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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Preparing for Summer School: How to Advise Your Aspergers Child's Teacher

If you have a child with Asperger's or high functioning autism, here's how you can prepare his or her teacher for dealing with Aspergers-related issues in the classroom: 



==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Aspergers and HFA


Comment: Thank you for all the information that was provided and how important it is for the parents to be involved. Parents + teachers will equal a successful summer school for the student/ child.

Communication Issues in Children with Asperger's and HFA

Do kids with high functioning autism have communication problems, and are they similar to those with autistic disorder?

In contrast to Autism, there are no symptoms in this area of functioning in the definition of High Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS). Although significant abnormalities of speech are not typical of HFA and AS children, there are at least three aspects of communication skills which are of clinical interest:

1. One aspect typifying the communication patterns of AS and HFA children concerns the marked verbosity observed, which some researchers see as a prominent differential feature. The youngster may talk incessantly, usually about his favorite subject, often in complete disregard to whether the listener is interested, engaged, or attempting to interject a comment, or change the subject of conversation. Despite such long-winded monologues, the child may never come to a point or conclusion. Attempts by the listener to elaborate on issues of content or logic, or to shift the interchange to related topics, are often unsuccessful.

2. In AS and HFA children, speech may often be tangential and circumstantial, conveying a sense of looseness of associations and incoherence. The lack of coherence and reciprocity in speech is a result of failure to provide the background for comments, failure to clearly demarcate changes in topic, failure to suppress the vocal output accompanying internal thoughts, and the one-sided conversational style (e.g., unrelenting monologues about the names and classifications of dinosaurs).

3. Though inflection and intonation may not be as rigid and monotonic as in the speech of Autistic children, the speech of AS and HFA children may be marked by poor prosody (e.g., there may a constricted range of intonation patterns that is used with little regard to the communicative functioning of the speech).

Despite the possibility that these symptoms may be accounted for in terms of significant deficits in pragmatics skills, lack of insight, and lack of awareness of other's expectations, the challenge remains to understand this phenomenon developmentally as techniques for social adaptation.


Teaching Social Skills to Children with Asperger’s & HFA: Guidelines for Parents & Teachers

This post will provide some crucial guidelines for how parents and educators can teach social skills to children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) at home and in the classroom. 

We will discuss the following:
  • Components to a good social skills training program
  • The actual process of teaching social skills
  • Teaching social skills to a group of students
  • Why Asperger's and HFA is largely a disorder of social skills

Click here for the full article...

How to Help Socially-Awkward Children on the Autism Spectrum

“I am the mother of a 10 year old daughter with high functioning autism, recently diagnosed. My question: my daughter is very socially isolated most of the time, by her choosing. Is this a trait of HFA? Is it something I should address? In other words, should I try to get her to be more engaged with others her age? She has basically has no friends at this point.”

Children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are often socially isolated, but are not unaware of the presence of others, even though their approaches may be inappropriate or peculiar (e.g., they may start a long, one-sided conversation about a favorite subject).

Even though AS and HFA children are often self-described "loners," they often express a great interest in making friends. These wishes are invariably thwarted by their awkward approaches and unintentional insensitivity to other's feelings, intentions, and non-literal and implied communications (e.g., signs of boredom, haste to leave, excessive need for privacy, etc.).

These children are often keen (sometimes painfully so) to relate to others, but lack the skills to successfully engage them. Chronically frustrated by their repeated failures to engage others and make friends, some of these kids simply give up and stop trying to be social, preferring to play by themselves.

Regarding the emotional aspects of social transactions, children on the autism spectrum may react inappropriately to – or fail to accurately interpret – the context of a social interaction, often conveying a sense of insensitivity, formality, or disregard to the emotional expressions of others.

Even though they may be able to describe correctly – in a cognitive and formalistic way – people’s emotions, expected intentions and social conventions, they are unable to act on this knowledge in an intuitive and spontaneous way. As a result, they often lose the tempo of the social interaction.

Poor intuition and a lack of natural, spontaneous responses during interactions are accompanied by marked reliance on formalistic rules of behavior and rigid social conventions. This combination is largely responsible for the impression of social naiveté and behavioral rigidity in AS and HFA children.

If your daughter doesn’t know how to successfully engage in social interactions, then this is definitely something to be concerned about. And the sooner you address the matter – the better.  "Social skills training" is the best approach here, which is a general term for instruction conducted in (behavioral) areas that promotes more productive and positive interaction with others.

It is imperative that parents teach social skills to their “special needs” child if he or she is, at present, unable to make or keep friendships. A social skills training program might include (among other things):
  • acceptable ways to resolve conflict with others
  • accepting the consequences of one's behavior
  • approaching others in social acceptable ways
  • appropriate classroom behavior 
  • asking for permission rather than acting
  • attending to task
  • better ways to handle frustration/anger 
  • counting to 10 before reacting
  • distracting oneself to a pleasurable task
  • following directions
  • learning an internal dialog to cool oneself down and reflect upon the best course of action
  • listening
  • making and keeping friends
  • manners and positive interaction with others 
  • seeking attention properly
  • seeking the assistance of the teacher or conflict resolution team
  • sharing toys/materials
  • using words instead of physical contact
  • work habits/academic survival skills

As with the teaching of any subject, begin social skills training with the prerequisite skills (e.g., how to start a conversation), and then move on to the more advanced ones (e.g., how to make eye contact and look interested in what the other person is saying).




Comments:

•    Anonymous said… I found that my Aspergers son, never made friends at school until a while after his diagnosis, the bullies were dealt with, the teachers made aware and even more so until he found interests outside of school like scouts and cadets, he has even found things he is really good at too since he started these clubs.
•    Anonymous said… How do you get your HFA child to agree to social situations with their peers. We homeschool and I talked to my 11 yr old last night about getting involved in some group activities next school year and she became very upset. She started crying, begging me not to force her to do that and had a meltdown from the anxiety of even thinking about it. I know she needs this, her counselor knows she needs it but she does not agree. If I try to force it she will have a panic attack.

Please post your comment below…

Best Way to Teach Communication Skills to Children on the Autism Spectrum

“What would be the best way to teach communication skills to my 4 year old son with high functioning autism?”

These skills are best taught by a communication specialist with an interest in pragmatics in speech. Alternatively, social training groups may be used if there are enough opportunities for the child with High Functioning Autism or Asperger's to have one-on-one contact with the instructor and for the practicing of specific skills.

Teaching often includes the following: 
  • Verbal decoding of nonverbal behaviors of others
  • Social awareness
  • Processing of visual information along with auditory information in order to facilitate the creation of the appropriate social context of the interaction
  • Appropriate nonverbal behavior (e.g., the use of gaze for social interaction, monitoring and patterning of inflection of voice, etc.). This may involve imitative drills, working with a mirror, and so on.
  • Correct interpretation of ambiguous communications (e.g., non-literal language)
  • Perspective-taking skills

If possible, try to consult with a speech-language pathologist. These professionals are trained to teach language and communication skills.

Online Parenting Coaching

Guiding Asperger’s and HFA Teens Through Adolescence To Adulthood

Parenting any adolescent has its challenges. When he or she has Asperger’s (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA), the challenges are even greater. While most young people on the autism spectrum attend regular school, have friends, and participate in the same activities as their peers, they possess certain traits - and face certain obstacles - that “typical” adolescents don’t. For example:
  • Adolescents on the autism spectrum might imitate what they have learned in books or movies, and their voices might sound flat or boring.
  • Many AS and HFA adolescents prefer to be alone and may not show an interest in making friends. 
  • Some are quiet and withdrawn. 
  • They often don’t understand the importance of eye contact – and may avoid it altogether. 
  • They have trouble understanding jokes or sarcasm.
  • Some AS and HFA adolescents don’t understand socially acceptable ways to express frustration, and may become aggressive or throw tantrums.
  • Most of these young people are socially awkward since they have difficulty processing social cues, (e.g., body language, sarcasm, humor, figurative language, emotional responses, and facial expressions). These nuances of social interaction may fall unnoticed to the adolescent.
  • Sometimes they seem insensitive or look unemotional, but often they just don't know how to express how they're feeling. It doesn't mean they don't have feelings – it’s just more difficult for them to show those feelings or understand the feelings of others.
  • Many of these adolescents have trouble coping with change, and may not react well to changes in routine.
  • Most report that they feel "sensory overload" (e.g., they have heightened senses that can make noises seem louder and more startling, and lights may seem brighter). 
  • Regarding sexuality, special issues that may need to be addressed for these adolescents include: communicating about inappropriate behavior, dealing with menstrual cycles, distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate touching, maintaining physical boundaries with others, physical changes, and refraining from self-touch.
  • The hallmark of AS and HFA is “social development” issues. These adolescents have trouble interacting with others. The part of the brain that recognizes and displays human emotion has developed differently, and a smile or a frown does not hold the same emotional significance as it does for a “typical” teenager.
  • AS and HFA traits can include fixation on objects and ideas, or making repetitive motions or using repetitive speech.

Adolescents with AS and HFA need time to gradually learn and practice adult life-skills (e.g., finding a job, managing finances, doing laundry, preparing meals, driving a car, arranging medical appointments, etc.). They may not be ready for adult responsibilities at the same age as their “typical” peers. Thus, it’s very important that parents help their “special needs” teenagers learn to be comfortable with their own situation and abilities.

Below are some suggestions for how parents can guide their AS and HFA teenagers through adolescence – and prepare them for adulthood:

1. AS and HFA adolescents can learn appropriate behaviors, and many of them work hard to learn emotional interpretation and response. Also, they DO feel emotions (e.g., empathy); however, it’s learning to express these emotions in a way others understand that is difficult. The earlier the symptoms of AS and HFA are addressed, the more likely it’s that the adolescent will have better success in his or her social interactions.

2. Adolescents on the autism spectrum need to know both the mechanics and morals connected with sex. Books and classes have suggestions about how to handle the topic.

3. Assign age-appropriate chores. Your “special needs” teenager can begin with simple tasks (e.g., setting the table, taking out the garbage, etc.). Later, she can take on larger tasks (e.g., preparing a simple meal once a week for the family).

4. Base your support and expectations on your teen's abilities, level of emotional security, and history – not on her chronological age or what her peers are doing.

5. Celebrate and enjoy each milestone your teen reaches on the road to self-sufficiency. But at the same time, understand that you are going to have frustrations, and that this phase is going to bring a whole new set of stressors.

6. Check with your adolescent's school about any transition services the district may provide.

7. Don’t rescue your teenager by paying off her debts or by making excuses to her teacher for a failing grade. Let her feel the consequences, and the lessons will be long lasting.

8. Emphasize that your teen’s main responsibility at this stage in life is to get an education. It’s difficult to become a successful, self-supporting grown-up in contemporary society without at least a high school diploma. If marks and test results start to decline, be sure to show concern and take measures to reverse the trend as quickly and as forcefully as possible.

9. Enroll your teenager in a life-skills class, and also teach these skills at home.

10. Explain how you will help your adolescent move into adult life. AS and HFA adolescents need to know how long they can live at home and whether or not their mom and dad will help them with their first apartment rental, pay college tuition, keep them on the family health insurance, etc.

