Aspergers Teens and Game Addiction

"I have a partner and many family members with Asperger’s, but the worst affected is 19. He has very limited social skills, his eating pattern is poor, and so is his sleeping pattern. But he is addicted to a game on his computer. How do we as parents encourage him to spend less time on the computer, eat better, and sleep more?"

Playing electronic games provides repetition, consistency, and security in his life. Also, electronic games are predictable. He can count on the same actions and results every time he plays the games. People with Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism want to feel safe and secure in their activities. The electronic games allow him to follow predetermined rules that result in predictable outcomes.

It sounds like your son is concentrating on electronic games at the expense of his health. He spends time in front of a video screen that could be better spent learning new eating habits and practicing better sleeping patterns.

Check into Asperger’s support groups for your son; there might be one in your local area. Support groups give advice on daily living skills and healthy lifestyles. Encourage your son to join one of these groups; he will meet people who are his age and may be experiencing similar difficulties with Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition to information, a support group can give your son the opportunity to talk about his feelings about Asperger’s and the help necessary for him to cope with adult responsibilities.

Another resource for your son is an Asperger’s specialist who can inform and teach your son social skills. A specialist, such as a psychiatrist, might prescribe Melatonin, which will help your son sleep better at night.

Your son is in his late teens, and he is fast approaching adulthood. You can use reasoning and negotiation instead of rules and orders. However, if the excessive computer use continues, you might need to move it into a room that restricts his access to it. Also, the computer can be used as a reward if your son tries new foods and establishes a regular pattern of sleep. Although your son is getting older, there are rules that are still effective in changing his behaviour; you should establish those rules in your household.

In terms of nutrition, many autistic children suffer from food allergies, overgrowth of intestinal yeast, and sensitivity to sugar and dairy products. Consult a doctor to see if your son needs to adjust his diet. Changing your son’s diet to wheat-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free products requires patience because people with Asperger’s can be very strong-willed, and implementing change can be difficult for both of you. See if other family members will adopt a diet similar to your son’s; this will make him feel integrated into the family. Also, read diet books, look into websites, and read advice from nutritionists.

Your son’s sleep patterns can be changed with consistent hours. He needs to establish a time that he will go to bed each evening and get up each morning. If he complains that he cannot get to sleep or wake up at a given time, tell him that there are parts of our bodies called circadian rhythms, and they help our bodies rest. If your son can get to bed at a specific time several nights in a row, the circadian rhythms in his body will reset and help him go to sleep and wake up at a given time each evening and morning. Remove all distractions from his bedroom to help him concentrate on rest and sleep.

Q & A on High-Functioning Autism


I have a 5 year old son that has high functioning autism and he doesn't like to sleep in his own bed. We have tried everything. It's frustrating because he will continue to come into my bed and that is very difficult to deal with. If we try to put him in his bed it will trigger an outburst and it will last well into the night. Which makes us very tired and emotionally drain. How do I transition him back into his bed and help him understand he has to stay there and he can't sleep in my bed. Now that he is getting older and bigger it's very difficult.


Routine is key backed up by social story/Pecs or some kind of visual cue. For example the routine could be story - bath - hot drink - bed. The social story could feature his favorite cartoon character, animal or something like that. Then it's down to good old fashioned perseverance with the routine rigidly every night - and you should see change.



My HFA son refuses to do what is asked of him at school. He has days where he completely shuts down and will not write or perform math assignments. The school is trying to make accommodations for him, yet he refuses to even try. They hear, and we hear come homework time, that it's too hard or the answer is zero. We are very frustrated and don't know how to move him past this.

We believe it is attitude. He also has lots of fine motor issues. Penmanship is very poor as is spelling. He cannot tie shoes, button buttons or snap snaps cut with scissors... I thought we were making progress with school when we got some assistive technology and then I come to find out they were still expecting him to write it before typing...he perseverates on Star Wars and the teacher says he is being silly. He puts his head down during math time. He has had a very difficult time learning his math facts--can solve them with strategies but if he can't do a problem immediately he melts down, at least at home. At school he puts his head down and refuses to even try the work. He is extremely inflexible and very easily frustrated. I don't know if this helps, but this is our biggest hurdle yet to overcome.


