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 Critical Issues: What Every Parent and Teacher Should Know

The following is "must have" information for parents and teachers who are dealing with an Aspergers child:

Characteristics of Aspergers—

1. Youngster with Aspergers have a neurological condition, which means that they are learning how to socialize and understand the thoughts and feelings of other people, have difficulty with a natural conversation, and can develop an intense fascination in a particular area of interest and be a little clumsy. These problems are best described as a combination of developmental delay and an unusual profile of abilities. Over time the youngster improves.

2. Another feature of Aspergers is delayed emotional maturity.

3. Aspergers is considered as part of the autistic continuum or spectrum and there is one language disorder that borders or overlaps this continuum.

4. Aspergers is not caused by emotional trauma, neglect or failing to love a youngster. The research studies have clearly established that Aspergers is a developmental disorder due to a dysfunction of specific structures and systems in the brain. These structures may not have fully developed due to chromosomal abnormalities.

5. Both educators and moms and dads agree that this youngster who looks normal and has normal intellectual ability, for some inexplicable reason does not seem able to understand and relate to their people at the level one would expect for their age.

6. They do not seem able to read people’s body language.

7. In contrast there can be a lack of motivation and attention for activities that would enthrall the others in a class, assessments that indicate specific learning difficulties, and motor clumsiness.

8. Intense fascination with special interests such as transportation, animals or science.

9. It is also important to recognize that the youngster with Aspergers does not simply have a mild form of autism, but a different expression of the condition.

10. It is important to exercise discretion with such confidential information!

11. One of the features of Aspergers is a difficulty understanding the thoughts of others. A consequence can be to falsely attribute malicious intent. The incident may have been an accident but interpreted as personal and intentional.

12. Other qualities of personality in a youngster with Aspergers include being honest, loyal, reliable, and forthright and having a strong moral code and sense of justice. Their cognitive qualities include an exceptional memory, enthusiasm and knowledge about their special interest, an original way of thinking, good imagination and remarkable ability to think using pictures.

13. The youngster may have a remarkable long-term memory, exceptional concentration when engaged in their special interest and have an original method of problem solving.

14. The major source of stress in life for the person with Aspergers is social contact, and increased stress generally leads to anxiety disorders and depression.

15. There may also be some concern that the youngster is socially withdrawn in the classroom, playground, and prone to teasing by other kids.

16. They often seem to lack what could be called social common sense.

Main Clinical Features—

1. Poor non-verbal communication
2. Pedantic, repetitive speech
3. Naïve, inappropriate, one-sided interaction
4. Little or no ability to form friendships
5. Lack of empathy
6. Intense absorption in certain subjects
7. Clumsy and ill-coordinated movements and odd postures

Social Behavior—

1. A common feature of Aspergers is a difficulty with self-disclosure (i.e., talking about one’s inner feelings). The youngster may clearly be upset but does not have the ability or the words to explain their feelings. A parent is left frustrated that they do not know why the youngster the youngster has such obvious anguish, and is therefore unable to provide appropriate sympathy and guidance.

2. Being detached from or having difficulty sensing the feelings of others; not looking at others; the inability to ‘give messages with their eyes’; and coming too close to others. Young kids are less aware of the concept of personal space, and when this is encroached, the degree of discomfort.

3. Eye contact breaks their concentration. There is also a failure to comprehend that the eyes convey information on a person’s mental state or feelings. Clearly, the youngster with Aspergers needs to learn the importance of looking at the face and eyes of the other person, not just locate them but to recognize and respond to the subtle cues given in facial expressions. The person may eventually learn when and how to use eye contact, but some only learn to make the attribute less obvious.

4. Older kids become aware of their isolation and, in time, are genuinely motivated to socialize with other kids of their age. However, it becomes apparent that their social play skills are immature and rigid and other kids often rebuff them.

5. Their manner can be misconceived as aggressive, aloof or indifferent and this can be a source of anxiety, especially for adults with Aspergers.

6. There is a strong preference to interact with adults who are far more interesting, knowledgeable and more tolerant and accommodating of their lack of social awareness.

7. They often prefer to be left alone to continue their activity uninterrupted.

8. To include other kids is to risk an alternative script, interpretation or conclusion – that is, you have to share and cope with different ideas. The youngster is not interested in doing the activities other kids want to do and is not inclined to explain what they are doing.

9. When involved in joint play, there can be a tendency to impose or dictate the activity. Social contact is tolerated as long as the other kids play their game according to their rules. Sometimes social interaction is avoided not simply because of lack of social play skills, but because of a desire to have complete control over the activity.

Codes of Conduct—

1. It is essential that other people understand that the youngster is not being rude, but did not know a more tactful alternative or appreciate the effect on other people.

2. Other kids are determined to bend or break the rules, but the youngster with Aspergers is intent on enforcing them.

3. The youngster may appear ill-mannered; for example a youngster trying to get his mother’s attention said, ‘Hey you!’ Apparently unaware of more appropriate means of addressing his mother in public. The youngster, being impulsive and not aware of the consequences, says the first thing that came into their mind.

4. The youngster of Aspergers does not seem to be aware of the unwritten rules of social conduct and will inadvertently say or do things that may offend or annoy other people.

What Educators Can Do--

1. A common dilemma faced by moms and dads and educators is the youngster’s lack of motivation for any activity they suggest. However, the youngster has enormous motivation and attention when engaged in their special interest. The strategy here is to incorporate the interest in the activity that is non-motivating or perceived as boring. Also, the youngster can gain access to the special interest by complying.

2. Ask the youngster to repeat aloud your instruction if you suspect your speech was perceived as unintelligible.

3. Be aware of two characters. The youngster may be very conscious of the necessity to follow the codes of conduct in the classroom and try to be inconspicuous and behave like other kids. This pressure to conform and retain self-control can lead to enormous emotions tension, which, like a compressed spring, is release when the youngster reaches home. There the youngster is a different character, almost a Jekyll and Hyde. This is a feature of some kids with Aspergers and not necessarily an indication of the moms and dads being unable to manage their youngster. It will help for the classroom teacher to have a range of relaxing or solitary activities for the youngster just before they return home. Moms and dads may also consider a period of relaxation or energetic activities when the youngster some home to dissolve ether tension from a long day at school.

4. Kids with Aspergers seem to evoke the maternal or predatory instinct in others. Kids with this syndrome often lack subtlety in retaliating. Other kids would wait for an appropriate moment to respond without being caught. The youngster with Aspergers can also lack sufficient empathy and self-control to moderate the degree of injury. They are in blind fury that gets them into trouble. The teacher sees the youngster being aggressive and may not be aware of the taunt that precipitated the anger.

5. Encourage cooperative games. There is a range of classroom activities that involve small groups of kids working as a team. The youngster may need supervision and guidance on turn taking, allowing others a fir opportunity and incorporating their suggestions.

6. Encourage prospective friendships. Kids in the classroom have their own personality and it may take considerable time for the youngster with Aspergers to learn how to interact with each one. It may help initially to identify and encourage interaction with a restricted number of kids who are keen to help the youngster learn how to play with them. They may become their guardians when teased or bullied by other kids. They are likely to include them in their games, act as their advocate in the classroom, and remind or instruct the person on what to-do or say when the teacher is not available. It is remarkable how supportive and tolerant some young kids can be.

7. Explain alternative means of seeking help. The young youngster can consider the teacher as the only source of knowledge and assistance. It is important to explain that when a problem arises, help can be requested and obtained from other kids rather than always referring to the teacher.

8. It is important that educators are aware of auditory sensitivity and try to minimize the level of sudden noises, reduce the background conversation of others and avoid specific sounds known to be perceived as unbearably intense. This will reduce the person’s level of anxiety and enable them to concentrate and socialize.

9. Model how to relate to the youngster. Other kids in the class are often unsure how to react to the youngster’s unusual social behavior. They will look to the teacher as their first model. Therefore it is essential that the teacher demonstrate tolerance, tuition in social skills and encouragement, as their approach will be amplified within the classroom. IT is also important to recognize and acclaim occasions when classmates are particularly supportive.

10. Provide supervision at break times and in the playground. For most ordinary kids, the best time in the school day is free play in the playground. However, a lack of structure and supervision and an atmosphere of intense socializing and noise are often not enjoyable for the youngster with Aspergers. At this time they area they’re least skilled and most vulnerable. They playground supervisors will need to know the difficulties faced by the youngster and encourage their inclusion or respect their need for solitude. The person may also be vulnerable while traveling on transport to and from school and need supervision during these times.

11. Self-control can be strengthened by the traditional approaches of stopping and courting to ten, talking a deep breath and reminding oneself to be calm. Words not actions are appropriate to express anger, etc.

12. Several months before the end of the last term, the new teacher should observe the youngster in the class and the strategies used by their current teacher.

13. Some kids will not try a new activity if they have the slightest suspicion they will fail or there is the slightest hint of disappointment. The teacher needs to adopt an encouraging attitude, avoiding any suggestions of criticism. When an error occurs it is also best not to avoid the emotion of compassion but quietly and assertively provide guidance, explaining it is not the youngster’s fault, the task really is difficult.

14. Teacher aid time. As many of the skills outlined in this book are rarely taught as specific component so the school curriculum, it is essential that the young youngster with Aspergers has access to a teacher aid to facilitate individual and small group tuition to improve social behavior. The amount of hours necessary depends on the youngster, but the aide will require guidance on the nature of Aspergers and remedial programs.

