Teens On the Autism Spectrum Who Have Serious Problems Getting Up In the Morning

Hello Mark,

I recently purchased your eBook "Launching Adult Children w/Aspergers" ...It's nicely laid out/a very useful tool indeed! I do have a question for you:

My son and I had a heart-to-heart conversation last night, as a result of getting into an altercation with him one morning. I'm beginning to understand his thoughts/ways more and more. I realize that 'patience' is a must and as you stated it is important to keep one thing at the fore-front of our minds...."Everyone has good intentions!" These kids do not do things to deliberately send our emotions reeling/upset us. With all of that said, my son has great difficulty getting up on time in the morning and as a result he doesn't get to eat breakfast and prepare his lunch before departing. As a Mom I get upset w/him, concerned about his well-being; he is quite thin to begin with. He told me last night that he doesn't want any help from us that he has to be the one to solve his own problem. I was actually shocked w/what he said, however, my concern is that he will not get up for school or will miss the bus, which would not make for a good morning/I would end up being late for work. I will obviously respect his wishes/not interfere, however, my intuition tells me that he will not wake up on time and actually be missing the bus. What course of action would I then take, assuming his best efforts result in failure? I do not want to get confrontational with my son and do more harm. How can I motivate him to get up if he doesn't wake up with the alarm clock going off...??

Do I take away his IPOD/DS Game/TV privileges for an indefinite period of time...? Appreciate your thoughts on the matter. Thanks! L.

__________

Hi L.

Re: Do I take away his IPOD/DS Game/TV privileges for an indefinite period of time...?

Before we have the conversation about consequences for non-compliance as it relates to waking up, let’s look at some things that may help other than disciplinary strategies. “Having difficulty getting up in the morning” is more of a “life-style” and “biological” issue rather than a “behavioral problem” per say.

Before adolescence, circadian rhythms (i.e., the biological and psychological processes that follow the cycle of a 24-hour internal clock) direct most children to naturally fall asleep around 8 or 9 p.m. But puberty changes a teenager's internal clock, delaying the time he starts feeling sleepy (often until 11 p.m. or later). Staying up late to study or socialize or surf the Internet can disrupt a teenager's internal clock even more.

Most teenagers and young adults need about nine hours of sleep a night — and sometimes more — to maintain optimal daytime alertness. But few teenagers actually get that much sleep due to part-time jobs, homework, extra-curricular activities, social demands, early-morning classes, and so on.

Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What time does his bus/ride come or how long does it take to walk to school?
  • What privilege would he like to earn when he is able to get up on time on his own for the week (e.g., an hour added to curfew on Friday or Saturday night)?
  • What is the last possible moment he can get up and still make it to school on time?
  • What consequence should you impose if you have to wake him up at that last possible moment (e.g., no computer for that day)?
  • How much time does he need to get ready?

The answers to these questions should help the two of you come up with a reasonable “lights out” time.

Other points to consider:

1. Help him avoid “all-nighters”. Don't wait until the night before a big test to study. Cutting back on sleep the night before a test may mean you perform worse than you would if you'd studied less but got more sleep.

2. Create the right sleeping environment. Studies show that teenagers sleep best in a dark room that is slightly on the cool side.

3. Discourage him from drinking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon and evening.

4. Don't let him sleep in for more than a total of two hours over the entire weekend.

5. Don't let him nap too much. Naps of more than 30 minutes during the day may keep you from falling asleep later.

6. Encourage regular exercise. Try not to exercise right before bed, though, as it can rev you up and make it harder to fall asleep. Finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime.

7. Have him turn off all electronic equipment (including phones) at least an hour before bed.

8. Help your son learn relaxation techniques in order to unwind and signal the body that it's time for sleep. Encourage him to practice creative visualization and progressive relaxation techniques. Putting thoughts and worries in a journal often helps to put problems to rest, enabling the child to sleep.

9. If your son gets into the habit of turning his alarm off and going back to sleep, place his alarm clock further away from his bed so that he has to get up to turn it off.

10. Know that morning sunshine can help to reset the internal clock. So when the alarm goes off, consider opening the blinds/curtains. Bright light in the morning signals the body that it's time to get going.

11. Help him to relax his mind. Avoid violent, scary, or action movies or television shows right before bed — anything that might set your mind and heart racing. Reading books with involved or active plots may also keep you from falling or staying asleep.

12. Set a regular bedtime. Going to bed at the same time each night signals to your body that it's time to sleep. Waking up at the same time every day can also help establish sleep patterns. So try to stick as closely as you can to your sleep schedule even on weekends.

13. Simulate the dawn by opening the curtains and turning on the lights an hour before your teen needs to get up.

14. The alarm clock should not double as your son’s radio – and it should not play all night long. This will desensitize him to the noise and make it harder to wake up to an actual ‘alarm’.

15. Help him unwind by keeping the lights low. Light signals the brain that it's time to wake up. Staying away from bright lights (including computer screens), as well as meditating or listening to soothing music, can help your body relax.

16. Encourage him to avoid TV, computer and telephone at least one hour before he goes to bed.

17. Make getting up in the morning something your son ‘wants’ to do – or at least something he doesn’t dread (e.g., a simple ‘good morning’; his favorite breakfast food, preferably something that has a pleasant smell to it that permeates the house like fresh backed cinnamon buns; smiles from you, etc.).

18. Talk with your son about his sleep/awake schedule and level of tiredness. Discuss how much time he spends in extracurricular activities and after-school jobs.

19. Help him make adjustments to his commitments (e.g., homework) so he can get his sleep needs met.

20. Consider a safe supplement to help you son fall asleep (e.g., melatonin).

In some cases, an inability to get up on time for school – or excessive daytime sleepiness during school hours – can be a sign of something more than a problem with your teenager's internal clock. Other problems can include:

1. Depression. Sleeping too much or too little is a common sign of depression.

2. Insomnia or biological clock disturbance. If your son has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, he is likely to struggle with daytime sleepiness.

