HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Help for Children on the Autism Spectrum with Poor Motor Coordination

“What tips might you have for an HFA child who is a bit clumsy and has sloppy handwriting?”

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are often physically awkward. Many have stiff, uncoordinated gaits - and struggle in games involving motor skills. Also, they often experience fine-motor deficits that can cause penmanship problems, slow clerical speed, and affect their ability to draw.

Other coordination problems that children on the spectrum may experience include:
  • difficulty moderating the amount of sensory information that their body is constantly sending them, and as a result, they are prone to sensory overload and anxiety
  • fatigue due to so much extra energy being expended while trying to execute physical movements correctly
  • low muscle tone
  • moderate to extreme difficulty performing physical tasks 
  • poor sense of direction 
  • problems with balance 
  • struggling to distinguish left from right

Here are some tips for parents and teachers:

1.  Children on the autism spectrum usually benefit from guidelines drawn on paper that help them control the size and uniformity of the letters they write. This also forces them to take the time to write carefully.

2.  When assigning timed units of work, make sure the youngster's slower writing speed is taken into account.

3.  Refer the youngster for adaptive physical education program if gross motor problems are severe.

4.  Children with HFA and AS may require a highly individualized writing program that entails tracing and copying on paper, coupled with motor-patterning on the blackboard. The teacher guides the youngster's hand repeatedly through the formation of letters and letter connections - and also uses a verbal script. Once the youngster commits the script to memory, he or she can talk himself or herself through letter formations independently.

5.  Involve the youngster in a health & fitness curriculum in physical education, rather than in a competitive sports program.

6.  These “special needs” kids often need more time than their peers to complete exams. Taking exams in the resource room not only offers more time, but would also provide the added structure and teacher redirection these kids need to focus on the task at hand.

7.  Do not push the youngster to participate in competitive sports, because his or her poor motor coordination may only invite frustration and the teasing from peers. Also, the HFA or AS child usually lacks the social understanding of coordinating one's own actions with those of others on a team.

Treatment—


Physical or occupational therapists can work with HFA and AS children to develop and improve their physical skills and strengthen their muscles. Targeted multi-sensory interventions include:
  • Perceptual Motor Training: This involves retraining the child’s body to recognize and prioritize various sources of stimuli and respond accordingly (e.g., he or she may learn how to use certain muscle groups rather than others while walking or grasping things).
  • Sensory Integrative Therapy: This teaches the child how to properly absorb and sort information about sensory experiences (e.g., touch, body position, sound, etc.).

For some HFA and AS kids, poor motor coordination lessens over time. For others, the lack of coordination continues through adolescence and into young adulthood. Though early intervention is better than later intervention, treatment received as an adult can still help lessen the severity of symptoms.


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

Poor Concentration in Students on the Autism Spectrum: Tips for Teachers

“Any tips for assisting my autistic student (high-functioning) with staying more focused and on task?”

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s are often off task, distracted by internal stimuli, can be very disorganized, and have difficulty sustaining focus on classroom activities. Often it is not that the attention is poor, rather that the focus is "odd."

In other words, the child can’t figure out what is relevant, so attention is often focused on irrelevant stimuli. In addition, these “special needs” students tend to withdrawal into complex inner worlds in a manner much more intense than is typical of daydreaming.

Here are a few suggestions to help with poor concentration in students on the autism spectrum:

1.  Work out a nonverbal signal with your HFA student (e.g., a gentle pat on the shoulder) for times when he or she is not attending.

2.  Encourage the student to leave his or her inner thoughts and fantasies behind and refocus on the real world. This will be easier said than done though, because the comfort of that inner world is most likely much more attractive than anything in real life.

Even free play needs to be structured, because kids on the spectrum can become so immersed in solitary, ritualized fantasy-play that they lose touch with reality. For example, encouraging your student to play a board game with one or two others under close supervision not only structures play, but offers an opportunity to practice social skills.

3.  When possible, seat your HFA student at the front of the class and direct frequent questions to him or her. This may also help the child to attend to the lessons.

4. Children with HFA and Asperger’s often benefit from timed work-sessions. This keeps their interest levels up and helps them stay organized. Factors that cause the “special needs” student to lose interest during the allocated time-frame include:
  • Over-reliance on seat-work
  • Uninteresting and overly demanding lessons and other non-engaging activities
  • Uneven transitions between activities
  • Inefficient classroom-management that disrupts the learning flow (e.g., disorderly material distribution or disorganized assignment collection)
  • Unscheduled interruptions


5.  Students on the autism spectrum need firm expectations and a structured program that teaches them that compliance with rules leads to positive reinforcement. This approach motivates the youngster to be productive, thus enhancing self-esteem and lowering stress levels (because the youngster sees himself or herself as competent).

6.  Poor concentration, slow clerical speed, and severe disorganization may make it necessary to (a) lessen the child’s homework and classwork load, and (b) provide time in a resource room where a special education teacher can provide the additional structure the youngster needs to complete the work.

Bear in mind that many young people with HFA and Asperger’s are so unable to concentrate that it places undue stress on parents to expect that they spend hours each night trying to get through homework with their youngster.

7.  Consider using a “buddy system.” If one is used, sit the youngster's buddy next to him or her so the buddy can remind the HFA youngster to return to task or listen to the lesson.

8.  A tremendous amount of regimented external structure must be provided if your student is to be productive in the classroom. Assignments should be broken down into small units, and frequent teacher feedback and redirection should be offered.


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

Dealing with Restricted Range of Interests in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Any tips for dealing with a child (high functioning) who only talks about his current favorite game (Lego DC super-villains)? When I say ‘only’ – I mean as in 100 % of the time. His incessant rambling on this subject gets in the way of homework, chores, dinnertime, bedtime, and annoys his siblings (just to name a few). Please help!”

You’re definitely not alone. Kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s often have eccentric preoccupations or intense fixations (e.g., sometimes obsessively collecting unusual things).