11. Explore substitutes or assistance for skills that are not manageable. As the parent, you are the best judge of when your adolescent is ready to partially or fully manage adult tasks.

12. Get your teen involved in peer-mentoring groups to learn life and job skills.

13. Group video instruction can help teens with AS and HFA learn important social skills. While the diagnosis rate for AS and HFA for 14- to 17-year-olds has more than doubled in the past five years, very few strategies have been found to help these teens develop the social skills they need to be successful. Studies have shown AS and HFA teens are more likely to pay attention when an innovative technology delivers the information. Video-based group instruction is important, given the often limited resources in schools that also face increasing numbers of students being diagnosed with AS and HFA.

14. Have your teenager meet with other AS and HFA adolescents with similar challenges. This can make her feel not so alone and ostracized.

15. Include your teenager in groups (e.g., support, therapy, social and sports groups).

16. Lead by example. Teens absorb attitudes, behaviors and habits from their parents. When they see the family wage-earners going to work daily, and both mom and dad cooperating to do cleaning, cooking and other household chores, they come to understand that everyone needs to contribute to the welfare of the family.

17. Make a list of the skills you believe your “special needs” teen will need in the outside world. Do this as you go through your day – working, shopping, paying bills, cooking and performing other normal tasks. Writing the list yourself will make you aware of behaviors that you can model and share with your adolescent. Show the list to his teachers, doctor, therapist and any other caregiver who helps him. Ask these people to review and add to the tasks, using their knowledge of your teen’s abilities and problems. Also, turn the everyday activities from your list into “teaching moments” (e.g., at the grocery store, you can ask your teen to find the least expensive canned peaches; wait at a bus stop and demonstrate how to pay the fare, find a seat and get off at the right stop; show your teen simple cooking and cleaning methods, etc.).

18. One of the greatest gifts you can give your AS or HFA adolescent is the ability to handle his emotions. Teaching him how to identify, reflect on, and deal with his feelings by the time he leaves home is one of the best ways to prepare him for adulthood. In fact, this emotional strength and ability will take your child much farther in life than intellectual ability or a specific ability (e.g., athletic or artistic ability).

19. Provide ongoing emotional and tangible support even after your young adult moves out of your home. Moms and dads who visit frequently, assist with household management, help to fill out tax forms, etc., help their adult children not feel too overwhelmed as they adjust to life away from parents.

20. Remember that under Federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), by the time a special education student reaches age 16, the school is to provide a plan that may include help obtaining further education, getting a job, or living independently. Moms and dads need to advocate for these services. Communicate respectfully, clearly, and often with your school's "transition coordinator" about your teen's transition plan.

21. See that your adolescent gets enough experience in normal social etiquette (e.g., talking to a store clerk, relating to friends at a party, asking for information, etc.).

22. Seek out social-skills classes sponsored by local schools, community centers, colleges or charitable foundations.

23. Teach and re-teach your adolescent adult life-skills (e.g., balancing a checkbook, paying off a credit card balance, cooking, laundry, car maintenance, making doctor appointments, etc.). Provide abundant opportunities for supervised practice.

24. The most important thing moms and dads can do is to “let go” of their “special needs” teen and let him experience success -- and failure -- on his own. No matter how complex the special need is, that teenager will be striving for a state of independence. He wants that, just like all teens want independence. As true as this may be, it can be challenging emotionally for moms and dads to transition from a protective, advocatory role and to permit new degrees of autonomy.

25. The next time you talk to your AS or HFA adolescent about a problem she is facing, help her to reason on how her choices reflect on her. Help her to see how her choices either enhance her reputation or tarnish it, which in turn will help or hurt her future prospects.

26. Very few young adults on the autism spectrum are ready for full "independent" living. They all need ongoing support and encouragement from parents as they learn to negotiate the adult world. “Launching” AS and HFA individuals from the “nest” brings some unique challenges. Initially, "interdependence" rather than "independence" is a more fitting goal for these young people as they begin to venture into the world.

27. When a problematic issue arises, try reversing roles. Ask your adolescent what advice she would give you if you were her child. Have her do research to come up with reasons to support – or challenge – her thinking. Discuss the matter again within a week.

28. When your adolescent shows that she is handling her social life, schoolwork, and part-time employment well, you can start to gradually loosen the apron strings and trust her with more responsibility. This may be the time to go on a short vacation and leave your adolescent home alone to look after herself and the house. Soon she'll be off to college or university (hopefully), and she needs to practice being on her own.

29. Write down one or two areas in which you could extend a little more freedom to your “special needs” teenager. Explain to her that you are extending this freedom on a trial basis. If she handles it responsibly, in time she can be granted more. If she does not do so, the freedoms she has been granted will be curtailed.

30. Your AS or HFA teen needs to be socialized. Give her plenty of opportunities to mix amicably with other people of all age groups. She should visit restaurants, movies, and malls and learn to behave appropriately in all circumstances. Grown-ups don’t live in isolation. They need to interact graciously with different types of people in a variety of milieus. As your teenager matures, she should improve her social skills so she can converse pleasantly with anyone in diverse situations.

As mentioned earlier, young people on the autism spectrum need extra time to learn and practice adult life-skills, because their “emotional age” is much younger than their “chronological age” …in other words, you may have a teenager who is 17-years-old chronologically, but emotionally more like 14-year-old. So, the earlier you begin helping out in this area – the better!

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

Tips for Single Mothers of Children on the Autism Spectrum

“Hello, I’m a single mother raising a 5 y.o. son with high functioning autism. My ex is also on the spectrum, he has the older diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. I get no parenting help or financial assistance from my ex. So I’m the only parent my son has basically. Any tips for single moms raising children on the autism spectrum? Thank you!”

When a mother is a single parent and there is a youngster with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) to care for, the challenges can make life feel like a true test of endurance, but it can be done. It does take more effort and organization, though. Single parenting a child with HFA can be extremely stressful – as well as rewarding. Finding solutions to most of the problems is the first step toward keeping you from feeling overwhelmed. Almost every problem has a solution. The real trick to success as a single parent is not losing yourself in the parenting process.

Tips for single moms with an HFA child:

1. First of all, know that you are not alone. Having an HFA youngster can feel very isolating. It’s easy to stay home and think that you are the only one dealing with that situation. Seek out support groups.

2. A single mom needs a social life as much as anyone else. In addition to caring for your son, you may be working full time, meeting the needs of your other kids, and taking care of the home, which leaves you little free time. Fatigue takes on a new meaning, and having social interaction outside the home is so far on the back-burner it is hard to remember what it was like to “have a life.” Nonetheless, it is important to carve-out some time in your schedule for fun social activities. The key is having fun interaction with other grown-ups.

3. Read everything you can about your son’s disorder. The Internet also offers a broad spectrum of information on nearly every type of disorder. Websites, chat rooms, and the like are tremendous sources of information about conditions, treatments, and medications that are up-to-the-minute.

4. Avoid being argumentative with your ex-husband over his lack of interest in being a co-parent. It won’t get you anywhere.

5. Be your son’s best advocate. Fight for the best information, treatment, doctors, and options that exist. Familiarize yourself with the law. Every mother raising a child on the autism spectrum has to be her own researcher.

6. When  stressed-out, single moms often find themselves less able to connect with their kids or focus at work, which may lead to acting-out behavior by the children, time-consuming mistakes at work, and other things that increase stress for the mother and her family. Therefore, taking a proactive stance on stress-management is quite important. Having several quick stress relievers on hand (e.g., breathing exercises), as well as long-term stress-management strategies in place (e.g., regular exercise, meditation) can relieve significant stress for single moms.

7. So much of being a mother takes an emotional and physical toll on you that you have to get out and do something for yourself on an ongoing basis. Try an activity that you never did before, or go back to something you gave up in your marriage (e.g., learn how to play a musical instrument). Put yourself out there. Try anything creative.

8. Remember that your son’s disorder is not your fault, nor is your spouse to blame. It does no good to look for someone to focus your anger on. Pointing your finger at your spouse or his medical or family history is not productive and can be extremely hurtful. Blame can only damage the relationship further.

9. Consider getting a pet. If you don’t have one, think of getting one. It takes the focus away and puts it on something else. Animals spread love around.

10. Enjoy your own company. It may have never occurred to you when you were married that you could actually enjoy your own company. You can do that. Also, don’t date too soon. You can fall in love too quickly. You can’t be a great mother unless you are a great person.

11. Find a support group. If you can’t find it in your community, you can find one online. You have to make a concerted effort to start to build your new family based on reciprocity and support. It can also help to start building self-esteem. You realize you are not the only one.

12. Remember that even if the relationship with your ex has no chance in the world of being civil, there needs to be a peaceful environment for your HFA son.

13. If you don't have anyone in your life that you can share your feelings with on a daily basis, work at developing friendships that are true give-and-take relationships. A local support group that includes single moms might be helpful. Some support groups have a network of mothers who are on “phone duty” that you can call at any time when you need to talk or vent your emotions.

14. After a divorce, ex in-laws can become a problem for you. A direct approach to the grandparents may not be welcome. If you find yourself in this situation, begin by bringing the matter to the attention of your ex, who may be willing to intervene on your behalf. If your ex refuses to support you in this matter, limit your interaction with the grandparents as much as possible. While they have every right to see their grandson, you can and should limit your own time with them for your own sanity.

15. Kids with HFA may seem to be unaware of the environment around them, but they usually are much more in tune with the emotions of others than it appears. If the mom and dad are arguing or fighting, the youngster is apt to act-out with defiant behaviors. The grown-ups in the situation, by keeping their own tempers in check, can prevent this. Remember that although your relationship may be over, the relationship both of you have with your son is not.

16. Know that ALL your feelings are normal. Be sad. Be mad. It’s only natural.

17. Move your bedroom to a different room in your house. Make the old one a study or a play room. Redecorate to reflect your individual tastes and make the house more of your home.

18. Next time you're feeling particularly done in, declare a day off from: worrying, saying the right thing, planning ahead, multitasking, making phone calls, making appointments, knowing it all, holding it in, handling details, exercising, solving problems, serving as case manager, caring what other people think, being Supermom, being behavior cop, doing research, fighting battles, filling out forms, etc.

19. Your HFA son may push your buttons, but giving big reactions to bad behavior may send the wrong message. Showing that you can control your feelings and avoid meltdowns yourself models appropriate behavior for your son, and leaves you feeling better, too.

