Aspergers Teens and Sexuality

"I need help in teaching my daughter appropriate sexual behavior. She will be 16 in June, has Asperger’s, and acts out sexually. She feels this is what she is 'supposed' to do when she likes a boy, and I just can’t get her to feel moral values."

A 16-year-old girl with Asperger’s will have a fully developed female body, but it is unlikely that she will have a full understanding of adolescent sexuality. Depending on her exposure to popular media, she may have formulated an impression of sexuality from the licentious “celebrities” that have become well-known for their use of drugs and alcohol and their fickle, promiscuous sexual behavior. Your daughter could very well believe that behaviors such as candid flirtation, physical sexual cues, sexual language, and sexual activity are what she, as you say, is supposed to do when she likes a boy. The media sends this message loud and clear!

Your daughter needs the advice of a professional counselor now as she is exhibiting behavior that could lead to very severe consequences. In addition to the negative effects of the media, teenagers with Asperger’s do not acquire “street smarts” when it comes to dating or sex. As a result, they are na├»ve and misinformed about sex.

Your daughter is an adolescent, and she wants to develop an identity separate from yours. One aspect of this development is challenging your thoughts and beliefs. When this happens, many parents feel that they have to be friends with their teenagers in order to keep calm in the home. In doing so, they abdicate their parental responsibility, and children suffer in the process. Your daughter still needs to have clearly defined rules while she is living in your home. You know the possible negative consequences of overtly sexual behavior, she does not. Impose specific rules with her. Considering the situation, she shouldn’t be alone with boys or go on dates without an adult who accompanies and supervises.

She may not understand why you are imposing rules. So you need to stress that they are for her benefit, now and in the future, and explain why in very specific terms (e.g., to protect her from sexual diseases, HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy). She needs to understand not just what the consequences of sexual activity are, but what will happen if she gets a venereal disease, HIV/AIDS, or gets pregnant. This will be far more meaningful to her than vague advice about “morality.”

It is imperative that you teach your daughter about sex. She needs specific details about responsible sexual behavior and the consequences of reckless intimacy. Start with basic sex education and move on from there. Freely expressing her sexual feelings because she thinks it is the only way to be accepted and loved must be countered with facts about sexual consequences and information on more appropriate ways to be accepted by boys.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide


•    Anonymous said... the woman throwing the Bible in our face needs to step off of her pedestal. Hypersexuality is a medical condition. My daughter goes to a Catholic school, reads the bible, and goes to church twice a week. Religion has nothing to do w her impulse control issues that cause the hypersexuality!!!!
•    Anonymous said... Have you tried to be very blunt. You do that he will want to and probably will even when you dont want or want to stop.
•    Anonymous said... I have a 16yo Aspie in similar situation. I tell her that boys are scum. They will tell you whatever you want to hear so you'll do whatever they want and when you do they'll tell everyone they know. Probably not the best approach but still. My daughter has trouble with social queues so any slight interest in her makes her feel that you love her... I'm open to any suggestions also
•    Anonymous said... I have a son and we have had many discussions on sex, consequences of sex, being prepared for sex, etc. it is not easy but having many conversations, videos and other material does help. Remember that our aspies learn more by reapeated lessons or behavior.
•    Anonymous said... I have to disagree with your idea here, (though I do agree with being blunt, just not in the same way). That sounds a lot like victim-blaming to me. Having sex with someone once does not give that person the right to their body whenever they please. Explaining it to her that way opens her up to blaming herself were she ever to be raped. She needs to understand that her body is her own, that even if she does consent once-it doesn't make it okay for someone to take as they please. On the contrary, I think you would do her better to explain that everyone feels those urges, and there is a social stigma to not keeping yourself from following them all the time. Explain that everyone has their own responsibility to respect their own body, and to share it only with those that deserve it. Perhaps some stories about what a "deserving" partner would be like, and stories that show what really *is* expected of a girlfriend her age would help. I imagine she's getting her ideas from tv and movies, like most teens, and is getting a very over-romantic idea of what teen relationships are. The difference is her NT counterparts can more easily wade through what is reasonably expectable and what isn't. Good luck
•    Anonymous said... My daughter is 10 and we've dealt w the hypersexuality already...not looking forward to when she's a teen
•    Anonymous said... not trying to make light of the situation ....not at all....my first thought though was we should introduce our kids when my son is a bit older....high functioning....13....and thinks the sex act....his words....is only for procreation and is disgusting....ugh....

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Sensory Stimulation for Children on the Autism Spectrum

"I hear a lot about 'sensory stimulation' for children with autism and other spectrum disorders. Why? Is this something all parents should be doing for their autistic child? And how do you go about it?"

Children on the autism spectrum really benefit from sensory stimulation. Stimulating the senses has a positive effect on learning as well as emotional and social growth in the child. 
Sensory stimulation in learning means having activities that challenge the five senses. These senses (touch, taste, smell, listening, and visual) should be included in the child's learning. 

Schools incorporate sensory stimulation in their curriculum via the basics of math and reading, special classes such as art, and extracurricular activities such as sports. The same is true for students on the autism spectrum.

Providing a sensory room (or area) can be very effective. Be as creative as you can when providing sensory stimulation for your child. There are many things you can purchase, but you can also make many things yourself. What you use should in part be determined by what your child enjoys or is seeking.

Some ideas are: 
  • A mini trampoline can provide physical exercise and sensory input.
  • Create a touch board, and attach a variety of materials from sand paper to carpet.
  • Fill a tub with sand, navy beans, or other similar item that they can play in.
  • Find different scents of potpourri that they can use for deep breathing.
  • Hang a swing from your ceiling (if it is reinforced).
  • Have music playing that your child enjoys - this can be calming music or vigorous music.
  • String blinking Christmas lights around the room.
  • Use a hammock for the child to lay in and receive deep pressure.
  • Use a variety of lotions for both scent and touch.
  • Use a vibrating massage-machine for deep touch.
  • Use play dough for touch activities.