They tend to ask repetitive questions about the special interest, follow their own inclinations regardless of external demands, have trouble letting go of ideas, refuse to learn about anything outside their limited field of interest, and relentlessly "lecture" on areas of interest.

Here are a few suggestions for dealing with your son’s obsession:

1. Use your son’s fixation to broaden his interests. Get really creative here! For example, he can use his fascination with Lego DC Super-Villains as a way to:
  • contemplate important social skills (e.g., one mother of an HFA child stated, “The main draw of the game for my son is he absolutely has a blast having his character interact with others in the world and actually be a major part of the story”)
  • gain a better understanding of his emotions (e.g., another parent remarked, “This game was a huge hit in my house as my son made multiple costumes depending on his mood”).

2. Use positive reinforcement selectively directed to shape a desired behavior. Most kids on the autism spectrum respond well to compliments. In the case of your son relentlessly talking about one topic, you can consistently praise him as soon as he pauses – and congratulate him for allowing others to speak. Your son should also be praised for simple, expected social behavior that is taken for granted in his “typical” siblings.

3. Some kids on the spectrum will simply refuse to focus on something outside of their area of interest. In this case, firm expectations must be set for doing chores, completion of homework, getting ready for bed, etc. It must be made very clear to your son that he is not in control, and that he must follow specific rules. At the same time, however, meet him halfway by giving him opportunities to pursue his own interests at the appropriate times.

4. See if it’s possible for your son’s teacher to give some assignments that link his interest to a subject being studied at school. For example, during a social studies unit about a specific country, one student (with Asperger’s) who was obsessed with trains was assigned to research the modes of transportation used by people in that country.

5. Do not allow your son to repeatedly discuss - or ask questions about - his isolated interest. Limit this behavior by designating a specific time during the day when he can talk about it. For example, if while eating dinner you are talking about the guests who will be coming over for a Christmas party, but your son intrudes with a monologue about the Lego game, you can simply state the “we are not discussing your game right now …we can talk about that after dinner” (then continue with the original conversation).

One child who was fixated on animals and had endless questions about turtles knew that she was allowed to ask these questions only after dinner. This was part of her daily routine, and she quickly learned to stop herself when she began asking these kinds of questions at other times of the day.


==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

HFA Students and Social Problems in the Classroom: Tips for Teachers

“I’m a 5th grade teacher (Baltimore area) with a challenging 10 year old student diagnosed on the high functioning end of autism. My question is what are some of the ‘social areas’ these special needs students struggle in, and how can I tailor my approach to make accommodations for those areas?”

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s have several important areas of challenge that can negatively impact their social competence. 

Here are the main ones:
  • usually have a desire to be part of the social world, but lack the skills to do so
  • use monotone or stilted, unnatural tone of voice
  • use inappropriate gaze and body language
  • take expressions literally
  • over-eagerness to answer questions or participate in classroom activities
  • often talk at people instead of to them
  • often avoid eye contact
  • misinterpret social cues
  • may not like physical contact
  • may “appear” egocentric
  • lack of control of facial expression
  • inability to grasp implied meanings
  • have well-developed speech but poor communication
  • exhibit poor ability to initiate and sustain conversation
  • do not understand jokes, irony or metaphors
  • constant reiteration of facts and figures related to subjects that interest them
  • clumsiness
  • can’t judge "social distance"
  • are sometimes labeled "little professor" because speaking style is so adult-like and pedantic
  • are much younger emotionally than their “typical” peers
  • are easily taken advantage of (do not perceive that others sometimes lie or trick them)
  • an inability to understand complex rules of social interaction

Here are a few suggestions to implement that may help your HFA student with some of the social-skills deficits he or she encounters:

1. Perhaps first and foremost, protect the youngster from bullying and teasing. HFA students often benefit from a "buddy system." Thus, you could educate a sensitive classmate about the situation of your HFA student and seat them next to each other. The classmate could look out for the “special needs” student on the bus, during recess, in the hallways, etc., as well as attempt to include him or her in school activities.

2. Most children on the autism spectrum want friends, but simply do not know how to interact. Therefore, they should be taught how to react to social cues and be given repertoires of responses to use in various social situations. Put simply, teach your HFA student what to say and how to say it. Model two-way interactions, and let him or her role-play. The social judgment of these young people improves only after they have been taught rules that others pick up intuitively.

3. Kids on the spectrum tend to be reclusive. Thus, it would be helpful to foster involvement with others. Encourage active socialization and limit time spent in isolated pursuit of interests (e.g., a teacher's aide seated at the lunch table could actively encourage the youngster to participate in the conversation of his or her peers).

4. Praise classmates when they treat your HFA student with compassion (this may prevent scapegoating while promoting empathy and tolerance).

5. Emphasize the proficient academic skills of the HFA youngster by creating cooperative learning situations in which his or her reading skills, vocabulary, memory, etc. will be viewed as an asset by peers, thereby engendering acceptance.

6. Although they lack personal understanding of the emotions of others, kids on the spectrum can learn the correct way to respond. When they have been unintentionally insulting, tactless or insensitive, it must be explained to them why the response was inappropriate and what response would have been correct. Children with HFA must learn social skills intellectually due to the fact that they lack social instinct and intuition.

Many of the traits of HFA can be "masked" by average to above average IQ scores. This can result in the student being misunderstood by teachers. They may presume that he or she is capable of more than is being produced. Lack of understanding of the HFA student in this way can significantly impede the desire of teachers to search for strategies useful in overcoming the hindrances caused by the disorder.


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

Helping Children On The Autism Spectrum Who Have Difficulty Picking Up On Social Cues

Question

Our 10-year-old son is diagnosed with high functioning autism. He is bright and inquisitive, but has great difficulty picking up on social cues and understanding many aspects of friendship. We struggle to coach him in these areas ...our explanations often don’t make sense to him. Any suggestions?

Answer

High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's presents kids with a variety of social and emotional stumbling blocks. Due to difficulties understanding implied meaning, humor, and other inferential reasoning skills, these young people are often confused by the rapidly changing landscape of social interaction.

