Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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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.

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


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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How Parents Can Help Their Aspergers and HFA Teenagers: 25 Crucial Tips

Bottom line: Mothers and fathers of adolescents with Aspergers and high-functioning autism (HFA) face many problems that other parents don’t – and never will ...period!

Time is running out for teaching their Aspergers or HFA teen how to become an independent grown-up. As one mom stated, "There's so little time, and so much left to do." Parents with teens on the autism spectrum are getting ready to face issues like vocational training, teaching adult social skills and independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their youngster (if needed). In the meantime, their childlike (and sometimes childish) teen is often indifferent – and even hostile – to the parent’s concerns for the future.

Once an Aspergers or HFA teen enters the teenage years, his mother/father has to use reasoning and negotiation, instead of providing direction. Like all teens, the teen on the spectrum is harder to control and less likely to listen to his parents. He may be tired of mom nagging him to “look people in the eyes,” brush his teeth, and wake up in time for school. He may hate school because he is dealing with social ostracism or academic failure there. So what is a parent to do? Can it get any more difficult for crying out loud!?

O.K. Take a deep breath and relax for a moment. Here are some ways that parents with Aspergers and HFA adolescents can deal effectively with some common, everyday issues:

1. Alcoholic drinks or drugs often react adversely with your youngster's prescriptions, so you have to teach your youngster about these dangers. Since most teens o the spectrum are very rule-oriented, try emphasizing that drugs and alcohol are illegal.

2. As you prepare your adolescent for the workforce, keep in mind that people with Aspergers and HA often do not understand office politics. They have problems with the basics, such as handling criticism, controlling emotions, showing up on time, and working with the public. This does not mean they cannot hold down a job. Once they master certain aspects of employment, Aspergers and HFA teens are often able to work at high levels as accountants, research scientists, computer programmers, and so forth.

3. Because of their sensitivity to textures, teens on the spectrum often wear the same clothes day in and day out. This is unacceptable in middle or high school. One idea that has worked for some moms and dads is to find an adolescent of the same age and sex as yours, and then enlist that person to help you choose clothes that will enable your youngster to blend in with other adolescents. Insist that your adolescent practice good hygiene every day.

4. Celebrate your teen’s humor, creativity, and passion.

5. Do you want to understand the Aspergers or HFA teen`s actions? Just ask yourself: What behavior would make sense if you only had 10 seconds to live?

6. Don’t argue or nag. Instead, either (a) decide that the issue is aggravating but not significant enough to warrant intervention, or (b) make an appointment with your teen to discuss the issue.

7. Forgive your teen and yourself nightly. You didn’t ask to live with the effects of the disorder any more your teen did.

8. If it is working, keep doing it. If not, do something else.

9. If the pressure on your youngster to conform is too great, if he faces constant harassment and rejection, and if your principal and teaching staff do not cooperate with you, then it may be time to find another school. The teenage years are often when many moms and dads decide it is in their youngster’s best interest to enter a special education setting. If you decide to work within a public school system, you may have to hire a lawyer to get needed services. Your youngster should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations for the learning disabled. This may mean placement in small classes, tutors, and special arrangements for gym and lunchtime. He should receive extra time for tests and examinations. Teach your youngster to find a "safe place" at school where he can share emotions with a trusted staff member. The safe place may be the school nurse, guidance counselor, or psychologist.

10. If your adolescent is college-bound, you have to prepare him for the experience. You can plan a trip to the campus, and show him where to buy books, where the health services are, and so forth. Teach him how to handle everyday problems such as "Where do you buy deodorant?" and "What if you oversleep and miss a class?"

11. Instead of punishing wrong behavior, set a reward for the correct behavior you would rather replace it with. Rewards should be immediate, frequent, powerful, clearly defined, and consistent.

12. Keep a sense of humor!!!

13. Know that teens on the spectrum are emotionally younger than their chronological age. So if your 15-year-old is still acting like a 10-year-old, things are going as expected.