    The purpose of this room is to waken your child's senses. It also helps him or her to calm down (when needed). It's most effective to create a schedule of when the child will be provided free time in this room. It's probably NOT best to give him or her free access to the sensory room. It's best to use the room at transition times to provide a smooth transition, or as a reward for meeting the expectations of parents (and teachers).

    Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

    ==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

    Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

    ==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

    ==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

    ==> Living with ASD: eBook and Audio Instruction for Neurodiverse Couples 

    ==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by ASD

    ==> Online Group Therapy for Couples Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

     ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

    ==> ASD Men's MasterClass: Social-Skills Training and Emotional-Literacy Development

    ==> Pressed for time? Watch these "less-than-one-minute" videos for on the go.



    • Anonymous said...What about for the child (teenager) who doesn't like sensory stim? Who doesn't like to be touches, but is over-stimulated, yet has no interest in doing these things?!!
    •  Anonymous said...My ASD little boy nearly 5 had trouble settling down at night. We were advised last year by his nursery SENCO worker to use sensory play before bedtime, 20 minutes. It definitely made an improvement. From 2 hours to 30-45 minutes. I'll try the others on your list. Great article. Thank you.
    •  Anonymous said...Exactly what I did was fill the bathroom sink for water play or set the play dough table up. It was quite a different concept to the bath,bed book routine I've done for years with his older sisters. Play? Before bed?!! But it definitely calmed him. Also he started on omega 3 6 9 I believe this helps also. Lavender essential oil on his pillow too. He enjoys building mario worlds with blocks and figures lately, its ok to play before bed!!
    •  munckinsmommy said...My son is the same way sometimes...he needs to be grounded sensory wise. Try having him wear something that will give deep pressure like a heavy back pack or something tell him it will help him build muscles to attract girls....or use headphones....the cool kind other kids wear to block out sound....see if you can have them tailored to put in sound blocking naterial


    How To Use An Effective Reward System For Aspergers Children

    “I have a ten-year-old boy with who is high functioning. We are consistent with making him aware of what is socially unacceptable and why. It seems to go in one ear and out the other though. For instance, at meal time we always tell him to eat with his mouth closed. He will do as we say for 20 seconds and then he’s right back to chewing with his mouth open. We have sent him to eat in the other room, or we take away dessert if he continues after the fourth prompt. We have had no success for the past 2 years! Do you have any ideas or do you think that it’s something he can’t help?”

    Click here for the answer...


    Best Treatment for High-Functioning Autism

    "What would be the best treatment for my child with high functioning autism?"

    The main goals of treatment are to lessen associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. No single treatment is best, and treatment is typically tailored to the child's needs.

    Intensive, sustained special education programs and behavior therapy early in life can help these kids acquire self-care, social, and job skills, and often improve functioning and decrease symptom severity and maladaptive behaviors. Claims that intervention "must" occur before the age of three for it to be effective are not substantiated.

    Available approaches include: 
    • applied behavior analysis
    • developmental models
    • structured teaching
    • speech and language therapy
    • social skills therapy
    • occupational therapy 

    Educational interventions have some effectiveness. Intensive ABA treatment has demonstrated effectiveness in enhancing global functioning in preschool kids and is well-established for improving intellectual performance. 

    Many medications are used to treat problems associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). More than half of U.S. kids diagnosed with ASD are prescribed psychoactive drugs or anticonvulsants, with the most common drug classes being antidepressants, stimulants, and anti-psychotics.

    There is scant reliable research about the effectiveness or safety of drug treatments for individuals with ASD. A child or teen with ASD may respond atypically to medications, the medications can have adverse effects, and no known medication relieves ASD's core symptoms of social and communication difficulties.

    Although many alternative therapies and interventions are available, few are supported by scientific studies. Treatment approaches have little empirical support in quality-of-life contexts, and many programs focus on success measures that lack predictive validity and real-world relevance. Scientific evidence appears to matter less to service providers than program marketing, training availability, and parent requests.

    Though most alternative treatments (e.g., melatonin) have only mild adverse effects, some may place the child at risk. One study found that, compared to their peers, boys with ASD have significantly thinner bones if on casein-free diets. And in 2005, botched chelation therapy killed a five-year-old child with Autism.

    Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

    ==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD
    What parents have to say:
    • Anonymous said...Why does Aspergers need to be treated? It's not a disease like juvenile diabetes where without insulin the child will die!!!! Aspergers is an exceptionality!! The child needs to be loved,taught and supported not cured. The public needs to be educated. The parents who need to treat or cure their autistic child need to accept their child and help then develop to their full potential just like any other child. I wouldn't change a single thing about my Aspie! She wouldn't be the great person she is without it. We need to celebrate Autism not make it something shameful. How can we expect others to accept our child if we don't accept them ourselves? Parents need to be ok with who their child is so the child can accept who they are. When that happens, society will accept them too. Acceptance begins at home with the parents.
    • Anonymous said... If your deciding factor for treating a medical conditions is only to prevent the patient from dying, of course not, it should not be treated. However, if a significant improvement can be made in the quality of life of the child (as well as any individual with a disorder) you will find that most people would favor safe effective treatments for any non-life treathening diorder.
    • Anonymous said...Why does Aspergers need to be treated? Because my 17-year-old daughter spends her life in her room instead of doing any of the things girls her age should be doing.
    • Tasha said...I am not looking for something to cure Aspergers but something to help my son focus so that he can do his school work. Any ideas would be helpful. Thanks
    • Unknown said...I need medication:((( I'm only 11 and am really depressed:(( can anyone help meee!? Please.my parents don't support me they just think I'm stupid.. any advice??
    • Unknown said... You're a very bright young lady. I'm sorry your parents don't understand. My daughter is 12 & we are learning more about high functioning autism and aspergures. Don't give up. You're important & things will get better.