Their tendency toward quick and literal interpretation of words can produce significant problems with establishing and maintaining friendships. Preoccupations with narrow, solitary interests can impede their capacity to converse on the range of topics that typically interest peers.

Moms and dads of kids on the autism spectrum often help them make sense of their social world, but success can be fleeting and isolated to certain circumstances.

Here are some coaching tips that may increase the success rate:

 Road Maps--

Think of the social world as a variety of “relationship road maps” that your youngster needs to perceive accurately and use talking tools to be able to follow. On various pieces of paper, draw “roads” of how conversations flow depending upon environmental cues. Cues include who your youngster is with, where it takes place, what the other youngster says and the degree of familiarity your youngster has with a peer.

For instance, if your son bumps into a friend at a movie theater, depict how the initial greeting may lead to a short period of questioning about the movie, and finally to a closing remark about the next time he might see the peer again. Be sure to emphasize that what is said is just as important as perceiving the available cues in order to keep comments on target and within the boundaries of the environment.

Refer to boundaries as the lines that keep people within the relationship road they are supposed to be on. Boundaries are a critical piece of the social puzzle, but are often ignored by kids with HFA and Asperger's since they are subtle and hard to distinguish.

Make boundaries visual by depicting the kinds of statements and behaviors that are appropriate to the particular “road” (write them within the road) and examples of responses that are not (write them outside of the road). Explain how behaving within the boundaries protect the feelings of others and tells people that we are aware of what is going on around us. Depict how boundaries are more narrow when first meeting people, but gradually widen as they become more familiar. Likewise, display how boundaries are narrow or wide depending on the people present, situation and other circumstances.

Offer ways of understanding humor or typical childhood banter that uses available environmental cues. Kids on the spectrum can easily get caught in the throes of strong emotional reactions to common antagonistic statements made by peers. The intention of such comments may be to entertain bystanders, self-inflate, or trigger over-reactions by the youngster in question. But no matter the intention, if your son reacts with verbal or physical aggression, he is going to pay severe penalties. This makes it especially critical to coach anticipation skills that normalize typical peer-baiting.

Draw another relationship road that depicts some of the standard comments that kids say to each other in various circumstances. Add a thinking bubble that contains a self-instruction to help your son keep his cool.

Multimedia Technologies--

Consider using multimedia technologies to augment social skills training for your son. Many types of multimedia technologies can be an excellent match for the specific learning styles and preferences of children with HFA and Asperger's (e.g., virtual environments, simulations, videos, etc.). Since most kids on the spectrum are visual learners, videos, simulations, virtual environments, pictures and other multimedia are effective teaching tools.

For example, you could video tape your son playing with friends, and then use the video to conduct a discussion (or “autopsy”) of the social interactions. Still images from the video could be captured and used to create a slide show with text or loaded onto a smart phone to be used as reminders when your son is in mainstream environments.

AS and HFA children seem to learn social skills best when they are taught in authentic situations using a variety of mediums. Role playing, listening to Social Stories, observing peer behavior, and conducting social skills autopsies can all be augmented with the use of multimedia tools.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Crucial Classroom Modifications for Kids on the Spectrum: Tips for Teachers

“Are there some tips that my high functioning autistic daughter’s teacher could use to help her with things link reading, handwriting, taking notes, staying organized, homework, and so on? She’s currently struggling in several of these (and other) areas. Thanks in advance!”

Many students with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s do indeed struggle in those areas you listed. Let’s look briefly at each in turn:

Reading—

The amount of reading the student on the autism spectrum is expected to complete should be evaluated by the teacher. These “special needs” children (who sometimes read slowly and can’t discern relevant from irrelevant information) spend a lot of time concentrating on facts that will not be tested and are considered unimportant.

Highlighted texts and study guides help them maximize their reading time. Educators also should consider identifying the information the student is responsible to learn for an upcoming assignment or test.

Handwriting—

Handwriting is a concern for many kids on the spectrum. Thus, educators should offer them several ways to demonstrate mastery, including (a) giving verbal responses instead of written essays, (b) using the computer instead of a pen or pencil, (c) completing a multiple-choice rather than a short-answer test, and (d) creating a project rather than writing a report.

Note-taking—

Many children with HFA and Asperger’s have difficulty taking notes in class. Often, motor-skills deficits prevent them from getting important content onto paper. In addition, some have difficulty listening and writing at the same time (they can do both, but often not at the same time).

Depending on the amount of assistance they need, the teacher can provide (a) a complete outline including the main idea and supporting details, (b) a skeletal outline that they can use to fill in details, (c) a peer-constructed outline, and (d) the opportunity to use outlining software.

Graphic Organizers—

Graphic organizers highlight important concepts and display the relationship between them. They provide abstract or implicit information in a concrete manner. Graphic organizers can be used before, during, or after these students read a selection – either as an advanced organizer or as a measure of concept attainment.

Three commonly used graphic organizers are semantic maps, analogy graphic organizers, and timelines.
  • Semantic maps: The focal point of the semantic map is the key word or concept enclosed in a geometric figure (e.g., circle or square) or in a pictorial representation of the word or concept. Lines or arrows connect this central shape to other shapes. Words or information related to the central concept are written on the connecting lines or in the other shapes. As the map expands, the words become more specific and detailed. In addition, semantic maps can use pictures for the key words or concepts.
  • Analogy graphic organizers: These contain two concepts and their attributes. The teacher and student define how the two concepts are alike and how they differ, then draw a conclusion. Often the teacher has to assist the youngster in identifying attributes by presenting choices, either written or pictorial, from which the he or she can select. This task can be completed individually, in small groups, or with an entire class.
  • Timelines: These provide benchmarks for completing tasks and thereby aid the student in budgeting his or her time. Timelines consist of a list of steps needed to complete the task with concomitant due dates. This visual representation enables the student and teacher to monitor progress toward project completion. Ideally, educators enlist the aid of parents in developing and monitoring timelines to ensure the student follows through at home.