15. There is also the problem of other kids taking advantage of their naivety. It is important that educators are aware that there may be no mischievous intent and ask the youngster, “Did anyone tell you to do this?’ before considering punishment.

16. Use other kids as cues to indicate what to do. The youngster may be disruptive or intrusive as they are not aware of the codes of conduct for the classroom. When errors occur, remember to ask the youngster to first look at what the other kids are doing – for example, sitting still, working silently or waiting in an orderly line. Inform the youngster that what they must do is observe the other kids and copy what they are doing; assuming what they are doing is appropriate.

17. A teacher aid may be required for a youngster. Their role is crucial and complex but their main responsibilities are to:

• Enable the youngster to cope with their auditory sensitivity
• Encourage conversation skills
• Encourage the youngster to be sociable, flexible, and cooperative when playing or working with other kids
• Encourage the understanding of the perspectives and thoughts of others
• Help the youngster to develop and apply special interests as a means of improving motivation, talent and knowledge
• Help the youngster to recognize the codes of conduct
• Implement a program to improve gross and fine motor skills
• Provide remedial tuition for specific learning problems
• Provide tuition on feelings and friendships

What Parents Should Look For In a School and Teacher—

1. A keen sense of humor will also help. At time the youngster is likely to enchant them, and a moment later totally confuse them.

2. An interesting feature of Aspergers is the variability in expression of the signs from day to day. On a good day the youngster concentrates, conforms, and socializes and learns reasonable well. But on other days they seem to be self-absorbed, and lack confidence and ability. On such days its best to concentrate on revision of well-practiced and successful activities, and be patient until the ‘tide recedes’ and the youngster can progress once more.

3. If the teacher and youngster are compatible, then this will reflect in the attitude of other kids in the class. If the teacher is supportive then the other kids will amplify this approach. If they are critical and would prefer the youngster were excluded, other kids will adopt and express this attitude.

4. Educators need to have a calm disposition, be predictable in their emotional reactions, flexible with their curriculum, and see the positive side of the youngster.

5. The most important attributes are the personality and ability of the class teacher, and their access to support and resources. The youngster with Aspergers is quite a challenge.

6. What is important is the size of the classroom. Open plan and noisy classrooms are best avoided. The kids respond well to a quiet, well-ordered class with an atmosphere of encouragement rather than criticism.

Friendship—

1. It is important that the young youngster with Aspergers be encouraged to share, invite someone to join their activity, and make positive initiatives of what to do.

2. The next natural state occurs between the ages of five and eight years. Kids start to understand that there is an element of reciprocity needed to maintain a friendship. Kids with Aspergers who are at this stage of development of the concept of friendship need to learn to make compliments about their prospective friend, to show caring and concern and to help others in both practical matters and activities at school such as peer tutoring.

3. The third stage is in the pre-adolescent period from nine to thirteen years. Around this stage there is a clear gender split and friendships is based on similarity, shared exploration, emotional support and increasing awareness of how they might be viewed by others.

4. The fourth stage occurs during adolescents where friendship is based on trust, higher levels of self-disclosure and greater emphasis on mutual or admired aspects of personality.

5. They usually need advice on the changing needs and demands of friendships and need to identify with their own heroes and small circle of potential friends.

6. They can become withdrawn and solitary when in a group.

7. It is not impossible for adolescents with Aspergers to find and maintain friendships that can last a lifetime. That they require is opportunity and support.

8. The person may have to memorize or write down key facts about each friend, such that when they see them or talk to them on the telephone they have a ready script of topics of conversation, with questions as “how is…?”

9. One way of making friends is to join clubs or association based on the person’s special interest.

10. Guidelines for relating to an adolescent Aspergers youngster: “never to assume without asking that I thought, felt, or understood anything merely because she would have such thoughts, feelings, or understanding in connection with my circumstances or behavior; and never to assume without asking that I didn’t think, feel or understand merely because I was not acting the way she would act in connection with such thoughts, feelings, or understanding. In other words, she learned to ask instead of trying to guess.”

11. They do not realize that there are different behavioral codes for various levels of relationships. The person my not comprehend why we behave differently according to the company.

What Parents Can Do—

1. Play with the youngster, practicing social games. The idea is not only to improve competence with the activity, but also to model what is supposed to be said and done, and how to include the other person. Sometimes even the most basic rules have to be explained.

2. Social Skills Groups are helpful for adolescents.

3. There is a large variety of school projects, books, and activities that encourage kids to explore the concept of what makes a good friend, and these are an essential part of the curriculum for kids with Aspergers. It is also important to identify natural instances of friendship, with the comment, ‘that was a friendly thing to do’ – or ask the youngster, ‘what should a friend do in such a circumstance’.

4. Regularly model self-disclosure, that is, tell the person of their emotional reactions and thoughts during the day, and then use leading questions such as ‘Did you feel angry at school today?’ or ‘Did you feel disappointed?’ This will provide an appropriate context and vocabulary to prompt self-disclosure.

5. Given the opportunity to listen to music several times a day can significantly reduce abnormal responses to sound.

6. It’s important to increase the person’s work experience from an early age, perhaps with a newspaper or leaflet delivery, and voluntary work.

7. Employers also need to understand the difficulties faced by the person with Aspergers so that their workload and workspace accommodates their characteristics.

8. Observe the youngster when playing with other kids and make a note of specific skills that will have to be taught. Some common ones are:

• Enroll the youngster in clubs
• Explain what you should have done
• Flexibility, cooperation and sharing
• How to avoid social play
• How to start, maintain and end the play
• Invite a friend to the house

9. For those who have a successful outcome, the following have been some important factors:

• A mentor, that is, a teacher, relative, or professional who understands the persona and provides guidance and inspiration.
• A natural recovery. As much as there are late walkers or talkers, there can be late socializes, although late can be by several decades.
• A partner who provides support, affection, and commitment to the person. They compensate for their peculiarities and camouflage their difficulties.
• Eventually coming to terms with their strengths and deficits and no longer wanting to become someone they cannot be, and realizing they have qualities others admire.
• Success at work or in their special interest, thus offsetting the challenges in the person’s social life. Social success eventually becomes less important in one’s life. Success is not measure by companionship but by achievement.

Emotions—

1. A confusing feature of Aspergers is that sometimes a mild distress is expressed as giggling, as in saying ‘you either laugh or you cry’. Here the youngster does not have a perverted sense of humor, just an expressive system that lacks subtlety and precision. Occasionally the inappropriate laughter appears quite bazaar, perhaps upon hearing a certain word or phrase that produces almost hysterical laugher.

2. Kids with Aspergers are often very stoic, enduring pain with little evidence in their body language and speech that they may actually be experience agony.

3. Lack of sympathy: An Aspergers does not completely lack the ability to care for others. It is more that they can be confused by the emotions of others or has difficulty expressing their own feelings.

Language—

1. Abstractions and a lack of precision are rarely tolerated, and one learns to avoid comments or replies using words such as maybe, perhaps, sometimes or later. (“Uncertainty causes a lot of inner distress.”)

2. Being lost for words may be due to a high level of anxiety. There the problem is not strictly impairment in language skills, but the effect of emotion on the ability to speak.

3. For adolescents, the curriculum for speech and drama classes can be modified to isolate, illustrate and practice the key elements of good conversation skills.

4. Here the youngster needs to learn how to explain their confusion and seek clarification.

5. One of the potentially infuriating aspects of Aspergers is a tendency to interrupt. The person has difficulty identifying the cues for when to start talking.

6. Pragmatics or Art of Conversation: The young youngster requires tuition in the art of conversation. This includes conventional opening statements or comments and questions appropriate to the context.

7. Role-plays and speech and drama exercises can be used to explain how and why the emphasis changes.

8. Some kids talk to themselves or “vocalize their thoughts”. First the youngster may be less influenced by peers to be quiet, or less concerned at appearing different. The vocalizations may also be a constructive purpose or be reassuring. It’s important to find out why the person talks to himself or herself.

9. The youngster may talk too much or too little, lack cohesion to the conversation and have an idiosyncratic use of words and patterns of speech.

10. The youngster’s curriculum also needs to include guidance using stories that illustrate the cues for comments of sympathy or a change of the script.

11. The differences are primarily in specific areas of pragmatics (i.e., how language is used in a social context); semantics (i.e., not recognizing there may be several meanings); and prosody (i.e., an unusual pitch, stress, or rhythm).

12. The person with Aspergers also has a strong desire not to appear stupid.

13. Other areas where the youngster may have difficulty:

• Coping with uncertainty or mistakes
• Knowing when not to interrupt
• Overcoming a tendency to make irrelevant comments
• Repairing a conversation

Motor Clumsiness—

1. Balance may affect the youngster’s ability to use some adventure playground equipment, and actives in the gymnasium. The youngster may need practice and encouragement with activities that require balancing.

2. One of the consequences of not being good at ball games is the exclusion of the youngster from some of the most popular social games in the playground. They may avoid such activities because they know they lack competence, or are deliberately excluded because they are a liability to the team. From an early age, moms and dads need to provide tuition and practice in ball skills, not to be an exceptional sportsperson, but to ensure the youngster has basic competence to the included in the games.

3. The youngster is also aware of the poor quality of their handwriting and may be reluctant to engage in activities that involve extensive writing.

4. There is increasing evidence that some kids and adults with autism and Aspergers develop signs of Tourette syndrome. The signs fall into three major categories: motor, vocal and behavioral. Should any of these characteristics become apparent then it is essential that the person be referred to a psychiatrist or neurologist for diagnosis of this syndrome.

