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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SSRI's To Treat Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism?

“Our doctor wants to start my son who has high functioning autism [Aspergers] on an SSRI. I have told the doc that I need to discuss this with my husband first. At this point, I am not feeling comfortable with my son being on drugs, but will be open to the idea if the advantages appear to outweigh the disadvantages. Not sure about the disadvantages though. Any insight will be wonderful. Thanks in advance.”

Medication can be an important part of treatment for some kids and teens on the autism spectrum.  However, medication should only be used as one part of a total treatment plan.  Ongoing evaluation and monitoring by your doctor is crucial.  Moms and dads should be provided with complete information when medication is recommended, and the child should be included in the discussion about medications, using words he understands. 

By getting answers to the following questions, you should be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to start your son on an SSRI:
  1. Are there any activities that my son should avoid while taking the medication? Are any precautions recommended for other activities?
  2. Are there any laboratory tests (e.g. heart tests, blood test, etc.) that will need to be done before my son begins taking the medication?  Will any tests need to be done while he is taking the medication?
  3. Are there any other medications or foods, which my son should avoid while taking the medication?
  4. Are there interactions between this medication and other medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter) my son is taking?
  5. Does my son's school nurse need to be informed about this medication?
  6. How long will my son need to take this medication?  How will the decision be made to stop this medication?
  7. How will the medication help my son?  How long before I see improvement? When will it work?
  8. Is this medication addictive?  Can it be abused?
  9. What are the side effects which commonly occur with this medication?
  10. What do I do if a problem develops (e.g., my son becomes ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?
  11. What is known about its helpfulness with other kids who have a similar disorder to my son?
  12. What is the cost of the medication (generic vs. brand name)?
  13. What is the name of the medication?  Is it known by other names?
  14. What is the recommended dosage?  How often will the medication be taken?
  15. Will you (the doctor) be monitoring my son's response to this medication and make dosage changes if necessary?  How often will progress be checked?

FYI: Research has shown that SSRI medications can treat certain symptoms of Aspergers and high functioning autism. The notion is that an imbalance of neurotransmitters may lead to problems with mood and behavior in some children on the spectrum. However, the FDA reported that an extensive analysis of clinical trials showed that antidepressants may cause or worsen suicidal thinking or behavior in a small number of kids and teens. The analysis showed that 4 percent of those taking antidepressants had an increase in suicidal thoughts, compared with 2 percent of those taking a sugar pill (placebo). None of the young people in any of the studies actually followed through with suicide. Nonetheless, the FDA considered the findings of enough concern that it issued a public health advisory and began requiring manufacturers to label antidepressants with strong warnings about the link to suicidal thinking and behavior in kids and teens.

Disclosing Your Child's Aspergers or HFA Diagnosis to Others




COMMENTS: 

•    Anonymous said… I am not so quick to fully disclose the Aspergers/ADHD with teachers in grades higher than elementary school. Partial, yes, when needed. Why? Because in the hands of the right teacher, a disclosure is helpful and gives them information that helps the teacher support the weak areas of an HFA child. However, in the hands of the wrong teacher, the disclosure is used to belittle, berate, and bully the HFA child instead of providing the requested support.
•    Anonymous said… I agree with you but have seen the stigmatizing and bullying over and over again. The other thing I've seen is that with a "diagnosis" there is labeling. All this makes it tough to figure out the actual individual potential.
•    Anonymous said… Speaking as an elementary teacher with a lot of background and experience in cognitive impairment and learning disabilities and some with ASD, it is helpful to get information up front. Then I don't have to waste time reinventing the wheel, so to speak. I appreciate getting that insight from parents so that our partnership can begin immediately. And anyone who would berate, belittle, or bully ANY child has no right to call themselves a teacher.
•    Anonymous said… I have struggled with labeling my whole career and also as the sister of a developmentally disabled woman. I have made peace with it if the "label" allows the child to receive appropriate support.
•    Anonymous said… I've been a psychiatric professional for 35 years and watched my clients and their families struggle with labels. 3rd party payments demand labels but treatment and forward movement demand knowing the uniqueness of the needs of the individual.  It helps when teachers and friends understand that the label isn't the person.

Understanding Your “Difficult” Asperger’s and HFA Students: Advice to Teachers

Most children with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are impaired socially. They often do not detect social clues and are frequently unaware when they irritate others. Since they miss these social clues, they miss the lesson associated with the experience. As a result, they tend to repeat the irritating behavior since they are unaware of its effects.

Many of the traits of AS and HFA are "masked" by average to above average IQ scores. This often results in the student being misunderstood by teachers. They assume the child is capable of more than is being produced. This lack of understanding may result in teachers treating the "special needs" student just like a "typical" student.

Another misunderstanding is the relationship between the classwork and social education. For instance, an AS or HFA youngster may find a social setting overwhelming and distracting. If kids are placed in a small group to work together on a project, this could become a social setting to the AS/HFA child. As a result, the child may be over-stimulated by the social aspect to the point where he or she can’t focus on the project itself.

The typical school environment is often very stressful for AS and HFA students, for example: (a) enduring “socialization hell” in the form of recess, lunch, gym, and the bus ride to and from school; (b) regular noises from alarms, bells, schoolmates, band practice, and crowded hallways; (c) periods of tightly structured time alternating with periods lacking any structure; (d) numerous daily transitions with a few surprises thrown in here and there; and (e) an overwhelming number of peers to contend with. Little wonder why AS and HFA students have the proverbial “meltdown” on occasion. All of these stressors should be taken into consideration when evaluating what types of teaching techniques to use with these youngsters.

Taking the above challenges into account (and there are many more than those listed), let’s now look at some specific techniques to employ with students on the high-functioning end of autism:

1. Although AS and HFA kids have difficulty figuring out most principles of social interaction, they are usually pretty good at understanding “cause-and-effect” principles. This suggests that, although these young people may be unaware of another person’s desires or emotions, they usually are aware of theirs. This can be useful in education if the teacher takes the time to figure out what is pleasing to the youngster. Once this pleasure has been discovered, the teacher can request the desired behavior and reinforce the behavior with the object or activity of desire.

2. AS and HFA children, like all others, change teachers each year. Additionally, there is the requirement of moving from elementary to middle school, and then on to high school. Thus, it’s important to have a "transition-planning meeting" scheduled prior to such transitions. This meeting allows the previous teacher to inform the incoming teacher on successful techniques, as well as provide general education on the traits of AS and HFA. The child should be orientated as well. Allowing the child extra time to become familiar with a new environment will prevent unnecessary stress during transitional periods.

3. AS and HFA students are visual learners. Thus, a visual schedule of the day's activities, a visual depiction of the type and length of the work expected, and instructions presented visually in addition to verbally can be very helpful. Visual instructions and schedules help these children to feel more secure and less stressed.

4. Because AS and HFA children have difficulty learning in a traditional manner, mild to severe depression can occur. These children have the capability to acquire information, but their performance is hindered. A depressed child will undoubtedly have some academic struggles. For AS and HFA children, depression is just one more barrier to education. Thus, teachers should be on the lookout for signs of depression in these “special needs” students and make a referral to the school counselor when needed.

5. Imagine nails scraping on a chalk board. It sends a chill down your spine – right?! To a youngster with AS or HFA, every day sounds can have a similar affect. Thus, it’s important for the teacher to take inventory to determine sounds difficult for the child to hear. Consider allowing him or her to listen to soft music with headsets during class times when there is a lot of distracting noise. Earplugs are another solution.

6. In middle and high school, passing periods are a desirable time of socializing for most “typical” children. For the AS or HFA child, passing periods are a social zoo. Thus, allowing the child to leave 5 minutes early in order to avoid the overwhelming social interaction is recommended. Without such an option, the child may spend most of the next class trying to recover from the distressing sensory overload experienced during the previous passing period.

7. Many students with AS and HFA are impulsive.  You may have a child who loves class participation, but has trouble sensing when he or she should stop talking and give someone else a chance.  Thus, work out a signal that only the two of you know (e.g., tapping your chin with your index finger, standing in front of that child's desk, etc.) that cue him or her that it's time to stop talking.   If you have an AS or HFA child who is especially eager to participate, you may want to routinely call on that child first so he or she isn't jumping out of the chair in an eagerness to contribute.

8. Minimizing the stress and worry AS and HFA children face is critical to education. Frequent changes in routines make it difficult for these kids to focus on the schoolwork due to preoccupation concerning what will come next in the day. Teachers should try to minimize transitions and insure the environment is predictable. When there are changes in the routine, these children should be prepped ahead of time in order to help them avoid excessive anxiety.

9. Oftentimes, “teacher frustration” can develop from a lack of understanding that an AS or HFA child is unable to generalize the skills that he or she learns. For instance, the teacher may give instructions on “how to address me as your teacher” (e.g., raising your hand first, saying “Mrs. Johnson” rather than “Hey teacher”). Typically, this skill would then be generalized to any adult in a position of authority. However, the child with AS or HFA is likely to only apply the skill to the teacher initially used as the target of respect in the learning process. The child will probably not apply this behavior to the principal, school counselor, school police officer, etc. Thus, teachers may need to repeat a particular “social skills lesson” several times so that all the possible scenarios are covered (i.e., addressing the teacher, addressing the principal, addressing the dean, and so on). The inability to generalize can also pose a problem in classroom assignments. For example, giving instructions to open an arithmetic book to a certain page does not communicate to additionally begin solving the problems. Thus, teachers should verbally give all the steps necessary to complete an assignment rather than assuming the AS or HFA child will automatically know what to do next.

10. There is another critical aspect of learning that is not obvious to AS and HFA children. This aspect of learning includes the basic “how to’s” of living. These are things that “typical” children seem to just know. The social know-how that tells most kids what is inappropriate conversation material may be foreign to an AS or HFA child. Thus, teachers instructing children struggling in this area should make use of social stories and role-playing. Social stories and role-playing give examples of proper actions in given public settings.

Teachers need to understand what Asperger’s is – and how it hinders affected children. Without a clear understanding of this disorder, teachers will not understand the AS child. Actions that are clearly a part of the disorder can be confused with behavioral issues and dealt with inappropriately. Also, teachers must educate themselves on effective teaching techniques for students on the spectrum. 

The basic principles that prove effective with “typical” children work for those with AS and HFA. Every “special needs” youngster needs to be evaluated, and have a plan established addressing areas of weakness – as well as acknowledging areas of strength. Perhaps most importantly, teachers should “believe in” the child and expect him or her to reach appropriate grade level requirements.

The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism
 

High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s: The Importance of Early Identification and Intervention

Early identification and intervention are considered key to positive outcomes for kids with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS). In order to reach all children on the autism spectrum, moms and dads, teachers, school psychologists, mental health professionals, and doctors need to work together to become better informed regarding the best proactive interventions to increase social skills, personal communication, behavior, and peer interaction. They also should be knowledgeable about assessment tools, diagnostic criteria, and current research.