Homework—

Educators and parents should work together to determine whether or not homework should be assigned, and if so, how much. Because students with HFA and Asperger’s need structure, it is often best for educators to assign tasks that the student can complete in the structured school environment.

If homework is assigned, an assignment notebook and a parent-teacher communication system will help parents monitor their youngster's homework. In some cases, the parent may have to model the task for his or her child. Therefore, educators should ensure that the parent understands the youngster's homework.

To facilitate home-school communication, schools can establish a "homework line" that both the parent and child can call to hear an overview of assigned work. This system is ideal for students on the autism spectrum.


More resources for parents (and teachers):

The SOCCSS Strategy for Teaching Social Skills to Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Is there a simple method I can implement to teach my son (high functioning) how to be more social in a positive way? Currently, he has problems interacting with peers in a way that does not cause conflict (and resultant rejection from those peers)?”

A great technique, the Situation, Options, Consequences, Choices, Strategies, Simulation (SOCCSS) strategy, is relatively simple and is used to help kids who have High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s with social interaction problems, as well as teach them how to put interpersonal relationships into a sequential form.

SOCCSS helps these “special needs” children understand problem situations and lets them see that they have to make choices about a given situation, with each choice having a consequence.

The steps of SOCCSS are as follows, and can be used by both parents and teachers:

1. Situation: When a social problem arises, the parent or teacher helps the child to understand the situation by first identifying (a)who was involved, (b) what happened, (c) the date, day, and time of occurrence, and (d) reasons for the present situation.

2. Options: The child, with the assistance of the adult, brainstorms several options for behavior. At this point, the parent or teacher accepts all of the child’s responses and does not evaluate them. This step encourages him or her to see more than one perspective and to realize that any one situation presents several behavioral options.

3. Consequences: Then the child and adult work together to evaluate each of the options generated. The parent or teacher is a facilitator, helping the youngster to develop consequences for each option rather than dictating them.

4. Choices: The child selects the option or options that will have the most desirable consequences for him or her.

5. Strategy: Next the child and adult develop an action plan to implement the selected option.

6. Simulation: Lastly, the child is given an opportunity to role-play the selected alternative. Simulation may be in the form of (a) role play, (b) visualization, (c) writing a plan, or (d) talking with a peer.

This strategy offers many benefits to the youngster on the autism spectrum. It allows him or her to (a) understand that many options may be available in any given situation, (b) realize that each option has a naturally occurring consequence, and (c) develop a sense of empowerment by acting on the environment (i.e., these children realize that they have choices, and by selecting one, they can directly determine the consequences of their actions).

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Academic Traits of Students on the Autism Spectrum: What Teachers Need to Know

“Would my child (6 years old) with high-functioning autism be better served by an alternative or private school? Is it possible for him to succeed in regular public school? Are there special issues his teacher should be made aware of?”

Most kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) receive their education in general education classrooms, albeit frequently with the support of Special Education teachers. Most of these young people are well equipped to benefit from general classroom experiences. They typically have average intellectual abilities, are motivated to be with their peers, and have good rote memory skills and other assets that bode well for their academic success.

However, some kids with HFA and AS do have several problems in academic performance, largely due to social and communication deficits connected to the disorder. Also, some of them have a learning disability. 

Other concerns that make it difficult for some children on the autism spectrum to benefit from general education curricula without support and accommodations include:
  • concrete and literal thinking styles
  • difficulty attending to salient curricular cues
  • difficulty in discerning relevant from irrelevant stimuli
  • inflexibility
  • difficulty understanding inferentially-based materials
  • obsessive and narrowly defined interests
  • poor organizational skills
  • relative weakness in comprehending verbally presented information
  • poor problem-solving skills
  • trouble generalizing knowledge and skills
  • difficulty in comprehending abstract materials (e.g., metaphors and idioms)

Strengths of young people with HFA and AS tend to be in comprehension of factual material. They are also very good in the areas of oral expression and reading recognition. With appropriate support, most kids on the spectrum can be successful in public school, and many are able to attend college or technical school - and enjoy a variety of successful careers.

Many teachers fail to recognize the unique academic needs of students on the autism spectrum, because they often give the impression that they understand more than they do. Their pedantic style, seemingly advanced vocabulary, parrot-like responses, and ability to word-call (without having the higher-order thinking and comprehension skills to understand what they read) may actually mask many of the deficits these students struggle with.


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Students on the Autism Spectrum that Teachers Need To Be Aware Of

“Is it common for a child with autism (high functioning) to have more behavior problems at school than at home? My 13 y.o. son has been getting a lot of time in detention. Can I excuse him from it and not reschedule? A teacher gave him detention for what I consider to be an unfair reason, and she refuses to hear his side. He goes to a public middle school.”

RE: “Can I excuse him from it and not reschedule?”

You don’t have the authority to exempt your son from the school's disciplinary actions. If there is a problem with a particular disciplinary process (e.g., detention scheduled to be served at a time that creates a hardship for you), you can contact the school's administrative staff to ask for consideration of an alternative date and time for the detention.

RE: “Is it common for a child with autism (high functioning) to have more behavior problems at school than at home?”

Yes, many children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s do act-out in the classroom, largely due to (a) over-stimulation of the senses (e.g., florescent lights, smells from the cafeteria, noisy and crowded hallways, etc.) as well as (b) social skills deficits (e.g., when the youngster fails to take his turn in a playground game because he doesn't understand the social rules of an activity).

Furthermore, these challenges frequently involve feelings of anxiety, loss of control, and an inability to predict outcomes. Rather than simply trying to be defiant or disruptive, students on the autism spectrum typically have behavior problems connected to their inability to function in a world they see as unpredictable and threatening. In other words, when they have behavioral difficulties, their problems are most often associated with their social ineptness, an obsessive interest in a particular subject, a defensive panic reaction, etc.