14. Know that teenagers with the disorder have only 2 “time frames”: (a) Now and (b) Now. There is no future. There is only now. The past is non-negotiable.

15. Most Aspergers and HFA teens can learn to drive, but their process may take longer because of their poor motor coordination. Once they learn a set of rules, they are likely to follow them to the letter – a trait that helps in driving. However, these teens may have trouble dealing with unexpected situations on the road. Have your youngster carry a cell phone and give him a printed card that explains the disorder. Teach him to give the card to a police officer and phone you in a crisis.

16. Most summer and part-time jobs (e.g., movie usher, fast food worker, store clerk, etc.) involve interaction with the public. This means they are not always a good fit for an adolescent with Aspergers or HFA. Some teens on the spectrum can find work in their field of special interest, or in jobs that have little interpersonal interaction. Other adolescents have spent joyful summers at camps designed for adolescents like them.

17. Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate. Moms and dads need to model negotiation, not inflexibility. Don’t worry about losing control. The mother and/or father always gets to decide when negotiation is over and which compromise is accepted.

18. Pick your fights carefully. Is the issue at hand worth chipping away at your relationship with your teen? Can your teen really control the offending behavior at this moment?

19. Plan ahead. Give warnings before transitions. Discuss in advance what is expected, and what the results might be. Have the teen repeat out loud the terms he just agreed to.

20. The teenage years are tough enough for every adolescent – but throw Aspergers or HFA in the mix, and you got a real challenge!

21. When your teenager was little, you could arrange play dates for him. Now you have to teach him how to initiate contact with others. Teach him how to leave phone messages and arrange details of social contacts such as transportation. Encourage him to join high school clubs like chess or drama. It is not necessary to tell his peers that he has a disorder – let him do that himself. Many adolescents with Aspergers and HFA are enjoying each other's company through Internet chat rooms, forums and message boards.

22. When tempers flare, allow everyone to cool off. Problem solving can only occur during times of composure.

23. You absolutely have to teach your adolescent about sex. You will not be able to "talk around" the issue. You will have to be specific and detailed about safe sex, and teach your youngster to tell you about inappropriate touching by others. Your youngster may need remedial "sex education". For example, a girl needs to understand she is too old to sit on laps or give hugs to strangers. A boy might have to learn to close toilet stall doors (and masturbate only in private).

24. You do not have a standard teen. You can view the issue as a disability, or you can view it as wonderful uniqueness – or you can view it as both! The "disability” viewpoint will help because it eliminates blame, sets reasonable expectations thereby minimizing anger, and points the way for moms and dads and educators to see themselves as "therapists" – not victims. The “wonderful uniqueness” viewpoint will help because you really are in for a special – and often quite enjoyable – experience as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum.

25. You will make it through this – you have no choice. Always keep the following ideas in the back of your mind:
  • a teen with Aspergers or HFA is still a child with thoughts and feelings – you are the adult this youngster looks to for support and guidance
  • negative behaviors usually occur because the teen is spinning out of control, not because he is evil
  • the client in “Aspergers” is the whole family
  • the teenager who needs love and understanding the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways
  • this is hard work – and it is also hard work for your teen

Resist your impulse to strive and struggle to CHANGE your teenager …don’t strain to get desired results. Instead, enjoy the process of the work you are doing in raising him or her. The results you so desperately desire will come independently of your striving for them. Why? Because (a) you are doing a great job of parenting in spite of your opinion about your “parenting-skills” and (b) teens on the spectrum are late-bloomers. They “get it” eventually.

Take heart. Good luck. And don’t forget to take care of yourself!!!

==> My Aspergers Teen: Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

How to Respond to a Frustrated Child on the Autism Spectrum

“Any advice for helping my child (high functioning) to manage frustration over seemingly small things? Even something as minor as losing a game of checkers turns into a major riot, which in turn aggravates me to no end.”

