Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Help for Behavior Problems and Low Self-Esteem in Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Have you heard your Aspergers or High-Functioning Autistic teenager say things like:
  • I'm a mistake.
  • I'm dumb.
  • I'm useless.
  • I hate myself.
  • I wish I was dead. 
  • What is wrong with me? 
  • Why was I born? 

If so, then alarm bells should be going off. You know changes need to happen! Low self-esteem and behavioral problems go hand-in-hand!!! 

Click here for some important parenting tips...

Token Boards for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Here are our top 10 picks for token boards, which are simple tools to use at home and in the classroom to motivate young people with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism.  A token board is also a system that rewards desired behaviors with tokens, which your child can exchange for something he or she values -- and it serves as a visual reminder.

Loneliness & Friendships in Children on the Autism Spectrum

"Is it common for a child with high functioning autism to shun peers who attempt to be friends with him? My son seems to prefer to play alone and I worry how this will impact his relationships in the future."

It is hard to know if kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are as lonely as their moms and dads believe they are. Psychologists do know that playing with a friend, making a friend, and being with a friend are "overwhelming skills" for AS/HFA kids. Many relationships make little sense to kids with AS/HFA, because they are almost totally preoccupied with their own agendas.

Teaching AS/HFA kids much needed social skills is a formidable task for moms and dads and educators. It is not like teaching how to ride a bicycle or tie a shoe, but rather trying to teach something no one formally taught you. How did you learn how to read a room? How do you teach someone how to read a room, especially someone who has no understanding of other people's emotions and body language? Kids with AS/HFA have no idea about how to reason socially and come up with proper courses of action in social situations. For example, one youngster with AS got lost in the school corridors on her way to gym. She had forgotten the route, but she didn’t think to simply follow her peers to the gym.

Nonetheless, therapists emphasize the need to teach AS/HFA kids social skills, because they desperately need them to get along in life. The AS/HFA youngster’s lack of social understanding colors every other experience in his or her life. But the question of whether kids with AS/HFA are truly lonely and want friends is a different discussion. Like all kids, some are extroverted while others are more withdrawn. Like all kids, they probably vary in their need for social interactions.

When researchers ask kids with AS/HFA about friendship, they are usually very negative. They think of friendship with other kids as too much work and often prefer to connect with grown-ups. For example, when one teacher was forcing a 6-year-old to participate in a playgroup with other kids, he said, "I hate kids. I don't play with kids. I'm not a kid. I was born a grown-up." One “Aspie” stated, "If you like being on your own, then be happy with your own company and don't let anyone convince you that it is wrong." This child’s advice to "pushy moms and dads" is this: Never force your youngster to socialize, because most autistic kids are happy to just be by themselves.

However, these kids might be happier by themselves because social activity has caused them so much pain in the past. In one study, gifted kids with AS/HFA could not describe friendship in positive terms (e.g., "a friend is someone who is nice to you"). They had only negative associations (e.g., "a friend is someone who does not hit you"). These kids told interviewers only about how mean peers had been to them and seemed to lack any idea of what reciprocal friendship really means.

But as AS/HFA kids go through the teenage years, most realize that they are missing out by not “fitting in.” It is at this point in their lives that they crave friendships, but this unfulfilled desire (on top of high school pressure to conform, constant rejection and harassment) can often cause depression and anxiety in AS/HFA adolescents. They grow more isolated even as they crave more interaction with others. Young AS/HFA kids often believe everyone in their kindergarten is the same and everyone is a friend. AS/HFA adolescents know better.

Some research shows that the more time AS/HFA kids spend socializing, the happier they are. AS/HFA kids can - and do - form friendships. When they do, research shows that even one friendship will speed up their entire social development. Many adults on the spectrum have written about compassionate people who took the time to form friendships with them as children, and by doing so, changed their lives for the better.

Families of children with AS/HFA often talk about their own feelings of loneliness. They tell therapists that marriage to an AS/HFA husband or wife feels like living alone. An AS/HFA spouse often does not attend to details like anniversaries, may not connect with his or her kids on an emotional basis, and may not benefit from marriage counseling.

A mom or dad of a youngster with AS/HFA may feel rejection when their youngster refuses to cuddle or express affection. The youngster's needs are unrelenting, and yet the parents’ rewards are sometimes rare. Siblings hide their lonely feelings about living in a family where one youngster monopolizes their parents’ precious time, and they miss the normal give and take of sibling relationships. Many siblings believe that the AS/HFA child's disability is actually an advantage – a passport to special attention, recognition and privilege.

Helping kids with AS/HFA develop social skills will no doubt become easier in the future. Every day, parents and educators are developing better techniques. Researchers are closing-in on the genetic and environmental causes of autism spectrum disorders and may someday develop a cure. There is promising new research being conducted in a comprehensive study of friendship and loneliness in children on the spectrum. Someday, the answers will be clearer for children and teens with AS/HFA – and for the parents who love them.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said...  Like a few others here, my son isolates, prefers to be on his own. He also gets frustrated with others and finds them "stupid" (his words). He can't be bothered with people.
•    Anonymous said... actually, my aspie son seeks friendships but many boys end up bullying him because they think he is strange. he's very lonely as a result.
•    Anonymous said... He isolates....I have tried to get him out among peers. It is upsetting and obviously "painful." He has two friends, one with his similar obsessions and one who has tried to keep in touch. I hate watching this but don't even know how to begin changing.
•    Anonymous said... my a/s husband and daughters tend to isolate them self too,they love to spend time on thier obsessions or hobbies.only tend to be friends with others who share same hobby,the more i pushed it made them more stubborn,they love being who they are,
•    Anonymous said... No one seems smart enough(in his mind) for my son. He gets really frustrated with average people. He has plenty of friends and calls on them when he feels tolerant. Otherwise he is happy to be in his world
•    Anonymous said... They are very selective in who they associate with. It is quite normal to find both sides of this coin in any child on the spectrum. An example my daughter will not play with her peers but is quite social with older children.
•    Anonymous said... Both of my boys would rather be with adults than kids their own age
•    Anonymous said... My son has a very difficult time making and keeping friendships. It also doesn't help trying to have him be friends with normal developing children because the parents don't understand the different dynamics of the Aspergers child.
•    Anonymous said... Yes, because they don't understand its out of there comfort zone. My son is 8 and I keep putting him in situations to make friends. Last year on the first day I found a classmate that was new to the school and introduced them. They have developed a good friendship now. Or the best they can under the circumstances. I also have him in sports (which) he likes so he has to interact with others. He still prefers to be by himself but at least he is getting exposure.
•    Anonymous said... It is so difficult to just sit back and let your child isolate themselves instead of joining the group. But they just choose not to see it the way we do. If we push then all hell breaks loose. Welcome to the catch 22 of my struggles
•    Anonymous said... But what can we do NOW to develop social skills in our ASD teens? What can we do for the NT siblings and spouses that are hurting so much? I am so glad to see more research being done but what can we do NOW to teach these social skills to our ASD teens? What can we do NOW for the NT siblings and spouses that are hurting so much? It is really quite damaging and unhealthy for them.

