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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Developing Language Skills: Help for Children with Asperger's and HFA

“Do children with asperger syndrome (high functioning) tend to have problems with speech and language? How can parents tell if their child has problems in this area, and what type of interventions are recommended?”

Language seems to develop on time in kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), but words, while formulated according to the rules, seem to lack functional effectiveness, because they most often are used to express immediate needs or to expound on the youngster’s favorite subjects.

Young people with AS or HFA seem not to see the main idea or the pivotal point. They tend to have problems with abstraction, inference, or practical, functional language. Also, their semantic understanding is limited, which frequently shows up in tests and instructional measures of listening comprehension.

Instead of delaying language development, AS and HFA impairs the subtleties of social communication. These boys and girls have difficulty understanding nuances (e.g., irony, sarcasm, fanciful or metaphoric language, etc.), and many of them take language literally (e.g., expressions like “watching paint dry” or “smart as a tack” leave these kids very confused).

Young people with AS and HFA are often referred to as “little professors,” which is due to their stiff and often pedantic and monotonic use of language. The varied qualities of expressive language may be unusual, which is called prosody (i.e., the tempo, pitch, loudness, tonality, stress emphasis, and rhythm patterns of spoken language). AS and HFA speech patterns often seem odd to those who don’t know them. Tone, intonation and volume are often restricted, seemingly inappropriate, or appear at odds with what is being said.

These kids also have difficulty interpreting and displaying non-verbal communication. Body language, facial expressions, the use of personal space, gestures and postures are often mysteries to boys and girls on the autism spectrum. This inability to instinctively comprehend unspoken communication has led some experts to suggest Asperger’s is actually a non-verbal communication disorder.

How can parents tell if their AS or HFA child has language difficulties? We’ve provided a checklist below…

Characteristics Checklist for Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism: Language Skills Deficits—
  1. Attempts to control the language exchange, and may leave a conversation before it is concluded.
  2. Creates jokes that make no sense.
  3. Creates own words, using them with great pleasure in social situations.
  4. Difficulty discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information.
  5. Displays a delay when answering questions.
  6. Displays difficulty analyzing and synthesizing information presented.
  7. Displays difficulty as language moves from a literal to a more abstract level.
  8. Displays difficulty sustaining attention and is easily distracted (e.g., one might be discussing plants, and the AS or HFA child will ask a question about another country — something said may have triggered this connection, or the child may still be in an earlier conversation).
  9. Displays difficulty understanding not only individual words, but conversations and material read.
  10. Displays difficulty with problem solving.
  11. Displays difficulty with volume control (i.e., either too loud or too soft).
  12. Does not ask for the meaning of an unknown word.
  13. Does not inquire about others when conversing. 
  14. Does not make conversations reciprocal (i.e., has great difficulty with the back-and-forth aspect).
  15. Engages in obsessive questioning or talking in one area.
  16. Focuses conversations on one narrow topic – with too many details given.
  17. Has a large vocabulary consisting mainly of nouns and verbs.
  18. Has a voice pattern that is often described as robotic or as the “little professor.”
  19. Has difficulty absorbing, analyzing, and then responding to information. 
  20. Has difficulty discriminating between fact and fantasy. 
  21. Has difficulty initiating, maintaining, and ending conversations with others. 
  22. Has difficulty maintaining the conversation topic. 
  23. Has difficulty understanding the meaning conveyed by others when they vary their pitch, rhythm, or tone.
  24. Impairment in prosody (i.e., the pitch, stress, and rhythm of the voice). 
  25. Impairment in the pragmatic use of language (i.e., the inability to use language in a social sense as a way to interact and communicate with others).
  26. Impairment in the processing of language (i.e., one’s ability to comprehend what has been said).
  27. Impairment in the semantic use of language (i.e., understanding the language being used). 
  28. Interprets known words on a literal level (i.e., concrete thinking).
  29. Interrupts others.
  30. Is unable to make or understand jokes/teasing.
  31. Is unsure how to ask for help/make requests/make comments.
  32. Knows how to make a greeting, but has no idea how to continue the conversation (e.g., the next comment may be one that is totally irrelevant).
  33. Lacks interest in the topics of others.
  34. Makes comments that may embarrass others.
  35. Moves from one seemingly unrelated topic to the next.
  36. Once a discussion begins, it is as if there is no “stop” button (i.e., must complete a predetermined dialogue).
  37. Processing of information is slow and easily interrupted by any environmental stimulation (i.e., difficulty with topic maintenance), which appears as distractibility or inattentiveness.
  38. Rarely varies the pitch, stress, rhythm, or melody of his speech – and does not realize this can convey meaning.
  39. Rhythm of speech is more adult-like than child-like.
  40. Uses conversation to convey facts and information about special interests, rather than to convey thoughts, emotions, or feelings.
  41. Uses language scripts or verbal rituals in conversation, often described as “nonsense talk” by others. Scripts may be made up or taken from movies, books or television programs (e.g., uses the voice of a movie or cartoon character conversationally and is unaware that this is inappropriate). At times, the scripts are subtle and may be difficult to detect.

Language Disorder—

Some children on the autism spectrum have a full-blown language disorder. Language disorder refers to problems with understanding the message coming from others (i.e., receptive language), and/or getting their meaning or message across to others (i.e., expressive language).

Language disorder is different than “delayed language.” With delayed language, the youngster develops speech and language in the same way as other kids, but later. In language disorder, speech and language do not develop normally. A youngster with language disorder may have any of the symptoms listed below:
  • difficulty finding the right words when talking, and often use placeholder words such as "um"
  • difficulty putting words together into sentences, or their sentences may be simple and short and the word order may be off
  • difficulty understanding what other people have said
  • have a vocabulary that is below the level of other kids the same age
  • leave words out of sentences when talking
  • problems following directions that are spoken to them
  • problems organizing their thoughts
  • use certain phrases over and over again, and repeat (echo) parts or all of questions
  • use tenses (past, present, future) improperly

Because of their language problems, AS and HFA kids often have difficulty in social settings.

Speech and language therapy is the best approach to treating this type of disorder. Psychological therapy (e.g., psychotherapy, counseling, or cognitive behavioral therapy) is also recommended because of the possibility of related emotional or behavioral problems. Moms and dads who are concerned that their youngster's speech or language is lacking should see their doctor. Ask about getting a referral to a speech and language therapist.

Many people believe that speech and language treatment can’t begin until a youngster starts talking.  This is not true.  Treatment can - and should - begin as soon as possible.  Research shows that kids know a lot about language long before the first word is ever spoken.  Your youngster’s treatment team might include a doctor, an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and/or a social worker. 

In addition to speech and language therapy, there are a few things parents can do to assist early on in their child’s development. Here are some parenting tips for helping along your youngster’s language-skills acquisition:
  • Answer your youngster every time he speaks. This rewards him for talking.
  • Ask your youngster lots of questions. 
  • Describe for your youngster what she is doing, feeling and hearing in the course of the day. 
  • Don’t criticize grammar mistakes.  Instead, just model good grammar. 
  • Don’t try to force your youngster to speak. 
  • Encourage storytelling and sharing information. 
  • Expand on what your youngster says (e.g., if your youngster says, “fruit” …you can say, “Oh, so you want some fruit”).
  • Follow your youngster’s lead, so you are doing activities that hold his interest as you talk. 
  • Have your youngster play with “typical” kids whose language may be more advanced. 
  • Listen to your youngster. Look at her when she talks to you. Give her time to respond (it may feel like an eternity, but count to 10 before filling the silence). 
  • Look at family photos and talk about them. 
  • Make eye contact whenever you are conversing with your child (regardless of whether or not he/she is making eye contact with you).
  • Plan family trips and outings.  Your new experiences give you something interesting to talk about before, during, and after the outing. 
  • Play with your youngster one-on-one, and talk about the toys and games you are playing. 
  • Read books aloud.  Ask a librarian for books appropriate to your youngster’s age. If your child loses interest in the text, just talk about the pictures. 
  • Sing to your youngster and provide them with music.  Learning new songs helps your youngster learn new words, and uses memory skills, listening skills, and expression of ideas with words. 
  • Talk a lot to your youngster.  Tell them what you are doing as you do it. 
  • Use gestures along with words.
  • When talking to your child, frequently vary the tempo, pitch, loudness, tonality, stress emphasis, and rhythm patterns of your voice.

Young people with AS and HFA can have problems with any - or all - of these aspects involved in producing or understanding speech and language. Especially, due to their deficits in appreciating social situations, they may not have any understanding of how others might respond to a communicated message.

These children frequently appear to have deficits in paying attention to auditory information. Thus, they frequently have to be ‘trained’ to pay attention to sounds. Even when they are paying attention, they often seem to have difficulty in decoding what sounds mean and in matching them to words or thoughts. In some children on the autism spectrum, this may be because they actually have difficulties with words and thoughts themselves.

Some children with AS and HFA have difficulties with articulation, often as part of a broader problem of difficulty with oral-motor functions (i.e., movements of the lips and tongue, and associated breath control). On the up-side, though, these children are frequently very good with paying attention and appreciating visual materials. Thus, the visual route is often the best way of getting access to their minds and giving them a way of expressing themselves, in turn.

Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Depression in Young People with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

“Do teenagers with Asperger syndrome and level 1 autism usually suffer from depression? If so, why? And what should parents look for if they believe their teenager is becoming depressed?”

Unfortunately, depression does seem to be common among teens and adults with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Many of the same deficits that produce anxiety may work together to generate depression. Serotonin functions are impaired in many teens with AS and HFA, which suggests that depression and AS/HFA is more likely. Also, the basic circuitry related to frontal lobe functions in depression is affected in some teens with AS/HFA. In addition, deficits in social relationships and responses that permit one to compensate for disappointment and frustration may fuel a vulnerability to depression. Furthermore, there is some genetic evidence suggesting that depression and social anxiety are more common among first-degree relatives of autistic teens.