    Aspergers Kids & Temper Tantrums in Public

    "What do you suggest we do when we are out shopping and our Aspie son has a massive temper tantrum right there in the store for all to see?"

    All moms and dads have experienced the tempter tantrum in the grocery store or restaurant. While kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism may have tantrums that seem larger than life at times, they are still tantrums. 

    Here are some tips:
    1. Prior to going on out somewhere, it is important that your Aspie is prepared for what is going to take place. Explain where you are going, what you will be doing, and how long you will be doing it. Use a picture story board that describes the basic steps of a shopping trip (one that you have already created for such an event).
    2. You may want to have your child engage in some physical activity and play so that he's calm for the outing.
    3. You will want to establish what the expectations are for your child's behavior during the outing. State these expectations immediately before exiting your front door. You will need to keep in mind his age when giving expectations. Don't overload him with rules, but be consistent.
    4. As you shop, ask your child to help you pick out some of the items; enlist his help. 
    5. Monitor his behavior very closely on the outing. If you sense that he is becoming overwhelmed, intervene at that point. Tantrums are not only embarrassing for you, but for your youngster as well. He doesn't want to behave this way, so if you can help him avoid it, you should.
    6. If you are going to be out-and-about for an extended period of time, prepare for it. Bring with you activities or things that your youngster enjoys to keep him occupied.
    7. If he doesn't function well while out on trips, then start with brief periods of time at first. Go on an outing for 10-15 minutes, and if all goes well, reinforce that behavior. Then gradually increase that time period.
    8. If the outing is not for your child's benefit, then don't ask him to engage in an activity for extended periods of time. Don't expect him to sit quietly for hours while you shop -- that's unfair to any child.
    9. If a tantrum occurs at any point -- leave! Stop what you are doing, and get out of that store. DO NOT stand there and try to reason with your child at this point!! Also, don't create more tension by making a big deal of it. Just remove him from the area. This may mean just leaving for a few minutes until his behavior becomes calm, or it may mean putting the trip off until a later date and simply returning home. When your child has calmed down, tell him what was inappropriate, and why you left early. Try not to continue the discussion about his behavior once you are home. It is over!
    10. Create a social story about "how to remain calm during trips," and have your child read that story often.
    11. Reward your child with a special treat or activity if he completes the trip without incident.
    12. When you must make long trips (3 hours or longer), consider leaving the child at home with a family member or babysitter. 


    •    Anonymous said... Don't take him in the first place. You are not dealing with a normal kid having a fit. He can't help it! We learned a long time ago, if our aspie didn't want to do something or go a certain place, it is just easier not to. There are way bigger battles than going to wal mart that you will have to fight, so let some of the little ones go. His life is probably hard enough as is.
    •    Anonymous said... go home
    •    Anonymous said... I use to start a week before shopping day explaining that shopping was this certain day, which was a Friday night due to quietness...if he had a meltdown (which was often) I would hold him tight (but not restrained) slow my breathing down until he was in tune with me which sometimes took a couple of minutes, meanwhile he would be hitting, kicking and telling me he hated me which I would respond 'I love you too'...we did this ritual for about 12 months, now he knows we go shopping on the weekend and we can go any day at any time on the weekend, or during the week after school if necessary, he still doesn't like it too much but is a lot better at handling himself, he now has skills to cope...he is now 12
    •    Anonymous said... If you change the plan in anyway, or go to a stop along the way, get prepared for a melt down. The best advice is tell him ahead of time where you are going what you are doing and stick to it. If you have to make an unexpected stop, only one of you get out the other stays in the car with the kid. Otherwise you will have a melt down. period
    •    Anonymous said... Ignore everyone but you and your child
    •    Anonymous said... Mine MUST sit in the cart, so that means it's a two parent trip every time. HE'S getting to big for the carts now, so it will be a game plan change. He also must wear ear protection (head set) since he has above superior hearing.
    •    Anonymous said... My son once had a tantrums in public and twice people threatened to call cps on me! People who do not have autistic children simply do not understand that a child will meltdown over the smallest things.
    •    Anonymous said... Nice suggestions guys, but single parents don't have the luxury of leaving the child at home or having a second adult present. Likewise, doing your shopping later sounds good, but there are times when that isn't possible (like when you're there to pick up the medication for the child that controls the violent, impulsive behavior). Sometimes, the kid just needs to be able to suck it up and get through it (mine is 12 and still has difficulties). I was once counseled by a first responder to carry a letter in your purse or wallet from the child's doctor explaining his diagnosis and assuring the reader that the parent knows what they are doing and how they might help. The parent, if heavily engaged in restraining or "managing" the out of control child, can then direct the first responder to the letter so they do not misunderstand the situation and take actions that might make matters even worse. Melt downs are ugly and often misunderstood by observers. Not exposing the child to activities that require self control, even when it is difficult, sets the child up to be confused as an adult when the challenges of life are not "fixed" for him or her.
    •    Anonymous said... This article is a perfect answer!
    •    Anonymous said... Look the first thing is you can't be embarrassed. You child is wired different, embrace that! Many time when my son starts to act out I will try to get him under Control which in it's self a challange. It if people are being really nosy I will explain that he has aspergers. If they don't like it I just look in their eye and simply say "walk a mile in his shoes then you can judge"
    •    Anonymous said... My child is special I love him for all he is. Even though the are days I want to pop his little head off smile emoticon
    •    Anonymous said... Stores are noisy, bright, boring, overwhelming, smelly, and generally not a sensory friendly atmosphere at all. If you absolutely must take him with you, make it short, occupy him with something useful like checking items off a list, and try to recognize when too much is getting close.
    •    Anonymous said... When my son was younger it was difficult and he did have a lot meltdowns because of sensory issues. Some people say don't bring your child at all but I have to disagree with that, you need to teach them about the real world because at some point in their life they will have to face the real world. And if you keep them away from all that and confined they are not going learn how to cope. My son is now almost 13 and does wonderfully no more meltdowns. He has learned how to handle it.