It's possible he may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work clumped together. Has anyone tried breaking work down into bite sized chunks for him as they may be more beneficial. Equally dependent on his age and how appropriate this is - can the teachers or yourselves hone in on the Star Wars thing as a positive? So use this in Maths, English, Geogrpahy - in fact most subjects you could slant with a Star Wars angle to improve his interest and ability in them. He may well have a "mental block" on maths for example but I bet he doesn't have such a block if maths can be presented with Star Wars (e.g. measuring angles of the Millenium Falcon to the Death Star, or working out percentages of storm troopers killed in Return of The Jedi etc.)



I have an 11yr old (year 6 at school). I recently had a meeting with his class teacher and she is having trouble getting him to complete class tasks. He is obsessed with reading (which he does during class time instead of listening) then gets extremely upset because he does not know what is going on in the classroom. I have told the teacher to use this as a reward for completing work which she is doing but he will often just sit at his desk and not do anything for each subjects class task (e.g. complete so many maths questions). I have suggested we draw up a contract (visual) and get him to sign it and refer him to this when he is off task. My question is do you have any resources or previous experience with such a contract which may help us get it right? And give us ideas on how to construct one. The teacher is extremely helpful and willing to do whatever I suggest.


It needs to be in clear "black and white" language with no ambiguity. He needs to be involved in it as much as possible (but clearly within certain boundaries of what it's actually there for - no point in a contract that says "Johnny has 10 ice creams each school day" just because that's what he wants")! It could be themed in line with tastes. Also a contract is only as useful if it is regularly re-visited - by both you and each teacher (daily would be best). Here are some contracts to view that may give you some ideas on how to create one specifically for your son.

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

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

The Connections Between ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder

"Are there any connections between ADHD children and those with high functioning autism? My child is diagnosed with ADHD, but he seems to cross over a bit with weak social skills and emotional behavior. How do you determine what is ADHD-related behavior versus autism-related behavior?"
Click here for the answer...

Parenting Tips from Parents of Aspergers Kids

Check out these wonderful parenting tips from parents of Aspergers kids who have "been there and done that":

Parenting Tip 1 – Visual charts

I found that creating a chart for my 8 yr. old with aspergers, helps him to stay on task. It may seem facetious to most but I really believe he responds well to having some sort of written regime. Mornings before school used to be a nightmare, but now he has each task written out with a particular window/timeframe. He seems to be responding very well with this.mNo more frustrated mornings, running out the door to catch the bus. He actually even likes to challenge the timeframes on the chart to show that he can beat them. Now we’re out for the bus with time to spare. Hope this advice can help someone else


Parenting Tip 2 – Gentle and consistent learning

Our eight year old son has Asperger’s and OCD. He was very speak and motor delayed and a major behavior problem for everyone but me. We’ve since learned that I, his mother, also have Asperger’s so I understand that not pushing him too hard and letting him have too much noise, people talking at him, just stimulus in general, is crucial to keep those troubling Asperger’s symptoms to a minimum.

I have forced him to face his fears and aversions but in a quiet, methodical, gradual way and it’s worked well. When we watch a show or observe a situation, I ask him, “Are they being good friends?” “Why was he mad?” “Do you know why she is crying?” etc. It helps to build that kind of observation into every day. Keeping their environment calm, simple (not a lot of stimulus going at once,) and gentle but firm reminders of what is acceptable and what is not, has been key.

Our pediatrician told me when he was four not to even THINK about putting him in a normal school environment because of his reactions to upsetting things - well, after 18 months of intensive speech and motor therapy, firm but gentle parameters consistently enforced, he’s never had a bad report from school about behavior and he’s now in second grade - and about 18 months ahead of his classmates in all subjects.

Don’t lose heart with the diagnosis. Your child needs to be able to function in society as an adult without you, if at all possible, so remember that teaching what is acceptable and helpful and safe will be invaluable later. Being firm is alright if it’s done gently.


Parenting Tip 3 – Square pegs and round holes

From my observations, it is very common for Aspies to talk a lot, although they may go off on tangents of interest to now one but themselves. I have a 17 year old with Mild Aspergers. ADD medication does not help and makes him feel worse. His diagnosis went from ADHD to NLD/ Aspergers in 8th grade. We have struggled through this. As a mother, I give him supplemental programs to improve his weakness while I encourage him to pursue his strengths.

I use the summer time to enroll him in non-academic classes. He has done PACE, biofeedback and lots of athletic sports and weight training to increase coordination and back strength. These kids clearly have poor nerve enervation in their back muscles that attributes to poor posture- it is not due to low self-esteem.

