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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Parenting Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Does your child experience any of the following?
  • Anger control problems
  • Attention difficulties
  • Behavior problems at home or school
  • Difficulty calming down
  • Meltdowns
  • Shutdowns
  • Picky eating
  • Tantrums that seem to last for hours
  • Problems completing homework and school assignments
  • Rigidity in thought and behavior
  • Rituals and obsessions
  • School refusal
  • Sensory sensitivities
  • Sleep problems
  • Social skills deficits
  • Verbal or physical aggression

…just to name a few?

When it comes to temper tantrums and meltdowns, I often hear the following statement from parents of kids on the spectrum: "We've tried everything with this child -- and nothing works!"

Would you love to know how to successfully handle situations in which your child becomes overwhelmed due to sensory overload, low-frustration tolerance, social problems, and anxiety?

Do you want to discover the specific techniques needed to deal with tantrums, and learn to distinguish the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum?

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


Helping Kids on the Spectrum to Understand Nuances and Subtexts of Language

"Is there a way to teach a child with high functioning autism to not take the things a parent says so literally? My daughter’s literal mind is completely baffled by sarcasm. She will try to dissect and understand common phrases and end up with some very bizarre ideas about the world. I try to keep my sarcasm to a minimum, but no matter how hard I try to account for her literalism, there are always things that I miss. I end up saying something that confuses the hell out of her, and when I try to explain, it just confuses her even more. As just one example, we were running late getting out the door and on to a doctor’s appointment a few days ago. She was stalling, so I barked, ‘Get those shoes on your feet right now!’ So, she literally picked up her shoes and placed them ON TOP of her feet (I had to laugh). Anyway… how can I help with this issue?"

All kids have a "blind spot" in understanding various concepts. For example, some students don't "get" multiplication or division, but can usually overcome this blind spot at some point with the help of a math tutor. But, for the child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS), the blind spots are reading non-verbal cues and comprehending humor or sarcasm. This is a permanent autistic trait called “mind-blindness.” Difficulty reading social cues affects every aspect of the child’s social life – at home, school and in the community at large.

Certain properties make language very creative, engaging, fun to use, and interesting to listen to (e.g., figures of speech, sarcasm, body language, tone of voice, etc.). However, these properties are often huge roadblocks between the messages parents try to give their HFA or AS youngster and his ability to receive them. “Special needs” kids with language processing problems, developmental delays, and other challenging conditions have extreme difficulty understanding the nuances and subtexts of language.

Since it is impossible to teach the HFA or AS youngster every innuendo of speech and nonverbal cues and multiple meanings, he may compensate by (a) becoming precise in language, (b) seeking words that have a definite concrete meaning, (c) concentrating on subjects in which he can be well-informed, (d) developing any nonverbal talents he may have to the point where he can earn the social approval he craves, or (e) reading extensively for information rather than pleasure, preferring fact to fiction.

If the HFA or AS child reacts to something that parents said in a way that surprises them (e.g., misunderstanding, panicking, ignoring, overreacting, defying, etc.), then parents should consider the following dynamics:

1. The HFA or AS child can learn to avoid taking things literally, but he may not be able to let go of one meaning (he may need to store both). Therefore, parents should:
  • expose their child to as many “odd” as possible (e.g., “that opened up a can of worms” … “that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back” … “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” …etc.)
  • explain what each of these phrases mean
  • teach them early in order to save confusion and embarrassment later

2. If parents use an expression their youngster is unfamiliar with, or if she doesn't understand that words can be used in ways that have nothing to do with their literal meaning, then the parents’ statement may seem irritating and perplexing to the child.

3. If the parents’ message is anything other than simple and straightforward, they should attempt to simplify it and try again. They may be surprised at how much more cooperative their youngster is when he actually knows what they want.

4. If the youngster is unable to pick up cues from the parents’ tone of voice, she may take what they say at face value (the exact opposite of the intended meaning).

5. It's natural for parents to try to add more and more explanation when they feel that their child doesn't understand what they are saying. However, if language is the problem in the first place, adding more language isn't going to help.

6. Moms and dads should learn to say what they mean - and mean what they say (which is often easier said than done). To say something like, "If you don't do your chores - you're in deep trouble" may result in the child envisioning herself in a hole - or worse.

7. Just as parents wouldn't talk to a 5-year-old the same way they would talk to a 15-year-old and expect the same degree of comprehension, parents should not talk to their HFA or AS youngster who has delayed language, social or emotional skills in a way that would be appropriate for his chronological age. Remember, young people on the autism spectrum are “delayed” in their comprehension skills.

8. What seems friendly and harmless to parents may seem intimidating and perplexing to an HFA or AS youngster who does not understand that they don't really mean it – or even why they would say a thing they don't mean.

9. Without an awareness of the way tone of voice and body language can change the meaning of words, the youngster may misinterpret the parents’ intention or their level of urgency.

10. Parents may be inflating their statements for the purpose of humor or out of anger, but the youngster may think they really mean it. She may think her parents are being cruel. As a result, she may panic or overreact, or may not know what to make of what they have said, or may accuse them of overreacting.

It is crucial that parents think about how they word things to their literal HFA or AS youngster. Understand that your “special needs” child is not misinterpreting you purposefully. Be patient and try to learn to think how she thinks. Some of the best minds in the world are very literal. Looking at situations through the eyes of a child on the spectrum can give you a brand-new outlook on multiple aspects of life.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE HELP ==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Women in Relationships with Asperger's Men



JOIN our Facebook Support Group specifically for women who are in relationships with men on the autism spectrum (i.e., Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism). Ladies only please!

Dishonesty or Fantasy: Which One Is Your Asperger’s or HFA Child Engaging In?

“I catch my son (age 4, level 1 autistic) in a lie quite often. But when I confront him and try to get to the truth of the matter, he will vehemently insist that he is NOT lying. Arguing with him over the particular issue at the time is both exhausting and pointless. So, when he gets punished for lying, it has no lasting benefit (since he evidently doesn’t believe he has lied). So here we go again with yet another lie. I’m lost on what to do here. He’s either an expert at deceit, or blind to what the truth is and what fiction is. Any suggestions on how to handle this will be greatly appreciated.”

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) often confuse their parent by the quantity/quality of their dishonesty and by the fact that traditional disciplinary methods don't change the behavior. For young people on the spectrum, it will be helpful for parents to think less in terms of “dishonesty” and more in terms of "fantasizing" (i.e., the child will say what he wants to be true, rather than what is really true).

Fantasizing disguised at lying happens for several reasons. Here are just a few:

1. The “parent-pleaser” factor: The HFA or AS child knows that the truth may make his parents angry, and he wants to please them. If he has done something wrong (e.g., due to impulsivity, compulsive behavior, self-protective behavior, language processing problems, motor planning problems, etc.), he may try to make it right by telling his parents what he thinks they want to hear.

2. The “lack of awareness” factor: The child simply doesn't know what is true. If she behaves impulsively, she may not have an awareness of what she has done. Also, if she has problems with language processing, she may not understand what was asked or expected.

3. The “confusing reality with fiction” factor: The child can’t distinguish between wishful thinking and reality. What is objective to the parents may be subjective to him. If one truth is as good as another, he may select the one that seems (in his mind) to best fit the situation.

4. The “inability to predict cause-and-effect” factor: The HFA or AS child can't forecast the outcomes of her behavior. For example, she throws a rock and breaks a window. Her blameworthiness in the act seems clear-cut to the parents. However, if the child has trouble with the relationship between cause and effect, she may not be able to make the connection between throwing a rock and breaking a window. In her mind, intentionality is a factor. In other words, if she didn't intend to do it, she didn't do it.

5. The “it’s true for me” factor: The child is telling “his” truth. Due to his disorder, he often experiences the world very differently as compared to his parents. But, that does not make his experience “false.” If he persistently, frantically clings to an assertion that the parents feel is false (e.g., the water is too hot, this chore is too hard, my toy can't be found, etc.), parents should ask themselves if it might be only false to them.