Young people with Aspergers (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are easily frustrated. Living in the "typical" world can be confusing, and they need to have someone there to translate and explain every day events to them. All kids get frustrated, and all kids need to learn to manage those frustrations. As a parent, your challenge is to communicate effectively and to try not to get frustrated yourself. Here's how:

1. When something irritates you, tell your AS or HFA youngster what you are feeling so he can learn to recognize emotions in others and label them in himself. Then talk (out loud) yourself through the frustration so that your youngster can hear your “positive spin” on the situation  (e.g., “This is really not a big deal” … “I need to calm down” … “Relax and take a few deep breaths” … “It’s okay, I can deal with this”).

2. Any time you encounter frustration while in the presence of your AS or HFA youngster, imagine that she will replicate your exact behavior every single time she is frustrated for the rest of her life—so proceed carefully! Take care not to raise your voice too loudly, or be disrespectful to others. If you do any of these things, make sure to tell your youngster that you made a mistake behaving in that way and need to make a better choice next time.

3. Make sure that your youngster is given a few opportunities to play with other kids in situations where close adult supervision is not required. Parents should be responsible for ensuring their child’s safety, but other than that, try to let your child and his peers work out problems among themselves. When kids play independently, they learn how to deal with frustration in ways other than letting grown-ups solve their problems.

4. Do not accidently teach your AS or HFA youngster that expressing frustration inappropriately (e.g., screaming or hitting) is a good way to get your attention, even if it is negative attention. Ignore these behaviors if they're not causing serious harm, and give lots of positive attention for times when your youngster handles a potentially frustrating situation in a healthy manner, and point out specifically what he did effectively.

5. When you see your youngster become frustrated, try not to mirror that frustration in your own voice or behaviors. Instead, focus on staying calm and talking your youngster through the situation in a gentle voice, guiding him to mirror you. Acknowledge that he is frustrated, but stress the importance of continuing to try to do something that he may find difficult.

6. Give ample attention to acceptable behaviors so that your AS or HFA youngster learns about positive consequences as well. Use a behavior chart as a visual aid to assist her in developing awareness regarding how she handles her frustrations. Place a sticker, happy face or star onto the chart whenever she remembers to manage her reactions in a positive way. Keep track of how many stickers she has accumulated, and reward her with a special activity once she reaches a predetermined goal.

7. Keep your youngster’s world as predictable and routine as possible. If AS and HFA kids feel confident and secure in general, they will be able to handle minor setbacks and frustrations.

8. Look for opportunities to challenge your “special needs” child. Routinely ask her to do things that are slightly beyond what she has been capable of doing in the past. Do not jump in to help her. If you see her struggling, instead of immediately helping, try to prompt her by offering hints to make the situation easier. If she is really having difficulty and does not seem to be making any progress, break the task down into small steps. If necessary, guide her through (or even do the first step for her), and then back off again. Your youngster should be hearing the following phrase over and over again: “Try it yourself first, and if you have a problem doing it, I’ll help you get started.”

9. Use your youngster’s teacher as a resource. Ask for suggestions about how the school deals with frustration in students in general, as well as for specific tips about helping your youngster. The more that you can be consistent with what the school is doing, the easier it will be for your youngster to internalize the lessons that you and the teacher are trying to teach.

10. Help your youngster learn the important skill of “delayed gratification.” AS and HFA kids do not yet have the brain development or experience to effectively cope when they have to wait for what they want, so parents have to give them practice developing this skill. As much as possible, have your child wait for what she wants, even if it's just for a minute or two. Talk to her about how to distract herself while she is waiting for something.

11. Every evening, review the day with your youngster to discuss how she handled various situations throughout the day. Always bring attention to the positive behaviors she displayed during the day. Reiterate the consequences that occurred in different scenarios to help her understand how her behavior affected both herself and others.

