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

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search This Site

Succeeding in College: 10 Measures to Help Students on the Autism Spectrum

“We have a 19-year-old son with high-functioning autism that will be attempting college starting this summer (just 4 classes to start with). This is something he wants to do, although (sadly) my husband and I have our doubts that he will be able to ‘make it’. I know that sounds defeatist, but we’ve lived with him from birth and know how he usually reacts to an entirely new environment. My question is what can we do now to set him up for success? We would love to see him succeed!”

Graduating from high school and heading into post-secondary education usually creates a mix of emotions in ALL young people, but it can be an especially challenging time for those with an autism spectrum disorder (e.g., anticipation, fear, exhilaration, doubt). As a mother, you’ve likely witnessed them all in your son. Maybe you’re feeling the same way as you figure out how best to support him as he takes this important step.

Here are 10 measures to help students with autistic spectrum disorders that should be in place before and/or during their new venture:

1.  An introductory program that includes first contacts (e.g., with a tutor), good induction and orientation (e.g., with maps of the campus and lists of important contacts and their roles), positive family contacts when appropriate and, above all, a flexible approach that adapts to the “special needs” student and his or her particular needs.

2.  A support service that has the skills and status to communicate with departments in order to help them to adapt to the needs of the students (e.g., by extending work deadlines, or modifying arrangements to enable the student to complete placements, laboratory work or fieldwork).

3.  A key worker, usually a postgraduate student or member of staff, to whom the student can go for immediate advice or support.

4.  A public education program and specific training, for both staff and students, to make them aware of autistic-spectrum disorders and their difficulties, and of the support service.

5.  A support network for isolated students. Group seminars, tutorial and study groups can all contribute, as can paired or group assignments and recreational activities.

6.  Help with managing allowances, budgeting and everyday skills (e.g., laundry and shopping). Mentorship schemes, possibly through the students’ union, can draw in other students.

7.  Safe places on campus where students can withdraw, calm down and refocus when anxiety or anger threaten to get out of control. The involvement of all elements, including the campus police and the students’ union, can allow fragile students to complete their course successfully as well as learn to manage their over-arousal.

8.  Specialist instruction to develop suitable study skills (e.g. language skills, structuring their work and organizing their approach to studying).

9.  The use of aids (e.g., handouts and audio recordings of lectures).

10.  Lastly, a clear and realistic plan for the student’s exit from college when he/she has completed the course. There should be reviews in the final year and, if the student is under 25 years old, it’s recommended that the student contact a “careers and employment advisory agency” designed to help people with special needs to graduate into adulthood.

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

Reasons for "Rigidity" in Children on the Autism Spectrum

One frequently observed feature of Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) is rigidity in thought and behavior. Rigidity seems to pervade so many areas of the lives of children with the disorder. Novel situations often produce anxiety for them. They may be uncomfortable with change in general. This can result in behavior that may be viewed as oppositional and can lead to emotional meltdowns. This general rigidity is what parents, neighbors, and teachers often label as stubbornness.

Children with AS and HFA may have many fears in addition to those related to unexpected changes in schedules. Large groups of people and complex, open environments like school hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds, or bus stations tend to overwhelm these young people. They may also be overwhelmed by unexpected academic challenge or by having too many things to remember or too many tasks to perform.

They often have limited frustration tolerance and may display tantrums when thwarted. Routines and rules are very important to kids on the autism spectrum in providing a sense of needed order and structure, and hence, predictability about the world.

Another form or rigidity is moralism, a kind of self-righteous and inflexible adherence to nonnegotiable moral principles that is often out of context with practical reality. An example might be a youngster who criticizes a parent who has run a yellow traffic light when the parent is on the way to the emergency room for treatment of a severe cut or burn.

Rigidity is also found in the inflexibility over matters that are of little consequence, such as arguing about whether the route to the emergency room was the quickest when it might be the difference between a few hundred yards by choosing to take one turn over another. In the classroom, this may be found when an AS or HFA student fixates on a perception that a teacher has not enforced a rule consistently. Such fixations on moral correctness can escalate and interfere with availability for instruction.

Reasons for Rigidity—

1. A misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the actions of others.

2. A violation of a rule or ritual – changing something from the way it is supposed to be. Someone is violating a rule and this is unacceptable to the ASor HFA youngster. 

3. Anxiety about a current or upcoming event, no matter how trivial it might appear to you. 

4. Immediate gratification of a need. 

5. Lack of knowledge about how something is done. By not knowing how the world works with regard to specific situations and events, the youth will act inappropriately instead. 

6. Other internal issues, such as sensory, inattention (ADHD), oppositional tendency (ODD), or other psychiatric issues may also be causes of behavior. 

7. The need to avoid or escape from a non-preferred activity, often something difficult or undesirable. Often, if your son/daughter cannot be perfect, he/she does not want to engage in an activity.

8. The need to control a situation. 

9. The need to engage in or continue a preferred activity, usually an obsessive action or fantasy. 

10. Transitioning from one activity to another. This is usually a problem because it may mean ending an activity before he is finished with it.

Many children on the spectrum have a hard time with changes. The reason for this behavior can be caused by anxiety, and this anxiety results in rigidity.

Here are the reasons AS and HFA kids are so resistant to any kind of change:
  • anxiety about a current or upcoming event (e.g., the start of school)
  • not understanding how the world works
  • not understanding the actions of someone else
  • other issues like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • reluctant to participate in an activity the child cannot do perfectly or an activity that is difficult for him.
  • someone changing a circumstance or rule that has been established
  • the need for instant satisfaction, the child may not understand delayed gratification
  • the need to control a situation
  • the need to keep doing the activity that the child likes (obsession or fantasy)
  • transitioning to another activity, this is especially hard if the activity is not finished

The cause of anxiety or rigidity in your child has a lot to do with the fact that he or she does not have the ability to understand the world like we do.

Because of this "neuro-cognitive" disorder, the child:
  • does not “take in” what is going on around him or her her
  • does not know how to “read between the lines”
  • does not understand implied directions
  • does not understand social cues
  • needs explicit instructions
  • will have difficulty understanding rules of society

Facts” are what kids with AS and HFA learn and feel less anxious about. Since they have a hard time with all the normal rules of society, having “rules” has a calming effect on them. They think, “This is the rule. I can handle it o.k.” Facts also have to be from someone they think is an “expert” in their eyes. Teachers and doctors may have this leverage with them, but moms and dads are, for the most part, not considered “experts.”

Understanding what causes so much anxiety, tantrums, and out of control behavior helps parents to know where their child is coming from, and with that, they will be able to help him or her become a healthy and happy adult.

==> Preventing Meltdowns in Aspergers and HFA Children

Defiant, Oppositional Teens on the Autism Spectrum: Simple Parenting Tips that Work Wonders

Parenting defiant teenagers with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism is tough (if you don’t how that is). Below are some quick tips to give parents some relief from the power-struggles. None of these strategies are particularly profound, but when used wisely and consistently, they can make bad problems significantly better - especially when used in combination with one another!

