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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Seeking a Diagnosis for Asperger's & High-Functioning Autism

This video answers the questions: If I think my child has Asperger's, should I have him diagnosed? If so, when? And how do you get a diagnosis?

Best Parenting Practices for Raising Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Moms and dads can do a lot to help their kids with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. But, it's important to make sure you get the support you need. When you're raising a youngster on the autism spectrum, taking care of yourself is not an act of selfishness—it's a necessity! Being emotionally strong allows you to be the best mother or father you can be to your “special needs” son or daughter.

If you've recently learned that your youngster has High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS), you're probably wondering and worrying about what comes next. No parent is ever prepared to hear that a youngster is anything other than happy and healthy, and a formal diagnosis can be particularly scary. You may be unsure about how to best help your youngster. You might be confused by conflicting treatment advice. You may have been told that High-Functioning Autism is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving you concerned that nothing you do will make a difference. These are all common responses.

While it is true that High-Functioning Autism is not something a child simply "out-grows," there are many treatments that can help these kids learn new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. Assistance is available to meet your youngster's special needs. With the right treatment plan and a lot of love and support, your youngster will learn, grow and thrive.

Best tips for parents with newly diagnosed children on the autism spectrum:

1. Rather than focusing on how your HFA or AS youngster is different from other kids and what he is “missing,” practice acceptance. Enjoy your kid’s special quirks, celebrate small successes, and stop comparing him to others. Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted will help your youngster more than anything else.

2. Kids with High-Functioning Autism have a hard time adapting what they’ve learned in one setting (e.g., the therapist’s office or school) to others, including the home. Creating consistency in your youngster’s environment is the best way to reinforce learning. Find out what your youngster’s therapists are doing and continue their strategies at home. Explore the possibility of having therapy take place in more than one place in order to encourage your youngster to transfer what she has learned from one environment to another. Also, be consistent in the way you interact with your youngster and deal with challenging behaviors.

3. Become an expert on your youngster. Figure out what triggers his disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your HFA youngster find stressful? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects him, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing situations that cause problems.

4. When it comes to treatment for High-Functioning Autism, there are a variety of therapies. Some focus on reducing problematic behaviors and building communication and social skills, while others deal with sensory integration problems, motor skills, emotional issues, and food sensitivities. With so many choices, it is extremely important to do your research, talk to treatment experts, and ask questions. But keep in mind that you don't have to choose just one type of therapy. The goal of treatment should be to treat all of your youngster's symptoms and needs. This often requires a combined treatment approach that takes advantage of many different types of therapy. Common HFA treatments include speech-language therapy, play-based therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional therapy, and behavior therapy.

5. Secure a private spot in your home where your youngster can relax, feel secure, and be safe. This will involve organizing and setting boundaries in ways your youngster can understand. Visual cues can be helpful (e.g., colored tape marking areas that are off limits, labeling items in the house with pictures). You may also need to safety-proof the house, particularly if your youngster is prone to wild tantrums or other self-injurious behaviors.

6. Create a personalized treatment plan. And keep in mind that no matter what treatment plan is chosen, your involvement is vital to its success. You can help your youngster get the most out of treatment by working hand-in-hand with the treatment team and following through with the therapy at home. When putting together a treatment plan for your youngster, remember that there is no single treatment that will work for every child. Each boy or girl with High-Functioning Autism is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. Good questions to get answers to include: How does your youngster learn best (e.g., through seeing, listening, or doing)? What are your youngster’s strengths? What are your youngster’s weaknesses? What behaviors are causing the most problems? What does your youngster enjoy and how can those activities be used in treatment? And, what important skills is your youngster lacking? A good treatment plan will: (a) teach tasks as a series of simple steps; (b) provide regular reinforcement of behavior; (c) offer a predictable schedule; (d) involve the mother and father; (e) build on the youngster's interests; and (f) actively engage the youngster's attention in highly structured activities.

7. Think positive. It’s impossible to predict the course of High-Functioning Autism. Don’t jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your youngster. Like everyone else, children on the spectrum have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.

8. As the parent of a youngster with High-Functioning Autism, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect something’s wrong. Don't wait to see if your youngster will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Don't even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier kids with on the autism spectrum get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your youngster's development and reduce related symptoms.

9. Every mother or father needs a break now and again. And for a parent coping with the added stress of High-Functioning Autism, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Look for respite care options in your area.

10. Figure out the need behind the tantrum. It’s only natural to feel upset when you are misunderstood or ignored, and it’s no different for kids with High-Functioning Autism. When an HFA boy or girl acts-out, it’s often because the parent is not picking up on the child’s nonverbal cues. Throwing a tantrum is his or her way of communicating frustration and getting the parent’s attention.

11. If stress, anxiety, or depression is getting to you, see a therapist of your own. Therapy is a safe place where you can talk honestly about everything you’re feeling. Marriage or family therapy can also help you work out problems that the challenges of life with an HFA youngster are causing in your marriage or with other family members.

12. Joining a support group is a great way to meet other parents dealing with the same challenges. Moms and dads can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation you may feel after receiving your youngster’s diagnosis.

13. Know your youngster’s rights. As the mother or father of an HFA youngster, you have a legal right to: (a) seek an outside evaluation for your youngster; (b) request an IEP meeting at any time if you feel your youngster’s needs are not being met; (c) invite anyone you want—from a relative to your youngster’s physician—to be on the IEP team; (d) free or low-cost legal representation if you can’t come to an agreement with the school; (e) disagree with the school system’s recommendations; and (f) be involved in developing your youngster’s IEP from start to finish.

14. Learn as much as you can about High-Functioning Autism. The more you know about it, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions for your youngster. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.

15. A youngster coping with High-Functioning Autism is still a kid. For both you and your child, there needs to be more to life than therapy. Schedule playtime when your youngster is most alert and awake. Figure out ways to have fun together by thinking about things that make your youngster smile, laugh, and come out of his shell. He is likely to enjoy these activities most if they don’t seem therapeutic or educational. There are tremendous benefits that result from your enjoyment of your youngster’s company – and from his enjoyment of spending un-pressured time with you.  Play is an essential part of learning and shouldn’t feel like work.

16. Pay attention to your youngster’s sensory sensitivities. Many kids with High-Functioning Autism are hypersensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Other HFA kids are “under-sensitive” to sensory stimuli. Figure out what sights, sounds, smells, movements, and tactile sensations trigger your kid’s disruptive behaviors – and what elicits a positive response. What does she find stressful? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects her, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing situations that cause difficulties.

17. Positive reinforcement can go a long way with HFA kids, so make an effort to “catch your child doing something good.” Praise him when he acts appropriately or learns a new skill, being very specific about what behavior he is being praised for. Also look for other ways to reward him for good behavior (e.g., giving him a sticker, letting him play with a favorite game, etc.).

18. Kids with High-Functioning Autism tend to do best when they have a highly-structured schedule or routine. They need and crave consistency. Set up a schedule with regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime. Try to keep disruptions to this routine to a minimum. If there is an unavoidable schedule change, prepare your youngster for it in advance.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Asperger’s Students: Coping with the First Year of Public School

Your child with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) is starting (or has already started) his or her first year in the public school system — and as a parent, you are very nervous for your child. There are definitely new challenges ahead. Children, as well as moms and dads, often struggle with saying goodbye at the classroom door, and hello to the start of a new year.

Some AS and HFA children will start the year off easily, breezing into the classroom with a quick goodbye — but after a few days — cling as you try to leave. Others will enter the building only under protest from day one. Then there are those who rush off to school with great enthusiasm, but have a meltdown the instant you pick them up. Others may get stomachaches, or have difficulty falling asleep. Some may even experience going to school as a rejection, particularly if a younger sibling stays home with mom. These are the challenging, but frequent reactions to the start of school.

First grade is an important year for most kids for many reasons. It is a big change from half-day kindergarten to all-day first grade. For some, it may be scary riding the school bus home with the older kids (not to mention the extended hours away from mom and dad).

To help parents ease their “special needs” children into the school experience, here are some practical tips for getting off to a good start. Tailor these techniques to suit you and your youngster:

1. Acknowledge your own separation anxiety. Moms and dads worry when their children start public school for the first time. They worry if the educators will really know how to care for their “special needs” youngster. They feel a sense of loss because this is usually the first time their youngster is away from home this long. They may also feel loss because they work full time and can’t be there at the school to help their youngster adjust to the new environment. They may feel guilty if they have to leave a crying youngster at school and go off to work. So, as a parent, try too can find ways to work things through by talking with a friend, spouse, school guidance counselor, or pastor if needed.