3. Medication side effects. Many medications can affect sleep (e.g., over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, prescription medications to treat depression and ADHD).

4. Narcolepsy. Sudden daytime sleep, usually for only short periods of time, can be a sign of narcolepsy. Narcoleptic episodes can occur at any time – even in the middle of a conversation. Sudden attacks of muscle weakness in response to emotions such as laughter, anger or surprise are possible, too.

5. Obstructive sleep apnea. When throat muscles fall slack during sleep, they stop air from moving freely through the nose and windpipe. This can interfere with breathing and disrupt sleep.

6. Restless legs syndrome. This condition causes a "creepy" sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move the legs, usually shortly after going to bed. The discomfort and movement can interrupt sleep.

I hope you’ll find a least a couple tips here that will help. Good luck!


==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and HFA Teens


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… He could make his lunch the night before to save time in the morning.
•    Anonymous said… I asked my son what time he is setting his alarm for and that if he's not up I will wake him. He agreed to that. So far he has been getting himself up though.
•    Anonymous said… I feel like maybe you could make a deal with him, that if he doesn't get up to the alarm, then you can/will wake him up. Leave the alarm running to show him he missed it.
That's what works for me and my son. He wants independence and gets mad at me because he thinks Im nagging him. But I then follow up with showing g why Im reacting the way I am. And because he is confronted and can see Im doing this, because this. He can understand me, and MEET me with understanding. And slowly from there he learns that task of independence. Im his fall back. But he can do it on his own. By the way. He is 5yrs old. Not sure if that's helpful.
•    Anonymous said… I find that once I let go of my fears that he would fail, and wanting to help him since that is my job as his mom, he really surprised me and is very good at being self sufficient. Natural consequences of getting in trouble at school when he is late are best. I do find that I have to be completely hands off though, or he can blame me for anything that does not go to plan.
•    Anonymous said… Just want to say good luck. I didn't see how old your son was, I hope it works for him (and you) I agree with Anna, let him try it and if he has trouble help him. My aspie son is now 27. Graduated college has a job and bought his own home last year. While there are still every day struggles. Your son seems to be wanting to try things on his own. Your story could have been mine all those years ago.
•    Anonymous said… Love all the insight this page has given me!!  ❤
•    Anonymous said… My daughter set her alarm clock on the farthest side of the room from her bed on purpose so she would have to get out of bed and walk a few steps to turn it off. As a result she is super punctual getting up in the mornings. She is 13. Another thing that could help is to get him a fitbit and use the silent alarm function - it will vibrate on his wrist at the selected time and help wake him up gently. I always hated beeping alarms but this gentle vibration on my wrist is just enough to bring me out of sleep and does not assault my ears so I can get up in a much better mood!
•    Anonymous said… My suggestion is to practice getting up (not in the morning - as a trial run). Then video it and play it back to him once you've got it down. He needs a picture in his mind of what getting up in the morning looks like. Once that picture is planted in his head, that will be the way he sees it and acts on it. We did this with my son and it worked.

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"Best-of" Tips for Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum


Here is a concise, cut-to-the-chase list of perhaps the most important (yet simple) strategies for parents of kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS):

1. A child with HFA or AS will act differently from your other kids. You will have to learn new and different ways to help and teach this youngster.

2. Adolescents are usually able to manage stressors better, and behavior problems at school may be less of an issue. However the fatigue that comes from this control may lead to the adolescent 'falling apart' at home.

3. As other children become more sophisticated with interpersonal relationships, it can become more difficult for a student with HFA or AS to be involved in friendship groups, although they may be able to participate well in special interest groups such as science groups. When managing social interactions is difficult, some solitary time can be needed and should not be seen as a 'problem'.

4. HFA is just a label …it’s not a death sentence.

5. Be "concrete" with your child. Tell him that the inappropriate thing he wants or the unacceptable behavior that he is demonstrating is not allowed. He needs to follow structured, consistent rules which will assist in modifying his behavior. Don't give in to raising your voice and getting angry with your "special needs" child - no matter how hard it is not to.

6. Don't be ashamed and hide a child’s disability, be it high functioning autism or low-functioning autism. Most people know someone or love someone with the disorder, and speaking openly about it may help in finding others who need and want to talk about the conditions and their children.

7. Help educators to think about the best way to teach your youngster and make changes to the classroom that will help his learning experience. Teachers will also want to know about the ways that you have learned to manage your youngster's behavior and any special routines or interests that your youngster has and how he communicates.

8. Enlist the help of your Higher Power (I call him God).

9. Establish a daily routine. Consistent behaviors and expectations will help reduce your child's negative behaviors. Daily routine creates stability and comfort for children on the autism spectrum. Also, it helps to lessen their need to make demands on you. When you establish a routine, you eliminate some of the situations in which your child becomes demanding (e.g., by building in regular times to give him attention, he may have less need to show aggression to try to get your attention).

10. Fatigue after school is often a problem, and facing up to homework at the end of the day can be very stressful. You may need to negotiate with educators about the learning objectives of homework and what your youngster actually needs to do. Since many children with the disorder can focus well in some classes (especially those that are built on 'facts'), they may not need the repetitive learning tasks that other children need for some subjects.

11. Find a support group. There are many organizations that want to help mothers/fathers with special needs kids. However, moms and dads can also research the community for what is best for children who are on the Autism Spectrum.

12. Get to know your youngster’s teacher and meet regularly, along with your youngster, to talk about any issues that arise.

13. If anxiety is so overwhelming that it is interfering with your youngster's ability to manage normal activities, medication may be helpful. You will need to see your doctor to arrange this.

14. If you think your youngster has HFA or AS, or one of the other disorders within the autism spectrum, it is best to have an assessment as soon as possible. There may be a waiting time for an assessment.

