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Aspergers Children Who Worry Excessively: Tips for Parents

Some kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism worry excessively and are often overly tense and uptight.  Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their fears may interfere with activities. Moms and dads should not discount their youngster’s concerns – even when they seem unrealistic. 

Because fretful "Aspies" may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed.  The parent should be alert to the signs of excessive worrying so he/she can intervene early to prevent complications.

There are 3 different types of worries in Aspergers kids:
  1. fretting about being separated from the parent (e.g., being overly clingy, constant thoughts about the safety of parents, extreme worries about sleeping away from home, frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints, panic or tantrums at times of separation from the mother or father, refusing to go to school, trouble sleeping or nightmares, etc.)
  2. fretting about getting physically hurt (e.g., extreme apprehension about a specific thing or situation like getting bit by a dog, stung by a bee, stuck with a needle, etc.)
  3. fretting about being around people who are not familiar (e.g., avoidance of social situations, worries of meeting or talking to new people, few friends outside the family, etc.)

Other symptoms of excessive worrying in Aspergers kids include:
  • constant concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
  • fear of making mistakes
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • fears about things before they happen
  • repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)

Moms and dads can help their Aspergers child develop the skills and confidence to overcome excessive worrying so that he/she doesn't develop phobic reactions to certain stimuli.

To help your youngster deal with worries and anxieties, consider the follow tips:

1. Don't cater to your Aspergers child’s fears. If your youngster doesn't like dogs, don't cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will just reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided. Provide support and gentle care as you approach the feared object or situation with your youngster.

2. Never belittle your child’s concerns as a way of forcing him to overcome them. Saying, "Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!" may get your youngster to go to bed, but it won't make the related anxiety go away.

3. Recognize that your child’s worries are real. As trivial as it may seem to you, it feels real to her – and it's causing her to feel nervous and afraid. Being able to talk about these feelings helps. Words often take some of the power out of the negative feeling. If you talk about it, it can become less powerful.

4. Teach coping strategies. Using you as "home base," your youngster can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again.

5. The youngster can learn some positive self-statements, such as, "I can do this" and "I will be OK" …to say to herself when feeling out of sorts.

6. Relaxation techniques are helpful, including visualization (e.g., floating on a cloud, lying on a beach, etc.) and deep breathing (e.g., imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

7. Teach your Aspergers child to rate his level of worry. A youngster who can visualize the intensity of his fears on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, may be able to "see" the anxiety as less intense than first imagined. The child can think about how "full of fear" I am, with being full "up to my knees" as not so afraid, "up to my stomach" as more frightened, and "up to my head" as truly petrified.

8. If your youngster's apprehension consistently seems out of proportion to the cause of the stress, this may signal the need to seek outside help (e.g., counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist). Moms and dads should look for patterns. If an isolated incident is resolved, don't make it more significant than it is. But if a pattern emerges that's persistent or pervasive, you should take action. Contact your doctor and/or a mental health professional that has expertise in working with Aspergers children and teens.

The key to resolving excessive worries and anxieties is to overcome them. Using the suggestions above, you can help your youngster better cope with life's situations.

Aspergers Children and Computer Vision Syndrome

Is your Aspergers child damaging her eyes from excessive computer use?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition resulting from looking at the computer screen for lengthy, uninterrupted periods of time. And as most parents have discovered, their child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism loves to spend countless hours looking at the computer screen.

Some symptoms of CVS include:
  • blurred vision
  • difficulty refocusing the eyes
  • double vision
  • dry eyes
  • eye strain
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • irritated eyes
  • neck pain
  • polyopia
  • redness in the eyes

These symptoms can be further aggravated by improper lighting conditions (e.g., glare or bright overhead lighting, etc.) or air moving past the eyes (e.g., overhead vents, direct air from a fan, etc.).

As a parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you may be encouraging your youngster to use the computer. A computer is often seen as a visually stimulating aid that will improve the youngster's hand-eye coordination skills and serve as a good learning tool. But parents need to know that their youngster runs the risk of developing CVS if he is allowed unlimited access to computers and video games.

Computer use places too great a visual demand on the focusing muscles of the youngster's eyes, leading to a greater incidence of myopia (short-sightedness). So, parents should be aware that too prolonged computer use can contribute to an eyesight defect that traditionally has been seen as an inherited condition. Nowadays, most kids sit in front of a computer screen at home AND at school – every day! As a result, the good distance vision they were born with is being compromised. Research is discovering that it is a youngster's learning and play environment – not heredity – that is creating the rapid increase in myopia for these children.

Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of CVS have to do with the computer and how it is used. This includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks. 

Here are some things that parents can do to lessen the impact of computer use on their youngster's eyesight:

1. An Aspergers youngster tends to lose track of time when absorbed in activities on the computer. Many parents are guilty, too, of sitting at the computer for long periods. It is more damaging for your youngster's eyes, though, to do so. Monitor the time spent sitting in front of the screen, and make sure frequent breaks are taken.

2. Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so your child’s feet rest flat on the floor. If the chair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while your child is typing. Wrists shouldn't rest on the keyboard when typing.

3. We’ve looked at the impact of excessive computer use on young eyes, but it isn't just the eyes which are affected. If the workstation area where your youngster works is not ergonomically sound, then problems with the neck, shoulder and back are likely to occur. These problems can be resolved by making sure that (a) your youngster looks down slightly to view the screen from the optimal distance of eighteen inches or so, (b) the keyboard is easily reached, and (c) your youngster's feet rest comfortably on the floor.

4. If there is no way to minimize glare from light sources, consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.

5. Avoid the risk of kids straining their eyes by making sure that the ambient lighting in the room is not too bright. As a rule of thumb, it should be about half that of the computer screen. So, pull down the blinds and avoid harsh lighting in the room itself. Glare from the monitor can also be a problem for young eyes, so it is wise to fit an anti-glare screen for your youngster's comfort. You should also check that there is a strong contrast between the background and the text, as well as making sure that the text size and color do not cause unnecessary eyestrain.

6. Many moms and dads do not realize that eyesight can be tested from a very early age. Every youngster should have an eye examination before starting school, but preferably by the age of three. The eye exam should be thorough, and include testing for near and distance vision.

7. Most computer junkies find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.

8. Observe your youngster's behavior closely. Even if they are experiencing problems with their vision, kids are less likely to consider it abnormal. Excessive eye rubbing, eye redness and a reluctance to use the computer as much as usual can all point to eye fatigue.

9. Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage.

10. Reference materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor. If this is not possible, a document holder can be used beside the monitor. The goal is to position the documents so you do not need to move your head to look from the document to the screen.

11. Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with CVS.

12. Take your youngster to see a specialist trained to recognize the symptoms of CVS in kids. A recent study has shown that one in four kids who use computers require corrective glasses to enable them to work comfortably and safely in front of the screen. Under-developed eyes can experience the same sorts of problems as older (40+) eyes when looking from the computer screen to the keyboard and back again. In both cases, the focusing muscles tire more easily.  This is because the monitor is viewed at an intermediate distance (i.e., neither near nor far), which is a distance we don't use very often. Specially-designed computer glasses compensate for this by incorporating a larger intermediate viewing zone within the lens and so alleviating the strain on the eye muscles. Eyestrain and blurring are eliminated.

13. To minimize your child’s chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, remind him to make an effort to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist.

14. To prevent eyestrain, have your child rest his eyes when using the computer for long periods. Resting for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use is a good policy. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow the eyes a chance to refocus.

15. Use timers that automatically shut down the computer after the allotted time has passed for your child to be on the computer

Computer vision syndrome can pose both a short and long-term risk to your youngster's eyesight. If you follow the advice above, you can be sure that you're protecting her precious asset.

The Emotional Aspergers Child

Many children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism fall into one of the “emotional types” listed below. Their feelings control their actions. These kids have many more tantrums, are less available, easily disengage, and are more prone to defiant behavior.

This is the most difficult type of Aspergers child to deal with, because rules – and the reasons for rules – mean much less to him. The parents and teachers who have to deal with the emotional "Aspie" often find themselves in a state of frustration or crisis. Many of these children will end up on medications for their issues, because their coping skills are poorly developed and inadequate to meet the demands of home and school. But that’s o.k., because the right medication and an effective behavioral plan can do wonders.

Type 1: The Fearful Aspie—

This is the most difficult type of emotional Aspie:
  • Even the slightest issue is a source of provocation.
  • He is unusually bright. 
  • He sees the world from an adversarial point of view (e.g., the world is against him, everyone is out to get him, and no one can be trusted). 
  • He wants to "destroy" people who go against him in any situation, no matter how trivial. 
  • His actions are hostile and aggressive to others. 
  • His thinking involves violent themes.
  • Once he begins his attack, he can be relentless until he is exhausted. 
  • The only coping strategy he has is to maintain a good "offense," and so he attacks before others do or say anything. 
  • Typically, he receives multiple diagnoses (e.g., Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bipolar).

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

Since this is the most difficult type of emotional Aspie, parents must take extraordinary means to help him. Placating the youngster will only give the parent a momentary reprieve. Most moms and dads of these children refrain from physical interventions, but may be using a good deal of restraining techniques. Again, this is a temporary solution. Parents must seek professional help in terms of both medication and behavioral interventions. They also must stay calm in their interactions with these children. Only the most powerful reinforcers may be of some use. A highly structured environment with firmness is needed, along with great persistence and patience. Dealing with this type is something you don't do alone.

The ADHD, OCD, and Daydreaming Aspie—

The factors marking these three subtypes – ADHD, OCD, and preoccupation with a fantasy world – are very closely related. In all three, the youngster is often described as being inattentive, but there are a number of reasons for the inattention:
  1. If he is an ADHD youngster, he is inattentive because he’s not focused on any one thing for very long. He is distracted by anything new or different that passes in front of his eyes, and his interest moves from one thing to another.
  2. The OCD youngster, on the other hand, is inattentive because he is highly focused on something of interest. He is not so much distracted as preoccupied with something else that has greater appeal, usually related to some preferred activity (e.g., videos, numbers, how things are placed in his environment, etc.). 
  3. The daydreaming youngster is inattentive because he is lost in his fantasy world.