2. Adjust your child’s lunch schedule to his school’s timing. Contact the school to find out when your youngster will be eating lunch. A youngster who is used to eating at 11 a.m. can get hungry if their scheduled lunchtime isn’t until noon.

3. Ask the school for help if your youngster has trouble adjusting. If separation remains stressful after a few weeks, set up a meeting with your youngster’s educator and the school’s guidance counselor to speak about the best ways everyone can help you adjust. If possible, meet without your youngster – or you may want to schedule a separate meeting with your youngster present so everyone can make a plan together.

4. Ask the educator for help. If your youngster won’t let you go, turn to the educator for assistance. She probably has a lot of experience with this. You might say, “Let’s go say hello to Miss Johnson together. She will take good care of you.”

5. Ask your youngster a few compelling questions. Specific questions will help your youngster imagine what school will be like and help you talk about the fun stuff and the hard stuff. You could ask, “Is there anything that worries you about starting school?” … “What are you really looking forward to?” … “What do you think the hardest part of school is going to be?” …and so on.

6. Attend school events. Go to “Back-to-School night’ and PTA meetings. These events give you the opportunity to see the world your youngster lives in every day – and meet the adults in charge (as well as other moms and dads).

7. Create a home environment that allows after-school downtime and sharing. Whether you pick your child up at school or she arrives home on a bus, a youngster coming home from a full-day of school will most likely be very hungry and needing to relax. Don’t try to ‘talk’ about your child’s day until you have her basic needs met (e.g., snacks and rest). Allow your child some time to play outside or in her room before talking about her day. But then, whether during dinner or at bedtime, allow her to unload. Right before bedtime may be the best time to talk. Kids seem to be an open book at that time of night.

8. Describe what will happen on the first day. Keep in mind that an AS or HFA youngster starting school for the first time may have a hard time imagining what it will be like. Talking about the basic sequence of the day will help your youngster make a mental movie of what to expect. AS and HFA children form pictures in their minds, and reviewing the process in detail will make things more familiar and less scary on the first day of school.

9. Don’t be surprised if your youngster is upset at the end of the day. AS and HFA children often save up their hard feelings for their mom or dad, because it feels safer to let these feelings out at home than at school. It’s actually a good thing when children save up their hard feelings for their care-takers. You can even expect a surge in sibling rivalry or fighting with YOU at home. Children don’t usually come home and say, “Things got rough on the playground today,” but they often act-out their feelings at home.

10. Don’t talk about how much you will miss your youngster. Don’t let your own worries get in the way. Walk your youngster into school (or put him on the school bus), and then talk to other moms and dads if you need support. Your youngster has enough to worry about on the first day without soothing your worries.

11. First grade moms and dads can best help their “special needs” kids weather what can be a bumpy year by focusing on making sure the youngster has a solid, familiar routine that allows her to get enough sleep, play out of doors, bathe, keep her room tidy, and practice any skills or hobbies in which she has taken an interest.  The need for a solid night’s rest at this age can’t be over-stated.  Kids of this age need approximately 10 hours of sleep.  Every good day starts with a good night of sleep (a sound piece of advice, not just for first-graders, but their exhausted mom and dad as well).

12. Help your youngster allay feelings of frustration at not being able to do things exactly right the first time by reminding her of all the things she is able to do this year that she could not do the year before (e.g., ride a bike, help with the dishes, read all by herself, etc.). 

13. Focus on fun. If you escort your youngster to school, check out the playground before you go in. Meet the educator together and take a look around the new classroom for things you know your child enjoys (e.g., art supplies, a fish tank, the reading corner, etc.).

14. Get to know the educator. The faster you can establish a positive relationship with your youngster’s educator, the faster your youngster will adjust to the new surroundings and become independent. The safer your youngster feels, the more energy he can put into learning. So from a parent’s perspective, you want to support your youngster forming a strong bond with his educator(s).

15. Get up early. When you do, you can have a relaxed breakfast, leave enough time to deal with upsets, and still get to school on time.

16. Give your child control over what he can control. Offering simple choices may help calm nerves and get your child excited. For instance, if you pick out a new backpack or lunchbox, let your youngster choose the color. If you shop for school supplies, let your youngster find the items in the store and check them off on your list. The day before school starts, let your youngster choose clothes for the first day (but keep veto power).

17. If your youngster gets upset, acknowledge the feeling and ask him for suggestions. You can say, “I know you’re upset. I’m sure other children are too. Let’s think about what will help you feel better.” Suggest reading a book together or starting an activity.

18. If your youngster misses you a lot, choose a special object together that he can bring to school. Sometimes it helps with the transition if children can bring a memento from home (e.g., a parent’s picture, a note, a scarf, or other special object to remind them that their mom and dad are thinking of them). Encourage your youngster to show the object to the educator (inquire to see if there is a policy about how your youngster can use the object during the school day).

19. If your youngster says, “I don’t want to go,” remind her about the fun things. Think of something you know your youngster loves to do, or likes about school. See if you can get started on this activity together. Remind your youngster of all the new (or old) friends in her class, and go over and say hello together. If you don’t take your youngster to school, suggest she do some of these activities when she gets there, and send a note to the educator about your concerns.

20. If your youngster says, “I hate school,” ask him what’s wrong about it. Children will usually be able to tell you exactly what’s wrong. It’s common for kids to worry about playing on the playground with bigger peers, or about when dad will return for pick up. Help your youngster develop a solution to the problem. You can ask, “What makes the playground feel frightening?” Talk to the educator (with your youngster) about it. Ask your youngster if he wants to tell the educator himself, or would like you to do it.

21. If your youngster takes the school bus, encourage him to make “bus friends.” Get to know other moms and dads at the bus stop to help you feel connected to school, and to help your youngster find friends. Create your own special goodbye ritual to send your youngster off with a good feeling.

22. Learn about the drop-off policy. Find out about the policy for walking kids into the classroom and how long you can stay. If you anticipate that your youngster will need extra time to adjust, talk to the educator before school starts.

23. Pretend to be the educator of your child’s first grade class. Do some role-plays. This may help remove some of the fear of what to expect.

24. Look around the classroom. If you drop your youngster off in the classroom, look around to see what is changing every day. What’s new on the walls? Which books are in the book corner? Noticing the details may help you reconnect with your youngster later and talk about them together.

25. Make a quick exit. Take your cue from the educator and from your youngster, but when it’s time to go – LEAVE! A swift exit may be more useful to your youngster than a drawn-out goodbye. You can often call school later to check on how your son or daughter is doing (and you’ll probably find out that he or she is doing fine).

26. Meet other children in the class. Find out if there will be a class gathering before the first day. It can be helpful to see familiar faces when your child walks into a new classroom. Even if your youngster already has friends at school, schedule some play dates with children your youngster may not have seen over the summer.

27. Plan ahead how you will say goodbye. Think about what your youngster needs in a goodbye. What will be most helpful (e.g., a quick goodbye, five minutes of cuddle time, etc.).

28. Practice going to school. Make a dry run to help your youngster get familiar with the route and the routine. Point out interesting sights or places familiar to your youngster. Notice the swings, slides, or other fun things that your think your youngster will like, and try them out together.

29. Practice patience. The first week of “full-day school’ may be a big shock for the entire family, but be patient. The tiredness and grumpiness may linger beyond that first week. It usually takes much longer (usually around Christmas break) for AS and HFA children to get accustomed to their schedule. And it may take the entire family a good month to get into the groove of the new school year.

30. Practice the school routine prior to school starting. To help your youngster adjust, plan to shift her schedule from summer to school mode before school starts. Routine, especially at home, is so important. Start the “early-to-bed routine” several days before school starts in the summer to get your child used to it. In this way, it won’t be a shock.

31. Read books about starting school. Books will get children talking and feeling comfortable. Some good ones include:
  • “Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner” by Amy Schwartz
  • “First Day Jitters” by Julie Dannenberg
  • “Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown” by Paula Danzinger
  • “I Am Absolutely Too Small for School” by Lauren Youngster
  • “The Berenstain Bears Go to School” by Stan and Jan Berenstain

32. Reduce morning stress on school days. Reducing stress in the morning can help make the whole day turn out better. Be sure to lay out school clothes at night and give your youngster plenty of time to eat a healthy breakfast. Helping her with her morning routines can prevent stress too. Give your child a pictorial checklist. You can download great pictures to match her list of things to do (down to the exact backpack she will be heading off to school with).