Many of the traits of the disorder can look like purposeful misbehavior in the eyes of teachers. For example:
  • attention problems may be viewed as simply “not paying attention”
  • become overwhelmed with too much verbal direction may be viewed as “unwarranted expression of frustration”
  • difficulty maintaining friendships can be viewed as “antisocial behavior”
  • difficulty transitioning from one activity to another may be perceived as “oppositional behavior”
  • difficulty waiting for their turn (e.g., standing in line) may be looked at as “impulsivity”
  • difficulty with fine motor activities (e.g., coloring, printing, using scissors, gluing) may be viewed a pure “laziness”
  • difficulty with reading comprehension (e.g., can quote an answer, but unable to predict, summarize or find symbolism) may come across as simply “ignoring the teacher’s instructions”
  • meltdowns are often viewed as “tantrums”

Moms and dads usually have significantly greater concern about the behavior and social skills of their “special needs” youngster than his or her teachers do. Parents often perceive their child to have substantial deficits in a variety of socially-related areas (e.g., conduct problems, aggression, hyperactivity, etc.) as well as internalizing problems (e.g., withdrawal).

Teachers, on the other hand, often perceive the HFA or Asperger’s student to have both fewer and less significant deficits than do parents – and may mistakenly discipline the child for “poor conduct” rather than recognizing the extra challenges the “special needs” student must contend with. Thus, it’s important for parents to educate their child’s teachers on his or her specific challenges that result in behavioral and/or emotional struggles.

But, each case is significantly different! Sometimes "misbehavior" is exactly that - misbehavior - and not necessarily a trait of the disorder. This is were it gets tricky. A particular behavioral problem (e.g., yelling at the teacher) in one student on the spectrum may be motivated by sensory issues, whereas that same behavior in another student on the spectrum may be simple rebelliousness. Which if which? Only the teacher who is well-educated on the symptoms of the disorder, as they relate specifically to the child in question, will know.


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

Top 10 Dietary Books for Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Here are our top 10 books that will help you come up with an effective meal plan for your child with Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism:























How to Help Teachers Understand Your HFA or AS Child’s Social Difficulties

“What are some of the social problems that children with high functioning autism have? I’d like to share them with my child’s (age 7) teacher to help her understand him better. Currently, she thinks he ‘just needs to be more cooperative and attentive’. I wish it were that easy!”

High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) is first and foremost a social disorder. Young people on the autism spectrum are not only socially isolated, but also demonstrate an abnormal type of social interaction that can’t be explained by other factors (e.g., shyness, short attention span, defiance, aggressive behavior, etc.).

Children with HFA and AS are known to lack the motivation to interact with others. But their social difficulties frequently stem from a lack of knowledge in initiating and responding in various situations and under variable conditions (e.g., the child may appear odd because of his continuous insistence on sharing with peers an obsessive interest in vacuum cleaners, despite their displays of apathy for this “weird” topic).

Social difficulties may range from social withdrawal and detachment to unskilled social interactions. Nonetheless, even within this broad range, children on the spectrum may be socially awkward, emotionally blunted, self-centered, inflexible, and have difficulty in understanding nonverbal social cues.

Kids with HFA and AS may be able to infer the meaning of facial expressions and match events with facial expression, but the difficulty arises when dealing with the simultaneous presentation of facial, voice, body, and situational cues. Thus, even when they actively try to seek-out others, they encounter social isolation because of their lack of understanding of the rules of social behavior (e.g., eye contact, proximity to others, gestures, posture, etc.).

Students on the autism spectrum are able to engage in routine social interactions (e.g., basic greetings) without being able to engage in extended interactions or reciprocal conversations. Parents often describe their “special needs” child as lacking an awareness of social standards and protocol, lacking common sense, tending to misinterpret subtle social prompts, cues, and unspoken messages, and displaying a variety of socially unaccepted behaviors.

Kids with HFA and AS typically display emotional vulnerability and anxiety (e.g., they may become upset if they think others are invading their space or when they are in unpredictable or new social situations). However, in contrast to most of their “typical” peers, kids on the spectrum often do not reveal their anxiety through voice tone, overt agitation, etc. 

As a result, they may escalate to a point of crisis because of peers’ unawareness of their discomfort – along with their own inability to predict, control, and manage uncomfortable situations. (As a side note, the HFA or AS child is a relatively easy target for peers who are prone to teasing and bullying others.)

While they are known by others for their lack of social awareness, many children with HFA and AS themselves are aware that they are different from their peers. Consequently, problems with self-esteem are common. These problems often are particularly significant during adolescence and young adulthood.

Variable social situations make it difficult for kids on the spectrum to apply social rules in a rigid and consistent way. Social rules vary with circumstances (i.e., there are no inflexible and universal social conventions and rules). This lack of social consistency is especially confusing for children with HFA and AS. 

They often painfully discover that interactions that may be tolerated - or even reinforced - in one setting are rejected or punished in others (e.g., one 4th grader with HFA could not understand why his calling Mrs. Potts (his teacher) "Mrs. Potty" in the restroom was funny to his peers, while saying this in the classroom (in the presence of Mrs. Potts) got him in trouble.

Children on the autism spectrum do not acquire greater social awareness and skill merely as a function of age. In the real world, ALL children are required to use increasingly sophisticated social skills and to interpret ever more subtle social nuances as they progress through school. Consequently, children diagnosed with HFA or AS may find themselves more and more in conflict with prevailing social norms as they move through adolescence and into young adulthood. 

As a result of these norms - and the experiences that follow – kids on the spectrum are vulnerable to developing a variety of problems (e.g., depression and anxiety may appear at this time, they experience a continuing inability to effectively interact with peers as well as an increased discomfort and anxiety in social situations).