20. Lastly, pray for guidance and assistance from your Higher Power!


==> Special Offer for Single Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Federal tax credits
•    Anonymous said... First of all - well done. Be proud of yourself for getting you both this far. Just recognise you're not superhuman. You will need help and support - you both will. Xxxx
•    Anonymous said... Have support somewhere. Friends, family, church, local support groups- whatever is available & works- use it.
•    Anonymous said... I can relate to you. It's a very difficult road especially when working and caring for other children as well. Stay away from people who are negative or judgemental, they will only bring you down. So many people are ignorant and misinformed about HFA and being a single mum can bring extra judgements. Look for support of other mums in similar situations who can understand and relate to you. Hopefully you have got a close friend or other family member who can offer you some respite, even for an hour or so to grab a coffee when things are really tough. Dr Tony Attwood, Sue Larkey, ASPECT, great websites that offer information, tip sheets, workshops etc. I find that reading a lot about HFA helps to validate and reassure me about what I am doing especially when people are questioning me. Depending on where you live you can apply for some financial assistance for your HFA child, talk to your child's paediatrician about what you're entitled to. Good luck, keep up the great work and remember you are not alone
•    Anonymous said... Invest in an advocate or education lawyer to help you with advocating for your child at school. Even if the school/teachers have a good relationship w you this is important! You will never know how much it could have helped your child - I am a special ed teacher and a single parent of a kiddo on the spectrum and this is one thing I would have done from the start if I'd know better. Another thing I would have done was find a community that supports me - like a church or group or club. And the best thing you will ever do is to seek balance - keep time for laughing and fun. Enjoy your time - he's growing up and he'll never be this age again
•    Anonymous said... Oh, and don't expect people with two parent households to get it - don't look for sympathy - there's none out there - just carry on doing a wonderful job and the greatness you put into your parenting will be your reward.
•    Anonymous said... Right here with you. I'm a mom of three, with one HFA. It's rough but we are managing. I agree with the above comments. Surround yourself with happy, supportive people. The are programs out there, it just might take a few tries to find the right one.
•    Anonymous said... Routine, routine, routine!! I am a single mum of 3 with 15 yr old dtr diagnosed 12 mths ago. She refuses to let her father have any involvement in her life due to various reasons. She is very high maintainence with depression & anxiety to go with it literally living in my pocket 24/7. I find by maintaining a reasonably rigid routine she copes better with daily life giving me the chance to get stuff done & look after my other 2 who are 13 & 9. I look for her triggers & try catch it before she melts down completely. She has a pet rabbit that I give her before crisis point, pop her into her room with it where she cuddles it til she settles a little (rabbit doesn't seem to mind to much either lol). It is very hard, isolating work but worth the love from your child. I find that for me routine is the best way for us both to manage - hope it helps. Good luck xo
•    Anonymous said... tip for the day: you are not alone
•    Anonymous said… It is a hard job to be a single parent. After 2 failed brief marriages I am single mother again with a 14 year old son. He is battling depression and having issues with communication/ socialization despite being in a mainstream private school for 9 years. Every day is a challenge. In my spare time I enjoy doing absolutely nothing, except watching tv. I'd like to join a support group. Any suggestions online?
•    Anonymous said… I’m a single parent with a child with HFA and other children as well. I think the most important thing is to learn to accept that your life looks different than your peers’. You can’t do all they do, your kids can’t just “roll with it” or stay out late so that you can do more family/ social events. When I accepted that our lives were just different, it took a lot of pressure off both myself and my kid to look “normal.”

Post your comment below…

Tough Love for Adult Children with Asperger's Still Living at Home

How can you get an adult child with Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism to be self-reliant?






==> Launching Adult Children With Asperger's and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

Asperger's Symptoms Disguised as Disobedience

There is a range of reasons why young people with Asperger's and HFA have difficulties with behavior. The world can be a confusing, isolating and daunting place for your son, and it is his fundamental difficulties with communication and social interaction that are often the root cause of difficult behavior.

In this article, we will discuss the following:
  • difficulty with change
  • communication difficulties
  • not understanding social rules
  • possible medical reasons for the distress
  • difficulties processing sensory information
  • risk of being bullied 
  • sequencing difficulty
  • what parents and teachers can do to help 

Click here for the full article...

Asperger's and "Extreme Focus"

Young people with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism have a great ability to be hyper-focused on their areas of interest; however, their ability to focus can also be their greatest weakness... 



==> Teaching Students with Aspergers and HFA

Avoiding Meltdowns and Tantrums on Easter: Tips for Parents with Children on the Autism Spectrum

Easter can be a hectic, stressful time for all families. This special day can be particularly overwhelming for families of children with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). Preparing and planning early can help parents relieve some of the holiday stress. 

Below are some very important tips to help your child circumvent Easter meltdowns and tantrums:

1. Determine how far in advance you need to prepare your child for this special day. For example, if he has a tendency to become anxious when anticipating an event that is to occur in the future, you may want to adjust how many days in advance you prepare him. Preparation can occur in various ways by using a calendar and marking the date of the holiday, or by creating a social story that highlights what will happen during the day.

2. Have alternative food items on hand. Oftentimes, children with AS and HFA want the same foods over and over again. While it's good to help your child explore new possibilities, a holiday event is not the right time to push the boundaries. If, for example, your child prefers peanut butter sandwiches to ham, mashed potatoes and green beans, this is the time to make those expectations a reality. Wait until a quieter, less stressful moment to offer new foods.

3. Have an “emergency back-up plan.” Even when you've knocked yourself out to make Easter special for your AS or HFA child, and even when things go beautifully for a while, events can quickly spin out of control. An unexpected glitch, unnoticed by everyone else, can send your child into a meltdown. Often, a quiet room or a favorite video will solve the problem. If you are visiting friends or family while your child begins to meltdown, the only good solution may be to leave.

4. Have realistic expectations. You may want enthusiastic involvement from your AS or HFA child on Easter, but it's unlikely you'll get it. All too often, the sensory and social demands of this holiday make it tough for these kids to really engage in the day’s activities. Knowing that ahead of time will help you moderate your expectations.

5. If you are traveling for Easter, make sure you have your child’s favorite foods or items available. Having familiar items readily available can help to calm stressful situations. Also, prepare your child by using social stories for any unexpected delays in travel. If you are flying for the first time, it may be helpful to bring her to the airport in advance and help her to become accustomed to airports and planes. Use social stories and pictures to rehearse what will happen when boarding and flying.

6. If you will be celebrating Easter at someone else’s home, let your host know ahead of time what to expect and what your AS or HFA child may be like. For example, explain that she will be eating different foods, or otherwise receiving "special" treatment (of course, even an autistic child needs to follow the basic rules of the house, such as no hitting, no climbing on the furniture, etc.). Also, with the help of your host, decide on a “safe haven.” Oftentimes, children with AS and HFA become overwhelmed or upset in a strange environment, and it can be hard for them to manage their feelings in these cases. If you set aside a quiet spot (e.g., a den or bedroom) for your child and let her know about it, she can quickly retreat to regroup. Ideally, you'll also equip the safe haven with a DVD or CD player so you can load a favorite video or music CD.

7. If you will be entertaining guests, plan ahead – and share your plan with your child. Kids with AS and HFA fare better when they know just what to expect. Thus, it's best to have a clear plan for your Easter event - even a simple one - that you share ahead of time. Plans don’t need to be elaborate, but they should include details (e.g., “When our guests arrive, you can either help me in the kitchen, or you can play your video games”). Also, prepare a photo album in advance of relatives and other guests who will be visiting. Allow your youngster access to these photos at all times, and go through the photo album with him while talking briefly about each family member. Furthermore, prepare family members for techniques to use to minimize anxiety or behavioral incidents, and to enhance participation. For example, help them to understand if your youngster prefers to be hugged or not, needs calm discussions, or provide other suggestions that will facilitate a smoother Easter holiday.

8. If your AS or HFA child does not do well with self-management, develop a signal or cue for him to show you when he is getting anxious, and prompt him to use time-outs as needed. You can even practice using time-outs in a calm manner at various times prior to Easter. Take him into the “time-out room” and engage him in calming activities (e.g., play soft music, rub his back, turn down the lights, etc.). Then when you notice him becoming anxious at any time during Easter, calmly remove him from the anxiety-provoking situation and take him to his time-out area.

9. If your AS or HFA youngster is on a special diet, make sure there is food available that he can eat. Also, be cautious of the amount of sugar consumed!

10. Know and understand your “special needs” child. Know how much noise and other sensory input she can take. Know her level of anxiety and the amount of preparation it may take. Know her fears and those things that will make Easter more enjoyable for her. If you detect that a situation may be becoming overwhelming, help her find a quiet area in which to regroup. Also, there may be some situations that you simply need to avoid altogether (e.g., large family gatherings).

11. Preparing the AS or HFA child’s siblings. Since Easter is a time for the whole family to enjoy, it's important to make siblings aware of how stressful this day can be for their “special needs” brother or sister. Before the day begins, take time to remind your other kids of their sibling's sensory issues, communication difficulties, low frustration tolerance, and likes and dislikes. Next, share the family's strategy for avoiding potential issues and discuss what they will do if their best efforts are unsuccessful.

12. Try to maintain a sleep and meal routine that resembles the average day (if possible). Even though it’s a very special day that only happens once a year, making major changes in routine on this day will likely make for major meltdowns to go with it.

As parents, we may put pressure on ourselves to make Easter perfect, which is unrealistic. In the end, the most important thing to remember is that Easter is a time to cherish one another and the joy of being together. Whether it's scaling back or starting new traditions, celebrate this holiday in a way that makes the most sense for your unique family situation.

How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children

Research on Criminal Offenses Committed by People with Asperger’s

A recent study in one of England’s high-security psychiatric hospitals estimated that approximately 2% of the hospital’s male population had Asperger’s (AS), now called high functioning autism. This significantly exceeds the 0.36% prevalence estimated for the general population. This over-representation of AS was subsequently confirmed in two other English high-secure units.

Asperger’s and criminal offenses:
  • Both alcohol and drug abuse, as well as drug offenses have been reported in this population, although drug abuse is comparatively rare.
  • Epidemiological studies indicate that people with AS do commit sexual offences, but there is evidence that the rates of sexual offending in general – and of child sex offences in particular – are lower among offenders on the autism spectrum.
  • Violence in a community sample was more common among those with AS, and there is evidence that offenders on the autism spectrum are more likely to have previous convictions for assault. Similar rates of violent offending by people on the spectrum have been reported in high-secure units in England. 
  • There is growing evidence that people with AS are more likely to commit fire-setting offenses than people without the disorder.

A number of factors may mediate offending in people with AS:
  • aggressive behavior
  • circumscribed interests
  • comorbid psychiatric conditions (e.g., bipolar affective disorder, depression, antisocial personality disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and schizophrenia)
  • hyperactivity/impulsivity
  • inattention
  • late diagnosis
  • neuropsychological impairment
  • poor educational achievement
  • social exclusion
  • substance abuse
  • truancy

Another study revealed that offenders on the autism spectrum spend more time (11.26 years on average) in high-secure settings than offenders with other psychiatric disorders. The relatively longer stay may be responsible for the over-representation of people with AS in English high-secure units.

People on the autism spectrum held in secure units are more vulnerable to exploitation, bullying and intimidation by virtue of their “odd” behavior and social naivety. The risks arising from these factors are compounded by their inability to articulate their frustrations appropriately.  People on the spectrum who behave in an exemplary manner in a particular environment may re-offend if they are transferred to a less appropriate setting or an unfamiliar one with a new set of rules and routines. Among this group of offenders, a lack of comprehension of the consequences of their criminal behavior, as well as their egocentric justification of their acts, further increase the risk of re-offending following transfer to less secure conditions or discharge into community placements.