1. Active Listening – Some behaviors are bids for attention or expressions of frustration at not feeling understood. Moms and dads can reduce problem behaviors when each defiant youngster feels genuinely cared about, understood, and paid attention to. Active listening is hard work and takes energy and practice. It cannot be done when thinking about or attending to other things, or when distractions occur. Active listening need not last a long time, but attention must be focused completely on the children and the message must be communicated back to them in the listeners own words in a way that lets them know they really were heard.

Body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact, respect for personal space, and choices of words are all important in communicating the desired message. It may take two or three attempts to really understand the message, and that is okay, as long as it is finally understood accurately and that is clearly demonstrated. A few brief exchanges of this sort for each youngster every day are necessary.

2. Consequencing – Consequences may be used to discourage unacceptable behavior of defiant teenagers. Usually this will occur after other techniques have been tried unsuccessfully. Consequences should not be confused with punishment; nor should they ever be given in anger. They should be applied consistently. That means that the behavior consequenced today, will again be consequenced next week. Also, behavior consequenced for one child will not be allowed for others. This consistency lowers anxiety by making the environment predictable. Consequences are given to help children establish boundaries. Consequences should be clearly explained, related to the behavior, and completed as soon as possible.

A parent who is angry with a child should calm down before deciding a consequence and if applicable should consult with the other parent before doing so. Consequences are more effective when discussed matter-of-factly from a caring and controlled point of view. Moms and dads should regularly discuss the effectiveness of consequences for the specific child and should always support each other in the positive discipline process.

3. Encouraging/Coaching – Encouragement, praise, and coaching are all effective ways to make pro-social behaviors more likely and more frequent. The stronger the relationship between parent and a given youngster, the more powerful this method becomes.

4. Ignoring Behavior – Moms and dads may consciously decide to ignore certain behaviors of their defiant teenager at times in an effort to extinguish the behavior by not reacting to it. The behavior may be inconsequential, may be designed just to "get a reaction," or may be masking another, more important, issue which is what really needs attention. Ignoring a behavior should not stop communication or relationship building. It is a specific behavior that is being ignored, not the person. Examples might include using certain words, attempts to provoke or annoy moms and dads, making personal comment to or about parents, saying "I won’t" or "you can’t make me," etc.

5. Logical Consequences – Logical consequences may be necessary when no natural one occurs, or when the natural one is insufficient to make a change in future behavior. An example would be a defiant child causing a disturbance at an event, not being allowed to attend the next one.

6. Natural Consequences – Sometimes consequences occur through the natural course of events (such as a child coming home late from school and missing a phone call from a friend). If the natural course of events makes an impact by teaching a lesson, moms and dads need not intervene further. They can be sympathetic to the child’s plight (this must be genuine however, and never patronizing or sarcastic).

7. Observing and Commenting – A parent may choose to comment on a behavior in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way to bring it to the attention of the youngster. This may be new information for the child to think about. What they choose to do with that feedback will provide further opportunities for discussion and teaching. For instance, "I notice you tend to be critical of others when they are taking about a success" or "You seem to only break the rules when you are in a group" etc.

8. Physical Proximity – Sometimes a defiant youngster who is beginning to become anxious, irritable or overly active will be calmed down by eye contact, a special "look" or signal, moving next to them or a reassuring hand on the arm or shoulder. Along with physical proximity it is important to be calm and reassuring.

9. Pre-Teaching – It is easier to prevent negative behaviors than to deal with them after they occur. A very effective tool is to pre-teach behavior prior to an event or potentially vulnerable situation. This involves talking with the person or group in detail about what will be happening, why, and what their role and expected behaviors will be. Pre-teaching reduces anxiety, clarifies expectations, builds confidence, sets up success, and can add to the fun of anticipating an event.

10. Redirecting – Commonly used with younger defiant kids or those with short attention spans, this technique simply stops one behavior by substituting another or diverting the attention of the child or group to a different subject or activity.

11. Re-Focus - A defiant child may be asked to spend time thinking about something (such as a recent run-away or self mutilation) and express their feelings and thoughts in some way. This could be writing, poetry, drawing, etc. Whatever format is used, it then needs to be processed with the teenager. They can then be assisted in identifying early clues and practicing alternative responses. The purpose of this type of activity is to encourage thinking, self-awareness, communication, and planning for different choices in the future.

12. Requesting – When there is a good relationship between the parent and youngster, a simple request to do, or stop doing, something or a re-stating of the expectations is often enough. If over-used, however, it may become less effective, may be experienced by the child as overly controlling, or can slow the process of responsible growth and decision-making skills. Example: "Michelle, we don’t use that type of language here, could you please find a different word?"

13. Rewarding/Reinforcing – Rewarding positive behavior is the best way to ensure its continuation. A common error in parenting is to spend so much time and energy dealing with crises and negative behaviors, that kids who are being responsible can either get "lost" or are tempted to act less responsible to become part of the action.

Rewards can take many forms from simple a comment: "I noticed that you…." or "I really appreciated it when you…" to special time and attention or more concrete things such as a special treat or privilege. For every negative interaction the child experiences, it takes four positive interaction to overcome the effects. Moms and dads need to be very deliberate about maintaining at least a 4:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions every day with every child.

14. RIGHTS – (such as food, clothing, therapy, medical attention, education, and spiritual activities) are NEVER withheld as a consequence. Privileges (such as television, telephone, radio, some activities, free time, visiting with friends, hobbies, walking around the grounds, etc.) may be temporarily withheld as logical consequences and can be powerful incentives for some teenagers.

15. Role Modeling – Most of what kids learn from adults comes from simply observing. All moms and dads are role models to their kids and need to be very conscious of their own behavior. Kids are astute observers of how we treat them, how we relate to each other and how we take care of ourselves.

16. Role Playing/Rehearsing – This technique can be used to practice for an upcoming situation that may be difficult, foreign, or anxiety producing or to re-create a situation that already occurred to experience alternative responses. Examples should include role-playing a situation in which the child was angry and became physically or emotionally abusive; or one in which they demanded or sulked instead of negotiating.

The purpose of the role-play is to practice more acceptable styles of self-expression while still making their intended point. Practicing of this sort will make the desired responses more likely in future similar situations. Role playing can also be used to practice saying something that is difficult or anticipating a variety of responses in order to reduce anxiety.

17. Sequencing – Desirable behaviors can be used as motivating for less desirable ones. For example – "You may watch one hour of approved TV as soon as your book report is satisfactorily completed" or "you may make that phone call as soon as you have finished cleaning up the kitchen." This type of statement helps the Parent avoid power struggles because they did not say, "no." It puts the struggle and control back with the youngster, where it belongs. They can then choose whether or not they will watch TV today and when (within limits). A version of this can be re-stated calmly and compassionately as often as necessary while the child struggles with their choice.

18. Shaping – Shaping behaviors is an approach that breaks skills down into steps and rewards small movements in the right direction. For instance, if you are trying to teach the skill of greeting a visitor, you would ultimately want the child to go through the following series of behaviors: stop what they are doing, stand up, look a the visitor, walk over to them, make eye contact, smile, say "hello," extend their right hand to shake, say "my name is…," etc. To ask for all of that from someone who has never done it before, or who is shy, is asking too much.