Post your comment below…

Should You Limit Your Child's Access to Video Games?

"Should we limit our son's time spent playing video games and run the risk that he will withdraw even more, or just allow free access?"

As most parents know, video games are a common interest among kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Although the virtual world and video games can be a great place for these young people to practice social skills, make friends, and have fun, some experts are concerned that an intense interest in video games can quickly become an unhealthy and even dangerous obsession.

Video games, in and of themselves, are not necessarily negative influences in the lives of AS and HFA kids. In fact, some researchers believe they can be an educational and entertaining way to build personal relationships and experiment with taking social risks and reaching out to unfamiliar people.

Because kids with AS and HFA naturally gravitate toward socially "safe" forms of entertainment like video games, video game manufacturers and programmers have been working to create games that can teach real-life skills to these kids. According to the results of a study conducted by psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, one interactive computer program called FaceSay has been shown to improve the ability of kids with autism spectrum disorders to recognize faces, facial expressions, and emotions. Created by Symbionica LLC, the game teaches kids where to look for facial cues and helps them practice recognizing the expressions of an avatar, or virtual representation of a person.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Brain Health started using the game Second Life as a form of online therapy, pairing clinicians' avatars with those of AS and HFA clients in a conversation. In their approach, therapists would guide clients through a series of exercises, in groups and individually, during which clients may be confronted with a job interview with a "boss" character or learn to ask another avatar out on a date. The researchers believe that when AS and HFA kids gain confidence in the virtual world, they will gradually learn to more comfortably interact in the real world.

Despite these efforts by researchers and video game makers, experts question the effectiveness of these games and express concern that AS and HFA kids who are already socially awkward may become dependent on Internet social networking and virtual interaction and never apply the skills in real life. They say gaming is generally a solitary activity that limits the social exposure of young people with autism spectrum disorders. Video games are also one of many repetitive activities that kids with AS and HFA tend to engage in to avoid adapting to new situations and struggling through social interactions with new people.

Any treatment, no matter where it’s done, and no matter how it’s done, needs to incorporate strategies for other settings. If it doesn't do that, its usefulness will be limited. What clinicians hope to see is that what AS and HFA children are learning will help them understand social situations, the feelings of others, their own motivation, and will help them negotiate real life social situations (rather than just being able to interact with a computer).

While video games do offer a form of social interaction, it's a distorted social interaction. When video-gamers have anonymity, they act in a different way than when they must take personal and immediate responsibility for their words and actions.

For kids who get picked on all day at school and feel ostracized and out of place in their everyday lives, it's soothing to come home and play video games for hours on end. In the safe haven of online video games, kids with AS and HFA can isolate themselves from real-life situations and the complexities of face-to-face interactions. However, the social setting in online gaming or chat rooms is far more predictable than real-life social situations.

While social conversations in real life are highly complex and unpredictable, online gamers share a common and simple language for communicating. For example, since most online interaction occurs through typing, there is time to think about a response, and the response can be given in symbols and phrases without regard for facial expressions or nonverbal cues. In addition, online conversation can center around the game being played, whereas most kids in real life also have other interests they want to share, which AS and HFA kids may not understand.

If everyone in the AS/HFA youngster's high school class played the same video game, this would be an interest that facilitated healthy social interaction. But most kids have a number of other interests and ways to connect with each other. While kids with AS and HFA can have a healthy interest in occasional video game play, they need to understand that their peers gravitate toward a variety of other activities and interests, and they need to learn to push themselves to interact in a wider range of areas to maintain a social network.

The experts are also concerned that kids with AS and HFA who immerse themselves in the world of online gaming may be developing inappropriate social skills. Online, it may be considered acceptable or even funny to make rude comments, use profanity, or ignore certain people. But if you go to soccer practice and make fun of someone's parent, there's no doubt you'll get a different response. Many kids with AS and HFA will struggle making this transition from the virtual setting into the real world.

It is the nature of the disorder for kids to struggle to understand social conventions and cultural mores. This struggle is compounded when these kids are asked to learn different social rules for online conduct and face-to-face interactions. It takes a lot of practice for kids with AS and HFA to develop basic social skills, and the more time they spend online, the less time they have to practice the skills that will serve them best as they become adults.

Not only are online video games significantly unproductive socially, they can also be dangerous. Online safety is an issue for all kids, but kids with AS and HFA are particularly susceptible to sexual predators and other criminal offenders. While suspicious emails or dubious online behaviors may stand out immediately to a “typical” young person, kids with AS and HFA may not understand the red flags unless someone explicitly describes them. They may not realize that certain types of communication are offensive or inappropriate, and as a result, they may unknowingly invite danger into their homes.

When it comes to video games, moms and dads of an AS or HFA youngster are faced with a dilemma: Do they limit their youngster's time spent doing the activities that interest him most and run the risk that he will withdraw even more, or do you allow their youngster unfettered access to video games despite the obvious social repercussions?

Moms and dads need to find the balance between accepting their youngster's unique interests, and encouraging her to develop social skills and additional interests that might take her outside of her comfort zone. By granting unlimited access to video games, the parent offers her kids nothing more than a quick fix. The fixation may be a convenient coping skill for facing the hardship of a long, difficult day at school – but it will not be the healthiest path into adulthood.

If kids with AS and HFA aren't encouraged to develop social skills and independent living skills, there will be a direct correlation to how many friends they have, how successful they are in school, and how productive they are on the job later in life. They may be comforted in the short term, but that deep underlying desire to have friends will remain a constant source of dissatisfaction and further isolation.

Moms and dads should encourage their AS or HFA youngster to develop interpersonal skills “off” of the computer, and set limits around how often he uses - or talks about - video games. Parents need to offer incentives to their youngster to balance his time spent focused on gaming and time spent doing social activities (e.g., mom could agree to allow her son a certain amount of time to play video games each week in exchange for his participation in an after-school activity).

Young people with AS and HFA frequently fall prey to a fixation with screen time. Television, computers and video games feed into their tendency toward isolation and their eccentric fascination with certain “topics of special interest.” And for busy moms and dads, consistently monitoring their AS/HFA youngster's recreational time and evaluating her social development can be an overwhelming task. Nonetheless, helping your “special needs” youngster to achieve her full potential is a highly realistic and attainable goal. By setting some healthy boundaries around video-gaming, your youngster can grow and thrive – not only in the virtual world, but also in the real world.


•    Anonymous said... Great article! "Video games" is probably the most difficult and complicated issue I have with my 13 year old son. He is very passionate yet obsessive with the games. He has a goal of eventually going to college to study game programming and development so I want to support him with this, but I want him to also find another interest, hobby or activity that can distract him away from playing, talking, breathing video games.
•    Anonymous said... My son does have a group of friends from school that he's made because they are also gamers so it hasn't been all bad. But the amount of time he gives to the games, and lack of interest in much else is a serious concern of mine.
•    Anonymous said... Thanks for the article. It's so helpful to have more information, and support!
•    Anonymous said... I believe online gaming has helped my son alot. Just have to watch out for bullying on there.

