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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search MyAspergersChild.com

How Parents Can Help Their Aspergers Teenagers: 25 Crucial Tips

Bottom line: Mothers and fathers of adolescents with Aspergers face many problems that other parents don’t – and never will ...period.

Time is running out for teaching their Aspergers teen how to become an independent grown-up. As one mom stated, "There's so little time, and so much left to do." Parents with Aspergers teens are getting ready to face issues like vocational training, teaching adult social skills and independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their youngster (if needed). In the meantime, their childlike (and sometimes childish) Aspergers teen is often indifferent – and even hostile – to the parent’s concerns for the future.

Once an Aspergers teen enters the teenage years, his mother/father has to use reasoning and negotiation, instead of providing direction. Like all teens, the Aspie is harder to control and less likely to listen to his parents. He may be tired of mom nagging him to “look people in the eyes,” brush his teeth, and wake up in time for school. He may hate school because he is dealing with social ostracism or academic failure there. So what is a parent to do? Can it get any more difficult for crying out loud!?

O.K. Take a deep breath and relax for a moment. Here are some ways that parents with Aspergers adolescents can deal effectively with some common, everyday issues:

1. Alcoholic drinks or drugs often react adversely with your youngster's prescriptions, so you have to teach your youngster about these dangers. Since most Aspergers teens are very rule-oriented, try emphasizing that drugs and alcohol are illegal.

2. As you prepare your adolescent for the workforce, keep in mind that people with Aspergers often do not understand office politics. They have problems with the basics, such as handling criticism, controlling emotions, showing up on time, and working with the public. This does not mean they cannot hold down a job. Once they master certain aspects of employment, Aspergers teens are often able to work at high levels as accountants, research scientists, computer programmers, and so forth.

3. Because of their sensitivity to textures, Aspies often wear the same clothes day in and day out. This is unacceptable in middle or high school. One idea that has worked for some moms and dads is to find an adolescent of the same age and sex as yours, and then enlist that person to help you choose clothes that will enable your youngster to blend in with other adolescents. Insist that your adolescent practice good hygiene every day.

4. Celebrate your Aspergers teen’s humor, creativity, and passion.

5. Do you want to understand the Aspergers teen`s actions? Just ask yourself: What behavior would make sense if you only had 10 seconds to live?

6. Don’t argue or nag. Instead, either (a) decide that the issue is aggravating but not significant enough to warrant intervention, or (b) make an appointment with your teen to discuss the issue.

7. Forgive your teen and yourself nightly. You didn’t ask to live with the effects of Aspergers any more your teen did.

8. If it is working, keep doing it. If not, do something else.

9. If the pressure on your Aspergers youngster to conform is too great, if he faces constant harassment and rejection, and if your principal and teaching staff do not cooperate with you, then it may be time to find another school. The teenage years are often when many moms and dads decide it is in their youngster’s best interest to enter a special education setting. If you decide to work within a public school system, you may have to hire a lawyer to get needed services. Your youngster should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations for the learning disabled. This may mean placement in small classes, tutors, and special arrangements for gym and lunchtime. He should receive extra time for tests and examinations. Teach your youngster to find a "safe place" at school where he can share emotions with a trusted staff member. The safe place may be the school nurse, guidance counselor, or psychologist.

10. If your adolescent is college-bound, you have to prepare him for the experience. You can plan a trip to the campus, and show him where to buy books, where the health services are, and so forth. Teach him how to handle everyday problems such as "Where do you buy deodorant?" and "What if you oversleep and miss a class?"

11. Instead of punishing wrong behavior, set a reward for the correct behavior you would rather replace it with. Rewards should be immediate, frequent, powerful, clearly defined, and consistent.

12. Keep a sense of humor!!!

13. Know that Aspergers teens are emotionally younger than their chronological age. So if your 15-year-old is still acting like a 10-year-old, things are going as expected.