5. They youngster may well require assessment by an occupational therapist and remedial exercises, but modern technology can help minimize this problem. Kids with Aspergers are often very skilled at suing the computers and keyboard and the youngster could have special dispensation to type rather than write homework and examination.

6. They have lax joint and rhythm problems.

7. Ungainly or ‘puppet’ like walking or running can be quite conspicuous and other kids may tease the youngster, leading to reluctance to participate in running sports and physical education at school.

8. When the youngster attends school, the teacher may be concerned about their poor handwriting and lack of aptitude in school sports. In adolescence a small minority develop facial tics, that is, involuntary spasm of muscles of the face, or rapid blinking and occasional grimaces.

Interests and Routines—

1. “Set routines, times, particular routes and rituals all help to get order into an unbearably chaotic life.”

2. A common aspiration for people with Aspergers is not to appear stupid. One way to indicate intelligence is to deliver a monologue that includes technical terms unfamiliar to the listener.

3. Greater success has been achieved by limiting the time spent engaged in the activity using a clock or timer. When the timer goes off, the activity must cease. However, it is essential that the person is then encouraged to so some other activity.

4. One of the reasons computers are so appealing is not only that you do not have to talk to or socialize with them, but that they are logical, consistent, and not prone to moods. Thus, they are an ideal interest for the person with Aspergers.

5. People with Aspergers often have difficulty establishing and coping with the changing patterns and expectations in daily life.

6. Routine appears to be imposed to make life predictable and to impose order, as novelty, chaos or uncertainty are intolerable. It also acts as a means of reducing anxiety. Thus, the establishment of a routine ensures there is no opportunity for change.

7. The youngster may also benefit from having a personal tutor in their area of interest.

8. There appears to be a developmental sequence in the nature of the interests, and the next stage is a fascination with a topic rather than an object. Common topics are transport (especially trains and trucks), dinosaurs, electronics, and science.

Cognition—

1. Aspies refer factual, nonfiction reading.

2. Kids with Aspergers are primarily individuals rather than natural team members. Team situations can be particularly stressful.

3. Cognition is the process of knowing and includes thinking, learning, memory, and imagination.

4. Once the person’s mind is on a particular ‘track’, they appear unable to change, even if the track is clearly wrong or going nowhere. On these occasions it is best to just agree to have a different opinion.

5. One of the unfortunate characteristics associate with this inflexibility is being less able to learn from mistakes. Moms and dads and educators may report that the youngster continues to preserver with the activity, have a ‘mental block’ and not changing their strategies if they are not working. An often hear phrase is ‘he doesn’t learn from his consequences’. The youngster must be encouraged to stop and think of another way or ask for assistance from the teacher or another youngster.

6. People with Aspergers appear to have a predominantly visual style of thinking. The disadvantage of this way of thinking is that so much of schoolwork is presented for a verbal way of thinking.

7. People with Aspergers appear to have some difficulty conceptualizing and appreciating the thoughts and feelings of another person.

8. Solitary imaginative play can appear remarkably creative, but there are occasions when careful observation identifies that the action and dialogue can be a perfect duplication of the original source.

9. They have the lack of ‘central drive for coherence’ that is, an inability to see the relevance of different types of knowledge to a particular problem. For example, having taken the favorite toy of another youngster without permission and then asked how they think the youngster will feel, the youngster can give an appropriate answer, yet this thought appeared not to be in their mind when they took the toy. Thus, the knowledge was available, but was not recognized as relevant.

10. They may have only one approach to a problem and need tuition in thinking of alternatives. Game: ‘What else could it be?’ or ‘Is there another way you could do that?’

11. When the youngster undertakes a formal intellectual assessment their overall IQ can be disappointingly lower than expected. This is due to their relative weakness on other test items, especially comprehension, picture arrangement and absurdities. The youngster can be remarkably competent with recalling information and defining words, but relatively less able at problem solving. As the youngster ages, tests, of intelligence and schoolwork increasingly rely on problem solving abilities.

Sensory Sensitivity—

1. For some time we have known that kids with autism can be very sensitive to particular sounds and forms of touch yet lack sensitivity to low levels of pain.

2. One or several sensory systems are affected such that ordinary sensations are perceived as unbearably intense. The mere anticipation of an experience can lead to intense anxiety or panic.

3. Three types of noise that are perceived as extremely intense:

• Confusing, complex or multiple sounds such as occur in shopping centers or noisy social gatherings
• High-pitched, continuous noise from small electronic motors used in kitchen, bathroom, garden equipment
• Sudden, unexpected noises such as dog barking, telephone ringing, coughing

Games to Teach Emotions—

1. A game of feeling hats can be used as a group activity. An emotion is written on a chard that is pinned to a hat. Each youngster chooses and puts on a hat with its associated emotions and shares times when they have had those feelings.

2. Another game uses feeling masks with each participant acting the motion portrayed on a mask, or the game Simon Says, adapted to include feelings.

3. How would you know when someone is sad? What could you do or say to help them feel better? Here the youngster learns to read cues and what to do when you recognize them. The ‘sad’ scrapbook can also be used to determine why the youngster may be sad, when there is a lack of verbal fluency to use speech to describe feelings.

4. List all the words that describe the different levels of happiness.

5. Mr. Face Game, which comprises a blank face and selection of different eyes, eyebrows and mouths that are attached to the face with Velcro. (Elmo Computer Game) The youngster has to choose the components to portray a designated emotion.

6. Older kids can ask their classmates and adults what makes them happy, demonstrating individual preferences and differences.

7. Other emotional states can be introduced, particularly anger, anxiety and frustration as well as more positive emotions such as pride, jealousy or embarrassment. A workbook can be designed to explore the events and thoughts that elicit a particular emotion in the youngster, and alternative responses. “What makes you feel…? What can you do when you feel? I am angry because…?

8. The concept can also extend to drawings, choice of colors, music etc.

9. The teacher or parent models a particular level of happiness in their body language, tone of voice, face, etc. And ask the youngster, “How do I feel?” …“Do I feel a little bit happy or very happy”? This activity explores the different levels of expression.

10. Worksheets can be constructed (e.g., a drawing or photograph of someone opening their Christmas presents where the youngster has to complete a question and answer exercise).

11. You can find pictures for a scrapbook or collage that illustrate happy faces as well as events that make people or the youngster happy.

12. Make a workbook to explore the appropriate emotional and linguistic responses to specific situations. How would you feel and what can you say or do if:

• A friend says you know so much about computers
• Someone criticizes your handwriting
• Someone makes fun of your clothes
• You forget your lunch but a friend offers to share his lunch with you
• You smile and say hello, but the other person ignores you
• You study hard for a test and get low marks

==> NOTE: Parents are advised to copy and print the above information and give it to their Aspergers child's teacher(s).

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

“Oxytocin Hormone Inhalation” Improves Social Learning In People with Aspergers

A recent study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science” is the first to demonstrate the effects of oxytocin, a hormone that allegedly promotes mother-infant bonding, socialization, trust and cooperation. Researchers stated that Aspies showed dramatic improvement in their social learning ability subsequent to inhalation of this “socialization-eliciting” hormone.

The results of this study influenced several Aspergers specialists to speculate that when usually depleted levels of oxytocin among Aspies are supplemented, it may benefit their social interactive skills.

The study was related to the Aspie’s tendency to avoid eye contact with others. In this study, 13 participants with Aspergers - and a control group - were quizzed about photos of human faces. Such images normally prompt Aspergers subjects to avert their gaze, especially avoiding looking at the eyes. For 90 minutes after inhaling oxytocin, those subjects were more willing to study the photos, including the eyes. They were also better able to tell whether they were being ignored in a computerized ball-tossing game. Aspies would usually not pick up on such differential treatment.

Researchers also stated that the oxytocin's effect in the second test was especially important because it prompted subjects to interact with others and learn from others' feedback. Two related studies in Aspergers adults found that oxytocin decreased repetitive behaviors and improved interpretation of emotions.

Oxytocin is a peptide of nine amino acids, which evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security. Many studies have already shown a correlation of oxytocin with human bonding, increases in trust, and decreases in fear. One study confirmed that there was a positive correlation between oxytocin plasma levels and an anxiety scale measuring adult romantic attachment. This suggests that oxytocin may be important for the inhibition of brain regions that are associated with behavioral control, fear, and anxiety.

Conclusions—

Oxytocin may play a role in Aspergers and may be an effective treatment for Asperger's repetitive and affiliative behaviors. Intranasal administration of oxytocin may increase emotion recognition in children as young as 12 who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

While this research suggests some promise, further clinical trials of oxytocin are required to demonstrate potential benefit and side effects in the treatment of Aspergers. As such, researchers do not recommend use of oxytocin as a treatment outside of clinical trials.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

I've been diagnosed with Aspergers -- now what?

Question

I’m a 35-year-old male. My therapist has suggested that I may have high-functioning Aspergers (symptoms are difficulty with talking, words and overall social ability; extreme difficulty with change in routine; isolation; astounding and detailed long-term memory with poor short-term, etc.). I find it hard to believe that a "fully developed" adult can actually remedy this.

Should I confront this diagnosis as a behavioral issue with cognitive behavioral therapy …or a biological one with medication? At this point, can a treatment do anything besides make me more comfortable with the disorder? I've asked my therapist, but because most medical literature addresses intervention in childhood, he can't say much.