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

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Teaching Your Child on the Autism Spectrum How to Identify When He's the Victim of Bullying

Question

I have an 11 year old boy diagnosed with high functioning autism. He started middle school and we're having a very difficult time. Academically he is starting to settle in and is in advanced classes with a B average. However, he is having behavior issues particularly in settings like lunch time, PE, etc. He is being bullied but nothing is being done. The school says they don't see any bullying. Last week the PE teacher left the class to "free play" allowing my son to use metal pole to hit a tennis ball. A large boy (150lbs, my son weighs 60) hit my son in the face with a dodge ball knocking his glasses off (this same child has continuously teased and taunted by son all year), my son ran after him (of course rod still in hand) and there the story gets murky depending on who you talk to - the teacher was still no where around. My son had a skinned up elbow and bruising, apparently so did the other child - not confirmed. The teacher admitted he saw my child with the pole but didn't intervene. Now the school is trying to kick my son out. We have an IEP that might help but this is charter school (still state funded). Anyone with any suggestions?


Answer

A number of moms & dads have discovered that their kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's (AS) are being bullied, and that a lot of the time this is leading to different types of "exclusion" for their youngster. So, as well as the trauma and upset of being bullied - the chances are that the youngster is facing sanctions at the school as well.

Bullying is an bad problem with any youngster, but the needs of a youngster on the autistic spectrum make this even worse. The lack of understanding of social cues, difficulties in communicating the problems to others, interests and hobbies that often seem a little "goofy" and make the youngster an easy "target" - to name but a few.

As we all know, the multi-sensory and often very hectic nature of schools can be difficult enough for kids on the autism spectrum - so they can really do without having to contend with the extra "attention" of playground bullies.

Obviously, it is important to ensure that your youngster has some kind of feedback loop to a trusted person so that any signs of bullying can be picked up. Whether this is verbal, through some kind of symbol or PECS board, or more creative like "puppet talk" for youngsters, it needs to be crystal clear for the youngster what is and what isn't acceptable - and then what they should do about it.

This is easier for things like physical bullying - as the more subtle types of verbal bullying can be more difficult to explain. But generally your youngster's behaviors will be a key to something being not right, and then you have the [often difficult ] task of working out what is happening from there.

If you do have the ear of your youngster's teacher, it is worth raising this issue with them and finding out what mechanisms they have in place for your youngster to communicate if they are being bullied. There is a useful "bullying worksheet" [see below] that you can use to look at the issues around bullying with your youngster.

Bullying is sadly something that all moms & dads with a "special needs" child need to think about. This involves looking at different ways in which you can monitor him/her to check if something is going on so that you can take action.

Often times, the child with HFA or AS does not even know that he's the victim of bullying. He may simply assume that's how kids treat other kids. Thus, be sure to educate your child on this subject. Start by sharing the following worksheet with him or her:


BULLYING WORKSHEET—

Here is a list of some of the ways other kids might act around you. Read each act. Is the child being a friend or not? Or are you just not sure? Remember, a friend would be kind to you. If the other child is being mean to you, they are not being a friend, no matter what they say.

A kid in your class at school:

• Asks to sit next to you at lunch, but then hides your lunch when your back is turned and won’t give it back when you tell him the joke is over.

• Asks you to take your clothes off so he can see you naked and says “if you were a real friend, you’d be willing to do what I ask. It’s no big deal.”

• Let’s you be part of his circle of friends as long as you do his homework for him every day, even when you’re tired, because “you’re so much better at it than I am,” while he sits around chatting with his friends.

• Says “hey, let’s be friends,” and begins to play with you, but every time his buddies come around, he acts like he doesn’t know you and says things to make the other kids laugh at you.

• Says “that’s my seat” at lunch and tells you to get out of it, when no one has assigned seats at lunch.

• Says he’ll be your friend for a dollar.

• Says he’s thirsty and asks you to buy him a soda from the store. When you buy it, he says “thanks, you’re a real friend. Tomorrow I’ll buy the sodas.” And tomorrow he buys you one.

• Says he’s thirsty and asks you to steal a soda for him from the store to help him out. When you steal it, he says “thanks, you’re a real friend.” He keeps hanging out with you, but asks you to steal things here and there, from time to time, for him.

• Says he’s your friend, plays with you, and then asks to borrow a dollar, promising to pay it back tomorrow (and he does pay it back).

• Says you can only be in my club if you pick up all these sticks alone while the rest of us watch you. When you do it, he and the other club members sit around telling you what to do and laugh at you. They said the sticks were for a fort, but no fort is ever built.

• Says you can only be in my club if you pick up all these sticks with me, so we can build a fort together. He then joins you picking up the sticks, and builds a fort with you.

• Says you can’t be in the club because it’s for teenagers and you’re only 9.

• Says you can’t be in the club because your name is Michael.

NOTE: If the other kid does any of these things listed above - he is NOT being a friend. He or she will have to earn your trust back before you should trust him/her again.


Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

____________________

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.


 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Been there.... Done that.... As a parent of as child on the spectrum and a special education worker I totally get this. Lunch and PE are non structured times and two of the hardest times for even typical kids. If you feel the school isn't listening to your concerns I recommend getting an advocate. You can even find them for free. Watch the schools tune change.
•    Anonymous said… I moved my son to a school that listens to children. Made an incredible amount of difference.
•    Anonymous said… I'd be inclined to switch schools
•    Anonymous said… I'd go and observe for yourself. Volunteer in the lunch line or recycling duty..or whatever gets you a glimpse into his day. Then go to principal w concerns. Hopefully the district has a peer buddies program in place or something similar.
•    Anonymous said… Is there a possibility of going to a computer room or supervised play area for that time. My son does this as well as the library and he no longer gets bullied.
•    Anonymous said… It's really a bigger effort for autistic/aspergers children that needs to be addressed with the teaching universities. I took E C-4(which is up to 4th) and had to stop before I could start my internships due to my now 10 year old aspergers daughter's b...See More
•    Anonymous said… Problem still doesn't go away.....is a big change which can be stressful in itself.
•    Anonymous said… Same here in UK. But my son's new school go above and beyond and train staff in all different areas to learn more about additional needs, so moving for him was a great idea.
•    Anonymous said… Unless ur a special ed teacher. Of course all districts are different. Some are great. Just hard to find them.