So at first they would be rewarded if they momentarily stopped what they were doing when someone new cam in. After a few times they would need to stop what they were doing, stand up and look in the direction of the visitor in order to be praised, and so on. In other words new skills are not all or nothing but are a series of steps to be learned.

19. Substitution – It is never enough to tell children what they can’t do or what behaviors they must stop doing. We must always add what they CAN do instead. Some examples might be ideas such as, "You cannot hit your roommate when you are angry, but you can go for a brisk walk, write in your journal, talk about how you feel, etc." The goal is to replace or substitute an unacceptable behavior with one that is acceptable and still meets the same need. The message should always be, "your needs and feelings are normal and okay and we are here to help you express them in ways that will allow you to be successful and responsible."

20. Teaching Alternatives – A good way to teach children personal responsibility is to spend time brainstorming together about all the possible responses, and predicting the reactions to each response. Instead of telling them what to do and what not to do (which can elicit dependency or oppositional responses); it is useful to spend time exploring different options. For example, instead of saying "don’t say that to your dad" it is better to say something like "that’s one way you could handle it. How do you think he would respond to that?" "Is that the response you want from him?" "How else might you phrase that idea?", etc. If they have trouble coming up with alternatives, you can help out by saying, "Do you want to know what some other people have tried?"

21. Teaching Interactions – Effective parenting requires frequent interactions. Situations, both dramatic and mundane, present themselves continually. Moms and dads, who recognize the golden opportunities in routine living tasks, capitalize upon them by turning them into teaching interactions, build solid relationships, have fewer behavior problems, and receive daily rewards. Problems = teachable moments. Teaching interactions can take several forms such as demonstrating a skill; processing dynamics (such as "have you noticed that when someone doesn’t fulfill their responsibility; others become resentful and peopled become irritable with one another?"); teaching a concept (such as negotiation); or others.

The point is that on-duty parents should always be interacting with children, and the nature of those interactions is teaching; rather than lecturing, punishing, judging, criticizing, doing for, or becoming friends with the youngster. Again, problems = teachable moments.

22. Temporarily Removing One or More Privileges – It is not meaningful or realistic to "remove all privileges." This generally leads to resentment towards the adult and a lack of understanding or personal responsibility. When this technique is chosen, 1) it must be made clear to the teenager exactly which privileges(s) will be removed, 2)why it is being removed, 3) exactly how it will be handled, 4) and for what time period. If there is something they can do to get the privilege(s) reinstated sooner, that should also be clearly explained. Note: this requires more thought and explanation than simply saying, "your grounded."

23. Tolerating Behavior – When establishing a relationship or dealing with multiple behaviors, it may be necessary to tolerate some behaviors temporarily. This is a purposeful, thought-out choice on the part of the parent based upon priorities, values, relationship, age and developmental level of the child involved, current situation, and specific treatment issues. This is not to be confused with passivity, avoiding conflict, letting the youngster "do whatever they want," inconsistently enforcing expectations or other methods that don’t work.

24. Writing Assignments – Education sometimes alters behavior. Examples include researching the long-term effects of smoking or drug usage; talking with teenage parents to learn what sacrifices they have made; learning about a particular culture, religion or disability in order to develop understanding or tolerance, etc. Such an assignment should include considerable thinking, learning, and dialogue with parents, rather than simply writing a certain number of words without much independent thought.

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

Top 10 School Concerns for Students on the Autism Spectrum

Thousands of kids face life with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). These young people have (a) rigid behaviors that are often exhibited as an insistence on a specific order of events, a compulsion to complete what was started, an insistence on rules, a difficulty with transitions, or a fear that is based on a single experience; (b) obsessive interests that may be similar to the interests of other kids, but they are unlike other kids because their restricted interest is the only activity in which they participate; (c) difficulty predicting the future, insisting that things happen in a certain order; (d) an inability to recognize that there are times when rules can be renegotiated, bent, or broken; and (e) a restricted range of interests that can take unusual or eccentric forms (e.g., some may be interested in unusual things, such as washing machines, bus timetables, or subway maps).

In addition, many kids with AS and HFA have additional psychiatric diagnoses (e.g., ADHD) when they are young, and depression or anxiety when they are teenagers and young adults. Even though these children and teens often lack the emotional resources to cope with the demands of the classroom, they do not always demonstrate stress through their tone of voice or body posture. As a result, their inner turmoil may escalate to a point of crisis before parents or teachers recognize their discomfort.

Children with AS and HFA generally have average to above-average intelligence and frequently have good rote memory skills. But they may lack higher-level thinking and comprehension skills and have poor problem-solving skills. Because many can decode words well, their impressive vocabularies may give a false impression that they understand everything they say or read.

Here are 10 of the most common school concerns faced by these “special needs” students:
  1. very focused areas of interest and expertise
  2. problems with social interactions
  3. problems with sensory hyper- or hypo-sensitivity
  4. problems with ritualistic, repetitive, or rigid behavior
  5. problems with motor issues including written production
  6. problems with language
  7. problems with attention, organization, and other areas of executive functioning
  8. problems with anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation
  9. problems with abstract reasoning
  10. need for predictability

Teachers should be aware that changes in behavior (e.g., greater levels of disorganization, inattentiveness, isolation, etc.) may be indicative of anxiety or depression. Because these “special needs” kids typically have difficulty identifying their own emotions, they may not be able to acknowledge that they are sad or depressed. Teachers need to be aware of the signs of agitation to initiate interventions to avert an emotional crisis.

Here are 15 simple strategies to help students on the autism spectrum cope more effectively during the school day:
  1. Use humor to diffuse tension.
  2. Teach cause-and-effect concepts.
  3. Teach anger-control skills.
  4. Teach an appropriate replacement behavior when extinguishing an inappropriate behavior (e.g., teach the child to engage in such appropriate waiting behavior as counting slowly to 10 rather than screaming to gain the teacher’s attention).
  5. Shorten or modify their written assignments and consider allowing them to use a word processor or computer.
  6. Set up consistent routines with clear expectations throughout the day. 
  7. Warn the child of upcoming transitions and try to avoid surprises.
  8.  Provide visual schedules so they know what is happening throughout the school day.
  9. Provide a predictable and safe environment that avoids things that could trigger rage or a meltdown. Because other students can be a trigger for this behavior, it may be wise to limit interaction.
  10. Link their obsessive interest in a single subject to another subject that is being studied in class.
  11. Limit opportunities for obsessive talk about special interests by providing a specific time of day for this behavior. 
  12. Use the child’s fixations as a method to broaden his or her repertoire of interests.
  13. Create a safe place for the child to go when he or she feels a need to regain control. 
  14. Have a few “safe escapes” (e.g., sending the child on a simple errand that removes him or her from difficult situations in a non-punitive manner).
  15. Capitalize on their exceptional memory skills by providing them with opportunities to demonstrate their factual knowledge in class.

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

Social Deficits in Team Sports and PE: Help for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Most kids participate in physical activity with their peers, both within and outside the school setting. Social skills play an essential role in peer interactions.