Answer

Aspergers is nearly impossible to identify outside of the context of traditional social and cultural settings. The brain is simply wired a bit differently and acts on different sets of cues. You're not defective.

If your “impairment” is mild, you may have just always been considered "socially awkward" – and there may not be any particular medication available that doesn't have side effects or risks greater than the problems you already have. As a general rule of thumb, stay away from drugs. There's nothing to fix! If you have secondary symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, OCD, etc.), then maybe you should consider medication (but make sure you get an opinion from an Aspergers specialist).

Treatment alternatives may be as simple as behavioral therapies, behavioral coaching, or group therapy. Aspies may need to work with a therapist longer than neurotypicals do, because the Aspie’s social skills are somewhat lacking. It can take longer for an Aspie to achieve the desired results compared to someone with a different, non-developmentally based problem. But, you may do more harm than good by going to a therapist who knows little about Aspergers. The interpersonal relationship models that most therapists use are not really applicable to those with Aspergers. You'll find conventional therapy telling you to read body language, take social cues, and all sorts of things that the Aspie brain is not wired for. A therapist who specializes in Aspergers will key you in on things that will work.

The areas you'll need to focus on are primarily interpersonal relationships (e.g., manners, courtesies, diplomacy, social conventions, dress, hygiene, etc.). Neurotypicals generally acquire those things from an early age through socializing, but Aspies don't pick up on it as well.

Any adult who has been told that they “may have” Aspergers should ask himself/herself the following questions:

• What am I trying to change in my life?
• Will an official diagnosis (as opposed to being aware that I probably have Aspergers) do anything or create any opportunities to help me change those things?
• If my therapist is correct in his diagnosis, what does he have in mind to make it worth my while …what's his plan?
• Should I get a second opinion before doing anything else?

Aspergers is definitely not a death sentence – far from it. So what if you find out that you really have Aspergers? If you have it – you have it – and you always had it. So it’s really nothing new.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers Teen Chat: For Aspergers and Autistic Teens - Ages 13 to 18 Only

==> Go to AspergersTeenChat.com

The "Specific Carb Diet" for Children with Autism and Aspergers

The Specific Carb Diet was developed by Dr. Sidney Haas (a New York City pediatrician) who used it successfully to treat people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Dr. Haas' theory was that carbs (which are forms of sugar) feed the bacteria and yeast in the intestines, which causes an over-abundance of bacteria and yeast. He believed that this bacterial overgrowth prevents (a) enzymes on the intestinal cell surface from functioning and (b) the proper digestion and absorption of carbs. This would cause the carbs to remain undigested in the intestines, which provides even more food for bacterial and yeast growth.

A number of illnesses can develop from this digestive balance, including celiac disease, chronic diarrhea, crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, and ulcerative colitis.

Many ASD children have severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating and pain. Some ASD specialists believe these symptoms could be caused by bacteria or fungal overgrowth in the intestines, and ASD treatments – especially those recommended by alternative medicine specialists – aim to eradicate the bacteria and yeast.

The Specific Carb Diet eliminates the complex starches that feed bacteria and yeast in the intestines, which improves ASD symptoms by starving the bacteria and yeast. Killing these bad bugs not only leads to improvements in the GI tract, but also improves neurological function because many neurological problems actually originate in the digestive system.

There are two groups of carbs: monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are simple carbs, easily broken down in the intestines. Disaccharides are complex carbs, and individuals with poor gastrointestinal systems cannot break them down.

The Specific Carb Diet characterizes foods as "legal" or "illegal" based on their carb content. Some “illegal” carbohydrates include grains, sugars, beans, potatoes, and all processed foods (including canned vegetables). Some “legal” carbs include unprocessed meats, vegetables, fruits, and some dairy products (however, it's possible to do a casein-free version of this diet). The Specific Carb Diet already is naturally gluten-free.

Additional foods to avoid—

o Acidophilus milk
o All cereal grains
o All seeds
o Arrowroot or other starches
o Baking powder
o Bean sprouts
o Beer
o Boullion cubes
o Breaded or canned fish
o Buttermilk
o Canned fruits
o Canned vegetables
o Carob
o Carrageenan or pectin
o Chickpeas
o Chocolate
o Coffee
o Coffee substitutes
o Commercially prepared sour cream
o Commercially prepared yogurt
o Corn or maple syrup
o Cornstarch
o Fava beans
o Flour
o Flours made from legumes
o Ice cream
o Instant soup bases
o Instant tea
o Ketchup
o Medication containing sugar
o Milk or dried milk solids
o Molasses
o Mung beans
o Parsnips
o Potatoes
o Processed cheeses
o Processed meats
o Refined sugar
o Seaweed
o Smoked or canned meat
o Soybeans
o Soymilk
o Yams

Foods to eat—

• Natural cheeses
• Homemade yogurt
• Fresh, raw, or dried fruits
• Fresh or frozen meats, poultry, fish, eggs
• Fresh and frozen vegetables and legumes
• Dry curd cottage cheese

Be aware that ASD symptoms may not improve right away due to the profound changes taking place in the digestive tract. Also, many parents report significant worsening of symptoms at key points in the diet that they attribute to yeast die-off.

A survey from the Autism Research Institute shows that the Specific Carb Diet can be very effective overall in treating ASD symptoms. In looking at overall ASD diet approaches, the survey asked 278 parents whose children were following the Specific Carb Diet if it worked. A total of 69% said it had improved ASD symptoms …24% said it had no effect …and 7% said it worsened symptoms. Many parents said they had tried other ASD diet approaches, but the Specific Carb Diet proved to be the key, even in the absence of other ASD treatments.

Although the Specific Carb Diet is somewhat restrictive and difficult to follow, many mothers/fathers have reported significant gains in their kids with autism and Aspergers. Unfortunately, many parents don’t stick with the diet long enough to find some benefits in it. It is after all a fairly simple diet: no starch or refined sugars. But that simple statement requires a complete change of life style which, in turn, requires a great deal of determination. The Specific Carb Diet is more difficult to follow than the GFCF diet, and most parents find they must prepare virtually everything at home.

The Aspergers Comprehnsive Handbook

The Damage Done: Over-Indulging the Aspergers Child

Question

Our son is a 34-year-old with Asperger's who is living in supported housing. He went into his first apartment 2 years ago. It was very difficult as he was so angry and upset and even took revenge on us by smashing a television. He has had a lot to deal with. He has Crohn's Disease although it is in remission, with two operations at 17 and 19. He is defiant at times, super communicative, although of course it’s very much like verbal diarrhea. We haven't been too effective with parenting him, I think because of feeling sorry for him. This is coming back to bite us.

He sees a psychiatrist through the community mental health services (about once a month) and also a caseworker more frequently. About a month ago, he hit his psychiatrist (glancing blow on the shoulder), however the doctor has now charged him with assault. We are at our wits end. His MD says because it's a first offense, he will not go to jail but probably get a warning, maybe probation. His psychiatrist, a young fellow, told us a couple of years ago that he really doesn't know much about Asperger's as our son is his only AS client.

We know we have to change our communication with him, but my husband is feeling very sorry for him and not drawing a line in the sand very much. Our son is rude often, and often escalates into anger. Other times he is loving and almost normal. Can you offer any immediate suggestion?

Answer

Parents with an Aspergers child often have trouble knowing how much to help out their “suffering” child at certain times in his life. But, is it really bad to “cushion” him or to “feel sorry” for him? Unfortunately, the answer is a profound YES!

Let me be very clear about this: If the Aspergers child hasn’t had to work for most of his materials things and privileges over the years …and if parents have “stepped-in” time and time again to over-protect and over-assist the child …it WILL cause serious problems for that child later in life. Parents are not doing their Aspergers child any favors by over-indulging and over-assisting, in fact, quite the opposite – THEY ARE HURTING THEIR CHILD.

We’re talking about over-indulgent parenting here. Over-indulged children have too much stuff, too much assistance, and soft structure (i.e., lax rules, few chores, aimless). As a result, this child grows up with very little “self-reliance” (a critical skill to have to “make it” in the real world as an adult).

Over-indulgent parents often view themselves as loving their child unconditionally by permitting most requests and offering their child free reign with few restrictions. They also believe that being good parents entails supplying the child with most of his wishes – and assisting at the first sign that the child is struggling.

Being “taken care of” all of your life has grave consequences. Children who are over-indulged have great goals, but because they are so accustomed to being catered to, they do not have the skills or drive for achieving their ambitions. Impulsivity, refusing to take responsibility, abusing drugs, continuing to live at home as an adult-child, spoiled behavior, and so on, all stem from needing control – but having no ability to appropriately exercise it.

The “easier life” makes for children who feel “privileged” and who actually miss out on some important social skills (e.g., how to make friends, work with others, achieve self-sufficiency, etc.). Doing well in college, finding and keeping a job, and raising a family takes individual hard work, but if the child is used to not having to work for his money or interact with people in order to do well, his lack of determination will be the catalyst for his downfall.

Over-indulged children don’t know the difference between “needs and wants.” Ultimately, knowing what you “want” versus what you actually “need” is something that comes with maturity, but when a child is so privileged that he gets most of what he wants, it’s hard to know the difference. In general, children that are used to being the center of attention and not having to work for their share at life are disadvantaged as adults.