15. It is better to find out that a child is on the Autism Spectrum now than to wait until he or she is older. There are many things moms and dads can do to make their child’s future the best it can be. The sooner a parent gets a child who is on the Autism Spectrum treatment the better his or her future will be.

16. It may be helpful for you to arrange to attend a staff meeting to inform school staff about autism spectrum disorder - and what this means for your youngster.

17. Moms and dads do not cause the disorder - and should not blame themselves.

18. Offer ways of understanding humor or typical childhood banter that uses available environmental cues.

19. Refer to boundaries as the lines that keep people within the relationship road they are supposed to be on.

20. Secondary school can be very stressful for children with HFA and AS, because of the daily challenges of having several different educators, having to move between classrooms and have different timetables each day. These changes can cause considerable confusion and anxiety for someone who is very resistant to change.

21. Set strategies and routines in place for your youngster that can be followed at home and at school (e.g., regarding acceptable behavior, consequences, dealing with anger and frustration).

22. Stress-management techniques may be helpful to control anxiety in older kids with the disorder.

23. Support from other moms and dads can be important.

24. Think of the social world as a variety of "relationship road maps" that your child needs to perceive accurately and use talking tools to be able to follow.

25. Try some behavior modification. You must determine what need the “bad” behavior is fulfilling, and then teach him a replacement behavior that will satisfy the need.

26. When you enroll your youngster at a preschool or school, talk to school staff about your child’s special needs.

27. You do not have to wait for a diagnosis before you can get help. You can seek support from professionals (e.g., a psychologist, pediatrician, speech pathologist, behavior therapist).

28. You should let school staff know if your youngster is sensitive to certain sounds, smells or being touched. This will help them develop appropriate plans for your youngster.

29. Your youngster will probably need clear routines, and if there have to be changes, he will need lots of warning.

30. Your child must learn to appropriately communicate the cause of his aggression and get his needs met through that insight.


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.

____________________

"Reward Systems" for Kids on the Spectrum: Are They Effective?

Question

Reward systems …do they work? We are trying to come up with some kind of reward system and what works??? Stickers? When he completes an assignment, he does not want to work at all, only on his terms.

Answer

Even though rewards can inspire a youngster with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's to cooperate, you will need to differentiate between discipline and behavior modification. Offering your child stickers for what you would like him to do will often produce initial results.

Having said that, the newness of the incentive plan will wear off (sometimes rather quickly), and you will still have to impose negative consequences for improper conduct when it happens.

Obviously, much will depend on your son. A young child that is naturally driven towards approval may react to positive reinforcement. Sticker rewards may prove a terrific success! A young child that learns from bumping-up against the boundaries might be much less responsive to this method. Searching for approval and limit-testing are both typical ways for a youngster to learn to "go by the guidelines," and many kids require some of each.

What exactly are your household policies? Clear expectations and consistent consequences would be the secrets of success in creating cooperation all through your son's development. An alternative choice to a reward system is to develop a family environment of cooperative expectation from the beginning. Guidelines can include that we all brush our teeth each morning, comb our hair, wash our faces and eat breakfast.

Genuine cooperation entails that I do something for you and you do something for me. Cooperative children are compensated with privileges, like visiting the zoo, receiving a new lunch box or even a brand new toy. Cooperation can also be compensated with simply feeling connected to members of the family.

Sticker reinforcement centers your youngster on the accumulation of "goodies," as opposed to the spirit of cooperation. It may however, provide a quick start to cooperative conduct. Mothers and fathers should be prepared to cope with setting boundaries and motivating behavior through expectation and natural consequences in the end.

A word of warning: Be sure to separate actions from emotions. Moms and dads occasionally have impractical expectations that the youngster feel happy about cooperating. In the event the morning regimen is to put your clothes on before arriving at the breakfast table, your son need not like doing it, but he must accept it.

Reflecting your son's feelings can help him cooperate, instead of "act out" with a meltdown. For example,  "You are angry right this moment, I understand; however, you must still put your clothing on before arriving at the breakfast table. Then we can read our morning tale".

The method here is that there is a natural incentive, organic to the cooperation involved in family life. When the youngster chooses not to cooperate, then this may produce a negative result of not having time for his morning story.

Make room for feelings AND expect your child to do his part in the family. If the consequences are not overly strict and the expectations are fairly realistic to your son's development, cooperation will become a family affair.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Kids on the Spectrum

You Are Your HFA Child's Parent - AND Advocate!

"The psychiatrist has told us that our son Travis has Autism (high functioning). Should my husband and I tell other people, for example teachers, that he has this? I'm not sure if making others aware of this will make it better or worse for Travis."

The short answer is 'yes'. Most (but not necessarily all) of the people in your child's life should know of his condition. And since you are the expert on your son, you should be the one to explain it. Your job is to advocate for your child, and you can't do this if you keep everyone in the dark about what is going on.

As a parent, you’re the one who has spent the most time with your child and, with or without a formal education in Autism Spectrum Disorders, you have already figured out what works and what doesn’t (or are coming close to figuring it out).

As an expert on your child, you may find yourself being his advocate all the time. Much of this advocacy happens in the classroom. You’ll need to tell your child’s teacher what techniques work best, what triggers him, and what calms him down.

If you find that the school system is just dragging your son along without actually educating him, you’ll need to advocate by talking to the the principal, superintendent, or even a lawyer. It may take all of these people to get the school system to take your child’s education seriously.

You may choose to spend a little time observing or volunteering in your child’s classroom. This can help you see what’s going on, and can provide you with the information you need to be the best advocate you can be.

You may also need to be your son’s advocate with your child’s doctor(s). Too often, they spend just a few minutes with a child, thus they may need to hear from you the reality of what’s going on in your household on a daily basis. Prepare yourself with a list of questions and comments to share with the doctor when you meet with him/her.

You may also need to advocate for your child with the public that still doesn’t completely understand Autism Spectrum Disorders. If, for example, you want your son to join the Boy Scouts or take piano lessons, you’ll need to explain to people about his condition and tell them what they can expect when working with him.