12. If your son or daughter is an adolescent, remember that all adolescents struggle with testing limits, learning to make their own decisions, and learning to function independently. All adolescents struggle with making and keeping friends, with finding success at school, and even with the development of romantic relationships. Your AS or HFA teen may be more frustrated than a “typical” teen, but he may not have the skills to handle those frustrations. So, set appropriate limits while trying to give your teenager some leeway to function independently.

An AS or HFA youngster can grow frustrated when an obstacle arises in his effort to achieve a goal. However, frustration can prove a valuable emotion; it can motivate the youngster to surmount the obstacle with an extra spurt of determination and initiative. Parents can use the techniques listed above to help their “special needs” children deal effectively with day-to-day frustrations.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Help for Depressed, Lonely Children on the Autism Spectrum

“Is it common for children on the autism spectrum to be depressed? Lately, my teenage daughter has been quite sad much of the time for no apparent reason that any of us can identify. She does tend to be a 'loner' - but she says she prefers it that way.”

Research suggests that almost 70 percent of young people with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's suffer from depression at some point in their life. Mood disorders and anxiety disorders are very common. Also, around 30 percent of these children have ADHD. Depression and anxiety can be more difficult to detect, because their facial expressions and body language are often not as easy to read - and they may have difficulties in describing emotions.

Kids on the spectrum have difficulty verbalizing their feelings and thoughts. This can be misinterpreted by adults and can lead to the assumption that because these thoughts and feelings aren’t verbalized, that they don’t exist. Often, the opposite is true. Many have an overwhelming number of thoughts and feelings that go unexpressed. This inability to express feelings can lead to depression.

Young people with HFA and Asperger's often find school a challenging environment. Difficulty with social interaction can lead to a youngster feeling isolated and friendless, especially during adolescence. Those feelings of isolation and confusion can lead to depression. This can be compounded by an inability to express the feelings of depression to parents.

Learning to cope with depression is an important part of learning to cope with the disorder. Since depression in these "special needs" individuals is often linked to feelings of isolation and frustration with not being able to express themselves, it’s important for you to understand that while your HFA daughter doesn't necessarily express her feelings, this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have them. 

The three best things you can do to help your daughter avoid - or beat - depression are (1) help her to identify emotions, (2) teach social skills, and (3) watch for the early warning signs of depression.

Identifying Emotions

Talk with your daughter about how she might be feeling about her social relationships with peers. Try to give her the words to use (e.g., mad, glad, sad, frustrated, etc.). By giving her these “feeling words” and trying to help her differentiate the words and identify those feelings, you can help her develop her voice while expressing her emotions. You may not be able to make her social relationships smoother for her, but you can try to get her to understand that her feelings surrounding those relationships are valid.

Talking to your daughter about emotions can be a frustrating experience for you, but the benefits will hopefully outweigh the frustrations you are dealing with. 

Teaching Social Skills

Each youngster on the spectrum has his or her own temperament. Some enjoy higher levels of social activity, while others prefer less. While this may be a preference, young people with the disorder don't have the same degree of what experts call “social competence” (i.e., the ability to get along with others) as compared to non-autistic children. Social competence must be taught. This means that it needs to be practiced and improved upon - and the youngster's mother or father must be a patient coach.

Teens on the spectrum don't need to be the most popular people in their class, but they do need good social skills. Being sociable helps them with resilience (i.e., the ability to withstand hard times). Those who are constantly rejected by peers are lonely and have lower self-esteem. When they are older, they are more likely to drop out of school and use drugs and alcohol. Moms and dads can help their teenagers learn social skills so that they are not constantly rejected or begin to bully and reject others.

In an ideal world, social skills include the child’s emotions, intellect, ethics, and behaviors. Emotionally she learns to manage strong feelings (e.g., anger) and show empathy for others. Her intellect is used to solve relationship conflicts and make decisions. Ethically, she develops the ability to sincerely care for others and engage in socially-responsible actions. Behaviorally, she learns specific communication skills (e.g., turn-taking, how to start a conversation, etc.). But we don’t live in an ideal world. Your daughter will need your guidance to achieve these skills.