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    Does my Aspergers child know what’s right and what’s wrong?

    "Does my Aspergers child know what’s right and what’s wrong? It seems that he does not really know the difference."

    On the surface, the issue of right and wrong appears to be a complicated one for Asperger’s children, but it is not. Children with Asperger’s have very firm ideas of right and wrong, and they can become argumentative with adults and peers over issues of proper or improper behavior. They are typically unable to consider shades of grey and will perceive issues in black or white terms; however, they can discuss those issues with an adult and come to an agreement when solutions are proposed to them.

    The good news is that Asperger’s children are known for being able to follow clearly explained and set rules that are consistent, and this trait can be used to help them learn right from wrong. As these children mature, they will learn right from wrong in a rote manner at first; but later they will develop a greater understanding of why something is right or wrong.

    An important factor is that the rules, and the explanation for the rules, should be explained in a manner that they understand, and the rules should be consistently enforced. In fact, their inclination to learn right from wrong can be so profound, it might seem that Asperger’s children are pre-programmed to detect right and wrong, and they might even bluntly announce that a request or activity is right or wrong. Also, they will take notice of others’ incorrect behavior, but not their own; this can be perceived as a double standard. In addition, they may not be able to show empathy for others, and this can lead to problems as they may do or say things that seem wrong because they may not be able to understand or empathize with another person’s feelings.

    Children and adults who do not have a diagnosis of Asperger’s can relate to other people and engage effectively in social interactions with others because they are able to perceive things from another individual’s point of view. The ability to comprehend someone else’s point of view is the result of correctly perceiving speech patterns, body language, tone of voice, facial movements, and the situation in which communication is taking place.

    Children with Asperger's and other autistic disorders can lack the capacity to relate to and understand others’ feelings or behavioral nuances, particularly on an emotional level. Also, the child’s inability to interpret someone else’s actions, whether deliberate or unintentional, can result in the child’s experiencing paranoia. This can result in inappropriate behavior.

    Children with Asperger’s may not exhibit traditionally moral feelings or behaviors because Asperger’s denies them the ability to experience the capacity for some emotions and introspection on which society’s perceptions of morality are based. These children do not experience the feelings associated with traditional right and wrong; yet, they may possess a sense of ethics as well as a cognitive understanding of right and wrong.

    Asperger’s does not completely remove a child’s awareness of correct and incorrect behavior; it does allow them to behave with a sense of socially acceptable morality if they are helped to do so.

    The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide


    •    Anonymous said... don't think it's about right vs wrong but more about interpretation. As an NT, we think about situations a certain way. Aspies usually see things a little differently. Once you understand their vision you can adjust the consequence accordingly.
    •    Anonymous said... I can say that my son gets right vs wrong. but mostly be cause we have role played situations so much that it is in his rote memory now. He at least gets the general idea and if his impulsivity doesn't take over he will do right vs. wrong
    •    Anonymous said... Mine certainly knows when someone else is "doing wrong." He will tell them the rules 80times over. His interpretation of the rules is not typical though. If someone asks him to please stop chewing his shirt he will say "oh, sorry" and immediately start chewing anything that is not his shirt.
    •    Anonymous said... my daughter is 16 and she tells me everyday that its hard for her to behave
    •    Anonymous said... My middle child seems to always be chewing on his shirts lately and I really don't think he even notices when he does it.
    •    Anonymous said... My son sometimes doesn't get it and even if he gets it, he ignores the consequences, but can't help it. Its really hard for them. Their brains just cannot measure like ours.
    •    Anonymous said... My son's perception is so non-typical. But, at least, SOMETIMES, he will admit, "I don't get it." I have to remind myself often,.... he's right, he REALLY doesn't get it!

    Post your comment below...