Some people, including teachers, can have some trepidation about Autism, and some don't fully understand the severity levels of the disorder. As a result, they may shy away from dealing with children who suffer from it. With your honest and forthright advocacy, you can teach others about this disorder - and specifically about your son so that he gets the best care and education possible.


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.


What other parents have had to say on this topic:


•    Anonymous said...  When they know It gives everyone a better understanding. My daughter is going into 3rd grade and both her and i could not have done it without the teachers support.
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely! but be sure to tell them this is the reason he behaves the way he does but it's not an excuse for any bad behavior. He will obviously need more structured and repetitive reinforcement of what the correct way to behave is but at no time should you ever say..oh he only does that because he has Aspergers.. The more information you can get and give, the easier it will be for you and everyone involved in your sons life to understand him better
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely! Yes! It'll get him the help he needs in school.
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely!! Your son needs special support in class and at home. My daughter has Aspergers and ADHD. She had a very hard time in school last year, but with the help of her teacher, guidance counselor, school psychologist and special needs services, she made wonderful progress. Social skills groups are also really helpful.
Good luck!!
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely. I have grandchildren who have been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Two have along with it. And the oldest has Tourettes along with his. The first and foremost thing that needs to occur is to teach him and yourselves everything you can find out about his special circumstance. So that all of you can grow with his needs. Then teach him never to never to be ashamed of who he is. His confidence will help him through challenge he may face. Embrace him for who he is and assist him by never letting him feel like he needs to hide who he really is as a person. Blessings to you and your child on your journey.
•    Anonymous said... better ...socially it explains a lot -my son got kicked out of 1st grade ...doing much better now that he & his teaches have a plan & extra help when necessary...
•    Anonymous said... Definitely! He needs an IEP (individualized education plan) and hopefully an understanding teacher and other faculty members. He will have special needs to get the education he deserves and being silent won't help him get those. Speak up on his behalf and best wishes.
•    Anonymous said... Definitely! People can't be understanding & supportive if they don't know. If he struggles at school at all you'll want an IEP to set up support for him.
•    Anonymous said... For those who asked, in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a student qualifies for a 504 plan if he or she has a diagnosis (physical or mental) that substantially limits major life activities (such as learning). In my daughter's case, she already had a gifted EP. We did not want to drop that for an IEP (you can't have both). Her diagnosis of Aspergers, anxiety and Irlen Syndrome (a type of visual stress) qualified her for a 504. We asked for a meeting with all of her teachers and her guidance counselor. They approved accommodations for extra time on tests & assignments, testing In an alternate location if needed, use of a colored overlay for reducing visual stress and preferential seating in class depending on her needs. Also, since the teachers are aware of this, they tend to pay more attention to her and let me know when she's not having a good day. Also, it does not have to be reviewed every year, only if there are changes. I hope this is helpful, it has been invaluable for us!
•    Anonymous said... I find it helps people see my son w/ understanding rather than judgement.
•    Anonymous said... I talk to his teachers at the start of every year. It is nothing to be ashamed of so why hide it? He is also not allowed to use it as an excuse for his behavior though. They can support him best when they know his diagnosis. I also want them to know he is on meds for his ADHD in case something happens and they need to call the ambulance. He is pretty clumsy.
•    Anonymous said... I tell everyone that way they understand and help my 9 year old son in saying that his school has a seu on site as well
•    Anonymous said... I'm curious to a lot of things here, like, how old is your child? Has he struggled in school in the past? Does he have great difficulty with his peers, teachers, etc?
•    Anonymous said... It would be difficult for teaches to work with your son if they do not understand his unique ways. My school, teacher, Vice principal work with me & my sin.
•    Anonymous said... Speaking as a parent who only recently had our son 'diagnosed' with Aspergers, I would advocate telling all involved with these unique children. Our son is 14 , and we have experienced years of phone calls from school re 'meltdowns' and other behavior issues as we were ignorant to his unique 'wiring' and while parental instinct helps to negotiate how best to help your children, the teachers and 'bullies' didn't have the same understanding.Now the school is aware, wow! The change in attitude and teaching styles have been extraordinary- much more understanding and positive - We need to advocate and destigmatise - with understanding comes empathy- You wouldn't hide information about a child with Diabetes or Anaphylaxis!
•    Anonymous said... Tell them. Communication is key. And get an IEP-it offers built in protections as well as services. More schools are doing education training on autism, so if the school personnel know you will have a lot less headaches in the future. Trust me--I am a parent of an Aspie and a teacher!
•    Anonymous said... Yes yes!! Please share with the teachers it will only help with understanding and get him the help he deserves!! My son has Aspergers and sensory issues. He has an IEP and he is mainstreamed and doing great!! I agree with all the other comments as well!
•    Anonymous said... Yes! My son has an iep and it works great for him. The teachers understand and are trained to deal with them better and it runs alot smoother. The teacher my son had. Keep in contact with me during the day via text. If she noticed something she would text me. And i would give her different options on how to do things. It went easier during the day.
•    Anonymous said... Yes!!! If you don't have an IEP, you need to have a 504 asap. It has been absolutely essential for my daughter (high functioning Aspie and gifted student). It allows her extra time on tests/assignments and she gets preferential seating (away from noise or disruptive students, etc).
•    Anonymous said... Yes, people are more understanding when they know and he can get the support he needs. I know it has benefitted my son and he has gotten the extra help in school he needs
•    Anonymous said... Yes, tell them. Nowadays, it is looked upon in a positive light. My son was having issues with his teeth, but he did not want to go to the dentist. But, when we explained it to his awesome dentist he immediately said so many complimentary things about Aspergers. That made him want to go back for every appt. Thankfully, now his teeth are beautiful! People aren't as closed minded about it.
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely tell them - tell his teachers, his childcare providers, any summer camp counselors, sports coaches, et al. It gives them a window into his world and that's a good thing. And just know that this doesn't make Travis anything other than an amazing and wonderful child who just happens to have some extra "add-on features". My son, Carson, used to ask me, "Mom, am I weird? Cuz kids think I'm weird." I would say to him, "Yay! Yay for being weird! Yay for being different! You will help make the world so very, very interesting! Don't you ever think for a moment that there's anything wrong with being different." Now he tells people quite readily that he has Aspergers! When they ask him what that means, he says, "Oh, it just means that my brain works differently than yours."
•    Anonymous said... I think one of the key things is to discuss it with him. Ensure he understands what ASD means for him and that he has strengths and difficulties. Ask him if he wants others to know and explain who and your reasons why. The staff at my sons school know but he has chosen for his friends not to know - I imagine a couple of them do as their parents know. He should be consulted though as it's all about him.
•    Anonymous said... I would make them aware hunni, then they are equipped to deal with any extra support he may need x
•    Anonymous said... It protects him if he has anger outbursts... Better to protect him than let him be considered the anti social angry kid
•    Anonymous said... They do need to be aware, sometime you might need an IEP for him
•    Anonymous said... they need to know so he can get the best care & tell them about any little "quirks" so they can't be misinterpreted as him being badly behaved, not listening, etc.
•    Anonymous said... We have had nothing but support. It's not something to feel ashamed about. It's a gift. I know it's hard to see that now but it is. Kids like this see the world differently then others. The things my son comes up with just make me laugh. We have our bad days but we are starting have a lot more great days. Try ability th ey have found it helps. My son has the anger and aggression type of aspergers. Just keep researching and talking about it. It will all be okay
•    Anonymous said... yes, tell them, otherwise you may run the risk of people jjust thinking he's a 'bad' or 'naughty' or 'disruptive' child