Some Aspergers children have one or the other, ADHD or OCD, and most have both to varying degrees. Since symptoms of both disorders can exist at the same time and to varying degrees, it can be difficult to tell which is which at times. In either case, the result is a lack of awareness of what is going on around him. But, it is important to distinguish between the two and decide how much each contributes to the inattention, because the parenting technique for each will be different. Under-focusing (ADHD) and over-focusing (OCD) are important variables that must be addressed, as well as the youngster who gets lost in a daydream.

Type 2: The Predominately ADHD Aspie—

This youngster:
  • has difficulty attending to and processing information on a consistent basis
  • has difficulty conversing because he is always looking around the room at something else, but doesn't stay focused on any one thing very long
  • has significant difficulty keeping track of school assignments
  • is easily distracted and forgetful
  • lacks focus
  • loses things
  • may not be able to stay in his seat at school 
  • wanders around in the classroom

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

Medication is very important in dealing with inattention and impulsiveness. Careful monitoring of all tasks and situations, along with powerful reinforcers, is sometimes helpful. This child will find it hard to stay focused on most tasks. Frequent breaks, structured tasks, and supervision are all necessary. If parents find the right medication, the inattention reduces significantly, but may not disappear.

Type 3: The Predominately OCD Aspie—

This youngster has many obsessions that take him away from the here and now. Although he appears inattentive, in reality, he has other thoughts that he is dwelling on (e.g., is everything around him exactly where it belongs, how many dots are in that ceiling tile over his head, are his shoelaces tied the way he likes them, etc.). The list can be endless. But no matter what is on his list, it usually takes precedence over everything else. He is often a perfectionist – everything has to go a certain way. If it doesn't, it's the end of the world. There is no middle ground – everything is black or white. It is either perfect – or it is terrible. He may have completion rituals where things must be finished before he moves on. All of this and more can be going on in his head and cause him to disengage from reality and become unavailable.

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

Parents should attempt to gain control over this child’s obsessions. There must be limits and restrictions on certain activities. Rituals and routines are addressed through sabotage. Teach him how to be more flexible by changing routines. Expand his repertoire of interests, teach him shades of gray, and have him develop a balance in his life. Obsessions will remain, but parents can use them as reinforcers as long as they limit the amount of time spent on the obsessions.

Type 4: The Predominately Daydreaming Aspie—

This youngster is very similar to the OCD type, except his distractions primarily involve his preoccupations with fantasy (e.g., fantasy books, Japanese animé, Pokémon, show tunes, cartoons, TV shows, video games. etc.). If, for example, the fantasy involves books or music, he doesn't need the actual object to experience its pleasure. So he replays, re-creates, or in some way engages in the obsession in his head. As he is eating dinner, sitting in class, doing his homework, or talking to his parents, there is another video playing in his head – a video that is all about fantasy. He may perform word-for-word scripting of dialogue and scenes in his head, or combine different ones together, or make up his own based on something he has seen or read. These fantasies serve many functions (e.g., they are enjoyable, they remove him from the unpleasantness of the real world, demands are reduced, everything goes just the way he wants, etc.). Consequently, reality is avoided, interactions with others occur less frequently, and life goes on without him. This is how he copes with stress and reality. Interfere with his preoccupations, and you will experience his wrath. Leave him to his preoccupations, and he can entertain himself for hours.

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

Everything that was suggested about the OCD type applies here. In addition, parents must go beyond those techniques to include teaching the child the difference between reality and fantasy, how to recognize it, what constitutes each, and how to be in the here and now. Parents should limit fantasy time and help the child to develop the ability to enjoy non-fantasy activities. If he can't enjoy the real world, he won't want to be a part of it. Medication is needed in some cases.

Type 5: The Stressed Aspie—

This youngster differs from all other types because he has no coping skills. While every other type experiences stress to some degree, they cope with it through rules, rituals, obsessions, or daydreaming. The stressed Aspie has never figured out how to deal with problems. As a result, his stress overwhelms him and he shuts down (e.g., hides under furniture, cries, wants to stay at home, acts silly, wants to stay inside, tries to avoid people and places outside of his comfort zone, etc.). He is very rigid, but doesn't really know the rules of the world. His stress comes from his confusion and lack of understanding of how the world works. He usually needs much more time to handle even the smallest issue. Parents will know if they have a stressed Aspie because he cries quite a bit, clings to parents in new situations or with new people, doesn't want to leave his house, and when away from home often tells parents he wants to go back home immediately.