    7 Tips for Parenting Autistic Children

    In this social work report I am going to share with you the 7 most useful tips and techniques that I have picked up when working with families as a social worker over the past 11 years:
    1. Coping with the grieving process
    For all families who have a child with Autism/Aspergers, or any disability come to that, there are always some feelings of grief or loss. This is not because you are rejecting your child or in any way being negative about them. But it’s just that when you plan for a family, spend 9 months in labor and then begin to raise your child you have a certain dream/ideal life planned out.
    This is just human nature and one of the things that divides us from animals. We have the ability to see our future in our heads and we like to plan it. Particularly these days when there are so many shows, in fact whole TV channels, dedicated to having babies, family planning, pregnancy etc. There are shows on “taming toddlers”, home improvement shows teaching you how to make the “perfect nursery”, adverts for all the latest baby kit and gadgets.
    So it’s little wonder that you have such dreams and ambitions, and have the perfect little family in your mind. Having a child with aspergers can often destroy that particular dream. You may well spend time slowly realising that perhaps “something is not quite right” with your child. Some time after that you will get a clinical diagnosis and learn that your child has aspergers syndrome.
    With this knowledge a grieving process will begin. This is a grieving process for the “perfect” child and “perfect” life that you were dreaming of. This is a perfectly natural and understandable process. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child or think anything negatively about them.
    It’s just that your child is different to what you expected. Now just look at that word “different” the dictionary definition is “differing from all others”, and is that so bad? So it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, just a different thing.
    A really great way of looking at this is in the short story by Emily Perl Kingsley which you can read at http://www.aboutautism.org.uk/holland.htm
    But for many parents this can be a hugely difficult thing to get through. Often there is guilt attached to these feelings of grief. This may be guilt that you feel that you don’t truly love your child as you are feeling this sense of loss. Or perhaps guilt as a parent that somehow it is your fault that your child has aspergers syndrome.
    So often with feelings of guilt, just like other painful feelings, you can choose to avoid those feelings.
    So instead of talking about those feelings and starting to understand them, and eventually come to terms with them, you stuff them away somewhere in your brain.
    Just like we can all do with painful thoughts and memories. Often you may choose patterns of behavior that can be destructive such as overeating, drinking more alcohol, spending more money than usual to cope (or retail therapy as it is now called).
    You may not do these destructive things though. You may overcompensate by trying to be “super mum” or “super dad” to your children, at the expense of all else.
    But the bottom line is that if you do avoid these feelings then they are not going to simply go away forever.
    Now again let me be clear on this I am in no way making you a bad person for this.
    As we all try to avoid negative feelings and thoughts if we can. In fact our brains are wired up to try to get us out of pain as quickly as they can. But such intense feelings of grief, loss, bereavement call them what you want won’t just go away.
    They will show themselves in a variety of damaging other ways. For instance you may adopt a very blaming approach to all kinds of people involved in your child’s care. This could be teachers, paediatricians, psychologists, social workers etc.
    In this way all of your anger and grief is being directed at other people. This can cause problems in building relationships with people who are there to help you.
    It also will mean that such negativity will stay with you for years, like a big weight on your shoulders. By expressing your emotions in this way it won’t make you feel better or allow you to heal psychologically in the long term. In fact it will set up an endless cycle of negativity towards others that will further deplete and drain you emotionally. Another way that your grief may show itself is, if you are not able to deal with it, maybe in some degree of mental illness. Conditions like depression or anxiety can be quite common ways in which your unresolved grief may appear.
    Obviously none of these are conditions that are helpful to you when trying to understand and become a good parent to your aspergers child.
    Those are just a few examples of the problems that you could encounter by not openly expressing your feelings. Physical illness can be another side effect. As you may well be aware your physical emotions can be very acidic in your body’s system. Think for a minute of how tight your stomach can feel or how cold your blood can feel when you get really anxious or worried about something.
    That is acid being physically built up in your system and clearly excess acid in your system can do all kind of damage to your internal organs. Add to this the impact that it may have on your immune system, which may make you much more susceptible to a whole host of diseases. So failing to tackle your emotions can put you at a disadvantage both mentally and physically.
    Now that’s quite a bleak scenario. But what I want to do is give you help and hope, not scare the heck out of you. So the secret of this is simply to talk about it.
    Talk about those feelings of loss that you have and you can avoid these undesirable scenarios. If you feel at times that you have been cheated of a “normal” healthy child who will do all of the “normal” healthy things in life you need to talk about it.
    I use the word “normal” in speech marks as clearly for the aspergers child what he or she does is normal – and everything that you and I do will seem abnormal and weird. So “nearly” is clearly a very relative term. But I digress………….. and at risk of repeating myself you must talk about it.
    Now the next question may be who should I talk to? Well that is going to be dependent on you and your personal circumstances. Clearly a trained counsellor or relevant social/health care professional should hopefully have the skills to really help you to open up and talk about this stuff. Now dependent on which country you live in you may have free access to this service, or you may be required to pay for such a service. But it doesn’t have to be a professional though.
    A sympathetic and understanding friend or family member could be of great help.
    Providing that they are not a person who will spend the entire time talking about themselves, judging you on what you say, making you feel in anyway bad or offering you endless opinion on what you must do. At first it may be difficult and give you a whole variety of emotions (some good, some bad) but you need to stick with it, in order to move yourself forward. A good way of explaining this that I was told by counsellor once is that it’s like having a gaping wound in your leg after you have just fallen over and damaged it.
    So you have a painful wound with blood, filled with dirt and muck. To heal the wound you have to rake all of the muck and clean it up. This is exactly what you must do with your feelings of loss, guilt, anger etc. In order to heal yourself you must get those feelings that can appear unclean, dirty or tainted out in the open and then they can be dealt with. Allowing you to move on more positively in your life. So the one thing for you to take from this is that you have to talk about your feelings to help yourself.