Moms and dads can act as coaches for their youngster to develop these social skills. The child learns a lot from how his parents treat him and when he observes how they interact with others. Parents, like other coaches, will need to be creative and specific in teaching social skills. Beyond saying "You need to be better at X," good coaches teach concrete skills and then support the use of these skills across a variety of situations. The goal should be not just to teach kids to "be nice," but also to help them to advocate for themselves as well as care for others.

Many kids experience occasional rejection, and some are often socially clumsy, insensitive, or even unkind. Signs that a youngster may need some social coaching include:
  • Acts bossy or insists on own way a lot
  • Can't seem to start or maintain a conversation 
  • Doesn't show empathy when others are hurt or rejected 
  • Has trouble losing or winning gracefully 
  • Lacks at least one or two close mutual friends 
  • Seems constantly ignored or victimized by other kids or constantly teases or annoys other kids
  • Uses a louder voice than most kids

Moms and dads can use opportunities to point out when others are using desired social skills. It might be a specific behavior of the parent, another adult, a youngster, or even a character in a book or on TV. The idea is to give kids examples and role models of people engaging in the appropriate social skill.

A parent can help the youngster substitute a specific appropriate response for a specific inappropriate one. This might mean brainstorming with the youngster about different alternative responses and then practicing one or more with the youngster. Practicing can involve mapping out actual words to say or behaviors to use, role-playing, and using the newly learned skills in real situations.

Often, kids on the autism spectrum are not eager to work on new skills, so moms and dads must reward them with praise when the new skills are practiced as a way of helping the skills become habits. This might be a specific verbal statement (e.g., "You did an awesome job of X instead of Y when you got angry at the store"), a nonverbal sign (e.g., a thumbs up), or even a treat (e.g., 10 minutes extra computer time before bed).

Without nagging, moms and dads can gently remind their youngster to use a new skill when the opportunity arises. This might be verbal (e.g., "Now might be a good time to count to ten in your head") or nonverbal (e.g.,  zipping the lips when a youngster is about to interrupt).

Any good coach knows that patience is important, because learning new skills takes time and practice. And everyone differs in how long it takes to learn something new. Coaches often have to be creative in their teaching strategies, because HFA kids have different ways of learning. The important thing to remember is that the ability to have good social relationships is not simply about personality or in-born traits. Children and teens that get along with others have learned skills to do so, and they practice these regularly. Just like a good coach can make the difference for a budding football player, moms and dads can help their HFA kids become socially skilled.

Watching for Warning Signs

It’s also helpful for you to understand the warning signs of depression. Watch for behavioral changes that might indicate depression in your daughter. For example:
  • Does she have difficulty sleeping?
  • Has she gained or lost a significant amount of weight?
  • Has she lost interest in things that typically gave her pleasure?
  • Is she giving up on her social relationships?
  • Is she more easily frustrated?

If you notice unusual changes, speak with your daughter’s pediatrician about the possibility of depression and possible treatments.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Should you homeschool your child due to bullying in the public school?

"I've decided to home-school my son (high functioning) starting next year (even though it's in the middle of school year) because of the bullying that is going on in his public school this year. Am I being over-protective? Also, how can autistic children be helped with bullying so they can return to public school at some point?"

Unfortunately, the majority of kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's experience bullying or victimization at school. There are many reasons for this, but mainly it is because these young people stand out from typically developing children due to their problems in social situations.

Kids who bully are socially savvy and are able to keep from getting caught, which makes bullying difficult to spot and stop. Children on the autism spectrum have a low social IQ, so they either do not notice the bullying, retaliate, or get the blame for it shifted onto them! It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to address this issue.

Your decision to home-school your son is a wise one in this situation. Be sure that he knows he must tell you right away when he is bullied. Warn him against being aggressive or provoking the bully. Help him practice being assertive and not showing fear. Encourage your son to stick with friends at all times when he is away from home. Also, warn him against trying to appease the bully (e.g., if the bully says he should steal something and then they’ll be friends, your son should be taught how to say no).