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Children on the Spectrum Who Talk Excessively: What Parents and Teachers Can Do

Question

My 7-year-old and soon-to-be step son never (never) stops talking and says everything he thinks. It is SO bad - (as is his severe interrupting) - that it is seriously affecting me and my boyfriends 3 year relationship. When we met he only had bi-weekly visitations. Now he was given full custody as his biological mother and her new husband cannot handle it. I am exhausted and cannot get a word in edgewise. BF says he is "used to it" and I just need to be more patient. Does the one-sided verbiage get better or worse with age? How can we teach him? How can I get it through to BF that his son is only going to stand out even MORE as he gets older if this isn't worked on?

Answer

One of the hallmarks of High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's is the kid's tendency to be obsessed with a particular topic and to talk incessantly about it. The child may want to constantly talk about cartoon characters, insects, movies, race cars, video games, etc. It can be very frustrating for moms and dads to deal with a bright, articulate youngster who is somehow "stuck" in one particular frame of reference.

How can you break kids of these obsessive thoughts and ideas? The honest answer is: you may not be able to entirely eliminate them. Some kids will gradually leave one special interest behind, only to quickly fixate on a new one.

There are two ways to classify obsessions: "primary" and "secondary." Often it's difficult to tell which of the two you're dealing with.

Primary obsessions are bad enough that it is super difficult to get the HFA kid to think of anything else. The obsession monopolizes conversation and daily activities. It also interferes with schoolwork. The youngster is consumed by the obsession. Certain medications, like those prescribed for OCD, can be helpful. Check with your child's doctor.

Secondary obsessions are a challenge, but can be managed eventually. In addition, secondary interests can be used as motivators (i.e., they can help the youngster succeed in school or improve behavior).

Here are some ideas:

1. Give less of a response to random, meaningless comments about the obsession. If your HFA youngster mentions the topic-of-interest when it has nothing to do with what is currently going on, either do not respond at all, or act perplexed. Calmly say, "We're not playing that game right now," or "Why are you talking about that movie now?" If the youngster becomes angry, give a simple "um hum" with little eye contact, then ask a question that requires him to engage in the present activity or topic of conversation.

2. Reward the youngster for making conversation that is correctly related to what's going on at the moment. If you son looks at the sky and says, "I see some stars," that is a comment which is appropriate and in the moment. Immediately respond with acknowledgement and praise. "You're absolutely right! I see them too! Look, they are very far away. You've got really good eyesight."

3. Use the topic-of-interest to motivate good behavior. For example, buy a book, toy, or game associated with the obsession. Your child can play with it when homework is completed, or after sitting quietly.

4. Work with your kid's teachers to use the topic-of-interest to promote education. If, for example, your youngster likes snakes, apply them to math (e.g., "If there are 10 pythons in the backyard now, and 5 more show up later, how many snakes will there be all together?"). Use the topic-of-interest as a starting point, and then build on it, slowly expanding the youngster's areas of interest.





 


What other parents have had to say about this topic:

•    Anonymous said… A small amount of mood stabilizer helped my daughter. She would become very manic about subjects and than OCD. We had to listen or she would become very angry. Now she can hear our concerns for the subject going on too long as she at times follows us around like a puppy dog and input to her obsession.
•    Anonymous said… attend therapy with him. you will gain a better understanding; appreciate his mindset and learn how to handle meltdowns.
•    Anonymous said… best thing to do is keep your voice lowered they will lower theirs and stop sooner.
•    Anonymous said… Dont worry It will get better as he matures. You could try some magnetic balls, therabrushing or a exercise ball to channel the energies. I know this is hard but try not to react too much. I was in the same situation as you a few years ago.
•    Anonymous said… Get the books "Autism Discussion Page" from Amazon. Find out what you are dealing with and get help. This child can be helped. First, he needs unconditional love and acceptance. Get to know him on his terms. Then you have a God given instinct as to what help will work for him. As with most situations concerning ALL children......the parents must be trained first! Invest in this child!
•    Anonymous said… He's a 7 year old autistic child with a broken family (trauma). I'm sorry but the very last thing he needs is intolerance and adults looking for ways to make him more socially acceptable to them. If you are serious about marrying his father than start by talking to grown autistics in the neuro divergent movement how they feel about your perception of this child. Next step would be to get yourself into counseling and autistic awareness training. This child needs love and acceptance like he gets from his dad. He does not need another adult wedging between the only good relationship he has.
•    Anonymous said… Honestly, it is a hard journey. I suggest you educate yourself on by reading and researching. Each child is different. They change but you will if you want to continue because it is a lot of patience, monitoring, and understanding on a daily basis. My son was silent but super busy to the point that the teachers almost had a nervous breakdown, not one but three of them. Don't judge him yet. You will know what you can handle. Prayers!!!!
•    Anonymous said… I think that the over talking stems from anxiety that stems from a constant need to feel loved and accepted and then it feels like he needs to be the center of attention in order to attain that. At least that's what I gather from my interactions with my own stepson. My son has ADHD and he's just a motor-mouth, and we really just have to remind him to slow down and think. His poor brain just moves so fast.
•    Anonymous said… I think when you get to know him properly you will get to love this side of him always full of wonder about the topics they obese over . He is a child and with lots of love and attention it will die down a bit once he has made a home there and has other activities to keep him busy. Also a child Phycologist will help your child learn coping mechanisms for learning to take turns in talking etc.. PS I know plenty of people that like to talk one sided and are not on the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said… If you can't accept him the way he is, you might need to have a think about walking away. Sorry.
•    Anonymous said… If you want to form a good bond with him I suggest taking the time to talk to him about something he is passionate about. Our kids here 'shut up' from a lot of people in their lives. Try and find something that quiets his mind. For my teenage step daughter it is games on her phone and searching for and making new recipes.
•    Anonymous said… It is all about retraining the brain with positive, consistent reinforcement - I would suggest looking into a Social Skills therapy group with other peers his age....
•    Anonymous said… Look for the good in him and build on that! Love and a calm approach goes a long way. You will not change him, but by educating yourself and learning strategies you will learn to adjust and it will help your life run much smoother.... They are beautiful kids!
•    Anonymous said… Maybe I'm just way off, but as a prospective "step" parent, yours is a support role. If dad doesn't take the lead, your taking the lead will only cause your resentment to grow toward the child. It is possible NONE of this will ever change. Will you be okay with that?
•    Anonymous said… My Grandson was 7 when diagnosed he is now 22 and still talks excessively and still interrupts. We had a fantastic Pediatrician. He tolds to get Tony Attwood's book, it helped amazingly. It not something they grow out of it. My Grandson has no friends because he talks too much. I understand how you feel but it's worse for them. They found out my Grandson was visual, so I went on computer and got pictures for his morning routine before school put it on a chart on his door he learnt that straight away and then memorised it. I had pictures up everywhere. You need to do your research and things you can do to help support, once you've done that you need to look at the bigger picture can you do this. School is worse because these kids are targeted and bullied and it triggers off a reaction in them and there the one's who get suspended. I only ever had one school where the principal believed in the child bullying who got them to snap got into trouble the same as him reacting. :) Like I said this is how it goes. So routine is good for them.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 13. Omg! I took my three kids to a labyrinth (it's a prayer thing you walk through) I said the only rule is you can't talk. That kid couldn't even make it 30 secs!!! (The 5 and 8 year old did fine!). Dinner convos are all about him. Me and my husband can never talk when he's around. But on the other hand I know he won't hide anything from me. He's very very open about everything so, you could look at it with a different view. It's very exhausting but at the same time I know a lot of moms would love for their children to open up. (And if he isn't talking he is making a noise of some sort. Stomping though the house, bouncing a ball, knocking things over. It gets to be sensory overload for me sometimes)
•    Anonymous said… My son is 15 and has been on respiridone since he was about 7. He went off it for a period of time at age 11 and it was hell when he was off it and asked to be put back on it. I works great for him.
•    Anonymous said… Our Aspergers son is getting worse with his talking but it gets better when we take away electronics and he is participating in more real-life stuff. We have a house rule of no electronics during the school week. We also listen politely to what he wants to say, then I stop him and ask him a question about it and he asks me a question back. This is direct instruction of socks skills. There are other methods. Looks like there's a lot of good resources posted.
•    Anonymous said… Take the time to listen and engage, build a trusting relationship and then together you and your partner can come up with some gentle strategies for teaching your stepson about taking it in turns to talk. Perhaps have some family discussion time where you all sit at the table and talk, ask one another questions and whoever is holding a chosen object gets to talk (he will be busting to talk so to begin with, direct your question to him) then hand over the object so he can answer. No talking unless you are holding the Object, this ensures everyone is heard, just go easy on him to start with. Then he can ask a question and hand the object over to the next person. It will teach him about both giving and receiving and conversation in a gentle way. My son who is 14 gets very tense when he cannot say what he needs to, he explained to me that it causes physical discomfort, so keep this in mind and just go forth step at s time! Most importantly, this journey isn't the easiest, but if you do it with a heart filled with love, you will learn the patience (and you will need it!) good luck!
•    Anonymous said… The more anxious the more he will continue to talk non stop. He needs an enviorement where he finds love and acceptance.
•    Anonymous said… those of us who found ourselves with a child with added extras simply had to learn to deal with it, yes it's exhausting, but we deal with it out of love, just as we would if we had a disabled child. It's you who needs to learn coping mechanisms, because trying to force him to change will break him, and you'll end up with a depressed child. As time goes on and as you get closer to him, you'll find ways to tell him that you need some quiet time and he'll learn to accept that. But you have a choice, take on the hard work for the sake of love, or leave the situation
•    Anonymous said… U can't change who someone is to conform to your needs & wants. Yes it's extremely difficult at times having a child on the spectrum. My Son drives me bonkers on a daily basis with his talking that never stops, but that's who he is.
•    Anonymous said… Use Michelle Winners social thinking curriculum. Specifically Superflex takes on the Unthinkables. There is one Unthinkable called one-sided-Sid that captures this behavior.
•    Anonymous said… We have found a solution to this that works wonders for my kids. I have a 10, 7 yr (HF aspergers and poss adhd) and a 15mth toddler. We introduced this... When mummy or daddy are talking and you need to spk to us, don't say anything just place your hand on us and we will place our hand on top, then you know we know you want to spk to us. When mummy and daddy have finished talking we will say thank you for waiting... What can I help you with? We created it as a rule and explained it to the kids and I was so amazed when they started doing it. If they forget, I just say what's our rule? Hope it works for you too. If you have any more questions about it, feel free to message me. Good luck xx
•    Anonymous said… You better do some serious researching. The thing is, they are all different. No way to really know if that will stop but so much changes through puberty. Mine is 15 and doesn't say much at all anymore. He stays shutdown a lot of the time. I wish I could hear some of that enthusiastic chatter again. Working on getting him out of defense mode. It can be rough so if you think you can't handle it, get out before that child gets too invested in you.
•    Anonymous said… You need to decide if you can accept him the way he is or not. He won't change. There are small things u can learn to better handle it... But at the same time, maybe try to see the beauty in it. I bet he's like a walking encyclopaedia. U can learn from his knowledge. We have a hfa son and decided to adjust our lives to meet his needs. We function different than a typical family, my husband and I aren't able to have a quiet conversation at dinner, but we celebrate that we have a very very unique son.... It is what it is.