6. The “anxiety” factor: The child is stressed. If parents know that their youngster can't think calmly and clearly when stress levels are high, then they shouldn’t be surprised if they see a lot of senseless, immovable dishonesty in that situation.

7. The “it’s my way to contribute to the conversation” factor: The child is simply trying to join in the discussion. If she has limited life experiences or a limited vocabulary, she may want to have something to say, but no real contribution to make. Coming up with a tale (however imaginary or fabricated) may seem to her like the only way to participate.

If the HFA or AS youngster has genuine “special needs” that leads him or her to tell “wishful half-truths” rather than the real truth, parents should think carefully before handing out punishment for dishonesty. Of course, the youngster needs to know that he/she should be honest at all times, but if the dishonesty is not deliberate, punishment teaches nothing.

When parents catch their youngster being “dishonest” (in their mind), they should ask themselves if the child is doing so with malice and intent. If not, they should try putting more honesty in their child’s fantasizing. Tell the child what you think happened instead of demanding an explanation. If he says, "I don't know," then take that as an honest answer. Stay as composed and rational as possible when getting to the truth of the situation. Respect your youngster's reality, and be open to negotiation. Also, tell more truth than fiction yourself.

How can you tell if your HFA or AS child is being dishonest, or simply fantasizing?

Pay close attention to your youngster's behavior, and you should be able to tell if he or she is being dishonesty. For example:

1. Watch the body language. Kids who are being dishonesty are more likely to appear nervous and defensive (e.g., hunched shoulders, stiff body or face, repeatedly touching the nose or mouth, avoiding eye contact, etc.). The child who is nervous when telling a particular story may be fibbing.

2. Look at your child’s facial expression. The child who is telling the truth has a relaxed face that usually shows an emotion that matches what she is saying. However, if she is being dishonest, her face may show anxiety caused by knowing that she is fibbing.

3. Stories that are made up often contain inconsistencies or elements that don't make sense. Parts of the story may not sound believable. If parents suspect that their child is being dishonest, they can ask him to repeat what he just said. Honest stories told two times in a row will usually be the same, but stories that contain lies often change dramatically or contain accounts that can’t both be true.

4. Decide whether or not your child’s story sounds rehearsed or spontaneous. Kids who are being honest will usually tell it "off the cuff" (i.e., the story will sound like a fresh recounting of an actual event). Conversely, a fib may sound stilted or rehearsed. Some kids may even repeat the exact same phrase when telling a rehearsed story the second time.

How to help the HFA or AS child who DOES lie: 
  • Always model “telling the truth.”
  • Avoid lectures and quick irrational decisions (e.g., “If you lie again, you'll be grounded to your room for a week!”).
  • Do not accept excuses for lying. Lying is never acceptable.
  • HFA and AS kids need to understand the hurtful consequences of lying, and when possible, should apologize for it.
  • Kids often lie to keep their parent happy. Thus, they need to know that the parent values the truth much more than a small act of misbehavior.
  • Let your child know that you are disappointed in his behavior, but bring him up before you bring him down (e.g., "It’s not like you to lie about your homework, you're usually very good at getting things done and staying on top of things").
  • Logical consequences need to be in place for lying.
  • Praise the truth! Catch your child telling the truth at a time when you know she would like to sugar-coat a situation.
  • Role-play the potential devastating consequences of lying.
  • The child should be part of the solution and/or the consequences. Ask her what she is prepared to give - or do - as a result of the lie.
  • Through role-playing, teach your youngster the value of telling the truth. 
  • Give a warning regarding future instances of lying. For example, “In the future, if you choose to lie, you will also choose the consequence, which is __________ (fill in the blank with an appropriate consequence, such as the loss of a valued privilege).”

When dealing with HFA and AS children, it’s important for parents to understand the difference between “The Truth” and “subjective truth.” Much of the time, parents of special needs kids are dealing with the latter. Something that parents may consider as true may not necessarily be considered true by their child – and vice-versa. So, when you are uncertain whether or not your youngster is being honest, don’t simply jump to conclusions and accusations. Investigate first! See if you can figure out how - and why - your child is “making sense” in the way he or she is.

How to Handle Non-Compliant Children on the Autism Spectrum

Learn 9 crucial interventions that are especially helpful for resolving non-compliance in Asperger's and High-Functioning Autistic children...



Click here for the article: Noncompliant Behavior in Children with Asperger's and HFA

Learn the Difference Between Behavior Problems and Food Allergies


Is your son or daughter with Asperger’s (High-Functioning Autism) often defiant and easily frustrated? If so, have you simply labeled your child's behavior as mere disobedience - and reprimanded him or her accordingly? You may be nagging up the wrong tree.

In this post, you will discover the critical issues associated with allergy-related behavioral problems, such as digestive function, how your child's doctor can test for food allergies, and how you can eliminate the cause.

As one mother stated, “I am a firm believer that diet affects our Asperger’s children. I have had mine on a low- gluten diet for 2 months now & he is a very different child!!! He is happy, more attentive & is interacting well w/ peers. Temper is also MUCH better & easier to control. I opted for low-gluten because he is only 6, and ADHD med he is on decreases his appetite already, making him very small for his age. Even this small change in his diet has helped tremendously!!”

Click here for the full article ==> Misbehavior or Food Allergy?

Management Strategies for Employers with Employees on the Autism Spectrum

Do you have a person working for you who has Asperger’s (high functioning autism)? And, are you experiencing some issues in dealing with him or here?

Some of the difficulties that employees on the autism spectrum encounter include the following:
  • atypical body movements (e.g., fidgeting)
  • decreased concentration due to environmental distractions
  • difficulty communicating with co-workers or supervisors
  • difficulty exhibiting typical social skills on the job
  • difficulty managing stress in the workplace
  • difficulty managing time
  • difficulty performing many tasks at one time
  • difficulty recognizing faces
  • difficulty understanding abstract concepts (e.g., corporate structure, hierarchies of responsibility, reporting requirements)
  • memory deficits that can affect their ability to complete tasks, remember job duties, or recall daily actions or activities

Here are several important accommodation ideas that will help you get the most out of your “special needs” employee: 

Learn the Complexities of Teaching Students on the Autism Spectrum

If you’re a teacher or home-schooler with an Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) student, here are some crucial classroom accommodations for the following traits associated with AS and HFA:
  • Poor Motor Coordination
  • Academic Difficulties
  • Emotional Vulnerability
  • Impairment in Social Interaction 
  • Restricted Range of Interests
  • Insistence on Sameness
  • Poor Concentration

Click here for the full article ==> Teaching Children and Teens with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism

15 Parenting Secrets for Raising Difficult Children on the Spectrum

“Is anyone else having a hard time coping with their autistic (high functioning) child? My son, Aiden, is almost 6, and he is very difficult to understand and reprimand. He has been diagnosed with ADHD too. I'm not sure about the ADHD ...I see him with more of "Oppositional Defiant Disorder" with a dash of autism. My husband has a bit of this same issue ...so he and Aiden have major trouble communicating. I’m stuck in the middle. The situation between my son and my husband, and my son and myself is extremely grueling and it is affecting our health and our marriage. Aiden’s older sister is affected as well. Of course we do love our son ....just can't figure out a way to reduce the enormous family stress we are all feeling now! Help!!”

Welcome to the club. Raising a youngster with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS) will take a few "tricks of the trade" that parents wouldn't need to have "up their sleeve" were they raising a "neurotypical" (i.e., non-autistic) son or daughter.

If you are at your “wits end” and need a few fresh parenting strategies in dealing with behavioral problems, then read on…


1. Don’t believe it when your HFA or AS youngster seems unaffected by discipline. Young people on the autism spectrum often pretend discipline doesn’t bother them. Parents must be persistent with their planned discipline, and consider themselves successful by keeping their “parenting plan” in place. When your son pretends a particular consequence doesn’t bother him, you may be tempted to give up on it, which reinforces his disobedience. Remember, moms and dads can only control their actions, not their youngster’s reactions.