The myth of the over-protective mom in this case is bogus. Parents MUST assume a protective role with their "special needs" sons and daughters. These kids are extremely vulnerable, and independence should be introduced gradually in controlled, non-threatening situations.

Your next step is to see if anti-bullying laws exist in your area and get a copy of the law. Your son’s rights are contained in these laws. Many states have anti-bullying laws that should contain the following:
  1. The word “bullying” must be used in the bill/law/statutes and the law must mandate programs, using the word “shall.” Some other words used are, “hate crimes” harassment, discrimination, or intimidation.
  2. The law must be an anti-bullying law, not a school safety law. Anti-bullying laws discuss individual student.
  3. There must be definitions of bullying and harassment. Any child can be a bullying victim and all children should be protected.
  4. There should be recommendations on how the policy will be implemented. Log on to: for more information.
  5. An effective law involves education specialists at all levels, i.e.; the State Superintendent of Education’s office, school district and school personnel, parents and students.
  6. Laws should include a date by which policies must be in effect.
  7. There must be consequences for reprisal, retaliation, or false accusations and procedures for reporting bullying anonymously.
  8. There must be school district protection against lawsuits. Parents of bullies should know that they can be sued for their child’s behavior and school districts should know that they can be sued if they fail to comply with anti-bullying law.

Next, make an appointment with the school principal to see a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy. The vast majority of schools have disciplinary policies to address this type of misconduct. Explain what happened to your son and demand to know what steps are being taken so that he can return to school without harassment.

If the school principal refuses to cooperate with you to get bullying in the school stopped, speak to the School Board, publicly stating what is happening. You will get a response! If you know of other bullying victims, get their moms and dads to work with you. If the school district still won’t cooperate, get a child advocate or attorney and take steps to see that they do.

Notify the police if your son is assaulted. Get a restraining order so that a bully is required by law to have no contact with him. Take legal action.


Anonymous said... As an adult on the spectrum, I will say the only thing that ever worked was fighting back, physically if necessary. Teachers normally did not intervene when they witnessed bullying. Parent and teacher intervention was not effective, and the teachers didn't really care. Teachers generally did not take insults, kicking, or another student threatening to stab me with a pocket knife seriously. Their responses: "Just ignore them" and (if I was merely being called a "psycho retard nerd" or being told to go to a mental institution) talking about sticks and stones. When I was 9, I did stupid things because I thought my classmates had a right to order me to. When I was 11, bullies made my life a living hell. By the time I was 13, I knew to hit back and the turds found other kids to pick on. I later unlearned this behavior in high school (no longer necessary), and about half the kids who picked on me went on to (found this out by searching public records online) have criminal records. My boyfriend (also on the spectrum) had a similar experience, except that he started fighting back a couple years later and his school life became tolerable a couple years later. If the school is truly interested in intervening that's one thing, but more often they gave it lip service and then turn a blind eye. And the kids know it.

Anonymous said... My son's SpEd Teacher designated an aid to be on recess to make sure kids didn't bully or talk him into doing unsafe things.

Anonymous said... I took my Son out of school 7 years ago for the same reason. I was in the office everyday for 2 weeks begging them to make the kids stop or punish them for it. They did NOTHING, actually blamed him for it. So I took his education in my hands. well his actually, we went for unschooling, and it has been great. The fighting about going to school stopped of course, who wants to get hit everyday for nothing. I had no idea he had Aspergers until April this year. As for how to get a stop to it, who knows. Seems the schools don't care so we have to protect our kids the best way we can.

Anonymous said... Very little can actually be done..schools try..they say they have zero tolerance...they have these policies but I too have found not much can be done and who has the time or energy to take on the system when you have to deal with day to day issues. Home schooling also fixed this problem for me and my child. And boy am I tired of hearing about the lack of socialization...and that kids need Ito toughen up for the real world...and we can't protect them forever etc etc.......