    2. Look after yourself
    Another important issue is making sure that you do look after yourself.
    You need to look after yourself to help you enjoy your every day life and be the best parent you can be.
    If you expend every single ounce of time and energy on others, and none on yourself, then you will soon be left with nothing left to give.
    You cannot consistently do your best as a parent, or really expect to feel happy and unfulfilled as a person, if you do this.
    Using the simple idea of a car – it runs best when it is full of fuel. And obviously the opposite of this is that when it has no fuel it stops completely. This is just like you as a parent – and the way that you ‘refuel’ is by looking after yourself. This is a mental and physical process and I will talk about both of these soon.
    I know that the big problem for most parents is finding the spare time or energy to take for your self.
    But if you really look hard enough at your life you can always find the time. More about this in a little while also.
    First of all I am talking about looking after your self physically. Now don’t worry I am not going to start saying that you should go on 6 mile runs on a daily basis, or punishing yourself physically for hours down the gym. I am talking about firstly being aware of your ‘refuelling habits’ or, in other words, what you eat and drink.
    If you drink excessive coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks. And also eat a diet largely based on processed foods, sugary foods, fatty foods and salty foods then the chances are that you may have some problems. Living a lifestyle like this can obviously contribute to weight problems, energy problems and physical ailments.
    As well as this it can seriously affect your moods; perhaps making you feel tired, depressed and utterly lethargic.
    Now this isn’t a healthy lifestyle resource so I am not going in depth into this here. But I have written a book on that subject, so email me if you want to know more.
    But common sense tells you that if you look and feel overweight, lack energy and are prone to feelings of depression; then your quality of life and ability to parent will suffer.
    The key to improving this area is to re-fuel much more on non-processed natural foods such as water, fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, brown rice, pulses etc. Again I am not suggesting a whole lifestyle change – but this is something that you could start adjusting in your life and track your own results in how it improves your life. In addition to this aerobic exercise is another quick and easy way of making you feel better.
    Like I said earlier this isn’t intended to cause you physical damage; so you need to do it to whatever level you are at. And always consult your physician before embarking on any course of fitness – as the adverts always tell you! The only thing I would say is that you need to do 20-30 minutes minimum at least 4 days per week to really feel the results.
    If you are at the level of slow walking then great do that and build up. If you are able to jog, swim, cycle, rollerblade etc. that’s great too. Exercise will help you lose weight, secrete endorphins (little chemicals in your brain that make you feel good) and generally improve your ability to cope with things.
    At first it may be very tiring and seem unnatural but in order to have more energy in your life; you need to exercise. One of the problems for many of us is that we are so stationary in life and we were not built to be like that. One of my all time favourite quotes from Tony Robbins (the famous US Life Coach guy) is that “emotion comes from motion”. By engaging your body more you do feel better.
    I can honestly swear by this through personal experience. I now exercise 7 days a week and feel phenomenal afterwards. He also advises first thing in the morning as the best time to exercise as it turns on your metabolism to burn fat for the whole day. And it gets your day off to a great start with a “victory”.
    But it’s not essential; you can do this any time of the day and still benefit. So for those of you pressed for time try setting the alarm 5 minutes earlier each morning for a week. Voila – you have 35 extra minutes each morning after 7 days; with which to look after yourself.
    On the mental side it’s important to look after yourself by having people to turn to and talk to. This can be on serious issues as well as the enjoyment of just a good old chat! This can be friends, close family, relatives, support groups etc. I think another thing that really helps is to have something that is “just for you”. Not part of your role as a parent, wife/husband, friend, worker but YOU. Whether this means spending time reading a favorite book, playing an instrument, tending your garden, attending a college class.
    It doesn’t matter what it is – if you want to do it and it’s important to you; find a way to do it! You may have to very creative to find the time but generally if you look hard enough, there is a way around every challenge in life. It will help you to have this specialist interest of your own in the world, and provide you with emotional strength/respite.
    3. Adapt your lifestyle/routines
    As you are probably well aware children with aspergers tend to thrive on routines and consistency. And they really struggle when things are unpredictable and liable to change without warning. In addition you will soon learn, by trial and error, which type of environments suit your child and which ones don’t. So the key to a happier family life in many cases lies with both understanding and accepting this.
    Many families run into trouble when they try to simply slot their aspergers child into the normal routine. For example they go out for the day when the parents feel like it (rather than at a set agreed time). They have to go to the crowded soccer field with their mom to watch their brother play, or go the busy store to help with the weekly food shopping.
    At this point many parents wonder why their child is shouting, screaming, aggressive or generally upset. This in turn is seen as some kind of “bad” behaviour, or as some unavoidable consequence of aspergers.
    In actual fact if the schedule for the day had been run differently to suit the aspergers child it could all very well have been avoidable. Now I know many parents like to be laid back and not have to make definite plans (it’s one of the privileges of being an adult right?) and also practically struggle to juggle domestic/child care duties. So I am not saying that this stuff is easy. But equally doing things without proper regard to the impact on you and your child helps no-one.
    So for potentially difficult events like the busy soccer crowd or the supermarket – is it really necessary for your child to go? At times there are probably other options.
    But if not then some pre-planning can also help in the form of explaining what may happen at the event, how to react to certain possible situations and possible “escape” strategies if it gets too much to cope with for the child.
    Similarly try to plan/schedule events so that your child has a clear idea as to what will happen in the day ahead and so be expecting it. This will greatly cut down on the difficulties that you can at times experience with your aspergers child.
    Unfortunately the world is an unpredictable place so you cannot plan for every eventuality. But just putting a little thought into the need for consistency and structure in the aspergers child can bring some surprisingly good results all around.
    4. Arm yourself with knowledge