Another important point is that young people with AS/HFA who display affective and vocal monotony are at higher risk for having their ‘suicidal remarks’ minimized. Higher-functioning teens can make suicidal statements in a manner that suggests an off-hand remark without emotional impact, and as a result, their comments may not be taken seriously. When comments are made this way, parents – and even therapists – may underestimate them. In these “special needs” teens, the content of such comments may be more crucial than the emotional emphasis with which they are delivered.

Depressed AS and HFA teens often have trouble concentrating or remembering things. Sometimes they are indecisive. It is very common for them to feel hopeless or to "beat up on themselves" by thinking negative thoughts about themselves. Thoughts of suicide are common. They may lose their interest in food and frequently lose weight. Less often, depression causes these teens to indulge in comfort eating and they gain weight. A change in sleep patterns often accompanies depression. They may have trouble getting a good night's sleep, or alternatively, they sleep much more than usual and have trouble getting out of bed.

Other symptoms may include the following:
  • decreased energy
  • tiredness
  • fatigue
  • lack of interest in the opposite sex
  • being listless and withdrawn
  • withdrawal from their normal social activities
  • spending an increasing amount of time alone
  • may avoid leaving the house
  • speech can be flat and uncommunicative
  • may be exhausted and feel like they're "dragging themselves around"
  • may use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to make themselves feel better

 The medications that are useful for depression in “typical” teens should be considered for teens with AS/HFA who display symptoms of depression. However, since some features of depression and AS/HFA overlap, it is important to track that the changes in mood are a departure from baseline functioning. Therefore, the presence of social withdrawal in a teen with AS/HFA should not be considered a symptom of depression unless there is an acute decline from that young person's baseline level of functioning. Also, the core symptoms of depression should arise together. Thus, the simultaneous appearance of symptoms (e.g., decreased energy, further withdrawal from interactions, irritability, loss of pleasure in activities, sadness, self-deprecating statements, sleep and appetite changes, etc.) would point to depression.

Medications that are useful for treatment of depression in teens with AS/HFA are serotonin reuptake inhibitors. There are no medications that have been shown to be particularly more beneficial for depressive symptoms in teens with AS/HFA. Therefore, the decision as to which medications to use is determined by side-effect profiles, previous experience, and responses to these medications in other family members.

My Aspergers Teen is a downloadable eBook designed to help parents of Aspergers and HFA teens...

The Asperger's Advantage: It Is Not A "Cross To Bear"

Give children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism a chance, and they will show you what great things they can accomplish.

Creating an Effective Learning Environment for Asperger’s and HFA Students: Tips for Special Education Teachers

Many special education teachers are encountering students with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) for the first time – and have expressed some anxiety about this. So in this post, we will discuss a few ideas and techniques that will help facilitate an effective learning environment for these “special needs” students.

The first step would be to get acquainted with some of the associated traits. AS or HFA students may exhibit many of the characteristics listed below. These are usually not isolated ones; rather, they appear in varying degrees and amounts in most children on the autism spectrum:
  • spontaneous in expression
  • often can’t control emotions
  • find it difficult, if not impossible, to stay on task for extended periods of time if not interested in the subject matter
  • low tolerance level
  • high frustration level
  • poor concept of time
  • weak or poor self-esteem
  • coordination problems with both large and small muscle groups
  • difficulty in following complicated directions
  • difficulty remembering directions for extended periods of time
  • inflexibility of thought 
  • poor auditory memory (both short-term and long-term)
  • poor handwriting skills
  • difficulty in working with others in small or large group settings
  • easily confused
  • easily distracted
  • difficulty attending to relevant stimuli 
  • expressive language difficulties 
  • language comprehension difficulties 
  • organizational difficulties 
  • preference for familiar routines and consistency 
  • resistance to change 
  • sensory processing difficulties 
  • social relations difficulties

Special education teachers use varied strategies to help promote learning. While each student with AS and HFA is different, there are standard methods that can be employed. Some of the most common of these are individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments, and working in small groups. If, for example, an AS or HFA child needs special accommodations or modifications to take a test, educators can provide the appropriate assistance (e.g., extending the time needed to take the test, or reading the questions aloud).

The terms accommodations and modifications do not mean the same thing. Sometimes teachers get confused about what it means to have an “accommodation” and what it means to have a “modification.”

An accommodation is “a change that helps the child overcome - or work around - the deficit.” Allowing a child who has trouble writing to give her answers orally is an example of an accommodation. This child is still expected to know the same material and answer the same questions as fully as the other kids, but she doesn’t have to write her answers to show that she knows the information.

A modification means “a change in what is being taught to - or expected from - the child.” Making an assignment easier so the child is not doing the same level of work as the other kids is an example of a modification.

In a nutshell, special education involves adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction. Accommodations and modifications are most often made in the following areas:
  • Instruction (e.g., using a student/peer tutor, reducing the reading level, reducing the difficulty of assignments, etc.)
  • Materials (e.g., giving copies of your lecture notes, providing audiotaped lectures or books, etc.)
  • Scheduling (e.g., breaking up testing over several days, giving the child extra time to complete assignments or tests, etc.)
  • Setting (e.g., having the student work one-on-one with you, working in a small group, etc.)
  • Student response (e.g., using a word processor for written work, allowing answers to be given orally or dictated)

Below is a list of helpful tips related to special education, as well as suggestions for accommodations and modifications for the AS and HFA student:

1. Color code items. For example, put some red tape on a math text book along with red tape on the math note book. Color-coding items helps the AS or HFA youngster with organization.

2. Consult other educators and administrators when you have difficulty, or don’t know how to work on a certain skill or goal. You don’t constantly have to reinvent the wheel when you teach children with IEPs. Teaching children with special needs can be overwhelming, but with help from other staff members and a positive attitude, it can be one of the most rewarding jobs in education.

3. Create a weekly progress note to send home. These progress notes can be very simple with a blank for an accomplishment the child made, a goal to continue working on, and any special comment or news about the child. The mother and father will also appreciate quick phone calls when their children achieve a goal that they have been struggling with.

4. Develop lesson plans based on your youngsters’ IEPs. If you have a resource room, then you may have individual lesson plans for each of your “special needs” children. For example, if you have 8 children on your case load, then you may have 8 different math plans or 8 different reading lessons. This can be complicated and hard to organize. Make sure to use your paraprofessionals to help you teach your children and follow their IEPs.

5. Get rid of clutter! If your classroom is cluttered, this can be very distracting for AS and HFA children.

6. Give ongoing feedback.

7. Give repetition and clarification regularly.

8. If you are a regular classroom teacher with an AS or HFA child in your class, then your lesson plan for that child may look more like a modification of a lesson or assignment (e.g., if one of the IEP goals is for the child to stay in his seat for 5 minutes without getting up, then you will work on this goal when you assign a math worksheet or during writing workshop). It helps to make notes in your plan book when you are working on a certain IEP goal.

9. Keep instructions and directions “chunked.” Offer one step at a time, and don't overload the child with too many pieces of information at once.

10. Keep lessons concrete. Use visual and concrete materials as much as possible.

11. Larger size font is sometimes helpful.

12. Let the AS or HFA youngster deliver oral responses instead of written where appropriate to demonstrate understanding of concept.

13. Make parent communication a weekly goal for positive and constructive messages. Moms and dads of AS and HFA children often are tired of hearing negative things about their kids. It’s important to communicate with them about all aspects of their youngster’s progress and behavior.

14. Make sure there are visual clues around the room to help.

15. Make use of Graphic Organizers.

16. Observe AS and HFA children carefully, and keep detailed notes. Your note system may look different than other educators' systems, but you have to find one that works for you. You may use note cards, labeled with each child's name, or you may use one note card for each subject and record notes about all children on the same card during math or reading class. Some educators prefer to use sticky labels. They write one note per label about a youngster. When class is over, they transfer their labels to the student folders and have detailed notes with the date of each observance. It’s extremely important to keep notes about children with AS and HFA so you can update their IEPs with correct information.

17. Pay close attention to lighting. Sometimes preferential lighting can make the world of difference.

18. Read your youngsters’ IEPs carefully and take note of the goals that they should work on throughout the quarter. Many children with AS and HFA have several different goals they are working on in multiple areas, so you will probably have to check IEPs often or have a certain system for referring to what each child is working on.

19. Think critically about seating arrangements. Seat the youngster away from distractions whenever possible.

20. Try “ability grouping” (i.e., have a few peers that can support the AS or HFA child experiencing difficulties).

21. Use assistive technology when available.

In addition, consider offering the following:
  • a “chill-out” area (i.e., a quiet location to enable the child to calm down and relax)
  • a buddy, and let the buddy know what his or her role is (i.e., supportive)
  • a study carrel or alternate place to work for specific tasks
  • a tracking sheet of expected assignments for the week or day 
  • auditory supports to keep the child from having too much text to read 
  • close proximity to the teacher
  • extra time for the processing of information
  • headphones to remove extraneous noises
  • organization tips (let moms and dads know about the organization tips they can use to support their children at home)
  • photocopied notes to avoid having the children copying from the board or chart paper
  • reminders on the desk (e.g., charts, number lines, vocabulary lists, etc.)
  • scribing - or a peer for scribing - when necessary
  • speech-to-text software applications
  • time extensions as necessary
  • time management tips and skills (e.g., have sticky notes on the child's desk to remind the child of how much time he or she has to complete tasks)

Be selective when determining the accommodations that will best help the “special needs” child. If the accommodations don't work after a specified period of time, try something else. Remember, the IEP is a working document, and its success will depend on how closely the contents are implemented, monitored and revised to meet the child's needs.