Children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) often have difficulty playing with peers, because they have difficulty handling reciprocal conversation, making eye contact, playing social games, sharing with others, taking turns, understanding social cues, and simply making friends.

Even though kids on the autism spectrum desire social interaction with others, they have a hard time finding and keeping friends due to their social difficulties that frequently stem from a lack of skill in initiating and responding to various situations.

Other areas of impairment that relate to social interactions in kids with AS and HFA include:
  • problems with social distance (i.e., knowledge of personal space)
  • difficulty understanding unwritten rules, and when they do learn these rules, many apply them rigidly
  • interpreting things literally
  • difficulty adapting to the social demands placed on them in the school setting 
  • intense isolation is often a defining feature of their disorder

Many of these young people describe themselves as feeling depressed or anxious, and a major trigger for feelings of anxiety is having to initiate social interactions.

Researchers have identified other critical social skills that kids with AS and HFA often do not acquire, including: understanding and using body language, learning strategies related to initiating and ending conversations, giving and receiving compliments, and empathizing with others. In addition, kids on the autism spectrum often experience difficulty accepting winning and losing - and handling criticism of performances.

Social settings that involve physical activity (e.g., basketball, physical education class, etc.) often heighten the anxiety levels of kids on the spectrum due to their gross and fine motor skills deficits. The physical ability of these young people is often lower than that of their same-aged peers.

As one teenager with AS stated: 

“People tend to ask me how having Aspergers affected me on a social level. A better question would be how it has not affected my life. Everything from my ability to make and keep friends, to interacting with peers, to playing sports, to understanding my emotions and feelings, to my ability to handle stress and anxiety are all affected. In short, it has affected me in almost every way possible. More specifically, in elementary school, I simply had no idea of what to do or say to my peers, so I kept my distance. In junior high, I hated PE, the teasing was worse and I didn't do well.”

Techniques that parents and teachers can use in the physical education setting and/or team sports include the following:

1.   Pairing children and allowing them to work with a partner in various activities is a successful method for increasing appropriate social interaction.

2.   Sensitive “peer-buddies” may encourage appropriate social interaction. In addition, they can help kids with AS and HFA by clarifying questions or by giving them clues to help them follow instructions that the coach or physical educator gives.

3.   Monitor social interactions closely to ensure that kids on the autism spectrum stay on task and do not dominate the conversation - and to ensure that other children do not intentionally prevent kids with AS/HFA from interacting with the group.

4.   Reduce wait time. Children on the spectrum often display inappropriate behavior during unnecessary wait times. Keeping these young people active can increase physical activity and appropriate behavior.

5.   If a visual cue is not a sufficient adaptation, the physical educator or coach may consider role-playing to teach conversational interactions and other social skills. Many kids with AS and HFA need direct instruction in such social skills as initiating conversation and taking turns.

6.   Role-playing activities also can help teachers and coaches instruct children in appropriate equipment use. Role-playing can simplify the often-complex skills of using equipment appropriately.

7.   “Social Stories” provide a framework for improving social interactions often found in team sports and the physical education setting. An example of an effective story is “how to successfully follow the rules of a game.”

8.   Use visual cues. When an AS or HFA child dominates a conversation or takes control, he is often not aware of the occurrence. Developing a specific sign to share privately with the “special needs” child can serve as a cue to him to allow others to take part in the conversation. The use of nonverbal cues gives the youngster an opportunity to work on such skills as taking turns during conversation and during games and activities.


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 AND QUESTIONS (Dec., 2018 and Jan., 2019)

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.

_________________

Hi Mark! I feel like Im at the end of my rope with my 6-year-old son. He will be 7 in two weeks. He has not been officially diagnosed, but almost all of the AS symptoms have been there for years. Anyway, he cannot be corrected. Any correction sets him into a meltdown, discipline sends him into a meltdown... so many things send him into meltdown m ode! Dur ing these meltdowns, he screams, cries,, hits the wall, says random things that have nothing to do with the situation at hand, etc. He argues with my husband and I about EVERYTHING. We have two other children (5 and 2), and he is constantly aggravating them and bothering them. When we tell him to stop, he snaps back and like I said, cant handle any correction. My husband and I are definite believers in firm, but loving correction and discipline, and do not let our kids call the shots - we teach our kids to be respectful and kind... our sons behavior doesnt reflect what we teach our kids and I feel like Im at my wits end trying to handle him and figure him out. I guess my question to you is: how do I cope with the constant opposition to correction? No form of discipline seems to be effective with him, everything only seems to make him more angry and fuel his emotions. I feel like I cant even focus on my other two children because he takes up so much time in my day, trying to prevent or end his meltdowns.

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

I have a 19 year old son who has a mild form of Aspergers/ ADD mix. He is extremely defiant, stubborn, proud, intelligent, has mild depression, anxiety disorder, and sadly a compulsive liar! He  will NOT accept his Aspergers diagnosis anymore ( diagnosed with ADD in eight grade), which he previously did prior to high school. He has a fit ( young adult tantrum)if I try to talk about it!  He was diagnosed when he was in third grade by a psychologist (upon My request) after being tested based on the DSM clinician manual. The psychologist didn't  believe that he was, but I knew there was so something different about him.

Anyhow, I wanted to give you some history of him so you can help me and my husband know what would be the wisest direction to take  with our son.  Currently, he is at college in WA state where we live( Western WA University). My husband told our son, Micah, during the summer that for him to stay in college, he had to do $5,000 worth of scholarships by winter quarter. This didn't require him to actually win the scholarships, but just putting in the effort! . He hasn't produced one yet! We'll be picking him up from college December 15 and bringing him home permanently if he does not do what his dad asked. On December 15 my husband wants  to see at least 3 completed, and he has until January 1st to complete the other 2.

Questions:
Are we making the right decision regarding bringing him home knowing his temperament and handicaps?  What would be the real reason for not doing the scholarships, because he writes really well. Is there something we aren't seeing as parents, besides obstinance? Also, Why would he originally accept his diagnosis and then deny it?