Parents are supposed to set a good example and give their child a strong background in the “real world” so that he can succeed on his own someday. If children don’t learn early on that making a living doesn’t come easy, their lives won’t be as fulfilled because they’ll have a strong sense “entitlement” (e.g., “You owe me …I shouldn’t have to work for anything”).

Directives for Over-Indulgent Parents—

1. Allow your child to experience the negative consequences and painful emotions of poor choices.
2. Differentiate between your child’s wants and his needs.
3. Discipline rather than nag.
4. Discipline without later reducing or negating the discipline.
5. If you have tried to correct your parent’s mistakes by attempting to be a “better” parent, know that (a) you turned out all right, and (b) you may be erring on the other end of the extreme.
6. Keep an eye out for your child’s guilt-trips.
7. Know that your child does not always have to be happy in order to have high self-esteem.
8. Know when to be your child’s parent and when to be his buddy.
9. Learn to say, and stick with, “no”.
10. Make sure you and your child’s other parent are united and bonded on most issues.
11. Pay attention to your feelings of guilt about how you have parented, and know it is a sign that you are – once again – beating up on yourself.
12. Think in terms of “everyone has a responsibility to the solution” rather than attributing blame.
13. When you catch yourself feeling sorry for your child, know it is a sign that you are – once again – taking on too much responsibility.
14. When your child needs to be comforted/cheered-up, do so with active listening, empathy, paraphrasing, validation, hugs, etc. rather than giving him things (e.g., unearned privileges, food, gifts, fun activities).
15. Your child is a priority, but allow your marriage to come first (it’s the foundation for the entire family).


In Summary—

Overindulgent parenting (i.e., parenting from parents who fail to enforce age-appropriate limits) is associated with children who:

• are ill-tempered
• are manipulative
• are overly dependent on parents
• are self-centered
• are verbally/physically aggressive
• have less concern for others
• lack assertive skills
• lack motivation

The methods of indulgence are:

• over-nurturing
• soft structure
• too much freedom
• too much stuff

The reasons parents over-indulge their children:

• correct their own parent’s mistakes/repair their own childhood issues
• don’t have much money (so give too much freedom)
• feel guilty
• feel sorry for the kid
• parent fears confrontation/lacks assertiveness
• response to a major life event
• the parent was overindulged as a child

…as a result, they parent their child based on what THEY want for him rather than on what he actually needs …or they parent their child the way THEY wanted to be parented by their parents.

The results of overindulgence:

• child believes the rules do not apply to him
• child depends on the parent to give him what he wants, but at the same time, resents being dependent …and this resentment comes out as anger and ungratefulness and a strong desire for more and more and more
• child does not get along well with authority figures
• child feels entitled to privileges but not responsible for his actions
• child has adjusted so completely to (a) being catered and/or (b) not having to be responsible for anything that he cannot function on his own
• the child is in charge rather than the parent (tail is wagging the dog)

Parents who overindulge have trouble:

• believing the fact that they are overindulging their child
• defining the difference between nurturing behavior and overindulgence
• enforcing discipline and setting limits
• knowing when to be the child’s “buddy” and when to be his parent
• saying -- and sticking with -- “no”

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

Does Your Child Really Have Aspergers?

Question

How can I know for sure whether or not my 8-year-old son truly has Aspergers? I'm not totally convinced at this point. There is some speculation based of observations of some of his behaviors - but I still have my doubts.

Answer

A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation from a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who specializes in Aspergers will be able to give you a definitive answer to that question.

Aspergers has a specific set of symptoms. However, each individual with Aspergers is unique; not everyone experiences the same combination of symptoms. Below is a basic list to help you identify whether or not your son has Aspergers-related symptoms:

Cognitive and Motor Skill Impairments—

Cognitive and motor skill problems are common in Aspergers. Typical cognitive and motor skill issues include:

• Difficulty with imaginative play: The Aspie does not engage in imaginative play as a child.
• Learns best visually: She has trouble learning without visual aids.
• Mindblindness: She has mindblindness, meaning she cannot determine what others are thinking and feeling in social situations or in relationships.
• Organizational skills difficulties: The Aspie experiences difficulty with planning, implementing and completing tasks.
• Problems with coordination: She may have problems with both fine and gross motor skills. Common examples of motor skill difficulty include bike riding, handwriting and playing ball games.
• Problem-solving issues: She has trouble figuring out how to solve problems outside of her routine.

Communication Problems—

An Aspie experiences a number of communication difficulties. Communication problems can include the following symptoms:

• Easily distracted: The Aspie has trouble concentrating her attention on people and objects that are not connected with her favorite subjects.
• Eye contact: He may not make eye contact.
• Facial expression: Facial expressions are either absent or inappropriate to the conversation or situation. She may have facial tics.
• Monotone speech: He may speak in a monotone voice, without expression or emotion.
• Personal space issues: He might stand too close to a person during conversation.
• Unusual gestures: The Aspie might make unusual or inappropriate gestures during conversation.

Language Skill Challenges—

An Aspie generally has a large vocabulary, but experiences problems with language processing. Language skills challenges may include:

• Difficulty processing language: The Aspie does not always understand the verbal speech of others or misunderstands the meaning of a conversation. He may have trouble making a decision or answering a question.
• Language rituals: He might have certain word scripts that he repeats ritualistically in conversation with others.
• Literal interpretation of words: The Aspie interprets most language on a literal level and misses abstract meanings.
• Trouble with language use: He has trouble using language appropriately in social situations. He may also misunderstand common word meanings.
• Unusual use of words: He may use words in an unusual way or create her own words.

Limited Interests and Unusual Behavior—

An Aspie often has a limited range of interest and may exhibit bizarre behavior. Interests and behavior may include:

• Narrow range of interests and obsessions: The Aspie is intensely interested in a small number of activities and subjects and refuses to engage in other activities.
• Self-stimulatory behavior: He may engage in stimming behavior such as hand flapping, rocking back and forth or twirling.
• Strict schedule: He prefers a rigid schedule and experiences anxiety when the schedule is interrupted.

Sensory Input Issues—

Many Aspies have sensory difficulties and may have unusual reactions to certain sights, smells, sounds or tastes. Sensory problems include:

• Limited food choices: The Aspie may choose and reject foods based upon smell or texture.
• Odors: She may react strongly to certain smells.
• Sounds: She might be hypersensitive to different sounds.
• Touch: The Aspie may not want to be touched.

Social Interaction Difficulties—

An Aspie may have difficulty with the following features of social interaction:

• Difficulty playing with others: The Aspie may not understand how to initiate play with his peers or how to play by common social rules. For example, he may take a ball from a group of children playing a game without asking to join the game first. He will not return the ball if they ask for the ball back because he does not understand the negative reaction.
• General social skills: He wants to socialize with others,, but does not understand how to interact.
• Inability to understand common social cues: The Aspie may not comprehend common social cues such as facial expressions, body language or gestures.
• Inappropriate responses: He may behave or respond to social situations in an unusual or inappropriate manner. For example, he/she may laugh at something sad.
• Problems with two-way conversation: He has trouble with initiating and maintaining a two-way conversation. He may appear to “talk at” someone rather than “with” them. Conversation topics may focus on an obsessive interest. He speaks inappropriately such as talking too loudly or softly.
• Relating to others: The Aspie does not understand other's emotions or social responses accurately in a group situation. He may not understand if an activity or conversation is boring or upsetting to another person.
• Rigid range of interests for social interaction: He will only engage in a narrow range of activities or talk about certain subjects.

The Aspergers list above can help you recognize common symptoms of Aspergers. If you believe that your youngster or teenager has this disorder, contact your pediatrician for an Aspergers screening. Early intervention provides the best chance for your son or daughter to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers Children and Poor School Attendance

Question

My child with Aspergers often convinces me that he is too sick to attend school. I end up calling-in for him at least a couple times a month. How can I tell if he’s really sick – or if he just doesn’t want to go to school that day?

Answer

Is your Aspergers child really too sick to attend school - or is he faking it?


Many moms and dads have a hard time deciding if their children are well enough to go to school. After all, what well-intentioned mother or father hasn't sent a youngster off with tissues in hand only to get that mid-morning "come get your son" phone call? But making the right decision isn't as tough as you might think. It basically boils down to one question: Can your youngster still participate in school activities? After all, having a sore throat, cough, or mild congestion does not necessarily mean a student can't be active and participate in school activities.

Determining whether or not a youngster has a fever offers a fairly reliable way of judging whether or not he is truly too sick to go to school. Additionally, it is one of the few symptoms that can actually be quantified. States often have requirements regarding the exact temperature at which kids need to be sent home, especially in early childhood and child-care settings.

The time of day during which a youngster is experiencing a fever can also make a difference. Fevers usually run a bit higher in the evening than they do in the morning. So a high temperature in the evening may abate overnight. However, a high temperature in the morning will likely only get worse as the day progresses, so moms and dads should consider keeping children home in this case.

The child should probably stay home if it is the first day of the illness and the temperature is over 101. If it is the third day or later, and the youngster has been acting well during the day, but has a 101 temperature in the evening, he probably should go to school.

A fever isn't the only symptom to track when it comes to judging a kid's ability to attend school. Vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and a host of other indicators can also mean the difference between a desk at school or the couch at home.

Vomiting and diarrhea can also be a tremendous source of discomfort for kids if severe or uncontrolled. In these cases, a day at home may be the best option. If the youngster is vomiting, it is inconvenient for the teacher and the other classmates. If mild and controllable, however, a bit of diarrhea may not be a big problem. In elementary age kids, diarrhea isn't as much of an issue if it doesn't interfere with their ability to remain in the classroom and if they aren't sick enough to potentially have accidents, have to run to the bathroom, or be in pain.