Rarely are there specific lesson plans for special education. Educators can take existing lesson plans and provide accommodations and modifications to enable the AS or HFA child to have optimum success. Below is a list of reflective questions to ask yourself as a special education teacher. This may seem like a lot of questions to ask yourself to ensure that all children have maximized learning opportunities, but once you get into the habit of this type of reflection as you plan each lesson, you will soon be an expert at ensuring that the inclusional classroom operates effectively:
  • Are the instructional materials selected with all of the children in mind?
  • Are the instructional materials you select conducive to meeting the needs of the AS or HFA youngster?
  • Can they see, hear or touch the instructional materials to maximize learning? 
  • Do the children have an element in choice for the learning activities? 
  • Do the children understand the vocabulary necessary for the specific concept you are going to teach? 
  • Do they have a longer time line?
  • Do you have alternate means of assessment for children with AS and HFA (e.g., word processors, oral or taped feedback)?
  • Do you need to teach the child specific learning skills for the lesson (e.g., how to stay on task, how to keep organized, how to get help when stuck, etc.)?
  • Does the child have a peer that will help?
  • Does the youngster have reduced quantities of work?
  • Does what the children do extend or lead them to new learning?  
  • Does your lesson focus completely on the content?
  • Have you addressed the multiple learning styles? 
  • Have you built in time for a break or change in activity?
  • Have you maximized assistive technology where appropriate? 
  • Have you provided checklists, graphic organizers, or/and outlines? 
  • How will you ensure that these children are understanding the lesson material?
  • How will you introduce the new vocabulary to these children?
  • How will your overview engage them?
  • If you are using overheads, are there extra copies for children who need to have it repeated? 
  • Is there a need to focus first on the vocabulary prior to starting the lesson? 
  • What are your visuals, and are they appropriate for all?
  • What other hands-on instructional materials can you use to ensure that these children will understand learning concepts? 
  • What strategies are in place to help re-focus the youngster, continue to build self-esteem, and prevent him or her from being overwhelmed?
  • What type of review will be necessary? 
  • What will ensure that these children are engaged? 
  • What will you use to demonstrate or simulate the learning concept? 
  • What will your overview look like?

Here is a summary of techniques to help you with the “inclusional classroom,” which will assist in meeting the needs of your special education children:
  • AS and HFA children have agendas which I regularly have them - and myself - refer to.
  • Clarifications and reminders are given regularly as needed.
  • Extra assistance is provided when needed through a peer or myself.
  • Home/school communication is in place for those children requiring it.
  • I allow additional “wait time” for my AS and HFA children.
  • I have a special carrel or private location for test-taking and or seat-work for those requiring “freedom of distractions.” 
  • I have eliminated as much clutter and can and keep distractions to a minimum.
  • I have procedures that are well understood by the children to keep noise levels at an acceptable level. 
  • I never begin instructions until I have all my students’ undivided attention.
  • I never present instructions orally alone. I always provide graphic organizers, written or graphical instructions too.
  • I provide my AS and HFA children with regular, ongoing feedback – and always promote their self-esteem.
  • My AS and HFA children are aware of my cueing and prompting system, which helps them stay on task.
  • My AS and HFA children are within close proximity to me or my assistant.
  • My classroom expectations are clearly understood – as are my consequences for inappropriate behaviors.
  • Praise for “catching them doing it right” occurs regularly.
  • Use of behavior contracts to target specific behaviors is in place.
  • Work is organized into workable “chunks.”

Although there is a range of interventions designed for children on the autism spectrum, there is no one intervention or approach proven effective for EVERY student. To gain the most from any intervention or teaching technique requires a careful review of the parent's vision for their son or daughter, the child’s ability to communicate, how he or she prefers to communicate, and the child’s cognitive ability, learning style, adaptive behavior and independent daily living skills. 


The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with Aspergersand High-Functioning Autism

Anxiety: An Intrinsic Feature of Asperger's and HFA

“Why do children on the high functioning side of autism seem to experience more than their fair share of anxiety? And, are there any drugs that can be used to help with this problem?”

Young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are particularly vulnerable to anxiety. This vulnerability may be an intrinsic feature of AS and HFA due to a breakdown in circuitry related to extinguishing fear responses, specific neurotransmitter system defects, and/or their inability to make social judgments throughout development.

Other reasons for anxiety in AS and HFA children/teens include the following:
  • Limitations in generalizing from one situation to another often contributes to repeating the same social gaffes.
  • Limitations in their ability to grasp social cues - and their highly rigid style - act in concert to create repeated social errors. 
  • Many experience the discomfort that comes from somatic responses that are disconnected from events and experience.
  • The lack of empathy severely limits skills for autonomous social problem-solving. 
  • The social challenges of AS and HFA make it difficult for kids with the disorder to develop coping strategies for soothing themselves and containing difficult emotions. 
  • There is sufficient grasp of situations to recognize that others “get it” when they do not. 
  • They are frequently victimized and teased by their peers and can’t mount effective socially adaptive responses.

Several medications have been tried for treatment of anxiety in this population. There is no reason to suspect that kids with AS and HFA are less likely to respond to the medications used for anxiety in “typical” kids. Thus, SSRIs, buspirone, and alpha-adrenergic agonist medications (e.g., clonidine or guanfacine) have been tried. The best evidence to date supports use of SSRIs. However, it is also true that young people on the autism spectrum may be more vulnerable to the associated side-effects. Disinhibition is particularly prominent, and can be seen with any of the SSRIs.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Backward Chaining: A Cure for Task-Frustration

“Task-frustration” occurs when a child attempts to complete a particular task (e.g., tying shoe laces, riding a bicycle, doing a math assignment, playing a board game, etc.), but fumbles along unsuccessfully. As a result, he or she has a tantrum – or a meltdown! If you are a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you have no doubt witnessed your child being overly-frustrated on numerous occasions over seemingly trivial incidents. Well, help has arrived! Read on…

“Backward chaining” can have different definitions for different fields, but when teaching life skills to young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), it refers to breaking down the steps of a task and teaching them in reverse order. This gives the youngster an experience of accomplishment and completion with every attempt. Instead of the youngster starting at the beginning and getting lost somewhere through the process (with the parent having to complete the task), the parent does all but the last step and lets the youngster complete the work. Then the parent backs-off, doing less and less while the youngster does more and more, always finishing with the youngster performing the final step.

Backward chaining allows the AS or HFA youngster to experience instant success. As more steps are added, he completes the newly taught step immediately, followed by the steps he has already mastered. This will minimize frustration and anxiety – and provide the youngster with a sense of achievement. This feeling of success will often increase his confidence and keep him motivated to learn and complete the entire sequence of steps.

Systematic use of backward chaining is extremely helpful because it:
  • Helps the child to successfully complete a task early in the progression
  • Facilitates transfer of procedural information to long-term memory
  • Keeps instructional input to a minimum, thus reducing demands on the child’s short-term or working memory
  • Keeps the child involved and challenged

How to Use Backward Chaining—

First, be sure to define the target behavior. To teach your child to perform the links in a chain, you need to know exactly what those links are.  Sometimes the links are very obvious (e.g., teaching the alphabet). Other times, links are not so obvious.  Thus, perform the target behavior yourself and take note of all the steps involved.

Second, be sure that the steps in the chain are reinforced in sequence (i.e., reinforce them as they happen).  For example, once your youngster has mastered step 5 of a particular task, and you begin to teach step 4, you will be reinforcing steps 4 and 5.  You will either be reinforcing at the end of the chain, or at the end of as much of the chain as your youngster has learned.  What your child learns in a chain is not just the number of steps – she also learns to perform those steps in the correct order. 

Third, keep track of the results.  Should the task or a particular step be taught and reinforced a few more times? Is it time to move on to the next step in the task?  Has a particular step been mastered? These are decisions that must be made during the chaining process, and they can be made correctly only if you cautiously monitor the results you are getting.

Examples of Backward Chaining—

Example #1: To teach your AS or HFA youngster how to change the sheets and pillow cases on her bed, you can break down the steps as follows:
  1. Remove the pillow cases
  2. Remove the pillows
  3. Remove the blanket(s)
  4. Remove the top sheet
  5. Remove the fitted sheet
  6. Put on a clean fitted sheet
  7. Put on a clean top sheet
  8. Replace the blanket(s)
  9. Put on clean pillow cases
  10. Replace the pillows

To start, you could do steps 1 through 8, and then let your youngster put the clean pillow cases on the pillows, and put the pillows on the bed. When that can be done consistently, you could do steps 1 through 7, and then let your youngster pull up the blanket(s), put cases on the pillows, and put the pillows on the bed. When she becomes comfortable with each step, the step before it is introduced, always with the goal of having her finish the task successfully.

Example #2: To teach your AS or HFA youngster how to tie his shoe laces, you can break down the steps as follows: 
  1. Take a lace in each hand, crossing the laces into an "X"
  2. Insert one lace through the bottom of the "X" and pull both laces tight
  3. Make a small loop with one of the laces
  4. Hold the loop with the thumb and index finger of one hand
  5. Take the other lace and swoop it around the loop
  6. Move the thumb and index fingers enough so that the swooped lace can be seen through the little hole
  7. Identify the swooped lace and grab hold it
  8. Pull the swooped lace and the loop at the same time in opposite directions, pulling slowly but firmly to tighten the laces into a bow

In this example, you will perform steps 1 through 7, allowing your child to tighten the laces into a bow at the end of the task. Once your child can perform this last step, have him work on both steps 7 and 8 …then steps 6, 7 and 8 …and so on.

Example #3: Educators can also make use of backward chaining. For example, in teaching a complex word (e.g., “hypothesis”), the educator could model the last part of the word (“sis), then the middle (“the”), and finally the first part of the word (“hypo”), pausing to allow the child to repeat the word parts.

Using the backward chaining technique is ideal for promoting skills development in AS and HFA children, because starting out with the easier steps that occur at the end of a task will encourage them to persist and learn the harder “first steps” later. So, the next time you are struggling to teach your youngster a basic self-help skill, consider backward chaining. It may be just what your child needs to build confidence and lead him or her to success.

Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Eliminating Thinking Errors in Asperger's and HFA Children

Philosophers have long known that your thoughts can be your own worst enemy. As Shakespeare once said, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism are especially vulnerable to such “thinking errors” due to a phenomenon called “mind-blindness." In this video, we will look at some examples of popular thinking errors used by kids on the autism spectrum, and how parents can help these children view their situation more accurately. 



Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


BEST COMMENT:

Mark, I must tell you - just based on the first and only video of yours that we watched, we have had an amazing breakthrough. The combination of information and clear delivery just turned a light on. What struck us in particular was that because of his Aspergers, we need to 'teach him how the world works'  - and in our case, to do this appropriate to his 8 or 9 year old emotional maturity level. In the background we also see how his OCD combines with those factors to create extreme stress for him and everyone else.We believe the paranoia just resulted from the years of his escalating stress, etc.