2. Don’t just tell your son the correct way to do something – have him rehearse it too. For example, if he has a habit of slamming the kitchen cabinet after reaching for a snack, have him put the snack back in the cabinet and, this time, close it less forcefully. Then reward him with acknowledgement and praise.

3. Notice and appreciate even small instances of teamwork from your HFA child.  Create as many opportunities for positive reinforcement as possible. For instance, if you're working on a household chore, ask your son to hand you the dust rag. When he does what you ask, thank him specifically for his willingness to help out. If he doesn't, simply move on without comment. The goal here is to make your request so easy that he will comply without even thinking about it. Then, for just a second, he will experience the positive feelings associated with being compliant, which will make it more likely that he will comply with tougher requests in the future.

4. Become a “transition coach.” Most HFA and AS kids have difficulty with transitions (e.g., moving from one activity or location to the next). Thus, as your child’s personal coach, (1) discuss well in advance what is expected from him, and (2) have him repeat out loud the terms he just agreed to. Some children need to negotiate for that "can I please have one more minute?" A little extra patience on your part will help avoid a useless tantrum or meltdown.  

CLICK HERE for more information on helping with transitions. 

5. Many parents of “special needs” children are indecisive about what course of action to take. After all, many traditional parenting techniques backfire when used on autistic kids. Thus, the parent may jump from one parenting strategy to the next without giving any one strategy enough time to be successful. Or, the parent may try a new strategy once and then give up in frustration because it didn’t work. How many times have you said something like, “I’ve tried everything – and nothing works with this child”? So, don’t make the mistake of floating from one parenting tool to another without sticking with one specific tool for a significant period of time. If a particular tool only works 50% of the time, that’s the same as cutting a behavior problem in half (not bad!).

6. Actively look for opportunities to model humility. You probably already know that your son copies some of your behaviors and phrases you use often. So, why not use that to your advantage. When you are wrong, quickly admit this to him. This will demonstrate (a) making amends and (b) that it’s safe to make mistakes. Admitting your mistakes teaches your youngster to respect others. If you’ll do this techniques often, don’t be surprised to hear him sounding exactly like you someday soon (e.g., “I’m sorry mom. I know you told me to feed the cat, but I forgot”).

7. How many times have you said something to your child like, “There you go again – making a big mess.” This downloads in his brain as “I’m a messy person.” As a result, he will continue to be messy as if it were a prescribed behavior. But, you can use this phenomenon to your advantage by employing “reverse psychology.” For instance, “That’s not like you …you’re able to do much better than that.” This line works because your child will live up to – or down to – your expectations. Also, this phrase downloads in your child’s mind as “I am capable.”

8. Frequently use humor to deal with family stress. For instance, one mother of an Asperger’s child would always start singing MC Hammer’s hit song (one of her son’s favorites) entitled “U Can’t Touch This” whenever her son began to muster-up the energy for a tantrum. In many instances, this would throw him off course and short-circuit the tantrum.

9. Don’t fight every battle that comes down the pike – and NEVER try to fight multiple battles at once. HFA and AS kids don't readily comply, so the more requests you issue, the more the opportunities for them to get stuck. Divide the things you want your son to do into 3 classes: Class 1 includes a few mandatory rules, which are usually about safety (e.g., put on your seat belt, don’t hit your sister, no playing with matches, etc.). Class 2 includes issues in which you are willing to negotiate (e.g., a slightly later bed time). Class 3 includes rules that aren't worth causing an argument over (e.g., when your son complains moderately about having to do a chore, yet he complies).

10. When it comes to getting your child to do chores, consider the "hiring a substitute" technique. He can choose to hire someone to do his chore (e.g., by paying a wage of 50 cents he has saved from an allowance), or mutually agree to trade chores with his sister.

When it comes to getting your child to do homework, CLICK HERE for some very crucial suggestions. 

11. Understand that the same discipline may not work in all situations because of the unique features of HFA and AS. For example, your child may be having a particularly bad day, and may have a tantrum or meltdown when a privilege is taken away for misbehavior, whereas on a typical day he may respond well. Also, try to blend a combination of several parenting tools to create a more effective discipline.

12. Always remember that HFA and AS children need – and want – structure. In many cases, these children are actually starved for structure, because it helps them feel safe. Having a clear understanding of “the rules of the game” (i.e., what is - and is not - acceptable behavior, the rewards for proper behavior, and the consequences for misbehavior) circumvents confusion and frustration. Write these rules down and post them. In addition, remember that rules have no value for kids on the spectrum unless they are backed up by immediate, yet short-term consequences.

13. One of the worst things you can say to your HFA son is, "If you do that one more time, you’re going to _______ (insert consequence)." He may be irresistibly drawn to do just that, either because you've set an impulse in motion, because he can't deal with the stress of waiting for the other shoe to drop, or because he gets stuck on what you've just said. Instead of specifying “one more time,” say something such as, "I have a number of times in my head, and you're not going to know what that number is. But, when you hit that number, you going to get a consequence." This gives your child a few extra chances if he seems to be trying without going back on a threat, and it gives him a little leeway to know that he can slip-up a time or two.

14. Social stories are great for helping HFA and AS children with their inherent social skills deficits. Because one of the traits of the disorder is the inability to interact normally in social situations, social stories can be employed in a variety of ways in order to model appropriate behavior. Through the use of engaging stories, these young people can learn appropriate and inappropriate responses to situations. The story should be specifically tailored to the individual youngster. By modeling situations familiar to your son, he can be better prepared to react in a socially appropriate way to those same situations in the future.

Social stories typically have 3 clear-cut ways of addressing a particular situation: The first describes who, what, where and why in relation to the situation. The second is a “perspective sentence” that explains how others react to the situation being discussed. And, the third sentence attempts to model an appropriate response. Social stories can be accompanied by music and pictures. Also, rewards can be used when a situation is properly addressed.  

CLICK HERE for more information on how to create social stories.

15. When it comes to dealing with your son’s meltdowns, think of him as a train with an “anxiety speedometer.” When that speedometer reaches 80 mph, it’s going to take a long long time to stop that train. Your goal is to keep him from coming anywhere close to 80 mph. Let’s say, for example, you enter the room when your son is at an anxiety level of 55 mph. The stress of a current situation is getting to him. In this case, you will want to slow that train down before it gathers momentum. Laugh, divert, distract, negotiate, or anything else you can think of – and the speedometer should come down to 30 mph (assuming you have skillfully camouflaged your intervention).  

CLICK HERE for more information on dealing with tantrums and meltdowns.

Parents of kids with HFA and AS face many problems that other parents don’t. These “special needs” young people are emotionally more immature than their “typical” peers. They may be indifferent - or even hostile - to their parents’ concerns. They often get punished for “misbehavior” when the behavior in question was really related to sensory sensitivities (or some other autism-related trait) that are out of their control. However, by implementing some of the ideas listed above, moms and dads can reduce – and in many cases, eliminate – many of the severe behavioral problems that exist today.

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for June, 2017]

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

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Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for this. I just want to let you know that I am reading and digesting, and so is my ex-wife and her partner (both in CC). As we all co-parent Anna (our lovely 15 year old Aspie girl) we are actively working together to try to help her with these socialisation issues.

I just want to add that I find your specific descriptions of the kind of issues Aspie kids face to be so helpful. Speaking for myself, there have been so many times where I have felt a bit baffled as to why certain types of situations haven't worked out well for her. It changes the game to have these insights, as well as useful strategies for improving things. Anna is not without friends, but has experienced painful rejection a few times, and could  definitely use some help. I'm very hopeful that we can do that, with your books as an aid.

As you suggest, we will read and apply, and come back to you if there are specific issues that we can't tackle from the books themselves.

Thanks again, and best regards,

Daniel

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Good morning Mark,

Thank you for the link; I purchased the  Ebook and spent about 4 hours yesterday listening and taking notes.  This in addition to the 2 hour audio book along with some additional videos I found on YouTube.  I am convinced that my 27 year old son has Aspergers /High Functioning Autism, its just getting my husband to come on board to help with developing my son's independence and stop our enabling. But most important, its getting my son to realize he has an  issue which will explain most of the situations he has been confronting in the past several years.   I did hear you mention that you can offer guidance with this; I may be seeking your assistance in the near future.  This week we are on vacation so I will not be reading up on  this but I will be back.  Thanks again, your videos/ebooks have  been so informative and have explained ALOT!