33. Refresh and encourage your youngster while he is at school. Even though you can’t attend school alongside your youngster, don’t underestimate the value of a note or other reminder in his lunchbox. Missing mom and dad can be a real concern. Family photos can be a reminder for the non-readers that their parents will be waiting for them at the end of the day. Whether it’s a photo taped in a lunchbox or a small photo on a yarn necklace, it can be a real comfort.

34. Remember what school was like for you. What you think school will be like for your youngster is likely based on what school was like for you. Thus, it’s important to recognize that your youngster may have a very different experience than you did. Separate your own feelings about school from your childhood so your son or daughter can have a fresh start. You may have had a horrible experience, which can make you over-worry about your child. You may have had a wonderful experience, which could make you insensitive to places where your child may be having a hard time. This is why thinking about and separating-out your own experience is so important.

35. Talk about school at home. Specific questions might get your child talking. For example, "What did you do on the playground today?” … “What was the best part of the story the teacher read today?” … “What’s it like to be line-leader?” … and so on. You don’t need to be there to learn about what your youngster does at school. Discuss what the educator writes in the newsletter. When your youngster brings home work, comment on it with specifics.

36. Understand your role in the separation process. Your separation issues could be feeding your youngster’s anxiety. If you are having trouble separating, your youngster will always pick this up. One way to help you both feel better is by developing a trusting relationship with the educator.

37. When school starts, let your youngster wear a special locket with a picture of someone special in it. It is comforting to know you have someone you love close to you. If your youngster brings her lunch to school, put a red paper heart in it.

38.  When you take your youngster into his classroom, ask to see some work. If you sense your youngster feels uneasy at drop off, focus on the positive. Ask him to show you an art project or other activity he’s doing at school.

39. One way to help make this “new challenge” go a little smoother is to buy supplies ahead of time. Here is a checklist of a few common things that first graders use: 
  • 1 box of tissues
  • 1 composition notebook
  • 1 package dry erase markers (low odor)
  • 1 package large Crayola™ water colored markers (8 in a box)
  • 1 plastic folder with pockets
  • 12 large glue sticks
  • 2 boxes crayons (24 or less)
  • 2 erasers (plain)
  • Fiskars™ metal scissors (they also have left handed scissors)
  • plain pencils (40 sharpened)
  • school box (plastic, not to exceed 3" in height)

40. If your efforts (as outlined above) don’t seem to be working – be flexible. Adjust routines if needed. Is your child getting enough sleep, food, recreation, etc.? Is there anything else going on at school (e.g., bullying)? By maintaining your patience, you will help ease the transition to full-day school for your youngster, and perhaps just as important, yourself.

Little things can make a big difference in how AS and HFA kids will adjust to change. First grade is the beginning of many important changes in your child’s life. Taking the time to ensure an easy transition for all involved is a smart investment.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook 


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... I homeschool. Society is far too cruel and nowhere near ready for our advanced children!
•    Anonymous said... I put my son in catholic school. We have had no issues. They are patient and kind and the other children and very understanding. Summer camp with public school kids...didn't go as well. I would also put my son in a Friends school if we could swing it. No public school for us!
•    Anonymous said... my boy was homeschooled till 3rd grade...now it's very hard due to kids being mean to him ...he just needs a lot of help & the schools special ed plan is very good .mostly it's my boy's reaction to his peers that bring on more stress .He does have a few friends that get him so that is helpful...
•    Anonymous said... my son, 12, just began middle school, and is in a small group of kids, and was excited to get his first locker! He's in a good supportive school.
•    Anonymous said... We began homeschooling this year (third grade) due to issues with the school system.

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The Basics of Teaching Young Students on the Autism Spectrum

“What advice would you have regarding the most effective teaching methods for young students on the high end of the autism spectrum? I will be having two ASD students in my class this year (twin brothers).”

First of all, you need to know that Asperger’s (AS) – also referred to as High-Functioning Autism (HFA) – is an autism “spectrum” disorder (i.e., affected children have significantly different abilities and limitations). Before you can prepare for an AS or HFA child in your classroom, you should develop an understanding of the specific child's needs. Prior to the first day of school, review the child's records and look for notes from previous educators that indicate his abilities. Speak to the child's mom and dad and ask them what they feel their son might need to be successful. Meet with the child on the first day of class to become familiar with him and gather information about his needs.

Let’s go into greater detail about the specifics of teaching students on the autism spectrum:

1. Address the AS/HFA student individually at all times (e.g., he may not realize that an instruction given to the whole class also includes him). Calling the student’s name and saying, “I need you to listen to this because this is something for you to do” can sometimes work. Other times, the student will need to be addressed individually.

2. Allow some access to obsessive behavior as a reward for positive efforts.

3. Allowing the student to avoid certain activities (e.g., sports and games) which he may not understand or like. Also, support the student in open-ended and group tasks.

4. Always keep your language simple and concrete. Get your point across in as few words as possible. Typically, it’s far more effective to say, “Pencils down, close your books, and line up for lunch” rather than, “It’s almost time for lunch. Quickly finish your Math assignment. As soon as you’ve finished, close your books and line up at the door. Then after lunch, we’re going outside to study some plants.”

5. AS and HFA kids commonly become fixated on objects. At times, these fixations can draw the child's attention away from classwork. To avoid problems caused by fixation, educators can use the youngster’s fixations as a motivational tool. Seek to link work to the student’s particular interests. For instance, if the child loves reading picture books about trains, gather a large selection of books that fall into this category, and allow the child to read these books only after he has completed his classwork. The desire to return to his train books will encourage the child to stay focused on the task at hand and move through the necessary activities.

6. AS and HFA children are commonly visual learners. Use images whenever possible to assist the child in understanding material. Pairing vocabulary words or other lesson concepts with diagrams or images gives the youngster a visual reference and allows him to commit the information to memory more easily.

7. Avoid over-stimulation. Minimize distractions and provide access to an individual work area when a task involving concentration is given. Colorful wall displays can be distracting for some AS and HFA students. Others may find noise very difficult to cope with.

8. Avoid the use of idioms (e.g., “put your thinking caps on” … “open your ears” … “zip your lips” …etc.). These will leave an AS/HFA child completely mystified and wondering how to do that.

9. Avoid the use of sarcasm. If the child accidentally knocks all your paperwork on the floor and you say, “That’s just great!” …you will be taken literally, and this action might be repeated on a regular basis.

10. Be aware that normal levels of auditory and visual input can be perceived by the AS/HFA child as too much or too little (e.g., the hum of fluorescent lighting is extremely distracting for most children on the spectrum). Consider environmental changes like removing some of the "visual clutter" from the room or seating changes if the child seems distracted or upset by the classroom environment.

11. Don't take “misbehavior” personally. The high-functioning student is not a manipulative, scheming child who is trying to make life difficult for you. Usually misbehavior is the result of efforts to survive experiences which may be confusing, disorienting, or scary. Recognize that the target for the student’s anger may be unrelated to the source of that anger. AS and HFA children are, by virtue of their disorder, egocentric and have extreme difficulty reading the reactions of others. They are literally incapable of being manipulative.

12. Exploring word-processing, and computer-based learning for literacy.

13. Give fewer choices. For example, if the AS/HFA youngster is asked to pick a color, only give him two to three choices to pick from. The more choices, the more confused the youngster will become.

14. Give very clear choices, and try not to leave choices open-ended. You’ll get a better result by asking, “Do you want to practice writing, or do you want to read a book?” …than by asking “What do you want to do next?”

15. If you ask a question or give an instruction and are greeted with a blank stare, re-word your sentence. Asking the child what you just said helps clarify that you’ve been understood.

16. If your class involves pairing-off or choosing partners, either draw numbers or use some other arbitrary means of pairing. You can also ask an especially kind child if she would agree to choose the AS/HFA peer as a partner. This should be arranged before the pairing is done. The child with AS or HFA is most often the person left with no partners. This is unfortunate since these children could benefit most from having a partner.

17. If the high-functioning child uses repetitive verbal arguments or repetitive verbal questions, try requesting that he write down the question or argumentative statement. Then write down your reply. As the writing continues, the AS/HFA youngster usually begins to calm down and stop the repetitive activity.

18. One of the hallmarks of AS and HFA is the affected child’s general detachment and unwillingness to engage in social behavior. Attempts to force the child to complete cooperative activities will likely fail. Instead offer (but don't require) interactive activities. Pushing the youngster to interact with his fellow students will only cause him to detach even more (and may lead to academic struggles).