The 3 major benefits of early identification and intervention:

1. The lifetime societal cost of autism spectrum disorders, including care and lost productivity, has been estimated at $3.2 million per youngster, with health care expenditures increasing sharply (142%) over the last five years. Thus, it is crucial to the child, the parents, and even to society that we improve our efforts at early detection and access to early intervention in order to attempt to lessen the impact of the challenges associated with HFA.

2. Diagnosing HFA as soon as possible gives parents some answers they are seeking to their questions about their youngster’s “abnormal” development. This allows them to begin the process of learning about HFA, understanding its effects on their youngster, and beginning the process of perceiving the future differently.  It allows parents to replace worry and fantasy with solid information about the nature of their youngster’s strengths and weaknesses.  For many moms and dads, receiving a diagnosis allows them to move from unfocused worry to mobilized efforts to learn about the disorder, to find help for their youngster, and to move into some action plan. This mobilization is often a source of relief from some of the anxiety they experience as they move through the screening process.

3. HFA kids have a different learning profile pattern of relative strengths and weaknesses than do “typical” kids.  Thus, it is not surprising that young people with HFA learn most rapidly when they receive unique teaching and curriculum approaches built for their distinctive learning profile. The methods for teaching these students contain elements that are not seen in early intervention approaches for students with other kinds of disabilities.  Specifically, there is more focus on direct instruction, higher levels of structure, higher numbers of intervention hours per week, and lower student-to-educator ratios than are typically seen in early intervention services in most communities for kids with other developmental issues.  A number of studies have documented better outcomes for young kids with HFA who receive intensive and specialized treatment as early as possible.  Some of these studies have demonstrated considerable IQ and speech gains and much better functioning in elementary school for those receiving intensive and specialized intervention by age 3. Thus, earlier diagnosis allows the most appropriate treatment to be selected and delivered.

HFA impacts normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. The disorder makes it hard for the affected child to communicate with others and relate to the social world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present; however, internal behaviors (e.g., withdrawal, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and social isolation) may be just as prevalent. Thus, a team of professionals should be making an informed diagnosis to ensure that appropriate supports, accommodations, medications, and systems are in place to provide an appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

HFA is not a disease, rather it is a neuro-biological difference in brain functions. Symptoms of HFA are usually recognized during the first three years of childhood; however, it is often not diagnosed until the preschool or elementary school years. Moms and dads frequently begin to suspect that there is something wrong before the age of two. Many kids who are diagnosed at a very young age with Attention Deficit Disorder may, in fact, have HFA.

The early symptoms of HFA and AS that parents and teachers should be looking for:
  • A general lack of fear may be evident. Kids with HFA may talk openly with strangers, hug strangers, invade people's personal space, bump into peers in lines, touch or climb people inappropriately, or have excessive - or a complete lack of - separation anxiety from the parent.
  • Children on the autism spectrum often struggle to understand why they are not liked and frequently feel rejected.
  • Blurting out, excessively asking the same question over and over, echoing or mimicking, large vocabulary, or difficulty listening to another and understanding another perspective can be apparent.
  • An unusual tone or quality, rote or repetitive speech may present.
  • An extreme perfectionism or "having to finish" what they have started, to the point of tantrums, may be evident especially during unexpected or unwanted transitions.
  • Children with HFA tend to rely heavily on rigid internal rules and struggle with the unwritten social rules of social interaction.
  • Communication may not appear to be delayed, but comprehension and social language requiring give-and-take may be lacking.
  • Establishing friendships, with give-and-take interactions, may be lacking. 
  • Given that characteristics of HFA may include a lack of fear, too little or too much eye contact (which can appear as overly aggressive, threatening, or seductive) combined with a hindrance in the ability to judge another person's feelings or intentions accurately, females with HFA may be at increased risk for assault, abuse and violence. Many of these girls assert that they have been singled-out or picked on mercilessly due to their odd behaviors or not “fitting in.” Many teenage HFA girls are literally “disabled” when it comes to surviving the more sophisticated social complex of adolescent female society.
  • HFA is typically characterized by sensory processing difficulty, rigid need for rules and routine, poor social skills, poor social communication, perseverative thought processes, pedantic speech, lack of eye contact, average to above average intelligence, anxiety, and depression.
  • These kids may interact very well with grown-ups, but struggle with appropriately initiating peer interaction. Sometimes, these kids do not notice if a playmate loses interest, or even wanders away.
  • They may not have an interest in sharing toys and tend to be viewed as "lost in their own little world" at times. 
  • Kids who are overly reactive to crowds may appear uncomfortable or avoidant of cafeterias, malls, gymnasiums, parties, family gatherings, or theaters. In reaction, they may feel hot, get a stomach or headache, or resist going to such places.
  • Kids with HFA are limited in brain areas that enable them to understand subtle, non-verbal cues. 
  • These young people are often highly intelligent and appear capable of communication – they just don't do it well. 
  • They develop a tendency to distrust others due to “social failures” and negative social experiences over time, which can lead to self-isolation and social phobia. This behavioral reaction may be viewed as "rude" by others.
  • HFA kids may appear to play next to – but not with – others.
  • They may become extremely upset if their routine or ritual is changed in any way, and can become very upset if someone touches their things, moves furniture or toys around, or takes a different driving route to or from school.
  • Kids with HFA may display a very narrow or an unusual range of interests, with elaborate or unusual play-based behaviors.
  • They may exhibit and excessive desire or intense aversion to sensory input.
  • Misunderstandings, literal interpretation, and/or sensory over-stimulation can lead to over-reactions, irritability, a low frustration tolerance, tantrums, aggressiveness, an explosive temperament, self-stimulation, anxiety, depression, and self-injury.
  • They may act out elaborate rituals, which appear to be creative play, but are actually scripted activities without the variation or creativity of imaginary play.
  • They may appear hyperactive, and pursue movement to an excessive degree, or they can appear unresponsive or “flat” if overwhelmed by sensory input or movement. 
  • They may appear to never be able to "let it go," and tend towards appearing argumentative or "splitting hairs." A conversation can lead to tantrums, emotional meltdowns, or withdrawal with seemingly little provocation. 
  • They may appear very rigid in their point of view, and unable to accept or understand another's perspective.
  • Most HFA children are affected by smells, tastes, textures and heat.
  • Motor clumsiness or fine motor difficulties may be present, and intuitive physics may be higher than intuitive psycho-social abilities.
  • Non-verbal communication (e.g., posture, gestures, eye contact, facial expression, tone, etc.) are clues in revealing emotions, attitude, personality and relationships. This helps guide the interpretation of how another feels leading to an empathetic awareness or understanding of others. This empathetic understanding can be limited in a child with HFA.
  • The unwritten social rules seem to be confusing, and interpreting social comments, facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language can be similar to trying to interpret a foreign language.
  • The HFA youngster may be able to dismantle and recreate elaborate Lego designs, set a clock, reprogram a VCR, match shapes, or display artistic and musical talents.
  • Stereotypical movements (e.g., spinning, flapping, lining things up, toe walking, body rocking, grimaces, twirling, pacing, racing around, noisemaking, leg bouncing, clearing of the throat, verbal repetitions, and chair rocking) may be more pronounced and frequent during periods of stress or change/transitions.
  • Some may have an unusual or extreme response to sounds and cover their ears in response to vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, crying babies, sirens or other loud or unexpected noise.
  • Some children with HFA demonstrate extreme abilities in remembering facts, numbers, phone numbers, maps, words, birth dates, or other factual information. 
  • Parents may notice a lack of eye contact and social smiles, or they may observe too much eye contact and notice that their HFA youngster views people as interesting to observe, but not necessarily to interact with or seek recognition from.
  • They may be very rigid and insist on doing things the same way every time.
  • They may demonstrate fixations on things (e.g., Pokémon, television shows, computer games, numbers, trains, cars, etc.) and tend toward lining things up, organizing by color, or even repeating lines verbatim.
  • HFA kids may have a greater interest in sensory and physical play with others (e.g., tickling, hugging, piggy back, chasing, video games, fantasy play, repetitive watching of movies, reading books, etc.) to the exclusion of verbal exchanges.
  • Many of these children may have problems falling asleep, or staying asleep.

HFA is a developmental disorder. The term “developmental delay” is an important one in early intervention. Generally speaking, it means that the youngster is delayed in some area of development. There are five areas in which development may be affected: 
  1. Adaptive development
  2. Cognitive development
  3. Communication development
  4. Physical development, including vision and hearing
  5. Social or emotional development

Kids born with HFA or any other type of developmental delay are at risk for falling behind in their educational potential. The earlier a youngster receives services to address the symptoms of HFA, the more time there is to influence positive learning outcomes. The parent’s full commitment and involvement in an early intervention plan is vital to the success of the youngster.

If your child has a developmental delay, he or she may be eligible for early intervention services. Those services will be tailored to meet your child’s individual needs and may include:
  • Physical therapy
  • Audiology services
  • Psychological services
  • Speech and language services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Nutrition services
  • Counseling and training for a family
  • Medical services
  • Nursing services
  • Assistive technology

HFA is life-long, and there is no quick fix or cure. However, early diagnosis and effective treatments can provide for better outcomes for kids on the autism spectrum. Thus, one of the first things that should happen if you suspect that your child may have HFA is to have him or her evaluated.

Does My Student Have An Autism Spectrum Disorder?

“I teach the first grade at East Side Elementary in my hometown. I currently have a student who I suspect may be a high functioning autistic (Asperger). What are some of the telltale signs to look for, and should I mention this to the parents?”

A good first step would be to ask the parents how well their child functioned prior to elementary school. Kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) frequently enter kindergarten without having been adequately diagnosed. In most cases, there will have been some red flags in the preschool years, for example:
  • the youngster may have be viewed as being somewhat unusual
  • concern over "immature" social skills and peer interactions
  • behavioral concerns such as hyperactivity, inattention, aggression, outbursts, etc.

If these problems are more severe, special education may be suggested now, but most kids with AS and HFA do fairly well in a mainstream setting.

Often, academic progress in the early grades is an area of relative strength (e.g., rote reading is usually quite good, calculation skills may be similarly strong). However, writing skills are often considerably weaker. The teacher will probably be struck by the youngster's "obsessive" areas of interest, which often intrude in the classroom setting. Most AS and HFA kids will show some social interest in their peers (although it may be reduced). However, they are likely to show weak friend-making and friend-keeping skills. They may show particular interest in one or two peers around them, but usually the depth of their interactions will be relatively superficial. On the other hand, a number of kids with AS and HFA present as pleasant and "nice," particularly when interacting with adults.