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Your my hero .im intrigued by the info,books and knowledge regarding autism and Asperger's syndrome..i have took the time to read some of it ..its eased alot of anxiety for my self .i have 2 sons on the spectrum but two different personalitys .thanks so much.kind regards Christina Coleman.xx

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Dear Mr Hutten,

My name is Angela and within the last year I feel I've found the missing piece to my life. After reading Temple Grandin's book and then diving into this world head on, there is little doubt in my mind that I have ASD. I've carried a host of scattered diagnosis in the past but nothing ever really fit or made total sense.

I'm a do-er, I quest for knowledge, understanding and better in life. Every day. I've learned so much and overall am able to function pretty well in the neurotypical world. But it's still hard. Drastically hard.

One of the places I see many of the struggles is in my marriage. My husband and I are both super committed to one another and love each other deeply, but things are just hard. The meltdowns and lots of other little things are really taking a toll on us and we are starting to see real changes in how we operate with one another.

We are excited to download your ebook and glean wisdom and perhaps a new game plan to move forward with. We've worked with counselors in the past and they just seem so outside of our world we tend to be more productive without them. Just the two of us, stumbling around in the dark figuring out what works and what doesn't. It's exhausting for both of us.Our brains work differently. We come at problems with different tools to work with. It's great and hard all at once. We really would love some outside guidance from someone who understands this world.

I'm hoping to find someone eventually to work with one on one as well to understand this world more deeply and being able to add to the skill sets I already have with some concrete ideas to implement in my own life.

It's hard when NT people try to help and offer ideas with the best intent, but I then often seem unable to fully implement them or get the desired results because I just operate differently. I've had people tell I'm just not trying hard enough, and frankly for years I believed that. But no matter how hard I tried and pushed myself I still found myself unable to "hit that mark". I'd love to find someone to work with on adding to my own tools to be able to navigate things easier. Any advice for trying to find someone local?

I contacted my state Autism society and was basically told they don't know of anyone who works with adults on the spectrum near me and their primary job is to help families or children. Adult resources weren't to be had. I was also told good job for all I've achieved and for being where I am and to "just keep swimming". I appreciate the encouragement but I want to find help and answers.

I noticed some clips from seminars you've done and I was wondering if you have a calendar anywhere of any scheduled events? We'd really love to see you in person. I wish there were more therapists with a deeper understanding of this world. I really wish there was some type of network to find people who "get" us. We aren't less, just different and I want to find help that can speak to my different.

Anyway, any advice, information  or recommendations would be much appreciated. Thank you for what you do.

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Hello Dr Hutten,

 I am desperate for help. I have 8-year-old twins.  I am divorcing their father.  He was diagnosed with NPD by someone from a group called the Aspergers Autism Network (AANE).   I truly belief the diagnosis fits. 

I am looking for a therapist to treat my children and I am hoping you can recommend someone in Baltimore, MD.  The therapist does not need to take insurance.  It would be great if that person would be willing to testify in court.  I feel like I am screaming in the wind with regard to their father's diagnosis.  I can't stop him from having them several nights a month.  My kids hate it. My attorney says there is nothing I can do about it.  NPD doesn't present itself in a way that it is easy for the courts to deal with.  I am documenting every time them come back without being fed and other things the court can understand.

The therapists my children are seeing now are completely dismissive of my concerns and my husband's diagnosis.  I think they just don't understand it and the implications for my children.  They see a wonderful, charming father who shows up and says the right things.  I call it the "display model."  The display model is a wonderful human being.  The person that is with my children is in his bedroom watching pornography and ignoring his kids.  We will soon be getting his computers to see if it is underage porn. 

Please please please help if you can.  I am willing to pay cash and not use insurance.  I just need a good therapist for my children. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your prompt reply. I really appreciate it. I am a computer programmer (MSc) and my second occupation is psychotherapist, although I know how it might sound to you. I have already one marriage after me. I have a son. I am trying hard to find better contact with him. I am now in the second relationship with a lovely woman (I am 43, so is she too). She still gives us a chance, as she (she has PhD in chemistry) recently figured out that I have to be on this autistic spectrum as an adult.

She gives all her hopes on you as a competent therapist for this kind of challenge. Until now I was looking at myself that I have some symptoms from autistic character, but I could never admit myself that I could be quite that, as I made two learning analysis. But realizing I am pretty sure a high functioning (or maybe not so high) autistic adult I feel pretty confident that talking to you might be very helpful for me to clarify my prespective and our relationship. I am using no medicine drugs, no psychiatric medication, I drink no alchohol, I am not a smoker ... I am psychoanalitcal therapist and also a hypnotherapist. I do it as a part time job.

My problem is that sometimes my partner doesn't feel that I am connected to her. She sees me distant, as a stoneface, pokerface if you want. Her feedbacks are normally true as she is very sensitive, though. She is an energetic healer, as she posesses those kind of skills. She works as an API sourcing manager.

For the time being we live seperate in wish to come togeter if possible. I am putting also a lot of hope in working with you at least for some hours. And yeah, this is my motivation. I would appreciate if you coud give me, or maybe to both of us together an initial hour to clarify some open issues. What can I expect in the future, I what is for my partner to expect if she continues to live with me.

I would very appreciate it if you could find this hour somewhere taking into account we live in Austria and CET time zone. But that's not a problem really as we would take any time needed.

So, I want to do my best out from me. To continue my personal development. I am a very sensitive man, I can be very strong and determined, but still I can get pretty unsecure and hiding behind another person. Right now I am working in a new company for more than a year. It is very promising if I get further. But my real wish is my psychotheraputic work, but until now I was always doing so not to have to many patients. Recently, I am getting to know why. I would like to stop living to comply to others and more to live as I am. I have all the support of my partner.

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Hi there -- I'm just wondering if any research has been done about the frequency of dementia or other such conditions among parents (especially mothers, I would say) of "children" with Aspergers?  For example, my son is 40 years old, I have about 99.9% of the responsibility for everything concerning him, I think his dad would be diagnosed with Aspergers too if he allowed himself to be seen; this morning it struck me that it would be a JOY to be diagnosed myself with dementia so I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore!  Unlikely to happen any day soon (I'm not yet 69), but I just wondered if there's anything to this idea.  Surfing the Internet brought me to you, who have done a lot of work with Aspergers and the parents of Asperger people, so I thought maybe you might know of any possibly connection.

It was just a thought -- maybe some doctoral candidate would like to do work on it...  I volunteer!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Mark,

My son Jordan is 16 and he has been diagnosed with Aspergers by a psychotherapist about a year ago.
By then he had gone through a lot of difficulties emotionally and socially (since aged 12) which resulted in:
- school withdrawal (eventually home tutored)
- social isolation
- anxiety
- depression

He is still followed by a therapist but he has been completely withdrawn and refuses to talk to anyone.

We live just outside London in the UK and I'd love to have access to a
Coaching service like yours in our area or at least in the UK.
Can you help?
Your approach and your webpage looks like it could really work for us.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good morning Mr. Hutten - 

I have recently come across your e-book My Asperger Teen and downloaded the book and also have been reading the hard book.  I find your book very interesting and am having issues with my 16 year old son.  I have 3 other sons besides Scott and I have given them your e-book to listen to to try to understand him more and help.  It has always been difficult dealing with him over the years and has caused a strain with him and his brothers.  I would also like if you have any suggestions on how to bring the family closer together.  

He is having a lot of changes coming up when school starts up in August and I wanted to see if you can provide me some specific help regarding specific issues I have.  

1.  He is 16 years old and is still having an issue with bed wetting.  He was on medicine to try to control the bed wetting and wetting his pants during the day and has been off the medicine for some time.  We actually did not have  problem for around 8 months and then we started with the same problem about 1 month ago and it has been happening at least 4 times a week.  Any suggestions?