*   Anonymous said... My 11 year old has a mild version of Aspergers. He loves to play video games and since I also have a 9 year old and know how much time they could spend just playing and playing these video games, I came up with certain days where they can play and then days where they cannot play. It's working very well. On the days they can play, they can play for 30-45min in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon. I have noticed that for my aspie this is enough time for him to "recharge". So, for my kids this is working out really great but I know that at some point I have to change the days for playtime and make it happen every day but that isn't just happening yet.
*   Anonymous said... Christine Lemoine Have an 8 year old son whom we limit a lot. If we give him his tablet more frequently, he seems to be more aggressive with his brother and has more outbursts with us and even bordering on rage. However, if we limit like normal, he wakes up in the middle of the night or even early in the morning and tries to find his tablet or my husbands laptop, etc. I'm at the point where I feel like we need to install a door alarm that dings anytime his door opens so I can hear when he wakes up and make him go back to sleep.

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How to Reduce Aggression in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

There are many sources of stress for kids and teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Some will deal with stress by becoming anxious, some by feeling depressed, while others become angry and rage against the frustrating situations – and people – in their day.

Some of these young people internalize their feelings and tend to blame others when things go wrong. Others externalize their feelings. Those who externalize their feelings have great difficulty in controlling their temper. There may be no particular rationalization or focus – just an aggressive mood or an excessive reaction to frustration or provocation. The provocation can be deliberate teasing by other kids.

Kids on the autism spectrum seem to evoke either the maternal or the predatory instinct in others. They often lack subtlety in retaliating. Other kids may wait for an appropriate moment to respond without being caught. The youngster with Aspergers or HFA can also lack sufficient empathy and self-control to moderate the degree of injury inflicted on others. The child is in a blind fury that gets him into trouble. The teacher sees the child being aggressive and may not be aware of the taunts by his peers that precipitated the anger.

It is helpful to use strategies to help the "special needs" youngster understand the nature and expression of specific feelings, particularly anger. It is also helpful to encourage self-control, and to teach the youngster to consider alternative options. Self-control can be strengthened by the traditional approaches of stopping and counting to ten, taking a deep breath, and reminding oneself to keep calm. Specific relaxation techniques can be practiced, and the youngster can learn cues when he must calm down and relax.

It is also important to explain the alternative option to hitting the other person. The youngster can use words, not actions, to express his anger. He can simply walk away, ask the other person to leave him alone, or seek an adult for help or to be a referee.

The level of stress that the youngster on the spectrum has been feeling may have been increasing for some time, and one incident can become the trigger that releases feelings that have long been suppressed. The angry moment can leave the youngster relieved at having discharged his stress in one brief episode. Thus the behavior becomes negatively reinforced, because it helps end an unpleasant feeling. When the incident is over, the youngster can be visibly relaxed, but confused as to why everyone else continues to be so distressed.

Strategies to reduce and channel aggression:

1. Activities that involve “creative destruction” can be particularly effective. If the youngster feels better after they have damaged or destroyed something, then ensure this becomes a productive activity (e.g., crushing cans or cardboard boxes for recycling, tearing up old clothing to make rags, etc.).

2. Comic Strip Conversations by Carol Gray can be used. A story-board approach is used, with a frame for each stage in the sequence of events. These are discussed, and the incident is used as an opportunity to learn the perspective of others, and to consider alternative actions and solutions.

3. Consequences of actions need to be discussed. Having the disorder is not a license to behave irresponsibly. It is, however, important for all the information and perspectives to be available before appropriate consequences are considered.

4. Construct a “menu” of activities to reduce levels of stress (e.g., listen to music, close eyes and imagine a relaxing scene, a massage, a soothing bath, lots of reassurance and compliments, etc.).

5. Construct a list of signs that indicate the rising of stress levels (e.g., bombastic gestures, rigid thinking, rude words, etc.), and draw the child’s attention to this list.

6. Explain to the youngster what to do should the situation arise again, with instructions to tell an adult of the provoking activity or comments. It is essential that the youngster learns alternative (preferably verbal) ways of dealing with the situation.

7. If the angry youngster will tolerate a discussion of why he is so angry, try to discover the cause. If it is an anger provoked by the actions of another, getting an apology (sometimes from both parties) can help.

8. Most kids on the spectrum will respond well if a situation is explained visually rather than verbally. In practical terms, this means using drawing materials (e.g., pens, paper, computers, paints, chalkboards, white boards) to illustrate the situation and to understand what happened.

9. Should the agitation become greater, attempt to “burn up” the tension and anguish with a rigorous physical activity (e.g., going for a run or bike ride).

10. The question “what’s wrong?” can make things worse, because the youngster may have difficulty in explaining the causes of his increasing anger. It is good to learn when it is tactful not to ask, and to divert the attention away from the causes, to more pleasant things.

11. To become equally angry just inflames the situation. Try to remain calm and rational – a model of what the youngster should be doing.

12. Video tape the child in a rage, and then when he is calm, play the video back for him in order to (a) allow him to see himself behaving “irrationally” and (b) discuss feelings and alternative responses to stressful situations.

==> My Aspergers Child: Preventing Tantrums and Meltdowns

Sensory Sensitivities Can Cause Meltdowns?

"Is it possible that my (high functioning) son’s sensory problems contribute to his meltdowns? What are some of the things I should be aware of that may set him off?"

Kids with Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) often have to deal with extreme sensitivities to everyday sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch. They also may have problems with balance. Some experts believe that while sensory sensitivity may cause AS and HFA kids to experience meltdowns in the first place, after a while such behaviors become learned. Nevertheless, studies indicate that between 40% and 80% of boys and girls on the autism spectrum do experience sensory sensitivities.

1. Proprioceptive and Vestibular Disorders— These are about orienting yourself in space, keeping your body in balance, and maintaining good posture and movement. In “typical” kids, a complex network of nerves works together with their senses naturally (e.g., they can sit down without looking at their chair, they know where their feet are, they know how to straighten their shirt without looking in the mirror, etc.). But AS and HFA kids have problems with such abilities that operate on the unconscious level for “typical” kids. This makes simple activities like climbing stairs skills that must be learned. Activities that involve complex movements, changes in speed, or hand-eye coordination (e.g., handwriting, playing basketball) become nightmares for many young people on the spectrum.

2. Sight— Visual problems are less common. Only about 1 in 5 children with AS or HFA has them. However, some of these kids get upset by certain pictures, colors or bright lights. Some experience colors as sounds. They often stand too close to others or stare at them inappropriately. They can search for an object and not notice that it is right in front of them. And the majority of AS and HFA kids have problems making eye contact with other people.

3. Sound— Hearing problems are the most common. Some AS and HFA kids seem to hear sounds others don’t. They can be driven to distraction by noises everyone else filters out (e.g., the buzz of fluorescent lights, sirens off in the distance, etc.). The inability to filter out background noises makes it hard for many of these young people to follow conversations or listen to their educators' directions. Some sounds seem actually painful to AS and HFA kids. For example, the youngster may scream at the sound of the vacuum cleaner, or cover his ears at the sound of a police siren. Auditory sensitivity makes it hard for moms and dads to take their special needs child to noisy places (e.g., video arcades, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.).