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Children on the Autism Spectrum and Poor Sportsmanship

"My boy (high functioning) hates to share - and even worse - hates to lose. He takes playing games too seriously, and takes losing too personally. How can I help him be a better team player? Also, what games might be a better fit for him?"

If you are a mother or father of a youngster with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's, you know that some games are difficult. Many of these kids make up their own rules, and that tends to spoil the game for everyone else. Also, some games just may not make sense to the HFA child, or he has a preferred idea that he thinks may work better.

As it turns out, there are some games created with HFA and Asperger's children in mind. If you have been struggling to find something that your youngster relates to, here are a few suggestions (most of which do not include the participation of others):
  • a color torch
  • activities that involve shape and color matching
  • blowing bubbles 
  • board books
  • books with flaps books with unique fabrics and textures
  • checkers
  • chess
  • computer games, although these should be monitored and used in moderation
  • drawing, coloring, and painting or toys that incorporate these activities 
  • factual books
  • jack-in-the-box 
  • jigsaw puzzles 
  • Lego and other construction toys 
  • picture matching and board games (e.g., Snakes and Ladders or Guess Who?) 
  • picture or word bingo 
  • playground toys such as swings, slides, and sand pits 
  • puzzle books
  • riding toys such as bicycles 
  • rocking horses 
  • singing and dancing games 
  • sorting toys 
  • train sets 
  • trampolines 
  • watching interactive videos 
  • word books that are accompanied by pictures or photos

Parents and teachers often get so caught up in educating and providing structure to the lives of children with "special needs" that they forget that, above all, they are still just kids. Like any other child in her age group, your HFA child wants to have fun.

While some activities may not be suitable for kids on the autism spectrum, there are a number of fun games to play with them, many of which can get them involved with others or help them further develop motor or social skills while just focusing on having a good time.

These children often benefit greatly from song. Even children who do not like to sing can learn to hum along or play simple instruments (e.g., tambourines, whistles, etc.). Using sounds that are repetitive and with educational lyrics helps these children learn school lessons, but also gives them an outlet for some of the sensory stimulation they need. Playing follow the leader with the instruments is a good way to help the children focus their attention and improve socialization skills.

Also, focus on games that involve closer contact with trusted family members. For example, make it a game to get across the room without touching the floor. Perhaps the only route in some instances is to be carried.

Remember that each HFA child is different developmentally, so stay in tune with how challenging the activities should be. As your child matures, she may want to be involved with organized sports. This should be encouraged, but choose your sport carefully. Golf, baseball, and other sports that do not involve strong personal sensory stimulation may be better for your child than something like tackle football. However, be open to all possibilities. Be sure the team’s coach understands your child’s strengths and weaknesses and is willing to work with him.

Remember that a child with an autism spectrum disorder has trouble seeing things from another person's point of view. Therefore, he may be less likely to enjoy games in which something must be kept a secret from another person (e.g., go-fish).

Overall, you and your child need to grow together. Remember that although she has many special needs, sometimes your child needs to simply be a kid. Encourage play along with work, and realize that games and activities may fulfill two key elements: (a) socialization skills for life and (b) learning to enjoy playing with peers.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Treat Your High-Functioning Autistic Child The Same As Her Siblings?

Question

"My husband as well as most of his side of the family often accuse me of mollycoddling our 6 y.o. girl with high functioning autism. They believe she should receive the same treatment as her brothers. What do you say about this? Should you treat a child with the condition the same as those without it? I'm torn on this issue because I know that my daughter has some special needs, yet I don't want to enable. Advice?"

Answer

You should not treat the high-functioning autistic (HFA) or Asperger's child the same as the other children. Love them the same? Of course. Treat them the same? No.

The youngster with the disorder will need more support than her siblings do, but there are some things you can do to limit the amount of sibling rivalry and jealousy that siblings feel because of this inequality:

1. Do not pamper your HFA daughter any more than is necessary. She will need to learn how to stand on his own two feet, and dealing with a brother or sister is a normal part of gaining this fortitude.

2. Don't tolerate inappropriate behavior from your daughter, and don't expect perfection from your other kids (this will lead to resentment and acting-out).

3. Encourage your kids to talk to you about how they feel about their "special needs" sibling. Listening to their feelings can make them feel validated and can help to avoid any unnecessary jealousy.

4. Fully educate yourself about the disorder, and then inform your other children on an age-appropriate basis.

5. Know that kids on the autism spectrum find it very difficult to pick up on social cues and often have intense, narrow interests. Even a very young brother or sister can understand that, "Michelle gets upset when we stop talking about dolls, but we're working on ways to keep her calm.”

