical interests', unique responses to social issues, stressors, and additional things than you may be able to imagine. If you look at it as if they are dodging paintballs all day long every day, paintballs which are invisible to you, it may make a little more sense that they move the way they do, talk the way they do, and make the decisions the way they do.

5. You and your Aspergers youngster do not think alike. This means that you are likely to misunderstand each other. Knowing this will enable you to do three things:
  • When family members, co-workers, friends seem to be having a ''group opinion'' in the negative, you have the insight to be able to say, ''It may appear to be that way, but I think it's a big misunderstanding''.
  • When he says or does something that seems hurtful, you can trust that it may not have been intended the way you thought, even if it seems very clear to you.
  • When you say or do something that your youngster takes offense to, you can trust that he is misunderstanding you honestly and not trying to be critical.

For moms and dads with Aspergers children, consider this: Maybe it's not only about your youngster's understanding of the world, maybe it's the world's understanding of your youngster.

Aspergers is a neurological disorder, and is one of five diagnoses that comprise what's called “the autism spectrum.” The “autism” label has carried some serious baggage. So much so that in the 1960s there was born a movement of “anti-labelism” where kids were no longer stamped with a diagnosis, and instead their condition was referred to only as “special.” This trend swung too far in the other direction though. Now it's time to embrace terms like “Aspergers” and “Autism,” so that those with the disorder can begin dealing with exactly what it is that makes them different—both the negatives and the positives.

What can moms and dads with Aspergers children do to handle stress? Here are some ideas:

1. Joining a support group can be a great way for families to relieve stress. When someone tells you “I understand …I've been there” – nothing feels better at that moment.

2. Make sure you're taken care of. There's a good reason that the airline stewardess instructs passengers to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before assisting their kids. If you can't be there in a healthy, operating way, you're not much good to your youngster.

3. One of the biggest challenges for children with Aspergers is an ability to shrug off life's failures. But, moms and dads can help their kids to process failure better. Praise, and praise, and praise for trying. Very often moms and dads say, “This is a special youngster, and I want to shield him from failure.” It's a good thought, but it's not the final resting ground. The final resting ground is independence and bravery.

4. Read up on the history of Aspergers to find out how the view of "the Aspergers condition" has developed over the years. Depending on the challenges of their particular youngster, moms and dads will feel some sense of pressure to change that youngster—maybe due to an outburst in the supermarket or an awkward conversation with the neighbors. We can all forgive ourselves when want to secede to societal pressure. What's important is this: loving your youngster for who he is.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

The Potential Genius of Aspergers

A famous psychiatrist, Michael Fitzgerald (from Trinity College, Dublin) has claimed that many geniuses in the fields of science, politics and the arts have achieved success because they had Aspergers. He states that many geniuses showed Aspergers traits (e.g., Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, and H. G. Wells). Fitzgerald argues that the gene linked to Aspergers is the same as those associated with creativity and genius. He compared the characteristics of 1600 Aspergers individuals to some geniuses and found they have many traits in common. Thus, it can be said that some psychiatric disorders may have positive dimensions.

Aspergers individuals can be so successful mainly because they are more focused and persistent, they do not get distracted, and they are not interested in outside society as much as the “average” individual. Many grown-ups with Aspergers have the ability to function effectively in mainstream jobs and live independent lives. Additionally, people with Aspergers may make wonderful intellectual contributions to society in general. Studies suggest an association with achievements in art, music, engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, and many more.

The deficits related to Aspergers may be debilitating, however, many people experience positive accomplishments, particularly those who are able to succeed in areas less dependent on social interaction, such as mathematics, music and the sciences It is suggested that Aspergers may be an important factor in many valuable contributions to fields and areas that benefit most from the type of thinking and attention to detail that only people with Aspergers can provide.

Aspergers is oftentimes seen as a disorder with both positives and negatives, and several well known grown-ups with Aspergers have achieved success within their career fields. There are several extremely well-known, very successful people who either had, or are believed to have had, Aspergers.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft computer billionaire is supposed to have Aspergers. Some other notable Aspergers-diagnosed people include Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith, electro pop rocker Gary Numan, and Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of the Pokémon franchise. Colorado State University professor and author Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and has used her autism to her advantage in her profession as an animal behaviorist specializing in livestock handling.

Some Aspergers investigators hypothesize that well-known figures, such as Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould and Ludwig Wittgenstein had Aspergers because they showed some Aspergers-related tendencies or behaviors, such as intense interest in one subject, and/or social problems. These unconfirmed diagnoses, especially posthumous ones, remain controversial, as they work only from biographical information and sometimes ignore documented evidence that would indicate against Aspergers syndrome. Nonetheless it may be argued that it would be a loss to society if Aspergers were cured, as many of these “special” people clearly make a significant contribution to society and their skills are highly prized in many specialist fields.

Lots of people with Aspergers genuinely possess a unique gift and a chance to apply their unique talents to make a genuine contribution to the future, with examples drawn from both the present and further back in time. Additionally, it provides an insight into the kinds of work and careers that may make the best use of their abilities and skills.