The majority of AS offenders held in high-secure units are (a) detained under the mental health category of mental impairment, (b) transferred as sentenced prisoners, (c) transferred prior to sentencing, and (d) have committed sexual offenses. In most cases, the index offenses have taken place in the context of substance abuse.

In summary, research suggests that offenders with AS are more likely to commit (a) offenses of a sexual nature, (b) fraud, (c) fire-setting offenses, and (d) drug offenses, but less likely to commit violent offenses.

Further research of a clinical nature within the AS offender population is greatly needed. More specifically, the prevalence of AS among those detained in medium and low-secure psychiatric facilities is needed to create services for the vast majority of offenders with the disorder who find themselves detained for longer than necessary due to the lack of knowledge of methods of rehabilitation.

References—

1.    Allen D, Evans C, Hider A, et al (2007) Offending behaviour in adults with Asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; 38: 748–58.
2.    American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn) (DSM–IV). APA.
3.    Attwood T (2007) The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
4.    Baron-Cohen S, Wheelwright S, Robinson J, et al (2005) The Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA): a diagnostic method. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; 35: 807–19.
5.    Barry-Walsh JB, Mullen PE (2004) Forensic aspects of Asperger’s syndrome. .Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology; 15: 96–107.
6.    Blair J, Mitchell D, Blair K (2005) The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain. Blackwell Publishing.
7.    Crocombe J, Mills R, Wing L, et al (2006) Autism Spectrum Disorders in the High Security Hospitals of the United Kingdom. A Summary of Two Studies.
8.    Elvish J (2007) The exploration of autistic spectrum disorder characteristics in individuals within a secure service for people with learning disabilities. Thesis for Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. The Tizard Centre, University of Kent.
9.    Farrington DP (2007) Childhood risk factors and risk-focused prevention. In The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (4th edn) (eds M Maguire, R Morgan, R Reiner): 602–40. Oxford University Press.
10.    Frith U (ed) (1991) Asperger and his syndrome. In Autism and Asperger Syndrome: 1–36. Cambridge University Press.
11.    Golan O, Baron-Cohen S (2006) Systemizing empathy: teaching adults with Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism to recognize complex emotions using interactive multimedia. Development and Psychopathology; 18: 591–617.
12.    Hare DJ, Gould J, Mills R, et al (1999) A preliminary study of individuals with autistic spectrum disorders in three special hospitals in England. National Autistic Society.
13.    Hawes V (2003) Developmental disorders in prisoners volunteering for DSPD assessment. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on the Care and Treatment of Offenders with a Learning Disability (eds C Dale, L Storey): in Presentations on ‘Working with offenders’.
14.    Klin A, McPartland J, Volkmar FR (2005) Asperger’s syndrome. In Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (eds FR Volkmar, A Klin, R Paul, et al): 88–125. Wiley.
15.    Lord C, Risi S, Lambrecht L, et al (2000) The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–Generic: a standard measure of social and communication deficits associated with the spectrum of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; 30: 205–23.
16.    Lord C, Rutter M, LeCouteur A (1994) The Autism Diagnostic Schedule–Revised: a revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregiver of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders;24: 659–85.
17.    McDougle CJ, Naylor ST, Cohen DJ, et al (1996) A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of fluvoxamine in adults with autistic disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry; 53: 1001–8.
18.    Mouridsen SE, Rich B, Isager T, et al (2008) Pervasive developmental disorders and criminal behaviour: a case control study. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology ; 52: 196–205.
19.    Murphy D (2003) Admission and cognitive details of male patients diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome detained in a Special Hospital: comparison with a schizophrenia and personality disorder sample. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology; 14: 506–24.
20.    Murphy D (2007) Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised profiles of male patients with Asperger’s syndrome detained in high security psychiatric care. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology; 18: 20–126.
21.    Myers F (2004) On the Borderline? People with Learning Disabilities and/or Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Secure, Forensic and Other Specialist Settings. Scottish Development Centre for Mental Health (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/47251/0023734.pdf).
22.    Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (2002) Risperidone in children with autism and serious behavioral problems. New England Journal of Medicine;347: 314–21.
23.    Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (2005) Randomized, controlled, crossover trial of methylphenidate in pervasive developmental disorders with hyperactivity. Archives of General Psychiatry; 62: 1266–74.
24.    Royal College of Psychiatrists (2006) Psychiatric Services for Adolescents and Adults with Asperger Syndrome and Other Autistic-Spectrum Disorders (Council Report CR136). Royal College of Psychiatrists (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/files/pdfversion/cr136new.pdf).
25.    Schwartz-Watts DM (2005) Asperger’s disorder and murder. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law; 33: 390–3.
26.    Scragg P, Shah A (1994) Prevalence of Asperger’s syndrome in a secure hospital.British Journal of Psychiatry; 165: 679–82.
27.    Siponmaa L, Kristiansson M, Jonsson C, et al (2001) Juvenile and young adult mentally disordered offenders: the role of child neuropsychiatric disorders. Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law; 29: 420–6.
28.    Soderstrom H, Nilsson T, Sjodin AK, et al (2005) The childhood-onset neuropsychiatric background to adult psychopathic traits and personality disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry; 46: 111–6.
29.    Viding EM (2007) Re: The callous unemotional traits (e-Letter). British Journal of Psychiatry; 29 May (http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/eletters/190/49/s33#3699).
30.    Wing L (1981) Asperger’s syndrome: a clinical account. Psychological Medicine;11: 115–29.
31.    Wing L (1997) Asperger’s syndrome: management requires diagnosis. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry; 8: 253–7.
32.     Woodbury-Smith MR, Clare ICH, Holland AJ, et al (2005) A case–control study of offenders with high-functioning autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology; 16: 747–63.
33.    Woodbury-Smith MR, Clare ICH, Holland AJ, et al (2006) High functioning autistic spectrum disorders, offending and other law-breaking: findings from a community sample. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology; 17 : 108–20.
34.    Woodbury-Smith MR, Clare ICH, Holland AJ, et al (2009) Circumscribed interests among offenders with autistic spectrum disorders: a case–control study. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology; in press.
35.    Woodbury-Smith MR, Volkmar FR (2008) Asperger Syndrome: a review.European Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; 56: 1–11.
36.    World Health Organization (1992) The ICD–10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders: Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines. WHO.

Anxiety-Reduction Strategies for Asperger's and HFA

How can parents help their Asperger's (high-functioning autism) child to have fewer meltdowns and less anxiety-related issues?

Asperger's in Females vs. Males

Why are the symptoms of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism different in girls as compared to boys? 

Asperger Syndrome: A Form of Schizophrenia?

Could Asperger's (high-functioning autism) be a form of Schizophrenia? 

Asperger’s Teen Isolation: Antisocial Behavior or Self-Preservation?

Most neurotypical children (i.e., those not on the spectrum) get their batteries recharged by associating with peers. When they are home by themselves for any length of time, they get bored and lonely. In other words, their batteries become run down and need recharging. So, they get out of the house and go find their friends to get recharged.

This situation works the opposite way for most children on the autism spectrum. When they find themselves in social situations – especially for lengthy periods of time in group settings (e.g., school) – their batteries run down. When they are out in the community, they have difficulty paying attention to what others are doing, what others are saying, how they are supposed to respond to others – all the things that keep them from engaging in their special interest (e.g., computer games).

Having to tread water in the ocean of social contacts is exhausting for these children. In other words, it totally runs their batteries down. So, they hibernate, disengage, and find time to be alone to engross themselves in their special interest as a way to recharge.

Click here for the full article... 

Asperger's and Criminality

Are people with Asperger's more likely to be criminals compared to the general population? You may be surprised by the answer! 

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for April, 2014]

 Got Questions? Join Online Parent Coaching for all the answers!


Mark, I'm curious to why you never had this book published. I just bought the book today and, after browsing through the book, I realized this is what I've been looking for the past 2 years. My son has been struggling in school, especially this year, and I've realized it's mostly due to his teachers not fully understanding children that have AS and how to handle them. We're currently trying to get him an IEP but we've been unsuccessful the past two attempts. We've recently contacted an advocate to assist us. There is plenty of info scattered online but with what I've read so far, I am definitely directing his teachers to your website. This can help them tremendously. Thank you!

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Hello Mark, my son, 23 years old, who graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale March/2013. It has been more of a year looking for an internship or an entree level job without response. I am originally from Honduras, worked very hard for a degree in Social Work, graduated from Hunter Graduate School of Social Work and worked both in N.Y. and N.J. where  Hector was borned. I noticed Hector was hiperactive and different from other kids around a year old. He was an intelligent child, loved to play with legos and sticks, and was obsessed with certain words, didn't sleep much and ate a lot. We, as parents, tried to motivate reading and participating in community groups, always under supervision. He was a Bear Scout, Tae Kwon Do, tried baseball and football but his eye-hand coordination was not good. When he was 9 to 10 in middle school, 2001 after the World Trade Center was destroyed, the school had a 0 tolerance to violence. Hector was in computer lab and his computer was not working, he mumbled to himself (still talks to himself a lot) something about "exploding" the computer and inmediately the teacher sent him to the principal. My 9 y.o. was "arrested" in the school and two hours later with me present was read the Miranda's Rights. My husband and I were devastated. My son was referred to counseling and was found of no threat to others and was let to return to school 3 or 4 days later. After that incident we decided to move to Dominican Republic, my husband's country of origin. His family helped us settled and started a new life. Hector and I were depressed for a year; I couldn't see that my husband and daughter were also depressed. I am a believer in God's presence in my family life, only my faith sustained me for the years to come cause Hector did not have friends nor was interested in having a social life. My daughter felt embarrassed of his "rare" behavior and made her own social world that did not include his brother. Through the next 6 years till the end of High School I devoted myself to fulfill my son's needs. Iworked as a family therapist, and started to meet people. I got involved in the school life as parent help, met the teachers personally and advocated for my son's special needs as he was bullyied, rejected, accossed for being different (he started to stutter, gain weight, and became silent, only spoke the necessary). I looked for things he showed interest and took him after class to martial arts, boxing, museums, art classes, music classes. In 2005 I became the parents Association President and promoted a school newspaper so that Hector could be the editor and chief and he did it. Writting was his mayor strength in H.S. and a way to have a voice. From the parents association I helped Hector' self-esteem and he gained respect from his classmates and teachers. He was a good student in H.S., got good grades and participated in art, literature, library and teather, activities I had sponsored and gave him a place. Hector's dream was to become a Video Game Designer, I did everything I could and helped him reach his dream. I love my son so much, I would give my life for his happiness and well-being. Now, he lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. with his sister, who is working and will move out with her boyfriend. Hector does not want to return to Dominican Republic and we cannot affort to pay for his living alone, nor he is ready to live alone. My family there cannot help me either. I am desesperate, I might need to leave my husband to go live with him and get a job there. Please give me an advice to this situation. All Hector needs is an opportunity to work, maybe, this is the way out.