2.  We also have a problem with his hygiene.  He is starting to mature and does not like to shower.  He goes into the bathroom for 30 minutes and am not sure what he does in there.  My husband and I have both sat in the bathroom with him because sometimes he would go in there and just sit on the floor.  He got a job in a supermarket and is changing schools in August and I do find that he has body odor quite a lot.  He said he doesn't smell it when I tell him and refuses to shower again.  Any suggestions on hygiene?  

3.  He is obsesses with his computer. He will sit on it for hours and when I tell him to get off he doesn't listen.  If I go over and just shut it off, he throws a fit and will throw things and start cursing and run into his room and hide in a ball.  He tells me he plays with his friends on the computer.  He doesn't socialize and doesn't have any outside friends.  When he does get off the computer, he goes and watches TV instead.  Any suggestions to stop the computer playing?  

4.  Like I said he is changing schools in August and I wanted to see how to make the transition a little easier for him.  He will be going to a trade/high school and he will be in classes with adults.  He does have problems with doing homework and doing classwork.  He just sits there and does nothing.  Fortunately, he is extremely smart and he tests very well.  I know counseling doesn't work so I didn't know how to deal with this.

I know you said we can't take on all these issues at once and can only fix one thing at a time.  I would like to know if you do any group sessions in South Florida because I would love to see you in person.  Do you have anyone in South Florida that you deal with that would be able to counsel me on some of these issues or is you would be able to answer them.  

Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Mark

I'm writing because my family is in crisis due to parenting issues. I was looking for parenting coaching but wondering if your Online Parent Support package would be a good fit?

I live with my husband (married five years ago), 13 year old son and 11 year old daughter. The kids have 30-40% custody with their father, who left me in 2010. My son has always been a challenge - ADHD, gifted, learning disabilities, behaviour stuff. In fact, he was homeschooled until this school year due to his issues. He started high school September 2016, and since then we have been dealing with a whole new crop of problems, in addition to old ones that never got resolved. My daughter is highly functional, though she gets away with more than she would if she didn't have the brother that he has.

My marriage is in crisis because my husband is frustrated with my ineffective parenting and the train wreck that he sees coming with my son. I struggle with consistency (I probably have ADHD) and also with not having the freedom to parent without having to seek input from both my husband (who doesn't have biological kids of his own) and my ex (who is a devoted father but also a narcissist and sets a bad example in some areas). 

I need support as soon as possible to implement results-oriented strategies in a rather complex situation involving a lot of very intense people. My son is displaying a lot of defiance around basic boundaries, some deceitfulness/insincerity, impulsive behaviours that are getting him into trouble, and disrespect toward others (everything from table manners, arguing, not respecting personal space, etc.).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I just discovered your material mentioned in the subject.  My question is, are either of these available as a talking book or video?


I am certainly interested in these, for myself and/or a family member who has a 13 year old boy with aspergers, and a 6 year old boy with autism.  We have been running into brick walls for the past three years regarding the 13 year old.  The school has no idea how to cope with this, and seem to have little interest to even care.  We live in New Brunswick, and there does not seem to be anything supported by the government to help these families or introduce helps into the school system.  I am looking into information to learn over the summer to prepare this young man for the next school term, and hopefully provide the school with some information on how to work with this student,  whereas this school term  has been a complete loss for him.  The 6 year old had the benefit of attenting a school from age 3 where he learned to talk etc., and kindergarted has gone well for him, so at present need to conentrate on the 13 year old.  In addition the 13 year old has a twin brother who is ADHD, and a talking type book would be convenient for the mother who is single and once the day is over is mostly too exhausted to look at a book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have known since childhood that I think differently than the average peer but, at that time seemed to me, autism was only related to classical accounts with low-functioning attributes that made it clear for others to comprehend there is an issue. I had multiple psychs and doctors, as a child, suggest there being a strong chance of autism/aspergers but questioning the treatments my family decided to leave it be.

I was not helpful is such matters because when questioned it was obvious to me what kind of an agenda the psychs had. If they were going to try to diagnose I would have wanted the respect of being up-front about it and typically they would ask questions that were not applicable in my perspectives. Plus I had no idea how others would perceive me if it was made official that I was 'different', from experience it seems to me people don't tend to treat those they don't understand well. But I knew something was different, and it wasn't just personality, though as much as it felt as handicap I knew it is also connected to the gifts I have and therefore directly connected to personality. I have tried dodging being labeled for many years but as many sites indicate, my issues with trying to focus on social aspects get in the way of mundane simple work that I feel is honestly a bit of a waste of my gifts and talents.

Through sites and articles that I found accurate and applicable connecting me to this email, I found most appropriate the advice to create a portfolio to better establish emphasis of skills. Problem for me currently, is that my interests and gifts lead to ministry, which I have no clue about getting work for without ordination...which is proving to be a bit difficult due to aspergers. I was hoping that perhaps in your wide experience of dealing with specific cases of individuals with aspergers and their very specific gifts, you would know of some direction that may be helpful in my conquest in doing work that utilizes my gifts and talents and allows me to pay very modest bills for myself and my family.  


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello Mark,

We have a 17 year old , turning 18 in 2 weeks.

The short story is he dropped out of school in 11th grade, attending an online school for a month or two and even attending a GED program.  He stopped all of it.
He went thru drivers ed- his request- and yet won't get his license.
He has a part time job babysitting his nephews 2 days/week. He is very reliable and responsible with this job.  He likes to buy his own clothes and shoes, via Amazon, or at Ross.

He spends days on end in his room on his phone, uses as his device to research information or watch videos.

He enjoys going to the Gym for pick up basketball games and will stay for hours. We enjoy this and support his desire as he is getting both physical and social exercise.

Whenever we talk about finishing school, getting his license, looking at jobs, becoming more independent and preparing for his life outside of our home, he shuts down and heads back to his room.

I have always suspected he was somewhere on the spectrum but never had an official diagnosis.  He seemed to be doing well until he reached 7th grade. Then we/he struggled and the "shut down" began.   We got thru and made a couple life changes, with his "approval" and had hoped it would improve his future. He did settle down and his angry outbursts settled down.  But alas he stopped sports and school, slowly but surely.

Here we are on the heels of his 18th bday and I read your email and transitioning to adulthood.

Questions-
Can we help him if he thinks he doesn't need help?
Can we help him recognize his challenges so that he can better understand what he will need in his life?

As I write to you I realize I have so many questions.  More everyday.

I appreciate anything you can suggest to us. We know we have to do better, do more, do things different in order to help
Our son, Jake, be his best and find his future.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