The majority of the well-known individuals in the list below are thought to have Aspergers, and several are confirmed cases of Aspergers:

• Abraham Lincoln,1809-1865, US Politician
• Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945 German politician, dictator
• Al Gore, 1948-, former US Vice President and presidential candidate
• Alan Turing, 1912-1954, English mathematician, computer scientist and cryptographer
• Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German/American theoretical physicist who provided the theory of relativity and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the work he did with photoelectric effect
• Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/Canadian/American inventor of the telephone
• Alexander the Great
• Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980, English/American film director
• Andrew Jackson
• Andy Kaufman, 1949-1984, US comedian, subject of the film Man on the Moon
• Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, US artist
• Anton Bruckner , 1824-1896, Austrian composer
• Béla Bartók, 1881-1945, Hungarian composer
• Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, US polictician/writer and was considered to be one of the most important of the founding fathers of our country
• Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British logician
• Bill Gates, 1955-, US global monopolist
• Bob Dylan, 1941-, US singer-songwriter
• Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008, World Chess Champion
• Carl Jung, 1875-1961, Swiss psychoanalyst
• Catherine the Great
• Charles Dickinson, 1951, US Writer
• Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, Scottish architect and designer
• Charles Schulz, 1922-2000, US cartoonist and creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown
• Cleopatra
• Crispin Glover, 1964-, US actor
• David Helfgott, 1947-, Australian pianist, subject of the film Shine
• Elvis Presley, 1935-1977, US musician
• Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, US poet
• Erik Satie, 1866-1925 - Composer
• Franz Kafka, 1883-1924, Czech writer
• Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher
• Garrison Keillor, 1942-, US writer, humorist and host of Prairie Home Companion
• Genie, 1957-?, US "wild child"
• George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish playwright, writer of Pygmalion, critic and Socialist
• George Washington, 1732-1799, US Politician, the first president of the United States of America
• Glenn Gould, 1932-1982, Canadian pianist
• Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, Czech/Austrian composer
• H P Lovecraft, 1890-1937, US writer
• Hans Asperger, 1906-1980, Austrian paediatric doctor after whom Asperger's Syndrome is named
• Harry Truman
• Henry Cavendish, 1731-1810, English/French scientist, discovered the composition of air and water
• Henry Ford, 1863-1947, US industrialist
• Henry Thoreau, 1817-1862, US writer
• Howard Hughes, 1905-1976, US billionaire
• Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, Russian/US writer on science and of science fiction, author of Bicentennial Man
• Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, English mathematician and physicist
• James Garfield
• James Taylor, 1948-, US singer/songwriter
• Jane Austen, 1775-1817, English novelist, author of Pride and Prejudice
• Jeff Greenfield, 1943-, US political analyst/speechwriter, a political wonk
• Jim Henson, 1936-1990, creator of the Muppets, US puppeteer, writer, producer, director, composer
• John Denver, 1943-1997, US musician
• John Motson, 1945-, English sports commentator
• John Nash, 1928-, US mathematician (portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, USA 2001)
• John Quincy Adams, also a president of the country, owned and kept a pet alligator in the East Room of the White House
• Joseph Erber, 1985-, young English composer/musician who has Asperger's Syndrome, subject of a BBC TV documentary
• Kaspar Hauser, c1812-1833, German foundling, portrayed in a film by Werner Herzog
• Keanu Reeves, 1964-, Lebanese/Canadian/US actor
• Keith Olbermann, 1959-, US sportscaster
• Kevin Mitnick, 1963-, US "hacker"
• L S Lowry, 1887-1976, English painter of "matchstick men"
• Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, Italian Painter,Scientist
• Louis IV
• Ludwig II, 1845-1886, King of Bavaria
• Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827, German/Viennese composer
• Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889-1951, Viennese/English logician and philosopher
• Marilyn Monroe, 1926-1962, US actress
• Mark Twain, 1835-1910, US humorist
• Michael Jackson, 1958-2009, US singer
• Michael Palin, 1943-, English comedian and presenter
• Michelangelo, 1475 1564 - Italian Renissance artist
• Napoleon Bonaparte
• Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943, Serbian/American scientist, engineer, inventor of electric motors
• Oliver Heaviside, 1850-1925, English physicist
• Oliver Sacks, 1933-, UK/US neurologist, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings
• Paul Allen - Another Microsoft "geek", the owner of the Seattle Seahawks & Portland Trailblazers, and the second richest man in the world
• Paul Kostabi 1962-, writer, comedian, artist, producer, technician
• Peter the Great
• Pip Brown "Ladyhawke", 1979-, New Zealand Singer/Songwriter, Musician
• Richard Strauss, 1864-1949, German composer
• Robin Williams, 1951-, US Actor
• Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon
• Seth Engstrom, 1987-, Magician and World Champion in Sleight of Hand
• Shakespeare
• Socrates
• Steven Spielberg
• Teddy Roosevelt
• Temple Grandin - She is a designer of humane food animal handling systems, and has been one of the pioneers in Autism and Asperger Awareness
• Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, US inventor
• Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, US politician
• Tom Hanks
• Tony Benn, 1925-, English Labour politician
• Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890, Dutch painter
• Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, English Writer
• Wasily Kandinsky, 1866-1944, Russian/French painter
• Wilhem II
• William Taft
• Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791, Austrian composer
• Woody Allen, 1935-, US comedian, actor, writer, director, producer, jazz clarinetist

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers and Comorbid Bipolar

Pediatric bipolar Disorder and Aspergers (high functioning autism) are extremely similar in the manner they're treated because their symptoms are similar. But exactly what are these two disorders and how are they related?

Because the symptoms of Aspergers and bipolar disorder can be very similar, it is common for individuals to be clinically determined to have one or the other when they really have both. It is not unusual for the two disorders to occur together, but having comorbid disorders presents even more difficulties in treating and coping with the conditions.

Pediatric bipolar disorder, or better known as manic depression, is an illness that may present as a mood swings or mood cycling. Clients who are suffering from pediatric type one are apt to have episodes of mania with alternating with episodes of melancholy. Clients with pediatric type two experience the thralls of depression with alternating episodes of mania.