19. Many schools practice inclusion, which combines AS and HFA children in the same classroom as “typical” children. The idea is that the child on the autism spectrum learns faster and adapts appropriate social behavior by observing his fellow classmates. Peer-tutoring is a one-to-one teaching method often practiced in inclusion schools. In a structured environment, the “typical” child leads the AS/HFA child through a number of tasks with brief instructions.

20. Protect the AS/HFA student from teasing at free times, and provide his classmates with some awareness of his particular needs.

21. Provide a very clear structure and a set daily routine, including time for play.

22. Provide a warning of any impending change of routine, or switch of activity.

23. Understand that some change in the AS/HFA student’s behavior or attitude may reflect anxiety, which may be triggered by even a minor change to routine.

24.  Teach specific social rules and skills (e.g., turn-taking, social distance).

25. Teach what “finished” means, and help the child to identify when something has finished and something different has started. Take a photo of what you want the finished product to look like and show the child. For example, if you want the room cleaned up, take a picture of how you want it to look some time when it is clean. The child can use this for a reference.

26. Daily routines should remain the same. There should be no surprises for AS and HFA kids. Use pictures for depicting the classroom schedule. By using pictures that represent a particular activity, the youngster is well aware of what is going to be taught next. If everything becomes predictable for the AS/HFA student, he is able to learn and concentrate more.

27. The curriculum should be planned in such a way that it incorporates the “daily living skills” which will help the AS/HFA youngster to work independently as a grown-up, for instance:
  • hobbies according to the interest of the youngster
  • money skills
  • reading skills
  • self-care skills
  • skills related to employment
  • social behavioral skills
  • social skills
  • time management skills
  • writing skills

28. The classroom environment where the AS/HFA youngster is going to be taught should be very plain, calm and quiet. Avoid putting colorful charts and posters on the walls. Lots of colors often distract the youngster, making it difficult to concentrate. Also, select a particular spot for extra activities. For instance, if you have chosen the space near the back of the room for doing art activities, keep it like that and don't change it. By doing this, the moment you ask the youngster to sit in the back, he will know that it is time for art class.

29. Use “task analysis” (i.e., very specific tasks in sequential order).

30. Using various means of presentation (e.g., visual, physical guidance, peer-modeling, and so on).

Educating a youngster on the autism spectrum can be quite challenging. But, with proper planning and patience, anybody – whether a student aide, teacher, school counselor or principal – can face this challenge.

Teaching Students with AS and HFA


 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Organize, organize, organize. As a parent and teacher, I found a chart with the week's homework to write in agenda, daily schedule, competition, group work, everything having its place with binders, pencil boxes (no messy desk), possibly a clock or large timer with count down. Direct language and fair, logical is very important. Don't move the goal post. May not be able to relate one bad behavior with another, so each may need to be explained, then held accountable. Showing progress through percentages. Each kid is different, but once you are able figure what focuses them, they can be great students. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said... http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2013/08/aspergers-and-high-functioning-autism.html ...This is the best, concise Fact Sheet I have found. I used it last year, and plan to this year. Thank you so much for making this available. It can help with anyone in authority that helps with your child. IE, coaches, Pastors, Other Parents, etc. Thanks.
•    Anonymous said... 1. Keep in mind that autism affects every person with it differently. Each of those kids could have very different strengths and weaknesses. 2. That being said, visual schedules, reminders before transitions to new activities, and extra organizational help will probably be beneficial for both. Be literal and direct with directions, and take the time to explain things to them when others aren't. Turns of phrase and colloquialisms can be confusing for people with autism. It may also be beneficial to speak with the parents of the students about any sensory sensativites they may have, and for what they usually do to work around them. (Earplugs for hypersensative hearing, or a textured cusion to help with sitting still in their seat, ect.) Good luck this coming school year.

Post your comment below...

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for August, 2013]

My 15-year-old stepson with Asperger's lives with his mother. Although we have joint custody, it is difficult to get him to want to spend any time with us or at our home. Unfortunately his mother is the type who refuses to co-parent with us. Requests to discuss the behavior of and expectations for my stepson go ignored. Sadly, there are other issues with her as she has been diagnosed as a sociopath, and she deliberately talks poorly about her son's father directly to him. We've learned through years of trial and error that she will not be cooperative, nor are we trying to control her. But when it comes to our son, we're to a point in his development where he has become verbally abusive and extremely rude and uncooperative with our entire side of the family. And his mother encourages this. We're somewhat at a loss on how to move forward.

I can see the value of reading the e-book regardless, just to educate ourselves and maybe improve our dealings with this child. I guess what I'd like to know is do you feel it's possible to implement the tactics in your book if the custodial parent, who he spends a good 90% of his time with, will not provide any consistency and will fight us every step of the way?

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I have a 19 year old son, Mitchell, living at home with me and over the past year, since graduation, he has spiralled down hill in many regards to his Aspergers. However, he refuses to believe or even to contemplate or entertain the thought that he does have Aspergers. He tells me he will "die inside" if he is told he has Aspergers and states further that anyone who diagnoses him with Aspergers will be wrong.

He has been under psychiatric care since he was 4 years old and was then diagnosed with Tourette's, ADHD and OCD. He has been through the public school system with lots of supports in place which included attending the schools designed here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with the programs I felt would fit him best. He has been on medications since his first diagnosis and now on Luvox (300 mg/day) and Seraquel (50mg at hs for sleep only). When he entered high school with a population of 2400 students, I was scared and then even more mortified when he refused ANY assistance or supports. However, he managed and not only obtained his diploma (with minimal requirements) he was the MC for his graduation commencement ceremonies in front of 5000 people! This is as short as a story as I can manage in so far as his history.

Approximately 18 months ago, both his psychiatrist and his therapist began to speak to him about the possibility of Aspergers and/or depression. Mitchell began then to dig his heels in and will only go see his psychiatrist if I tell him he will not live here without psychiatric help from his doctor. I have called in the Mental Health Crises team to our home just last week as I was sure Mitchell was going through (as did his psychiatrist) a psychosis.

My question to you, without writing a book about it, is where is the line between Aspergers and schizophrenia?! I have researched both and both seem to carry the same criteria except for his obsessions with British Royal history and families, trains and the titanic. PLUS he has been able to maintain a part time job at Safeway as a cashier and is reliable although often late getting to his job due to his off set sleeping routine. He has definite hygiene issues and has gone as long as three weeks without a shower, six months without a haircut, days before he brushes his teeth, refuses to put any sheets on his bed, his room is a disaster and does not seem to flinch if someone tells him he stinks! Recently I have made him sign a contract with me stating he will shower and brush his teeth every day, as well as 8 other contractual items and he will adhere to these or I will help him find an apartment. He still believes NOTHING is wrong with him. He became so angry he poured salt all over the kitchen floor so as I would step in it the next morning, and following that morning he had laced my coffee maker with salt..."because I feel mad." Believe me, I have poured the consequences on him but I have not yet used your advice from your web sites/books as I just came across them this morning. I will certainly try all of it! I am desperate. But I am also worried that what I am seeing is schizophrenia and from researching this mental illness it seems as though a person with schizophrenia will not believe they are sick either! PLUS, what kind of consequences does a parent give to a 19 year old? I realize I can take away internet, perhaps charge him more for rent (currently he is very good about paying me 275/month for rent and cell phone), or not drive him anywhere as he says he is too lazy to get a licence. He is taking cabs if I refuse or cannot take him to work and paying for it himself, and will take the bus on his own money.

I will try to not write anymore as I am not too sure I will hear back from you. Perhaps someone like you who will "hear" me and respond to me as a professional over email is too much for me to believe! I hope to hear from you, don't get me wrong...I just need some reassurance from you about my son whom I love so dearly and want nothing more for him but independence, friends and good mental health. My family of origin is full of clinical depression as well we are all on medication for depression and have been since 1981. My one sister is a social worker, the other a psychiatrist. My mom was a public health RN and my father a retired dentist and unfortunately an alcoholic. Not only do I have 10 years of Al Anon, I have an RN degree as well and I work as an Educational Assistant in the public schools with special need students. So there really is nothing you can tell me that will not surprise me!

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 ODD Aspergers and the lack of expertise in England especially for adults. For the last 30 years I have struggles with insoluble problems caused by a “high IQ” Aspergers male, Pieter Grootendorst. He is only one year younger than you, ie. born 4th January 1957.  Fair to say he had poor parenting and 9 years in the Dutch navy as an electronic weapons engineer did nothing to improve his inadequate social skills. He is almost completely incommunicative and “unavailable” when he is with me, yet extremely jealous and resentful of my outside interests and activities.