Back to the breakthrough: with great effort to pay attention, we were able to apply our new understanding to interacting with him last night and it was amazing! In a matter of hours he was a completely different kid - like he was years ago in terms of the way he talked, engaged, and he even got excited about being engaged in his passion for music. Our new behavior really, probably for the first time, made him feel understood and more safe (I expect that was subconscious).

This is a kid who walked in one day at about 10 years old and informed us he had learned Pi - he could recite 383 digits off the top of his head. By 12-13 yrs he had become an incredible musician, playing in bands w kids 17 & 18. He did the same thing with cooking and was working in a professional kitchen at 13.... all of his own doing. Then of course everything fell apart. It's a combination of amazing gifts and childlike innocence & naivety - not understanding how the world works as you said.

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Sept., 2014]

Do you need some assistance in parenting your Aspergers or HFA child? Click here to use Mark Hutten, M.A. as your personal parent coach.

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Hello, I think two of my three sons have Aspergers.  We have been totally clueless until recently when I was fortunate enough to have a volunteer retired teacher visit us and teach my two younger kids on distance education.  I have known something was quite different with my youngest son for years now, but not knowing anything about asperges or anyone (supposedly) with it- I never made the connection.  Our youngest seems to be quite mild, but has at least 6 typical traits of aspergers, that I can tell.  Our second son is 14 years old and is a minefield.  He has nearly broken up our marriage, and is now working on my in laws, and basically wreeking havok, and I am very worried he will end up in Juvenille court for stealing.  At this point, I am worried sick about him.  My mother in law thinks he may have another condition called ODD? or something- we have had him to psychologists and he sweet talks them, and we can't seem to get anywhere-but I'm not going quietly on that one.  I would love your program, but I don't have an ipad, only a desktop computer.  I was wondering if you had this program in DVD form or book form?  I would appreciate any help you could give us.  I am going to be getting my youngest to a paediatician as soon as I can manage it, and get him assessed. Thankyou, Regards- Reb Price, Cunnamulla. QLD. AUS.

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Hello,
I am the adoptive mother of my 17 yr. old son who was diagnosed with RAD when he was 10 yrs. old.  He received treatment for 18 months at Intermountain Children's Home in Helena, MT when he was 11.  There was no follow up counseling available where we lived and so we were not able to continue therapy for him.  Conventional therapy with therapists was never successful although we tried to go that route.  He struggled in school from 1st grad on with varied approaches used throughout the schools he attended, usually behavioral types of treatment and he was shuffled through his junior year of high school not having what I would call an education at all.  He can barely write and read but mainly due to the fact that his comprehension level joined with his distraction level prevented him from learning.  He is now incarcerated for multiple offenses of burglary, theft, runaway behavior, etc. and is facing current charges of even more events that just keep accumulating because his needs are not being met.  He is in a facility that has abused him physically as a way to control him.  He has been thrown around while in handcuffs and shackles and he has had some memory blackouts during altercations with staff when he is extremely angry.  I suspect that he is re-experiencing childhood trauma that he is not even aware of while being locked up in a jail cell that causes him to act out.  He was kept in a room isolated as an infant and had little interaction with others and when he came to live with me I could never shut a door between us or he would become hysterical.  I suspect being locked up in isolation as he is at this moment has not been good for him.  I have pleaded to get him treatment as he has a kind and gentle heart but he doesn't show that to the world that he is forced to be involved with at this time.  My questions are:  1) would his lock up trigger those past trauma events of his infancy?  2) where can my son go for help?  I need a recommendation for the judge asap.  3) is there an advocacy program anywhere for children with RAD?  I do not believe that continued institutionalization with the correctional facilities is going to help my child in becoming a  productive member of society.  Any help would be appreciated.

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I am online and found your site with regard to the book you offer to launch an adult child into the working and independent world.  Although I would like to believe that my son will do this organically soon, and that he is not a victim of Aspergers or any level of autism, I find that MANY of the symptoms listed are those that I have dealt with for YEARS with my son.  From the time he was just a young boy, he was ‘different’.  But not SO different that I had him tested for something like this.  I had him tested for other things – learning disabilities (negative) challenged in ‘processing information’, but not learning problem, hearing problems (negative) dr. said it’s a case of ‘selective hearing’, dyslexia (possibly), and so on… but through the years, I have just ‘known’ something is not quite right.  And reading these symptoms of Aspergers and/or kids that function quite well with Autism, … I wonder.  Is it possible?!  I am not having him tested at this point.
I am buying your book just to see if there is anything in there that would describe him today at 24 years old.  He lives at home, and I know he desires to move out.  He has graduated College this past May with a BFA in Illustration (artist) and lived with us during college years. He has a job… not in the art field at this time, and not great pay, but he’s employed… none-the-less wants help with gas money still!!?? Almost like he’s afraid he won’t have the money even though he does.  He has no student loans.  Car is paid for.  He talks of finding an apartment with friends, but then… nothing happens.  Maybe it will!  Maybe not.
Hopefully, your book will reveal answers.  If not … at least I can cross that off the list, I suppose!
Anyway, thank you for any insight you may provide!  If there is another book that would be more appropriate for me… give me that info as well!!  I am convinced there is a way I can communicate with my son so that it doesn’t frustrate both of us to no end.

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My 3 1/2 year old has been followed by an early intervention program from 18 months old until he aged out at age 3 -  receiving general therapy, OT, and speech.  At that time he was evaluated by my county’s Special Ed office to determine  eligibility to receive further services.  He was not deemed “deficient enough” to receive services because his “high scores far offset his low scores.”  He was evaluated for autism by a medical center specializing in these disorders.  I was told that he would probably “fit” in the Aspergers category but that condition no longer exists within the autism spectrum.

We try to find activities on our own to help him.  Currently his is part of a therapeutic music program and a therapeutic horse riding program.  He also attends a preschool - he is above average in his knowledge but struggles with the social aspect.  He has been biting at his school (and only at school) since he was about 2 years old.  When this began, he was biting about once a week.  During the past year, I was pregnant and on bed rest for the last 4 months of my pregnancy.  His biting increased to a couple times a week.  The baby is almost 6 months old and my 3 1/2 year old still has not adjusted to his brother.  I cannot leave them alone without supervision.  My 3 1/2 year old has dumped the baby out of his swing and baby chair, head butted him, thrown things at him (he also does this when they are side by side in their carseats) —— and his biting at school has dramatically increased.  Now it has become a daily occurrence - and sometimes more than once a day.  We have not been able to identify any specific event that prompts the biting - he does not have to be angry to bite — sometimes it is totally unprovoked.  It happens when he is in small groups, large groups, inside, outside, morning, afternoon, quiet times or noisy times.   If it is an anger issue (another child playing with a toy he wants),  then the bite can be very bad, with him actually dragging his teeth across the child’s arm, back, face  - where ever his teeth have made contact.  We have tried everything we can think of and his teachers at the preschool try to work with him as well.   We have used time out, read stories about biting, explained how it hurts and how it makes his friends feel — we have even spanked.  We have tried changing up his routine, removing any toys that might have caused a sharing problem… I could list more but the point is that we just do not know want to do.

I think we are “in the forest and can’t see the trees.”  Do you have any suggestions or advice on what we need to do to help him stop biting at this point?  I somehow think that he has done it for so long that it has almost become a habit.  It is almost as if he seems to thinks that biting is what is expected of him when he goes to preschool.  Other than preschool, he does not bite. I have tried to find services (such as anger management, etc) but my area is so limited.  There is one program that could help him.  I have spoken to the therapist at length but my insurance will not pay and their costs are exorbitant.

I am a high school teacher but feel so helpless when it comes to my own child.  Dad loves his son but is passive and we have completely different views on discipline - his is to ignore it and hopefully it will go away!  My parents live close by and my son adores them.  They seem to be able to do much more with him than I am able to and he responds differently to them than he does to me.  They have also tried to address this problem with him but have not had success either.

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Hi mark,
I read all of your articles and have been for years . I've found them very helpful I've been struggling with a problem for several years now and I just can't figure out how it solve it:
I am separated 2 years, divorced 1 and my 10 year old son ( mild aspire) yells at me. I have no one here to take up for me besides his younger and older brothers and that's not their job. If something  doesnt go his way he yls things at me like: " I hate you!  You're a jerk!! This is why I'd rather be at dad's house, and even obscenities sometimes." He yells at me so loudly it hurts my ears and honestly I'm afraid he may hurt me someday, on impulse. I've tried to ignore him, take away his iPad, I even prevented him from attending football practice last night. It seems those things just make him madder. Any advice? He also yells at his brothers . But I'm the main target of abuse.

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Hello Mr. Hutten

Please read the previous email below if possible to put the things in context.
After reading your book I will say my son is of subtypes Rule Oriented, Predominately OCD with anxiety and inattention.

Last few years we have worked with a few therapists and most of them have said that they infrequently meet kids who are so rigid emotionally.

Now the latest issue is last year kid missed 45 days of school, so he missed mid-term tests. He wasted whole summer watching RERUNS of TV shows and even did not meet with the teacher we hired for SAT. Now kid is sad as unlike other kids he missed midterm tests last year. He says he is upset/sad as he DID not work for college/SAT like other kids during summer. Tries to live too much in the past. One word to describe him carries 'too much emotional baggage'. We say ok you missed in past , we can still catch up, let us do now, then he won’t do anything.

One more item worth mentioning, although behind in reading comprehension, but on Wikipedia he can read many pages about TV shows of his interest. But yesterday he has to read a few pages about school rules, then he gave us a lot of grief.

The question I need your opinion on is if we put such kid in so called therapeutic school (he will be unwilling). As per your opinion or calculated guess do such kids improve or become worse.
If you have any recommendation of therapeutic school on east coast for such kid please share.

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Good morning:
I wanted to ask whether you think your program would be an effective s.s. training module
for teachers to employ. I teach autistic students in a self contained classroom -several of
whom are high functioning. All are established communicators and range in age from 8 to
11 years old. They are in desperate need of s.s. training (bully each other, verbally abusive,
physically abusive if not separated). I need to find a good program and haven't yet. Any
advice is appreciated.
Regards,
Vicki F.