Aspergers is linked to autism and is reported to be a mild form of the condition. It's actually a form of pervasive development disorder that triggers development issues particularly where the areas of communication and interpersonal development are concerned.

What are the signs of depression and mania in Bipolar Disorder?

Depression signs consist of: anger, extreme sadness, sleeping too much and feelings of worthlessness. Mania signs are: rage, extreme happiness, increased energy, hyperactivity, distractibility, sleeping too little and obsessive behaviors.

The disorder is brought on by four different factors. They are: neurological, biological, emotional and environmental. Yet not all of these factors can be found in every single case. Since little is recognized about the disorder, advances are still being made in this part.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by strong variations in mood, between intense highs (mania) and lows (depression). Manic states are marked by intense happiness or irritability, racing thoughts, the feeling that you need to do a hundred or so things simultaneously, an inability to focus on anything, bad judgment, increased risk-taking in activities like spending, driving and sex, and insomnia. Depression finds folks feeling miserable for weeks at a time, convinced they are worthless or to blame for everybody's problems. They might have an increase or decrease in appetite or sleep, appear apathetic, and lose interest in things they used to enjoy. Severe depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. A mixed state combines both manic and depressive elements, with individuals often feeling worthless and sad, but taking risks and otherwise behaving as in a manic state.

What are the signs of Aspergers?

Symptoms of this disease include: social skill problems, repetitive behaviors or odd habits, communication difficulties and limited range of interests.

The causes of Aspergers are not well known but research has shown that it can run in families...meaning it is genetic. So this must imply that the condition is biological...so it is either neurologically interrelated or genetic, right? At current time, there are no answers to this question.

Aspergers is a developmental disability on the autism spectrum. Individuals with Aspergers tend to have one or two highly-focused interests and can talk at length about them, without noticing when others are growing bored or disinterested in the conversation. They're not good at understanding body language or interpreting facial expressions and may speak very formally, as if they're reading from an encyclopedia. It's difficult for them to understand others' emotions or viewpoints. They have a hard time understanding sarcasm or idioms (phrases like "piece of cake" or "hit the road"). They may move awkwardly, with a stiff or clumsy gait. Many individuals with Aspergers have distinct mood swings. The inability to understand what goes on in social situations can lead to frustration and anger, creating behavior issues and outbursts of temper.

What are the similarities between Aspergers and Bipolar Disorder?

Because of its similarities, Aspergers and Pediatric Bipolar Disorder are very similar and can cause a misdiagnosis. The symptoms that are similar are: odd habits, compulsive behavior and spells of rage. Both disorders tend to lack the social development skills as well as the educational, behavioral and anger issues.

Bipolar can be in combination with Aspergers and this is, most often, the case. However, it is not clear if the neurological factors that cause Aspergers are related to the chemical imbalances that are thought to be the cause of pediatric bipolar disorder. As research continues in the area of neurological, technological and psychiatric issues, some answers should be forthcoming about the disease.

It can be difficult to diagnose bipolar disorder or other psychiatric illnesses in someone who has Aspergers. Doctors may attribute their symptoms to the developmental disability and not consider that there could be another, undiagnosed disorder. Because individuals with Aspergers are often less social than people in general, their moodiness may not affect relationships--a key factor in diagnosing bipolar disorder in the general population. Depressive apathy may be seen as the social deficit in Aspergers. What looks like the compulsive need to know everything about a topic of interest, common in individuals with Aspergers, may really be the impulsiveness and compulsive drive of bipolar disorder.

Treatments behind both illnesses—

The treatment options for both conditions are similar; yet there are no prescription drugs for Aspergers but you will find medications to treat the symptoms of it. Considering that the symptoms of Aspergers are very similar to bipolar disorder, prescription drugs used for bipolar may be used for Aspergers.

With both bipolar and Asperger disorders, counseling treatments are used but with the medication. Most of the Aspergers clients don't get medication but counseling is required so clients can learn to cope with their diagnosis.

If you know of a youngster who may be displaying any behaviors mentioned previously, they should be seen by a medical doctor as quickly as possible to be diagnosed. When a diagnosis has been made, a plan for treatment can be developed. Any undiagnosed disorders for both can lead to real trouble for friends, family and the suffering youngster.

Prior to making a diagnosis, your physician must take a comprehensive medical history, including any psychiatric illnesses among members of the family. He will cautiously assess the symptoms, noting the severity and duration of mood swings and other symptoms. In the case of diagnosing kids, the doctor may observe their behavior over the course of several visits to get an accurate measure of their behavior. Thyroid problems can cause symptoms similar to bipolar disorder, so the doctor may order a blood test to rule that out.

There are medications available for treating bipolar disorder in individuals with Aspergers. Individuals taking medications for bipolar should be carefully monitored for side effects. Some antipsychotics commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder can cause involuntary movements in kids; the risk of this is higher in kids with Aspergers. Because of possible communication deficits, it's essential to make careful note of any atypical behavior in individuals with Aspergers who are taking any kind of medication.

Therapy can help you understand the symptoms and learn to manage them. Average to high IQ is one component of Aspergers, so therapy can be quite effective in teaching about the disorders.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers Teens and Dating

Because of complications in "reading" body language and cues, Aspergers (high functioning autistic) teens have a very hard time in negotiating the intricate art of social interaction.

This is not an unattainable thing, and just about everyone has learned to do this, but Aspergers teens and young adults need to learn it. People without Aspergers need to learn the same things, but the extra challenges that Aspies have make it more challenging for them to "get started".

This is similar to driving -- once you get a beginning level of expertise, you will learn regardless of what your native aptitude for driving is. One distinction -- in relationships, there's hardly any public transportation.