Sadly his whole family, probably on both parental sides may have had several members with autism/aspergers undiagnosed. This was discovered through extensive enquiries about him and his siblings, parents, medical history, etc in 2001.  The diagnosis of Aspergers was conclusive but did not address his lack of hygiene and oppositional defiance.  There was no support after diagnosis then or now.  As soon as I got his diagnosis I attempted to help him socialise with group activities. I was founder member of Sidcup Community Group with a dear older friend, Peter Scopes, who is now 85 with Parkinson’s disease.  Although I won Millennium Champion awards for my civic good deeds, I am powerless to help myself against Pieter’s escalating ill-nature and defiance.
Was I in denial that there is mental illness in Pieter’s paranoia, his negligence and spitefulness, unreasonable aggression and abusiveness in general? 
He has had several years of anti-violence training after attacking me in the classic way that such weak bullies do, but there is no genuine improvement just the fear of being arrested again which would result in a criminal record. He has no remorse or regret and I now lead a separate life.  Police who have called over the years to “domestic” incidents have told me they believe he is mentally unstable, since he cries and whines like a 5 year old when confronted by third parties, and after his violent outbursts.  They were called again today.
Over the years he has proved extremely manipulative and immature which is a worry since he is on a research project for high IQ Aspergers with anxiety since 2011.  There are two leads on this lucrative project but they have shown not even the slightest interest in each person with the result that instead of ten or a dozen in his group, there are only 4 getting CBT once per week for the last 10 weeks. I have no idea what this CBT is supposed to achieve  - to me seems completely un-person-centred. Only he and three others go so there is no excuse for not addressing each one’s individual issues.  His defiance has grown exponentially and the police were called by neighbours because I was at screaming pitch today when he refused to do essential tasks. The most apt description for him isl “can’t work, won’t work”.  I notice he dare not defy his employer and manager but he is completely disrespectful and uncaring at home.
I myself am probably on the over-empathic, sensitive, creative side of Aspergers, as I had gut problems and food intolerance as a baby and our family has atopical eczema, asthma and other auto-immune diseases.

My older brother, Frank, who was a practising solicitor in London, like my mother, appears completely dysfunctional, eg. very charming on the surface but irresponsible, with Diogenes syndrome which has made his lovely house into an almost derelict wreck in a very residential road, close to Richmond Park. 

Hence, Pieter has displayed a natural affinity with Frank, who I am sorry to report may be a misogynist as well.  Pieter seems to find favour with unsavoury characters who he mistakes for friends. In fact he has no friends even at work.

Unfortunately my ability to step into the breach and resolve the continual incompetence and problems has been eroded due to my own fragile state of health. Even before the diagnosis I suffered with stress-related illnesses such as urticaria, digestive problems and sleep disturbances.  It has got to the stage where I have panic attacks. He remains convinced of his own superiority but I cannot exist in a fool’s paradise since his conduct and attitude is worse than ever.  My friends and I believe that he is unable to be a home-owner as he refuses to do routine maintenance and chores which is the reason each time that the police are called either by me or the neighbours.  I am trying to persuade him to find rented accommodation where he can rely on the landlord to carry out all the repairs and improvements he is unwilling to do and has never done willingly or to an acceptable standard. 

It may be interesting for all your readers to know that as far as I can assess only fear of his employment ending makes him co-operative and obedient at work while his misbehaviour over 30 years is that of a mutinous and hormonal teen not a man of 56.  I now understand he will sink into senility with no improvement because he cannot see the mote in his own eye.  What is worse is the arrogance and complacence of the medical practitioners, many of whom show unmistakable lack of empathy and understanding. With all good wishes to you for your amazing articles.

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I have a son 18 years old who is on autism spectrum (PDD-NOS).
Before 3 years ago he was sexually attacked by a peer who is also on the spectrum.
Before he was attacked he had meltdowns, but not like in the last 3 years.
He was hospitalized 4 times at a psychiatric hospital because of the meltdowns and because in the last meltdowns he destroyed the house and attacked me.
He is on psychiatric pills: Seroquel 200 mg – 3 times a day, Zyprexa 5 mg 2 times a day and Clonex 3 times a day 0.5 mg.
He has also ADHD and he si taking Ritalin 30 mg LA only when he is studying. From april he si not studying so he is without Ritalin.
Last meltdown was on last sundat 4 august because it was his birthday and friends didn't call him to tell him happy birthday.
He begun to tell to his father that he wants to die because he is alone.
From the hsospital told me not to bring him to the hospital if he have a meltdown because the medication is working.
When he is in hospital after one day he is ok, not meltdowns, not nervous because the have a very tight program there.
The told me that a psuchotic process begin.

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Hi! My name is Juliana and I am 16 with Aspergers. With school making a comeback, I am feeling stressed out and meltdownish. I HATE having a meltdown! I feel out of control and I don't understand what feelings I feel only that they make my chest hurt because they're negative emotions. And Mom talks all gentle and sometimes she tries to hug me and she looks so tense. I need her to talk normal but quiet because her talking too loud hurts and I need a familiar voice, and not touch me unless I say because it feels itchy and WRONG, and to not visibly tense up 'cause then I tense up more. How do I tell her this? I WILL have a meltdown at least once this year, so she needs to know this. Please help me help my momma.

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My 23 year old son is now estranged from me...he is my only child. He began smoking pot and drinking when he was 18 and I was not totally aware of it.  He kept going to college classes but always dropped out even though he scored very high on his SAT's.  He got into trouble with the law re: smoking pot and drinking.  I tried to get him into rehab (he said he did not need it, he just used pot as a way of self-medicating). He refused to go to rehab so I kicked him out (about the 10th time)....he just stayed at friends and slept in cars during the winter when he had nowhere to go.

During this time, he met a very disturbed girl (bi-polar, etc.) who was raised by her grandparents because both parents were in jail.  Her grandparents tried to raise her, but, the mother's values seemed to have rubbed off on her.  She does not work and plans on raising a family with my son on welfare.  My son grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, but, that does not seem to matter to him.  He has slept in cars and in trailer parks before.
This girl is totally controlling.  She does nothing but follow him around all day.  She made him quit his job because he did not make enough money (he was a waiter at a hot dog joint).  He was always a very hard worker with an unbelievable work ethic; he just was working well beneath his ability.  My son cannot make any life decision, so he lets her do it.
She hates me because I do not approve or their relationship.  They live in a 1 bedroom apt. with 5 cats and a hampster with no furniture except the bed the grandparents and I bought for them. She is totally lazy and disrepectful and wants me to apologize to her for not supporting them (financially and emotionally).She does not allow him to answer his phone and texts me pretending that she is my son.  She texted me the other day (under the guise of being my son) and told me that they no longer want me in their life because I cause them too much unhappiness.  A few months ago, I tried to welcome her into my home, but, she is a no-it-all kid who has no respect for adults (I am 65). She talks to me like I am her equal and thinks that living on welfare is ok.  She is planning on living on money that the government loans out to students while they are going to school.  Since I have known her, she has started classes and then dropped them when my son dropped his. They set a wedding date (a year from now) after she went to Walmart and bought a fake diamond.  She invited me to come with her grandmother to look at a banquet hall and wanted to know what I was contributing to the wedding.  Neither has a job, an education or a car. 

My son has no will of his own.  He cannot make and has never been able to make a decision.  Every job he ever got, I had to find for him.  Now, they are playing house, but, they have made it clear that they want no part of me.

I am devastated.  My son's father died when he was 13 and I have raised him all alone (He was adopted by my husband and I).  He was raised with all the love and care in the world.  He is my whole world.  I cannot believe that he can just write me off...is it possible that someone with Asperger's can abandon their mother just like that?  When his father died of cancer, he showed no emotion and never talked about him.  It was, then, that I thought that there might be something wrong.  He was not diagnosed until a few years ago.  I took him to so many doctors and they never said he had Aspergers; they just thought he was unmotivated.  In high school, he got all A's without even trying.  Once he turned 18, he just lost it and now I am afraid I will never see him again.

This girl does nothing...she stays up all night playing computer games and sleeps all day.  She is obese, loud and obnoxious.  My son seems to love the attention (I call it neediness) that she showers him with.  I think that she makes him feel important because she constantly tells him how much she loves him.  This is a truly desperate girl who has latched onto my son because she  can not get any better and his self-esteem is so low he does not think he can get any better. What is a mom to do????  Do you think I have lost him forever???