Rashes, particularly those that cannot be readily explained, may also be cause to keep your kid at home -- and perhaps even require a doctor's opinion.

And kids with severe cases of conjunctivitis -- commonly known as pink eye -- should also be kept home from school. However, some doctors note that mild cases of this affliction may not warrant a day off.

Many moms and dads may also wonder when it is safe for their youngster to go back to school after recovering from their illness. The answer to that one is a little bit trickier. In general, nobody would recommend that a youngster goes back to school unless he has been fever-free for 24 hours, and some would even say 48 hours. A full day of fever-free downtime is probably sufficient to safeguard the youngster's health, as well as that of his peers. It is fairly standard that kids are required to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning, which is a useful method of limiting the spread of infection during the febrile period when kids are thought to be most contagious. When the fever is gone for 24 hours, the contagiousness is greatly diminished.

The 24-hour rule may prove to be more than sufficient for vomiting. Vomiting is a temporary nuisance most of the time. So if the youngster feels OK and has not vomited since midnight, consider allowing him to go the next morning.

In most cases, however, the decision of whether or not to send a sick kid to school will not be clear-cut. In these cases, moms and dads must ask themselves certain questions to help them decide. Will the illness prevent the youngster's participation in normal school activities? Also, will the youngster's illness place an unusual burden on the staff? A third and very important question to consider is whether or not the illness that the youngster has poses a risk to other kids and adults.

Moms and dads must also keep in mind that those complaints of abdominal pain could be from a food-borne illness -- or they could just be due to anxiety over the prospect of going to school. But in these situations, it may be better to err on the side of caution.

Moms and dads have to be willing to trust their instincts. Even when their youngster is not having any objective signs of illness, if they think that the youngster is different from how she normally is, they need to trust their instincts and keep her at home until they figure out what's wrong.

Moms and dads should also be aware of symptoms that suggest the youngster should be brought to a doctor. If the youngster cannot touch her chin to her chest, it could be a sign of meningitis, a serious infection that warrants immediate medical attention.

Deciding whether or not to send your kid to school can sometimes be a tough call. After all, it's not always easy to distinguish simple theatrics from true illness. Worse yet, a diagnosis and decision must often be made in the few spare moments after breakfast (and before an angry call from your boss). Fortunately, there are a few rules of thumb that you can follow when determining whether a youngster is up to the task of a full day at school. And doctors say a mild case of sore throat or the sniffles is not necessarily a mandate to keep children at home.

Trust your instincts. If your child has the sniffles but hasn't slowed down at home, chances are he's well enough for the classroom. On the other hand, he may need to take it easy at home if he's been coughing all night and needs to be woken up in the morning.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns at Home and School

Helping Aspergers Children Who Get Frustrated

Question

When my 15y/o son with Aspergers meets with disappointment, and when things don't go just as he wants them to, he has his meltdown …then it is so difficult to get him redirected back to doing what he should be doing.

Are there any tips you can give me about how to try to get him back on track, to help him accept that something didn't work out or that he can't do or have something he really wanted?

Answer

What you’re referring to here is low frustration tolerance (i.e., needing immediate pleasure or needing to avoid pain at the cost of long-term stress and defeatism). Low frustration-tolerance originates from the Aspergers youngster’s dysfunctional and irrational beliefs. Behaviors are then the result of avoiding frustrating events which, paradoxically, lead to increased frustration and even greater mental stress.

Low frustration tolerance occurs when the Aspergers youngster gets very frustrated and has an unwillingness or inability to tolerate the necessary short-term discomfort that is sometimes required for long-term gain. The opposite of this would be HIGH frustration tolerance. High frustration tolerance is simply the ability to tolerate or cope with discomfort and hard work in the short-term in order to achieve one's long term goals. Aspergers kids and teens with high frustration tolerance tend to be much more flexible, logical, rational and calmer in their thinking, behavior and general approach to life – and they are far less likely to suffer mental health problems as a result.

Here is what I would say to your son if I were meeting with him one-on-one…

Low frustration tolerance is just what it sounds like. You do not tolerate even the most minor frustrations well. You are easily irritated. You have a short fuse. Now …here is how you can increase your ability to deal with stressors, irritations and frustration without blowing your cool:

When the irritation happens and before you lose your cool, you have a thought or some belief which either lowers or increases your frustration. Consider some of the situations that irritate or annoy you. Look at some of the thinking which may be causing you to be more irritated or frustrated than you need to be. Here are some examples:

• "I can't stand being frustrated, so I must avoid it at all costs."
• "I can't take this."
• "I can't wait that long."
• "I should always be happy and content."
• "It shouldn't be this difficult."
• "It shouldn't be this way."
• "My mom should stop doing things which annoy me."
• "Things must go my way, and I can’t stand it when they don't."
• "This is too much."

It is important to listen to what you are thinking, because then you can change what you are thinking. If you change your view of what is happening, you can change how you feel about it. If you can tune-in to what is going on in your head, you can rewrite the script. A large part of feeling frustrated comes from feeling helpless. Realize that you aren't completely helpless.

Now here is what I have to say to you, the parent...

There are nine distinct dimensions reflecting differences in temperament that influence how Aspergers kids respond to the world around them. Understanding these may better help you to understand your son and figure out strategies for coping better with his temperament:

1. ACTIVITY measures the amount of physical energy a youngster puts into behavior and daily activities. An active child moves around a lot, even when sleeping. These kids prefer more active kinds of play over quiet activities such as reading. Many resist sleeping and fall asleep only when they're exhausted. Moms and dads need to notice what works when they are trying to calm an active youngster at bedtime.

2. ADAPTABILITY measures a youngster's adjustment to changes and transitions. Highly adaptable kids can be taken anywhere, anytime. They can sleep anywhere. As they get older, they are easy going. Kids low in adaptability react negatively to changes and need a lot of time before settling into situations. Unexpected situations can arouse strong reactions. Kids low in adaptability resist change, and often insist that every detail of daily routines be followed. They frequently are clingy. You can help them feel more in control by giving them simple choices to make (e.g., “Would you prefer doing your homework before or after dinner?”).

3. APPROACH/WITHDRAWAL measures a child’s initial reaction to a new activity, person, or situation. “Approaching” children tend to have a positive first reaction. These kids are often also very active and may go barreling into new situations, sometimes frightening other kids nearby. Helping them to slow down a little is very useful. “Withdrawing” kids have a negative reaction to the first time they experience something new. Sometimes they slowly warm-up to a situation, so it's important not to rush them into things. Let them set the pace at which they assimilate into what is going on.

4. DISTRACTIBILITY measures a youngster's tendency to be diverted by noise, interruptions, and other things going on around them. Highly distractible kids are acutely aware of everything that's going on around them. Simply explaining to a youngster, "You're getting distracted" can help him become more aware and regain his focus. Kids low in distractibility focus well, even in challenging environments, such as school.

5. INTENSITY refers to the level of energy a youngster puts into self-expression (i.e., the amount of volume and drama in the youngster's life). Intense kids express themselves with great vigor and gusto. Older kids speak in extremes (e.g., “Today was THE BEST or THE WORST day ever”). When they are in a good mood, they can be delightfully enthusiastic about something. When they are in a bad mood, a negative reaction from a parent can unleash a major tantrum or meltdown, abusive back-talk, threats of violence, or threats of running away. Moms and dads of intense kids need to learn how to not escalate with them. You should speak in a matter-of-fact tone of voice with them. After an eruption is over, try to help them learn more appropriate ways of expressing themselves that will be less offensive to others around them.

6. MOOD is a measure of a youngster's disposition. Some kids complain a lot. Others smile a lot and are always content. Some tend toward optimistic, others pessimistic. Kids who are more serious may have an analytical way of looking at things. If they tend toward pessimism or negativity, you can use their analytical perspective to your advantage. Speaking in a measured tone, help them understand what is upsetting them; help them broaden their perspective. Help them see things in new, more adaptive, ways.

7. PERSISTENCE/FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE measures a youngster's ability to complete a task in the face of obstacles. Kids with low frustration tolerance tend to give up easily when something doesn't go easily. Children and teens with low frustration tolerance do not like to be left alone. Kids who are low in frustration tolerance can be helped to increase their persistence by gradually stretching out the “adult response-time” to their kid's demands for help. Try breaking tasks down into smaller and easier pieces. Encourage them to do something until they can complete it. Kids with high frustration tolerance can persist in the face of difficulties and are more comfortable entertaining themselves. They sometimes find it difficult to walk away from something unfinished. You can help by giving them advance warnings (e.g., “Dinner is in five minutes”).

8. REGULARITY measures how predictable or unpredictable a youngster's biological functions are (e.g., hunger, fatigue, bowel movements, etc.). “Irregular” kids will rarely do anything with any predictability. Moms and dads should resist nagging a youngster about eating with everyone else. Instead, try making healthy snacks and food available for when they ask for it. Kids who are more irregular may handle chaos and spontaneity better than kids who are very “regular” and who do better in predictable and structured environments.

9. SENSITIVITY is a measure of a youngster's sensory threshold. A youngster low in sensitivity is better equipped to handle a stimulating situation (e.g., crowds or shopping). A youngster high in sensitivity has a low tolerance for exciting or stimulating situations, and will be prone to meltdowns. He over-reacts to physical stimuli (e.g., sights, sounds, taste, smell, and touch). Sensible accommodations to help sensitive kids can make coping easier for the youngster (e.g., learning when to turn down the volume).