Do anything you can to facilitate getting started with dating or other romantic relationship socialization. This is the threshold to cross.

Dating or building relationships is really a threshold issue for Aspies to the extent that they can be divided into two groups -- those who date (or are otherwise involved) and those who don't. This is stereotypically in the form of "dating" but the actual form of meeting and activity can be varied.

I've come across reports that fewer than 10% of teens with Aspergers are successful in their ability to attain good relationships. I do not think that is really the case simply because:
  • A few significant number of Aspergers teens who have done wonderfully at relationships.
  • You will find numerous historical reports of excellent relationships involving teens with Aspergers.
  • The assessment was most likely based on a determination that matrimony is the only legitimate form of a successful relationship. (This is in addition to a substantial number of apparently successful Aspergers partnerships.)
  • That conclusion was made before Aspergers was commonly diagnosed. Diagnosis is essential to self-understanding, particularly for teens with Aspergers.

If you divide Aspergers teens based on whether or not they have crossed the "dating" threshold, the probability of success in relationships increases considerably when you have started to date (or the equivalent). Then consider the effect of diagnosis, which is important with Aspergers -- instead of being "odd" the individual knows he/she has Aspergers. With knowledge of Aspergers comes a much greater propensity to engage individuals who enjoy the company of somebody with Aspergers features.

These changes make it an easy task to approach the “non-Aspergers” level of 50% marriage rate of success. If a person considers non-marriage relationships, chances are that individuals with Aspergers will begin to have a similar degree of success in life relationships as everyone else.

On a more basic level, once an Aspie crosses the threshold of dating, he/she will improve their knowledge and ability in handling relationships. Often they become particularly social.

For many young adults, dating and finding a romantic partner are important goals, and this is true for those with Aspergers as well as those without. But often, those with Aspergers may have gotten off to a slower start on dating. The high school social scene, when many non-Aspergers teenagers first start dating, can be horribly complex and not open to anyone who doesn’t fit into the popular crowd’s most narrow definition of acceptable behavior. High school teens with Aspergers may be quirky, or dealing with bullies, or just not ready to enter into an activity that is so socially complex.

Then, after high school, it can be even more difficult because it seems like the rest of the world is so much more experienced with dating. The older you get without dating, the tougher it may seem to get started. But, the good news is: if you want to start dating, it’s never too late to begin.

Below are some tips for how to start dating, even if you’re no longer anywhere close to high school age:

Dating Tips for Aspergers Teens and Young Adults—

Needless to say, the first step in starting to date is to discover a date. This is really probably easier than you may envision. Keep in mind that you’re looking for a date, not a husband or wife. So you can be satisfied with an individual you enjoy conversing with or spending some time with, this does not need to be that perfect ‘one’ individual. Consider broadening your ideal criteria. You may imagine yourself only involved with an exceptionally appealing, or brilliant, or successful person. But, if you are only setting up a date here, you are able to relax your standards. Lots of people whom you’d never consider marrying can be lot of fun to talk to on a date. You never know, you may even alter your standards.

Meeting individuals gets easier all the time. If you struggle in more unstructured settings, like book stores and coffee houses, it’s fine to visit practical meeting places, such things as speed dating or the World Wide Web. There, there is no doubt that the individuals you’re meeting want to meet others. If you are unskilled with dating, it may be best to avoid asking out coworkers, neighbors or people you’ll continue to see a lot of after the date. Misread social cues can mean a long-term awkwardness with people you have to interact with well after the date.

Obviously, safety is paramount. It you are a person who struggles with reading social signals, assume that you might have difficulties in determining if situations are risk-free. Have your date in a public, well lit place, be sure you bring a cell phone and a buddy knows where you are. Do not share your address or too many personal details. Plan ahead of time about how long the date is going to be, and then stay with that plan. You do not want to get overly enthusiastic with a charming stranger. Lastly, and most crucial, trust your intuition. Pay attention to gut feelings if something seems off.

Your first dating encounters will likely be somewhat uncomfortable. Loosen up …this does not need to be a long term relationship. See if you're able to consider this date as a way to get more exposure to dating. It's not necessary to share your lack of dating experience with the individual you’re communicating with, just keep it light. Discuss stuff you have in common, and then try to learn general things about your date, such things as where they are from, what they like about the place they are currently living, intriguing hobbies and interests. Additionally …plan on keeping it short. An afternoon coffee date will be a lot less stress than a full night of dinner and a movie. If it’s simpler, consider setting your first date up as an activity, like visiting an art gallery, going for a hike, going to the beach. These pursuits can also take a lot of pressure off carrying on a prolonged discussion.

Lastly, attempt to have some fun! Dating could possibly be the way to meet a husband or wife, or discover the woman of your dreams. But it is also a pleasing way to interact with someone else, and enjoy a Sunday afternoon.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

The Difference Between ADHD and Aspergers

The differences between Aspergers and ADHD are subtle yet distinct. Knowing how to differentiate between the two is important for moms and dads and therapists.

ADHD and Aspergers (also called high functioning autism) have many similarities on the surface. Both can involve inattentiveness and problem behaviors. In fact, kids with Aspergers are often diagnosed with ADHD prior to an Aspergers diagnosis. However, the two disorders are not the same. It is important for therapists to be able to make a thorough differential diagnosis between ADHD and Aspergers. It is also important for moms and dads to be able to tell the difference in their own kids who have both diagnoses.

Communication—

By definition, Aspergers does not include any significant delay in language (as opposed to autism). However, people with Aspergers do tend to have distinct differences in how they use language and tend to have language weaknesses that are not typically found in kids with average intelligence who have ADHD alone.