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Mark,  I am writing this at a very vulnerable time.  We have a 12 almost 13 year old aspergers son.  We changed him from a mainstream school in 4th grade to a school where we thought he would get more individual help with reading comprehension.  He was well adjusted and everyone in his class was wonderful.He laughed and talked alot.  At the next school for children with special needs he got to where he was quiet at school but very animated and talked alot at home and with family.  So, now we have mainstreamed him again and he is repeating 6th grade again due to getting behind at the special needs school.  He began throwing up this summer in all the trashcans around the house but told me he had a migraine. After a few weeks I knew this was not true and he told us he was anxious about going to a new school.  He asked what if no one likes me.  Then I caught him making himself throw up .  that blew me away. How did he even know about that?  Also, he became so ugly and mean. Calling me stupid, dumb and a bitch.  He told his aunt tonight that he hated her then said he was sorry and did not know why he did that.  Also , he is urinating in his playroom and room for no reason but sometimes because he is mad at me.  He has shaved off both of his eyebrows and again for no reason.  We have been to see the psychologist and she can not get a handle on this.  He does hate me right now as he told the psych.  He urinated this morning in his room for no reason and now I am making him clean it up.  At school, they have assigned some boys to include him and this has been great.  He is drinking a caffeinated drink at lunch which helps keep him awake for the afternoon.  His grades are good with us studying for hours together daily. When he gets in the car and I ask him about his day he tells me to be quiet, he wants silence.  He does strength training on tuesdays and thursdays and guitar on Wed.  He is musically talented.  He is adopted so I do not know alot about his background.  He is on Focalin 150 mg and clonipin ,25 prn and Vyvanse.  I give him Melatonin 10 mg at night for sleep. It takes him a long time to go to sleep.  And YES, I have been screaming back and cursing--I have about lost my mind.  I want to do whatever it takes to get him back on track.  I want my sweet talkative fella back or something that is manageble.  I don't want to lose him.  He still has times that he is sweet and loving.

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Dear Mark,

My son, Hunter was diagnosed with AS in 2006, once he got the assessment, he hasn't being reassessed, this is despite Hunters teachers say he tends to cycle in his behavior, he frequently talks to himself on both sides of the conversation. Even laughing a good hardly laugh at what one side said or conversely getting upset. He says he hears voices in his head. He has had oppositional defiant leading to violent out busts of wanting to hit, kill, bomb, etc. He has sexualised behavior at home and school and in public. We are more concerned for our sons safety and reaching his full potential than having a label. He is now 13, big and strong so we need to get a handle on the best way to help him sooner rather than later.

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We adopted our son Marcus when he was 2 1/2.  In hindsight, I can see much of the high functioning Asperger's signs from the beginning.  He will be 15 in November and we have had a lot of trouble with him through the years.  He presents very much like Reactive Attachment Disorder and was severely abused and neglected before we got him.  He has spent time in residential facilities because of acting out against younger siblings and making it a very unsafe environment, all the while, being treated as if it were RAD.  During the last time at the residential facility and then with his most recent counselor, now back at home, I have had two separate counselors suggest that he may be high functioning Asperger's because of his lack of empathy toward his victims, unable to keep eye contact, comforting behaviors, among many other things.

My question is, should we test him for it and add one more label to him (which is already difficult for him) or for now, read more books like yours and educate ourselves on living with and helping a child with Asperger's?  He also has epilepsy, but is otherwise very healthy physically.

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Thank you so much!!  I have read some parts of the book today.  When I get more read, I will probably pay the fee to be able to email you on a regular basis. Thank you for what you do!!  It's amazing how much many of the characteristics of Asperger's and RAD look the same, but I feel like this is answering all the other questions that we have had that didn't seem to have an answer before!

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Hi,
My names natasha and I live in england. My son who is now 10 years old was diagnosed with HFA in 2009. I have watched your video and it has given me a clarification of how my son's mind works. I always felt I understood him but would find myself getting frustrated when he would argue points with me. I can see the reason behind this now and hopefully will manage situations better from now on.
My son appears to live in what I call a fantasy world, he mimics actions and sayings from books and tv and can not seem to understand that some things he does is not exceptable.  It is like the world of tv and reality murge together. Would it be adviced to maybe reduce what kind of tv he watches though I don't want to completely restrict him from watching shows that other children his age would watch, or do I refer to some fact based information for him to reference the behavior he observes through tv and books to that of what is exceptable in society. 

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Hi Mark,

Thank you so much for being a resource for people like me. My son Micah, is 11 and has a speech disability and autism. This is a double-whammy, and now he is in 5th grade there are challenges compounding. I believe this will only worsen if I do not find the right interventions.

Micah has come a long way and his age helps him become more self-confident is some ways, but generalizing school rules is a challenge. He is in the general classroom around 90% of the time, has an average intelligence (brilliant in many abstract ways beyond his years and concrete thinking is strong) and can answer questions when being called or even volunteers to answer questions. He is extremely aware of his speech disability and there are some consonant blends that have never been produced, and is afraid the outside world will never understand or accept his speech. This is a very painful issue for me to watch him go through...yes I am the mom! But I also can confirm this is painful for him as well, due to his tears always after school in the truck on the way home.

I am a college student and my major is special education...four class countdown for my BS! The major was chosen for me, and I am very grateful that I am in school to keep up with my son and to be the greatest intervention he has. Unfortunately, this was a Utopian thought and I am desperate to find the next step for Micah because his progress, or the lack of is out of my knowledge of abilities.

Micah has never created a basic knowledge of making friends. He has never constructed that first experience of walking up to a child and asking them if he could play with them. I know that once he has done this, he can begin to scaffold this new experience and create more social experiences from the foundation experience. Of course I sit on the sidelines and guide and even tried to role play..."okay, Micah, I am Jacob and throwing a ball to another boy and you walk up to me and say can I throw the ball with you guys...." nope, he is too smart and old to intervene like that because he just rolls his eyes at me!  Today his special ed. director called me and said, "Micah was crawling on the bathroom stalls AGAIN and sprayed a child with sink water, for the third and final time. He cannot go to the bathroom without an adult."  Micah knows he was wrong but I am not sure if he FEELS  what it is like to be wrong. Therefore, am I wrong to continue my positive behavior interventions...basically ignore the bad but reward the good????? I discuss the accepted behaviors that he needs to conform to, but I also do  not ground him or take away things for days. I have always though discussing and really watching for his affirmative responses gives me good reason to believe he understands in that moment. But if a student is giving him attention by either encouraging the bad or just watching him mess around, he is so starving for attention, he will throw out the rules to gain that attention.

 I have seen no benefit to disciplining him for more than a few hours at a time because his sense of time is pretty much in the moment.

 I do not think he is generalizing the bathroom rules, or any rules it seems, at times. I think this is a convenience issue for him, but also when he appears to be getting any attention from students, he goes over the top with that particular behavior.  He does not require  a behavioral intervention plan, so he is not EBD by any means. But I have always known in my gut that if he will continue to never make friends and become so isolated he will begin to have behavior issues, simply due to the rational idea that if we don't receive good attention, we will create bad attention. No one wants to be alone, period. How much learning can you really have when you go to a building for 7 hours, without one person that you call your friend, and expect to be motivated to learn or even go to school. He has been to therapists, but again, he sits and is patient in the meeting, listening and even agreeing to what is being said,  but I do not believe the information is being absorbed at all. He is an active learner, not a passive one and hands-on is the most effective.

I have pleaded with the school to help with social skills on the playground and lunchroom, where the rubber hits the road, socially speaking. This is the raw social opportunities that should be monitored.  We can sit with Micah all day and explain social curriculum, is what they call it now, but within the natural environment of boy/boy, boy/girl interactions, he cannot bring himself to initiate, he can only reciprocate social invitations.

I could go on and on, but I believe that would be ineffective for you! I have explained just a smidgen of my confusion about my beautiful enigma, Micah Mosiah! He loves his horses, goats and puppy deeply. So I do know he has a very large capacity for feelings and compassion and can be an emotional caretaker for those who are sad. I am in need of guidance that bolsters his self-esteem, not disciplines the spirit out of him. This means getting inside his mind and speaking his language in order to effectively raise him and intervene during his most crucial years.  I want to build on his amazing capabilities as an amazing person, but I do not believe I have authority/credibility in his mind to help guide him. This is why I reach out to you.

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My 26 year old high functioning Asperger's daughter plans to move to Houston, Texas with no place to stay.  She will have $1100 with her and plans to stay in a hotel until she can find a place to stay.  She doesn't have good common sense but we as her parents can't seem to stop her.  She has already bought her plane ticket to go there next week.  She is very depressed because all she can find here in Mansfield, Ohio is factory jobs.  She used to live in the Twin Cities by herself but had lots of friends there and we had her come live with us in January after she graduated from college because people were stealing from her and also she couldn't handle her money.  I don't know what to do because she says that Austin is a very safe place to live but in reality every big city has unsafe places.  She also plans to get a job there too.  My husband plans to move to Akron, Ohio next year where we have seen that she can get help for her Asperger's.  She got herself diagnosed for Asperger's two years ago but says her friends don't realize she has it. It is obvious to us that she still acts like a child in some ways and that is why she has such a hard time finding a job.  So what should we do so we can stop her from going to Texas next week?  When we tried to talk to her about her needing help she had a meltdown at a restaurant.

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I want to thank you for sharing tips and suggestions for handling Asperger’s children. I had never even heard of this disorder until my grandson was diagnosed. I’ve felt lost, disappointed, sad, that my lovely grandson is afflicted with this confusing disorder, but your newsletter gives me hope.

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Dear Mr. Hutten,

I am writing you for help. I am starting to think I am the child of a parent with Aspergers. Is there any material you can recommend for me?