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Hi Mark – thanks so much for you HFA newsletter … it’s been quite the lifesaver for me. My son was diagnosed with HFA at the end of last year (aged 12).  I’ve known there was something a little ‘different’ about him for many years, but I put it down to ‘quirkiness’ (probably more for my own peace of mind than anything).  He is on the ‘high’ end of the ‘high functioning’ scale.

His progression into the pre-teen years has found him becoming more isolated, with very few friends (only 1 or 2), more aware of his differences and with very low self esteem.  For a parent to witness this, is heartbreaking.  He has also been diagnosed with DCD.  He is aware of the DCD diagnosis, but not the HFA.  I haven’t told him yet and am reticent to do so - mainly because I don’t want him to feel even more ‘different’ from his peers than he already does, AND, also because I don’t want him to use it as a ‘crutch’ as to why he ‘can’t do this, or can’t do that’ (I know my boy and he would use this as an excuse).  However, the older he gets, the less comfortable I feel about my decision to disclose this.

Having this link (via your newsletter) and reading about what other parents are going through (and identifying with most of it – especially this last letter from the lady who doesn’t know how to effectively discipline her son), has been a real life line for me.

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Dear Mr. Hutten,
I am writing you on behalf of my 20 year old grandson who has Aspergers, although he hasn't officially been diagnosed with it.  And this is where the problem begins.  He was tested for this, and came out high on the spectrum.  So no one will commit to his having Aspergers.  He has all the characteristics:  doesn't make eye contact, poor communication skills, can't get a job unless his mother gets it for him, flunks college courses even though he has only taken two at a time, unmotivated, etc.  The big problem is his lack of motivation.  He refuses to take his anti-depressant medicine, too.  When he gets angry, he leaves and doesn't come home for a couple of days.  Then his mother looks for him.  He evidently goes to a friend's house.   He recently had a job where he worked very hard, and the managers liked him.  However, he was fired  after corporate people came and saw that he didn't greet customers.  He doesn't do what his mother asks him to do, even though she makes the instructions very clear.

With all of this, he cannot receive help from any Aspergers  group, because he hasn't been diagnosed as such.  I am afraid his mother is going to have a breakdown with all of this.  She is in the middle of a divorce, and the father could care less.  He hasn't been around for five years for any period of time, and even if he was, he would close his eyes to this.  The boy doesn't want to be like his father.  Personally, I think he should go and live with him a while.

So where can the mother go for help with her son?  How can he be admitted into the Asperger stream to get help?  Even her doctor will not help.  She has told different professionals for years that something was wrong with him, and they passed it off as a stage in life.

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I cannot begin to thank you for extending your invitation of help. Our son is 22, exceedingly gifted, and recently diagnosed with “high functioning Aspergers”. We have painfully watched him attempt college for 4 years and struggle with depression for 5. Reading your book is shedding insights we hope will allow us all to chart a new course. Thanks so much. We will not doubt be in touch.

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Hi, I'm wondering what I can do to see that my child gets an IEP in place rather than a 504. My son has Aspergers and GAD and really struggles socially at school. He does pretty well academically, so they are reluctant to give him the IEP.  However, he needs social therapy and I'm told that is only offered through IEP. Any suggestions?

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We had our son tested through the school for Aspergers 3 years ago, and as a result he was put on and IEP plan.  We have never told him he has Aspergers, and have never indicated his needs are at a level different than others.  We tell him everyone has his/her own learning style, and ways of doing things, likes and dislikes, and various reactions to things, etc. 

However, at 7, that was more acceptable than at 10, and he is starting to have many questions as he notices he feels and behaves different from the peers in his class.  I would like for him to have therapy at a BACA prep center here in Indy, and in order for that to happen, Anthem insurance mandates a clinical diagnosis.  We have scheduled this with Dr. Escobar at Peyton Manning Children's hospital April 17th

My question is -how to tell him...how much detail to go into....to tell him simply about the appointment (what to expect), or why the appointment.... when to tell him, too.  I called the hospital, and asked if they had any brochure to read through with your child in preparation , and was told 'no'.  I was told Dr. Escobar would talk to us after the testing had been completed and give us his recommendations for therapy. 

Knowing my son, he would need to be prepared ahead of time.  And, in fact: waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy ahead of time makes him much more comfortable, usually.  However a recent situation makes me hesitant.  Help with your thoughts here are greatly appreciated. 

I had the same sorts of questions about middle school.  Next year, he will leave the 5th grade school he's so comfortable in for a large middle school grades 6-7-8.  In 5th grade, children must decide what instrument or if the will do vocal, and that decision will stick for all 3 years.  They must also decide in 5th grade what language they will be taking, and that decision will be for all 3 years.  The teachers from the middle school will collaborate with the elementary teachers, and bring instruments into the classroom and let the children try them out to help them decide.  I know this will be a traumatic and hard thing for my son: the sheer noise alone of children picking up and trying different instruments all at once will be confusing! He will get anxiety knowing whatever he chooses will have to stick with for 3 years. 

I decided to start talking to him about the idea of this a couple of weeks ago, to prepare him for it.  I was surprised at his reaction.  I mentioned very little-but it could not have gone worse! He cried at learning graduation from grade to grade would only make him move to another school.  He said he didn't want to go to school anymore if that was the case.  He had sharp outbursts of yelling at the top of his lungs phrases which made no sense that he'd seen in one of his favorite cartoons-like "Doh pizza!"   He said, "I can't take it anymore, my brain can't take it anymore, or I'm going to shout again."  He was very sad, and to the point of throwing-up. It took a long time for him to come out of this, and we haven't mentioned it since.  Part of what helped to reassure him to get over it was that we would go visit the school many times this year and next so he could start to get used to it.  He seemed relieved each time we told him this.  However, I wonder if seeing the school and how different and big it is will throw him into another state like before.  I'm worried about it! While I don't want him to live his life in a bubble...I don't want to subject him to too much trauma either. 

Please let me know your thoughts on the upcoming appointment and any other thing you care to comment on which you feel could be helpful in both situations. 

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Thank you so very much!  I am so thankful for your website.  I have been going back to your website daily for almost a year now trying to find answers to help my son.  The majority of problems we are having are at school.  At home,  I have somehow instinctively known what has worked for him since he was born although we were not aware of a "problem" until 2 years ago.  School has been a nightmare and continues to be a major source of stress on our family.

The main issue at school is bullying and the school is just not helping much.  The "bullies are so discreet in there tactics that the adults in charge do not see it.  They only see and hear my son reacting to it.  He has many meltdowns due to the bullying itself and often time because the adults do not believe him that this is happening.

The most difficult issue is in the classroom where many of the children are whispering things to him or saying things under their breath.  The teacher does not hear these things but my son does. Because the teacher hears nothing, only my son screaming at the kids to stop bullying him, or to leave him alone, or at times has just has enough and goes into meltdown mode due to frustration,  my son is the problem and the one who is getting disciplined.

I am hoping you can direct me to some information on your site on how my son really does hear things the teacher does not.

My son can hear things other people do not hear.  We have a very big problem here at home. My husband and myself are unable to have any kind of a conversation that we do not want him to hear.  We have been in our bedroom at night with him in bed,  with our TV on,  having a quiet conversation and he has repeated word for word what we have said the next day. It is very frustrating for us,  but I know that my child has superman ears and  hears things that others do not.

This is an email that I have just received from his teacher and I would like to direct his teacher to your website with as much information as I can.   If there is a charge and I have to download certain ebooks please let me know that would be fine.

Ms. D,

M has shown areas of improvement (89% on a recent Math test) but there are still areas of concern.

a) He is constantly paranoid that all students in the class are talking about him and/or trying to get under his skin. He sits alone and the front of the room and during class time no students are speaking to him.

b) M has a tendency to be involved in everyone else's business. He feels that he needs to say something to someone, even though the timing may not be in his best interest. This leads to problems.

c) During class his behavior on his chair is becoming a distraction. He is constantly rocking, spinning on his chair, sitting on his haunches and moving around. This is preventing him from properly completing assignments on time. When directed to remain seated he becomes frustrated.


Please,  I would appreciate any help you can give me, especially in regards to the kids saying nasty/mean things about him that only HE can hear.  

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My son hates me and that kills me.  Everyday everything with him is a battle.  I try to be nice, I try to be patient and most of the time i am, but sometimes I'm not.  The battles aren't pretty even if i am patient.  They are still long and drawn out with me saying Jerry, I'm not going to continually repeat myself.  I've given you the answer and that is it.  He follows me and keeps asking the same question over saying i'm not answering it.  If I get him to get away from me then he starts in on his little brother that he hates.  Then I have to intervene and protect.  I feel like I'm mean to one child in order to protect another one.  I can't even get through dinner.  I can't stand dinner.  I don't want to eat together, it's too stressful.  If my younger son says one word at all, Jerry jumps on him calling him, fat, stupid, ugly or whatever he can think of. So then I tell Jerry to leave the table because his behavior is unacceptable and speaking to anyone in that manner is unacceptable.  He used to leave when I would tell him to, but now he doesn't.  So I took away his computer time and he followed me to the computer and turned it off.  I turned it back on and was taking the time slots away and he got extremely mad.  I was afraid but did not let him know that.  I kept him off it for a week or so and he'll be somewhat okay at dinner, but then he just goes back to being mean to his brother and I can't stand dinner and it's just a vicious cycle that continues.  When he is not in my house, the remaining 5 of us have a great time.  When he is here, Nick leaves (he can drive), katie goes to her room and Jack cries.  No one wants to be anywhere near him.  He is just a big jerk that no one can stand.  He is 6'2" and weighs 225.  He has friends and stays with them on the weekends or goes to a movie with them or meets them somewhere.  I don't want to keep him from ANY of that because it punishes the rest of the family.  I could write for hours on this.  Just not having a good day today.  i am reduced to tears today because I just can't take it.  He told me yesterday all i do is berate him and call him stupid.  Well I have NEVER called him a name so he backed of that one.  But I do scream at him "you just don't get it and I can't help you get it" and he said that is berating.  Well I don't know what else to do.  I am just so frustrated.  He does have consequences for his behavior and i follow through.  I'm going to do what your Q&A from Thursday suggested.  I'm taking away all computer time and if I have a supper time without stress I will give him an hour.  two days good and he will get another hour and build it that way.  But again that's punishing the rest of us because he is just a jerk who won't be occupied by his computer and we will all feel it.

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Hello Mr. Hutton.

I don't know how to start this email. Im a single mother at my wits end. i really dont know what to do. i  was jumping from your homepage to the biography link to some of your articles for days before i decided to send you an email. Could you please explain the difference between a child  that is a victim of bad parenting and a hfa/asd  child?