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

This youngster needs a great deal of structure, routine, and explanation about every possible troublesome situation. Parents need to explain the rules of each situation, including what to do and what not to do, before he experiences the situation. Give him lots of warning on what is going to happen, preparing him for change. Never overwhelm him. Go slowly and don't try to accomplish too much at one time. Help him get past each issue that has occurred, to "get over it" and move on. These are the prevention aspects of dealing with stress (i.e., try to prevent situations from overwhelming him). However, that will never be sufficient, and he will need to learn how to cope with it as well. Teach stress management skills (e.g., stress resiliency, stress immunity, learned optimism, "theory of mind"). Teach him emotional regulation skills (e.g., stress management, self-calming, being okay). Medication may be needed if these skills are difficult for him to learn.

Type 6: The Defiant Aspie—

This youngster:
  • argues about everything, and almost anything can lead to a tantrum
  • can be violent
  • doesn't understand the way the world works and becomes anxious as a result
  • feels threatened by others and thinks they are trying to control him or are being unfair and arbitrary
  • has his own rules about the world and how things are supposed to be
  • is easier to deal with if - and when - he feels safer
  • is often diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • may look similar to the fearful type, but he is less adversarial and less intense
  • needs to fight with others to gain control and get things straightened out to his way of thinking; however, his arguing does nothing but further aggravate the situation and his rigidity, lack of understanding, and disuse of logic prevent him from seeing this clearly
  • relies on his feelings to determine his actions

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

Try to avoid power struggles. Do not show much emotion in your responses, and try to be matter-of-fact. Stay focused on a particular issue, and don't get sidetracked as you have a discussion with this youngster. It's very easy for the discussion to get off track and become nonproductive. Try to see his arguing as a sign of stress and not purposeful misbehavior. Try to get him to see you as a problem solver rather than an adversary. Don't over-focus on the content of a discussion, but rather on the process (i.e., what is going on behind the content of the discussion). For example, a discussion may begin around what he is going to get from you for his birthday present. Before you know it, you are being accused of buying his siblings bigger and better birthday presents. Rather than debate the merits of this argument (which will only escalate further), parents should discuss how he is stuck on certain ideas that will only lead to greater upset, and the impact his actions have on himself and others. This child needs to begin to see his role in what is going on and stop blaming others for what occurs. Teach him how to stay focused and how to self-calm, as well as how to compromise and negotiate. But most of all, he needs to see the parent as trying to help him solve his problems, not making them worse.

Type 7: The Pessimistic Aspie—

This youngster tends to be more of an irritation than anything else. He does a lot of complaining and whining about doing things that are not preferred activities, because he only enjoys preferred activities. As a result of his actions, there can be a good deal of arguing and refusals. He usually sees the world in a pessimistic way and rarely sees the good aspects of an event or situation, no matter how much good has occurred. Tantrums, bossiness, rituals, and rules are not issues. He may even be fairly cooperative at times. The major concern regarding this youngster is that he is more prone to future depression than any other type.

Suggested Parenting Techniques:

This child needs to learn to be comfortable with non-preferred activities and that it is better to "say nothing than be pessimistic." Teach him how to use positive commenting and responses. Direct instruction in how to have a "positive attitude" and "learned optimism" is needed.

In this post, we’ve talked about the Aspergers child who is more emotional than rational, and we have examined the subtypes of the emotional child: fearful, ADHD, OCD, daydreaming, stressed, defiant, and pessimistic. Each Aspergers youngster has issues that make him unique. It is his uniqueness that reveals what subtype he is and what parenting techniques need to be used. When parents understand their youngster and his interaction with the world, they will be better able to help him reach his full potential. 

Explaining Aspergers To Your Neurotypical Children

How to help your children understand their sibling that has Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism:


The "Rationale-Dependent" Aspergers Child

“My daughter has to analyze and argue over every house rule my husband and I come up with before she decides to finally obey that particular rule. Is this common for children with Aspergers, and is there any way to get her to be more agreeable without such lengthy explanations and arguments?”

What if I told you that your daughter may be exhibiting noncompliance for a good reason? Some children and teens with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) are simply not comfortable with things that don’t make sense to them. These children, who are “rationale-dependent,” are largely focused on logic. They need to know the reasons for the rules in order to avoid both confusion and anxiety.

Blindly accepting the rules is not the way the rationale-dependent child functions. She needs to understand the reasons behind others’ actions, why something is done a particular way, and it has to make sense to her. Since this child is over-analytical, she often behaves inappropriately because she never gets past the “analysis stage” to the “action stage.”

If a certain rule seems unreasonable, there is no need to follow it in her mind, and she probably won't listen to the person trying to enforce the rule. Thus, parents and teachers will need to give this child the reasoning behind a decision or action – and make it very convincing!

The rationale-dependent child’s coping strategy is to try to make sense of the world through logic and reasoning. In order to minimize emotional stress, she needs the world to be a place with order and symmetry to it. Thus, she may ask lots of questions about how a particular thing works. Using her well-developed, analytical brain, she eventually makes sense of things and comes to an acceptable understanding of what is going on.