People with Aspergers tend to have weaknesses in their understanding of non-literal language, such as slang or implied meanings. They also tend to be more verbose and to have more one-sided conversations that are driven by their own topics of interest. They have a harder time taking turns in conversations or talking about a topic of interest to someone else. People with Aspergers also sometimes display less inflection in their voice.

In contrast, people with ADHD may have interests that they love to talk about and they may love to talk, but their conversations are more reciprocal. They can take conversational turns and they can switch topics to accommodate others' interests more easily. People with ADHD also do not tend to have specific weaknesses in their understanding of and use of non-literal language and speak with normal tone of voice and inflection.

Socialization Differences—

People with Aspergers tend to have difficulty interpreting non-verbal communication and the more subtle nuances of social situations. For example, they may not easily distinguish between behaviors that may be appropriate in one setting and not in another or they may have difficulty interpreting facial expressions or posturing of others. In contrast, people with ADHD may be distracted and not pay as much attention to those things, but they do understand and interpret them appropriately.

While people with ADHD may be more impulsive and less observant of others' needs, resulting in more misbehaviors, they can easily consider others' perspectives and they easily participate in more reciprocal, or two-sided, social interactions. In contrast, people with Aspergers tend to be more eccentric and one-sided in their approach to others. It is not that they are indifferent to others but that they really have a harder time considering the perspective of others.

Language and social difficulties for kids with Aspergers tend to result in avoidance of many social situations. They have a lot of problems and often do not understand why. Many social situations become way too stressful, especially with peers, and they may prefer adults. Specifically, teaching social skills to kids with Aspergers is often necessary. Kids with ADHD may have peer conflicts because of behavioral difficulties; however, they are more socially driven.

Sensory Differences—

All individuals tend to have preferred topics of interests or activities. However, for people with Aspergers, those things can often be all encompassing and get in the way of more functional routines. Their preferred topics or activities also tend to have a sensory seeking quality to them (often visual or tactile) and include repetition. They may also be overly sensitive to things like sound and they may tend to get easily overloaded with sensory input.

Kids with ADHD often respond better to experiences that are highly stimulating. That is why they can sit for hours playing a video game, while attending to schoolwork may be very difficult. However, they tend to process sensory input in a typical manner. People with ADHD do not necessarily seek out sensory experiences in a repetitive or eccentric manner.

Aspergers versus ADHD—

Aspergers includes many social, communication, and sensory difficulties that are distinct from ADHD. While the two disorders can result in behavioral and social difficulties, it is important for parents and essential for therapists to look beneath the surface and distinguish between them. Evaluations that appropriately differentiate between Aspergers and ADHD can lead to the most appropriate interventions for kids.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns 


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... For some it can be. For others, its like they medication acts differently with there systems. We have one of each. For my daughter, it was cinstant irritability and 3-4x a day meltdowns.
•    Anonymous said... I have 2 diagnosed with aspergers and ADHD. I do wonder sometimes if my son has both diagnosis because of his aspergers. He is inattentive but yet her know everything that is going on around him and even if he appears to not be paying attention he still hears everything that you say. I think that they lack of eye contact and the slow response time makes it appear that he is not paying attention. My daughter on the other hand has most if not all classic ADHD symptoms along with several communication issues.
•    Anonymous said... Interesting... We have HFA, Asperger and possibly ADHD. The speech delay was pronounced, and now the physical attributes of speech making difficulties are present. Nevertheless, the IQ of 120 and very superior level of comprehension and other parts of language arts. Soooo... How all this is possible then?
•    Anonymous said... Just want to point out this. I know they have changed the dignosis, as in Aspergers no longer exists, but one reason I dislike this is because aspergers and HFA are not exactly the same. The difference is, when young, those with HFA have had a language delay, as my 9 year old did. (has HFA diagnosis), And aspies didn't, my eldest son, (diagnosis of aspergers), was saying a handful of words at 6 months, was making small sentances by 9 months, and by 12 months you could have a back and forth conversation. I never knew till he was diagnosed just over 2 years ago, that early and advanced speech can also be a sign of aspergers. By definition, Aspergers does not include any significant delay in language (as opposed to autism). However, people with Aspergers do tend to have distinct differences in how they use language and tend to have language weaknesses that are not typically found in kids with average intelligence who have ADHD alone.. Anyone reading and not knowing very much, (just learning about this), may think their child probably doesn't have HFA, if they have a language delay, because it being said that Aspergers is often called HFA, not realising there are differences between the two, when children are very young. Just wanting to point this out, because I know when the younger of my sons was a toddler, I did think possibley autism, but so much of what I read was confusing...had I known then what I know now, he could have been diagnosed by 12 months, rather than 4 years.
•    Anonymous said... Many kids have Aspergers and ADHD like my daughter. The symptoms can present the same in many cases. You treat the symptoms not the disorder.
•    Anonymous said... One of each in our boys, both very mild, luckily. But it's interesting how it's easier to distinguish when they're right next to each other. More difficult if there's just one around to gauge.
•    Anonymous said... We have found that there is some relief from the ADHD type symptoms in our ASD son with medication, I don't know if it's that way for everyone though.

Post your comment below...

Aspergers Teens and Alcohol Abuse

This post exposes the unexplored problem of teens with Aspergers (high functioning autism) using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with everyday life.

Alcohol can relieve the anxiety of social situations and make those with Aspergers feel as though they can fit in. However, reliance on alcohol can lead the teenager down a path of self-destruction and exacerbate existing problems. For many teens with Aspergers, a strategy which begins as a simple coping behavior becomes an addiction.