6. Learn a few parenting techniques specific to raising an HFA child, and implement them at home (more here).

7. Realize that just as you may grieve the loss of a more “normal” child, her siblings may also be heartbroken that they don't have the kind of sibling-relationship that other families have.

8. Seek a support group. Getting feedback from other parents on how they have dealt with sibling issues can be quite enlightening.

9. Spend quality time each week (one-on-one) with the other kids - as well as your HFA child (this may sound difficult, but one way to accomplish that is to take one youngster at a time on an errand when possible).

10. Understand that HFA is an "invisible" disorder. Brother and sisters may be embarrassed in front of their friends when their autistic sibling (who looks no different than any other child) can't stop talking her favorite special ingterest.

On an interesting side note, here are some comments made by children who have a sibling with HFA or Aspergers:

• “He gets bullied a whole lot, at least he used to. Children would make fun of him for the weirdest things…it was terrible. He would come home crying off the bus.”

• “He is incredible at directions… he is able to give directions to anybody to anything, if you're any place in the united states, he will let you know what your location is.”

• “He is great at baseball and making jokes…I like his funniness.”

• “He talks non-stop.”

• “He’ll hit his head on the floor and he will kick the drawers and he will kick his door and he will hit his walls and toss stuff across the room.”

• “He’s very literal. In the event you say ‘throw laptop computer in the rear of the truck,’ he is actually likely to do that. That’s really happened.”

• “I like to see him giggle, but when something is humorous he's, horrifyingly noisy, he is outrageous. Occasionally I will take his hand and I will give him just a little squeeze on the hand and that is kind of his signal to kind of like ease it down slightly.”

• “I try my best to introduce him to all the folks that I know so he does not feel uncomfortable and alone.”

• “I’ve figured out either to leave him alone for about 10 mins, or you can attempt to calm him down, but most of the time I leave him alone for 10 mins or so…and the storm goes away and he is normal and it will be a typical day.”

• “James, a lot of the times is by himself. He likes to be in his own little world.”

• “My brother’s great at checking up on the weather…he’s usually watching the weather channel - so he knows what to wear. It’s excellent in the family, he always knows what the temperature is going to be and if the sun is going to be shining.”

• “When he comes back home sobbing due to something one of his buddies said, I will attempt to give him advice about coping with other students, and most of the time he does not want to take that advice. My mum will just kind of pull him aside and state, ‘Your sister has been through this, so listen to what she has to say.’ And then he usually does.”

• “When he needs his time, you give him his time. And when he’s ready to come out and be sociable again, then he will come out.”

• “When he is doing something that he really wants to learn about or that he is enthusiastic about or that I have done, he is extremely energetic. He is happy. And that is when he gets to his noisy stages where he will giggle and he is way up there.”

• “He really wants to believe that everyone wants to threaten him. For the longest time I would scream at him because I would say, ‘Stop crying - why are you crying? There is no need to be sad. I did not say anything!’ But to him, it is a threat should you say anything and…he simply cannot manage his feelings.”


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Common Social Deficits of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Is it common for a child with high functioning autism to have difficulty interpreting the messages others give in conversations? Our son does not seem to understand the rules of social interactions. If he doesn’t understand what someone is saying or doing, he will always be unable to give the appropriate response.”

Yes, these issues are very common. This is why social-skills training in crucial for young people with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s. Skills that “typical” children gain naturally do not become so automatic for kids on the spectrum. Below are some of the socially-related deficits that are part of the disorder.

The child may:
  • “Tell” on peers, breaking the “code of silence” that exists (he will then be unaware why others
    are angry with him).
  • Avert eye contact, or keep it fleeting or limited.
  • Avoid observing personal space (is too close or too far).
  • Avoid turning to face the person he is talking to.
  • Be unable to use gestures or facial expressions to convey meaning when conversing.
  • Be unaware of unspoken or “hidden” rules.
  • Confront another person without changing his face or voice.
  • Engage in self-stimulatory or odd behaviors (e.g., rocking, tics, finger posturing, eye blinking, noises such as humming/clicking/talking to self).
  • Fail to assist someone with an obvious need for help (e.g., not holding a door for someone carrying many items or assisting someone who falls or drops their belongings).
  • Fail to gain another person's attention before conversing with them.
  • Have body posture that appears unusual.
  • Experience difficulty with feelings of empathy for others. 
  • Have interactions with others that remain on one level, with one message.
  • Have tics or facial grimaces.
  • Ignore an individual’s appearance of sadness, anger, boredom, etc.
  • Lack awareness if someone appears bored, upset, angry, scared, and so forth (therefore, he does not comment in a socially appropriate manner or respond by modifying the interaction).
  • Have little awareness of the facial expressions and body language of others, so these conversational cues are missed.
  • Lack facial expressions when communicating.
  • Laugh at something that is sad, or ask questions that are too personal.
  • Look to the left or right of the person he is talking to.
  • Make rude comments (e.g., tells someone they are fat, bald, old, have yellow teeth).
  • Respond with anger when he feels others are not following the rules.
  • Discipline others or reprimand them for their actions (e.g., acts like the teacher or parent with peers).
  • Smile when someone shares sad news.
  • Stare intensely at people or objects.
  • Talk on and on about a special interest while unaware that the other person is no longer paying attention, talk to someone who is obviously engaged in another activity, or talk to someone who isn’t even there.
  • Touch, hug, or kiss others without realizing that it is inappropriate.
  • Use facial expressions that do not match the emotion being expressed.
  • Use gestures, body language, or facial expressions infrequently or atypically when interacting with others.

Also, when questioned regarding what could be learned from another person's facial expression, he may say, “Nothing.” Faces do not provide him with information. Unable to read these “messages,” he is unable to respond to them.

For information on providing social-skills training, click on the link below…

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management