The course through elementary school for AS and HFA students will vary considerably from youngster to youngster, and overall problems can range from mild and easily managed to severe and intractable, depending upon factors such as:
  • appropriateness of management at school
  • parenting at home
  • temperamental style of the youngster
  • the presence or absence of complicating factors (e.g., hyperactivity/attentional problems, anxiety, learning problems
  • the youngster's intelligence level

In any event, if you suspect that your student may have an autism spectrum disorder, then you should indeed share your concerns with the parents so they can seek a formal assessment.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Helping Asperger's Teens to Not Drop Out of High School

“Hi, I am Shaun. I am 17. I am contacting you in the attempt to try to come up with a plan that will help me cope with high school. I have high functioning aspergers and really need some ideas that will help me stay in school. It has been very tough so far and I have thought about dropping out but don’t want to do that if I don’t have to because I am only 3 months away from graduation. I do have an IEP, but it doesn’t seem to help me much. I get teased a lot and the teachers really don’t seem to understand me. I will look for your answer. Thanks.”

Thanks for your question Shaun. Sounds like you are taking responsibility for your situation. That’s very impressive coming from a 17 year old. You are being your own self-advocate – and that’s good.

Having Asperger’s, or high-functioning autism, often means having special needs. As a young adult, it’s up to you to make sure your rights are being respected and that the accommodations you need are available to you. Whether at school or at work, being an advocate for yourself means understanding your rights, understanding how you work best, and working with others to ensure that your special needs are met.

Here are some ideas for you to consider:
  1. You're almost done with high school! Right? The finish line is straight ahead. Rather than focusing on the next 3 months (which will go by fairly quickly), start thinking past graduation (e.g., What are my special interests? Can I turn any of them into a career? Do I want to go on to further my education? If so, should I go to a university or a technical school?).
  2. Set goals for yourself and think realistically about reaching them. Part of your IEP process probably calls for establishing a transition plan as early as possible (and is required at your first IEP meeting after turning 16), outlining your path to graduation and what you want to do after high school, including training, education and any accommodations you might need after you leave.
  3. Request that the Summary of Performance (a required document the school must provide before you leave high school) include your most up to date documentation related to Asperger’s, as well as specifics about your academic achievement, information about your functional performance, recommendations about accommodations, and why they have helped you successfully complete school.
  4. Meet with your teachers and counselors outside of the IEP meeting to talk about your classes, the accommodations you may have (e.g., extra time on tests, a note-taking buddy, etc.), any other helpful strategies, and what you’re interested in pursuing next.
  5. Learn as much as you can about Asperger’s. The more you know about your specific challenge, the easier it will be for you to figure out how you learn best and the accommodations you will need to be successful.
  6. If you hope to go to college, what subjects do you want to study? To get into the college of your choice, what grades will you need and which classes should you take? What college are you interested in attending? Will that college permit you to substitute requirements or have them waived? Don’t feel like once you decide on something that it’s set in stone—adjusting your goals is an important part of realizing what you want and what it will take to achieve success.
  7. Be aware of what you’re good at, what you struggle with, what activities you have a passion for, and what your ideal job or project would be. Being able to share this kind of information with others is a valuable part of representing yourself.
  8. Attend all your Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. You have a right to be there and should take an active part in the meetings. It’s a great opportunity to talk to your parents, teachers, administrators and others that are involved with your education about how you learn and what kinds of services and supports you need to do well in school. Make sure the specific accommodations you need are outlined in your IEP.

I am proud of you for taking the proper steps to prepare yourself for a successful future. I wish more young people on the autism spectrum were this conscientious.

Online Parent Coaching


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said...  I hated high school and never got to finish. Correspondence was just too hard with 2 jobs. I still don't have a diploma or GED and it almost cost me a job. With just 3 months... Do what you can to stay in. You will regret it later...
•    Anonymous said... At the end of the day are you value as a person. That way the teacher cont. to follow the IEP and the doctors push drugs that don't work and find cure.
•    Anonymous said... Homeschooling is a wonderful option for kids with Asperger's. Battling constantly in public school for services, understanding, and ways to cope takes its toll.
•    Anonymous said... I am sorry your experience has been so negative that you are considering dropping out. By law your school is responsible to provide you an individualized and appropriate education. Unsure what your issues are but if you have difficult with social situations your IEP should include interventions to assist you to improve your relationships. Your life will continue to require the ability to interact with others and dropping out will not provide you with the assistance you need. Your teachers and peers may not understand your needs, but that is no excuse to treat you negatively. Three months is plenty of time to turn around your year and start college with an improved outlook. I applaud you for speaking up here and encourage you to schedule an IEP meeting yo address the issues. Good luck to you!
•    Anonymous said... I found a letter on this site that I amended to fit my son and emailed it to his guidance counselor who in turn forwarded it to his teachers before school started this year. It made a huge difference. He went from barely getting by to excelling and liking school. The teachers all thanked me because they knew what worked and what to watch for. Try that now. It helps them know what you need instead of trying to interpret your needs. No matter what do not quit!!!!
•    Anonymous said... I've found that guys tend to rib each other in middle school and high school to determine social ranking (who's alpha and who falls in after that). The higher the ranking the better their ability to process information fast and come back with comments when others "rib (tease each other)." I've also noticed that most high functioning people with Aspergers have a great "rote memory skill." In order to help yourself, I'd start viewing comedic shows that are funny (have comebacks) and memorize them. It will help you socially to counter teasing in a positive light and those males may start to include you for your humor! The only thing to practice is timing and tone so you don't come across as hurt or angered. Good luck and stay in school ...you only have three months left to graduation (start marking off the days on a calendar)! P.S. I enjoyed the article!
•    Anonymous said... My son has Aspergers, is in eighth grade and is already having anxiety about entering high school. He does have an IEP. That letter sounds like it would be good for me to be proactive and send to his teachers next year.
•    Anonymous said... Put your mind to prove them all wrong succeeding is the best revenge!! You can do it!!
•    Anonymous said... the teachers don't have the choice to care or not care, they should be following your IEP plan and adjust it when necessary to help you through your day.
•    Anonymous said... Well done for getting this far, YOU are an inspiration for others, YOU are proving that people with AS can and deserve the education everyone needs,, YOU are amazing and I hope you continue to be amazing. Your IEP has been set up to help YOU, contact your tutor and ask them to address your difficulties, but please, please do not drop out, do not give up, look at it as just another learning curve to help you through. Good luck and keep in contact for when you graduate. Xx
•    Anonymous said... With such little time left get the education you deserve.you owe it to yourself for getting this far.well done you.
•    Anonymous said... You have done so well to come so far, dont let other peoples ignorance put you off your dreams. Meet with your Year Head if possible and talk about whats grating you. If you want to achieve, you will.xxxx

Please post your comment below…

Help for Bullied Asperger’s Children Who Become Bullies Themselves

A large body of research has documented the difficulties associated with being bullied – and with bullying other kids. Young people who are bullied suffer more anxiety, depression, loneliness, post-traumatic stress – and have a heightened risk of suicide. Kids who bully are more likely than other youngsters to experience peer-rejection, conduct problems, anxiety, academic difficulties, and engage in rule-breaking behavior.

Recent research has shown that a substantial number of kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) who have been a victim of bullying become bullies themselves at some point. A distinguishing feature of AS and HFA children is that they struggle to control their emotions. For example, they may unintentionally prompt kids to bully them again by reacting very emotionally to teasing, threats or physical aggression, and may have similar problems controlling feelings of anger and frustration, predisposing them to retaliatory aggression.

Given that these young people experience a broader range of behavioral and emotional difficulties than do “typical” kids, it is not surprising that AS and HFA victims of bullying experience anxiety, depression, peer-rejection, a lack of close friendships, and the cognitive and social difficulties often apparent in bullies themselves (e.g., a greater acceptance of rule-breaking behavior, hyperactivity, a tendency toward reactive aggression, etc.). In addition, these victims are at greater risk for psychiatric disorders and criminal offenses in young adulthood than are kids dealing with only one of these problems. Also, they have proven to be less responsive to a comprehensive school-based program for kids with severe emotional disturbances. As a result, it is of the utmost importance that they receive support and services that address the full spectrum of their needs.

Programs designed to address emotional and behavioral problems associated with being bullied:

1. Self-control techniques have been used in the treatment of both aggressive and anxious kids with AS and HFA. Given the difficulty these children have controlling their emotions, it is advisable to make this deficit a key target of interventions. “Special needs” kids develop better self-control over their emotions by learning to recognize the physical signs of anxiety or anger (e.g., muscle tension) by practicing positive self-talk (e.g., “I should stop, take a few deep breaths, and think before I act”) and utilizing relaxation techniques (e.g., muscle relaxation, deep breathing) to reduce emotional arousal and delay an immediate response to a stressful situation. This will provide careful reflection (e.g., problem solving, cognitive restructuring) prior to taking retaliatory action.

2. Problem-solving skills training is another strategy common to programs targeting behavioral or emotional problems. AS and HFA kids are helped to think of several possible solutions to a given problem, and to reflect on the positive and negative consequences of each in order to choose the technique that will maximize positive consequences in both the short- and long-term. Kids who are bullied – and then bully others in return – rely too heavily on aggressive solutions, whereas anxious or depressed youngsters often default to avoiding their difficulties. Problem-solving skills training can be used in either case to broaden the repertoire of constructive coping techniques and enhance decision-making. Decreasing depression and anxiety related to being bullied would be helpful in itself for victims, but it may have the added benefit of reducing negative moods that render AS and HFA kids vulnerable to engaging in explosive, emotional and reactive aggression.

3. Cognitive restructuring has been used to deal with aggression, anxiety, and depression in AS and HFA children. The central feature of this technique is to identify thoughts that increase anger, anxiety or sadness, challenge their accuracy, and replace them with thoughts that are more realistic and less destructive. For example, a child may learn to recognize that his anxiety rises when he assumes that all of his peers would “think he is dumb” if he were to give an incorrect answer in class. Instead, he may be encouraged to take a more realistic view, recognizing that everyone makes mistakes, and that when other people make mistakes, he does not usually think badly of them. To reinforce this concept, the child may use some positive self-talk (e.g., “It’s OK to make mistakes, because it’s how we all learn”). Applied to behavioral difficulties, cognitive restructuring techniques are often used to emphasize that there is more than one way to explain the actions of other kids. For example, since kids who are bullied – and then subsequently become bullies themselves – do not often give their peers the benefit of the doubt. They may be inclined to see teasing as cruel, which would increase anger and the likelihood of an aggressive response. However, it is equally likely that teasing may be good-natured, and in teaching AS and HFA kids to be open to this possibility, the number of peer conflicts that result in episodes of bully-like behavior may be reduced.

As a therapist who has worked with families affected by autism spectrum disorders over the years, what I see most often is that many AS and HFA kids who have been bullied by peers in elementary and middle school tend to become bullies themselves around the high school years. But, they usually do not bully their peers at school, rather they find easier targets to misplace their aggression. This is usually parents (especially single mothers) and younger siblings. In other words, they bring their frustration and aggression home with them and take it out on family members.