Aspergers teens drink alcohol for a variety of reasons:
  • forget reality
  • temporarily alleviate worry
  • temporarily improve self-esteem
  • to change their mood
  • to deal with social anxiety
  • to feel carefree and brave
  • to feel less afraid
  • to gain acceptance

Environments which are too stressful are typically avoided by teens with Aspergers (e.g., where sensory input is too high to manage). If avoidance is not possible, coping strategies are put in place to cope with anxiety. The school environment is not always a protected environment in terms of avoiding anxiety, and teens with Aspergers are conscious of this, and this is where alcohol drinking often starts.

Alcohol will affect cognitive processing and can cause damage to the frontal lobe due to its toxicity. When under the influence of drink, it becomes harder to read facial expressions for example, thus the negative effects of alcohol on Aspergers may be more pronounced. Other emotional, non-verbal behavior may also be impaired such as processing social information. These effects are another reason why being fully aware of the effects of excess alcohol is useful from an Aspergers perspective.

The “co-existence of alcohol problems and mental health are very common” in general. Many teens “self medicate” their mental health problems using alcohol, and studies suggest that social phobia is an important factor in the development of alcoholism in general.

Though alcoholism applies to many teens outside the spectrum (e.g., to manage the anxiety associated with social situations), the greater difficulties experienced in this area by those with Aspergers means that the subsequent higher anxiety levels lead many to experience social anxiety disorder. As a result, teens with Asperger have an above average chance of developing alcoholism.

There are many signs that may indicate an increasing reliance on alcohol:
  • drinking in secret and continuing to do so even after it has caused significant problems
  • ensuring that it is always readily available
  • excessive consumption
  • genuine difficulty in coping without alcohol for any length of time
  • irritability
  • short temper
  • using alcohol as a casual relaxant and social lubricant

The research linking alcoholism to Aspergers is still growing. There are teens out there who don’t know they have Aspergers, but they also have a hard time acknowledging the fact that they abuse alcohol. A correct diagnosis for a teenager is a critical first step in understanding his condition and maintaining good long term health care.

Often with someone who has Aspergers, the initial problem starts when they are young. This is a condition that, as a child growing up, they are most often singled-out as being very different. As a result of this difference, most young people are treated with taunts, bullying, and other forms of mistreatment. This makes a teenager with Aspergers often feel bad and look for ways to cope with day-to-day life.

When a teenager with Aspergers gets to the point where they are struggling to go through each day, it can be an easy choice to turn to alcohol. Alcohol is easily available, and most teens do see it as an acceptable thing to do. That makes alcohol an easy item to choose if someone with Aspergers were looking at a way to get relief.

What Parents Can Do to Help—

1. Be open-minded to the fact that an adolescent with Aspergers may not have many friends, but he can get along with a few. Somehow being with numerous friends overwhelms an adolescent with Aspergers because he lacks the ability to associate with different personalities.

2. Converse with him when he gets home from school. While he relaxes, serve him snack and ask him about his lessons, teachers and classmates. Test him if he knows the names of his classmates. If he fails to mention their names, explain to him that he should know them because that is how it is in school – classmates should know each other.

3. Know his classmates. Go out of your way and find out who his classmates are. Try to spark his interest by telling amusing anecdotes about his classmates. Do this on regular basis until such time that the youngster’s curiosity is elicited.

4. Monitor the youngster’s performance in school. Find out his inclinations and encourage him to participate in activities that interest him. If he is good in math, make him join Math Club. If he is good at playing chess, enlist him with the Chess Club. He may refuse at first but what is important is you push him, though not necessarily force him. If it does not work, or if he is not ready to get into such associations, leave him alone in the meantime and wait for a better chance.

5. Realize that a teen with Aspergers is not mentally handicapped. On the contrary, they are mostly intellectually endowed, only that they encounter hardships in understanding the concept of social relationships. They do not have many friends and are often looked upon as anti-social as they refuse to mingle with classmates and friends.

6. Talk to his teachers about his condition. Ask them to include him in various classroom activities and to pair him off with buddies in doing class projects.

7. Understand that Aspergers is a disorder that occurs to a youngster who is going through the growth process in the physical, emotional and psychological aspects. Teens are mostly the ones who are inflicted with this disorder as they grapple to learn social skills.

Often, the way someone with Aspergers will find their way out of a problem with alcohol is the same way someone without Aspergers finds their way out of their drinking problem. It is done first by recognizing they have a problem with alcohol and next by seeking help in stopping their abuse. This can be help from friends and family, or it can include help and assistance by a program tailored specifically for that need.

If you think someone you know might have Aspergers or an alcohol problem, or both, there are many local agencies’ that offer help and assistance or can direct you to someone who can help. Don’t let someone you know suffer needlessly.

Aspergers in an adolescent is not as bad as it seems. The youngster can improve and develop his social skills in time. You just have to be patient and gentle with him. However if you think the youngster’s condition requires professional help, seek the counsel of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

When seeking assistance, it is important to try and identify a professional who is aware of the characteristics of Aspergers and the overlap between it and alcohol.

My Aspergers Teen: Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

Behavior Contracts for Aspergers Children

A behavior contract is an agreement between the child and parent. It is a written agreement about how the child will behave and will indicate the appropriate consequence should the child neglect to behave according to the contract. It also states the reinforcer to be used for successful compliance. The behavior contract provides the Aspergers (high functioning autistic) child with structure and self-management.