14. Know that teenagers with Aspergers have only 2 “time frames”: (a) Now and (b) Now. There is no future. There is only now. The past is non-negotiable.

15. Most Aspergers teens can learn to drive, but their process may take longer because of their poor motor coordination. Once they learn a set of rules, they are likely to follow them to the letter – a trait that helps in driving. However, Aspergers teens may have trouble dealing with unexpected situations on the road. Have your youngster carry a cell phone and give him a printed card that explains Aspergers. Teach him to give the card to a police officer and phone you in a crisis.

16. Most summer and part-time jobs (e.g., movie usher, fast food worker, store clerk, etc.) involve interaction with the public. This means they are not always a good fit for an adolescent with Aspergers. Some Aspergers teens can find work in their field of special interest, or in jobs that have little interpersonal interaction. Other adolescents have spent joyful summers at camps designed for adolescents like them.

17. Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate. Moms and dads need to model negotiation, not inflexibility. Don’t worry about losing control. The mother and/or father always gets to decide when negotiation is over and which compromise is accepted.

18. Pick your fights carefully. Is the issue at hand worth chipping away at your relationship with your teen? Can your teen really control the offending behavior at this moment?

19. Plan ahead. Give warnings before transitions. Discuss in advance what is expected, and what the results might be. Have the teen repeat out loud the terms he just agreed to.

20. The teenage years are tough enough for every adolescent – but throw Aspergers in the mix, and you got a real challenge!

21. When your Aspie was little, you could arrange play dates for him. Now you have to teach him how to initiate contact with others. Teach him how to leave phone messages and arrange details of social contacts such as transportation. Encourage him to join high school clubs like chess or drama. It is not necessary to tell his peers that he has Aspergers – let him do that himself. Many adolescents with Aspergers are enjoying each other's company through Internet chat rooms, forums and message boards.

22. When tempers flare, allow everyone to cool off. Problem solving can only occur during times of composure.

23. You absolutely have to teach your adolescent with Aspergers about sex. You will not be able to "talk around" the issue. You will have to be specific and detailed about safe sex, and teach your youngster to tell you about inappropriate touching by others. Your youngster may need remedial "sex education". For example, a girl needs to understand she is too old to sit on laps or give hugs to strangers. A boy might have to learn to close toilet stall doors (and masturbate only in private).

24. You do not have a standard teen. You can view the issue as a disability, or you can view it as wonderful uniqueness – or you can view it as both! The "disability” viewpoint will help because it eliminates blame, sets reasonable expectations thereby minimizing anger, and points the way for moms and dads and educators to see themselves as "therapists" – not victims. The “wonderful uniqueness” viewpoint will help because you really are in for a special – and often quite enjoyable – experience as a parent of an Aspergers child.

25. You will make it through this – you have no choice. Always keep the following ideas in the back of your mind:
  • a teen with Aspergers is still a child with thoughts and feelings – you are the adult this youngster looks to for support and guidance
  • negative behaviors usually occur because the Aspergers teen is spinning out of control, not because he is evil
  • the client in “Aspergers” is the whole family
  • the teenager who needs love and understanding the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways
  • this is hard work – and it is also hard work for your Aspergers teen

Resist your impulse to strive and struggle to CHANGE your Aspergers teenager …don’t strain to get desired results. Instead, enjoy the process of the work you are doing in raising him or her. The results you so desperately desire will come independently of your striving for them. Why? Because (a) you are doing a great job of parenting in spite of your opinion about your “parenting-skills” and (b) Aspies are late-bloomers. They “get it” eventually.

Take heart. Good luck. And don’t forget to take care of yourself!!!

My Aspergers Teen: Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eliza Edwards These are good things to keep in mind. I worry about what the future holds for our 8 year old.
14 hours ago · Like
Mary Alice McGinn Vickers we taught each hygine such deodorant three years ahead of time instead of fighting when it is critical. My sons sister took pictures of his clothes and made matching outfits and put them on his I phone aslo and app on how to tie a tie!
13 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Caroline Edwards Oh agreed. Totally x
4 hours ago · Like

B said...