AS and HFA children who are victims or bullying face a complicated array of social and emotional challenges, and it is crucial that concerned moms and dads, educators, and mental health providers recognize the full extent of their difficulties, and tailor interventions to match their complex needs. More research is needed to create and evaluate programs that integrate cognitive-behavioral techniques for the treatment of both behavioral and emotional problems associated with bullying. Until that happens, parents, educators and clinicians can broaden the focus of existing school-based and clinic-based interventions by applying the strategies listed above. 

Discipline for Defiant Asperger's and HFA Teens

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for February, 2014]

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


Dear Mark

I came across your site by accidental. But it is god send. I have a teenager with asperger and it is indeed a trying period. i find solace when I read your articles. It gives me a ray of hope.

Kind Regards
Mariah
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Dear Mr. Hutton, I am writing to you from Yamaguchi, Japan.  I am an 32 year old American woman living and working here in Japan.  My husband (37) and I have been married for almost nine years but separated for the last two.   We have two children together.  For the last few years I have intently been trying to figure out a solution to my marriage.  I bought your ebook several weeks ago and it has been quite helpful.  Thank you so much.  I do have some questions, however, that seem to be unique to our case. I apologize that this might me a long email, but I don't know what will and will not be relevant to you, so I am including everything. Sorry for any grammatical and spelling errors!

My husband and I have always had a "difficult" relationship.  It has never been easy.  I very much relate to the  experiences that you described in your book of what NT wives married to AS men can go through.  The resentment, anger and loneliness on my part.   The seemingly unresponsive and "selfish" behavior on his part.  He fits a lot of the descriptions of someone with AS. Lots of quirks and unusual ways of dealing with thing and social difficulties.    I always felt there was something "different" in our dynamic, there were certain things we just didn't seem to get about each other.  I just thought it was the stress of our life. Now that I am familiar with AS,  it is clear as day why he acts in these ways, and why I responded in such easy.   Unfortunately, in those days, because I was unaware of any of this, over time I became less kind or understanding, thinking he was completely self-centered.   I gave him hell, so to speak. I felt him drawing further and further away, burying himself in his work.  I felt more and more overwhelmed with my small children, alone with a husband who just did not seem even remotely interested in acknowledging my needs. I did feel crazy a lot of the time.  My self-esteem fell.  Yet, he said he still loved me, and we were trying to keep it together.  Then a little over three years ago, something happened that ultimately led to our current separation. We have been trying to resolve it ever since,  That is why I am writing you, hoping you may be able to shed some insight on our situation.

Our journey  started about three years ago. But first let me give you a little history.

 My husband and I, as I mentioned, had always struggled in our marriage.  Every year, we knew things were going down hill,  but we still loved each other and kept trying for the sake of kids.  When the US economy crashed, my husband was out of work.  Our children where still very young and I needed to be home with them. Thinking that it had been his work that was taking him away from family life , I encouraged him to go back to school, hoping he would have more time for us.   He did go to school, quite happily.  However, he encountered all kids of difficulties.  He sought out  academic counseling through his college.  It was from there that he was told he might have ADD among other learning disabilities.  Okay, but there seemed to be more to it than that.   Things were unraveling. He couldn't  keep up with what was the expected pace in the class.  My husband is brilliant.  He is one of the smartest people I know. He built a career for himself, without a degree, in computers.   Yet he couldn't seem to handle some of the simplest tasks his teachers were assigning.  It was during this time that  he also started seeking out psychological counseling for some unresolved issues he thought he was having around a tragic event that had occurred in his family the year before we were married.  My husbands uncle, a long sufferer of depression, strapped his two young sons to himself and jumped off a bridge, killing all three of them.  My husband had never really dealt properly with the grief over this.  We were married the following year and got busy raising our family. Six years later, he felt that his issues around his Uncle and young cousins death  were manifesting in ways that were beyond his control. He  became very difficult to connect to.  He was absent, both physically and emotionally and quite obsessed with school.    It was a stressful situation anyway.  We moved in with his parents to save money and there was very little privacy.  Our financial situation continued to deteriorate because we were not getting the financial help we were expecting due to his grades getting lower and lower every semester. I was starting to loose it.  I knew something was wrong, but I could not put my finger on it.  My own unhappiness and stress caused me to lash out.  Then one night, during a intimate moment, I pushed him off of me and started raging.  Telling him how he was never there for me and I didn't seem  important to him and he was just using me.   He wasn't really responding ( I know now why he couldn't respond,  but back then I just thought he didn't care) so I went around to the other side of the bed and brought my hand down hard where he was laying.  I had meant to hit his leg to get his attention but in the dark I couldn't see well and  I struck his arm.   He flinched violently. Almost like a two second seizure.  He was silent for while and then said something like it was time that we both went to bed.  I cried myself to sleep as he lay motionless beside me.
The next night he wanted  me to go out with him for coffee.  This was unusual.   I thought it was a effort to make-up.    But, much to my dismay, after we got our coffee, he told me that he needed me to promise that I would never hit him again, even if it had been somewhat of an accident.  He said that when I hit him the night before, he strained his shoulder trying to keep himself from hitting me back .  My husband had taken martial arts when he was younger, and he knew that if he ever hit me with his full force, he could quite easily inflict a blow that would kill me.  Yet, I couldn't promise that I would never hit him again, because it had just been an attempt on my part to get his attention. It could happen again.  I knew I could never  really hurt him so I didn't think it was so important.  I said I would try.  But that didn't seem good enough of an answer for him.  (I now see that this conversation was his attempt to try to tell me my actions made him feel out of control and he didn't know what to do about it) Either that night, or a few nights later, I don't remember, I had a dream that my husband had become "unreachable".  In the dream he was like a shell.  It was his body, but the eyes staring at me did not have a soul inside. He sat there with a snarl on his face.  His eyes dead.   No matter how much I begged him to "come back" he wouldn't…...or couldn't.  I woke up from this dream screaming.  Sick to my stomach.  The feeling stayed with me for days. That very same week, it was like a switch had been flipped in my husband.  He flinched and pulled away when I touched him, started sleeping on the couch most of the time, and over the next year, become so cold and distant that it shook me to the core. Until that point, he had been quite affectionate and when around, sweet.  I kept thinking he would eventually work through it, but we have not been intimate since that night.  That was over three years ago.  Although we have finally arrived at a point where he accepts hugs from me, he still doesn't want to touch me voluntarily.
 Over the course of that year he asked for a trial separation three times.  I consented the third time.  He moved out immediately, and we have been separated ever since.    It was during this year that we started marriage counseling as well.  And it was also during this year that a therapist suggested he might have Aspergers.  It explained a lot, for both of us.  He was in the process of getting a proper diagnosis when I took a job here in Japan. We knew it would interrupt the counseling we had begun, but we had both been struggling to find jobs and desperately needed an income.  He said that we might need to do something drastic anyway, like move to Japan, for our marriage to survive. I had spend many years in Japan as a child and felt comfortable moving back here so  I took the job with his blessing. We agreed that he would stay in California and finish school as well as stay in therapy.  He would visit in the summer and we would see how things went.  I hoped for the best.
It turned out, he missed the kids so much he joined us eight months later. The government subsidized program he was receiving counseling through,  cut it for budget reasons.    He was in the process of getting a diagnosis for AS when this happened (He did take the online test for AS and scored 155 out of 200) His last therapist diagnosed him with OCD as well. School was not going any better for him, so he decided to stay in Japan. He has been here consistently for a year.
We have tried to do the best we can here in Japan.  We found an American therapist  and we worked with him for some time.  We mentioned in the first few sessions,  that we thought AS was a factor in some of the issues of our marriage, but it more or less got left at that.  I found the therapy sessions quite helpful but my husband did not ( after reading your book and learning that traditional marriage therapy doesn't really work for people with AS, it makes sense that I benefited but my husband did not) We saw this therapist for over a year, but we recently decided to give it a break as it did not seem to be having a big impact on moving  us any closer to a resolution.
   I have tried to continue to love my husband and tried to understand him. I have to admit, I was hoping the move, change in environment and time would have healed a lot.  There has been some improvement.  But not drastic.  Especially for him.  As far as he is concerned, we are just as close to divorce as we were three years ago.  He is also having trouble finding work here and it is taking him time to adjust.  We have both tried very hard to work things out for the sake of our children and families, but there is something deeper that is not getting resolved.
About a month ago, a friend of mine sent me the link to your ebook and site.  It made me realize that what I have been doing is not enough.  I do believe my husband has AS and I do believe that the strategies outlined in your book can and are helping us.  However,  I also  think there is something else.  Some deeper psychological issue.  In addition to having OCD about usual stuff, I think he has suffered some sort of trauma in our relationship that was brought on by neither of us understanding what his needs had been.  Could my husband be dealing with PT-OCD (post traumatic-obsessive compulsive disorder)?  In my talks with him, when he seems to be able to get in touch with his feelings, I get the sense that if we could resolve this block that he has about being intimate with me  ( both sexually and simple hugging, kissing) then there could be some hope for us.  I suggest PT-OCD because if he was already under emotional stress with the trauma of his Uncle's death coupled with the poison in our marriage that climaxed into, what  for him was a nightmare scene that almost caused him to hit me ( something that he would never, ever be able to forgive himself for) then the OCD could have manifested itself as this:  in HIS mind, he  may think as long as he doesn't touch me, there will never be the risk of sex or intimacy, and therefore no chance of recreating a scene similar to the one that happened more than three years ago , which creates less to no chance of him ever  be in danger of feeling again like hitting me.  Unfortunately, this obsession means he lives with a marriage devoid of sex, affection or intimacy.  Even he cannot live with that.  That's why, to him, divorce seems inevitable.
I am not a psychiatrist  and I could be WAY OFF but I am just throwing things out there.   Based on stuff we have talked about, things he has said in therapy and facts that I know about him.   Interestingly enough, when I shared this theory with him, he agreed that it could be a possibility.  He does not usually agree with me!! I am including a link to an article on PT-OCD that we have both read and  resonated with. Just for information sake.
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I am also including certain things he has said to me frequently over that last few years regarding our marriage, that tie in to what I have said above. They are not in any particular order.

1.He often says justice has not been served for the past year ( he feels I treated him unjustly, although I have apologized, changed my ways and even communicate differently with him than I used to)

2.Says he doesn't know what he needs for there to be reconciliation

3,Has said on several occasions that he needs to "start over" ( like a re-boot) for him to feel differently about our marriage and for his feeling towards me to change. For our marriage to reconcile he says he needs to literally start again as if we don't know each other.