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Angry Outbursts in Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum

Question

My son is 13 years old; he has been previously diagnosed with high functioning autism, adhd and obsessive compulsive disorder. My son lived with his father for six months while I recovered from a nervous breakdown. When I got custody of him again he was very aggressive, would hit his 6 year old brother and call him names and put him down. My ex gave him no discipline from what I gather from my son, he told me he had to raise his six year old brother for them six months. He blames me for the divorce between me and his father. I have bipolar and he doesn’t seem to understand that I am different too and that I need him to cooperate and help me as much as possible. He’s too focused on his ocd, his adhd and his autism and he uses all of these things for an excuse for all of the negative behaviors he is having.

In the last past year he has changed 3 schools, and moved to a new area, which he says he hates. I’m wondering if he will adjust to the new setting and new rules that I have for him. I think some of it is the teenage years; he uses profanity often and shows aggression to get his way no matter what the consequences. I want to help my son but I don’t know what to do. His brother is totally opposite; he does what I tell him and goes by all of the rules.

How do I get my son to show me respect and work on his attitude without so many angry outbursts which could get me evicted from our apartment? I go with the flow to keep things as quiet as possible but things get worse, if I threaten to take his games he threatens and has went as far as walking out of the door leaving me to find him. Am I dealing with autism, Adhd, compulsive disorder or just an unruly teenager? I think it is all of them. I was wondering if there is an autism training center that could come in and work with my son. I am desperate at this point and will do anything to help my child to stay on the right track, I worry that he is headed for suicide or prison. I am very concerned for him, he’s happy as long as I cater to him, but when I stand up for what I think is right he rebels and I pay dearly. Please help.

Answer

Parents of High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) children/teens will face many behavior problems (e.g., aggression and violent behavior, anger, depression, and many other problematic behaviors). Part of the problem stems from (a) the conflict between longings for social contact and (b) an inability to be social in ways that attract friendships and relationships.

HFA and AS adolescents possess a unique set of attitudes and behaviors:
  • Adolescents with the disorder tend to be physically and socially awkward, which makes them a frequent target of school bullies. Low self-esteem caused by being rejected and outcast by peers often makes these adolescents even more susceptible to “acting-out” behaviors at home and school.
  • These teenagers rely on routine to provide a sense of control and predictability in their lives. Another characteristic of the disorder is the development of special interests that are unusual in focus or intensity. These young people may become so obsessed with their particular areas of interest that they get upset and angry when something or someone interrupts their schedule or activity.
  • Adolescents on the autism spectrum often suffer from “mindblindness,” which means they have difficulty understanding the emotions others are trying to convey through facial expressions and body language. The problem isn’t that adolescents with Aspergers can’t feel emotion, but that they have trouble expressing their own emotions and understanding the feelings of others. “Mindblindness” often give parents the impression that their HFA or AS teen is insensitive, selfish and uncaring.
  • They can be extremely sensitive to loud noise, strong smells and bright lights. This can be a challenge in relationships as adolescents on the spectrum may be limited in where they can go on, how well they can tolerate the environment, and how receptive they are to instruction from parents and teachers.
  • Social conventions are a confusing maze for adolescents with the disorder. They can be disarmingly concise and to the point, and may take jokes and exaggerations literally. Because they struggle to interpret figures of speech and tones of voice that “neuro-typicals” naturally pick up on, they may have difficulty engaging in a two-way conversation. As a result, they may end up fixating on their own interests and ignoring the interests and opinions of others.

Focus on prevention and on helping your son to develop communication skills and develop a healthy self-esteem. These things can create the ability to develop relationships and friendships, lessening the chances of having issues with anger.

Anger is often prevalent in HFA and AS when rituals can't get accomplished or when the teen's need for order or symmetry can't be met. Frustration (over little things that usually don't bother others) can lead to anger and sometimes 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 their needs met.

Rest assured, communication skills and friendship skills can be taught to teens (and even adults) on the spectrum, which can eliminate some of the social isolation they feel. This can avert or reverse many anger control issues.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


PARENTS'  COMMENTS:

*   Anonymous said... I'd like to say to you this. My son has Aspergers/Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He too present with anger, negativity and outbursts with authority figures. One thing I learned early on, NEVER walk on broken glass waiting to get cut! Never let things go with ease to avaoid a melt down. Set clear limits he understands with clear consequences he also understands. Get your child the help hhe needs NOW before it's too late with the laws in your State. Many parents of Spectrum children do not understand the Laws that protect the child and hinder the parents. As with my son, at the age of 14 in our State children have the RIGHT to not participate in therapy of any sort including Mental Health Services. If and when your child is made aware of the Laws you should be prepared as we were not as we did not even know the Law existed. My son is as I've said now 17. He is reminded daily that no matter what his diagnosis are, he is bound by the same laws as the rest of the world. Dealing with anger outbursts are horrifying to say the least. It takes a toll on your entire family dynamics. Having a younger child watch this behavior will lead them to issues with outbursts as well. I also have a 7 yr old who learns from his brothers behavior. We do the same, set limits, make rules and make consequences clearly understood and FOLLOW THROUGH! NEVER let your guilt for the diagnosis to interfere with following through! This will by far be your biggest mistake. For yourself, establish a support system, keep time for yourself, try to stay positive at all times and again use your support system. If and when violence erupts, call the police to intervene and make sure they are aware of the diagnosis before they arrive for it can cause a bigger problem as well as a negative outcome all around.
 

•    Anonymous said… Communication is hard and understanding is wanted. Those that act out are in pain themselves..
 

•    Anonymous said… I have been dealing with this for 16 years. Therapy is a on going process. If the behavior is out of control. I would suggest a inpatient treatment facility. This will allow for continued therapy and behavior modification. Trust me.. I know this well. You are not along.
 