Very informative post and blog. However, I wish that when discusing furture prospects of the Aspergers child, it would be done so in the context of reaching their full potential. I hate that it is often assumed that they will not do well in college and may very well end up in vocational school. If that is what my son chooses, he will have my full support, however, I am operating under the expectation that he will attend college. Why lower our expectations? Lowered expectation lead to lower achievement.

Dawn W. said...

I have tears streaming down my face right now. For the first time in a very long time I don't feel completely alone. The comments about indifference and hostility really ring true and I just feel like I failed somewhere in the last year. I realize the intersection of adolescence and aspergers is a perilous one. I just don't know quite where to go to find "my kind."

Dawn W. said...

I have tears streaming down my face. For the first time in a long time I don't feel completely alone. I just wish I knew what to do next to help my son.

B said...

@Dawn W - Don't be so hard on yourself. Many parents of teenagers who do not have Aspergers face similar problems or worse. I know of some whose kids are into drugs, etc. Keep it in perspective :)

Anonymous said...

To Dawn: There are local social skills groups, local meetup groups, and national online parent support groups that you can access. I have felt like a failure many times over the last 2 years since the dx, but I do see overall growth. Sometimes I've had to pay professionals to help get us through some difficult issues, but other times I've applied what I've learned here and elsewhere, and have seen it start to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I have a 14 year old daughter who has been diagnosed last year with aspergers.Should we tell her? were afraid it might make things worse i feel it might break her. she is very lonely and finds it hard to make freinds.

Memento Mori said...

I so needed to read this today! After a particularly bad week, it's reassuring to know that I am not alone in facing the very unique challenges that come with having an AS/HFA teenager!

Memento Mori said...

I so needed to read this today! After a particularly bad week, it's reassuring to know that I am not alone in facing the very unique challenges that come with having an AS/HFA teenager! It's comforting to know there are other parents out there who can relate to my struggles.

maggie Petts said...

We found out about our son when he was 11. We tried to make it a positive 'reveal' that explained why he was feeling so different and found things hard that others didn't. This went well.
At 14 he is in complete denial and won't talk about it. I have a book ready for him to read when he's ready, that's all I can do for the moment.

Just Being A Happy Being said...

Maggie Petts - I'm sorry to hear that he is in denial. Maybe talking to other Aspies might help him? My son is 13 and also diagnosed at 11. He has adjusted well and would probably send your son a note if you think that would help? Of course it would take my prompting and I would have to scribe it for him most likely. Let me know.
JB

Just Being A Happy Being said...

This article helped me feel like I can chill out a bit in my son. He is exactly everything described here. Helps me to know he is where he should be in his maturity etc. thanks.

mainedream said...

My son is 15 and he IS an Aspie. He does not HAVE a disease. Aspergers is a way of life, it is who they are. It is much easier to work through this and help them grow once you realize it's not something that can be cured, but something you embrace and learn about and teach to others. Also I want it known that anger issues is not Aspergers. Its a totally separate diagnosis. It's an added diagnosis. I feel blessed that my son is pretty well laid back. I know others deal with outbursts and anger issues. Frustration is part of that. Being accepted is part of that. Don't treat As pies like they are idiots, dumb. They are quite the opposite. Once you see them as unique individuals, not broken individuals they will grow so much more. Accept them for who they are. You can't fix what is not broken. They are who they are. You must be patient, repetitive in helping them learn. Do your research it helps. I prefer to help my son with different issues holistically. One is sleep. He falls asleep in class constantly and is starting to effect his grades. I am hoping to find a holistic product to keep him awake. I am against prescriptions. Throughout my years, the one thing that was consistent on the boards was they wish they had never been medicated. They never learned to deal with being Aspergers on their own.. They were right, my son has learned to keep working through problems on his own or if he needs help he asks for it. Anyhow, if anyone has any suggestions please do tell. Sorry for long story, but hope it helps another Aspie:)

mainedream said...