4,Seems to have a dual internal thing going on.  Says very unemotionally that he feels we are very close to divorce and not much has changed despite our attempts. Yet his actions will often show otherwise.  Like his coming to Japan to be with his family ( he could have easily used the move as a way out,  filed for divorce and sent me the papers to sign). His willingness to go to therapy.  He doesn't want to be intimate or want to feel like we are married, but when I tell him I want to keep trying, that I love him and don't want a divorce, he seems happy.  I am quite confused by this as it don't seem consistent with what he say, unless my theory about PT-OCD could be true.

5,He says he is happier when he is not with me. Yet, he does certain things for me when I ask, and he still seems to care about what I think and what I like.   Although we live separately, we still operate very much as a family. He picks  the kids up from school  and brings them to my  house while I am at work and we eat meals together regularly.

6,He has said that so many of the failures in his life are connected to me and our marriage yet he seems to want to try….despite his belief we might be doomed.

7.he has said that the 'bad" stuff in our marriage plays over and over again in his head, like a tape.

8.He has said it might be better for us to divorce simply because if I got re-married, at leas our children will see what a normal relationships looks like.  But, on other occasions he says he hopes we don't get divorced.

9.He has said that being with me is sometimes like torture because there are things I unknowingly do that trigger his anxiety and he doesn't know how to reverse it. For example: A month or so ago, we were at a gathering together.  It was lunch and it was buffet style food.  My husband had to take a phone call when the food was being served.  Knowing he was hungry, I told him the food was ready and should I make him a plate.  He said no, thank you.  I thought he was just being polite.  After 10 min or so, when I saw how fast the food was going, I decided to make him a plate ( I  thought I was being considerate)  When he was finished with his call, I told him I made him a plate and it was on the table whenever he was ready.  But the food just sat and sat and sat.  He never touched it.  I tried not to be offended.  I thought maybe he was feeling ill.
In a later conversation, he was able to share with me that he had not wanted me to make him a plate because he knew the food would sit out for a few minutes and he was afraid germs would contaminate it. Furthermore, he could not bring himself to make a fresh plate without eating the first plate of food, because he wasn't sure if he would offend anyone.  He was starving and wanted to eat but was in this silent dilemma.   He  could not understand why I didn't just listen to him.  He said this kind of thing has gone on in our marriage for as long as he can remember.  It felt like torture.
  It was a true Aha! moment for me.  This conversation.  I knew he had some serious OCD about germs, and I knew he often questioned how to act in social situations, but I did not realize how far it went for him.  Ever since, I have tried to be more mindful of taking his word for what he says he wants.

10. he has said that the week after he almost hit me three years ago, he noticed his tastes changed for a few things.  Like, he has always loved Reese's peanut butter cups, but after that night, he doesn't like them anymore.

I want my marriage to work.  I love my husband. He is a good man.  In many ways he is kind, gentle, and considerate.  He is a good father.  I want my children to grow up in an intact home.    The strategies outlined in your book are definitely helping.  But there is something deeper.  I do not think  for one second that I am innocent in all of this.  I know I have done my share to do the damage that happened in the past.  Everyday for the last three years I have made efforts to repair that damage.  And in his own way, my husband has too.  We have both tried, hard.  But we have been separated for two years and worked with four marriage therapist.   How long is too long?  I want to know. What is keeping us from healing?  I can live with Aspergers.  I already am… but that does not seem to be the only issuer. Am I on to something with the PT-OCD?  Can we live together, relatively happily again as husband and wife? Can you share any insights?

Thank you so much for the time you took to read this email.  I know it was a staggering amount of information.  I almost have to laugh at myself for how much came out.  I am sort of freaked out about sending it, but here it goes.
I hope to hear back from you soon.

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QUESTION:

My 18 year old Aspergers son is having a very difficult time with the transition, responsibilities, and structural difference in college.  He failed all but one of his classes last semester, and is not doing too well this semester.  Due to the pressure to perform and fear of losing his scholarship, he has fallen into a difficult state of mind (e.g., doesn’t care, doesn’t do work, constantly lies, etc.), which has further complicated our ability to communicate with him. Do you think that college might be too much for him to handle at this time? Should we consider a technical career? He is a brilliant young man with a complex diagnosis, and a lifetime dream of becoming an engineer.


ANSWER:

Given the circumstances that you have outlined, clearly college life is not working for him at this time. This is quite obvious, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that college will NEVER work for him – just not now.

College life is tough on young adults with Aspergers, mostly because the level of structure is greatly reduced. In other words, students can (for the most part) come and go whenever, wherever they want to… very little resemblance to the more structured atmosphere in high school. The social aspects of college life are also more complex. Even among “typical” students, freshmen students' self-ratings of their emotional health drop significantly in their first year.

Your son was micromanaged as he went through the high school years. As a result, he was often protected from a lot of disappointments. But, once young adults with Aspergers get to college and they’re on their own, life’s disappointments happen, and they are often lacking that resiliency to deal effectively with those events (e.g., getting a poor grade, girlfriend breaking up with them, not fitting in with the crowd, etc.).

Having said this, I agree that technical school (preferably one close to home) would be a good option at this point. 50% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed; many, in fact, are resorting to the kinds of entry-level jobs that they went to college to avoid. But things are looking up for skilled workers. As a recent survey reported, 40% of employers complained that they were unable to find sufficient skilled workers to fill their available positions. For students who can get into the programs that prepare them for such jobs, the employment future could be promising.

The value of a vocational program varies greatly. Many private companies have jumped into the market, hoping to tap into the rich river of federal student aid money flowing into the trade school market. Unfortunately, many of their programs are overpriced, unaccredited, or lack strong placement programs, which means that students who enroll in these for-profit schools' programs can easily find themselves graduating with a lot of debt and few job prospects.

Luckily, there are several ways vocational students can protect themselves from choosing a bad program. The first step is ensuring that the program they're considering is accredited: The Department of Education has an easy-to-use accreditation database.

Having checked to see that the program carries a U.S. government seal of approval, the next step is ensuring that its benefits are worth its cost. Companies like Glassdoor and Salary.com can give a good idea of the likely salaries that graduates of a particular program will garner. Depending on this, students can calculate the amount of money that they can reasonably expect to borrow. A general rule of thumb is that your loans shouldn't exceed one year's post-graduation salary.

Another great resource is Department of Education's default rate database, which reports on the percentage of students who default on their loans. Schools with high default rates may be charging too much for a particular certification.

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Hi Mark, My 13 year old son just had the worst meltdown ever in his life & mine!  I had to stop myself from having the local childrens hospital come & take him away today.  1st off I like the idea of your product but my son has 3 so called labeled disabilities at work fighting each other at all times.  When he was 18 months old I knew he had autism or aspergers but he was not diagnosed until age 8 with aspergers.  Right before that diagnosis at age 8 he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Absolutely no family history of diabetes at all.  At age 6 I was told he had dyslexia but not the kind that affects reading.  His is comprehension & expression based. He reads way higher levels than his age group states.  I do agree with the dyslexia diagnosis & we have worked thru a lot of those issues when he was  6 & 7. Then he got sick &  the diagnosis for diabetes popped up.  He never got to finish the full dyslexia training, the school filled his spot while he was in the hospital.    At the same time he was just starting ABA therapy & it was working.  Then the diabetes & aspergers seemed to be fighting each other all the time.  My personal belief is that the aspergers & the diabetes are linked in some way.  I have not found any parent yet that has said their child has diabetes & aspergers.  Possibly a gut connection but I've already changed his diet to gluten free for many years & pulled dairy , soy, yeast, too.     He is 13 & hormones play a huge part in this too. He has a huge amount of  stress from being bullied by teachers & staff in school(he was pulled from school & homeschooled & now does online public school), insulin introduced into an already compromised immune system, & therapists & doctors & family who all want him on medications.  I am the only help he's got( HIS BEHAVIORS HAVE PRETTY MUCH SHOT THE AMOUNT OF HELP WE GET) & I'm told there is NO HELP FOR KIDS HIS AGE!!! I've heard this now in 3 different states.  My thoughts are...I just haven't found it yet!  My question for you is: I am dealing with type 1 diabetes & aspergers, both which have frustrated, irritable, angry & up to violent potentials. Plus many more!  Will this program honestly help? I'm not at a point where I can keep buying things that repeat what I've already learned, I'm actually losing my business due to my son's actions & behaviors.  He is very violent towards me, defiant, refuses to help with what we need to do for his health, is refusing to eat & sleep & the normally out going kid he is won't go outside, won't make eye contact anymore & is not happy at all.  Also is this geared for just younger kids? I would appreciate any help or direction you could send me.

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I really like your articles I follow on LinkedIn.  I have a son who in now 15 going on 16 in May and has been diagnosed and tested since he was in preschool, everyone knew something was off but nothing exact stuck out as being what the problem was.  They ruled out ADD ADHD and eventually came up with PDD Nos in his second grade year.  In Middle school he has the most severe emotional anger and OCD type of behavior and was counseled by a neuropsychologist that works with ADD, Addiction and does testing and he did sessions with him and diagnosed him as ASD.  There were times that year my son wouldn't come out of his room and barricaded himself in, he seemed emotionally unavailable and defiant.  He has never had luck with having friends or mostly he will get a friend and then it doesn't last.

We are moving from Colorado back to Texas this summer for my husbands job and he seems just fine with it but we noticed he had a few friends for the first part of the year and over the summer that he is now not even texting or calling at all.  He told me he is choosing to spend time alone and likes it that way but there is nothing wrong.

I am concerned of course and we have tried some social skills groups and he has hated them and said he wouldn't go back, the other kids seem more extreme and out of sorts to him.  He is like a normal kids, doesn't do badly at school and with us he communicated and interacts well.

My husband is shy and keeps to himself except for work and family and thinks we should leave him be but I worry that he is isolating himself and not building social skills and wish i knew what really happened with the friends he no longer talks to.

Do you have any suggestions?  Would we be able to do skype sessions and what is the cost?  I really feel I need help and someone my son can listen to who will help him understand what is going on with him, what can help him and motivate him to want to try and get help.

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We had a major blowout tonight and I was hoping to relay the events and find out whether you can critique me a bit please

Tonight around 8:30pm I asked the kids to all come out and help in the kitchen. My son Kyle dragged the chain a bit but he eventually came out and started putting things away. He started getting frustrated that he couldn't close a cupboard door (he has been on edge a bit tonight) and started banging it and kicking the contents. He also started swearing.which he knows is not acceptable

At this point my wife told him to him that he needed to stop swearing at which time he stated the words he said were not swearing. I supported my wife that it was swearing and that if he didn't stop he would need to go to bed. He kept on that it wasn't swearing and I then told him that he must be tired and that he can go to bed once the kitchen is cleaned.

It was at this point that he said that if he couldn't stay up any longer then he wouldn't clean the kitchen I then told him that he should just go to bed then. He wouldn't go and kept wandering around the kitchen and house in defiance.