4. Taste and Smell— Many experts conclude that AS and HFA kids rely more on their senses of smell and taste than sight and hearing. They have strong memories of smells (e.g., they may be able to recognize peers by their unique body odors). Certain smells (e.g., food, cleaning fluids, perfumes, shampoos, lotions, etc.) can make them nauseous. Even everyday substances like toothpaste can make them sick to their stomachs. This makes it hard for them to handle routine places (e.g., school cafeteria, shopping mall, fast food restaurant, etc.). The child’s acute sense of smell and taste may also create eating problems. He may limit himself to certain foods, eat one food at a time, or not allow certain unwanted foods to touch on his plate.

5. Touch— AS and HFA kids may be overly or under-sensitive to touch. If overly sensitive, he may find tags on clothing very irritating, only wear certain fabrics or clothes that are old and soft from washings, refuse to work with certain textures like glue, and so on. He may scream in the shower because he can’t stand the feel of water on his skin. Hyposensitivity can cause AS and HFA kids not to feel or report pain. They may not react to temperatures.

Treatment for sensory sensitivities...

Young people on the spectrum often have problems processing, organizing and using information received by their senses. This is called Sensory Integration Disorder. There are many therapeutic techniques to help AS and HFA kids with sensory integration and sensitivity. And early intervention is crucial.

When “typical” students sit down for the day’s lesson, they filter-out background stimuli. The vast array of sights and sounds (in the classroom, outside the window, in the hallway) don’t distract them. They zero-in on what the teaching is saying and take fairly accurate notes. But many AS and HFA students often over-attend to some stimuli (e.g., the pattern on the teacher’s dress) and under-attend to others (e.g., the teacher’s comment that an assignment is due tomorrow). This creates problems in the classroom, but also difficulties in completing routine tasks (e.g., sitting in a chair, understanding the intentions of fellow classmates, remembering what to do for homework, etc.).

Because of Sensory Integration Disorders, kids with AS and HFA are often easily frustrated. They may shut down emotionally when they feel overwhelmed or throw tantrums. They can fail at school because little things like a student's sharpening a pencil distract them. This distractibility combined with hypersensitivity to noise, lights, touches and smells often means that they can’t process new material fast enough to produce a normal workload.

Kids with AS and HFA will not outgrow Sensory Integration Disorder. Moms and dads can’t cure it by telling their youngsters to ignore whatever is distracting them. Therapists and educators who work with AS and HFA kids use many techniques to help them cope with Sensory Integration Disorder. Some are as simple as playing background music or increasing the youngster's exercise time. Aromatherapy, art therapy, object manipulation and massage help some kids. Some benefit by working one-on-one with a personal coach.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is an important therapeutic technique used with all forms of autism spectrum disorders. Its main principle is to break tasks into tiny steps and to reward correct responses with treats, stickers or small toys (e.g., if a youngster manages to keep working despite a distraction placed near his desk, his therapist may give him a reward). ABA therapists praise the child specifically (e.g., saying, "You did a good job answering the phone" ...rather than just saying, "Good job"). ABA therapists also help kids who don’t know how to break jobs into small steps (e.g., if the child needs a book, it may never occur to him to ask his mother to take him to the library as a first step).

Another method to address Sensory Integration Disorders is called Dialectical Behavior Technique. The therapist helps the youngster learn how to tolerate higher levels of frustration and to control his emotional responses to conflict or frustration.

Another technique to address Sensory Integration Disorders involves moms and dads keeping diaries of their kid's frustrations in terms of sensory issues. There are usually three columns in the diary. The first is a record of the incident (e.g., parent writes, "Michael had a meltdown getting dressed"). The second column is the possible reason for the meltdown (e.g., "Michael says he can’t tolerate tags on clothes"). The third column is the intervention (e.g., "Cut off tags on all of Michael’s shirts).

Another therapeutic technique is occupational therapy. Many kids with AS and HFA go through this type of therapy. They learn through "hands-on" methods how to translate visual and auditory input into motor tasks (e.g., handwriting, tying shoes, opening a milk carton, sports activities, etc.). Therapists often use specialized equipment (e.g., Thera-putty, camping pillows, T-stools, inflatable discs, etc.) to help these young people better orient themselves in space.

Lastly, many kids with AS and HFA benefit from prescription drugs that reduce their anxiety, increase their concentration, and help them fall asleep.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:


•    Anonymous said... Definitely. Sound and smells play a huge role in behaviors. And the person usually doesn't realize that is what's troubling them.
•    Anonymous said... Florescent (where's spell ck when I need it?!) Lights bother my son horribly; when in elementary school, two teachers (2 different years) brought lamps from home for the classroom & turned off the overhead lights; the other years, he wore sun glasses in the classroom.
•    Anonymous said... Noise definitely gets to my son. Sometimes it's the specific noise itself, and sometimes he just gets overwhelmed by all of the different noises that are going on at once.
•    Anonymous said... yeah i agree. my son always had a problem with supermarkets, the bright lightshe tinny music, the overload of smells. ive known other kids and adults with similar issues dom even had a problem with one teacher in particular and it was down to the guys aftershave.

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Will Your Aspergers Child’s Symptoms Get Worse Over Time?


Will my Aspergers child’s symptoms get worse over time?


It doesn't actually worsen, but when a child with Aspergers (high functioning autism) reaches puberty, he/she can come under tremendous pressure and stress. So even though there is no actual cure for Aspergers, it can be made less noticeable if the Aspie is taught the correct ways to behave. This can mean going to occupational therapists, speech therapists, or the like. The more positive work you put towards helping your child, the less noticeable his/her Aspergers traits will be.

Aspergers symptoms often become more noticeable at two critical points in the child’s development: (1) when he/she starts school and (2) during, and just before, the teen years.

There is no cure, no magic pill that will take the symptoms of Aspergers away. There are however interventions and treatments that can improve functioning and reduce the occurrence of undesirable behaviors in a child with Aspergers. The treatment may be a combination of education, behavior modification, speech or physical or occupational therapy, and different medications to treat associated conditions such as anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Because the symptoms vary as the child grows the treatment too will change over the years. A youngster may have difficulty picking up on social cues, may not know how to recognize personal space when in group situations and therefore preschool educators can help by establishing routines that teach how to interact with others and make a game about personal body space.

The elementary school aged youngster may have a large vocabulary but has difficulty with tone (monotone) and the speech pattern may seem rigid. The youngster may fixate on a topic and talk for a long time without being aware that others are bored. The school-aged youngster needs to have routines that are stable. The youngster with Aspergers will learn better if a subject is broken into steps instead of having the "big picture" presented at once.