I am starting to suspect my father may have Aspergers. In any stressful situation he becomes distant. He is very charming and able to talk to customers that come into his business, but he struggles at lasting relationships. He can't hire employees because he becomes verbally abusive, and the only person he has that volunteered to help him, actually was using him and stealing from him. He is easily angered. He is very gullible to people who are trying to use him or lead him into harmful behavior, and despite all warnings will follow them. My mother and his children warning him seem to anger him and he becomes distant from us and goes more towards dangerous, bad people. His difficulty socializing makes him insecure and crave more the attention of these people. He can't prioritize family over "friends" and i think their drinking and bad lifestyle makes him feel temporarily "accepted" into a world he hasn't been able to enter into. I feel he is entering down a very dangerous road. Worse yet, he is taking my brother, who has actually been diagnosed with Aspergers, on this road with him.

I highly suspect my father has Aspergers. I want so badly to communicate to him. Do you know of any books for someone who has an Asperger parent? Should I read the books on Asperger Partners? What will help. I need to get the most info possible so I can improve my communication with him as soon as possible.

I should probably specify, that I am an adult, and so are my brother and sister. If we can learn how to help my father, we want to very much. I also want to help my adult brother with Aspergers (he was diagnosed as an adult). If I can improve my communication skills that would be great. I haven't really learned anything about how to communicate with Asperger people. I am highly use to the poor cognitive shifting, mindblindness, and weak central coherence you talk about, as I grew up with it with my father.

Any books you know of that can help with communication with people with Aspergers, I would greatly appreciate learning about.

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Dear Mark
I bought your ebook a while ago , ( but relatively recently in struggling to understand things) and it has been a real help and solace. I may be very wrong but I am pretty sure that my partner has traits all of which I recognise from your descriptions. We have struggled on and off for 17 years and have two lovely twin boys. Counselling of any sort always made things worse because my partner hated speaking in that forum. Sometimes I think I'm going mad ( at present) and find it hard to hold on to the fact that that phase will usually pass as if nothing had happened. As your book says, it feels very isolating because not easy to share with friends, especially as he will make a swift change from being cold and silent or snappy , to being gentle and fun in company.
I want to know if how and when I can  ask him to take a diagnosis- for instance is there an Introductory test on the internet that he cd do? I remember about two years ago when the thought first came to me about aspergers, that I found one and answered what I thought might be his responses .. But I'm not sure what that one was now, and if it would be valid even if he were to answer. Is there anything that might be possible to introduce us to to dip a toe in the water? I did introduce the subject a while back but it has sort of been taboo, but every now and then he might mention something relating to that conversation - one of the twins has some traits but not many, but we have talked together about those.
I suppose I'm writing because at the moment I'm going through one of those isolated phases, and it just feels awful.I appreciate very much that you said support is out there so thank you for letting me write.

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I have come to believe that our 26-year-old may have Aspergers...or rather at this point, it has him.  I have read that those with Aspergers can mask it. Our son has always been strong-willed and unique, but became increasingly irrational after reaching "legal adult age,"when he could refuse any help.  It was not until then we recognized what I describe as "his brain short-circuiting."

We do not have health insurance, nor the income to afford help for our son. We do not know even where to start pursuing help, and who would diagnose aspergers. It would be tragic to take him to the wrong "professionals" who are con-artists or simply don't care about patients, only about money, and hand out prescriptions carelessly. 

Can you explain how we start, what we need to know.  I searched "how to help adult child w/aspergers and discovered your book, with your very helpful article about the book and adults with aspergers. But please, how do we first go about diagnosis with no money to pay for help for our son, who at last has expressed some level of willingness to acknowledge the possibility of aspergers?

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Dear Mr. Hutten,

Thank you for your help. Do you know any therapists that work with Aspergers in Colorado?  Any lecturers you have seen at conferences or anything like that?

I like how you said that pediatricians are learning to listen more to the parents of autistic kids and listen to their 6th sense. I wish more therapists did. My mother has gone to a therapist with my father and begged the therapist to have my father tested for Aspergers, the therapist just considered her in a negative light and refused. If the therapist had tested this like my mother asked 10 years ago, our lives would have made a lot more sense. I hope you are promoting this idea to therapists too - to listen to couples in therapy and consider that perhaps the partner does have a 6th sense when they wonder if their spouse might have Aspergers.

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Dear Mark,


I found your name and email address on line while searching for "better electronic games/show alternatives for aspergers/autistic teens". My daughter is 17 and as is the case with many - has been severely addicted to electronic mediums. I'm looking for better alternatives to what she spends her time on now (addictive games like Candy Crush) and below are level TV shows. She is engaged in many other activities of course - special needs sports, piano, cheerleading, voice lessons - many things. But during down time, electronics are where she always ends up. Looking for better content. She was severely addicted to POKEMON for about 8 years and this phase has finally subsided. Any direction with actual names of shows, games for DS, IPAD or iphone would  be greatly appreciated.



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Hi Mark,
I currently subscribe to your articles about Asperger's children. I am a therapist and work with a variety of children. More often than lately, I have had "out of control" families come through my door. I have had many years experience dealing with the teenaged child as well as those that have additional issues like; trauma, depression, ADHD, defiance, etc. The difference I see is what the parent puts into the time outside of our sessions. But here is my dilemna...
many grandparents are raising troubled kids
many kids with horrid pasts see me as a reminder of the junk in their lives and are resistent to therapy
parents/family members raising these kids seem "empty" when it comes to being consistent and predictable....and they look to me for a fix rather than being given support

I would love to subsribe to your program about defiant children and be able to share the resources with these families. I do not want to violate copy right laws or misuse your product.
If you would rather me not be a facilitator; using your product OPS, do you have any other materials that I could use? I feel the need for something concrete....
feedback is appreciated
I enjoy your work

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I am out of my element here lately.  My son, age 16, was dx in second grade.  Other than some quirks we sailed along smoothly until about Christmas time last year (his first year in high school).  He suddenly began failing a couple of his classes.  Apparently homework such as projects were assigned and Colton simply did not do them.  When questioned by his teachers he would tell them he had done the assignment but left it at home.  He would tell me that he had already turned the assignment in.  Neither of these were true.  The problem continued the remainder of his freshman year and is now haunting us as this new school year begins.  For example, he had summer homework in his advanced History class to read and take hand written notes on the first 5 chapters of his book.   He completed this but never turned it in.  Now the notes are lost.  He is currently making a 15 in this class, which is the subject of fascination for him (he could write en encyclopedia on world events, world history, foreign policies, etc.).  I proceeded to have him redo the assignment.  Unfortunately, his reading is quite slow.  Not because he has difficulty with the words, but because he is so focused on memorizing each and every thing on each and every page that he reads and rereads over and over and over.  It sometimes takes an hour to complete one page.  Needless to say, we do not have time for this.  I scheduled an ARD meeting last year and had a 504 put in place for him.  But to date I have not noticed that this did one thing for him.  I make an appointment with a local psychologist that specialized in Asperger’s by the name of Denise Wooten in Flower Mound, TX.  I am feeling as if I am failing him since I am clueless as to what to do.  I am a single parent and he has basically no interaction with his father.  He is extremely intelligent so failing classes is just absurd to me.  Especially since he has consistently been an all A student up until last year. 

PS  Discipline is a dreaded word at my house for him.  The ONLY activity he enjoys or is willing to participate in is his computer games which allow him to create his own European country and its government.  He toys with different ways to rule his “people”.  I even hear him holding “Press Conferences” with only himself announcing the birth of a new flag or some other change he needs to pass along to them.  When the lying and forgetfulness began I at first attempted to deny him the luxury of playing the game.  The fit was horrendous.  He is lost without it. He hates TV, being outside for ANY reason, sports of all types, anything that involves socializing, and reading is a lost cause because of the intensity he puts into it.  Therefore he is adamant that he will just have to sit in his room and stare at the walls.  Truthfully, that is exactly what would happen.  Plus, I truly don’t feel as if he is purposely doing this.  His Vyvance wears off typically about the time school gets out.  There goes his concentration and focus.  Plus all he can think about doing is rushing home to play the game.  Sleeping is also an issue.  His internal clock is completely off.  He literally cannot fall asleep at night.  Once he does, it is not unusual for him to awaken during the night.  Another part of his meltdown when I attempted to take his computer from him is the reasoning that he absolutely cannot go to sleep with the computer to help him get sleepy.  Once this child has a thought or idea in his mind it is as if it is chiseled in stone.  There is just no reasoning with him.  The world is completely black or white.  No in between.    He was completely convinced that he would never, ever go to sleep.  And I am telling you that he is probably correct.  So I was between a rock and a hard place.  I honestly felt like taking the computer was going to do more harm than good.  But at the same time I don’t feel that this should go without a consequence. 

If you have any insight on this I am 100% open to hearing it.  I am starting to realize that he may never be ready to live on his own.  He does not remember to bathe, change his clothes, brush his teeth, use deodorant or even eat if I am not right there to tell him to do so.  Additionally, he has his heart set on joining the Marines as an officer at some point.  I simply do not have the heart to tell him this dream may not come true.  With his “noodle limbs” I am just not sure he will ever be able to condition himself for such an undertaking.  I have asked if he has a backup plan to which he replies “Why would I?”.  

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Mr. Hutton,

My son Alex just started the 4th grade and he is a highly functioning boy with Aspergers that was diagnosed by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  We have mainstreamed him but his homework is getting detailed enough that it causes him panic attacks and episodes.  He scored exceptional on his PSST tests and does well in school but does not know how to interact with kids at recess even though he excels in Tae Kwan Do as a blue belt, chess club, cub scouts, and other organized events and structures.  For the first time this year we have requested a 504 plan but since school just started I do not know if that is enough.  I am thinking of having the school do an IEP because I think it is too subjective to leave my son’s education up to one homeroom teacher and to treat him as a “normal kid” at school and then have my son have almost daily fears and episodes over homework fears makes living with him very tough and the stress is unbearable for the whole family.

What do you feel about the IEP for high functioning kids with Aspergers with real and consistent fears?