The child tends to be very bright with a high IQ, and she will usually become more flexible when given a reasonable explanation for a particular rule or regulation. But, she may very well have her own reasons and explanations beforehand. Therefore, simply stating the rule is not enough – it needs to be followed with some clarification, in which case, her “misbehavior” will likely decrease.

Tips for dealing with the "rationale-dependent" Aspergers child:

Parents and teachers will most likely need to explain why something needs to be done - or why it can't be done - before they get compliance. For the rationale-dependent child, understanding precedes cooperation. If the adults’ explanations provide her with information she didn't have, might have overlooked, or didn't understand, they will have helped her clarify why a desired action is beneficial to her. As this child becomes older, parents and teachers will need to do much more explaining, because rules by themselves will have less impact.

When providing an explanation, always match the explanation to the child’s cognitive and emotional level. Don't overestimate how much she knows, because she probably has a large vocabulary. Always make sure she understands the reasoning behind something before moving to the next step. Also, parents and teachers will have to help this child reduce the amount of analysis by helping her see how “over-analysis” is unproductive.


•    Anonymous said… As my son got older he started to be less argumentative as he had more understanding/knowledge of life. He's 21 & more independent and learning those life answers on his own through his school, jobs, internship and time with friends. But I get to relive it all again with my 8yo ASD son.
•    Anonymous said… Both of my children not on the Spectrum did this. It is generally a kid thing/ human-thing before it is a specifically Autistic behaviour. It is irrational to ask or think that anything is common amongst children presenting on the Spectrum because if you've met one person with Autism or Aspergers you've met only one person In my self contained classroom we hsve the students make the rules and we gently guide them to follow their own rules. They don't argue with themselves
•    Anonymous said… I don't get sucked into such arguments with either my typical or ASD. I'll explain it to you once, hear you out, but once I've made my decision , it's final. After that you get the "Thank you but your request has been denied" line and it is what it is.
•    Anonymous said… My 14 year old daughter did this about everything. She always has. It got worse with puberty
•    Anonymous said… eldest was exactly like this and now diagnosed as somewhere on the spectrum..middle child being aspergers
•    Anonymous said… Soooooooo common and it drives us nuts!
•    Anonymous said… Thank goodness for Facebook so we can connect and know we are not the only ones going through this...
•    Anonymous said… the "authority" thing is difficult for them and even more so if you get into a big discussion. "I am an adult; it is my job to job to designate house-rules- God's design- My Home"; "your job is to follow them with a cheerful heart". Once that is stated, it is not to be discussed again; use a simple phrase and extinguish using picture cards for "your role" and "my role" them authority over other situations will curb the desire to argue everything. Build choices within non-choices and be mindful how you phrase not say "DO YOU WANNA ___________?" or "Don't you wanna _______________?"...that is a choice, but rather, these are the chores (chore chart)- do you want to do a or b...but something will be done. To recap, do not negotiate... explain roles and be consistent. Use visuals, use praise and catch them doing what's right-be specific..."I like the way you _________________". Use positive reinforcers and start where the child is at i.e., if the child can help clean up for 5 minutes increase a bit each time. Extinguish unwanted behaviors by a) naming it and b) fading... i.e., it is not time for "discussion" - flip card over and re-direct...other times, it is ok to "discuss", but you will set the limits. Also, make sure sensory issues are not the blame i.e., my son cannot tolerate the feel of clothes so laundry is not going to be a good fit for him...etc... If the child has been running the show, it is going to take a while to undo the negative, unwanted behaviors and everyone (adults) must be on the same page, using the same language and purposefully ignoring as much as possible. 3 weeks to make or break a habit...may get worse before it gets better... tantrums result in going to "calm down" again, no reinforcement (eye contact, discussion, etc) until the child is quiet/calm, count to three and then release from "calm down"...eventually they will self regulate and put themselves in calm down.
•    Anonymous said… with our 11 year old Asperger son (diagnosed at 5), We tell him, "Obey first. If you still don't understand our rational we would be happy to explain AFTER you have obeyed." He was not happy about it at first and we had some meltdowns (followed by the known consequence for a meltdown). Its funny though that 99% of the time he did not request an explanation after he obeyed. He either figured it out by himself or it just didn't seem important to him at that point. It took a long time, but now he is 11 and has made huge progress: excellent behavior with teachers (most of the time) and can't remember the last time he's had a meltdown. He is also obedient most of the time  ;-) and does not feel the need to get an explanation whenever asked to do .

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The "Structure-Dependent" Aspergers Child

Having a set of rules to follow on a day-to-day basis is the most important issue for an Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) child who is “structure-dependent.” Once this child has a list of DOs and DONTs to follow, there tends to be few concerns except in areas where the parent has not yet established rules, in which case the structure-dependent youngster becomes confused.

Any environment (e.g., home, classroom) where there is lax structure will be a difficult one for the structured-dependent youngster. This child needs rules in order to function and will probably create his own set of rules if parents and teachers don't provide them, which may create problems since the child’s rules will probably not match the adult’s expectations.