The adolescent has a difficult time dealing with relationships, with communicating with others and with social situations where body language is used to express ideas. School counseling or private counseling may help the adolescent to express how he or she is feeling about body changes and peer-pressure. Speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy can assist any age youngster including adolescents to be able to communicate better and to deal with social situations with better understanding. Adolescents can be helped to have a better chance at getting jobs when they are helped with interviewing skills and are taught how to behave in the work environment.

It is common for children and teens with Aspergers to have other associated conditions or disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder, even attention deficit disorder. Medications for these conditions can be beneficial in helping kids and grown-ups to cope with a life in which being able to communicate means being able to belong or not, being able to participate in sports or not, being able to function well in a work environment or not, being able to form friendships, date, or get married and have a normal family life.

The treatment plan for Aspergers is individualized as symptoms can range from mild to severe. Medications may reduce anxiety, agitation, and idiosyncratic thinking and may help to improve someone who is depressed. Common medications are Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and Risperidone.

Social skills training are typically part of the treatment plan. The child with Aspergers needs to learn how to make eye contact, learn proper personal space perimeters, be able to function in a group, and learn how to relate to another child and hold a conversation without monopolizing it.

Education interventions are common for school age and adolescents with Aspergers. Educators, and other staff should be educated in how to handle someone with this syndrome; this may include extra training for the teacher, or giving the youngster an instructional assistant.

Psychotherapy can help sort out the intense emotional feelings, and can help the child to learn concrete, behavioral techniques, including role-playing. Group therapy or support groups may be utilized to add to the network of support for the child. An adolescent needs someone such as an older adolescent to teach them how to dress, and use the current slang or the rules of cliques at school.

The ideal treatment for Aspergers coordinates therapies that address the three core symptoms of the disorder: poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness. There is no single best treatment package for all kids with Aspergers, but most professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.

An effective treatment program builds on the youngster’s interests, offers a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engages the youngster’s attention in highly structured activities, and provides regular reinforcement of behavior.

With effective treatment, kids and teens with Aspergers can learn to cope with their difficulties, but they may still find social situations and personal relationships challenging. Many grown-ups with Aspergers are able to work successfully in mainstream jobs, although they may continue to need encouragement and moral support to maintain an independent life.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's Children

==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's Teens

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Difficulties in Physical Education Class for Kids on the Spectrum

"My child (high functioning) absolutely hates gym class. He has a lot of difficulty keeping up with the others and says the teacher yells at him a lot. Is this a fairly normal thing for such children? Do you have any suggestions on how I can help him with gym class activities?"

Physical education classes are usually a nightmare for a youngster with Aspergers (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Many have awkward gaits and can’t run very fast. Their poor motor coordination means they have great difficulty throwing or catching balls, balancing themselves, or mastering certain movements (e.g., hopping, skipping, jumping, etc.).

Besides being unable to perform many activities required in gym class, some AS and HFA kids may be overwhelmed by the smell (i.e., stink) of the locker room. The coach's high-pitched whistle and the screaming in the swimming pool may be painful to the child’s ears. Others can’t stand to take showers due to tactile sensitivities.

Many of these kids are unable to button themselves or tie their shoelaces without help. So, getting out of their regular school clothes and into their gym gear -- and then back into school clothes again after gym -- can be a real time-consuming chore. Many AS and HFA children are late for gym class -- and the next class after gym -- for this very reason.

AS and HFA kids often have trouble following a gym teacher's spoken directions, especially if there is more than one part to them (e.g., "Choose a partner, line up against the wall, and stand arm’s length apart"). They may be unable to imitate the teacher's motor activity, especially if it is modeled as a mirror image.

Competitive sports often cause trouble too, because AS and HFA kids can be extremely rule-oriented. They may have rigid ideas about how a game should be played and be unable to change course midstream. They may have a temper tantrum if they are not first at bat, or if their team loses.

Many AS and HFA kids do not like to “roughhouse.” They may have fears of playground equipment, prefer sedentary activities, or have a strong desire to play alone (e.g., one 5-year-old with AS reportedly spent all day quietly lining up his toy cars to match the sequence in his dad's car pool line at school). Bottom line: it can be hard for moms and dads to get their AS and HFA kids to exercise.

In addition, AS and HFA kids with a high pain-tolerance can be injured in sports and not even report it to school staff. There have been many reports of these kids with broken arms and legs who went on playing the game.

For all these reasons, moms and dads may want to consider requesting adapted physical education for their child. These are special classes with activities appropriate for their youngster's special needs. Some schools will allow the mother or father to substitute participation in outside activities (e.g., bowling) for attendance in gym classes.

Some moms and dads have hired physical therapists to work with their AS and HFA kids individually at home. Many of these parents report that a little "rough house" helps their youngster not only physically – but also socially. Also, parents can purchase special equipment for "proprioception training" over the Internet.

After-school programs at the YMCA or individual sports (e.g., karate, swimming, etc.) are good choices for AS and HFA kids. Another technique is to have your youngster do physical chores such as mowing the grass, racking leaves, running out to the mailbox to fetch the mail, etc. – anything that gets the child moving physically.