My son is Nathan, he  is a 5.5 year old, in a nutshell:

* he started  saying words at 7 months but  never progressed, he would only say names  until around 3 or 3.5  saying 2-3 word phrases. He still has a severe speech delay (example: only uses he/him/his no she/her/). i would say he speaks a broken english  like a 3-4 year old

* he  has temper tantrums that are just ridiculous .. because i put my boots first and it was his turn, because i forgot the stones he gave because i moved his toy

* and the one thing that makes me doubt it is something related to hfa or asd he is toooooooo social. he could go with the milk man. he just holds and tells people he just met he loves them. actually this week (new) i had to literally DRAAAAG him out  of a car (two times  with two different people he just met ) because he says he wants to "change home" ( move out) of my house with those people. i know this is silly but  you should see the scene ... and my scratches.

* Nathan was refered  to a speech therapist and she refered him to a multidisciplinary team to asses a pervasive disorder . i could only afford a psychologist. I have to meet her for the last time in three weeks. Because of Nathans behavior sometimes  i think he is in the spectrum and sometimes i think he is  just a prick. whats the difference? can you please tell me?

i have a mother and friends telling me he is normal but i have to spank him,they agree he cant follow a conversation, a movie storyline,always interrupting (although i am like a broken record repeating the same thing over and over again,) and maybe the problem is me. if i am please let me know.. Mr. Hutton i have character, im a Christian and i truly want the best for my son. i discipline my child. i dont hit him and i even made a reward chart. please help me. what can i do to  help my son. how do i know if its my parenting?i cant come up with more ideas/

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My Aspie son has sucked me dry.  I never say yes to him.  I never cheer him up and I never show empathy to him.  Nothing he asks me is ever, every appropriate or right except when he asks if he can go somewhere, then I say yes.  I never cheer him up because he just tells me to shut up and not to say nice things or compliment him.  I have ZERO empathy left.  There is none.  I have none for him.  He is a big JERK that NO ONE in this house wants to be around. I never retract a consequence.  I give them out hoping he will feel the pain.  The longer I feel he is in pain the better I think it is.  All I do is yell at him and argue with him.  He listens to NOTHING unless I scream at him - NOTHING.  I told him if life is so bad here then get emancipated and i will give him all of his SS money.  No luck on that. He checked into it and said it was too hard.  I get SS money for him because his dad died from what I would describe as self medicating himself to death because of what was wrong with him - the same gene he passed on to my child. He was 52.  And yes he treated Jerry like crap.

I just had to take him to the math tutor and I asked him not to speak to me.  He said why. Nothing occurs between him and me but arguments.  I told him on the way home if I don't have a stress free dinner, I'm taking away his computer time and he will have to earn it back.  He started arguing saying everything is Jack's fault and I never discipline Jack for pissing him off.  We pull in the drive and Jerry said see there he is already pissing me off and you expect me to be quiet at dinner if he speaks?  No way.  Jack was standing on the sidewalk blowing up a balloon.  Things like that make Jerry mad everyday.  Jack is not allowed to speak where Jerry can hear him or he gets Jerry's wrath.  Yes jack does get disciplined and I love them both, but spend more time with jack because I can speak to him.  Jerry I cannot without and argument.  And I have to spend a fair amount of time protecting Jack from Jerry.  He is just a JERK.

He is leaving for a week at the end of May.  The rest of us are looking forward to the small reprieve. Maybe I can get enough of a rest to see something positive in him.  I have to go now because he took Jack's Ipad and Jack is screaming because he grabbed him.  It's freaking nonstop.

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Hi! I am the doctoral fellow for the Child and Family Research Group at St. John's University, located in Queens, NY.
Our research group is dedicated to helping families and their young children struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges. We are currently running two completely free parenting programs, a 12-session program and a brief 2-session program, to assist parents of children between 2-5 years old with behavioral problems. 
We were wondering if you would be willing to post about our program on your Facebook group page for Parenting Defiant Children and Teens, and possibly post our flyers (attached here) for your group members to see and use as a resource. We are looking for help to get the word out to those parents in need. We may be able to offer this group entirely through virtual meeting software, so that people who are interested but do not live in NYC could still benefit from the program.
Thank you!    -Michael

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My 7 year old grandson has been diagnosed as HFA.  Four years ago he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with as PDD-NOS with Sensory Deprivation Disorder.  At that time he had OT and behavioral therapy.  He did very well and they told my daughter he no longer required their services.   Although they continued to have some “issues” his behavior took a serious “uptick” last July when they moved out of their home into an apartment while they built a new home.  (They are currently still in the apartment-probably for another two months until their home is completed).  Shortly after moving Jack’s meltdowns became more frequent and of longer duration and he began taking his anger out on my daughter (and others, on occasion, but primarily on my daughter).   

Jack has had many transitions in the recent past…he moved away from his neighborhood into an apartment (and will move again, to a remote location in the country, in two months, although he will stay at the same school),  his mother (who was a full time stay at home mom since his birth) returned to school and received her teaching degree in May; Jack transferred to a new school to be at the same school where his mother teaches (he does NOT like going to school, but to be fair, he has never liked going to school and has always rebelled); one of his closest friends at school died in a tragic accident in December. 

The following has occurred within the last 4-5 weeks:  Jack is currently on medication after attempting to climb off their 3rd story balcony when he made a mistake on a drawing.  He is also in OT (his first appointment was last Friday) and is to begin Pragmatic Speech Therapy as soon as possible (we are awaiting the first appointment to be confirmed).  He and his parents currently see a psychologist who has worked with children with autism for over 20 years, to help them learn how to deal with what they are experiencing with Jack.  Her strategies sound very much like what we read on your website, right down to the use of similar words, etc. 

It is heartbreaking to watch and listen to Jack repeatedly take his frustrations out on my daughter.   During a meltdown it is not uncommon for him to say he hates her, she is mean, that he will NEVER give her another hug in her whole life, etc.  He kicks, hits and attempts to throw anything in his anger.  However, the kicking and hitting is being addressed at this time, with some degree of success, but it will take time, I’m sure. 

THIS IS OUR IMMEDIATE NEED:  Because my daughter is in such pain over how mean Jack is to her and how defeating it is to her mentally,  I feel we need help immediately in turning around his tirades against her.  I will add that she is a wonderful mother; she and her husband have not EVER raised their voices and Jack has not EVER been spanked in any way.  They are loving, nurturing parents.  FYI…Jack WILL also on occasion strike out against his Dad and say and do the same things to him, but much, much less frequently than against my daughter.  His Dad has never disciplined him and has only recently begun to understand the importance of doing so and NOT coddling Jack during a meltdown or when they have recently been told to turn “robot like”, stay with him but do not try to console him and talk him through the problem, but rather let himself work through the meltdown.  

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Dear Mark,

I came across your website today and am curious how a school would be able to be listed with you. I have worked at the Chamberlain International School , a Therapeutic Boarding School, for the last 30 years in many positions including program director for 22 years. I now do the marketing and program development/outreach. I saw that you list a number of boarding schools in each state and was wondering if you might consider us. We are fully licensed and accredited and I'd be happy to supply you with those documents if you would like. I also see that Newport Academy is a supporter and wondered if there were opportunities for other schools such as Chamberlain to do the same.

I am going to share your website/information with our clinical , education and admissions departments so that they are aware of your services as they are working with our students and their families. 

Thank you and best regards,


Sarah Norfleet
Director of Marketing and Program Development
Chamberlain International School
1 Pleasant Street
Middleboro, Ma 02346
617-688-0963
snorfleet@flcis.com
www.chamberlainschool.org

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Mark,

I am writing about my son Ryan who will be 16 next month and has become socially isolated for the last six months.  I have a family manager plan on Verizon which sends me a snapshot of numbers that my son calls or texts and that call him. I noticed he has sent texts to his former friends on occasion but they are not texting or calling him back.  He keeps everything inside and doesn't talk about what has happened.  I do wonder if he may have done or said something that sabotaged his friendships.  He has done this in the past and I'm not quite sure why but when he was younger the parents of his friends would tell me things Ryan was doing or saying which drove his friends away.  I don't know the parents of the friends he used to hang out with so there is no way I can get information on what happened.

I am concerned about what he may be keeping inside and his self esteem or possible depression.  One problem is he doesn't believe that he has ASD and it makes him angry to even have anyone mention it. I feel bad for him and just wish he had someone he could confide in and would accept he does have ASD that affects his social skills.

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My relationship with my son who is an Aspie has been the focal point of conflict in our family. We have disagreements and verbal altercations daily. I am not to say much without being contradicted, criticized, and called names. This makes me angry and the vicious cycle begins anew. I feel trapped by the circumstances and my own feelings of  helplessness in my inability to improve the situation. I am at my wits end and I really have no idea what to do.


I obviously love my son  and I would like to improve the situation for both our sakes as well as the sake of the entire family. But I Just don't know how. 



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Dear Mark,

The behaviour described in this 'ad' is my 14 yo girl to a 't'. I love my girl so much. We live alone together now, since her gorgeous big sister moved out, and the 14 yo and i moved interstate together two months ago. She didn't want to live near her dad anymore because his girlfriend is quite cruel to her, and her dad seemed to want to see her less. She was bullied at her previous school, escalating with a rape threat 'prank' phone call. I broke up with my fiancé whom she loved, in September/October, and she has been grieving for him. Also, her beloved cat ran away while we were interstate house hunting.

Also, I have recently started dating again, a man whom she calls a 'pedo'. She's extremely upset about me dating again. She asked me to stop full time studies this year, which I did.... As I want to support her more; she is so unhappy, uptight, bitter. At the new school she's moved through 8 social groups... Now she's befriending older kids - who want her to do odd things like meet up at a notorious drug dealing suburb, meet suddenly at the local McDs with no prior warning etc etc.

She is more defiant with me than she has ever been, says some desperate and vulnerable things on Facebook, and holes up in her room for hours with the phone and iPad.

I want to take her out to enjoy this new city, but  lost my car keys almost as soon as we moved here, consequently, every trip out is massive - mastering the public transport system, arguing over where to go, as all she seems to want to do is shop for clothes and things, for which I have very little money. We used to have lovely mother daughter dates at cafes; she used to love snuggling to me as I read her books at night, we visited the gallery for classes and exhibitions, but I can't force her to do the lovely old things can I.....?

My ideas for when she gets back consist of trips out for the best gelato in town, trips to the local deco cinema, marketing on Sunday afternoons at a local market.... I so want to connect with her, but it so hasn't been happening! The closest I've felt to her is when we started church together here, and when we watch Bates' Motel or a suspenseful movie together. I've made sure we moved close to extended family so she'd have lots of loving. This is working to a degree, but even her doting aunt is becoming a little disenchanted.

Do you have any suggestions? Do you think I should drop the boyfriend until she's more stable? (He has aspies too and has been incredibly supportive to me but a little weird as well). I am concerned re her fear and dislike of him, but worry that asking her about it will give her too much power to choose, which might be unhealthy for her. The guy was checking her FB photos the other day, because he was concerned about an immodest one, and asked that I remove it! )

I would love your suggestions Mark, as I mean so well, but feel way off track in mothering her.

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I am (probably) an aspie and a mother of four.  I homeschool now, partly because my oldest DS (12) has struggled socially in various other school environments. Montessori, public, and parochial...he has flourished academically but his friend situation is always the same story.  He has even failed to keep homeschool friends.  I assume that you will tell me your ebook about teaching social skills will help me help him.  Is this true in our homeschool? Is this true if I am indeed an aspie myself?  Also, could you point me to the way to learn how write "social stories"? I will be needing them.