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My son is 19.  I sent him to college in which he basically stayed in his room playing video games. First semester he did some of the work. Second semester he totally hibernated in his room.  He never asked me for much.

He called me to get him after school let out.  Never responded once as to what happened at school.  Found out that he just stayed in his room from the dorm director. Except to come out to eat.  He did have some aquaintences there.

Said to those who asked that he liked the college.

He continues to hibernated in his room just to come out to eat and taking out the garbage mostly when reminded.  Refuses to talk about anything relevant about his future plans if any. I attempt to talk to him about going to school in the city where he lives, or getting a job or some other alternative. Refuses to listen. Covers his ears. 

Doesn't ask for anything accept "Is there food ma?"  And I showed him how to fix some things.
He will go and get his stuff and retreat back to his room.

He stopped talking to his dad his last year of high school because his dad grabbed him when he was sitting next to him supervising his homework because he almost did not graduate.  Even though his dad apologized, he has not spoken to him since he graduated a year ago from Bronx High School of Science.

I was finally able to encourage him to go to his physical and his doctor said he had some form of Asperger symtoms.  He never had to study for anything while attending Bronx Science.  Did the bare minimal.

He spends his days playing sports video games. Madden 2013.   Never asks for money.  Brought back home from college all the money he received from gifts from high school graduation, including a check I sent him. 

He has to be reminded to wash up.  Except the 2 times he went to visit his college friends from other universities and played video games with them.

I noticed from my cell bills that he has over 1500 text messages. He talks often to himself about the games he is playing while he plays.

His vision was to be a sports commentator.  I asked him about his vision/goal but he continues to ignore.

Your guide does not tell me how to get him to talk to me about his future when he just clams up.

He refuses to see a therapist.

HIs last year of high school he said he needed help and I found a therapist, he went four times then which helped him get thru school i think.

Now it has been since May that he has not taken a bath or shower and only has washed up.
His doctor said that he has no odor and he was very articulate.

She told my son and me about a book called Look Me in the Eye.  Reading it now, but it doesn't say
how to get my son moving.  Just stays in his room and every now and then comes out to say hi mom
and has invited me in to watch him.

He eats sometimes one meal a day sometimes two.  He sleeps from 3pm to 12 or 1am  and is up until
3pm or sometimes longer.  That has been his days since he returned from a wasteful year of college in May. A waste of money.

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Had a very interesting conversation with my 23 year old AS son today and he wants to go back to school.

Now this would be his 4th attempt if it happens. We discussed his goals. He needed goals. He wants to get an IT certification but his past performance on attendance and so forth are not good.  IT school is expensive.

He wants to join the army and learn his trade there. Now he has friends I know are on "the spectrum" They have served and are thriving but that was what they wanted from the beginning and clearly are more self disciplined because that is what they wanted.

Would they accept him and if so, would he be able to handle such a commitment and all the stress that comes with such an endeavor.  He needs to lose weight to get in but has showed so far no "motivation" to get fit.

Is this doable? If not, how can I convince him to maybe see a job coach. To look at other avenues to getting this kind of certification. Now in the past he has bucked every attempt at getting "help" from an agency such as DVRS and others. 

We put together a schedule for him and part of that entails him looking for work and researching what the army would need from him and also what schools are affordable as well as daily and weekly chores.

This whole Army thing makes me a little uneasy.

Thanks in advance for any advise you may have.

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My son is diagnosed aspergers/add and bipolar. He is 20, living at home and attends Rutgers University, a junior engineering student.

He had gone away to school freshman year but after social rejection starting getting high and became manic, we brought him home and that's when he was diagnosed as bipolar.

Currently he is going to an iop therapy program 3x a week,  it is almost over.  I think the clinic  is helping although he doesn't like it. And is depressed.  But he does get up everyday go to his summer class, has excellent hygiene and plays tennis 2x a week.   and taking risperdal,cogentin and adderal.

Family life is a wreck with his impulsive behavior, jealousy of his brother and not understanding social cues.

His goal is to live at rutgers.   I am afraid when he turns 21 he will abuse alcohol.  I told him I won't pay for him to live away unless he goes to counseling and would consider him living in sober housing.

My question for you is what books of yours would be most helpful to me.  My impression is He needs social skills education badly.  Executive planning skills.  And managing his emotions. And what of your other services we can take advantage of.

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Is it possible that I may have aspergers? I knew something wasn’t right with my husband and with my two children and now just realizing this after 29 years, makes me wonder. I’ve been telling my husband now for about three weeks now…not pressing it too hard that he may have aspergers, he just gets very angry and makes hurtful comments to me and reasons that don’t really add up to why he is not.

He’s seeing a physiatrist for an obsession over a past girl friend, more acquaintance friend he worked with 30 plus years ago. The physiatrist is telling him his lack of feeling and not being able to cry is due to past hurts in his life and she’s having him revisit them. He’s now repeated this to me at least five times if not more. When he brings it up, I tell him it has all the tell signs of aspergers of which I see his temper rising.

This morning he was on the phone again with his mother discussing his sister and how she is miss treating her. I can clearly see that my sister in law as aspergers. For years the family has had a hard time getting along with her. I have feeling my brother in law has it to. When I told my husband this he got infuriated with me and put me and my side of the family down. They being high functioning have more going for them financially and their children are better off, but I see some similarities in their children.
I feel like I’m the only one seeing these similarities. For a long time I’ve seen them, and I think my sister in law has seen them, just doesn’t know what it is. I’m afraid to talk to her about it, as she may just get made at me as well.

Well my husband asks me not to talk to him anymore about aspergers or to mention the name. But he has given me permission to talk to his physiatrist and that’s what I’m thinking of doing, but I’m afraid it may get worse as she’s told him “I don’t think you have aspergers”.

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I just came across your program for meltdowns and we are desperately
seeking information and reliable diagnosis help, for our son who is
age 10 going on 11 Nov 30, 2013. The mental health counselor recently
brought up that he thinks our son has AS and not ADHD. I explained the
meltdowns when he gets frustrated easily or over stimulated, I have to
take him out of the environment so he doesn't get overly excited and
can't calm down on his own or it takes a long time for him to. He
receives A's and B's at school and gets times of hyper focus on an
interest of his but times we do have minor behavior problems being
reported by the teacher at times. The counselor thinks he is on the
high functioning end of the  autistic spectrum / AS. The counselor
says first he wants to try behavior mimicry training or therapy before
any medication being prescribed to my son. I am some what confused as
what to do and have been researching a lot. I am scared of the
medications also. His father and I are exhausted from all of this and
it is causing our relationship to  become not as stable these days as
it was and it all is taking it's toll on us now.

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When I first started living with my boyfriend at the time (5 years ago), I thought that he was just different than most people I’ve dated before. It was even interesting. But going on further I finally realized that there was more to it than just being different or strange. I asked him if we can go to see a physiatrist and to my surprised he agreed. He was diagnosed with Asperser’s Syndrome. We came home, went online and after reading info from some web sites a lot in his behavior made sense.
Unfortunately, my life with him did not get ANY easier after his diagnosis. Knowing why he behaves the way he does did not solve my problems with him. He has all the symptoms you can possibly find when Asperser’s Syndrome is described including being emotionless, cold and living in his own world. He understands only thing that HE wants or needs and if I want to do something or don’t do and it is opposite of what he wants, he would get very nasty and say very hurtful things that he, of course does not see being offensive. I feel lonely, unappreciated, uncared for and like I am just a maid for him. I do EVERYTHING, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING around the house, which I don’t mind; especially I know how much he hates house chores. However, if I ask him once in a blue moon to do a tiny thing for me he goes nuts because that’s how much he does not want to do anything at all. That’s how our fights usually would start – over small stupid things. I don’t know if there are any levels of severity of the Syndrome but I think he has the intense one.
We fight all the time. It is taking its toll on me. I can’t live like this anymore. Recently, I have discovered your book online and asked him if he wants to save the relationship. He said “Yes”. But apparently saying is easier than doing. When we are at home reading your book, it seems that he understands and agrees to some stuff that he does or doesn’t do. And I even hope that he would now do things that are discussed in the book. We discuss what we read and I feel good after it. I understand that he won’t change instantly. But it seems like he won’t change at all. As I said above, he is more or less ok at home where there is just him and I, but we still fight a lot over some stupid things that for most couples won’t be an issue. But minute we step outside the front door and are in public places, stores, restaurants even a park, WHEN WE ARE AROUND PEOPLE, it’s like it is not him anymore. Instantly, he forgers about everything we’ve talked and his Asperger’s symptoms reach the top. Then, I understand that he would never try to do something about himself and would never change.
Yesterday was my Birthday. Since we fight all the time I am pretty much in a bad mood all the time. The night before my BD, I told him that I don’t want to do anything on my BD and don’t want to go to a restaurant to celebrate, not in the mood. He seemed to understand. Next day he called me from work, which was nice and I again reminded him that I don’t want to go anywhere. After work he brought me beautiful roses and started saying that we should go and celebrate. I said “no” again. He left and when he came back it started again about going out, and how he wants to go and so on. That’s when I snapped.  I said “this is not about YOU anymore, it is MY BD and you have to consider what I WANT on my BD”. See Mark, since everything is always about what he wants, it is hard for him to understand that there is someone else in his life that might have her own feelings and wishes. I confronted him saying “it is YOU who want to go to a restaurant that’s why you insist on it so hard”. Of course he denied it but I could see it in his eyes. He can’t lie. So we had a major fight and he told me to get my stuff and go back to my parents.
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 Hello...I have not been diagnosed with asd, but my son was 3 years ago...going through this with him (i am a single mother) has made me question that perhaps this was passed down...i have struggled all my life with relationships, and usually just would rather be alone then deal with the stress that comes with trying to have friends or partners...and i have been told that the stress i find, is not warranted, but to me it is....im 37 years old...not sure that being diagnosed now would change much, other than explain many things my parent gave up trying to understand, and many things i just avoid to make life easier...im looking for guidance, because as i said, im raising a child with this, and im struggling helping him understand it, cause he sees i face many of the same struggles......i dont know who else to talk to about this, and i would love some input if available...thanks