My son Jeff made a huge progress since last September. He can get along with his sister and me. He succeeded in his school and graduated from the middle school. Now we are facing the challenges to transfer him to the new high school. Probably we made the wrong decisions for him. Originally he wanted to go to a lottery draft magnet high school. We worried about whether he can handle. The single round transportation takes about 1 hour and I heard there are bullies in the school. We decided not let him go; Then we moved last month and he will go to the Green Hope high. Most of his middle classmates will go to Panther Creek High. He insisted he wants to attend Panther Creek High. But PCH is now capped and the school board told us it is impossible for him to go back. Jeffrey now feel depressed because of the new environment and new school. By clarifying,  we moved 5 minutes away from our old house and the two High school are 5 minutes away , too. But the students in GHH are 600 less the students in Panther Creek High. My husband and I are regretful to make this decision for him.  I can say Jeffrey had a very good school year. We are actively looking for the students who will go to GHP and try to help Jeffrey to connect with them. But now Jeffrey is resisting what we arranged for him. 
I check with you to see whether you can give us some suggestions.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My 19 year old daughter has had a habitual lying problem that started when she was a child. Mostly we know she lies about things that have not gone her way, and pretends “everything is fine”. She was a foreign exchange student her Junior year, had a great & independent experience but lost ground on her accomplishments upon retiring home. This is when I first wondered if she was depressed. She has been quite disrespectful in how she treats my husband and me, and we cannot get her to participate in chores, self-care (showers, brushing teeth, laundry, cleaning her room or car). High school largely was easy, but she refused to do anything to prepare for college, although we pushed, she didn’t take the SATs her senior year, opting instead for local Junior College and live at home the past year, which was an acceptable path we thought. She was very excited to take college courses, had big goals of becoming a doctor. She bombed her 1st semester, continually lied about her performance. She would not seek tutors or academic counseling help.  We have expectations or her to go to college, but are not over bearing about it, although she feels we are - this is more about her own struggles with failure I think.  She does have a PT job, but spends all her “free” time on her cell phone/social media apps, or sleeping. She does not follow thru on intentions, and gets angry when we remind her again and again to wake up, clean her room or the bathroom, take a shower, brush her teeth, register for school, etc. She has recently been suicidal, had the pills/alcohol in her hand (while we were home too) but pulled away from the “dark place” because she felt her older sister would miss her (i.e. not us).  We learned about this a full month later. Ive suspected she was depressed, but she puts on a good face, won’t talk about personal things and is impossible to read emotionally. Suicidal tendencies were a surprise. She sought medical help on her own, thankfully, got on Zoloft, which helps her feel more positive, and she now seeks out friends, but nothings changed towards us or home/family life. We sought therapy immediately to figure out how to interact with her, help her if she’d let us. We have suggested for the last month that she go to therapy, but she has dragged dragged her feet & is not prioritizing it. She has an insurance referral finally, but after more than 2 week, still hasn't called to make therapist appointment. She won’t exercise. She eats “ok”, but not great. She is not obese, but headed that way. Our therapist says we need to give her space due to her depression and let her experience more “natural consequences” of her actions, but we are frustrated that she will not participate in family chores or her own basic responsibilities. We don’t have any effective tools other than asking her if she will do these things, she is 19, and It’s just her and us at home, we are semi-retired. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Mark,

Thanks so much for responding! This makes so much sense. Ben definitely doesn't do well with multiple step directions. I think he will thrive with more "visual" type instructions. I will try to utilize you tube videos as tutorials and use more pictures and less words when trying to explain something to him.Thanks for this very useful information! It's so hard to pinpoint what will work with him and what won't. It's hard to decipher what's going on in his little head and when I try to talk to him about it and figure out how he works he shuts down and gets very sensitive and emotional.

In any case I'm very happy I happened to fall upon your website. I have another issue that's been bugging me. When Ben is just with me or my husband or just hanging out with his family he seems almost "typical" (on his medication of course), but then we'll get together at family functions or with friends or other large group settings and it feels like he almost regresses instantly. I can't figure out if he does purposely, for attention, or it's a social anxiety. He gets super hyper, rambles on, flaps around, just seems completely unaware and oblivious of his surroundings and he's just really inappropriate for his age. I've tried to pull him aside and talk to him about this but the behavior continues as long as there's an "audience". It's very frustrating because he's so smart, witty and capable one on one. I'm thinking it must be a social thing because he's such a pleaser and really dislikes to disappoint. How can I help him be "himself"? He's alienating his peers which causes him additional stress. Thanks for any tips and help you can provide! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello Mark,

We have a 17 year old , turning 18 in 2 weeks.

The short story is he dropped out of school in 11th grade, attending an online school for a month or two and even attending a GED program.  He stopped all of it.
He went thru drivers ed- his request- and yet won't get his license.
He has a part time job babysitting his nephews 2 days/week. He is very reliable and responsible with this job.  He likes to buy his own clothes and shoes, via Amazon, or at Ross.

He spends days on end in his room on his phone, uses as his device to research information or watch videos.

He enjoys going to the Gym for pick up basketball games and will stay for hours. We enjoy this and support his desire as he is getting both physical and social exercise.

Whenever we talk about finishing school, getting his license, looking at jobs, becoming more independent and preparing for his life outside of our home, he shuts down and heads back to his room.

I have always suspected he was somewhere on the spectrum but never had an official diagnosis.  He seemed to be doing well until he reached 7th grade. Then we/he struggled and the "shut down" began.   We got thru and made a couple life changes, with his "approval" and had hoped it would improve his future. He did settle down and his angry outbursts settled down.  But alas he stopped sports and school, slowly but surely.

Here we are on the heels of his 18th bday and I read your email and transitioning to adulthood.

Questions-
Can we help him if he thinks he doesn't need help?
Can we help him recognize his challenges so that he can better understand what he will need in his life?

As I write to you I realize I have so many questions.  More everyday.

I appreciate anything you can suggest to us. We know we have to do better, do more, do things different in order to help
Our son, Jake, be his best and find his future.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good Morning Mark,

Your advice and tips are so helpful and invaluable. I can't thank you enough.

I'd like to dig a little deeper into our previous email:

"This is an anxiety issue... or we can call it "over-stimulation."

Thanks for clarifying this. It makes a lot of sense. Ben does seems much more talkative, energetic, and socially awkward when he's in a large group. He definitely seems to do better one on one. I'd like to point out that Ben is in a general ed classroom. He's extremely high functioning and most people, even some family members don't notice that he's high functioning. They just blame his ADHD. He's small for his age and he's only 12 years old. He'll be attending junior high next year. My concern is that kids will be less accepting, less patient, and less tolerant of his quirkiness. I'm not trying to change Ben. He's perfect to me. I'm trying to equip him with the tools and techniques to be more "appropriate" in situations where he may not always be able to escape to a "safe-zone".  I understand that ASD individuals are programmed differently. I want to help Ben deal and act appropriately when he is in public. It's not realistic to always escape or hide. That's not the real world. I've never made excuses for him. I'm patient with Ben, I make acommodations, but never excuses. Ben is capable of overcoming an hurdle or obstacle if he sets his mind to it. Ben's behavior is still somewhat acceptable now because he's still young and small for his age but in a few years it will become more and more obvious that he's "off" and I don't want him labeled. Any tips or techniques would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks again. Your website has been a godsend!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I'm a psychotherapist working in N. Ireland and one of my current clients has a high-achieving teenage boy of 16 who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome just 2 years ago.
His condition had not been identified in primary school but was rather considered 'bad behaviour.' Dealing with repeated incidents over a period of years was very stressful for the family who had no idea what was the matter and who had an 'exemplary' older son who was sailing through school.

My client was delighted when his high school recommended a psychological assessment
when he was 13 and he was finally diagnosed with ASD at 14.
However on diagnosis no real support regarding the condition or the coping behavioural challenges it can pose, was offered to the family and his behavioural problems continued to increase.

When his mother came to consult with me a year ago both she and his father (who is possibly on the spectrum also) were finding his behaviour extremely difficult to cope with. He was rude, angry and refused to do most of the things they expected him to do. He was refusing to get up for school, dropping subjects, cheeking teachers,  refusing to help out at home in any way, etc.
There were physical wrestling matches to get him out of bed and his mother was at her wits end as all he wanted to do was play on his video game in his free time.

Since then I have been working with her on strategies to help her cope and maintain her own mental health by exploring with her what the Aspergers condition is, how those with Aspergers may process their cognitions differently to those without and the difficulties this creates for those living in a world that is so different to their own.
This greater understanding of the condition has helped her reduce her stress levels and she is now better able to maintain a sense of calm in the home and has developed strategies to reduce tension when interacting with her son.

However although calm has been restored (largely by reducing demands on her son and herself)  his behaviour is still selfish, rude, and uncaring when anything is requested off him. He refuses to study at home and did not revise at all for his recent important exams.He can be aggressive if anything thwarts his plans. This is in spite of the fact that at times he can be affectionate, endearing and entertaining. He attends his own counsellor who has experience working with teens with Asperger's.

As part of my work with this client I have researched the literature for further help.
I am an ex-headteacher with an interest in the ASD spectrum having had pupils in my school who were diagnosed at an early age as being on the spectrum and who has studied Tony Atwood's work in this area.
I have worked in my counselling role with clients who have Aspergers or who are parents of those with the syndrome. I am not a specialist but really in Northern Ireland there is a dearth of specialists available to offer support to parents or those with the condition.