The structure-dependent youngster respects authority figures and does well when it is very clear who makes the rules and enforces them. This youngster often does very well in school, but may have behavioral problems at home if the rules are not as clear as they are in the classroom. It is not unusual for moms and dads of this child to be quite surprised to hear how well behaved she is at school.

There are two types of structure-dependent Aspergers children:
  1. The “acting-out” type
  2. The “acting-in” type

The “Acting-out” Type--

The acting-out youngster is often seen as a teacher's delight because he is rarely a discipline problem, but at home, this child’s behavior can be totally out of control (e.g., bossy, controlling, tantrums, meltdowns, yelling, arguing etc.). The key to recognizing this type of child is the behavior differences between school and home. If he experiences behavioral problems at school AND at home, then he is not a structure-dependent youngster.

The "acting-out" structure-dependent youngster:
  • can be somewhat naive and taken advantage of since he doesn’t stand up for himself
  • can become distressed by peers who do not follow the rules
  • doesn't want anyone to be upset with him
  • is often very cooperative with authority figures, sometimes to a fault
  • likes to please others
  • often becomes the "rule cop" in the classroom
  • tends to monitor other peers’ and will "tell on them" in they break a rule
  • tries to "fly under the radar"

This child has some anxiety issues, but not to the point where it is overwhelming for him. He manages his anxiety by following the rules – and making sure others do as well. Problems only occur for this child when rules are absent or vague, or when the adult in charge lacks authority in his opinion.

How parents and teachers can help the “acting-out” child:

Written rules, routines and schedules are some of the techniques used to create proper structure for this youngster – no matter how small the issue might be. There is no such thing as a situation that is too small to have rule. Even the “little things” need rules (e.g., going to a store, taking a bath, sharpening a pencil, raising your hand, etc.). Parents and teachers should supply a set of rules regarding appropriate behaviors to be demonstrated in each situation. Also, be sure to explain why there is a rule for such and such. This will help the child to generalize these skills later on.

Teachers who run highly structured classrooms may not need to do much of this. Instead, they may want to help the structure-dependent youngster be less rule-bound and have a greater tolerance for ambiguity.

The “Acting-in” Type--

This type of structure-dependent youngster is similar to the one above, except his behavior is good at home AND at school. He is also rule-bound with rules for everything, but unlike the acting-out child, this child has learned to control tantrums and anger – sometimes too much – in all situations. He views his parent, who has created many rules for him to follow at home, as an authority figure just like his teacher. There are very few situations that don't have rules for him to abide by. However, this child can be obedient to a fault, perfectionistic, obsessive-compulsive, and/or depressed. Thus, he needs to become more flexible.

How parents and teachers can help the “acting-in” child:

The adults need not worry about rules with this child; rather, a crash course in expressing emotions, as well as flexibility to help her see the world as less black-and-white would be helpful. This child needs to learn more about the “reasons behind actions” and how the world works, with less emphasis on unwavering compliance. Without throwing out the rules altogether, help this child to develop decision-making and problem-solving skills so that she can become a more independent thinker.

When Your Aspergers Child Can't Make Friends

Some parents of children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) may discover that their youngster seems to have difficulty making and keeping friends, and this may first become apparent in preschool when children tend to start pairing off.

If your Aspergers child doesn't ever talk about anyone in his class, doesn’t ask to bring a friend home, never gets invited to any of his peers' homes, and seems to be a loner in general preferring to play by himself, then he might be having trouble in the friendship department (his teacher may be able to confirm your suspicions).

It may be that acquiring social skills doesn't come as naturally to your Aspergers youngster as it does to other children. He might need extra help developing the empathy and consideration that make others want to be around him.  Parents may need to rehearse the most rudimentary rules of social engagement with their Aspergers son or daughter, beginning with scenarios as simple as “how to introduce yourself” (e.g., “Smile, look your friend in the eye and say, ‘Hi, my name is.... Can I play with you?’ Then play whatever your friend wants to play without insisting that the two of you play only what you want to play”).

Aspergers and HFA children need to understand when to reach out, pull back, blend in, speak up and let go. So, how can parents help their Aspergers child make and keep friends?

To support the development of friendships in your youngster’s life, try some of these strategies:

1. Bear in mind that what made it easy for you as a child to forge friendships might not be your youngster’s style.

2. Build kid’s confidence by teaching them new games or skills.

3. Children tend to make friends by doing things together, so concentrate on activities.

4. Consider hiring a well-liked same-sex “babysitter-companion” with permission to pass on subtle tips about getting along.

5. Demonstrate how to be a good friend and make friends. The best way is to model the behavior you would like to see. There are several ways you can accomplish this at home. For example: 
  • be kind, give compliments, wave to a friend, open the door for someone
  • be understanding of what others are going through by showing empathy
  • teach your kids to accept what can't be changed by working hard to change the things that can
  • have a sense of humor about yourself and your shortcomings
  • help your youngster realize his own strengths
  • listen to your youngster without criticism.