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

I have a 14 year old son who in the last 12 months has been constantly hard 
work. I have had the school on the phone regularly claiming he has been 
removed from class and placed into internal for being disruptive. My son is 
dyslexic and finds it hard to sit still and concentrate and the school are 
aware of this but he gets no extra help other than counselling once a week 
which I had to request . I live with my partner ( who is not his father 
)and my other son who is 17- they share the same father . But my 14 year 
old has been in more serious trouble in the last 6 months and have the 
police to my house twice in a week period. One incident was a girl accused 
him of grabbing her by the throat but luckily this was witnessed by other 
student who said he was defending him self from getting repeatedly slapped 
and punched around the head by this girl and he only pushed himself away 
from her. The other incident again was by the same girl who accused him of 
having a knife on the school but again this was not a knife but a climbing 
clip which had a nail file and small scissors attached and he was accused 
of waving this around on the bus . I have grounded him to his room and 
permanently taken his mobile phone from him. He doesn't have a game console 
in his room. His behaviour seem to improve at home and at school as we both 
signed a behaviour agreement and he signed up to the local Army Cadets . 
The agreement was designed rather than taking things away from him he 
needed to earn things with good behaviour such as going to youth club, 
watching what he wanted on TV etc. But last week he was caught stealing a 
chocolate bar on CCTV from our village shop along with 2 other boys. I made 
him go down and apologise and offer to work for free until they are happy 
he has repaid his debt. He said that he knew what he was doing was wrong 
but he felt pressured as he was with his friends. The shop have also said 
that they heard this on the CCTV video. The problem with him is its never 
his fault he always has someone else to blame and he never takes 
responsibilities for his own. Again I have constantly told him about the 
consequences to his actions. My partner and I have been together for 7 
years and living together for 5. They use to get on incredibly well but now 
all my partner does is shout at him and I dread coming home as there is 
always an argument and this is causing a rift between us. My partner feels 
that I am to soft with my punishment and need to be harsher with him and 
his punishment. Again I have grounded him to him room and he is only 
allowed down for meal times and to do homework as I cannot take anything 
else away. I had a serious talk with him and advised him the road he is 
heading down is not a good one and to start thinking about his future and 
his behaviour as he is in year 10 at school. Just when I think he learns I 
then today get another message from the school saying he was removed from 
his class again and will spend half the day tomorrow in isolation. I really 
don't know what else to do as his behaviour is affecting everyone in our 
house and my 17 year old son is also getting fed up with how his brother is 
as we live in a small village and everyone know everyone's business. My son 
does not have the best self esteem and really would be grateful for any 
advice you can offer.

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

Dear Mark,
I have just come across one of your YouTube videos and then to your website. I can relate so much to everything I read there.

My husband is 72 years and has multiple mental health conditions;
C-PTSD from childhood emotional and physical abuse from his mother (whom I now suspect was on the spectrum herself) and bullying at school; Combat trauma and military rape trauma (Vietnam); diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.
He also ticks the boxes for OCD and ADHD. Our daughter, 39 years, was diagnosed with ADHD 12 months ago, which I had never suspected but since researching for her condition I realized my husband is very similar.

My youngest son, 49 years, from my 1st marriage, I always knew was different from toddler age and have always said he was Asperger's from the time I first became aware of the condition. He is not diagnosed and has many life problems.

My daughter is not diagnosed Asperger's either but she rocked as an infant and very early in her life I was removing labels from her clothing and she now has many sensory issues.

So I have been aware of Asperger's but never able to find much information about long term relationships until less than six weeks ago. And even less information about Asperger's in aging.

In the past two years my husband's behavior has deteriorated. He has become financially abusive although he provides me with TWO late model cars for my exclusive use.
His way of showing love? He also tells me that my health care is not his concern. I have no health insurance.

A year ago I went to stay in my eldest son's house 700 Kilometers distant. My son works away and I knew nobody in the town but I stayed away for seven months before I could face returning and I now I return for short periods to the marital home. I guess I have compassion fatigue, burnout, whatever. I now have a very short fuse, literally screaming with rage, where I have always been very repressed in my life since childhood.

I was always attributing my husband's behavior to PTSD and allowing for that,  although it's been a lonely 40 plus years. I have never been included in my husband's mental health care and I am very angry with his longtime psychiatrist and psychologist.

In view of my husband's multiple problems and his age, do you think there is any chance of improvement in our relationship. He has always stonewalled me, no resolution ever.
We just terminated 6 sessions of "Couples Counselling" which was a total waste of time and money. My husband still stonewalled although he did agree to counselling for the first time ever. Probably a result of my prolonged absence.

I know this is a long screed any probably disjointed but my husband's case is complicated and his mental health people aren't listening to me.

I hope you can give me some advice or suggestions of links relating to aging Asperger's. I am in Australia.
Mentally and emotionally I am not in a good place.

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

Been dating a AS man for a little over a year now. I was reluctant at first to go on a date as I was previously married for 23 years to a   narcissist.
This is my second relationship.
I went and it has been the most amazing experience ever until he had a melt down/ shut down 2 months ago.
My therapist has diagnosed him with AS without seeing him. I’ve done my research and have to agree she is 100 percent spot on.

He is a executive chef. Was very attentive to me, always saying he loves  me, loves affection. Was very happy. Even bought each other promise rings which haven’t been exchanged.

So the melt down happened due to change of restaurants. The stress leading up and belief to still continue lead to he’s slow withdrawal, then complete shut down. Telling me he hates this situation and he doesn’t have time and won’t be able to make me happy.

I was completely shocked! It literally went from a 10 ( amazing ) to 0 ( nothing ). I couldn’t comprehend so I wanted a meeting seeking closure. All along desperately hoping he would snap out of it, as I care for him so much. Took me 3 weeks for him to finally commit to a short meet up that I was seeking.

When we met, he was open and loving and told me he thought about me every day and that he loves me but there is so much pressure at the moment. We kissed, held hands and he walked me to my car and asked if he could see me next week. I agreed.

Next day slowly goes back to calling me and things seemed promising. Five days later gets the news he’s dad has cancer. Understandably he goes back to slowly shutting down.

Meanwhile I’m slowly pushing to see him again. We agreed on a day ( which was rescheduled a few times due to work ) making my way there little after midday and he calls me. Saying he won’t be able to make it as the menus haven’t finished yet. I was literally 8 minutes away from the restaurant so decided to go there.
Not knowing he is a AS at this point and they don’t like surprises it didn’t go down to well. He was very rude. Not like him at all, besides the previous melt down.

I left and later that night I sent him a text sadly ending the relationship. I was so upset. A week later I reached out to him via text and basically said - don’t know what’s happened to us, no communication..... etc I know we have a beautiful connection if you are still in love with me, can we do dinner this week.

He replied right away and said ... the next restaurant has been hard on him and thanked me for the message and he will call me tomorrow. He did call, saying he would love to do dinner and if we can do the following week and this week is crazy, short staff. I agreed to do the following Wednesday.

So we slowly again start talking and texting. He said he was looking forward to dinner and so was I. Leading up to the dinner he seemed to get little distant, I just put it to weekend work always more extreme. Monday I asked him to call me when he is free to chat, calls and starts to indicate how busy they are going to be and I asked about Wednesday and he said he doesn’t think so.

To be honest I lost my cool. He’s like ‘what do you want me to do’ ! I can’t remember what words where said but he seemed to brush the whole dinner and if you still love me... to him accepting as the ‘ proper thing to do ‘ and ‘ something about being friends.

I was mortified! Playing hot and cold and twisting things and I was so confused. To my anger and no control for the first time started to send hurtful texts. Not rude but hurtful in a sense things I’ve always wanted to say but didn’t.

He called me but I didn’t answer. Called me a few hours later and I took he’s call. He couldn’t answer if he loved me, and all of a sudden ‘ how is it going to work’ he would say. Which made me more angry. I asked him during the first withdrawal if he wanted me to walk and he said no! All I know is he was sending very conflicting messages to me.