My client's son possibly has PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) and refuses to do most things asked of him.
All he wants to do is sit in his room at his PlayStation.
He refuses most food choosing to eat mainly pot-noodles.
He is not interested in going out with friends, having new clothes, buying books, music or gadgets.

This lack of demands from him gives my client little leverage over her son. Indeed she would be delighted if he did want to go out or if he asked her for anything.

We discussed limiting his internet time but this provides his only social contact and, as he has threatened to self harm on previous occasions, she is afraid that he may harm himself if
 she suggests this. Also any threat by her to with-hold a treat in exchange for compliance in some area is normally met by him saying 'fine, if that's what you are going to do. I don't care.'
This can then be followed by long periods when he does not interact at all with the family.

I would really appreciate any suggestions or comments you may have to make in this case and thank you in advance.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello, I have a 14 yr old daughter with SPD, ADHD, depression and anxiety who is really struggling with anger, emotional regulation, and low self-esteem. Her father died suddenly when she was almost 6, before we knew why parenting her was so challenging. It took me several years through my own grief and anguish to finally figure out what was going on, with most professionals (teachers, pediatricians, therapists) brushing it off as her acting out and having anxiety, or me being overwhelmed. In reality, I know most couldn't understand the reality of our day to day life. She was never given an Aspergers or high functioning diagnosis, but I do believe she exhibits many of the traits with the rigid thinking and rituals, and social functioning deficits. After trying therapy and much resistance on her part, I have not gotten her support the last 2 years and never really the support she needs. I tried OT at 7 years old (she didn't like it), then therapy, then OT again at 10 (no go), then medication, then more therapy and then tried to let her just be a kid and not try "to fix her" as she called it. She was getting all As in school and involved in dance and had friends, so I thought why not give it a break. Well, her self-esteem has started to plummet in puberty with her looks (she has a bump on her nose and think she is ugly), saying how hard she works to "be normal" to fit in with her friend group, and her inability to control her strong emotions when she gets anxious, overtired, or stressed, even around friends. My heart breaks for her and I am at a loss of what I can do to help her after 8 years of trying all alone to get her help. How do I teach her to think positive about herself when she hasn't developed healthy coping skills? I'm so worried for her and know we need to get back on track fast. Is this something that can help me? And will I get more than one video for the $37 fee? I am really desperate for someone who understands and has experience in the arena of spectrum-type behaviors - to help support me and validate my daughter's frustrations and help her. Our experiences are that typical therapists just don't have that background or understanding. We live on Northern CA. Please help if you know of anyone at all who I could see in person. In the meantime, I want to order the video because I have so much work to do on myself with responding in the right way. I just feel so alone in this struggle all the time. It's hard, most friends don't really understand how hard.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Hello, Mark.  I recently purchased your book "Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Aspergers Children and Teens".  I have read it and have some questions.  My daughter is 15 years old and appears to be the poster child for Aspergers based on what you have written.  She had a lot of difficulty completing this past school year at a public school due to anxiety and social issues even though it was pre-college advanced curriculum and she made very good grades.  She is seeing a psychiatrist who is not diagnosing Aspergers but focusing on anxiety issues.  Our insurance will not cover testing for Aspergers but in September our insurance changes and we will be able to have her tested.  As of right now we have not said anything to her about having Aspergers.  She also has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia due to high levels of stress involving Aspergers, anxiety, and social issues.  

Here is the question.  We have a limited time to try to help her with social skills and anxiety before the school year starts again in late August.  We will not be able to get a diagnosis of Aspergers until September.  We need to start using the steps in your book to try to help her.  Our concern is that if we tell her that she has Aspergers now so we can proceed with a program, will that taint the results of the study we want to do in September?  It is going to be awkward to try a program on her now without telling her because she is very intelligent and will suspect something, but if we do not start now there will be problems when she goes back to school in August.   So, do you recommend that we tell her now or not?  Her psychiatrist does not want to attach any labels to her but he is not addressing the problem.  We plan to change psychiatrists after our insurance changes in September.

How to Get Capable Adult Children on the Autism Spectrum to Move Out

“We have a 28 year old son with Asperger syndrome (high-functioning) who refuses to leave our house. He is a college graduate with a marketable degree, but he refuses to get a real job. He has earned a considerable amount of money playing online poker and just laughs in my face and tells me to shut up when I tell him that gaming is not a way to earn a living. I recently told him that if he was going to support himself by gambling that he needed to find a new place to live. He threw a huge tantrum, got in my face, cussed me out, and dared me to kick him out. On top of everything else, he does not clean up after himself. You’d think we had a 16 year old living here! We are at our wits end. We don't want to strain our relationship with our son by getting the police involved because we love him and have had plenty of good times over the years. But we are getting older, and it’s time for him to go. My wife and I are getting ready to retire and we do not need to spend our retirement dealing with this drama and chaos. How do we get our son to move on with his life in a non-confrontational manner?”

If you’re in a situation where your adult child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS) is still living with you, is overly-dependent, or lives at home in a situation that has become difficult or unbearable for you, then now is the time to take action (i.e., today – not tomorrow!).

Many parents wonder what will happen if they throw their adult child with “special needs” out of the nest. They often have trouble knowing how much to help their “suffering” child now that he is an adult. At some level, they may continue to “cushion” him or to “feel sorry” for him, which results in home-life being so comfortable that the child sees no reason to ever leave.

In this all-to-common scenario, parents have “stepped-in” time and time again to over-protect and over-assist their adult child. At a time where “typical” young adults are going off to college, starting a career, renting an apartment, and even getting married – the HFA or AS adult simply wants to live in his parent’s basement and play video games.

Assess where you are right now by answering these questions:
  • Has the situation become so unbearable that your main concern is getting your adult son out of your house as quickly and safely as possible?
  • Do you see your son as wanting to become independent, or as simply being more comfortable allowing you to take care of all his responsibilities?
  • Are you in a place where your boundaries are being crossed and you need to establish some limits?

The longer you wait to muster-up some tough love, the harder it will be to get your son to launch into adulthood. If you’re waiting for things to get better on their own, you’re in for a long wait. You MUST begin the hard work of implementing a few tough love strategies. There is NO easy way out of this, so don’t expect that you can accomplish what you need to in a “non-confrontational manner.” You will have to confront – and be assertive here.

What can parents of a young adult on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum do to help him live independently? Here are some simple, concrete steps to take:

1. Make it more uncomfortable to depend on you than to fly from the nest. One way to accomplish this is to stop paying for all the “extras” that your son views as necessities that really aren’t (e.g., cell phone, internet connection, video games, etc.). One mother reported that her 25-year-old son with Asperger’s decided those “extras” were important. Once she stopped providing free handouts (i.e., giving her son money for this and that), he was motivated to go get a job and started paying his own way, including renting an apartment.

2. Learn to say – and stick with – “no”.

3. DO NOT try to shield your son from experiencing the negative consequences and painful emotions associated with his poor choices.

4. Some adult children on the spectrum have literally worn out their welcome by taking and taking – financially and emotionally – without giving in return. Therefore, parents should not feel guilty about moving their grown child into independence so they can have their own life back. Parents have the right to spend their money on things for themselves, to have the environment they want in their home, and to enjoy peaceful evenings with no drama. You’ve raised your son. He’s an adult now. You are not expected to provide for him any more than your parents are expected to provide for you now that you are an adult.

5. Keep an eye out for your son’s guilt-trips.

6. Your HFA son is not a fragile individual who will probably fail miserably when he leaves the nest. As with most other young adults on the “high-functioning” end of the autism spectrum, he is capable of functioning on his own out in the real world. Your worries and doubts may be causing you to be so afraid of what will happen to your son – especially if you continue to think of him as a kid rather than an adult. In reality, your son is equal to you, and equally capable of making it in this life. Thinking of him as incompetent is actually a disservice to him and keeps you in parental “care-taking mode.” He may be uncomfortable with some of the steps you’re taking that encourage more responsibility – but that’s fine. Change is supposed to be uncomfortable. Getting out of your comfort zone strengthens you. This is what he needs to experience in order to make some serious changes within himself. Changing your viewpoint will help you avoid those “guilt” and “fear” emotional buttons.