    The very fact that you are reading this short book of tips shows that you are aware of the importance of this point. So I won’t labor it too much! But the world is a fast-changing place these days and new ideas, research, viewpoints etc. are frequently coming out on a daily basis. And the world of aspergers is no exception! The internet is by far the easiest, most up-to-date and cheapest place to get this information.
    Every day people are posting ideas on forums, adding content to their websites or writing stories about new developments.
    One really helpful tip to keep on top of all the new content on the web is a little free feature called Google Alerts. I am sure that most of you are familiar with Google.
    For those of you who are not they are THE biggest search engine on the internet. Estimates say that at about 70-80% of people who search online use Google.
    So to get to Google’s home page you need to type in www.google.com into your internet browser (or just click the blue link I just gave you!). Then click on “More” and then “Alerts” then enter the word “Aspergers” in the “Search Terms” box and your email address and then you are away!
    5. Get Support
    Now all of us need support from time to time to encourage us and help us get through testing times in life. Many parents are fortunate that they can get support from each other, other family members or friends. But there are situations when this is not necessarily the best choice. Sometimes being able to talk to other people in the same situation (i.e. parents of other aspergers children) can really make the difference. This can be really helpful for letting off steam in an environment where you don’t feel judged or that you cannot say what you really think for fear of upsetting your husband/best friend/mom.
    It is also a great way of picking up little tips or bits of advice that only other parents might now about. This could be particular approaches to helping your child, the name of a good therapist or a local event that’s going on.
    Now support groups are traditionally held in public places such as church halls, recreational centers or school buildings after hours.
    People come together to talk about different issues and there are often social spin-offs like trips out, coffee mornings and other such gatherings. But nowadays there are many different “virtual” support groups available on the internet.
    You can access these without leaving the house and there are often people around 24 hours per day to interact with, due to the different time zones around the world.
    I would recommend using both local and internet based support groups to get the best of both worlds. But ultimately the decision is down to you and what best suits your personal circumstances.
    Support is also available from different professionals who may well be involved with you, your child and your family. This will often be just as helpful but in different ways. Teachers, social workers, health workers, psychologists can all offer a great deal of advice, techniques and insights into various aspects of aspergers. Most professionals in these fields are also trained, and develop through experience, the ability to be supportive, non-judgemental and empathic to your situation. So be sure to maximise these sources of support too. And never be afraid to pick up the phone to ask them for support.
    6. What’s the reason?
    One of the most important things that I can suggest for parents when confronted with any behaviour by your child is to always think “what’s the reason?” I know that this is easier said than done when your child is suddenly shouting, screaming or having a fully blown tantrum in a very public place. But whenever possible the most effective method is to quickly look at what the reason for the behaviour is – rather than an automatic reaction. Without wanting to baffle you with psycho-babble; an excellent technique that I use as a social worker is the “pain/pleasure” principle.
    Now I am not going to take credit for this idea – as it is a concept that I have adopted from Tony Robbins (the life coach expert I mentioned earlier).
    In fact this is slightly off-topic but if you want to equip yourself with some amazing tools and techniques to change every area of your life (your finances, emotions, physical fitness, health and spirituality) then check out his website at www.TonyRobbins.com
    He comes with my highest endorsement; using his stuff his improved every area of my life infinitely over the past 4 years. Anyway I digress – the “pain/pleasure” principle is a basic way of understanding what motivates all human behaviour.
    As human beings all of our behaviour can be explained at a most basic level as either helping us to get out of pain or get into pleasure.
    For example over-eating gets you out of the pain of boredom/discomfort and also gives you the sensory pleasure of eating the food. Similarly smoking can get you out of the pain of a situation (for that short period when you inhale and exhale) and give you the pleasure of a comforting, soothing habit.
    So OK can I really apply this to my child? Absolutely – any behaviour that your child may display can be seen at this basic level. So if your son starts to suddenly freak out in the store and shout noisily what does this mean? Well in all likelihood they will be getting out of the pain of a situation (maybe it’s a sensory problem of too much light, noise or people) by controlling their immediate environment through the noise that they are making. And similarly to the cigarette example there is probably some pleasure that they are getting from being able to instantly manipulate and control their environment.
    So what to do next?
    Well the key to this now is to help your child find a more appropriate way of gaining pleasure or getting out of pain, than shouting.
    So maybe there is a song they like that you could sing to them, a familiar topic/discussion that you can have with them.
    Or alternatively if you are sure that it’s a particular part of the environment that they are in, then get them out of the environment. Don’t persist with the situation, shout back or think of your child as bad/naughty. Remember that all behaviour has a reason and once you find out what that is you are half way there.
    7. Prepare For Meetings
    I know that many parents find meetings with professionals to be intimidating and daunting tasks. They needn’t be in fact in my opinion they certainly shouldn’t be.
    One easy way of getting around this is to make sure that you don’t go alone.
    Take someone who can help, and if necessary act as an advocate for you and your child. This could be a relative, friend or professional advocate.
    But make sure you choose someone who can be calm, objective and who will not let their own issues/agendas affect things. Another great tip is to make sure that you clearly have your own questions/agenda for discussion written up to take with you.
    You can bet your bottom dollar that the professionals will have a written agenda, so it’s important for you to do the same.
    I even go one step further when attending important meetings. I play them out in my head beforehand. That way I can “see” what will happen – and have chance to think of answers/questions, iron out any problems or difficulties that may arise.
    Before they happen! I would advise you to do this and you will see what a difference this makes when it comes to your next meeting. But my most important piece of advice is to remember that 99% of all professionals who are working with your aspergers child are doing it for all the right reasons.
    People in social and health care are drawn to this kind of work because they really want to help other people. So bear this is mind – that the people involved are here to help you and your child.
    The Parenting Autism Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Autism.