Next day had therepy and she diagnosed him with AS without seeing him. Your book is all him! I felt even worse now to know that the pressure made him completely change.
I called him to apologise and he confessed that he made the wrong decision leaving the first restaurant ( which I advised him not too ) and is working long hours. Has a lot of regret and is leaving the whole industry soon.. which is a big blow to him and he’s reputation. Having issues with he’s ex wife and is moving.
He stated I don’t know what’s in he’s head, he has so much going on. He asked if we can still be friends, to contact him once a week. He cares for me and let’s see what happens in the new year.

Help me...... please. Is he still playing games? Should I not contact him at all? Last phone call was 4 days ago. Should I tell him about AS? I absolutely love this guy so much! He was amazing and still love him regardless these hurtful times.
Does he want me in he’s life or no? I was so clear with the dinner text —— if you are still in love with me .... and he replied and agreed 

Just love him and want him back in my life. He is 36 years old with 2 boys and I’m 42 with 3 kids. He is Australia, Christain and I’m Muslim Lebanese. We used to met up once a week. Talk and text everyday numerous times. Been to dinners, lunches and he has cooked for me. We have even talked about marriage.

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

Hi Mark Hutten
I am married to a man who I believe fits the profile of a HFA or Aspergers (he has never been medically diagnosed.) There was no way, when we married, for me to know this. Although there were signs, I just asssumed he was a well spoken silent type. I am 64 and he is now 75 yrs old. It has gotten to the point that my Mental and Physical health are at risk. We have a daughter together, who is Down Syndrome.  She is a thirty yr old adult now and she still lives with us and it is just us three.  She doesnt function highly and she is non verbal. I don't have any family near me for support. So I have basically been trying to wing it all these years. I am retired now for 10 years but almost suffered a nervous breakdown, when I was working, trying to Supervise in a stressful job, and maintain self, marriage, daughter and home.  It all became quite a bit. Now I feel my health at risk Heart attack/Stroke so I feel I have no orher chioce but to end this onesided relationship.  I Recently downloaded your ebook after viewing some of your online videos , but I have not completed the book. I dont know that I can pull anymore out of me for his sake. He is not a violent person at all and although there are no outward signs of anger, there seems to be some passive aggression. I do care about him dearly but not to the detriment of my life. I would like to know if we could do an online or phone conference etc. in order to speak with you directly, since you have such a vast knowledge, and background on these matters. I need your expert help . Will you help me please . This is not just for me but our daughter also.

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

I think my son has aspergers. Parenting him is exhausting and I feel angry all the time. I hate feeling this way because I know he can't help it.

I am trying really hard to teach him social boundaries and to take him out to experience the world so that he can get used to it and live in it happily. But it's so hard. I believe my husband also has aspergers and this is also becoming very taxing on me.

My main concerns for my son are teaching him how to play with others, sharing, turn taking, not poking his fingers into faces, not waving toys or objects into faces, not roughhousing inappropriately, etc. Also teaching him to play gently with his 10 month old brother. Teaching him to not scream at me constantly and demand things constantly, everything has to be on his schedule and his way.

Also teaching him how to deal with his emotions. He is so precise and when something isn't lining up or fitting as he'd like he screams and throws and has such tantrums. I'm so stressed when he's playing, waiting for the explosion, it's daily and often many times during the day. He rarely plays by himself, everything involves me or my husband and Leo gets so worked up if I say no I can't play right now and he'll just pester me insistently until I feel like I'm going to explode. He refuses to do anything I suggest him to play, like drawing or playing with his bubbles (things he likes to do), he'll only play what's his "idea", and if he does play something I suggest once he realises I've suggested it and it wasn't his idea he'll start yelling and have a tantrum and throw the toy and pester me with demands again. 

He takes up all my time and I feel like I'm either appeasing him, meeting his requests, calming him, talking through his feelings and agreeing to schedules and negotiating and so on.

I have a 12 year old and a 10 month old and they both get hardly any attention.

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

Mark,
I’ve emailed you a couple of times in the past and I’ve been thankful for your assistance. I have worked to implement your strategies for dealing with high functioning children but I have a different opinion that I’m hoping you might be able to show me where I am wrong.  My intent is not to debate with you, I am earnestly seeking guidance from you as a professional.
Throughout my son’s childhood we have use debit and credit as a form of punishment and reward because that seems to be what the manner he understands the most. As the same re-current behaviors would happen I would elongate the punishment because frankly I’m frustrated by dealing with the same thing over and over and having the exact same result which carried the same weighted punishment.
In the last year the playing field has been enlarged and our son was given a car. The stipulation of having the car were: that he were to maintain good grades, work, stay out of trouble.  He is having trouble with two out of the three at any given time. He has not worked in months, and he has been in trouble over the last four months which have involved both drinking and drug use.  We have behaviors in  our home that are simply are Simply nonnegotiable, drinking and drugs being two of them. The first punishment for being caught while using and driving under the influence was to lose his car for a couple weeks and that the threat of ultimately losing the car permanently if the behavior continued.  As the situations have happened again, and then once or twice more, the words that I had in the back of my head were of you stating that keeping punishments short and consistent is important. That sometimes if the punishment is too severe or strict that the child might throw up their hands in defeat.  However when dealing with issues like drugs and alcohol and the dangers that come with drug use, and driving under the influence etc. I believe that those carry more weight than typical cause-and-effect punishment within the home. And I wonder if that throwing up of the hands might be the start of a path to change. But I’m not sure so I wanted to find out it’s in situations like this, you still believe that short consistent punishments would still apply? We are very involved parents and we are struggling and trying very hard to find the right path to follow.

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

Dear Dr Mark,
I wish I had found your information years ago.  My sister, likely not knowing what to do with my niece sent her to my elderly parents for an “extended visit”.  This taught our niece that she had several safety nets and she did the classic things, played video games day and night, made rude demands for everything she wanted. 
It almost killed my parents.  I sent her home to her mother after 2 years of this.   Next she was sent back immediately to her other grandparents  and when they realized the problems they sent her back to my parents!   All kinds of neighbors had many ideas such as our niece going to the military.  Not really a choice for a girl who wouldn’t shave, get a haircut or bathe.  
I couldn’t take her because that would be a straight line to my parents. 
I took away my nieces safety net and sent her back home again.  Her mother immediately threw her out and our niece tried to call every family member she knew. 
She was taken to a homeless shelter.  I was called by police. 
She learned in a very hard way to take responsibility and get job training.  I got her into a job corps school.  She now had a good job as an IT technician on the other side of the country. 
She is still selfish and cruel to us and of course I will never be thanked for anything as this is perceived as all my fault.  She isn’t my child but I saw that she is younger and will outlive us so she needed to support herself! 
I hope that my hard choice will help others!  Thanks for listening

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

I have inherited my grandson, who has High Functioning Autism.  He does not function in a public school setting.  I opted to work from home so that I can homeschool him.  He careens through multiple meltdowns daily.  And he is largely non-cooperative (80% of the time)….  he either simply ignores me or flies into a meltdown at the slightest hint of redirection.  He is verbally gifted - I think it is one of his preferred topics.  He is unique and interesting.  He is also manipulative and socially clueless at the same time.   I raised 3 children in the 1990-2000s, using the Positive Discipline Approach (Jane Nelson, Ed.D. & H. Stephen Glenn, Ph.D.).   I worked administration in public education for 7 years, hands-on in the In-School Suspension room.  Before that, I spent another 10 years as administration overseeing  an assisted living center that specialized in Alzheimer's disease.  Working with individuals with behavioral challenges is not new to me.  But HELP!  Oh Dear!  His meltdowns are huge - loud - physically violent - and long in duration.  The typical meltdown is anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes!  A "good" day includes 1-2 meltdowns - - a bad day can have back-to-back meltdowns all day long.   Nearly all of his meltdowns are related to not being able to maneuver through his desired activities.  Transitions are difficult.  The remainder of his meltdowns are triggered by accidentally playing too rough or too close to a peer or adult resulting in redirection or peer chastising. 