6. Emphasize good manners at home, including how to apologize or do favors for other children.

7. Encourage children to join Scouts.

8. Encourage having a few friends more than only one ‘best’ friend to avoid upset feelings when that youngster is unavailable or wants to play with others.

9. Even an Aspergers youngster with average social skills may turn inward while experiencing major disruptions (e.g., parents' divorce, serious illness or death in the family, move to a new town, etc.). As much as possible, you should prepare your child for the changes by talking about what's happening and what to expect. For example, if you're moving, check out the new teacher, school or town in advance. Very gently encourage your son or daughter to take chances while praising him for little accomplishments. Also, have the expectation that things will work out.

10. Giving kids lots of unstructured time to play is important because they learn the social skills they need so they can keep playing and have fun.

11. Include your youngster when talking to people out of his normal range of peers. For example, take him to visit a neighbor, or bring him along to the dry cleaner. The more he is exposed to interacting with all kinds of people, the more he will learn to do the same.

12. It’s hard to go wrong with kindness, so encourage your youngster to express caring feelings for others.

13. Offer a variety of opportunities for play and socializing. Host friends over for play dates or lunch. See if you can participate in a carpool and sign-up your youngster for group activities (e.g., art, drama, dance, etc.). Exposing him to different areas of play will help him learn to socialize.

14. Remind the extremely shy or anxious child that everyone experiences rejection, and give him tips on recruiting friends (e.g., seek out the friendliest classmates).

15. Stay balanced when things are hard. Go ahead and empathize with your youngster’s pain, but keep it in perspective. Making friends is a lifelong process and will have its “ups and downs.” Pain, unfortunately, is a part of it. All kids will experience some form of ‘normal’ social pain in their friendships. We can support them by listening and acknowledging their feelings. Talk about your concerns (regarding your child’s lack of social skills) with other adults who can support you (e.g., a coach, teacher, friend, family member, etc.). You never want to share your anxiety about your child’s lack of friends with your child, so find someone who can help offer insight about your youngster or consult with professionals.

16. When it comes to training Aspergers kids, you will want to steer clear of humor as a relationship-builder, because it’s a subtle skill that often backfires into annoying other children.

17. Support your youngster’s choice of friends and welcome them to your home. Try to get to know his friends and their parents.

18. Talk to the youngster’s teacher. The teacher can really offer some perspective about whether this is a temporary glitch or is it a more ongoing problem or something typical for this age.

19. When your youngster acts in an especially friendly way, name it — and let him know you’re impressed.

20. Lastly, coach your Aspergers youngster on the following social concepts (using words that he or she will understand, of course):

The Nature of Friendship:

  • Similarity and proximity. School–aged kids have a tendency to develop friendships with others who share similarities with themselves (e.g., gender, age, race, IQ, social status). As the youngster grows older, these traits become less important and he establishes friendships based upon similar interests and attitudes. As adolescence emerges, friends begin to seek conformity by dressing similarly and listening to the same music.
  • Reciprocity and support. All kids must share a degree of mutual respect and affection for each other if the friendship is to be lasting and meaningful. There needs to be a degree of equity between the two friends and a willingness to assist, guide, or comfort each other as necessary.
  • Mutual activities and shared interests. Childhood friendships often develop during school or extracurricular activities. Kids who are involved in such activities (e.g., sports teams, stamp clubs, chorus, drama, etc.) have common interests and values and often are quite compatible as social partners.
  • Intimacy, affection, and loyalty. Kids desire friends who can be trusted. They want their friends to share thoughts and feelings sensitively, and they demand loyalty from them. They need to feel that the friend will keep confidences and shared secrets. They also expect that the friend will not criticize them to others and are deeply hurt when this occurs. Kids expect the friend to view the relationship as a true commitment. Most childhood friendships that dissolve are destroyed by a perceived lack of commitment by one of the parties.

Summit Academy

Ohio Children Need the Extra Help that Summit Academy Schools Provide

Parents want their children to enjoy school and feel successful. They are the first to know when their children are struggling. Parents feel their children’s anguish caused by missing homework, losing focus, poor study skills, disorganization, performing below grade level, and having trouble with making or keeping friends.

If you live in Ohio and your child has Asperger’s Syndrome or AD/HD, Summit Academy may be the right choice. Summit Academy is a FREE, non-profit Public Community School for students in kindergarten through 12th Grade. With 26 schools in 14 communities throughout Ohio, Summit Academy offers smaller class sizes with hands-on, engaging learning groups. The solid academic curriculum includes targeted social skills training as well as Therapeutic Martial Arts and it is fully aligned with the State of Ohio Content Standards.

Summit Academy is a safe and nurturing environment that promotes family involvement. Summit Academy teachers understand the specific academic and social challenges that students with Asperger’s Syndrome and AD/HD face every day, using proven classroom accommodations and intervention strategies.

As the parent of a new student wrote, “I wondered how I was going to find a school that would help (my daughter) learn and grow while helping her channel some of that energy into something positive. From day one, the teachers and support staff went out of their way to make (my daughter) feel welcome and to answer all of my questions. I love how proactive they are in getting the parents involved. The small class sizes and constant supervision is what makes this school unique.”