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Mark,
I am a mother of an adult 28 year old son with Asperger’s who has an interesting life story. You may wish to consider writing a book for PARENTS OF ADULTS WITH ASPERGER’S regarding situations as the years go by.
Addressing the “latter years” when they are completely alone. With all the famous doctor’s I have consulted with both around the world and over the years, none see it clearer than you do. Your writing is excellent, a true gift to all of us families trying to struggle with this illness.
Regardless, if you want to hear about my son’s path in life (Master’s Degree and a 3.9 average) but socially stuck in a world that will not hire or except him, I would be delighted to speak with you. Your book is the new Bible, really.
You are a starStar You have been able to define clearly the the question we have been asking all these years.
What is wrong with my kid? Sounds simple - not really.
My husband has an associate in Israel and another in Toronto who are refining & researching an early testing device for children with a variety of autistic behaviours. We all care what you have to say and how well you say it.
Thank you for your wonderful and effective writing on this delicate subject.

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Mark,
Do you have any upcoming speaking engagements that I could bring a few thousand parents to
who need to hear your message? I am in Southern California a great deal of the time but would fly anywhere to hear you speak.
I could make you the next Dr. Phil, really.
I am an advocate, a 57 year old mother, and a seasoned marketing professional willing to provide a variety of resources to you (free) to put you where you belong, in front of an international audience.
Think about it please.
All the best,
Nancy

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Hi,

I have a son who is 11. He is getting increasing violent at school. What do I tell them to do with him? They have him in a social communication classroom most of the day due to safety concerns for him and others. I have tried to talk to them that he is responding to stressors of his body as well as the stress of the middle school environment. They are looking to kick him out because of his threats of violence to staff and because he hits his head against the wall.

Any help would be appreciated. He is on an IEP and sees a pyschiatrist at Childrens Hospital but nothing seems to change no matter what medicine we try. He takes Ritalin for ADHD and a mood stabilizer as well as Abilify.

Please advise.

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My partner has started getting rid of everything that causes his meltdowns (it only has to cause one meltdown and he will get rid of it)- me wearing his shirts, a sport that he used to love, paintings, trophies and other items in the house and now the cats sitting on his lap (the cat scratched him and now he wants them off his lap and nowhere near him).  These things have all happened within the last two weeks. I have tried explaining to him that this is not the solution to his meltdowns not occuring or stopping them. He seems to think it is. Can you please tell me what the best thing to do is please? I am almost ready to leave. He wanted me to leave and take the cats too tonight.

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My 14 year old as already been grounded for a month for making pore choices. Sneaking out at night, hiring motorbikes and joyriding with her friends at night. She is also mucking up at school.so I have taken everything off her, Iphone etc, no friends over etc. last evening she had a total melt down as I would not let her stay at a friends house. I kept the poker face on and didn't raise my voice, she threatened to kill herself etc etc. I scored 98 on the quiz, no surprises for me as I know I am a push over of a mother.
I also have an 11 year old son who had a total meltdown on me last night as I had confiscated his ipad as he is not reading enough. Kept the poker face on and didn't give in and we watched a movie instead.
Any tips you have is much appreciated, particularly with my daughter. We are an Australian family, living in Thailand and the influences her are extreme on my children.

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I have a son who is almost 16 and I used what I learned from your ebook to raise him. Up until he turned 15 he was a pretty good kid. After his 15th birthday he became sullen, rude, ungrateful, secretive. Typical behavior for a teen boy but now I'm facing the same problem I had with Anthony. When I expected him to follow a rule he felt was unfair he chose to go live with his father rather than accept the consequences. His father has been waiting for this opportunity since the courts found him unfit to parent and gave me custody 9 years ago. 

Andrew stayed with his father for 4 months (March to July) . During that time he spent half his savings on junk food (apparently there wasn't much food in the house),  he shopliftted sunglasses, engaged in sexual activity with an 18 year old, stayed out all hours of the night.  I learned about those activities by reading his text messages. When I confronted him about what he was up to be admitted he was getting into trouble because he had to much freedom at his dad's. After that he decided to move back to my house. His behavior improved greatly. 

On August 29th Andrew stayed at his father's while my husband and I went on a 2 week vacation.  When we returned home Andrew continued sleeping at his father's. I asked him why he wasn't coming home and he told me he decided to live 50/50 at each of our houses. I asked him what the schedule would be and he said he wanted to come and go as he pleased. I told him that didn't work for me but he said his dad didn't have a problem with it. I decided to deal with his impractical living arrangement plan by showing him how impractical it was. I called him at his dad's and reminded him he had chores to do.  He refused to come home to do it so I said " if you choose not to do your chore today, you lose your phone for 3 days until you do your chores. The next day I went to his school to take the phone from him.  He refused to give it to me and suggested I call the police to get it back. When he said he was coming to get his PS3 I told him he was not allowed to come in my house or have anything in it until he gave me the phone and did his chores and apologized to me. He or his father must've entered my house while we were out because his game console is gone now. 

I just called Children’s Aid, your equivalent to CPS, to request their help. They said they can try to meditate the situation. I am at a loss for what else I can do. Any advice would be appreciated and I wanted to ask if I am still eligible to use the online parent support group. I can't see how to access it.

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Hello Mark,
It is quite long time I haven't contacted you...
That is because I started the DAN diet as you suggested.. plus vitamins. acheiving very good improvements in my son's behavoiur...
I was followed by a good DAN doctor which is not a pediatritian by the way.
At this point I need to be followed by a pediatritian familiar with autism in order to check if the amount of vitamins I give him is correct or not, what to stop or what to add. A pediatritian who would give me a list of analisys to do in order to check them on-line
Would you be able to give advices on that?
Thank you,
Maria

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Dear Dr. Hutten,
Good evening.  I have been researching Aspergers and I came across your name several times.  I find myself in a unique situation that I hope you may be able to help with.  My boyfriend of 3 1/2 years has a 13 year old son that was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of 10. He has sole custody of his son. Over the past year, things have deteriorated SIGNIFICANTLY as far as behavior in general.  He's hopelessly addicted to any and all electronics, he steals, he lies, he is manipulative and defiant, he's extremely violent and when he doesn't get what he wants, he has extreme tantrums (NOT meltdowns because he can turn it off at the drop of a hat).  He has tried every method of traditional parenting there is, and the situation is getting progressively worse.  The child is not taking any medication, but his father is giving him multiple supplements.
I do not live with my boyfriend, but we are seriously talking about marriage, and I cannot even consider marrying and moving in with this man that I love because very honestly, I'm afraid of this child.  He attacks his father and has caused him physical harm on a number of occasions lately.  I'm really afraid that the violence is going to escalate because he is going through puberty and will be bigger than his father soon.  As it is now, this child has no fear of repercussions or consequences. 
I desperately want to help my boyfriend at least try to get a handle on this situation.  I would appreciate anything you can suggest that we can try.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
Patrice 

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Dear Mr. Hutten,
I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for all the excellent articles you have written related person's with Aspergers or HFA.
I have a lovely 31 year old daughter who is a curious, funny, hard working a great helper, has a big heart and also has a disability of Autism.  
This past year has been one of much growth for my daughter, but many transitions. As you know, transitions can be hard for anyone, much less a person with Autism. The types of challenges we have experienced are not easily addressed by counselors who have not had the benefit of working with person's with different disabilities. My daughter was very triggered by the mental health issues of a person that moved into her group home. This situation was not acknowledged or handled well by staff and we recently moved to another group home.
Many times in the last year I have turned to your site for answers to more fully support my daughter or to help the Adults with ALL abilities I work with at an Adaptive Recreation program. Your respectful well thought out articles have been a great comfort to me as well as a source of hope. I am passing on your web site to my boss at Adapted Recreation for possible use in Disability Awareness Training of camp staff for next year's summer camp. 
Thank you again for all you do.
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Hi Mark,

I came across your website and resources. I recently founded Mansfield Hall, a learning and living community for diverse learners who are seeking a college degree. We work with many students on the spectrum and provide comprehensive services. We are located in Burlington, VT and are opening a location in Madison, WI. I thought I would reach out and say hello and to see if there were any ways we could collaborate in the future.

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Hi, I just ran across your site.  Very informative. I have an 11 yr old son.  We have had him since birth.  We were foster parents for 17yrs for mostly the infants.  He was born addicted to meth, has had alot of sensory issues.  I pulled him out of school after 5th grade to homeschool him this year his 6th yr.  He was just diagnosed two months ago with aspergers. I am 58 years old and am trying to figure out what is the best curriculum and way to teach Julian.  He also has vision disabilites.  I was trying the Easy Peasy free online homeschool curriculum, but it has so much reading.  He just does not get math.  Soooooo do you have any suggestions for me? Curriculum?  how to?  Anything would be greatly appreciated.  I feel quite inadequate, but know I can do this if given some direction. 

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Our 16year old son is type1diabetic. He has also been diagnosed AdHdOdd. We had him tested a while back to see if he is bipolar because his mom is. This specialist said he is bipolar with tendencies to show borderline personality traits.We recently had him retested by a different specialist we were sent to.Garrett did their test on computer and on paper. Then he sent these booklets home for all of his caregivers to fill out. We did so and returned them to the doc. A few days ago we got a letter from the specialists office. He rules out bipolar, confirms ADHDODD, confirms tendencies to show borderline personality traits, and says Garrett also has Aspergers. Is this testing all done on paper or is there oyher testing we need to look into to confirm Aspergers?

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Hi Mark,

Thanks for your generous offer of responding to an email. I have read your book and appreciated the contents. It would be great if you could comment, however briefly on my current scenario.

I met Frank online dating about 4-5 months ago. He pursued my quite keenly and seemed besotted by my photos. I thought him a little dull and lame at first with an odd sense of humor, but he was sweet and I was intrigued enough to meet up with him after an intense 10 days of emails and very long phone calls. Frank works as a lawyer in a regional area about an hour’s drive from my home in Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia. He is 43 and I am 51, but the age difference didn’t seem an issue as the last guy I dated was 42 and I consider myself quite young in mind and appearance. At our first visit he bought up the fact that he was quite OCD about his beautiful house he had just built which was obvious as he always sweeping and wiping surfaces and he said straight out that he had Asperger’s traits. At the time I had only had experience with a few Asperger’s children and teenagers and did not know yet the implications with adults and was pretty quickly swept into a very intense romance, we stayed over with each other on weekends and he would call most nights for an hour or more and we would communicate via email and more calls during the day. Frank met my two grown children and was so taken with them that he said he would like to adopt them, except he would not like the expense they caused.