We just had an appointment with his developmental specialist today and she says what she see is typical Autism....  she says she thinks I am doing a good job....  but I NEED some techniques on how to handle meltdowns ON THE SPECTRUM.  What I do automatically (from my years of experience) does not work.  He does not comprehend social boundaries nor expected social behavior.  He does not understand that others hurt when he strikes them.... he feels remorse but rarely due to understanding the way others feel around him - but more so in his failure to meet a goal of "no hitting today".  So typical CBT-type discipline and redirection does not work. 

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

I am a parent of an 11 year old Asperger's son and I must admit I am very new to this as  a parent and also as a educator in terms of autism/aspergers. I am a also university professor with many of these students in my program at Bowie State University here in MD.

I just purchased and downloaded your book "Parenting Children and Teens with High Functioning Autism" and found you to be a very necessary and important resource, so thank you for all you have done and do. Yesterday, my wife and I  had an IEP meeting at his school, followed by a meeting with his psychiatrist and I left both feeling worse than when we went in.

He currently attend public school here in Prince George's County, MD (just outside DC), at a lottery/speciality school for the visual and performing arts. He is currently in the 6th grade but is struggling emotionally, socially and I see his esteem and spirit being lowered day by bay.

I must admit, I woke up as I could not sleep and I was extremely depressed this morning; feeling very defeated, frustrated and even worried in terms of my son and his future. I know these are emotions we all go through but I woke up at 5 am this morning, and just started searching fro help, I  found your website.

After watching your videos, I told myself, No! Get up and do whatever you can for Malcolm (my son) and for all children and their parents both in this school system and even as a university professor. I am not giving up and was so blessed to come across you, your videos, books and resources. here are the crux of my questions.

When we met with the psychiatrist yesterday, she seem to come to the recommendation that we consider removing him from his current school (if or since they may not be able or be willing to provide him with  the services he need) and into a private school for children only have autism/Aspergers. I have mixed feelings about this and truly wanted a second opinion.

Number one, we simply cannot afford this and I don't think that we've explore options at his current school in terms of his IEP and accommodations. Number two, I hate moving from his school that he has attended since kindergarten. He is actually on the honor roll and is enjoying and thriving in the creative arts areas and especially in terms of the visual arts. I also don't want him to continue to sufferI want to make the best decisions for him in terms of his future specially as he prepares going to high school and prepare for life and other critical and skills.

She also recommended we find a Advocate to help us and I'm not sure that would where to begin with this here in our area in Maryland. I'm still on break going back next week to teachAt my universityI will be off the next few days if you're able to chat by phone or perhaps by email or Skype. I'm sure you're busy and appreciate and respect your time I look so much to hear from you. My number is below and if we need to do Skype, Facetime,  Zoom or even Google chat let me know.

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

I am following your Facebook page and I notice people would ask questions, but I didn't know if this is how they get a reply.  I need directions on my son who is 11. He was tested at 7 yrs. They said he was high functioning autism and had executive function disorder as well. They've mention getting him tested again, but it cost to much. So, with asperger and high functioning autism, is it normal for them to get tired when their is not enough stimulation from computer and tv? If we do school or drive in the car, he gets tired and falls asleep. Also, what are good activities for kids with autism? He gets sick and wants to leave as soon as we try anything (parkour, piano, karate). It's like he can't stand to much stimulation in busy surrounding but falls asleep if theirs not enough. Thank for any input!

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

I have downloaded your ebook as we have our 17 grandson living with us now. He is a pleasure to have most of the time and has become more and more independent since being with us fir the last 14 months. He has held down a couple of part time jobs and is doing well on his college course. However there is an area he is struggling with, he has to attend English lessons as he had failed the English exam twice and also a resit. He can’t see the point of attending these lessons as he feels stupid and it makes him very  anxious. This causes some issues as he isn’t in the right frame of mind and often uses inappropriate language. Not aimed at anyone but inappropriate to use in a classroom. An example is that today he was asked to describe his thoughts about gangs and he used a word which he thought was ok but is a very offensive word to use in the classroom situation. He was asked to leave the room and now he can’t understand why as it was his thoughts and not used to attack anyone. He did leave but obviously his language is a big issue with the college. I’m hoping that this programme will help and I find some ideas of how to teach him to control the language he uses, to be aware if his audience and to use more appropriate words.
He knows that this could effect his other course which he is thoroughly enjoying and is a highly thought if member if the class. He is gaining distinctions and proving to be a great member of the group. We are so worried that if he can’t get along in the English that he will have to
leave college. I think this will have a massive effect in his self esteem which is already very low.

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

I am a speech pathologist working with many autistic kids across the spectrum. I have a question concerning one specific student.

"Max" is a junior in high school. He has been on the track team, received the Eagle Scout designation in Boy Scouts, yet he is a loud, demanding, socially volatile young man whose parents are at a loss to know what to do with him. I have been working with him for 3 years on social skills and over all we have made some but not enough progress. He enters every classroom and therapy session with his iPad up and running insisting he include videos about Marvel or DC super heroes and tries to overtake anything going on. "Max" is in all regular classes, makes all A's and B's, and his parent's are insisting that he go to college. latest idea is to do voice training to be a professional ?voice> for new super heroes to be created for movies.  He has had a girlfriend (Life skills student) at school but considers himself a "ladies' man" and loves to flirt. The girlfriend got upset and dropped him. The girls he flirts with are talking with him to be nice (they regard him as "special needs"). When the "girlfriend dropped" him, he really didn't care.

How can I help this guy? I feel that we have a good relationship as far as he coming to see me and at least discussing topics between him needing to relate everything through the eyes and voices of super heroes.His parents both work, and their lives revolve around "Max", yet they are over trying anything new at home because of the "fall out" they get from him. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

How Children on the Autism Spectrum Can Learn Self-Help Skills

Our top 10 picks on products to help children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's to learn how to regulate their out-of-control emotions and behavior - on their own!
































Parenting Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum: Double Trouble?

Most experts do a great job of presenting the problems children with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autistic (HFA) face during their adolescent years, yet they offer few solutions. The years from twelve to seventeen may be the saddest and most difficult time for these young people. 

This is not true of every adolescent on the autism spectrum, though. Some do extremely well. Their indifference to what others think makes them indifferent to the intense peer pressure of adolescence. They can flourish within their specialty, and become accomplished musicians, historians, mathematicians, etc.