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 I am sending this email before I take any further steps.  I have an adopted
3 yr old son.  He is AWESOME!  Biracial Hispanic/White.  I have attributed
some of his high intensity to the Hispanic biology, but I believe there to
be more going on.  His white mother has mental issues, but not sure she was
ever given accurate diagnosis.

I have looked at all the behavioral disorders (former foster parents) and
see a couple of symptoms that mimic other disorders, but nothing that I feel
describes his overall issues.  However, I just happened to check Asperger's
Syndrome symptoms and the social area really caught my attention as well as
the advanced language skills.  He is very intelligent, above his age (I
believe).

His special needs areas would be what you are describing as meltdowns.  I
have had him since 3 wks of age and have always felt he was very aggressive.
In his play, I felt he was more aggressive with toys than seemed normal
(before he was even walking).  I have tried to think of a day that has
passed that he didn't have 1 episode of throwing something or exhibiting
some sign of frustration, but I'm not sure if there has been one.  Some days
are great days, but some days he just wants to do the opposite of everything
he thinks you want him to do.

I haven't sought any testing yet and understand diagnosis is very difficult
at a young age.  On the other hand, I find myself always feeling like a
failure and a terrible mother at the end of the day.  As I read your
information, I thought maybe I should get your online assistance, but
wondered if I should seek professional assistance as my first step.  I just
don't think I will get much assistance at his early age and I don't want to
use the parenting skills that worked for our 4 biological children when they
are obviously not working for him.  We use time out and he sits in it, but
none of his unacceptable behavior ever changes.

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 My son is 18 and has Asperger's. Between therapy, medication, and a lifetime of me working with him most people don't even realize there's anything 'wrong' with him, so I feel like I must have done something right; On the other hand, all the things that make him a kid with Asperger's are still there of course, and now he's older and starting to give me that teenager attitude. But I find it's worse than with my other child because he can't really be reasoned with and doesn't see that he lacks empathy or that he sometimes says inappropriate things, etc. Do you have seminars all over, maybe one in the Detroit area that I can attend, or do you have anything written for parents who are dealing with their older Asperger's kids? I feel like we've suddenly fallen through some huge crack that we'll never get out of. There isn't even an appropriate form of guardianship for these kids. It's all or nothing. Nothing to legally say I'm his advocate and I need to be there if there is a legal or medical issue, etc. I don't know where to get help. Do you have, or know where I can find, anything that might help me while he's becoming (oh so slowly) an adult?

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 I am e-mailing you because I just spent a few days with my niece and her son.  It was certainly not an enjoyable time, and it left me wanting to know how to help her, and my great nephew.  I am torn.  My niece is a single mom, 28, and through observation through the years, struggles as a parent as a whole.  Or atleast it appears that way.  Fast forward to her now 7 year old son, who just last year was diagnosed with Asperger’s.  A dangerous combo for sure.  I am afraid for him and his future.  He experiences the meltdowns so very often.  His little world must be so very hard and scary.  He has already spent time in a psychiatric hospital.  Not to mention the tags of ADHD, ADD, and lots of medicine.  Just breaks my heart.

My niece seems to be exasperated.   The truth is, I can’t tell what part of it is “poor parenting”, and what part is Asperger’s.  Can it be a combination?  Because I don’t live with her, I have no true way of knowing.  I will gladly buy her your program – but I have doubts as to whether or not she will take the time to truly try to make it work.  I was wondering if it could be set up in such a way that I perhaps could help mentor her and her son through it?

My other concern is this:  school is just about ready to start.  Her son has all kinds of therapists, meetings, TSAs, TSSs- although my niece shared with me that nothing seems to be working.  I’m still not sure what all those people are doing with him, and she can’t seem to give me an answer either.  When I tried asking specific questions, she would say, “I don’t know.”  When I asked her for specific techniques to how they were helping her son, she would say, “they really don’t”.  When I asked her son, he told me they told him about using a stress ball, breathing techniques, and walking away from situations.  During my 3 days with them, I often heard her say, “we are working on this – or that”.  But I’m still not sure what it was they were working on.  Bad language was one thing – but she also admitted on having a “potty mouth”.  She doesn’t seem to monitor him as closely as I would like as a parent.  For example:  what he watches on TV – she just assumes that everything on the cartoon network is good.  He told me that she allowed him to watch Paranormal 3!  Ugh!  When she brought him on vacation to the beach, she brought nothing with her for him.  i.e. games, puzzles, toys…only an IPad and some other electronic device that only seemed to have downloaded on them games of war, killing, zombies, guns, etc.  His favorite “symbol” that he has on his blanket, swimtrunks, etc. is skulls!  She wasn’t even sure of what he had downloaded on his IPad!  She gave him her passcode, and then said she “trusted” him to download appropriate material!  (Just a few examples of my struggle in my observance of her parenting skills).

I’m concerned that once school starts, and the expectations of the classroom, homework, etc. that there would be no time to devote to your program.  And how would I help them implement it with not living with them?

I want to help them, but I don’t know how.  As I was web-surfing to educate myself on Asperger’s, I came across your material.  I can’t be her son’s parent, but I want to be a support for them- one that makes a difference!  She has shared with me that in less than 6 months, her poor son has gone through 6 psychiatrists!  And his school experience was horrible as well!

As I shared above, I’m not sure what is poor parenting, and what is Asperger’s.  My heart is so heavy for them, and I want to help, but I’m clueless in where/how to start.  And I don’t want to devote energy into something that my niece won’t adhere to. 

I hope this makes sense.  Forgive me if I rambled.  Any wisdom or guidance you could share would be greatly appreciated.  Prayers as well!  As my faith believes that God is the ultimate healer!  And perhaps led me to your website!

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 My son with Asperger Syndrome has trouble meeting deadlines and obsesses and procrastinates. He has an exceedingly slow processing rate of 3% and his work takes so long to do. Ironically he can learn things very quickly. For example he will understand all of the principles involved in a lab but can hardly finish the lab report. He is in honors science and math. He loves the subject matter; the work is the problem.

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Dear Mark,

I am so glad I found your site. I purchased your ebook and am overjoyed at reading that I am not losing my mind. I suspected for some time something was different about my husband I just didn’t know what. At first I thought it was OCPD but he had all of the traits and it still could not explain some other behavior I found odd. I began to suspect Asperger’s a short while ago.

You see, I moved out from the home to insist he go to counseling. He rants and goes on and on when he is upset. When I tell him he does this, he denies it. He wants everything to be just so and his favorite phrase is “I am a logical person”. We cannot communicate and I get physically exhausted. I have my own issues with PTSD and his behavior triggers it. Finding your site has been a godsend. I was hoping to locate one of your seminars.