Unfortunately it all escalated out of control at that point and I don't think it is really relevant to go into details

We have been advised at another time that if he loses his cool to the point there is so sense of reason and we can't get him to withdraw, that we should leave the house. At this time of night with two children asleep it is very difficult to do this so I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to keep him at the end of the house that had no sleeping people. He has now escaped out of the house and has now gone out of the house (not really sure where)

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated

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I have a question about our 5yr old. His meltdowns have decreased in frequency from 1 to 9 a day (his peak of meltdowns last year at the age of 4) with length of 3min to 40min. This year we are in kindergarten and his meltdowns at home have decreased to maybe 1 a week if that and they are super brief (1-2min). At school he didn't have a meltdown until oct. then it increased to 2 a week. Now he is still at 2 a week but he is no longer just screaming, he will start to throw things, hit, kick etc and the length is increasing from 5-10min to 30min. They are now trying to avoid triggers like cleaning up center times by having him go to a sensory room to play with an EA. He has great relationships with the EA and the school teacher.

Why is he escalating now? is he more comfortable in the environment? Is he just finally getting to feel done at school? What can we do to help him more at school. I am a gr.1 teacher myself and understand a lot about ASD and have worked a lot with inner city students etc. I understand the language, I understand the importance of Self Regulation etc. I am just at a loss as to where to go with my own son at this point.

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Mr. Hutton,

I just recently stumbled cross your website trying to find information on dealing with children who have Aspergers.  My husband and I have a 12 year old daughter and a 6 year old son named Wyatt.  We live in Ramsey, Indiana and attend Lincoln Hills Christian Church.  I understand from your site that you and your wife live in Indiana as well.  Wyatt has always been a handful to say the least.  Always going a hundred miles an hour!  We are having a very difficult time dealing with Wyatt and his frequent meltdowns.  They seemed to start becoming a very common problem a year ago, with anger being a concern since he was very small.  He is becoming more violent and hard to control and I'm becoming increasingly concerned.  Our money is very tight and I just want to make sure before we spend this there's a chance it will help.  Our family life is suffering from the chaos of it all and it feels like we are all walking on eggshells waiting for an explosion all the time.  Every morning he gets on the school bus its a huge relief, because it can be such an exhausting struggle.  Our youth minister, who is a nurse mentioned Aspergers to us two years ago but we didn't see it, now we do.  He is a very intelligent, sweet little guy, but he can turn so unexpectedly and be out of control.  He hasn't had any fits once he is in the school building and is actually very quiet and well behaved at school.  Getting him in the building at least once a week, more or less, has proven to be a very difficult task at times, requiring assistance from school staff.  He recently told me school was boring, and he doesn't understand why nobody will be his friend, and the lights in school are too bright.  I am very concerned about him and how to help him cope with his emotions.  Also how to have a calmer family life.  I don't know how to help his sister deal with him in appropriate calm manners which can be very difficult.  She doesn't understand what's wrong or how to deal with it, and quite frankly we don't know how to deal with him.  Any help or advice would be amazing!  Thank you and God bless you.

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Dear Mark,

I jumped right in when I thought that there might be some help out there with my 26 and a half year old son, Brandon. I may have jumped too soon, however, as I read that you had a book on how to launch your Aspergers child. While getting him launched is the problem, the other problem and question is: should he first be diagnosed? I have tried in the past but after reading your website, Im even more convinced the diagnosis of Aspergers has been missed. Is there a definitive test?

At the age of 17, the summary of his neuropsychological assessment says that he needs an evaluation to determine if he still has breathing problems when he was born.  He had two episodes of not breathing as an infant. I recently had him tested for Sleep Apnea while he still had insurance and he fell well into the normal range. His overall IQ at 17 was in the 120s. The summary went on to say that he had slower processing speed than compared with aged mates. It also states that he has superior verbal abilities.

 While that may be true in testing, he rarely speaks to us unless its a sports-oriented conversation.  He cannot think of what to say quickly or sometimes at all. He is void of any social skills unless he is online. The summary concludes that he has an executive functioning disorder and/or anxiety disorder, potentially impacted by a sleep disorder.  My thoughts were always that they missed the actual problem, whatever it is. This testing was done in 2005.

He has a history of dropping out of school, including high school.  He completed his junior year of college, at which point he dropped out again. I was broke trying to get him through a technical school (computers) which I think he would have liked it to go on forever so that he never had to grow up. He is obsessed with computer gaming and is up late at night.

His father, my first husband, died at age 53,from pancreatic cancer. My husband struggled with addiction and depression. Brandon had already dropped out of high school just before learning of his dads illness.

My new husband, and Brandon and I live in Florida, in a retirement community; Brandon moved here a year ago. Under the influence of my new husband, he learned that he now had to get his first job. He was 25 at that time.  Prior to that, he was living in Rhode island with a family friend but was neither working or going to school.

After several months of applying for jobs down here, he was hired by Walmart to stock shelves. He was let go after 6 months; we dont know why.

Because of his age, he is uninsured. He spends all his time in his room and always has. He has problems with his ears. He had one friend up north but I;m not sure he still does. He has no interest in socializing. He cant hold a knife and fork the correct way yet he was great at Legos. Foreign languages came easily for him. He speaks in a monotone with a flat affect. Eye contact is difficult for him.

My first question is where to go from here? He has seen several doctors in the past and has had two hospitalizations, due to school refusal. They all lead to him being prescribed generic Prozac, which I found he rarely took.

I realize Ive given you a lot to absorb, but my husband and I are concerned that if something doesnt change, we will be supporting him the rest of his life, something we cannot afford.

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QUESTION:

How do I help my grandchild through such a difficult time in our life? Part II. My husband has lung cancer that is progressing and it makes my grandson very, very sad. He envisions that he is Dr. Who and will get in the tartis and go back and get papas sickness and take with him in the tartis and regenerate. He will come back but with a different face and hair but the voice will be the same. I am doing as you first suggested by validating and being honest but I dont quite know how to handle the sadness he feels and I am worried that he goes into these make believe worlds, that seem very real to him, to cope so often. He acts out a lot. I try to explain why papa has to die but cant get past Adam and Eve because he wants to blow everything up, regenerate and fix things and then he begins the regeneration on him all over again. How do I get to the real fears and feelings inside him?

ANSWER:

The ways “special needs” kids express grief are usually different from the way grown-ups express it. Kids are not always able to use words to express their feelings. Instead, they often express them through behavior. Even kids who are able to express themselves verbally may not always be able to express the many, sometimes conflicting, emotions they have. Kids may:

Become very quiet or very talkative. They may become overactive.
Cling to grown-ups and want extra time and attention.
Have difficulty completing school work. Their grades may drop.
Have difficulty getting along with other kids.
Have temper tantrums, angry outbursts, or refuse to obey grown-ups.
Return to younger behaviors, such as wetting the bed after they have been dry for months or years.

How kids express grief usually depends on how they perceive the loss (including death). Each youngster's perception of loss varies according to age and emotional development. In general:

Kids between the ages of 10 and 12 start to understand loss (including death) the way grown-ups do. They see death as permanent and irreversible. They are curious about what and how things happen. For example, if they have been affected by a hurricane, they may want to learn how hurricanes develop. If a person close to them dies, they may want to know how bodies are prepared after death, what the rites and rituals of burial mean, and what happens to a person after he or she dies.
Kids between the ages of 6 and 10 do not always fully understand events that occur in their lives. They may understand only part of what is going on around them and they may invent conclusions or draw the wrong conclusions about things they do not understand, resulting in misconceptions about what is happening. They may develop fears, such as fear of death.
Kids between the ages of 3 and 6 often think that any major change in their lives is a result of their actions or wishes. This is called magical thinking. These kids often feel responsible for any loss that occurs. If they see a loss as a threat, they may think that they are being punished for something. If people leave them (such as in divorce), they may feel abandoned and scared. These kids may react to loss by being afraid to be alone or to leave the people they love. They may not want to sleep alone at night and may refuse to go to day care or school. Other ways that kids this age may express feelings of grief are by developing eating, sleeping, or toileting problems.

The way moms and dads and other caregivers help a youngster who is grieving often lays the foundation for how the youngster will react to losses as an adult. It's important to help a youngster grieve, because:

Information needs to be shared. Sometimes moms and dads and other caring grown-ups think it is best not to tell kids what is happening after a loss. Not telling kids about a major loss may cause them to develop unrealistic fears and concerns. Kids may also feel insecure because they know the grown-ups are not being honest. Not telling a youngster that a loved one has died may prolong the youngster's grief.
Their concerns need to be addressed. Each youngster's concerns after a major loss differ, depending on the youngster's age and emotional development. For example, after the loss of a parent, a young youngster may ask who will take him or her to school. It is important for grown-ups to listen to a youngster's concerns and answer any questions or concerns.
Their feelings are real. It is important for grown-ups to acknowledge that each youngster has unique feelings after a major loss.
Their feelings need to be expressed. Kids who do not express their feelings may develop other problems, such as behavior problems or physical illnesses.
Their misconceptions need to be clarified. Kids often do not know why losses occur. They may think that they caused the loss or that they are being punished for something they did. Correcting such misconceptions may relieve a youngster's anxiety and fear.

Before you try to help your grandson deal with a loss, examine your own thoughts and feelings about loss, particularly about death. Recall your first experience with loss. What helped you deal with it? What was not helpful to you? This is especially important if you experienced your first major loss when you were a youngster. Remembering your experience may help you recognize and understand your grandson's feelings. Also, the things that helped you may also be helpful to your grandson.

Tell other significant grown-ups in your grandson's life about his recent loss. Child care providers, teachers, and school counselors may also be able to help your grandson work through his grief. Here are some steps for helping Aspergers and HFA kids during the grieving process:

1. Provide safety and security. To express their feelings related to loss, kids need an adult who makes them feel safe and secure. Consider your grandson's personality and his comfort level in talking about feelings and concerns.

2. Consider the youngster's emotional development. Consider the youngster's age and emotional development so that you can explain loss and death in a way that he will understand. Learn about the emotional considerations for kids of different ages.

3. Make a plan. Think about how and when to approach your grandson.

4. Use an activity. Activities create different ways for kids to express their feelings related to loss. Try an activity that fits your style and your grandson's developmental level. If one activity does not work, try another one. Some suggestions include the following:

o Draw pictures. Drawing pictures of feelings may be easier than talking about them. Ask your grandson to draw a picture of what is happening to him. You can also draw a picture of what is happening to you. After finishing your drawing, explain what you drew and ask your grandson to explain his picture. You can use drawing pictures along with storytelling to help your grandson deal with grief.
o Make up stories. Storytelling lets you and your grandson change what happens in the story. Your grandson can change sad and gloomy feelings to more positive ones that provide warmth and comfort.
o Play or act. Acting out feelings through play can be very helpful for some kids. You can use stuffed animals, puppets, or other toys to act out what is going on. Sometimes it is easier for a youngster to allow a favorite stuffed animal to speak for him or her; it may be easier for a young youngster to talk with the animal, either alone or with an adult present, than to talk directly with an adult.
o Read books or watch DVDs. Books and DVDs can help kids understand the concept of loss and death. Ask a librarian about books and DVDs for kids your grandson's age. After reading the book or watching the DVD, talk with your grandson about the story and especially about his feelings.