"Special needs" adolescents typically become more isolated socially during a period when they crave friendships and inclusion more than ever. In the cruel world of middle and high school, AS and HFA teens often face rejection, isolation and bullying. Meanwhile, school becomes more demanding in a period when they have to compete for college placements. Issues of sexuality and a desire for independence from moms and dads create even more problems.

Common issues to consider include:

Criminal Activity— Pain, loneliness and despair can lead to problems with drugs, sex and alcohol. In their overwhelming need to fit in and make friends, some AS and HFA teens fall into the wrong high school crowds. Adolescents who abuse substances will use the AS or HFA teen’s naivety to get him to buy or carry drugs and liquor for their group. If cornered by a police officer, a teenager on the autism spectrum usually does not have the skill to answer the officer’s questions appropriately. For example, if the officer says, “Do you know how fast you were driving?” a teenager on the spectrum may reply bluntly, “Yes,” and thus appears to be a smart-aleck.

Depression and Acting Out— The teenage years are more emotional for everyone. Yet the hormonal changes of adolescence coupled with the problems outlined above might mean that an AS or HFA adolescent becomes emotionally overwhelmed. Childish tantrums reappear. Boys often act up by physically attacking a teacher or peer. They may experience “melt down” at home after another day filled with harassment, bullying, pressure to conform, and rejection. Suicide and drug addiction become real concerns, as the adolescent now has access to cars, drugs and alcohol. The “saddest and most difficult time” can overwhelm not only the AS or HFA adolescent, but also his family.

Inability to “Be an Adolescent”— An AS or HFA teen typically does not care about adolescent fads and clothing styles - concerns that obsess everyone else in their peer group. These teens may neglect their hygiene and wear the same haircut for years. Boys forget to shave; girls don't comb their hair or follow fashion. Some remain stuck in a grammar school clothes and hobbies such as unicorns and Legos, instead of moving into adolescent concerns like Facebook and dating. Boys on the autism spectrum often have no motor coordination. This leaves them out of high school sports, typically an essential area of male bonding and friendship.

School Failures— Many AS and HFA teens with their average to above average IQs can sail through grammar school, and yet hit academic problems in middle and high school. They now have to deal with four to six teachers, instead of just one. The likelihood that at least one teacher will be indifferent or even hostile toward making special accommodations is certain. The AS or HFA student now has to face a series of classroom environments with different classmates, odors, distractions and noise levels, and sets of expectations. AS and HFA teens with their distractibility and difficulty organizing materials face similar academic problems as students with Attention Deficit Disorder. A high school term paper or a science fair project becomes impossible to manage because no one has taught the AS or HFA teen how to break it up into a series of small steps. Even though the academic stress on the adolescent can be overwhelming, school administrators may be reluctant to enroll him in special education at this late point in his educational career.

Sexual Issues— Adolescents on the spectrum are not privy to street knowledge of sex and dating behaviors that other adolescents pick up naturally. This leaves them naive and clueless about sex. Boys can become obsessed with Internet pornography and masturbation. They can be overly forward with a girl who is merely being kind, and then later face charges of stalking her. An AS or HFA adolescent may have a fully developed female body and no understanding of flirtation and non-verbal sexual cues, making her susceptible to harassment and even date rape.

Social Isolation— In the teenage world where everyone feels insecure, adolescents that appear different are voted off the island. AS and HFA teens often have odd mannerisms. One adolescent talks in a loud un-modulated voice, avoids eye contact, interrupts others, violates their physical space, and steers the conversation to her favorite odd topic. Another appears willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because he is unable to share his thoughts and feelings with others. Isolated and alone, many are too anxious to initiate social contact. Many \ adolescents on the spectrum are stiff and rule-oriented and act like little adults, which is a deadly trait in any teenage popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for an AS or HFA teenager, even though she wants it more than anything else. One girl ended a close friendship with this note: “Your expectations exhaust me. The phone calls, the girl talks, all your feelings...it's just too much for me. I can't take it anymore.”

How Moms and Dads Can Help Adolescents with Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism—

Moms and dads of adolescents on the autism spectrum face many problems that others moms and dads do not. Time is running out for teaching their “special needs” teenager how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, “There's so little time, and so much left to do.” They face issues such as vocational training, teaching independent living, and providing lifetime financial support for their child, if necessary.

Meanwhile, their immature teen is often indifferent or even hostile to these concerns. Once an AS or HFA child enters the teen years, his mom and dad have to use reasoning and negotiation, instead of providing direction. Like all teenagers, he is harder to control and less likely to listen to his moms and dads. He may be tired of parents nagging him to look people in their 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.

Here are some ways that moms and dads of adolescents with AS and HFA deal with common issues:

Appearance— Because of their sensitivity to textures, AS and HFA teens 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 help you choose clothes that will enable your child to blend in with other adolescents. Insist that your adolescent practices good hygiene every day.

Driving— Most AS 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, they may have trouble dealing with unexpected situations on the road. Have your child carry a cell phone and give him a printed card that explains AS and HFA. Teach him to give the card to a police officer and phone you in a crisis.

Drugs and Alcohol— Alcoholic drinks or drugs often react adversely with your child’s prescriptions, so you have to teach your child about these dangers. Since most AS and HFA teens are very rule-oriented, try emphasizing that drugs and alcohol are illegal.

Life after High School— If your adolescent is college-bound, you have to prepare her for the experience. You can plan a trip to the campus, and show her where to buy books, where the health services are, and so forth. Teach her how to handle everyday problems such as “Where do you buy deodorant?” “What if you oversleep and miss a class?” As you prepare your adolescent for the workforce, keep in mind that people with AS and HFA 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, these young people are often able to work at high levels as accountants, research scientists, computer programmers, and so forth.

School— If the pressure on your child to conform is too great, if she faces constant harassment and rejection, if your principal and teaching staff do not cooperate with you, it may be time to find another school. The adolescent years are often when many moms and dads decide it is in their child’s best interest to enter special education or a therapeutic boarding school. In a boarding school, professionals guide your child academically and socially on a twenty-four-hour basis. They do not allow boys to isolate themselves with video games - everyone has to participate in social activities. A counseling staff helps with college placements. If you decide to work within a public-school system, you may have to hire a lawyer to get needed services. Your child should have an Individual Education Plan 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 college board examinations. Teach your child to find a “safe place” at school where he can share emotions with a trusted professional. The safe place may be the offices of school nurse, guidance counselor, or psychologist.

Sex— You absolutely have to teach your “special needs” 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 child to tell you about inappropriate touching by others. Your child 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.

Social Life— When she was little, you could arrange play dates for her. Now you have to teach her how to initiate contact with others. Teach her how to leave phone messages and arrange details of social contacts such as transportation. Encourage her to join high school clubs like chess or drama. It is not necessary to tell her peers that she has a disorder - let her do that herself. Many adolescents on the autism spectrum are enjoying each other's company through Internet chat rooms, forums and message boards.

Summer and Part-Time Jobs— Most of these jobs - 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 the disorder. Some AS and HFA teens 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.

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

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.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content