7. Even with an adult child, parents should discipline rather than nag – and discipline without later reducing or negating the discipline.

8. If your adult son eventually moves into a separate residence, but still depends on you as a source of income, set some limits. State what you will and will not pay for. If you need to start small and work your way up, that’s fine. If, for example, you just can’t stop buying groceries for him yet, then start “pulling the plug” on a few small things (e.g., cell phone, money for gas, cigarettes, movie money, etc.). It is his responsibility to locate other resources (e.g., friends, churches, government assistance, etc.). Your son can always apply for assistance through government programs (e.g., food stamps, rental assistance, etc.) if he is truly unable to locate work and support himself.

9. Know that your HFA son does not always have to be happy in order to have high self-esteem.

10. Make sure that you and your son’s other parent are united and bonded on most issues.

11. Many young adults – autistic or not – are struggling to become independent in today’s economy. True, the economy is bad, and our country is experiencing hard times. But that’s nothing new. We’ve gone through recessions and depressions before. The difference with many young HFA and AS adults in today’s generation is the “sense of entitlement” and the “aversion to sacrificing” in order to make it. Today, society is all about technology and instant gratification. But, it’s not too late to teach your son the value of delayed gratification and working for the things he desires. It’s okay for him to be uncomfortable and realize he has the ability to survive hard times through self-reliance. If your guilt or fear buttons start getting pushed, remember this: You are giving your child these lessons out of love.

12. Pay attention to your feelings of guilt about how you have parented, and know it is a sign that you are – once again – beating up on yourself.

13. When you catch yourself feeling sorry for your “special needs” son, know it is a sign that you are – once again – taking on too much responsibility.

14. It’s okay for your adult son to be uncomfortable – we’ve all been uncomfortable and survived. It’s actually a good thing – and necessary for change. “Change” occurs when things feel uncomfortable, out of balance, or unsteady. It’s what motivates us to find our equilibrium again – through employment, returning to college, offering our services through odd jobs, or whatever it takes to get the things in life that we really want.

15. When your son needs to be comforted or cheered-up, do so with active listening, empathy, paraphrasing, and validation rather than “giving” him things (e.g., unearned privileges, food, gifts, fun activities, etc.).

16. Your HFA son may have made a career out of asking you to provide things for him that he can’t afford himself. Other people are not going to provide these things for him. There are no free hand-outs in the “real” world. But you may have been providing free hand-outs to your son, which may have lead him to believe that free hand-outs are everywhere (what a shock when he finds out differently!). Your son can live without an Internet connection (he can get online at the local library). He doesn’t have to text (he can write letters). His hair can get really, really long (he doesn’t “need” a haircut). You get the idea. Make sure you understand the difference between wants and needs.

17. Teach your son ways to cope with little money. For example, if he doesn’t have the money for cigarettes or alcohol– he doesn’t get them. He can take the bus. He can get clothes from Salvation Army or Goodwill. He can eat cheap (e.g., macaroni & cheese, Ramen noodles, etc.).

18. If you are O.K. with your adult child continuing to live at home, but you want him to mature and develop some emotional muscles, draw up a contract that specifies the terms of his living there. This is an agreement between two competent adults. Don’t think of your son as your kid. Instead, view him as a tenant. In this way, you’ll be less likely to have your emotional buttons triggered (e.g., feelings of guilt). Your son is not “entitled” to live in your home past the age of 18. It’s a privilege, and you have the right to set some realistic limits.

19. If your son typically pushes the “guilt” and “sympathy” buttons in order to stay dependent and comfortable, prepare yourself for what’s coming and create a plan on how you’ll handle it (e.g., make some note cards or adopt a slogan to remind yourself that you have the right to be free from negativity or meeting another adult’s needs).

20. Understand the motivation behind your son’s “inaction” and resistance to change. When a young adult with HFA or AS feels “incapable,” he will try to feel “capable” by holding on to the “familiar” (e.g., surfing the Internet, playing childhood games, continuing to live at home with mom and dad, staying in bed, failing to find part-time employment, avoiding making plans to continue his education past high school, sitting on the couch, withholding overall involvement, etc.). All of this gives him a sense of being in control. To a parent, the behavior looks like pure “laziness” and lack of motivation. But the young adult views it as the only way to have power over what’s going on around him. The thought of being a “grown-up” with adult responsibilities is overwhelming. Thus, he holds on tightly to his comfort zone, which makes it even more difficult to “launch” into adulthood.

The young adult child who uses resistance as a form of “control” lacks both problem-solving skills and social skills. By implementing some of the suggestions listed above, parents can help their child on the autism spectrum to begin the process of blossoming into a functional, capable, contributing member of society.

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


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  Help him find an apartment and hire a moving truck. He needs to see what the real world is like...
•    Anonymous said… Do you have another adult child or a trusted friend that can be there with you and help explain to your son that for many reasons it is time for him to move out. Emphasis all the positives for moving out! Good Luck
•    Anonymous said… Does your wife feel the same ?
•    Anonymous said… He doesn't need help or deserve it with the way he is acting
•    Anonymous said… How about making his life not so easy? He is home because its good there. Mom probably cooks, You pay the bills, do his laundry, pickup for him....etc.Only you know what you are doing that shouldn't be doing for a 28 yr old. Maybe cutting the internet so he cant online game. Or how about looking for a different home. One like a duplex or with an in law quarters so your still together but have your own privacy. Hope things work out for you guys.
•    Anonymous said… I love the internet comment.
•    Anonymous said… I think this is a great article with many solid options on 'how' to start the process of transitioning grown children to move on towards independence. Independence feels 'good' and yes it takes work and practice, like everything else in life, but the journey is an important one. Yes, the parental 'guilt' can be overwhelming so thank you for addressing the 'feelings' aspect. At the end of the day, we want our children to be able to be self-sufficient in the real world. That would give me some serious 'peace of mind' . We work in conjunction with a behavioral therapist so the message of independence is being 'echoed' by a supportive professional & it's not just 'mom or dad' being 'mean'. My personal opinion is that if calls to the police or forced evictions can be avoided, it's best for all; however, I'm sure that's not an option for everybody.
•    Anonymous said… I'd pack up and move myself, downsize so he has no choice but to find somewhere else lol
•    Anonymous said… If he's old enough to gamble online, he's old enough to deal with the consequences of his behavior, and that includes taking care of himself. Enabling bad behavior in anyone -- adults or children, and this is no child -- doesn't help anyone and only serves to weaken them in the long run. Out you go.
•    Anonymous said… I'm pretty shocked at the responses from parents. It's quite possible this adult son might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of suddenly moving into complete independence, hence the angry outbursts. Not condoning his behavior, but his brain is not that of a typical 28 year old man. Maybe the parents need guardianship of their adult son, if he is not able to handle the daily stress of life (like self medicating with gambling). Geez. Go learn about autism, folks.
•    Anonymous said… Maybe you could help him find his own place close to you. Our Aspie purchased his own townhouse 2 blocks from us and continues to come to our house every evening after work, but goes home at bedtime. It's worked well for our family. This was part of his 'life plan' though. He had always told me he couldn't be 30 living at home with his mom "that would be weird" -  :-)
•    Anonymous said… Tough love, move his stuff to the porch and change the locks.
•    Anonymous said… We parents make life & home too comfortable and easy, no wonder kids don't want to leave the nest. I would ring the police if they get abusive or violent . Give them a deadline to move out. Get a retraining order if needed.
•    Anonymous said… You need to have him evicted and you should call the police when he is being abusive.
•    Anonymous said… Youve let it go on way too long  🤗 tough love can be a very good thing for both parties.
*   Anonymous said... Talk to him like an adult, kindly, when things aren't heated. Give him a couple of months to save up. Unfortunately for them, their emotions are messed up and many times don't match the situation. He may need so assistance but yes, it's time for him to go. You need peace and type up a written request of his departure, notice to evict, if he's nit taking things serious. This way, you can protect yourself legally. He needs to learn about the real world and he's a decade behind.
 

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