5. Evaluate the activity. Observe your grandson during and after the activity. What emotions did your grandson express during the activity? What emotions did your grandson express afterward? Talk with your grandson about these emotions. Let your grandson know that all feelings are normal. Clear up any misconceptions he has.

Practice one of the activities above in the presence of another adult. After the activity, ask the adult to tell you how effective they think the activity was for your grandson.

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Hi Mr Hutten,
Our daughter gave us your name as a reference that she has been using to help her and her husband deal with their 9 year old son with asperger.  She says your updates are good.   Alex was finally diagnosed a few months ago and is receiving additional help at school now.
As a grandparent, my husband and I are trying to learn more and more about this.  We currently live 200 plus miles from them up in northern Ohio.  Any suggestions to help us understand our grandson more would be greatly appreciated.  We also want to be a strong support for Alex's mom and dad and sister.  Believe it or not, but by just writing this email, I feel like I am taking a step forward.  Thank you for listening.

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Hi there. My name's Kate Brennan (husband is Todd). Our son is 4 and was diagnosed with Asperger's at 3.5 yo. He's increasingly disobedient to the point where it can land him in danger (for example, running off in car parks - thinking it's funny, touching hot stoves/ovens etc). About 90% of the time he does the opposite of what is asked, or just doesn't do what he's told to do. Sometimes this is also detrimental to the safety of his younger brother, which is obviously also a major concern.

I do realize that a part of this is probably age related but it's getting out of control. He has a true rebellion against authority (especially at home, and especially with me - his Mum).

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? We've tried most every consequence we can think of, and charting doesn't seem to work - he wants immediate reward and gets bored extremely easily.

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The situation I have is that my sons day to day behaviour is manageable in his home life. Its outside with some social situations and the most distressing is school. I have just taken him out of a 600 pupil school because of his meltdowns and bullying. I have home schooled for a month to try and observe his approaches to learning... I have noticed his lack of confidence - yet we have got through a lot of work being at home and I thought we have built up some self esteem again. Yet for him and for me... home ed isnt the right way forward...

I have now found a lovely 200 pupil school, which he attended for this first time today. The were very co-operative and I gave them a list of things to be aware of. I had arranged to meet him at lunchtime and bring him home. Yet even for those couple of hours, he just was so anxious and distressed that they couldn't cope with him and the head called for me to come in. They had to remove him from the classroom because of the impact on the other children as well as on himself.

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Hi Mark,

Been reading your online coaching which I think may be of help to me and my little grandson age 6 1/2. Whilst he has no diagnosis, my Private OT who thinks it is Attachment Disorder.  I really would appreciate your help in parenting. Having a difficult time with education.  He is a lovely little boy and I want to handle him the right way and help him be the adorable boy that I see much of the time.  I am stressed out about schooling and their not understanding.  Also if I do something wrong with him he hits out and pushes me which yesterday I did not handle well so I need advice too on how to prevent triggers etc.
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Glad to have someone who will help me.  Yesterday was such a bad day for me and Charlie.  It was triggered by me - I was helping him get dressed for school and thought I would do some joint compressions which I learned from OT.  He started to hit me and push me really hard - I couldn't take being pushed around so I shouted and hit back in self-defence.  Shouting so loud he was frightened of me.  Settled and went to school - very bad day in school, did not settle.  I went to bed early - shattered with high BP

Calm this morning and had a better day at school.  Told the assistant she should be giving him movement breaks - so she did.  However I came home in tears because it is an uphill struggle teaching others and this morning she wasn't listening.  Rang my OT and she has observed him in school and will be talking to them again now she knows Charlie better - finally got an OT who the school will work with.  She is giving Charlie 6 sessions - movement and writing.  Then it will probably be back to my private OT who has been amazing and worked with him since October 2014.

Doing his homework this evening - tv put on hold and when he hit me I turned TV off - meltdown and hitting me.  This time I kept my cool and took the hits and held him as well and it was 15 mins.  Put him to bed and left him as he was hitting again. Went up to him later when he and I had settled said his prayers with him and he should be asleep by now.

I cannot stand and take hits and pushing.  No child should do that to their grannie or any adult :(

Otherwise an adorable, charming 6 year old.  I have been doing all the meetings, searching, and taking everything to do with schooling. His mum can't do it and leaves me to it.

Latest thing I have been reading is about diet - gf, cf and MSG and aspartame free.  I try to give him omega 3 nightly - sure it made a difference as he was calmer in the mornings.

So I am confused about his management though when he is settled he is brilliant.  Just tired with all these meetings.
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Hello Mark
i am hoping you can give me some advice on how to handle my current situation.  My husband and I have been separated for 12 months.  We had struggled for a few years as he withdrew more and more as a result of work and family stresses, and was easily able to be convinced that another woman, his girlfriend from 35 years ago, would make life happier.  He lived with her for 10 months and moved back to our home town 4 weeks ago,  after a major explosion. 
it was only after he left that I was made aware by a friend that he probably has Aspergers – all of the other men in his family clearly do, my husband is probably the least affected in the family.  The more I have learned the more I believe it is true, and have realised that none of his behaviour was ever intended to hurt me. 
Anyway since he moved back we have spent a bit of time together and it has been really enjoyable.  I am trying to approach things in a much different and less confusing way for him.  He says he is very confused and doesn’t know what he wants, his head is soup, just needs time to get his head sorted out etc.  I understand this and am trying very hard not to confuse him further, even though it isn’t always easy as I am feeling some pretty strong emotions after not seeing him at all for 9 months.  The major problem at the moment is that the other woman will not get out of his life.  She is putting a lot of pressure on him to return to her home.  He has stated that he knows she just wants his income back in her house. 
last week i told him that I can’t see him while this woman is still a presence in his life, as he has been seeing her quite a few times.  He didn’t like haring that and said he couldn’t imagine not seeing me.  His behaviour makes it clear that he loves me and wants to do things to make me happy.  He has explained that he has no intention of returning to her, his words were:
-it was a big mistake
-I was unhappy the whole time
- it was never a relationship
-I wish it had never happened
He said he is trying to tell her it is over, but he says she just has a problem he needs to help her with, it’s complicated, to trust him she will be out of his life soon.  i don’t believe she will let go very easily. 
I asked him how spending time with me makes him feel, he said it makes him feel wonderful, feel like he belongs, it just makes him feel.  Spending time with her makes him feel sorry, he looked very sad when he said this. 
Am I doing the right thing not seeing him, or am I just adding more pressure and making it harder for him?  Or do I need to let him see me as it is a place where he feels comfortable and safe?
A person on a forum I go to said that Aspies find it hard to assert themselves and feel like they are being mean, so he probably finds it hard to tell this woman to get lost.  And because she has a lifestyle she can’t afford without his income he somehow feels responsible.  He says he doesn’t want her to lose her home, and I think somehow believes that would be his fault – maybe instead of trying to milk him she could get a full time job, give up her huge makeup and hairdressing bills or maybe get rid of some of her horses.  I feel so sad that he is so vulnerable and gullible.
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Our son is 4 and was diagnosed with Asperger's at 3.5 yo. He's increasingly disobedient to the point where it can land him in danger (for example, running off in car parks - thinking it's funny, touching hot stoves/ovens etc). About 90% of the time he does the opposite of what is asked, or just doesn't do what he's told to do. Sometimes this is also detrimental to the safety of his younger brother, which is obviously also a major concern.

I do realize that a part of this is probably age related but it's getting out of control. He has a true rebellion against authority (especially at home, and especially with me - his Mum).

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? We've tried most every consequence we can think of, and charting doesn't seem to work - he wants immediate reward and gets bored extremely easily.


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Hello, 
How do I help my 16 year old newly diagnosed autistic son get a job and become independent? I am at my wits end right now not knowing what to do to help him. My fiance' is a store manager at a local grocery store and told me to try and bring him to the store today so he could give him some jobs to do so that he could earn some of his hours he needs for his occupational job prep class in high school. He needs these hours in order to graduate in 2 years. He is currently in 10th grade. Well, I took him to the store and Ray (fiance') gave him a job to do by cleaning the dirt and dust off the windowsills at the front of the store but Max (son) said he could not remember how he was told to do it so I was told to just bring him home. Max want someone right there with him to show him how to do the job and complains that he cannot remember what and how he was told to do the job. Is that possible? He is so hard to understand....his vocabulary skills are way behind. I just do not know what to do.

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I have a 5 yr old son who was diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers in 2012.  My question is about ocd behaviors he is exhibiting and although I have tried various methods of helping him without causing him worsened anxiety, I have had minimal and short lived success.  He 'urinates' about 15-20 times a minute. No uti or other physical condition -  just a compulsive need that I am unable to decipher.  His compulsions vary and rotate from cursing to urinating from cursing to urinating.   I am at a loss for an answer or solution or a gentle way to help.  I also have a 2 yr old daughter who curses like a sailor as she adores her older brother! Any help or suggestions or just the knowledge that these are compulsions exhibited by other Aspies / ADHD children would be much appreciated :-) Thank you in advance and thank you for all you do.....

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I am 99.9% sure my fiancé's 20 year old son has aspergers.  My nephew has it so I know a lot about it.  My fiancé has never said anything about his son other than he was on ADD medication in grade school.  My question is 2 fold:  Best approach for talking to my fiancé about it and also any recommendations for therapist and/or psychiatrist in the bay area.  He has had a job for a few months but has already had a few "encounters" and he was let go of his previous job after a few months.  He is driving trucks and that is his passion so he has the drive but I fear the other issues will continue to be a problem.  He lives with his mom but plans to live with us almost full time once our house is built.  My daughters noticed within the first time they met him as have others but his dad is either in denial or doesn't want his child labeled.  I appreciate any suggestions and referrals.

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 We are struggling on a daily basis; it's been over six years since our first born girl began causing havoc in our home and our sense of family unity and purpose for living together...other than sheer endurance and survival...was attacked internally by the chaos that her behavior caused.  Counseling, medication, behavioral modification...no change...only worse with time...our family is in shambles at this point.  Lots of yelling by parents of a totally incorrigible daughter who daily tells us that she can't wait to leave here, and that we need some help; there is something wrong with us   -    she's right - there is - we are parents who can't take it anymore and nobody seems to quite get-it.  Our tolerance level is nil.  Over six years of daily strife has taken its toll.  I feel sorry for our other three children who are exposed to this discord and dissension regularly - it's all they know!  
   