Another parent recently wrote a college essay about her four children’s educational opportunities at Summit Academy: “Now since I have all my kids in Summit Academy Schools, they get the full attention they need and deserve. Now it is your turn to make the right choice for your child’s future.”

One mother posted this comment: “My daughter started this school on Monday and I am so impressed…She has never liked school and she now loves it. In just 4 days, I have seen her self-esteem roar…Thanks, Summit Academy…Keep up the good work!”

If your child needs a better place to learn, please visit our website at and find the school closest to you. Download and fill out the enrollment form, then call the school to set up a tour. Or call 800-442-5753 to contact our 24-hour information line.

Helping Family & Friends To Understand Aspergers and HFA

"Any advice on how to approach our friends and family to tell them about our son's recent diagnosis of high functioning autism ...or would it be better to say nothing?"

RE: "...would it be better to say nothing?" It would be good for your friends and family to understand High-Functioning Autism (HFA), otherwise they will come to their own conclusions about your son's behavior, which will undoubtedly be way off base.

Aspergers and HFA are often mentioned in the newspapers or on television, but the truth is that, besides remembering Dustin Hoffman's performance in the movie "Rain Man" as an Autistic savant, most people have no clue about what an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is.

If you’re an “old pro” at parenting a child with Aspergers or HFA, then you probably have had a lot of explaining to do to family and friends through the years. For those of you who are just now starting this journey, here are some things you can do to help family members with their understanding of the disorder:

1. Allow family members to attend Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. In addition, family members should establish a relationship with teachers and be perceived as part of the “treatment team.” Collaboration in this way is critical to school success.

2. Assure others that even though there is no single known cause or cure, HFA is treatable. Although it is a life-long disorder, studies show that early diagnosis and intervention can lead to significantly improved outcomes for kids. With the support and love of family and friends, along with appropriate services, kids with HFA can live full, healthy and meaningful lives.

3. Different circumstances call for different parenting. Explain that while you are trying to give your youngster as normal an environment as possible, there may be things you will do (or not do) for your “special needs” child than you would for other children in the family. For example, there may be different rules and consequences, sleeping arrangements, dietary or safety concerns. If necessary, gently explain that this doesn't mean that you're playing favorites or "babying" your HFA youngster -- you are simply addressing his unique needs and protecting him from unnecessary stress.

4. Don't be offended. Assure family members that your youngster's lack of social interactions with them (e.g., how he may avoid looking them in the eye or be uncomfortable with the usual hugs or other physical contact) is simply par for the course and not a personal affront. The same goes for a lack of other social graces, and how he often says whatever is on his mind. An HFA kid might bluntly say, "Aunt Rosie is fat" or, when given a gift, "I don’t play this game." He doesn't mean to be offensive -- he is just reporting what he observes.

5. Encourage family members to discuss their fears, disappointment, confusion and concerns. Remember the feelings you, the parent, experienced upon hearing the diagnosis, and realize that other family members will most likely experience similar emotions. In addition to the concern they have for their grandson or granddaughter, niece, nephew, sibling, etc., they also will have concerns for you.

6. Encourage others to expect the best from your youngster. Focus on the youngster's special abilities. Treat him as you would any other youngster or family member to the extent possible. Realize he is more “like” other kids than he is “different.”

7. Give information about HFA on a need-to-know basis. A bombardment of information may cause confusion or undue alarm. For instance, you might want to skip the nitty-gritty details of a GFCF diet and postpone telling stories about HFA children who run away or who still aren't potty-trained by age 8.

8. Offer friends and family a short list of Internet resources. That way they can explore the world of HFA at their own pace. That said, you might want to ask that they not forward you every report they read about Aspergers and HFA, or start a debate about ASD causes and "cures."

9. Provide some tips regarding purchasing gifts, toys or planning outings. Gently remind family members of your youngster's specific sensory issues, phobias or environmental triggers to avoid unpleasant scenes or meltdowns while in their care.

10. Remind everyone the importance of accepting your youngster for who he is, not who they hope him to be. Children with HFA may need more space, more understanding and more patience. Family members may need to interact with your youngster on his own terms. For example, don't insist on hugs or other physical contact, don't tease (even good-natured joking), and unless told otherwise, defer to mom and dad for any concerns, problems or discipline issues.

11. Teach family the necessary skills to assist your youngster in your absence, even if this care would only be needed on an emergency basis. Require family members to maintain and stick to schedules, special diets and routines. Also leave a list of service providers who can be contacted if the family caregiver has concerns or questions regarding your youngster's behaviors or actions while you're unavailable.

12. If one or more family members simply don’t “get it,” then suggest a support group. If your extended family has difficulty understanding or accepting the diagnosis, then they should consider getting in touch with a support group in order to hear other families' stories, which can help your family members gain a better understanding of the disorder. They can also attend special events or training opportunities, and if necessary, seek family counseling services.

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

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

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

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

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

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

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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

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

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content