Developing the Contract—

The contract should be written with the child and parent (i.e., collaboration). Here are some points to consider:
  • Consequences and reinforcers need to be thought out clearly.
  • Contracts should name specific behaviors to be changed.
  • Define who and how the behavior will be monitored (e.g., parent’s initials, stickers, check mark system, etc.).
  • Focus only on 1 or 2 behaviors at a time.
  • How will the child receive a reward? (e.g., receive an extra hour of computer-time).
  • What is the consequence should the child not adhere to the behavior described in the contract?
  • Involve the child in the writing of the contract; ask him to make suggestions for reinforcement and consequence for failure to comply.
  • Sate the goal (e.g., will not speak out rudely, will keep hands to him/herself, will remain on task, etc.).
  • Set a date for reviewing the contract.
  • Time should be clearly stated in the contract; choose a half day, a full day, a week, etc.
  • You can include tangible reinforcers, social or activity-based reinforcers, curtailment of an activity, tokens that can be cashed in for a specific activity, etc.

Some Successful Reinforcers/Rewards—

o 5-10 Minute Free Choice Activity
o Free Computer Time
o Helping Mother with Cooking
o Invite Friend Over
o Listen to Favorite Music
o Watching Favorite Movie

A little patience goes a long way. It is critical for the child to know that you like him and that you're only disappointed in his behavior. Be sure to let him know that you share this goals, you both want what's best for him.

Praise goes a long way. I have been working with special education (behavioral) children for a long time, and these strategies have never failed me yet!

A minor problem with behavior contracts is that the focus is on controlling a child's behavior rather than helping him to make wise choices. Keep this in mind when developing behavior contracts.

Behavior contracts don't often work immediately. Be patient and consistent and you WILL see results. Know when it's time to review and revise. When the contract is not working well, be sure to include the child when making revisions.

Here is a sample behavior contract for Aspergers children:


Child:

Grade:

Date:

Members Present:

Describe Inappropriate Behaviors Observed (Physical, Verbal, Other)

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

 

Describe What precedes the Inappropriate Behaviors:


___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

 

 

Target 1 or 2 Behaviors to be Modified


___________________________________________________________________

Describe Unsuccessful Intervention Approaches:

___________________________________________________________________



Brainstorm a List of Potential Successful Approaches:

___________________________________________________________________



Describe the New Behavior Goals Include consequences and reinforcers

___________________________________________________________________



___________________________________________________________________

Date For Review:

Best and Worst Jobs for Aspergers Adults

Approximately 80% of grown-ups with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism (HFA) do not have full-time jobs – not because they can’t do the work, but because they often have difficulty being socially acceptable while they get the work done.

Countless studies show individuals would rather have pleasant and personable co-workers than a co-worker who is always right. One Aspie states, “I try to keep this in mind each day, and consequently, I spend a lot of time planning my interactions. But sometimes my plans fail.”

Jobs need to be chosen that make use of the strengths of individuals with Aspergers. Both high and low functioning individuals have very poor short-term working memory, but they often have a better long-term memory than most normal individuals. One Aspie states, “I have great difficulty with tasks that put high demands on short-term working memory. I cannot handle multiple tasks at the same time.”

Some job tips for individuals with Aspergers:
  • The boss must recognize your social limitations.
  • Sell your work, not your personality. Make a portfolio of your work.
  • Jobs should have a well-defined goal or endpoint.

It is important that Aspergers individuals pick a college major in an area where they can get jobs. Computer science is a good choice because it is very likely that many of the best programmers have either Aspergers or some of its traits. Other good majors are: accounting, engineering, library science, and art with an emphasis on commercial art and drafting. Majors in history, political science, business, English or pure math should be avoided. However, one could major in library science with a minor in history, but the library science degree makes it easier to get a good job.

Some individuals, while they are still in high school, should be encouraged to take courses at a local college in drafting, computer programming or commercial art. This will help keep them motivated and serve as a refuge from teasing. Families with low income may be wondering how they can afford computers for their child to learn programming or computer aided drafting. Used computers can often be obtained for free or at a very low cost when a business or an engineering company upgrades their equipment. Many individuals do not realize that there are many usable older computers sitting in storerooms at schools, banks, factories and other businesses. It will not be the latest new thing, but it is more than adequate for a student to learn on.

A man/woman with Aspergers has to compensate for poor social skills by making themselves so good in a specialized field that individuals will be willing to "buy" their skill even though social skills are poor. This is why making a portfolio of your work is so important. You need to learn a few social survival skills, but you will make friends at work by sharing your shared interest with the other individuals who work in your specialty. One Aspie states, “My social life is almost all work related. I am friends with individuals I do interesting work with.”

Bad Jobs for Individuals with Aspergers—
  • Air traffic controller -- Information overload and stress
  • Airline ticket agent -- Deal with angry individuals when flights are cancelled
  • Cashier -- making change quickly puts too much demand on short-term working memory
  • Casino dealer -- Too many things to keep track of
  • Futures market trader -- Totally impossible
  • Receptionist and telephone operator -- Would have problems when the switch board got busy
  • Short order cook -- Have to keep track of many orders and cook many different things at the same time
  • Taking oral dictation -- Difficult due to auditory processing problems
  • Taxi dispatcher -- Too many things to keep track of
  • Waitress -- Especially difficult if have to keep track of many different tables