It has been almost a year since I moved. He wants to work on the marriage but it took him forever to actually call the counselor, his fear of failure and imperfection dominate him. We went yesterday and I had hoped the counselor would tell my husband that the counselor suspects Asperger’s and recommend testing. My husband will not accept it from me. The counselor did not, and as predictable we went around in circles where my husband dominated the conversation and in true LMFT fashion, the counselor tried to make my husband feel comfortable. That is okay, except talking about feelings at this point is not working. The counselor would ask my husband “what do you hear when your wife says that she feels that she cannot be perfect and your granite counters are not perfect” in true asp fashion my husband says: “she just needs to learn to clean them properly”…

I left exhausted, frustrated and hopeless. I feel that unless my husband acknowledges AS we are going to fail. I cannot live in constant control and fear of his outbursts. When I make a point, he makes a counterpoint regardless of whether it makes sense. I was hoping to find an AS counselor who specializes in this, but I don’t know how or where in Minnesota.

I guess I just need your help. I believe my husband needs to know what he has, what do I do if I do anything? Should I tell my husband? Should I insist the counselor does? Where do I go? My faith causes me to want to save my marriage and I do love my husband. But, I know I cannot live in this. I feel like I am losing my mind.
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I had written a while back about my son who can not deal without having the neighbor girl around all the time.  Even if they aren't playing together he has to have her around and is somewhere between out of control to shut down mode if she goes somewhere without him.  My son is 7 (2nd grade) and she is 8 (3rd grade).  School just started up last week and the 2nd/3rd graders share the same hall at school.  This morning I received an email from his teacher about an incident that happened yesterday.
Note from teacher:

Good Morning Ms-

We have a situation at school which we need to make you aware of and ask for your help in trying to solve.  I do want to apologize for not getting to you yesterday on this matter but it took up until this morning to figure out who the girl was and all that had happened.  

Bobby has a friend which is a girl.  Yesterday, at the start of the day while at lockers, has went over and started talking to this girl and telling her "My mom says you and I are in love."  He repeated this to her a couple of time and at the same time was getting very loud in the hallway.  Two teachers were aware of the noise level and intervened.   

When I was questioning Bobby about what had happened he told me, "My mom says I have to talk to this girl and it is about S-E-X."  Bobby never told me the part in which he was saying the "love" part.  Now, after visiting with the girl, it is my understanding Bobby never used the s-e-x word around her, he only told me that.

Bobby has been asked to stop talking to this girl about "being in love" because she has admitted it makes her feel very uncomfortable.  Bobby and I have discussed how this is considered harassment at school and if it does not stop an action play will be written up.  

If you will please visit and role play with Bobby the appropriate type of conversations he may have with his friends that are girls, it would be greatly appreciated.

The things he says I told him are not true and I am always telling him that the 2 of them are just friends.  I have no idea where he came up with these things and it is not anything like our home environment.  How can I help him realize that this girl is only a neighbor friend and that while she enjoys playing with him it is just a friendship.  He hardly ever says he loves me and is famous for repeating things he has seen on TV, although he is only allowed to watch a few Disney shows and PBS kids.  He picks up everything he sees and hears, but I have no idea where he got this from.  Any advice or social story I can share with him would be helpful.

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 My son has Asperger's. We've never told him anything about it.  I'm not even sure when is the right time, what is the best way.  I recently found your letter, blog, Q & A.  So, I have one for you, and am hoping you can help me.

I just got a call from my son's 4th grade teacher.  He was a little hot. He said, "Your son did not turn in his math homework this morning. I asked him, 'where's your math paper?' and he said, 'in my desk, still'.  I said, 'let me see your assignment notebook....why didn't you write down math homework in your assignment notebook?" 

He said, "Your son's answer shocked me...he said, 'because I hate homework, and I didn't want to do it. So I didn't write it down, and I didn't take it home, and I am not going to do it'. 

The teacher said, "Well, you know what? since you had your playtime last night, you will not have any playtime today. You will stay inside at recess, and you will do your math homework, and I am going to leave this class on a noise level of zero, and go call your mother, because this doesn't fly with me, in this room, or--I'm pretty sure with your mother, either."

I am shocked.  I have seen my son's stubborn behavior at home over routines, but never to this extent of directly rebelling against an authority other than his father or me. He has said many nights more than once, "I'm not going to do my homework" with tears and anger blazing from him.  I usually stay firm, calmly ignoring the drama, and say, "Yes, we are going to  do this together, and we are going to do it now." He will "buck" and say, "no, I'm not." and again, I insist calmly and hand him a pencil and say things like, "let's see-I'm going to say you'll do this one super fast, b/c you are good at reading!" and when he finishes, I compliment him on his neatness, or how quickly he finished it, or how well he did it.  By the time he receives the compliment he is finished being angry. 

Last night, he asked me, "Do all people go to college?" I said, "No." He said, "Great.  I'm not going to go." I said, "People who do not go to college are not good at school, or they don't have the money to go; but you are smart, and we are saving money for you, so you will go to college, and I know you can do it.  He said, "I do not like school; I wish weekends lasted forever."

I don't know what sort of way to approach this situation; what sort of discipline to put forth for what has happened in the classroom; what sort of incentive and positive encouragement to give which will change his mind and attitude towards school and homework.  I also don't know if at this point therapy would benefit him, or how to find a therapist who specializes in Aspergers pediatric cases.  Please let me know your thoughts: I'd be so grateful.

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My 18 year old just moved out into a downtown apartment to go to college. However, he is struggling. He isn't really leaving the apartment, not going to classes because of anxiety. He is angry and has been for a while because feeling "different" and social anxiety. We "pushed" him to go there, even though he was resistant to a certain degree. (some days yes, some days no) We watched him make bad choices with drugs and alcohol and decided he would deteriate if he stays at home. Now we have a situation with him isolating himself.
Some history, he began declining in his junior year at HS. Grades slipping and not going to classes. We took him to doctors, put on many different meds at different times. Not much relief. He was resistant to therapy because he felt uncomfortable talking to someone. His senior year came, and he slowly began to stay at home more and more. Counselors gave many options. End was to finish the last couple of classes online. He did. He was granted a full ride scholarship to a local college. At this point he was saying he doesn't want to go because it will be the same as HS and he will see he can't fit in and is not happy like everyone else. We continued on the path of encouragement. He did have a local job, but for a bit he was not working...doing xbox and gained weight. Got his job back and began going out with friends again, however was "using" things to fit in.
Now he is in apartment...with my niece as roommate...and he is withdrawing temporarily. We let him know coming home is not an option at this time, as the apartment is paid for and he did some destruction in the home because of his anger. We are not telling him he has to go to therapy. I think he will go as he is "lost" right now.
There has never been a diagnosis of aspergers. I have felt he is for a very long time. I was "waiting" for a teacher to come forward and say the same. They never did, so it was pushed under the rug...fast forward, depression and anxiety hit in HS. I work in Special Education Dpt. at an elementary school...I saw the signs, but because he was not any trouble growing up, I left it alone.
I am at a loss of how to go about this with therapy. I did mention to him about my thoughts and he was a bit defensive about aspergers. Do you know of any therapists or life coach that would be good with this? We live on southside on Indy, he lives in downtown area.
I am worried about depression, right now we encouraged him to go back on his Paxil, that he took upon himself to quit over a month ago. He is back on it, but he is always saying he will never be happy...feels different...can't be around people. He has been on Klonopin, however, I think he has an addictive personality, so I do not want him back on those. He is having obsessive thoughts, has sleep issues, some sensory issues that I remember even back when he was young. I am surprised doctors missed this. One therapist he agreed to go to (only went once) mentioned it to me afterwards...and I have been thinking of it since.
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My nearly 11 year old daughter has for years now been refusing to go to school if things don’t go her way.
She uses this as a tool to get what she wants as she knows that school is a priority to us and by law has to go, so it is big leverage for her.
Her ipod and computer are her favourite things so when we restrict usage she just refuses school. We have even changed schools which she does seem to be happier at but still has school refusal at times.
Today i found out she had shared personal information on Kik messaging on her ipod with a stranger and obviously we were very concerned and tried to talk to her about how dangerous this is, she wasn’t impressed. She is out of control and angry which we expected but now we are putting stricter rules in place she just uses school refusal against us.
I can take her ipod off her, computer, anything if she doesn’t go to school but she just still refuses to go. I don;t know what else to do. We are prepared for her to fight and be unhappy about rules but school refusal is the hardest.  Nothing can get her there.

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

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

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

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

Click here to read the full article…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

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

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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.

Click here to read the full article...

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

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

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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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to read the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content