Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search This Site

Helping Your Child Deal with Stress

Aspergers (high functioning autistic) kids and teens tend to experience more anxiety and stress relative to neurotypical children. Issues like school and social life can sometimes create pressures that can feel overwhelming for these children. As a mother or father, you can't protect your Aspergers child from stress — but you can help him develop healthy ways to cope with stress and solve everyday problems.

Here are some important parenting techniques to help your "Aspie" deal with stress:

1. Be patient. As a mother or father, it hurts to see your Aspie unhappy or stressed. But try to resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping him grow into a good problem-solver. A kid who knows how to roll with life's ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, and bounce back to try again, is a child who will be happy and healthy through the adolescent years and on into adulthood.

2. Comment briefly on the feelings you think your Aspie was experiencing. For example, you might say "That must have been upsetting," "No wonder you felt mad when they wouldn't let you in the game," or "That must have seemed unfair to you." Doing this shows that you understand what he felt, why, and that you care. Feeling understood and listened to will help your son or daughter feel supported by you, and that is especially important in times of stress.

3. Having “pizza night” (or your child’s favorite food) to discuss the week’s trials and tribulations can be therapeutic for some stressed-out kids.

4. Help your Aspie think of things to do. If there's a specific problem that's causing stress, talk together about what to do. Encourage your youngster to think of a couple of ideas. You can get the brainstorm started if necessary, but don't do all the work. Your youngster's active participation will build confidence. Support the good ideas and add to them as needed. Ask, "How do you think this will work?"

5. Just be there. Aspergers children don't always feel like talking about what's bothering them. Sometimes that's OK. Let your child know you'll be there when he does feel like talking. Even when children don't want to talk, they usually don't want moms and dads to leave them alone. You can help your youngster feel better just by being there — keeping him company, spending time together. So if you notice that your youngster seems to be down in the dumps, stressed, or having a bad day — but doesn't feel like talking — initiate something you can do together (e.g., take a walk, watch a movie, shoot some hoops, bake some cookies, etc.). Your presence really counts!

6. Limit stress where possible. If certain situations are causing stress, see if there are ways to change things. For instance, if too many after-school activities consistently cause homework stress, it might be necessary to limit activities to leave time and energy for homework.

7. Listen and move on. Sometimes talking and listening and feeling understood is all that's needed to help an Aspergers youngster's frustrations begin to melt away. Afterwards, try changing the subject and moving on to something more positive and relaxing. Help your youngster think of something to do to feel better. Don't give the problem more attention than it deserves.

8. Listen to your youngster. Ask him to tell you what's wrong. Listen attentively and calmly — with interest, patience, openness, and caring. Avoid any urge to judge, blame, lecture, or say what you think he should have done instead. The idea is to let your youngster's concerns (and feelings) be heard. Try to get the whole story by asking questions like "And then what happened?" Take your time. And let your son or daughter take his or her time, too.

9. Notice out loud. Tell your Aspie when you notice that something's bothering her. If you can, name the feeling you think she is experiencing (e.g., "It seems like you're still mad about what happened at the playground."). This shouldn't sound like an accusation (e.g., "OK, what happened now? Are you still mad about that?"), or put the youngster on the spot. It's just a casual observation that you're interested in hearing more about her concern. Be sympathetic and show you care and want to understand.

10. Put a label on it. Most Aspergers children do not have words for their feelings. If your youngster seems angry or frustrated, use those words to help him learn to identify the emotions by name. Putting feelings into words helps these children communicate and develop emotional awareness — the ability to recognize their own emotional states. Aspies who can do so are less likely to reach the behavioral boiling point where strong emotions get demonstrated through behaviors rather than communicated with words.

Moms and dads can't solve every problem as their child goes through life. But by teaching healthy coping strategies, you'll prepare him or her to manage the stresses that come in the future.