Good Jobs for Visual Thinkers—
  • Animal trainer or veterinary technician -- Dog obedience trainer, behavior problem consultant
  • Automobile mechanic -- Can visualize how the entire car works
  • Building maintenance -- Fixes broken pipes, windows and other things in an apartment complex, hotel or office building
  • Building trades -- Carpenter or welder. These jobs make good use of visual skills but some individuals will not be able to do them well due to motor and coordination problems.
  • Commercial art -- Advertising and magazine layout can be done as freelance work
  • Computer animation -- Visual thinkers would be very good at this field, but there is more competition in this field than in business or industrial computer programming. Businesses are recruiting immigrants from overseas because there is a shortage of good programmers in business and industrial fields.
  • Computer programming -- Wide-open field with many jobs available especially in industrial automation, software design, business computers, communications and network systems
  • Computer-troubleshooter and repair -- Can visualize problems in computers and networks
  • Drafting -- Engineering drawings and computer aided drafting. This job can offer many opportunities. Drafting is an excellent portal of entry for many interesting technical jobs. I know individuals who started out at a company doing drafting and then moved into designing and laying out entire factories. To become really skilled at drafting, one needs to learn how to draw by hand first. I have observed that most of the individuals who draw beautiful drawings on a computer learned to draw by hand first. Individuals who never learn to draw by hand first tend to leave important details out of their drawings.
  • Equipment designing -- Many industries, often a person starts as a draftsman and then moves into designing factory equipment
  • Factory maintenance -- Repairs and fixes factory equipment
  • Handcrafts of many different types such as wood carving, jewelry making, ceramics, etc.
  • Laboratory technician -- Who modifies and builds specialized lab equipment
  • Photography -- Still and video, TV cameraman can be done as freelance work
  • Small appliance and lawnmower repair -- Can make a nice local business
  • Video game designer -- Stay out of this field. Jobs are scarce and the field is overcrowded. There are many more jobs in industrial, communications business and software design computer programming. Another bad thing about this job is exposure to violent images.
  • Web page design -- Find a good niche market can be done as freelance work

Good Jobs for Non-Visual Thinkers—
  • Accounting -- Get very good in a specialized field such as income taxes
  • Bank Teller -- Very accurate money counting, much less demand on short-term working memory than a busy cashier who mostly makes change quickly
  • Clerk and filing jobs -- knows where every file is
  • Computer programming -- Less visual types can be done as freelance work
  • Copy editor -- Corrects manuscripts. Many individuals freelance for larger publishers
  • Engineering -- Electrical, electronic and chemical engineering
  • Inventory control -- Keeps track of merchandise stocked in a store
  • Journalist -- Very accurate facts, can be done as freelance
  • Laboratory technician -- Running laboratory equipment
  • Library science -- reference librarian. Help individuals find information in the library or on the Internet.
  • Physicist or mathematician -- There are very few jobs in these fields. Only the very brilliant can get and keep jobs. Jobs are much more plentiful in computer programming and accounting.
  • Statistician -- Work in many different fields such as research, census bureau, industrial quality control, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, etc.
  • Taxi driver -- Knows where every street is
  • Telemarketing -- Get to repeat the same thing over and over, selling on the telephone. Noisy environment may be a problem. In telephone sales, you avoid many social problems.
  • Tuning pianos and other musical instruments, can be done as freelance work

Jobs for Nonverbal Individuals with Aspergers—
  • Copy shop -- Running photocopies. Printing jobs should be lined up by somebody else.
  • Data entry -- If the person has fine motor problems, this would be a bad job
  • Factory assembly work -- Especially if the environment is quiet
  • Fast food restaurant -- Cleaning and cooking jobs with little demand on short-term memory
  • Janitor jobs -- Cleaning floors, toilets, windows and offices
  • Lawn and garden work -- Mowing lawns and landscaping work
  • Plant care -- Water plants in a large office building
  • Recycling plant -- Sorting jobs
  • Re-shelving library books -- Can memorize the entire numbering system and shelf locations
  • Restocking shelves -- In many types of stores
  • Warehouse -- Loading trucks, stacking boxes

Many adults with Aspergers and HFA have a hard time finding jobs now. What will the jobless rate be for that group when — if current statistics are correct — the 1 in 50 children who have Aspergers try to become employed? As it is now, lots of adults with Aspergers are looking for full-time jobs, but their gifts are not recognized.


Jobs for Aspergers and HFA Adults 

COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said...  As a spouse of an aspie for 24 years, working together I a business, it becomes terribly demoralising when you are ways wrong and told why. The comment in here about that was liberating to me to realise that it is a trait, not me just being useless.
•    Anonymous said... I believe my father is an undiagnosed Asperger, he dominates conversation, is always right and inflexible, he goes on and on about himself and his current interests..my mom and he have been married 60 years..God bless her soul..but I also will try to keep in mind that he cannot help it..and I shall just listen respectfully..too late for him to get any sort of social therapy.
•    Anonymous said... I was taught to hide the outward behaviors of this disorder. In my mother's defense, they WOULD take kids, put helmets on em on a state home, back then. Thankfully, there's a bit more understanding now. I still struggle with shame and guilt. And it's pretty automatic to mask behaviors. *shrug it's a Spectrum. We are a wide range of supra-normal behaviors
•    Anonymous said... I wish I would've known about my Asperger Syndrome prior to going to college. I would've done something much different.
•    Anonymous said... I'm a teacher. And a bloody good one. And I have Asperger Syndrome. Remember it's a spectrum. Think of teaching as the effective transition of information to achieve the maximum effect (progress).
•    Anonymous said... im studying to be a teacher!!! oh gward...
•    Anonymous said... there are no best and worst jobs. autistics are individuals with a very wide variety of talents, skills and interests. the best job for any one person is not the best job for another. likewise with worst jobs. if anything, the best thing for an autistic to do is to not follow typical expectations and standards and do what works best for him or her.

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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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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content