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o    Anonymous said… Good suggestions on here. Hopefully one of them will work for your son. My son liked to play at gym but hated changing into gym uniform. As a result he did not have a good grade. I don't understand why children should be obligated to change into clothing they don't feel comfortable in. I would discuss these items with the PE teacher and also with his IEP counselor and come up with a solution.
o    Anonymous said… I had to have my aspie pulled out of gym class. It was too loud, unorganized, and she kept having meltdowns.
o    Anonymous said… I talked with my child about "yelling." Sometimes the acoustics in the gym sound louder than other classrooms. I also explained that a P.E. teacher might need to talk louder because the classroom is larger. In our old school two classes were combined. I explained that the teacher might not be necessarily "yelling" to be mean but instead the teacher needed to talk louder to compensate for the larger class size. This helped tremendously! P.E. teacher's also tend to have voices that carry. A conversation about differences in voice is also helpful. Take your child outside and have them play a game where they are allowed to shout and use quiet voices. This helps tremendously in demonstrating the differences between voice modulation. If it's still too difficult you may need to help your child work on this in P.T. Good luck!
o    Anonymous said… My son also had issues in gym class but once we taught him that its okay for him to stop and take a break when he felt he needed it things been going a lot smoother
o    Anonymous said… My son also had issues in gym class. We always knew the days he had gym class. He was always sick in the morning. There were also issues with bullying. I removed him from the public school and placed him in a small school that focuses on Autism/Aspergers. He loves going to school and there are no bullies.
o    Anonymous said… my son had adaptive pe they arent obligated to change clothes and they are smaller classes and teacher helps with moter skills.
o    Anonymous said… My son hated it because he was never chosen for a team Or as a partner for anything! Kids are so cruel! I guess you can blame the ignorant parents
o    Anonymous said… My son hated it when he was younger, but at 12 is now doing well. His biggest problems are coordination and "absolutely cannot lose" attitude. It makes him very upset when he can't do as well as he wants to and even worse when someone else causes him to lose because they don't give it their all (the girls mostly). Thankfully his teachers all work with him and get him through it.
o    Anonymous said… My son hated it when he was younger, but at 12 is now doing well. His biggest problems are coordination and "absolutely cannot lose" attitude. It makes him very upset when he can't do as well as he wants to and even worse when someone else causes him to lose because they don't give it their all (the girls mostly). Thankfully his teachers all work with him and get him through it.
o    Anonymous said… My son hates Gym class but has come a long way. He now is used to the noises in the Gym and has progressed to actually joining in. It's a plus that the GYm Teacher is the Special Ed/Resource Teacher responsible for coodrinating his IEP/etc...
o    Anonymous said… Our gym teacher allows kids who do not wish to participate in whatever game they are playing to walk laps around the gym or track. My son does a lot of walking...
o    Anonymous said… Painfully normal in our household.
o    Anonymous said… Put it in an IEP that he doesn't have to do it.
o    Anonymous said… School insisted my son do adaptive phys Ed in addition to regular p. e. he hated that and after seeing that class, I pulled him out. Regular phys Ed is not his favorite. Between bad vision, bad coordination he would rather work on the computer. He has been attending a non school adaptive PE class that he likes better.
o    Anonymous said… We have active kids fit at the YMCA. They do all kinds of different things for about 45 minutes. They start off telling jokes. The classes aren't that big and their is no pressure. My oldest loves it and the younger one not so much because he would rather be playing video games. It has helped a lot over time. Both can do jumping jacks now and both are doing better in gym!
o    Anonymous said… Yelling at Aspies is outright stupid. IMHO it might be best to get your son excluded frm that nonsense. You cant educate autism away, teachers who think aln that line are hopeless, better avoid them.
o    Anonymous said… You could ask for adaptive PE.
•    Anonymous said... I guess we are lucky, our son is in something called adapted PE as part of his IEP at his school. He has specific goals that address balance, gait etc. It has made such a difference.
•    Anonymous said... If schools take on children with Aspergers, its should be a duty for all teachers to know something about how to deal with our youngsters. Ignorance is no longer acceptable. It is up to administration to let all teachers know of ANY special need a child has (by way of indicator on the register), and for teachers to obtain information on to help that child in their particular class.
•    Anonymous said... I've gone into school and asked for the pe teacher to be told more about my sons problems.dont assume they all know how to deal with aspergers.they don't!
•    Anonymous said... Mine has problems with balance etc so makes it stressful for him ,he's waiting to see a occupational therapist to see what problems are there and what can be done to help,he has problems doing simple things like running jumping and he's scared of unfamiliar stairs and hates escalators etc his paediatrician says its typical of children with aspergers wish I had got help sooner
•    Anonymous said... My son had to be taken out of gym because he couldn't handle the noise. He does a "paper" to get his grade. We thought it was just because he suffers from migraines, but after getting his diagnosis of Aspergers it's all starting to make sense!
•    Anonymous said... My son hates PE class. School even out him in an adaptive PE class and he hated that.
•    Anonymous said... Gym class is mostly unstructured. That is what drives my son nuts. Also, unless the teacher is really watching, students will "bend" the rules which is also annoying and confusing to an Aspie. They often have physical deficiencies that are made fun of.
•    Anonymous said... Mine learned to like gym class after he got a plan in place so that he can go to the resource room when overwhelmed. I was worried he would just leave all the time but it turned out that giving him the option so that he doesn't feel trapped removed a lot of the anxiety.
•    Anonymous said... My aspie loves running, jumping and gym. The only similarity is that he can think people are yelling at him when in fact they are using a stronger voice tone.
•    Anonymous said... My nephew hated the gym as well. But when I replaced it with power walking out in the open in fresh air he took it better. He complained initially, but after about 3 days into the routine he started looking forward to it and now enjoys it in a daily basis.
•    Anonymous said... My son got lucky and they put together a robotics class during sports so he does not have to do it smile emoticon He detests sport for the most part and used to come home very stressed after sport day. I feel lie robotics is a much better use of his time.
•    Anonymous said... Our aspie hates doing anything that involves moving
•    Anonymous said... This is a prime time for bullying behavior. I'm not saying this is happening to your child. For me (As an aspie kid) it was a nightmare. Kids would laugh and throw their shoes at me and the PE teacher was oblivious because there were so many kids to control.
•    Anonymous said... This is true lol

Please post your comment below…

Literal Thinking in Children on the Autism Spectrum

“My son with high functioning autism takes everything literally. I have to be careful to say exactly what I mean. For example, recently I was in a hurry and told him to ‘Step on it!’ – which utterly confused him. If I don’t keep conversations focused and simple, he’s lost. Plus, he only wants to talk about the 1 thing he is really interested in at the time.”

Literal thinking in a child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's goes far beyond the concrete thinking that is associated with young kids or learning disabled children. It results from the underlying communication disorder, which makes them unable to understand the shifting meaning of words in changing situations. In addition, they tend to persevere in their first impression rather than discarding it to test other meanings.

Many times, a youngster on the autism spectrum will have a difficult time understanding that some words have different meanings. For example, my grandson's face was red from playing outside, and I said, "Your face is beet red." He couldn't understand how his face could be like a vegetable.

A good example of a homonym is to use the word "bow." You could mean a violin bow, a ribbon tied into a bow, a bow and arrow. Same spelling, but a different pronunciation is the bow of the ship or bowing from the waist. Same pronunciations, but different spellings are a bough from a tree or a beau. Confusing, isn't it? Imagine how confusing it is to a youngster with special needs!

Kids on the spectrum have a very difficult time understanding when it's polite to say something. When the child sees an obese person, he thinks nothing of informing that lady that she's fat. He also doesn't understand why his statement would cause such a negative reaction. To him, he was simply telling the truth.

These young people don't understand "white lies" or why we tell them. For example, why would I tell my mother-in-law that I love the tie she got me for Christmas, and then turn around and donate it to Goodwill? So I don’t hurt her feelings. A youngster with HFA or Asperger's will be brutally honest upon receiving an undesirable gift, and to say otherwise would be lying.

Since it is impossible to teach your son every innuendo of speech as well as nonverbal cues and multiple meanings, he may eventually compensate in such ways as the following:
  • By reading extensively for information rather than pleasure, preferring fact to fiction
  • By developing any nonverbal talents he may have to the point where he can earn the social approval he craves
  • By concentrating on subjects in which he can be exceedingly well-informed
  • By becoming precise in language, seeking words which have a definite concrete meaning

As a result of their literal thinking, HFA and Asperger's children are easy victims of the unkind peer who likes to make fun at their expense. If they react with anger to trickery, their problem is compounded. Even if they are philosophical about being teased, literal thinking is a decided handicap in school and on the job, because most people communicate with a kind of shorthand speech, which is not to be taken literally.

Everyone has a "blind spot" in learning and understanding things. Many of us don't understand algebra or chemistry. And how many of us just ‘laugh off’ the fact they can't even program our VCR? These are deficiencies we can usually work our life around or completely avoid. In your HFA son, the "blind spot" happens to be reading social and non-verbal cues – something he can't work around or avoid.