My son is 15 and he IS an Aspie. He does not HAVE a disease. Aspergers is a way of life, it is who they are. It is much easier to work through this and help them grow once you realize it's not something that can be cured, but something you embrace and learn about and teach to others. Also I want it known that anger issues is not Aspergers. Its a totally separate diagnosis. It's an added diagnosis. I feel blessed that my son is pretty well laid back. I know others deal with outbursts and anger issues. Frustration is part of that. Being accepted is part of that. Don't treat As pies like they are idiots, dumb. They are quite the opposite. Once you see them as unique individuals, not broken individuals they will grow so much more. Accept them for who they are. You can't fix what is not broken. They are who they are. You must be patient, repetitive in helping them learn. Do your research it helps. I prefer to help my son with different issues holistically. One is sleep. He falls asleep in class constantly and is starting to effect his grades. I am hoping to find a holistic product to keep him awake. I am against prescriptions. Throughout my years, the one thing that was consistent on the boards was they wish they had never been medicated. They never learned to deal with being Aspergers on their own.. They were right, my son has learned to keep working through problems on his own or if he needs help he asks for it. Anyhow, if anyone has any suggestions please do tell. Sorry for long story, but hope it helps another Aspie:)

Brenda Plummer said...

my son is 12 and his doctor thinks he has Aspergers and needs to see a counselor. I have an appointment arranged for this Thursday but he says he refuses to talk to anyone and that talking is torture. He says he won't go. Any suggestions on how to get him to go to the appointment?

Ed Bryan said...

It just struck me that I will never be able to truly understand.
I cannot share my life learning's in the same manner to him.
As painful as it is to be "normal" sometimes, imagine his day.

Jessica Crane said...

Hi, we actually just found out 2 days ago that our 19 yr old son has Aspegers... all I can say is WOW!!!! its like a light when on, suddenly it all make sense! our Son doesn't know yet and we are trying to figure out how to tell him. we've though all this time he had ADD/ADHD, he was dx when he was 11 and we just went with it. it wasn't until recently when I started to notice "missing pieces" in his maturity. He functions everyday like a 15 yr old and I couldn't figure out why? I grew increasingly concerned and had him re-evaled. this article really helped me and gave a good insight as to what our future looks like! Our family is ready to help him and make this very best of this Aspergers Life!

Katrina Jones said...

One very important thing to remember is that someone with Asperger's doesn't need to be "taught" to act like everyone else. They only need to be aware that they have a different way of perceiving and experiencing. Pressuring them to act in ways that conflict with the way they are wired will cause depression and more anxiety. Let your Asperger's child teach you how they experience life rather than expecting the to conform to the way you see it. Invite them to share...and just listen. Be present , and allow them to discover themselves naturally as God intended. Also, for activities ...try 4H as an alter native to Sports. Alot of Aspies enjoy hands on interactive work like cooking, gardening, animals, or mechanics and building where there are direct guidelines and they can set a routine with it and see progress. Best wishes and love to all

Kevin Fitzgerald said...

Hello. My Daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers about 1and a half years ago it's so hard seeing her miss out on all the things that girls her age are doing i mean discos, socialising,hanging around with other people sports etc. My daughter is 17 she's beautiful. She has so low self esteem that it's heart breaking to see her cut herself away from people her own age. Sometimes she is better of this way as she has been let down by so many people that it's unbelievable to tell you the truth.My daughters name is Aoife and she means the world to me.

Sheila Wilson said...

I am battling with the decision on whether or not to tell my son he has Aspergers. He has SAD and OCD hates talking about it. He gets very upset and defensive. I've slept very little these last couple weeks. I'm so worried for my son. His health has declined because of his anxiety.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

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

Click here to read the full article…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here to read the full article...

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content