I am looking for another social skills class for the summer of 2009 for teenagers. Finally, I also have come to realize that while these kids my be loners because of lack of social skills, but — they are also loners by choice. They want and need more private time than the average NT kid. I am coming to accept my son’s ways as what works for him and I have stopped forcing NT ways on him. His nervous system is different and that will never change.

What is normal for me is not normal for him. My advice is to support, love and finally truly accept your child as god gave him to you. Trying to force a square peg in a round hole will destroy your child. Let him know he is loved and keep a strong family unit.


Parenting Tip 4 – Individual differences

As a home schooling parent of three aspies & four NT’s, it continues to surprise me the differences between children in the same family. One thing that helped for us is when I finally figured out each person’s pattern of highs/lows or attention/inattention (I don’t pick up patterns easily, so that was a long time coming!). Two of my kids had behavior improvements right after eating, so I set their problem subject areas for then, since we could more effectively work with them. Several could only concentrate in the morning which became math time for them, while one of my aspies definitely clicks in late afternoon, so that’s when we do her work. I found that we have fewer battles and blow-ups when I simply accomodate their natural rhythms. I wonder what kids locked into a school program do about such differences?


Parenting Tip 5 – Homework troubles

For homework troubles, try breaking down the homework in sections. Draw a red line after question 5 and do these after school, draw a line after question 8 and do these after supper, do the rest of the questions after bath and before bed. Use manipulatives to assist with math. Try using a different colored pencil for each question. Will the teacher accept the assignment if the student tells you an answer orally and you write it down? Will they be more willing to do the work if the answers are typed on a computer? Try doing the homework in a different location like the library, the park picnic table, or a coffee shop. Talk to the teacher about your struggles at the next ARD meeting, sometimes they will shorten the length of the assignment for the least amount of work needed to show comprehension. Don’t give up we’ve been there and our son is ready to graduate from high school!


Parenting Tip 6 – Sensory issues

I was reading about the sensory issue comment and how just going in public creates problems for our children. I’ll tell you how I’ve helped my son be able to take public outings. First I’ll explain his mind as a behaviorist did in order to help me get a picture of how it felt to him to go to the grocery store or a department store. She told me that an average brain will survey it’s surroundings and take in something like 10,000 items a minute but only about 15 of those things are relevant to what we are doing at the time. So the other 9985 things get filed into the unnecessary to think about category and the 15 things we are focusing on get put on our “desk”. With Asperger’s all 10,000 items get put on our “desk” all at once so we are over whelmed with the pile and imagine that pile getting bigger and bigger by the moment.

WOW I thought, that could be overwhelming, my poor baby. No wonder we get meltdowns in public. So how can I help him get thru the times I HAVE to go to the store with him in tow. First I tell him where it is we have to go, then I tell him what it is I am buying at each store (I try not to stray from my list) and approximately how long it will take at each location. Now that he can read I get him to help me with the shopping list to (wink wink) make sure mommy doesn’t forget anything.

This has helped me tremendously in any excursion. I still get the meltdowns if I have to go someplace I didn’t mention but not as bad as it used to be. I also took lots of stuff out of his room and in my house making it sparse in decorations to help minimize the overload. In doing that my son is more calm on a regular basis which helps him handle any unexpected things that might pop up.

Also the calming music to him is played on the way to town and calming to him maybe classical or heavy rhythmic music like I mentioned before but I use to just automatically put it on when we got into the car and that started to cause me problems to. He tells me music or no music now and ta daaaa he gets to set his own mood. Works great. My other two kids that are younger just roll with the punches now and I feel like I have conquered yet another hurdle…lol Hope this helps someone out…


Parenting Tip 7 – Music

One day my son kept asking me for the song that went dah dah dah…I’m looking at him so confused and finally I figured out it was, the VW commercial he had seen on TV so many times. So I went online and found the actual music for him. I’ve discovered that music with heavy bass(boom boom boom) and rhthmic (repetative) beats soothes him completely. There is this one song called Spirit in the Sky and he will sit and listen to it over and over if he is stressed and it will make him actually fall asleep.

I also use to sing to him a in monotone type voice This Old Man…it was sometimes the only thing that would allow him to go to sleep. As a parent that’s been doing it for 9 years I’m certainly learning that you always have to keep on trying to find out what it is that will work with your child. Diligence and patience is a must. LOL Another thing I just thought of, when my son is feeling overwhelmed by like shopping or something a rhythmic pounding with the balls of my fists on the top of his head will also calm him. He wants me to do it fairly hard and I do it a lil’ harder until he tells me I’ve got it. Has anyone experienced this sort of sensory calming with their child?