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Hi Mark,
At the time I downloaded the ebook, I simply had a suspicion... we now have an ASD diagnosis, although I feel like its so late for him... and it took him falling into a depression, panic attacks and an full blown eating disorder to get us there...(Depression has improved greatly with therapy, and panic attacks are either gone, or he is controlling them) I was wondering, have you any experience with autism spectrum and eating disorders? Also, I have a kid who is very high functioning and genius level smart, but suffers from pretty bad anxiety...scared to learn to drive a car (took two lessons and basically became totally freaked out) and I am pushing him to try to get a job to try to raise his self esteem, and pushing it IS... Any advice? At 17 1/2 its a tricky situation, but I want him to be independent and he definitely has that ability if he can get past his anxieties...  As all his counselors say, Zack is pretty complicated with these co-existing conditions... Thanks for any direction you can send me...

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Just wondering if there are any books or literature which focuses on older kids or young adults with Asperger's. I have a 16 yr old grandson who was not diagnosed with Asperger's until last year. He is very bright. He also has a 19 yr old sister, who was never officially diagnosed, however, several of her former teacher's when they heard of her brother's diagnosis commented they suspected she had this problem as well. We are having a very hard time transitioning her to young adulthood. Do you know of any help for us. My daughter is alone with her children and recently lost her job after 17 yrs in part due to the insurance liability these kids create. There are lots of problems and not much money to help deal with them. Thanks for any advice you might be able to share.

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Dear Mark,
I have just found your website which is fantastic. . . I am in the very difficult situation of having a 5 year old son with HFA (& epilepsy) a 3 year old daughter with Poly Juvenile Arthritis whom I hope does not have ASD and a husband whom I believe does have ASD. . .  I lost my job because I needed to care for my children and in addition I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Yes, as you state often happens, our marriage is failing, and I can't see how I can care for our two children and their special needs by myself. My husband finds it extremely difficult to cope with our son's challenging behaviour and his responses tend to escalate the challenging behaviour, then I have to intervene and hubby is openly rude and unpleasant to me. We have only one friend who will occasionally look after our son as his challenging behaviour can be so severe.  Our son's challenging behaviour often occurs mainly thru being told not to do something, or being asked to do something he doesn't want to do.  (He is extremely defiant.) At other times the reason is not so obvious! 

The main reason I am writing is that my son's behaviour can be so dangerous to himself and others, in the last couple of weeks I have had a hard cup full of water thrown in my face (2 black eyes for me) he was happily throwing large stones into the sea ( no one nearby) then as he & my friend were leaving the beach he suddenly threw a large stone up in the air, which came straight down and hit him on the head (ambulance called but he was assessed and did not need hospital treatment). Then when I took him to the toilet in a café he ran out just as I was about to use the toilet myself, I heard a huge crash and dashed to open the door to find that he had climbed up on a huge weighing machine and it had toppled over on top of him - he was very lucky, no serious injury.   

He is fascinated by sticks, he picks them up and then pokes people with them, or hits them with them sometimes intentionally and sometimes just because he is just waving it around and is not aware of others around him.  He picks up things he finds on the street, he once picked up a brick someone had used to wedge a door open and was about to throw it but I managed to stop that just in time. But now he is stronger and quicker than me, he often doesn't seem to respond to the "no hitting" "no throwing" and every environment has things in that can be thrown! 

Today it was picking up sticks (and a huge chunk of wood/log at one point) and poking, hitting dad with them, leading to meltdown in a public park and me trying to keep him away from his father.  We know he needs a safe space but if we are out with him this is not always possible - what should we do?  We have to go out with him and of course some of the time he is a lovely bright child who enjoys doing lots of different things and he is literally climbing the walls if we don't get him out and about doing things.  There is so much I want to ask but I am exhausted and need to get some sleep!  Please are you able to offer me any advice about what to do, as I am worried that he or someone else is going to get seriously hurt.  

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Writing to you for some advice. I'm still confused if that is what My partner has. He has a very hard time to read me and I often have to explain what I would like to hear to make me feel better. I have so many examples... Still I want to think he is just emotionally imature.

My partner often makes hurtfull jokes about me and when I'm hurt he is always annoyed and tell me I have no humor. He never knows when to stop. Is this something you would call asberger like? Because I dont't know if someone with asperberger even would be able to be ironic (jokes if you ask him). He also sometimes ask me whats on my mind. Does Aspbergers even ask things like that? But maybe this is something he has learned? As I Said I also have A LOT of examples that would speek for a clearly asberger diagnose. Maybe I just dont't want to realise.. Also he has many friends, but he rarely wants to meet them, but many seems to keep in touch with him. How can I know? When I talked to him about it he was angry and after a while he Said that it could be me that has it instead...because he think I'm illogical that always overreact..

He has bad memory, no feeling about time, and extremly bad imagination. We can never talk about the future. He can't picture it. I am confused. And really hope he doesn't has it! But something is so wrong and leaves me in a confused state of mind. He is always on his way, very busy. Never take initiative to do anything together. Except when it comes to restore our house, which I also like. But for him it's everything to "work with his body", he also do restoring for a living. He tell this makes him focus on one thing and he can easily do this Every day in week (wich he does). I have often wondered why he even need me to be there. He never wants to go on vaccation. When we was on vaccation at Bali three years ago (I convinced him to go) he walked three meters in front of me the first days (when going to the beach or resturant) until I told him it feels rude.


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My husband and I are dealing with our 17 year-old son, Tristan, who has Aspergers. In reading the assignment for week one, we're going to tell him we love him every night (I do this every morning and every night anyway) and we're going to have family dinners. We already do that every night too and we always go around the table and let everyone say the best/worst things that happened to them that day.

We need to work on Fair Fighting. Also, we took away our son's driving privilege for a month starting March 27 because he wouldn't get up on time in the morning. In your book, you say that 3 days is enough. He hasn't changed the behavior that made us take away the privilege. Do we continue on with it? Tristan suggested interim rewards if his behavior changed because he said that a month was too long for him to be motivated. He used video games as an analogy. He said that if the game designer waited until the very end of the game to reward the player, then there's a high probability of the player quitting. Most games offer small rewards if the player does things right along the way. We agreed and said that if he got up on time 3 out of 4 mornings in a row, then he could drive the car on the 5th day. That worked the first week and since then it hasn't.

Maybe I'm trying to change too many behaviors at once? The rules were:

1. Text mom by 7:00 am and tell her you're awake.
2. Be downstairs, fully dressed, backpack packed, shoes on by 7:20 am to eat.
3. Be in the car, buckled and ready to go by 7:30 am.

If he failed at any of those three then I considered it a total failure.


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My marriage of 24 years recently failed due to a combination of things, one of them being my husband not being emotionally invested in the kids (denial).  I parented alone for 16 years with two very challenging behaviours.  My 16 year old is low intellect with anger management issues and my oldest (now 18) has a PDD diagnosis (high functioning autism/aspergers).  In addition to this my oldest has a diagnosis of Attachment Disorder.  She seems to be drawn to people who don't care about her.  Like many kids in the autism spectrum she doesn't like to be touched. 

My concern has always been safety for my girls.  Because the oldest doesn't recognize her own feelings; it's hard to recognize when there is intent to harm her.  She has been sexually exploited and bullied.  The police aren't helpful because she has a high intellect and she is of the age of consent.  What I am now searching for is a means for her to be empowered to say 'no.'  I don't have wifi and neither of my girls can carry cel phones or iPods.  My psychologist has said that giving kids like mine electronic cyber devices is like dropping them off in a bad area of the city on a Saturday night.  My autism spectrum child needs to learn to use assertive communication and recognize ill intent. 

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Can you recommend any support resources for adults with Asperger's syndrome?

Today I very much appreciated discovering the resources you provide to parents of children and teens with Asperger's, and your insights would have been invaluable to me in working with my daughter when she was younger.

However, she's 37-years old now and, in spite of completing college and holding down a job for over 2 years, she is now unemployed again and is still struggling with basic life skills (housing, relationships, etc.). 

Although my daughter is not currently living with me, I just now purchased your course "Launching Adult Children" in the hope that it might provide some additional insights into how best to support her at this stage in her adult life -- and, if there any other general recommendations you can provide (books, web sites, etc.) I would be most grateful.

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QUESTION:
Our 12 yr old son is facing problems with the new Common Core Curriculum implemented this year. He is in Middle School and is being asked to use critical thinking skills in all of his classes, especially during testing. We are very upset and have expressed our concern with his school that this new curriculum is not fair for those on the autism spectrum. Nick is an excellent student, does not have behavioral issues, but when it comes to critical thinking and thinking “outside the box”, it is very difficult for him. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:
Share the link above with the teacher. Your son can probably do well with critical thinking skills if it were taught using visual techniques. He is probably a visual learner mostly. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is perhaps the simplest way in which teachers can provide students with key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards: thinking skills that become habitual and transfer from lesson to lesson, oral and written language literacy, visual literacy, and collaborative interactions among peers.

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Hello Mark,
I really appreciate your newsletter and have learned so much from it.  I have been married to my husband for 35 years and have just discovered recently that he has Aspergers.  It's embarrassing that it's taken me so long to understand that he hasn't been trying to annoy me in certain ways all these years!  If only I'd known earlier, I could have been a much better wife. :(   My background is in elementary education so I'm particularly amazed that I didn't "get it" sooner.  I am much more appreciative of his incredible abilities and talents and compassionate concerning other areas.  My question is whether I should say anything to my adult children.  Since they're in their 20's it seems it would be helpful for them to know why they're so gifted in areas and struggle in other areas.  I have not seen this topic discussed in your newsletter yet and look forward to hearing your insights.

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Hi Mark,
I am just putting a burst of time and money into learning more about Aspies and helping others. I am 68, but still a very healthy body and sharp mind. I will live to over 90. At 54 I married a beautiful filipina of 23, had a girl, then a boy.
At 6, Chris (now 11) was diagnosed for sure as Aspergers, when teachers ALL told me he just "froze" at school in every subject. Everybody said we can't change it. I did not believe that.