Learning to say what we mean - and mean what we say - is often easier said than done. You can't just tell your son, "If you don't do your homework - you're in deep trouble." Otherwise, he envisions himself in a hole - or worse. If you mean "it's raining hard," then don't say "it's raining cats and dogs."

It is important to think about how we, as parents, word things to the literal youngster. If you have one of these literal kids, know that he is not doing this purposefully. Be patient and try to learn to think how he thinks. Some of the best minds in the world are very literal. Looking at life through the eyes of a child on the autism spectrum can give you a whole new outlook on life.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

Anger-Control Problems in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“My 8-year-old son with AS (high functioning) gets extremely frustrated and angry at various times throughout the day. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason to these outbursts. They are as unpredictable as the weather. Please help me understand what can be done to either curb his temper, or better yet, prevent this from occurring in the first place.”

Moms and dads of kids with Aspergers (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are faced with many behavior problems like aggression and violent behavior, anger, depression and many other difficult behaviors. However, you can deal effectively with all these concerns much easier with the correct strategies. 

Part of the child’s problem stems from (1) a conflict between longings for social contact and (2) an inability to be social in ways that attract friendships and relationships. Thus, parents should focus on prevention and on helping their AS and HFA kids develop communication skills and a healthy self-esteem. These skills can create the ability to develop relationships and friendships, lessening the chances of having issues with anger.

An anger control problem can also manifest itself in AS and HFA children when rituals can't get accomplished or when their need for order or symmetry can't be met. Frustration over what doesn't usually bother others can lead to anger and violent outbursts. This kind of anger is best handled through cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on maintaining control in spite of the frustration of not having one’s needs met.

While it is better to teach communication skills and self-esteem to kids with AS and HFA, communication skills and friendship skills can be taught to teenagers and young adults, which can eliminate some of the social isolation they feel. This can avert or reverse anger control issues.

There are many sources of stress for kids and teenagers with AS and HFA. Some will react to stress by becoming anxious, some by feeling depressed, while others become angry and rage against the frustrating incidents in their day. Some of these children internalize their feelings and tend to blame others when things go wrong.

Those who externalize their feelings have great difficulty in controlling their temper. There may be no particular rationalization or focus – just an aggressive mood or an excessive reaction to frustration or provocation. The provocation can be deliberate teasing by peers, or being “set up” as a form of live theater enjoyed by the peers who don’t get into trouble.

Unfortunately, kids with AS and HFA seem to evoke either the maternal or the predatory instinct in their peers. These young people often lack subtlety in retaliating. “Typical” kids would wait for an appropriate moment to get revenge without being caught.

The youngster with AS and HFA can also lack sufficient empathy and self-control to moderate the degree of injury. They often find themselves in a blind fury that gets them into trouble. The educator may witness the AS or HFA youngster being aggressive, but may not be aware of the taunts that precipitated the angry outburst.