He is very money conscious. His special interest is mechanical things, trucks, particularly  Western Star Trucks which was good for us as I have a close connection to the company as I buy these trucks for the mine I work for.

This went on for about 3 ½ months and the only real issue a couple of reference to the fact that he was still caught up in memories of his ex-partner, who he had been broken with for 2 years after a three year relationship which had also been a mainly a week end relationship as she had lived in Cairns also at the time. I began to  notice a change in his general mood, he seemed  down and tired and to be struggling a little, when he was suddenly slammed with several major stresses at the same time. His work load seemed to increase in volume and stress due to numerous hearings, his parent left for overseas for several months ( he has a very close relationship with his mother) and left him with a commercial premises to manage and out of the blue he received an email form his ex saying she was moving back to Cairns to attend her sick mother and would like to discuss  a letter he had sent some months prior regarding them getting back together  and would he be able to help her set up her new rental home.

Frank immediately told me about this and stated it had completely overwhelmed him and he could not stay committed to me while considered a future with his former partner and that he would definitely be helping her with her move at the very least.          

We have stayed in touch with a couple of visits, emails and phone calls from him to me since then which is about 6 weeks ago. Frank went back to counselling to deal with his anxiety and also to try to move forward from his previous relationship, however in this part of the world, there is really only one psychologist with training in Adult Aspergers and he is just seeing some sort of counsellor in his home town and I am not sure of her qualifications.

I invited myself to lunch at his house last weekend as I missed him, wanted to see how he was faring and wanted to reinforce my positon that I was still in love with him and to get some clarity on his position. To be concise after a nice lunch I pushed for some clarification and he stated he is not ready for a relationship with anyone, has had minimal contact with his ex-partner, had not seen her and his counsellor was suggesting he keep to this and to gain his confidence back in everyday things first, take care of his own needs and reassess later. He said that knowing how I feel about him places pressure on him to hurry up and make a choice or whatever. Also, that he was trying to accept that a future with his ex-partner was not going to happen, even if he attempted this he thought he would be back in the same position in a period of time and he could not do that again. He has gone out of his way to reassure me of the fact that things are not going anywhere with her, but also said he could not ask me to put my life on hold for him either. 

He seemed quite happy and cheerful and to be coping well and keeping very occupied with his interests, friends and his house, until we tackled the hard stuff. I stayed unemotional outwardly at least, just put the facts forward from my side and was ready to leave when he suddenly broke down and showed quite a bit of emotion and we hugged and comforted each other until I headed off with him promising to call this week end.     

My gut feeling though, is that I won’t hear from him for some time and that I will leave it at that and give him the time and space he has asked for. I have read quite a bit on this complex disorder now and feel like I would like to leave the door open for a future relationship with him, but I will have to give it time and be prepared for some ongoing work. I am quite at ease with it all now, surprisingly enough.

Would appreciate any comments you might have.

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My 16 year old daughter just got her license on Saturday.  She has had a school permit to drive back & forth to school for almost a year. Now that she has her intermediate license our insurance went up dramatically and we pay for a good grade deduction if her grades are A & B. She had a C+ on last Friday and she was blaming the teacher for not getting 2 more assignments up 'and then it would be a B-. We let her talk to the teacher and her grade was up to a B on Wednesday. She now has 2 B-'s and it's a slippery slope but it isn't our place to talk with her teachers (it is hers). A parent can be too helicopter in the powerschool (they are posted as assignments/test/quizzes come in daily) with grades & they can change daily so it's tough from day to day.  She knows what is expected of her to be  able to do the fun things she wants to do  & drive. I costs us a bunch extra in car insurance PLUS if she doesn't hold an A B average and she doesn't have a job to even pay for gas. What is your view on this? Should a teen pay for gas out of their license?

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I found your page for your e-book...

-I don't know- that I want to remain married to my husband.  There is no longer any upside.

When we were first together there was so much he promised -- and he was very loving -- yet those promises, and all the promises he's made since all proved meaningless.

There are an awful lot of complications in separating, including that I haven't worked in 25 years.  (My former husband did not want me working but staying home).
So that's scary.
Yet I feel I may lose my mind if I remain.

I have been with my (current) husband six years.
He lost his job after the first year - but for 2 jobs (each lasting 3-5 months) he has not worked nor looked for work otherwise.

I had been an extremely social person, but because my husband acts immaturely and awkwardly I have not had anyone to my home but once in the last two years.

He makes extremely poor decisions and is steeped deeply in denial.

He has to file BK but can not afford to.

He is so terribly messy and unorganized and that causes endless issues.  It is like living with Dennis the Menace meets Pig Pen.

In this last year he has become terribly petty, forgetful, argumentative... and continually makes ridiculous (maddening) excuses ...
He is entirely unreasonable and unrealistic.

I have sacrificed everything I have to him.... yet he has no friends, has painted himself into a corner, and I feel responsible for him.

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I was wondering if you knew of any resources that could help with Aspergers and employment. My 39-year-old boyfriend has chronic employment issues and has currently been out of work for 2.5 years. I am 41, we have been together for 2 years, but I don't feel the relationship can move on unless he sorts out these problems. I don't want the stress of him living with me, and I don't want to have kids with him. Obviously like most people I wanted those things from a relationship, but if he does not have a secure working life, then maybe I should be with someone else.

He has been surviving on unemployment benefit and an inheritance from his father. But now that money has almost run out, and he will probably shortly go and live with his 70-year-old mother hundreds of miles away. Poor her. He has been doing standup comedy with some success, but it is unrealistic to think that this could provide a secure income - he needs a day job, quite frankly.

I can see there is advice for parents of adult Aspies re: unemployment i.e. don't enable them. I can see that there is also advice for spouses of Aspies re: the relationship.
But our relationship is quite good - we argue respectfully. But I honestly feel I cannot continue in the relationship until he sorts out his job issues for the long term. I cannot afford to support him - I need to provide for myself, both now and in old age.  Do you know of any support/advice?
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QUESTION:

Dear Mark,
I recently purchased your ebook "Asperger Partner"'and found it very insightful.  I have a undiagnosed Aspie girlfriend who lives in California, and I in Michigan.  We see each other at least every three weeks for at least 10 days at a time, and communicate daily (text or phone).  Two problems I am facing.  #1. She refuses to accept Aspergers as as part of her life,and finds it very hurtful that anyone (particularly me) would think that.  She thinks its a mental illness.  However, it has defined her entire life.  She acknowledges the problems and difficulties, but not the "A" word.  #2.  I am here in California for at least a week while she recuperates from knee replacement surgery.  We are only a few days into this and the stress is almost unbearable.  And she becomes sarcastic and insulting if I try to tell her how I feel.  Frankly I want to up and leave, but she has no friends to speak of, and would be helpless and "abandoned".  Any general advice?  I am siting alone, on the couch with my iPad, and as exhausted as I am (as caregiver, nurse, boyfriend, chef, etc), this is the best part of my day and I wish it could never end.   I so agree with you that an loving an aspie  partner can be a growth experience, a spiritual, one for certain, but I feel so strained and inadequate, which is difficult territory for me.  I feel like a trapped animal.  Any advice or words of wisdom or encouragement would be deeply appreciated.

ANSWER:
Well... You've tried to suggest that she has Aspergers. If she rejects that notion, then you've done your part. The rest is up to her. Don't take ownership of it any longer.

Sounds like you will need to set some healthy emotional boundaries. In other words, think about (and maybe put in writing) the behavior from her that you are willing to tolerate -- and the behavior you're not willing to tolerate. Let her know what these parameters are. When she crosses those boundaries, then take a time out away from her.

Also, I think you are taking on too much responsibility for her social life. Which is your issue! Maybe look at yourself!! What is it in YOU that makes you feel this unreasonable amount of responsibility?

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Question:

I decided to let you know about an incident that happened this morning at breakfast, while it is still fresh on my mind. This is not an isolated incident; it has happened before, and not only at mealtimes. My husband and I were eating, when Daniel angrily told his dad "Stop!" My husband asked what he was doing, and Daniel said "You know!" My husband didn't know what to do, so he continued eating. Daniel again told him to stop. My husband told Daniel that he would lose all his electronics for the day if he said it again. Well, Daniel made an angry sound, but he did not say anything. When my husband said the electronics were gone, Daniel started to cry. Since Daniel is very literal, I think he thought he would only lose electronics if he uttered angry words. So we let him have his electronics back. Daniel said he thinks it is unfair that we punish him for things he cannot help. When my husband or I do these "forbidden" things, Daniel has to pray for us. His praying involves having us be quiet while he closes his eyes to pray. We do not hear any words, and he won't tell us what he is praying. Sometimes he moves his lips or his head. As I said before, this happens other places as well. (I wonder if he prays at school.) We have "walked on eggshells" for years to avoid his outbursts of anger. Daniel usually apologizes after these incidents and says he loves us; and he did that this morning before he went to school.


Answer:

Look into Misophonia... sounds like your son may be suffering from that. If so, you may be punishing him for something that is out of his control.

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Hello Mark,
Thank you for your auto response.
Our son, Carter, was officially diagnosed about a month ago. I say, officially, because, I have suspected and "asked" all the doctors he has seen over the years, and although I do not believe they ruled it out, they did not confirm, until now.

In any cast, moving forward.
He is very bright, very verbal, although VERY FRUSTRATED with what seems like EVERYTHING right now. Everything seems to bringing on a meltdown. He's crying out for help, and we just cannot seem to get help for him anywhere.

I have videos coming, I'm reading books, I'm asking his doctors, his school to write his IEP (only has a 504, since 4th grade)-now in 7th-failing everything. Can't/refused to do work at school or home, etcetera.

Just do not know where to turn.
Just last night, in an effort to get him to get him to do homework, he literally ripped one of his school folders up, then threw it on the floor!

We just don't know what to do.
Yes, we are in a crisis situation.

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

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

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

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

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

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

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

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

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

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

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

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

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

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

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content