    The 5 Biggest Mistakes That Parents of Asperger’s Children Make

    The 5 biggest mistakes that parents of Asperger’s children make:

    1. Waiting too long to take action.

    I have worked with children who were diagnosed very early with ASD’s and looked like severe Autism (banging head into the wall, screaming, and flapping arms all day with no initiation of communication) at ages 2 and 3 but with early intervention and treatment looked like mild Asperger’s or even normally developing by the time they were five. When I first see children who are already early elementary school aged and never had services because people thought they were just late talkers, they have missed the optimal time for intervention and the prognosis for improvement is not as good. 

    We absolutely must catch them when they are very young and provide treatment. We need to get the message out that it is better to help kids who would have been fine either way than to overlook kids because we think they will “grow out of it”. Time and again I get kids who are 5 years old and the parents have known something was not coming together right for years. We have to get rid of the stigma/fear and show people that getting help early works and is worth stepping through the fear and advocating for the services their child needs.
    2. Overlooking the benefits of routines and consistency.

    Example: Johnny wakes up one morning and eats breakfast, brushes teeth, gets dressed, then goes to school. The next morning Johnny wakes up and is surprised to find that he has to take a bath before getting dressed. Johnny has a tantrum and becomes aggressive, hitting, putting holes in walls, and the whole family is late to school and work and stressed out.

    If you don’t build in the predictability where it is possible, he has to find ways to cope and you might not like his preferred coping mechanisms (rocking, flapping, withdrawing, tantrum). Certainly, we cannot predict every situation in life, but having a core routine within the family is usually very helpful for the child with Asperger’s. Preparing a child for changes in the routine is also helpful.

    In Johnny’s case, perhaps the water was not working the night before and you had to get the bath before school. If Johnny retains verbal information it is important to tell Johnny the night before what to expect the next morning. Ideally you would make a schedule (written, pictures, photos depending on his abilities) so he can visually see what to expect out of the day.

    This is so helpful when changes in routines are necessary. That being said, it is also possible to OVER schedule the routine. I have found that children with Asperger’s are often so dependent on their routines that it can be very disruptive to alter them when life happens. For this reason, many parents have found it helpful to build adaptations and variations into their regular routines. They teach their child to cope with the many changes in routines that happen all the time. 

    3. Friendship failure.

    Failing friendships are a challenge some higher functioning children with Asperger’s can face. For example, Jane, a 7 year old, is friends with Leanne. Jane has Asperger’s and does not like to be in large groups of people. Leanne is also 7 and is the daughter of Jane’s mother’s best friend. Jane likes to swim, Leanne likes to talk to her friends. Jane often becomes frustrated and is not sure what to say when Leanne is around. She doesn’t read her social cues and does not know how to get into the conversation, nor does she have a desire to talk about what Leanne and her friends are talking about.

    Find activities that your child is truly interested in and help them cultivate friendships within those activities. In Jane’s case, she enjoys swimming so finding a swimming team or class that she can attend regularly and then role playing and coaching her to help her with social skills related to those relationships will evolve into people who know Jane and share an interest with her. Ideally, in the future those friendships will turn into a network of advocates and friends who will share Jane’s interests and appreciate who she is as a human being.

    4. Expecting the child to know what to expect when they don’t, this is particularly true in social situations.

    Imagine how a birthday party must seem to a child who has never been to one. People singing while a large bright colored blob that is on fire is brought out in the dark (the cake with candles). Imagine how it would feel to go to your first day of Kindergarten when you don’t know where to go to use the toilet, are not sure how to ask other people if you can play with them, and don’t particularly care much for being in a room full of people.

    I find that children with social skills challenges do best when placed first into social situations that interest them AND have lots of structure. For instance, even an uncoordinated child will often enjoy non-competitive group sports when the rules are very clear.

    Ideally as they age you expose the child to more social situations and provide them with information about what to expect and how to behave. For instance, if they are meeting their teacher, you let them know that they will be meeting the teacher and what it involves. Meeting the teacher involves going to the school, walking into the classroom, saying “Hello, my name is Joe”, making eye contact, and shaking the teacher’s hand. It also involves listening to the teacher introduce themselves, and answering a question or two if the teacher asks. Joe might also have questions about the class that can be answered then, but his parents must be familiar enough with his needs to help him know what to ask. Carol Gray’s Social Stories are a great resource for children learning to interact socially and role playing is often helpful.

    5. Jumping on the latest thing instead of analyzing their child’s needs and finding the right tools to help them as an individual.

    Sarah’s family is well educated and has the means to provide her with whatever she needs. They see many specialists and try every new thing that comes out to “fix” Sarah.

    It is critical to really think about what you know about your child before selecting different treatment options. Each child is so different and certainly there will be some trial and error, but there are often clues/indicators of what will work best for a particular child. Parents often disregard their parental instincts because they have heard something worked for someone they know and the child got much better.

    The families I see who have the most success seem to be the families who know their child’s strengths and needs and have found a combination of strategies that are a good match for their child.

    The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide


    Aspergers Children & Sexual Behaviors

    Individuals with autism are sexual beings, just as everyone else is. However, because of their inability to control all of their impulses, they may display behaviors that are inappropriate in public. This can be particularly difficult to deal with as it can be embarrassing for parents to deal with. This is something you will need to be direct and proactive about.

    There are social aspects of sexuality that will need to be dealt with. You can use social stories to teach about sexuality as well as many other things. It is important that your child understand good touch/bad touch. They can be vulnerable in this area and you want them to be prepared in order to reduce their risk.

    In order to be proactive, you will need to think ahead, and decide what is appropriate to teach your child at each stage of development. When talking about sexuality, use real terms. Individuals with autism do not pick up on social cues, so they need concrete terms about what you are talking about. Reinforce appropriate behavior, and when inappropriate behavior occurs (e.g., masturbating in public), redirect the child.

    Plan ahead before going into the community. Let them know exactly what is expected of them while they are in the community. If your child is young and doesn't seem to comprehend, give them something else to keep their hands busy.

    Using behavior modification techniques can be effective. For older children, adolescents, let them know that it is okay to do that, but it needs to be done in private. You need to decide that you will address the issue, and not avoid it.

    Set aside some time with your child to talk about sexuality. If you only respond when an incident occurs you may be sending the wrong message to your child. Find out what your child knows about sexuality, again using direct questions. Find out if your child has concerns or fears about sexuality. 

    Talk about what is "normal" sexual behavior, but also let them know what is inappropriate. Try to let your child know that you are comfortable and that it is okay to have sexual feelings and it is OK to talk about them. If you still have concerns, talk to your child's school. They may have some programs that can be helpful in teaching more about sexuality. Or you can seek the advice of a professional outside of the school.

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