•    Anonymous said… I know this comment may sound soft and shallow, but believe me, as a single parent of an autistic/Asperger's son prone to violent outbursts just like the rest of you, all I can offer is for you the parent to take care of yourself. For me it was Transcendental Meditation. It calms me like nothing else and for some bizarre reason it calms my son, even though he's not the one meditating. I'm not affiliated and not trying to pitch them, but you need to do something CALMING for yourself. Every child is different and requires a unique strategy to cope, and so does every parent. Bless everyone here and let's try to keep our heads and hearts clear.
 
•    Anonymous said… Well i give my son 1 for being good and its been working i got him on ssi and he had outbursts 3 times before i decided this and i took one day at a time and for 5 days my son been good no outbursts and i give him options too like if he cant do something for a example my son he wanted to go yesterday to dollar General i said play on ur phone or color or drawl or eat popsicle something to distract him from what he wants til u can do it when ur ready . Take 1day at a time and be calm with him at all times i just started this 2 months ago and im handling it pretty well and he has asperger's and odd so i understand
 

•    Anonymous said… Wow! My son is 15 and this is my life right now, although luckily without the physical aggression. I have to admit it is nice to know I'm not the only one dealing with these severe behavior issues!
 

•    Anonymous said… your beautiful boy sounds like my 8yr old grand son , but these kids live in a completely different world to ours they like to do what they do eat what they eat and if left alone they survive just as well as if we never said a word the more we tell them and yell the worse they get .I have seen the outbursts and man its scary .

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Parenting Kids with High-Functioning Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder

Question

My 12 year old was recently diagnosed with having high functioning autism. He doesn't fit the typical mold that I read about, and the neuro-psychologist agreed that he is an unusual case. He is extremely likable, has a good many friends, very polite and well mannered. He does however have the obsessive personality and hyper-focusing that is typical with this disorder as well as fascination with collecting things, bottle caps, shark teeth...which he can look for hours at a time for. He is very smart and has always made great grades and has never had behavior issues at home or at school, which is probably why he flew under the radar until now.

Our struggles have to do with his attention...as if he is ADD (tested negative three times). He literally cannot stay on task and is so easily distracted. After a "pep" talk stating that he "owns" his brain and he can control the urges if he puts his mind to it...he can produce. I know its short term but he doesn’t and he feels great when he knocks out something. Remember, we just found out...so we've always treated him as "normal" as the others, why wouldn't we? And again, he's always risen to the challenge of most anything...with a great attitude. I'm desperately looking for ways to help him stay on task with schoolwork and staying on task? Is there anyone there that might know of something, tips, tricks, etc.? Please let me know.

Answer

Most kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) do not receive that diagnosis until after age 6. Usually, they are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as toddlers. Part of the reason is that doctors routinely screen kids for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - but not for autism.

Another reason is that an HFA child's social impairment becomes more evident once he hits school. Finally, doctors are reluctant to label a youngster "autistic." It is okay - and even a badge of honor - to have a "hyperactive youngster," but it is another thing whatsoever to have an "autistic youngster."

Doctors make their diagnoses based on kid's behaviors. Since kids with Attention Deficit Disorder and HFA share similar behaviors, the two can appear to overlap. However, there is a fundamental difference between Attention Deficit Disorder and HFA. Children on the autism spectrum lack what doctors call "social reciprocity" or Theory of Mind.

Theory of Mind is "the capacity to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires that are different from our own." Kids with ADD have a Theory of Mind and understand other people's motives and expectations. They make appropriate eye contact and understand social cues, body language and hidden agendas in social interactions. HFA children can't.

One author put it this way: kids with Attention Deficit Disorder respond to behavioral modification. With Aspergers (HFA), the syndrome is the behavior.

Both kinds of kids can tantrum, talk too loud and too much and have problems modulating their behaviors and making friends. Both are social failures but for different reasons.

The youngster with Attention Deficit Disorder knows what to do but forgets to do it. HFA children do not know what to do. They do not understand that relationships are two-sided. If a child on the spectrum talks on and on in an un-modulated voice about his particular interest, he simply does not understand that he is boring his friend and showing disinterest in his friend's side of the conversation. On the other hand, the youngster with ADD cannot control himself from dominating the conversation.

An HFA youngster can appear unfocused, forgetful and disorganized like a youngster with Attention Deficit Disorder, but there is a difference. The ADD youngster is easily distracted; the HFA child has no "filter." The child on the spectrum sees everything in her environment as equally important. Her teacher's dangling earring is as important as what she writes on the blackboard. The HFA child does not understand that she does not have to memorize the entire textbook for the next test. She does not "get" such rules.

Children on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum tend to get anxious and stuck about small things and cannot see the "big picture." Kids with Attention Deficit Disorder are not detailed-oriented. The ADD youngster understands the rules but lacks the self-control to follow them. The HFA child does not understand the rules.

If the unfocused HFA child is "nowhere," the obsessive-compulsive and "Fantasy" HFA child is somewhere else. "Fantasy kids" retreat into a world of their own making - a world where everything goes the way they want it to. They play video games for hours or retreat into books and music. Their daydreaming and fantasizing resembles the behaviors of non-hyperactive kids with ADD.

Obsessive-compulsive children with HFA live a world they create from rules and rituals. Like ADD kids, they appear preoccupied and distracted but for different reasons. They appear distracted because they are always thinking about their "rules." Did I tie my shoelaces right? Did I brush my teeth for 120 seconds?

Some authors estimate that 60% to 70% of children with HFA and AS also have Attention Deficit Disorder, which they consider a common comorbidity of the disorder. Other authors say that the two cannot exist together. Still others insist doctors have it all wrong and that the two disorders are the same. The real problem is that there is no hard science. No one knows exactly how slight imperfections in brain structure and chemistry cause such problems.

For this reason, getting the right diagnosis for a youngster who exhibits behavior problems may take years of trial and error. Diagnosis is based on observation of behaviors that are similar for a myriad of disorders. The tragedy is that the youngster often does not receive the correct medications, educational strategies, and behavioral modification techniques that could help him function on a higher level. He falls farther behind his peer group and loses ground when he could be getting appropriate treatments.

==> CLICK HERE for some specific tips to help your child with school work...
Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders? Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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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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