Our daughter just recently turned seventeen.  She has set such a precedent for all the rest of our children for rude behavior - arrogance - lying - foul language -blaming others and not owning responsibility - clamoring for all the privileges without any of the work - entitled and disrespectful attitude.  I am at the point where I'm feeling so desperate that I wander why God even gave children to my husband and I; we obviously don't know what we are doing.  I'm feeling that each of my children would be better off with other parents who have the energy and enthusiasm to love them so dearly and provide a calm and nurturing home for them.  This is definitely not the idea I had for a home environment for our children.  There really is difficulty in all of our relationships now over the course of such chronic stress.  It feels unhealthy and dysfunctional.  It seems that separating her from our family is the only benevolent option at this point, for her sake and the sake of the mental health of the rest of the family.  Everything is so dauntingly expensive for us, though.  What to do - this is an awful feeling - I'm praying that your emails will have some pointers when others have been unhelpful.  It is like trying to counsel a drunk.  Unless they admit they have issues, forget trying to help them.  Our daughter sees our family as "the problem"...that we just won't let her do what she wants...she's not incorrigible, we are just so too strict and she can't take it!  Anyway, my husband and I admit that we so need help in dealing with this.  We are weak and heavy laden and just need this torture to stop.
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Hello Mr. Hutten.

Have a son who will be 21 years old in August. 
He currently resides with his father, to my knowledge.

The father has cut off communication for the SECOND time without explanation EXCEPT this time, he moved him out of state and has remarried for the 3rd or 4th time. Has 2 other children from 2 other relationships, as well. We share a son and a daughter, who just turned 18 years old last month.

Several years ago, our son was possibly diagnosed with Asperger's. The father blames it on our divorce. To my knowledge, the therapist wanted to see our son 5 more times but the father refused. 

From what I've read, it's genetic. After reading, I'm wondering if I should be tested ......?

Son was also born a month early, he was a "preemie" at 5 lbs 3 oz. He also had "blue spells". 

I tried to explain to the father that as his mother, I hold the patience and understanding that this child needs. He refuses to "co-parent". 

Concerned for our son and his future but I feel as though my hands are tied ....... I feel as though all I can do at this point is educate myself and wait ..............................

Wondering what your thoughts are on this?

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Thank you so much for these articles. It is so true we are having this same issue with my Grandson at school,the teachers see a "Normal" 13 year old boy and say to me "he is old enough to do all by himself."They say "I see nothing wrong with him except he needs to respect adults more"He comes home crying and saying why can't people except me for who I am,why do the have to Bully me.The teachers can't even protect me. We just don"t know what to do. There is no help in RI. We are very lost and fearing we will lose or Boy due to ignorance in this state about any disibilities you don't see. Maby one day you will come to RI and help.

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My question is a little complicated, still trying to figure it out myself:)
 Can  people with Aspergers experience strain in marriage in the form of a trauma that require special treatment? Perhaps they may process  an incident differently and therefore be unable to eventually understand and forgive their spouse without help? Also can the effects of the trauma worsen over time due to some of the symptoms or disorders associated with AS, specifically developing into something like  OCD?

It seems my husband has experienced some form of deep trauma in our marriage.
It is not just one incident, but a cumulative  effect over years of arguing and frustration that he couldn't make sense of.   There was a final incident three years ago, one which he says was the "straw that broke the camels back". An intimate moment between us that escalated into me bringing my hand down hard onto his side of the bed to get his attention but accidentally hitting his thigh.  The pain ALMOST  caused him to hit me back.  Till this day he fears that had he not been able to stop himself, he might have killed me with one blow.

Ever since that day three years ago, my husband has been a different man towards me.  The first two years he flinched when I touched him, acted very cold and distant and wanted very little to do with me.   He asked for a trial seperation two years ago and we have been living separately although we still very much operate as a family (dinners together, time on weekends) with our two children.    This past year he has started to consent to an occasional hug. However,  we have not had sex for three years  or had any kind of physical intimacy. He believes the marriage is doomed because be feels he cannot overcome how he feels toward me. He says he believes there was an injustice that I did towards him and that he can't trust me not to fluctuate in my moods and behavior.  I have done all I can to keep our marriage from divorce but very little has change for him. However despite the fact that he says he feels this way, he also seems to have instances where he recognizes that what he is experiencing is based primarily on what he perceived happened and that infact, through the difficulties and emotional pain of the last few years we  have created a kinder and more harmonious relationship than we ever had before.   

Going back to the reason I say "trauma"is because the change was so sudden.  He has mentioned over time, that the same week his feelings for me changed, other things changed as well.  Food that had been long-time favorites were no longer so.  He said he walked differently.  Even his preferences in what he found attractive in women ( women who look like me; small, dark, petite were no longer attractive)changed significantly.  A sudden change in feelings towards someone or something ( after a negative experience) has  occurred for  him before.  He says although he has tried in the past to 'undo' the sudden aversion or disinterest that sets in, he has never succeeded.  That is why he has very little hope for us.   I am mentioning these things because it could be relevant.   

I would also like to add that I know my husband has Obsessive- Compulsive tendancies regarding certain things. No official OCD diagnosis but he was in the process of getting a diagnosis as well as AS diagnosis when we left for Japan ( where i am currently working). Could trauma from the negative cycles in our marriage have been made worse by  OC tendency that for him  says: as long as we are not intimate as a couple he won't have to go through our previous issues again?


We have worked with three marriage councelors over the the last three years.  Although helpful for me, not for him.  Actually he says all of their suggestions felt to him that it would make the situation worse.   Can you offer any insights?

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Hi Mark,

My son’s name is John.  He is 9 years old and he was diagnosed with Asperger.  Through his childhood John has received service with OT and speech therapy.  

When John was 5 years old I got divorce and moved to a different location.  The new school is small and they don’t have special rooms for kids with autism.  The first year at this school  John’s behavior changed from a sweet boy to kicking, and scratching. He was removed from school and placed into BOCES .  It took two and a half years to have him move back to regular classes.  I made him repeated second grade in order to comeback to regular class and release him from any anxiety of  new learning and new kids.  John went back to the same school he attended when he was 5 years old.  The second grade at the regular school was great .  He was an honors student.  The third grade started great. He was engaged into school activities.  However, 4 weeks ago he started to change.  On February 4th, the school called me stating that John was having a meltdown and he was throwing  things and kicking . I picked him up from school and the next day he told me that he didn’t feel good.  I called the doctor and made an appointment to make sure that a physical condition was affecting his behavior.  I have been sending John to school.  But, by the middle of the day the schools calls and I have to pick him up.  The school had reset  last week and I stayed with him.  There was not bad behavior and he acted normal.  I tried to find out with John why he didn’t like school and he answer was “I don’t know”.   The only thing that I was able to pull out was that he was worried about school.   I’m extremely worried that John continues with this behavior as it can cause for the school to send him back to BOCES which it will be a set back on his progress.

I also found out that the week before of his meltdown, he hesitated to go to the class room in the morning.

Could you please give a little guidance on this situation.   What can I do and the school do to help John to go back to his regular class and to continue with this academics.
  
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My son has been in a relationship with a manipulative girl since last October. She gives him it tight for not replying to her text quick enough etc
Anyway he started punching walls in our home and himself to cope .
He's 17 and really has it in his head she is the be all and end all. She encourages him to take money from the house etc she has been thrown out by her own parents on numerous occasions.
My son started self medicating on legal highs. Now any time they row he goes off wandering with " a friend" and they do legal highs. I'm worried sick. He doesn't care about his appearance anymore, he's a bully towards me, he thinks everyone has a problem except for him. He has changed so much and told me I didn't even know who he was any more.
I don't give him money any more but it is this so called friend that is providing him with legal highs.
I've been to police and they have a description of him and say they will pick him up and search him if they see him.
I've been to school but they are useless, they know drugs occur in school but not interested. I self referred to educational psychologist for the anger outbursts and he started EMDR yesterday. But there is no communication from Ed psych to me.
I've bent over backwards trying to support him. He has all the right words and fires everything back at me - making me feel like worst parent ever. He seems to have no conscience. I've lost my boy in only 6 months!

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I am NT female and had over 7 years with my AS male partner. There is a great deal of love between us but it got too difficult. He became an alcoholic and is now in a dry house and doing well, attending college and actually going on a ASD course. It may help him to understand himself a little. We are in contact via phone and fb and I dare say that we'll likely meet up again at some point. I know I love him but I don't know if I can handle more of a this man that doesn't connect feelings wise with me. Yet he's so endearing and will show his love in doing things like cooking etc. I hope your book can help me more than anyone. I'm a buddhist (Nicherin Daishonin) yet I believe that my AS man understands more about non attachment than I ever will.

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We have made great strides in the meltdowns, and suddenly he decided on his own to be totally potty trained, and his "time issues" with speech (I will go to the ranch yesterday) seem to be alleviated.
The next expression issue I would like to work on is him saying he does not want to do something when he really does - he is mad about something or some of the arrangements and describes his feelings as "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"  I sit and talk about what really may be going on but I see no improvement.  Is this a part of aspergers? and inability to identify or describe the feelings inside?
My daughter (Barrett's mother) we probably has Aspbergers - I always thought she "marched to a different drum" and was self centered.   She also thinks she qualifies but does not seem motivated to get help so I am going to an Austism specialist in Dallas (6 hours away) to get help for me in dealing with both of them  She is also bipolar with thought disorganization.  So chaos reigns around her which is not great for Barrett the aspie. My son in law put his foot down about remodeling the house (they live in a lovely home in a fabulouse neighborhood - my daughter spends money to feel better when she is not planning trips to get away from the kids:)  Good or bad she has a very comfortable income which is her separate property not her husband's .
Neither my daughter or grandson could live through the kind of chaos that comes from remodeing.
I have meltdowns about my daughters behavior when it comes to her children - her husband hates confrontation and arguing  he wants her to go get help but wont'say so - all very typical I think  any other solutions other than counseling for me?
Do Aspbergers have a high rate of divorce??
I took her three children and their two housekeepers (4 year old, 3 year old and a year old baby) to my lake house for 5 days and had a wonderful time - that is not the case when my daughter is along which is sad.  he finds every excuse to disappear and leave me with the kids and responsibilites which I deeply resent.  I have told her so over and over to no avail.
my grandson is EXTREMELY attached to me - really wants to be with me all the time.  His 3 year old sister is simiarly attached - they do not want to go home.  They also both behave much better with me thatn their parents but I think that is very normal. but is this part of aspbergers"s to want to be with one person all the time not necessarily the parent - I am very dependable and organized and I am a PLANNER!  I do what I say I will do - all of these things may set up a more comfortable environment for Barrett???? 

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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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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 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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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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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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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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