It’s helpful to use techniques to help the “special needs” youngster understand the nature and expression of specific feelings – particularly anger. It is also helpful to encourage self-control, and to teach the youngster to consider alternative options.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said... A gluten free diet, low sodium intake and no red food color... plus regular probiotics are what initially saved my son! Good luck! Worth a try!
•    Anonymous said... How early were your kids diagnosed? I ask because we were diagnosed early so we have been getting therapy since he was 3-1/2 and he is almost 5 now. That said, there has not been a lot, if any, therapy regarding anger issues. I am just wondering if we can nip it in the bud or will these issues keep coming up regardless.
•    Anonymous said... I agree with Indra... especially on the hunger and thirst. You could also look into reactions to foods. A treatment called NAET has helped alot with my children. It is for allergies/intolerances. A clue to if it could be linked to food reactions is if they wake up calm and happy but get worse as the day goes on. My kids react with either aggression or hyperactivity to all of the food dyes. Social stories also helped quite a bit in preventing meltdowns over particular events.
•    Anonymous said... It could be hormones. Neurologist may help. My son needs to be on mood stabilizers, but he is a teen now. You never know how the body grows and reacts to different things. Can relate to your frustration.
•    Anonymous said... My 7 yr old daughter does same thing at my wits end on what to do seems to be getting worse then better even with counseling doesn't work anymore need help
•    Anonymous said... My son is now 11, and sometimes it seems that the outbursts will go on forever...but as I look back, things have gotten so much better. Sensory issues, frustration, changes in routine, too much input can all cause outbursts, and there isn't much therapy can do to help at younger ages, because it requires the child to understand what's happening and take measures to curb it. As a parent, though, you can help your child understand what is happening by making her constantly aware of her moods. Try to head off an outburst by beginning to identfy what caused it in the first place: what was she doing, what else happened, how you responded. Once you can figure out what the issues are (because your child may not know), you can try to head off the outburst before it happens.  Even if you can't, there are techniques that you can teach her to help calm herself: jumping up and down, "squeezing lemons" with her fists, etc. You will have to encourage her in the beginning, because when she's in the middle of an outburst she probably won't be reasonable. Give her time to calm down, and then review with her: why were you yelling (and make suggestions), how else could you have solved it, how could you have clamed yourself down, etc. It takes a LONG TIME. Finally try to figure out what she needs for sensory input (weighted or neoprene vests or blankets, squeeze balls, sand or pebbles to sift through, warmth, water, darkness) on a constant basis. I noticed when my son was young that if he swam in the pool every day, he was calmer overall. As he got older, we used water (showers, baths) to redirect him when he was upset. As he began to be more self-aware, he began to realize what things calmed him down -- weight (he likes to be sandwiched between two beanbag chairs), warmth (make him into a "taco" with a heavy blanket, and water (swimming, baths, showers) -- so now we can suggest those to him as well. Your situation is not unusual, so don't feel alone. It takes kids with autism longer to learn sometimes, but they can do it if you are persistent. HUGS to you.
•    Anonymous said... My son use to be like this and at times it wasn't 1 thing, my paediatrician felt he was getting wound up like a spring over a lot of little things then he would explode, but it was finding out the little things that annoyed him that was the issue. When you talk about the weather, my son is a lot worse on really windy days. Diet also has a lot to do with his behaviour all artificial colours and preservatives are removed as much as possible.
•    Anonymous said... There is also something to be said about perfectionism in young kids on the spectrum. I know I had trouble with being able to picture how to do something perfectly in my head, but not physically being able to do it, perfectly. This caused enormous amounts of frustration/anger with me as a child. If you find they have a low frustration tolerance, and this seems to relate, you can help by explaining how mistakes help us learn, that we don't need to be perfect every time. Encourage trying, without worrying about results. Praise effort, not outcome. Hope this helps
•    Anonymous said... This happened with us too. Help your child learn what makes him comfy temperature wise (is he cold, needing a sweater or hot, needing to take off clothing and put on something lighter?). Teach him about sensory issues as well (a PT does a great job with this...especially learning the program, "How Does Your Engine Level Run"). Does something itch? Is it a tag? Is it seams on the inside of his clothes. Teach him about hunger. The different signs/levels of hunger. Your belly makes a rumbling sound but thats when you're really hungry (ABA therapy helps). What other signs can cue you to hunger before you get to the point of being so hungry that you melt down? Teach him about thirst as well. Teach him about needing rest and the importance of going to sleep. Sleep shouldn't be viewed as a negative. Try to nap for special things and give positive reinforcements for napping. Show the positive effects that napping do for your body. Calms you, helps you make more friends because....
Lastly, teach him about getting ill. What are the signs that illness may be coming. Itchy throat, pain in the throat, fever (feeling hot on the forehead), etc. Our pediatrician helped to reinforce our teaching! I hope this helps!
•    Anonymous said... This was my exact sentiment yesterday.....
•    Anonymous said... Very interested in what others have to say... this describes my 8 year old daughter as well.
•    Anonymous said... Wow! He sounds like every other person I know including myself. Human being need to run. We used to do it everyday to hunt for food. If I don't get physical for awhile everyday I get frustrated at some point, "who knows when" and I can need to blow out the steam. Should I take a pill? No thank you BIG PHARMA. I'll keep my money and my brain chems "al natural" (same for my son). I have come to the conclusion lately that I may be over-reacting to everything my Aspie does. I think maybe I'm over analyzing and judging every behavior. Is this normal? Is this Asperger's. Is he normal yet? Who cares??? I enjoy his Asperger's too. He is brilliant!My son is nearly 8 now and I only have a few more years for he and I to enjoy what's left of his, oh so troubling childhood. Funny thing is, I knew a kid who behaved so much like my son when he was little. He played with my now grown two other children. This kid was so "bad" we thought back then, before ADHD, Asperger's and all the other multiple diagnosis we label our kids. You know what, Nick "monsters" became an Eagle scout and is now at the top of his class in MEDICAL SCHOOL. He grew out of it. Whatever "IT" was that caused his "off the chain" behavior. His mom only over reacted if she thought she was being judged for his behavior or she needed to blow off steam. Sound familiar? One thing I remember is she used to just laugh about a lot of the stuff he did, some of the other mother's myself included, judged her as a bad mom for this but, maybe she was on to something. Maybe more laughter and less over analyzing is just the kind of medicine we need in our lives. It's free and it does not permanently alter brain chemistry. Just sayin............I guess you can tell I've had a good day. Been thinking a lot about those little ones that didn't make it home from school the other day in OK. I keep thinking how I would feel if he were gone. (Crying now) I keep telling myself I wouldn't have over reacted so much to his "different behaviors" I would have tried to enjoy him more. I'm so grateful for having him in my life. Let's keep it in perspective ladies. God Bless you all!
•    Anonymous said... ABA therapy over the past 2 years has had a major positive impact on my now 8-yr old son who previously was having 1hr+ meltdowns at least 3-5 times a week. Our therapists are private and work with him 2-3 times a week. It's literally saved our family.
•    Anonymous said... Exercise a little before school. Some of quiet time after school. My ten yr old grew out of some of the meltdowns. I read somewhere that it is most difficult between year 5 and 8. I think its true. So you are on the tail end and it should get better soon.
•    Anonymous said... Gluten free casein free diet, ot in the morning at your house, beans weight blanket at night to sleep w. Less sugar. Jumping on a trampoline in the morning, these are all the things I do w my daughter daily an nightly. And she is high functioning aspergers w a lot of sensory problems. She is 6 and her behavior has improved since we have put her on the gluten free casein free diet and she takes klair lab supplements because she has the leaking gut. Good luck an god bless you and your family.
•    Anonymous said... i have a child wit autism also nd these temper tantrums are called meltdowns. they cant handle change of plan or change of routine, so in my experience the more notice our children have when set plans change the my experience the meltdown can last ten mins to an hour. dont trynd reason during these outburstst bcoz it wont register nd wen they cool down explain situation, and this can take its toll. consistence is the key here. i give my child udos oil daily for her skin, bcoz shes at that stage of teen acne, and also melissa dreams 4 sleep, both can be got at health shop, hope i was some help. very best of luck 2 u nd
•    Anonymous said... I would do a behavior chart of the times,places and situation before the meltdown. Behavior therapist call this ABC. Antecedent or what was going on before the meltdown, where did it happen? B for behavior what did your child do when he had a meltdown? Scream and cover his ears? Hit someone? Run? The next is C or consequence. For example, due to the meltdown was he removed from a room? Activity? Remember all behavior is communication. The meltdown are his way of telling you that something is bothering him. It could be noises, lights or someone touching him. Many meltdowns are due to a sensory issue.
•    Anonymous said... It may not be 1 big thing, I have a son that explodes and usually then you find out that it is a whole lot of small things and he has got him self wound up like a spring then snaps. The things may be small and insignificant to most people, but they a huge things to him. Working out what is getting to him is not always easy.
•    Anonymous said... My son also has Aspergers, and we give him Omega3 (fish oil) supplement gummies twice a day. His emotions seem to be more in check when he takes them. If we miss a day or two, he tends to have more meltdowns (crying, getting mad, etc.)
•    Anonymous said... my son has low cortisol levels and with low cortisol one gets irritable and can't tolerate any kind of stress. I started giving him Adrenal Cortex Extract and other supplement to raise his cortisol.
•    Anonymous said... My step son was hungry when he had his outburst. I worked like magic to just try to have him eat when we saw him getting mad. We even put in a "snack time" into his IEP. He would not eat well because of his meds so we filled him up in the morning and night then snack time during the day. It was almost like he was a diabetic. Hope that helps.
•    Anonymous said... We walk to school and that helps a lot. He needs lots of physical stuff to do (dig up garden, clear path, walk the goat etc). Everything is scheduled and he knows what is going to happen. Melatonin at night for sleep with strict bed time. We removed all unnatural dyes. I also know triggers and work on them. His therapist has also been a life saver.
*   Anonymous said... Anger or rage in my son seems to me to more often to be when he is frazzled and at the point of being unable to cope with anymore. I do have behaviour management techniques which generally work well and preventative techniques but when his brain is overloaded no technique really works and it's a matter of just riding it out and not doing anything that makes it worse.
•    Anonymous said... I've learned that many aspergers kids have a magnesium deficiency. Giving my son magnesium everyday has significantly reduced his anger and violent outbursts. I give him magnesium glycinate which is the most absorbable kind.
•    Anonymous said... My Aspie son is 7.5. If we cannot understand the trigger we go back to basic (is he sick, is he sleeping right amount and quality, is he over stimulated or under stimulated, is he eating right). When he is In a rage is not the right time to try and talk to him but something is bothering him or upset his balance and he likely does not even know what it is.
•    Anonymous said... They pretty much have to have their way or this happens.we pick our battles with our son.
•    Anonymous said... when their need for order or symmetry can't be met. Frustration over what doesn't usually bother others can lead to anger and violent outbursts.
100% our boy
•    Anonymous said... Yip, sounds like my 8 year old. Talking in a calm controlled manner seems to help.... Slightly. I have also started picking battles .
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My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

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

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

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

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

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

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

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

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

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

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

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

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

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

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become 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.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content