Understanding your Aspergers son's temperament will go a long way toward helping him fit into a society that is quick to judge harshly behaviors and emotions that are "different." To the extent that a mother or father can learn to accept a youngster for who he is, it greatly helps that child or teen to learn to feel good about being himself.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

The "Female Version" of Aspergers

Aspergers is a disorder similar to, but considered milder than, autism. Individuals with Aspergers have obsessive interests or behaviors and difficulty with social communication. As a youngster, the Aspie may reach motor skill milestones at a later age than peers while intelligence is normal or above average. The disorder is much more prevalent in males. Symptoms in females are often milder, clouding recognition of the disorder.

Aspergers affects behavior, personality and the way a person interacts with others. As female kids with Aspergers become adults, they may often feel isolated because they react differently to situations with which they are presented. Their comments may seem mean and uncaring, when in reality, they don't understand the concept of empathy. Adult females with Aspergers look for companionship with other adult females who have the same behavior patterns and outlook, and they are doubly affected by the stigma of autism because, being females, they have emotions with which they don't know how to cope.

The symptoms of Aspergers in adult females and girls are usually displayed in a more subtle manner, which results in missed or incorrect professional diagnoses, a lack of access to special education services and provisions in school, and a greater chance of social and emotional problems in adulthood. Several distinct differences exist in regard to the ways that female kids and male kids with Aspergers behave.

Female kids with Aspergers are not often aggressive when they get frustrated; rather, they tend to be withdrawn and can easily "fly under the radar" in classrooms and other social environments. Girls with Aspergers are also able to express their emotions in a calmer way than their male counterparts. Female kids with Aspergers are often protected and nurtured by their “non-Aspergers” friends, who help them cope with difficult social situations. Acceptance from peers can sometimes mask the issues that these kids have so that they are not recognized by educators and moms/dads. As a result, adults are less likely to suggest psychological and social evaluations for young female Aspies.

There are certain personality traits and symptoms that moms and dads, educators, and professionals can look for if they suspect that a young girl or woman may have Aspergers. Female kids with the disorder often display obsessive tendencies in regard to animals, dolls, and other female-oriented interests. While “non-Aspergers” females will play with dolls by pretending that they are interacting socially, female kids with Aspergers may collect dolls and not use them to engage socially with other kids. Their fascination with certain subjects can lead to them lagging behind their peers in terms of maturity and age-appropriate behavior. For example, a pre-teen with Aspergers may be fascinated with stuffed animals or cartoons long after other peers her age have outgrown these things.

Female Aspies may be mistakenly assumed to have a personality disorder because they mimic typical kids, but use phrases inappropriately. They tend to be bored with others their age and have difficulty empathizing with their peers' worries or problems. While their behaviors are more passive than those typical of males with Aspergers, adults who pay close attention to female kids with social and emotional delays can ensure that proper diagnosis and treatment will take place. The younger a child is when she begins to receive the appropriate speech, occupational, and psychological services for Aspergers kids, the greater likelihood she will have of living an independent and functional adult life. Aspergers in adult females is most successfully addressed through consistent professional support.

Other Aspergers symptoms if females include:

• Communication Difficulties— A girl with Aspergers finds that social communication does not come easily. She must struggle to find topics to talk about that will interest her peers. She often attempts to mimic the interests, behavior and body language of others in an attempt to fit in. Many female Aspies become quite adept at this mimicking, causing them to elude diagnosis and treatment throughout life. A girl with Aspergers who does not mimic others appears shy and socially awkward. Her body language is different from her peers and she seems oblivious to the body language of others. Her voice may lack inflection, and she may show no happiness at the good fortune of others.

• Emotional Outbursts— It may be easier to identify males as having Aspergers because they express their feelings and frustrations through emotional outbursts, which are more obvious to the observer, whereas female kids with Aspergers may be more likely to internalize their emotions and feelings, and experience inward or passive signs of aggression. These certain gender-related behaviors might be part of the reason that fewer female kids are diagnosed with Aspergers.

• Fantasy— Female Aspies are intrigued with fantasies that include magical kingdoms, princesses and other fairy tale elements. It is possible that the princess fantasies are given little notice because female kids are more prone to this type of imaginary fantasy and play; therefore, these fantasies are not used as criteria in diagnosing Aspie girls.

• Highly Intelligent— Girls with Aspergers may be less talkative than other females their age. Asperger kids are highly intelligent, but like their autistic counterparts, possess poor language skills. Communication and interaction with other kids may be difficult. Female Aspies may strive to learn as much as they can, even though social interaction is limited. Most kids who are socially active have no problem learning in a group setting, whereas Aspie girls may want to study and learn on their own. The desire to learn continues through adolescence and into adulthood.

• Inflexibility— An girl with Aspergers may be inflexible about her daily routine. She may want to eat the same meal each day and avoid food that has touched other food on her plate. She may arrange her toys a certain way on the shelf, perform the same grooming ritual each day and become upset by any change in her schedule.

• Obsessional Interests— Obsessional interests are another indicator of Aspergers. The child may talk incessantly about her topic of interest or spend the majority of her free time studying it or playing with it. A girl with Aspergers is more likely to have interests that are common to healthy females, whereas a male is more likely to have an unusual interest. For example, a girl may be obsessed with horses, while a boy may be obsessed with AAA batteries. This highly focused interest can prove helpful or harmful. For example, a strong interest in math can help a girl function well in school, while an interest in dolls may cause her to not focus on schoolwork and to eventually bore her friends.

• Repetitive Behaviors— The girl with Aspergers may exhibit repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, pacing, stomping, blinking or finger-tapping. These may become more obvious when she is stressed. Even when she is made aware of these behaviors, she is unable to control them.

• Socially Awkward— Inability to communicate and physical clumsiness will put young Aspies at a disadvantage from the very beginning. They may seem disinterested and aloof. Asperger kids have difficulty understanding slang and humor. They may seem out of place and will not make friends easily. As Asperger kids grow into teens, many find ways to adapt, and their differences don't seem as pronounced.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers Symptoms in Infants, Toddlers, and Older Children

Aspergers, considered to be a mild form of autism, consists of problems with socializing and communication with others. While the average age of diagnosis of Aspergers in kids is around age 7 to 9, recent research regarding early warnings signs may enable clinicians to diagnosis prior to 12 months.

Aspergers Symptoms in Infants—

Many infants and toddlers exhibit signs or symptoms of Aspergers from time to time; however, this may reflect normal youngster behavior. Failure to meet expected developmental milestones doesn’t necessarily reflect a symptom of Aspergers. With these facts in mind, symptoms of Aspergers may be detected in infancy.

• Early Signs— Kids generally attain certain developmental milestones within the first year of life. Some of these include unassisted standing, crawling, and simple gestures, including waving. Some kids with Aspergers fail to attain these milestones within the first year, potentially serving as an early warning sign. Within the first several months of life, an infant with Aspergers may fail to interact appropriately with his environment. These infants may avoid eye contact and interactions, prefer solitude, and avoid attention and affection. Later in infancy, some kids with Aspergers may show problems reacting with activities and objects. These kids may over react or fail to react at all. Initial signs of repetitive behaviors may emerge at this time as well, such as rocking.

• Abnormal Non-Verbal Communication— Babies with Aspergers might exhibit abnormal methods of non-verbal communication. Normally, a youngster will look another person in the eye and have appropriate facial expressions or exhibit predictable body postures or gestures. Infants will not look at people speaking to them or react to auditory stimuli. They will have subdued facial expressions. Body posture, or body language, will be noticeably abnormal in babies with the disorder.

• Lack of Social Skills— A problem with the development of social skills is one of the most common symptoms of Aspergers. This manifests as an inability to communicate properly with others. Infants and toddlers will exhibit this symptom by showing delays in social development. Babies may not exhibit a social smile until much later on in their life. Infants may totally ignore the voices of the moms and dads or strangers, or conversely cry and become irritable when confronted with any form of social contact. As the youngster ages, the lack of normal social skills becomes more apparent.

• Language Development— A key difference between autism and Aspergers is the normal development of language found in kids with Aspergers. By 12 months, a youngster should begin saying single words, including kids with Aspergers. The Aspergers child’s first words are often unusual despite reaching this developmental milestone. More complex words, such as "mountain" or "sheetrock" tend to emerge before simpler words, such as "Mama" or "Dada."

• Obsession with Complex Topics— Young kids with Aspergers may become obsessed with complex topics, such as intricate patterns or music. Toddlers will become enraptured by a stylized pattern on a fabric or in a book. Babies may also listen to music that would typically be ignored by a normal youngster. This obsession becomes more apparent as the youngster ages. These children may be unable to focus on any other aspect of the environment once they notice the object of their obsession. Behavioral conditioning will be necessary to help alleviate this symptom.

• Poor Coordination— Uncoordinated movements are a common symptom in Aspergers. Kids may be seen moving clumsily and be unable to coordinate movements of the hands or feet. They might exhibit an odd posture or have a stiff, rigid gait. Infants may show a delay in learning how to crawl or walk, and may also exhibit a delay in fine motor movements, such as grasping an object.