At 9, I pulled him out of school for ever, and started home-schooling him myself. Luckily, I can teach physics, chemistry, biology, maths, English, French and German to age 18 or more. We both love that, and he is zooming ahead, 2 or 3 years ahead of school now.
Loads of reading showed me that my wife (his mother) is also a severe Aspie, showing dozens of "meltdowns", telling wild lies, and utterly "in denial" She is a disastrous mother, and has never given the kids one minute since they were 2 and 3. A year ago, she ran away, very deranged. That made no difference to any of us, to be honest.
Then I saw all the symptoms in my daughter Cath, now 12, so my burden is immense. i am very very strong; I can handle all this.
I feel so energised by my experiences, that I want to go back to UK, maybe Sheffield, with the kids, and create a FREE mini-school at home for 6 or more Aspies. I will teach all the major subjects. The mums (a few dads?)  must do things: 5-a-side football, walking, camping, cycling, hostels, caravans, quizzes, competitions, paining, drawing, cooking and baking, parties, model-making .... all to develop INTERACTIVE skills, friendship, communications,teamwork. I am confident we can overcome their problems, and all enjoy it immensely.
I have one BIG question for you. Clearly, with my wife (ex?) showing intense hatred of all 3 of us, never even feeding us, speaking, listening or joining in anything, plus my daughter  locked in her room, no friends in her life, doesn't want any, very unhappy, my son very distressed when there are more than 2 strangers in the room (2 is OK, 3 maybe, 4 uncomfortable, 5 or more = "help!"  Girls better than boys, young better than old, known better than unknown, outside much better than inside) which made school impossible.
After all these years of pain, my question is: All 3 are very distressed by having PEOPLE near them, although they show it in different ways. So despite all our knowledge of details, is it possible that ....... "THIS IS THE ONLY PROBLEM" ????  When alone, all 3 are perfectly happy, and perform brilliantly in every way. My son is absolutely transformed by the addition or removal of people in/out of his room. There is NO PROBLEM AT ALL with my 3 people, until other  PEOPLE walk in. 
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In my son's case, he's 24 and the idea of having friends (even if they are heroin addicts that are using him for his money and his place), is greater than his desire to get sober. He's been kicked out of every AODA treatment center in the area because they don't take him seriously. He continues to hold a job and pay rent on an efficiency so I don't really think it's about the addiction as mush as it is his Aspergers (undiagnosed). Last night he and two others (also addicts) got into a car accident and were taken to the hospital (my son called me "inappropriately" laughing from the ambulance). He came out with a concussion, whiplash, and stitches. As soon as he  got out of the hospital he called me begging for money, which I didn't give him. My 20 yr old son is also a recovering addict, but went through the system with success. He was giving them a ride home from the hospital when he stopped and ran into a place to grab some food, apparently they hooked up and did it right there in the car. My son came back out to the car and found the driver of the accident turning purple from too much heroin. They finally revived him. It was the 4th time my 20 yr old (non-asp) has witnessed a near-death overdose since September of 2013. It scared him straight, but not my aspie. I don't know how to save my son. Using heroin makes him feel normal like everyone else. Its hard to talk someone out of that when they have struggled their entire life to fit in.

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QUESTION:

We have been married for 28 years. My husband was often highly critical and verbally abusive for the first 26 years. I did not know how to handle the onslaughts and became withdrawn and highly resentful. In the last 2 years I came to understand that his attacks were not personal and developed a system of  nonviolent/noncooperation - staying calm and not taking the bait, while refusing to interact with him when he was being aggressive. This has worked wonders and the criticism and verbal abuse has stopped.

The challenge now is the affairs. He was initially terribly shy with women and he never even kissed a girl until he was married. His first wife left him. He was highly critical and verbally abusive towards her, although he claimed he never did anything and it was all her fault. I was the second woman he was every with. For the first ten years he was resentful that I was there and not his first wife and made sure I knew it. Things were exacerbated with having 9 children and he had a career that demanded being in front of large crowds. There were good times as well and we did many unusual projects together like publishing books and establishing Hindu temples in California.

Myself and the children grew to loath being around him because of the lectures, tongue lashings and arrogance. Things got really ugly. I could hardly stand the sight of him, yet, spent evenings with him in his private studio away from the noise of the house, because he would become much worse if I ignored him.  I became numb trying to dealing with his aggression. I stayed because of the children. He threatened to take the children if I left and I was afraid of him exacting his cruelty on them without me to buffer it. He was gone 4 days out of the week and when he was around we just kept our mouths shut and tolerated things because we knew he would be gone soon. 

When all the children left for college, I was preparing to leave. One of his mistresses emailed me about his affairs. I was shocked as I had assumed he was too shy and boyish to ever do such a thing. He claimed he loved me and did not want to lose me. He claimed it was nothing and had ended long ago. I came to find out he was still involved physically with at least one person and emotionally with several others at the same time. He never stopped interacting with any of them unless they left him. 

This pattern of claiming there is no one else and he wants to mend things with me yet he maintains the other life without skipping a beat has gone on for the last 3 years. He compartmentalizes his life with me, and his life with the girls. He sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. He thinks everything is my fault because I am so withdrawn.

Why do I stay? I have realized that I am highly codependent and am working on myself. Whether I stay or go is irrelevant at this point because I will just pick up where I left off if I do not  cure myself. This is a personal growth for me and I am setting up a business to help people deal with aggressive verbal situations as I have.


ANSWER:

RE: Why do I stay?

I don’t know for sure, but here are a few of the reasons why some women choose to stay with a cheating husband:

       Bad timing
       Belief that it won’t happen again
       Convenience
       Desire to keep the family intact
       Fear of being alone
       Fear of change
       Financial reasons
       For the sake of the children
       Hoping counseling will help
       Insufficient proof of infidelity
       Love
       Low self esteem
       Loyalty
       Not willing to give up lifestyle
       Religious beliefs
       Thinking the cheater will change
       To achieve career goals

I nearly always recommend that the wife leave a cheating husband (unless it was a one-time mistake). Choosing to leave, or to stay with a cheating husband is a very personal matter. Some women will make a spur the moment decision the minute they find out about the affair. For other women, whether to stay or leave is a carefully thought-out decision in which many factors have been taken into consideration.
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Hi I found your u tube information very helpful. A large part of my husband and everything you described from the wife was me.

I have tried everything. At times I thought he was Bi polar because of what I refer to as man-trums, and everything down to being  verbally abusive when I try, if I press about any emotional things it turns into  being all my fault and he takes no responsibility at all for anything he does, He had a nasty upbringing.   But nothing I have done including the 'wonderful' marriage counseling did anything. I feel so worn out.  If I wait 3 years I will be married 10 yrs ( I have know him 10 yrs) then I will be entitled to alimony if it comes to that.  He refuses to go back to counseling, he has a very explosive temper to make things worse.  I have hidden any stressors from him and take of them as I can in order to not rock to boat. Any problems he just cannot deal with rationally, he just freaks out. If My son (not his son)  has a problem at school then my husband becomes belligerent.

This is a private email, he watches my other email, if I read a book about any kind of disorder, in  the past like Bi polar.... he flips out, so I have to hide the books,  Money-- he has to control it all, does not want me to have it or a separate account of my own, so if I spent money I have to answer to him.  So when I use money it is in cash, not ATM.  So stupid right? Who lives like this?

Will not let me finish my college degree, fights me on working out, because it will cost money and is super obsessive over his job and any project he does around the house is done to the last final detail, which can be good but doing it over and over until perfectly perfect.  I don't know what else to do, he refuses any treatment. I am exhausted.

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Dear Mark Hutten, the information and insight you impart is fascinating, and totally rings true for me.  I'm in a very complicated situation and maybe you can advise me on next steps.  My husband was always cool and independent, and there was a concern about his lack of involvement once the kids came, but it wasn't until we moved overseas to Israel 4 years ago with 3 young kids that things really began to spiral out of control.  Needless to say, we are currently in the resentment/anger stage. 

The added complication is that despite the fact that we moved away to be nearer to his lovely close family, and give our kids a sense of having a broader family, he still needs to travel back to the US monthly to maintain a small business there.  At first it was unbelievable - many months he would be gone 3 weeks, here 2 weeks, leaving me to deal alone with adjusting my kids to school in a new language (note the oldest has Aspergers and the other two have speech retrieval issues that we didn't know about until we moved). We have had many arguments on the phone, so we found that sms and email work best to deal with the many tasks and kid issues we need to discuss, which really means minimal contact when he is away.
  
To make matters worst, when he is with us, he now needs to maintain a home office, and often spends the entire evening (4pm to 1am to be exact) in contact with the US office.  In fact, he will slip away to his office whenever he gets a spare moment now, even on Saturdays when the office is closed (since he has so much paperwork).  This means he can never just "hang out" - too him its just a waste of time.  When he is in the US he works himself to the bone, no dinners with old friends, just work work work, so that when he arrives back here he is completely exhausted as well as jet-lagged and unable to help out much. Although many things have worked out nicely here, our relationship has taken a total nosedive.  He talks about wanting to be with me and the kids, but the whole time he seems to be just fine with the arrangement, certainly not frustrated like me. Talk of returning to the US is always met by him tuning me out.  

After 14 years of marriage I am about to call it quits. I have simply had enough. However your document is making me feel like maybe there is a very small chance.  

I have two questions:
1)  How does one deal with resentment when a big part of the reason for the resentment is still going on?  What I mean is, if staying in Israel means EVERYTHING to him,

​yet it forces me to deal with so many extra burdens all alone and with minimal emotional support, ​how can this be forgiven
?  
​Do I forgive just because he is incapable of understanding what he is doing? Doesn't that make me a co-dependant somehow?​

​2)  Where and when do you have LWAP workshops?  New York or Toronto can possibly work for us, depending on timing.

​Thanks for the valuable work that you do!  Your resources for my son as well are incredible and I am passing the word around to other parents here.

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Hello
I came across your name whilst browsing the web, I have a 12 year old son who has been displaying oppositional behaviour which has got steadily worse in the last 2 years. recently we have been seeing a consultant paediatrician on the NHS (we live in UK).
This consultant has met with my son a few times, in his office.  my son has been well behaved and calm on these visits, so the doctor only has the information I have given him as to what happens at home.
basically what we seem to have is a boy who is perfectly well behaved at school, academic and good at maths, science, most other subjects, and getting good grades, he is polite and quiet at school with a few friends but not many.
at home he arrives back from school and all hell lets loose. he rages, tantrums over the smallest things and rocks back and forth on his chair, punching himself in the head.
I have sought help from our local family doctor, who originally referred us to the consultant, but no diagnosis has yet been made, though the consultant did say that Joseph (my son) shows "traits of having Asperger syndrome"  he told my husband and I that he is reluctant to put a "label" on the child in case it might harm him later in life eg when he applies for a job.  I find this attitude stinks.
What I am desperate for are answers,  how should we be parenting him?  my husband has an old school approach and disciplines Joseph when he is having these outbursts at home. He tells him to stay in his room or puts him in the garden for 10 minutes.   I on the other hand believe that if I try to calmly talk to him about his fears and ask him what is the matter, he does calm down.
Joseph worries a LOT about school and is always scared that he will get a detention.
he often forgets to do homework.
he also forgets to shower or brush teeth in the morning.  at the age of 12 we still have to have a timetable pinned to his bedroom wall but he ignores it.
Joseph gets irritated when I ask him in the morning "have you brushed teeth / done hair / etc etc" and this sets off another rage.
I am at the end of my tether... I don't know what to do and now our younger son aged 4 is copying Joseph's behaviour.   I sometimes wish I had some respite, some where for Joseph to go for a night or two, or a helpline number to call when he is very violent and hurting himself.
I realise that you are in the US and I'm in the UK but are there any strategies I can try ?
also, we do not have any medication for Joseph, but maybe I should ask the doc? what do Asperger kids usually take?

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.

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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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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content