•    Anonymous said... I don't know if this helps but I am looking into yoga, mindfullnees to help me and my toddler and a professional just mentioned fun village which is activities designed to help children I am hoping use it to destress us both as his stress and aggressive behaviours stress me and then it just escalates, I know it may be different situation but heard yoga really helpful
•    Anonymous said... my son's teacher definitely could benefit from reading this.

•    Anonymous said... Reading this has opened my eyes a little,.. maybe the teacher needs to read this??
•   Anonymous said... This has been a big issue with my daughter lately. Usually about once a month she will have a meltdown and refuse to go to school. Because of the excessive number of snow days in our area and a change in my husband's work schedule, there have been a huge number of these meltdowns in the last couple of months.
•    Anonymous said... Working on sensory strategies for heightened sound/ sensory defensiveness with an OT. This should help.

Post your comment below...


Anonymous said...

This seems appropriate if your child's stress isn't too large. My aspie cannot bring himself to be in the classroom with the other students, and when we try to get him in there, he flips out into hysterics. Now what? Patience? Yes. Keep trying? Yes? Magic answer? Hmmm. How long does a parent keep trying to get the student into the classroom before the negative experiences leave a lasting impact on the child?

Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group said...

12 people like this.
View 1 share

Karen Vega we work on this daily for my two boys on the spectrum.
5 hours ago · Like

Stacy Tudor Mitchell But when the stress is so severe that a child cannot participate in the classroom due to anxiety, then what?
3 hours ago · Like

Maggie Moody Walker ‎^Stacy, we have a plan in place that if my daughter gets to stressed with anxiety, she has a room to go to in the school where she can decompress. It could be anywhere really, the principals office, another teachers room or the bathroom, etc. As long as they know where she is going, they are completely fine with it. It has worked really well in the past for us. Hope that helps : )
49 minutes ago · Like

Anonymous said...

My 9 year old has been diagnosed with High Function Autism and SPD. Everyone I turn around she screams when one of in the family come behind her, not to scare just walking by or if she just so happens to turn around and notice we are there she screams. Im afraid of scaring her to death. I not that's impossible but has anyone dealt with this situation! My daughter has alot of tantrums, but she seems to act differently at home than at school. Anyone else experiencing this?

Anonymous said...

My 14 yr old Aspie..flips in a school he 's now homebound at the library..negativty is there because of bad past experiences..that now he hates school..We are at a lose ourselves' I wish there were somewhere for him to be better ed.My fear ,he is becomeing more nosocial than ever.Where dose this lead us as a family.?

Anonymous said...

My daughter has developed OCD due to stress and anxiety, we are starting CBT next week so I really hope it helps as she is also struggling to participate in lessons. She has a timeout pass aswell that enables her to leave a lesson and recover in a quiet room but i worry about how much education she is missing out on. She is a bright girl and should do well if we can get her confidence up and stress levels down.

Anonymous said...

With all the info I have read via the net...while it is helpful to know that I am not the only one struggling to find answers for my child...I can't take it anymore. My kid is stressed out! Why? Because society expects these youngsters to suck it up so to speak. We don't expect blind people to walk tightropes, yet we expect aspies or autistics to adapt to everyday normal life. My kid hasn't been diagnosed even, yet I don't need a doctor to tell me what he has. I don't need a teacher to reaffirm what I already know. My baby is suffering, and I am not waiting around for people " to get it". He has gifts to offer to this world, just doesn't need this extra stress of trying to do it the way society expects.

Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting System That Reduces Meltdowns, Tantrums, Low-Frustration Tolerance, School-Related Behavior Problems, Sensory Sensitivities, Aggression, Social-Skills Deficits, and much more...

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…

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…

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...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

One Little Trick to Help Kids on the Spectrum Sleep Longer & Deeper at Night & During Naps

As parents of kids on the autism spectrum, we've all heard about weighted blankets. But do they actually work? ==> Click here to listen to what this grandmother has to say about them...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content