• Reflex Abnormalities— Infants with Aspergers appear to demonstrate abnormal reflexes versus normal kids. Kids with Aspergers tend to exhibit a persistence of the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex beyond their fourth month of life, when the reflex generally disappears. When infants 4 months and older without Aspergers roll over, they turn in the same direction as their head is facing. Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex is the opposite of this; the infant turns over in the opposite direction to where the head is facing. Kids with Aspergers in general continue to show other reflexes that disappear in other kids at the same age. Additionally, they may lack reflexes that should develop by a certain age, such as the head-verticalization reflex at 6 to 8 months. An infant who has developed this reflex will maintain his head in a vertical position when his body is tilted. Infants with Aspergers show delays in this reflex; their heads will tilt along with their bodies. Detection of these reflex problems in infants requires assessment by professionals trained in special techniques.

• Intervention— Detecting Aspergers is crucial in improving the long-term outcomes for these kids. Prevention of later life problems, such as mental illness, social illness, and underemployment, may be avoided with early intervention. Therefore, knowledge of early symptoms of Aspergers disorder in infants remains paramount in mitigating outcomes for these kids.

Aspergers Symptoms in Toddlers—

Toddlers (approximately ages 1 to 4), may not show specific symptoms, but certain behavioral abnormalities may be noted.

• Communication— Unlike toddlers with autism, a toddler with Aspergers generally does not experience difficulties in language development and speech. Vocabulary is often advanced in toddlers with Aspergers, though as language develops, moms and dads may notice that the youngster has difficulty properly using their vocabulary. Toddlers may talk incessantly about one subject, without acknowledging the listener.

• Delayed Concept of Joint Attention— The idea of joint attention is the rather abstract concept that two individuals (e.g., the toddler and his parent) can be focused on the same thing. An example of joint attention is looking at a picture in a book together. A toddler with Aspergers may have a hard time getting this concept.

• Delayed Pointing— One of the developmental milestones of the first year of life is to be able to point to a desired object. By one year of age, a youngster will probably be pointing to objects that interest him. However, a toddler with Aspergers may not reach this milestone until later.

• Delayed Use of Gestures— Actions such as waving or giving a toy when asked seem like simple tasks. However, to a youngster with Aspergers, these simple gestures may not occur "on schedule" and may instead be delayed. This is because such gestures involve interaction between the youngster and another individual; such social interactions are difficult for the youngster with Aspergers.

• Motor Skills— Problems with motor skills are a common symptom of Aspergers. Delayed learning in playing catch, potty training, learning to ride a bike or walking on tip toes are usually noticeable in kids by the age of 3. Their movement may be described as clumsy or uncoordinated. While symptoms are sometimes noticeable as early as infancy, many moms and dads sense something different about a youngster with Aspergers by the youngster's 3rd birthday. In some cases, early language skills are retained, but the lag in motor development may be the first sign that something is different than "typical" 3-year-old behavior.

• Nonverbal Communication— Abnormalities in nonverbal communication are often apparent in kids with this condition. A lack of eye contact may occur accompanied by limited facial expressions which correspond with words the toddler is speaking. The youngster may also exhibit unusual body movements and gestures.

• Preoccupation— One of the most apparent symptoms of Aspergers in toddlers is their intense interest in a single topic, such as trains or maps. Kids with Aspergers want to know and spend a lot of time trying to learn about their hobby or interest, and they may use an advanced vocabulary and exhibit a high level of expertise on the subject. Some Aspergers toddlers need to establish rigid repetition and routine in their daily activities.

• Reading— Toddlers with Aspergers are often not diagnosed until later in childhood as they sometimes learn to read very early. The perceived advancement overshadows the fact that the youngster with Aspergers often cannot comprehend the words he is reading.

• Repetitive Behaviors— Repetitive interests and behaviors are defining components of the diagnosis of Aspergers. However, repetitive interests are actually quite normal in toddlers. While it is very difficult to determine with such young kids, some signs that behaviors and interests have crossed the line from "normal toddler who loves trucks" to "concerning toddler who seems too wrapped up in trucks" may be noted. These include a very specific interest (e.g., not just "trucks" but "the front bumper of trucks"); an interest that is unusual compared to his peers (e.g., a 3-year-old who intensely focuses on brooms); and an inability to shift focus from the area of interest to other things.

• Sensitivity to Stimuli— Some toddlers with Apsergers will have an unusual sensitivity to loud sounds or lights. They may also be bothered by other physical stimuli (e.g., they may be sensitive to the way certain clothing or material feels or need their socks to be on their feet in a particular way).

• Social Difficulties— Toddler’s with Aspergers usually have difficulty in social situations, such as when playing with other kids. This could be due to delayed motor skill development causing clumsiness, notes Toddlers Today. The interests of a toddler with Aspergers tend to be very limited, causing the youngster to have a very narrow focus of activities and interests.

• Social Skills— A common aspect of Aspergers is demonstrated by poor social interactions. Toddlers with Aspergers may seem to have one-sided social interaction and limited ability to form friendships. Non-verbal behaviors are also notable in these kids (e.g., unusual facial expressions, failure to gesture, aloofness or the inability to make eye contact). These symptoms become more apparent by the age of 3, and most kids are diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 9.

• Symptoms Related to an Associated Condition— Though there is still a lot of research that must be done, it seems that certain disorders may be associated with Aspergers (i.e., kids who have Aspergers may be at higher risk for having other disorders). For example, one study found that ADHD was often seen in a population of kids with Aspergers. So a toddler with Aspergers may also show symptoms of ADHD. Other conditions that have been found in kids with Aspergers include anxiety disorder and depression.

Aspergers Symptoms in Older Children—

Kids with Aspergers have deficits in three areas: communication, physical coordination and development of a range of interests. Aspergers is an autism spectrum disorder, meaning that it is on a continuum of development disorders that includes classic autism. Most kids with Aspergers are able to function with less difficulty than those with classic autism. A set of classic symptoms define Aspergers. A youngster with Aspergers may or may not display all of the symptoms listed below.

• Clumsiness— A youngster with Aspergers may seem clumsy and drop things. He may fall easily and try to avoid physical games that his peers are playing. He may have odd, repetitious movements or walk stiffly, as though he is in pain.

• Inadequate Math Skills— The youngster with Aspergers may have inadequate math skills, but will do well in vocabulary. He may have noted deficits in his ability to learn some subjects, but will speak like an expert about another. Learning abilities may vary greatly from child to child.

• Lack of Empathy— Although a youngster with Aspergers is not mean, he may seem to be oblivious to the feelings of others. If someone's pet dies, he may not show sympathy as other kids might. He may seem to be interested in himself only, but does not purposefully do cruel things. H may seem emotionally immature for his age.

• Limited Non-Verbal Communication— A lack of eye contact when communicating is a sign of Aspergers. The youngster may have few facial expressions, and he may stare into space while speaking. He may make few gestures while speaking and adopt an odd body posture. He may not watch the facial expressions or body posture of the person who is speaking with him. The youngster with Aspergers may not seem to pick up on humor or any speech that is not direct, such as sarcasm or the use of figures of speech.

• Obsessive Interests— Another sign of Aspergers is obsessive interests. The Aspergers child may hone in on one or two topics and devote an extraordinary amount of time to studying them, looking at them or talking about them. This topic may vary, with some examples including an object, a musical score, an animal, the weather, sports history or visual patterns. He may seem uninterested in any other subjects, and most of the conversations he begins may be about his topic of interest.

• Unusual Speech— A youngster with Aspergers may have an unusual speech pattern, as though he is reading what he is saying. His voice may remind you of a robot, or he may have a monotone, as if he is depressed. His speech may seem overly formal or well thought out, instead of spontaneous. Alternatively, he may speak rapidly, without noticing that others speak more slowly.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But...

Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

If your child suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, expect him to experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over a very small incident, or may experience a minor meltdown over something that is major. There is no way of telling how he is going to react about certain situations. However, there are many ways to help your child learn to control his emotions.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing a child with a neurological disorder. Violent rages, self-injury, isolation-seeking tendencies and communication problems that arise due to auditory and sensory issues are just some of the behaviors that parents of teens with Aspergers will have to learn to control.

Parents need to come up with a consistent disciplinary plan ahead of time, and then present a united front and continually review their strategies for potential changes and improvements as the Aspergers teen develops and matures.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

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

Although they may vary slightly from person to person, children with Aspergers tend to have similar symptoms, the main ones being:

=> A need to know when everything is happening in order not to feel completely overwhelmed
=> A rigid insistence on routine (where any change can cause an emotional and physiological meltdown)
=> Difficulties with social functioning, particularly in the rough and tumble of a school environment
=> Obsessive interests, with a focus on one subject to the exclusion of all others
=> Sensory issues, where they are oversensitive to bright light, loud sounds and unpleasant smells
=> Social isolation and struggles to make friends due to a lack of empathy, and an inability to pick up on or understand social graces and cues (such as stopping talking and allowing others to speak)

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

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent?

Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Parents face issues such as college preparation, vocational training, teaching independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their child, if necessary. Meanwhile, their immature Aspergers teenager is often indifferent – and even hostile – to these concerns.

As you were raising your child, you imagined how he would be when he grew up. Maybe you envisioned him going to college, learning a skilled traded, getting a good job, or beginning his own family. But now that (once clear) vision may be dashed. You may be grieving the loss of the child you wish you had.

If you have an older teenager with Aspergers who has no clue where he is going in life, or if you have an “adult-child” with Aspergers still living at home (in his early 20s or beyond), here are the steps you will need to take in order to foster the development of self-reliance in this child.

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