Anonymous said... We are going through the same thing! And it started early in kindergarten !!!! I am mortified for first grade and if it doesnt work we are taking her out and homeschooling.

Anonymous said... I'm talking about mainstream schooling. Yes sometimes if lucky you can get aids to do a watching at lunch or recess.

Anonymous said... I wish that homeschooling was an option for us. Unfortunately, I cant afford to quit my job to be home with him. My son is 13 and they are going to designate safe place and/special person for him to be able to go to when he is in distress. I hope this helps. (Im relieved the school year is over next week, but it also creates a new bunch of issues with summer child care issues).

Anonymous said... At the school my son is starting at they have had 6 children with as who have started that have come from bullying my son as got as high functioning it will be his first year with a statement I am trying to be positive we will see how it goes

Anonymous said... I feel for all of you. My 10 year old will be starting middle school in the fall. My wife and I are both anxious and excited. They supposedly have better programs for children on the spectrum than grammar school, but they also have children from other schools; that my son won't know and they won't know him (small school). I put it in God's hands and and pray for guidance and patience.

Anonymous said... Check out this video from abc news. I recently went to an autism conference where Dr. Jed Baker was the featured speaker. He started a program for junior high students where they get NT peers to help kids on the spectrum practice their social skills. Bullying has dropped dramatically for these kids.

Anonymous said... I don't think we can keep bullying from happening. Why are these kids targeting your son? Because he is different. They have been taught by our society that their value is in their sameness. The teachers unconsciously encourage their behavior and sometimes they are overt in their directions to exclude a child because their behavior is not fitting with the norm. We also value humor at the sake of others so its "funny" to get the different kid to hurt himself. These are all deep rooted media backed values of our society...PS teachers cannot stop this behavior, the only solution is to pull your kids out of school. imo

Anonymous said... My 10 year old son is constantly bullied on the school bus and I am desperate to keep him safe. The transportation dept is not doing anything besides transporting kids, and despite my many emails and phone calls they are not handling the matter. My son with Aspergers, ADHD, anxiety, and OCD is being emotionally assaulted and physically harmed. I have called the police, but the problems persist because it is multiple kids. What more can I do? 

Anonymous said... Anything that helps your kid thrive and build confidence in himself isn't being overprotective. Aspies especially need that extra time to come to terms with understanding themselves before they're pushed into the limelight. Homeschool is a great way to get that extra time and let them learn about themselves and the world around them without the unusual, cruel pressure of public school.

Anonymous said... Homeschooling is the best thing we ever did for our son and our family. My son with Aspergers is thriving and it has benefited our entire family. We love the lifestyle so much that we brought our oldest son home this year.

Anonymous said... I guess it depends on what is happening at school. My son is 20 and I don't believe he would have been as involved or have the social life he had in HS if I didn't let him go out in the world and experience it. Now that he is out of HS, I feel he only socializes at work and if he didn't work, he would only have his father and I. Looking back, I know he misses school. I would really think about this. I know people don't think an aspie doesn't need the interaction with others but I know from experience, they want it.

Anonymous said... I pulled my daughter out halfway through the year too. She loves homeschooling. Enjoy your new adventure!

Anonymous said... That's exactly why we are homeschooling so no you're not overprotective. My son knows that other kids are mean and he cannot control that fact. He has no desire to want to return to public school. He also likes being able to move at his own pace and pick his curriculum out himself.

Anonymous said... We homeschool as well.....started a few weeks after grade one....doing grade 8 now

Anonymous said... What is so great about homeschooling is it gives kids an opportunity to create their own social life, and the social/group opportunities available to homeschool kids make it more likely that he will meet people who are like him, who are outside the norm, and he will likely find more acceptance within that community than a traditional school. Contrary to how many people view homeschooling, most people I know who do it have very active social lives and participate in lots of activities with other homeschoolers.

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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