Parenting Tip 8 – The police

Hi, today i went to the Police station to add us (my ASD son and me (family/carer)) to their computer system. I highly recommend everyone to do this. It only takes 30min and for a life of peace! Specially useful for those times when melt-downs and aggression happens in home or public and police get involved…or if you have a “runner” – an ASD kid who wanders off or runs away a lot. It makes it so the police have a you and your ASD kid in their files to look up and be prepared as to what to expect when they encounter your ASD kid and importantly what they should NOT do ! Medications and allergies and close friend for emergency contact. It’s simple and if you’re hurt or your child is lost they know what to do to best help. Please I urge all to do this.


Parenting Tip 9 – Eating the right foods

I was reading the current Blog about eating habits and as my wife and I have 2 children with AS we were having the same problem with a healthy diet for the kids. A friend of our put us on to a cook book written by Jessica Seinfeld called Deceptively Delicious and what she does is steams and purees her vegetable and then mixes into the families favorite foods and generally you don't even know your eating a healthy meal. My 2 kids generally eat everything in the book with out complain. The meals are also very easy and not time consuming for the cook of the family to prepare. Hope this will be helpful to other families.


Parenting Tip 10 - Helping your child in the store

I’ve always had trouble in stores keeping my son from touching EVERY single thing he comes in contact with. He has never broken anything, but has made several messes by knocking things off shelves. It would always be embarrassing and no matter how many times I scolded him he would always turn right back around and touch this or that. Finally I found a way to keep his hands busy. I have my son carry a little stress ball with him when ever we go into a store. That seems to cut down on all those embarrassing mishaps of him knocking things on the floor. It works so well that he also has one at school to help him keep his hands to himself and off of other students.


Parenting Tip 11 - School problems

I recently received a question from a reader of the newsletter about her 8 year old grandson with Aspergers: "How to help with the situation of school for a child who is withdrawn (not disruptive) therefore the teachers don't have a problem." I replied: A child with Aspergers who is withdrawn and does not join in with the rest of the class is just as much of a concern than one who is 'acting out'.

The trouble is schools and teachers will often ignore this as they associate problems with poor behavior. There are several reasons why this may be happening. He may be bored and just 'zoned out'. If this is the case his interest and motivation to engage will need to be captured.

Another reason for withdrawal is chronic low self esteem and lack of confidence. Many Aspergers kids know they are ‘different' and don't want to stand out from the crowd. They are often afraid of being laughed at or teased. It is important to get to the root of the problem. Gently encourage him to talk about what changes he would like to make to the classroom environment to make it a better place.

He may well tell you what some of the problems are. Arrange an appointment to see his teacher and discuss your concerns. It may be that his teacher hasn't even noticed that there is a problem! It's really important to keep the channels of communication between home and school open so that you are both working together and are seeing the same picture.


Parenting Tip 12 - Humming and boundaries

I would like to pass along a hint that we found worked great with our Aspergers grandson. My husband and I pick up our grandson (7) and granddaughter (4) from school on occasion. After spending the after school hours and dinner with us we drive them home. Always on the drive home our grandson would hum driving his sister and I crazy and usually ending in a sibling fight.

We told our grandson that he could run around and hum as much as he wanted before he got into the car, but once in the car it had to be quiet with no humming. It has worked amazingly and now they both sit quietly and listen to music, taking turns which song they like.

Now for some parents this may well be an approach that you are already using of sorts, but I wanted to mention this tip as it's a great basic behavioral approach that can really work. Variations of this can involve for example using an egg timer to allow a child a certain amount of time to do a particular activity with a visual cue for when they need to stop. So for some of you I hope you can try out this approach and for others perhaps a reminder to use such techniques to help everyone in the family.


Parenting Tip 13 - Changing schools

Hi I just thought I'd let you know. For the last 2 years I was having problems with my youngest son at school. The school was saying he was just a bit below average ability and ignoring the fact he has ASD. 2 weeks ago he got so upset with a teacher saying "look at me while I'm talking to you. How do I know when your listening if you’re looking at the floor?" I changed his school.

After 10 mins with the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) she announced that he has ultra sensitive hearing and smell which must have caused him huge problems in the class. As he had been put in a class of 30 and 12 of them had ADHD, because he was in the lowest set which was set 9. He is now in a class of 9-12 for hard subjects and 25-30 for easy subjects.

Within 3 days she had put him back on his IEP (Individual Educational Program) the last school had taken him off it, had a risk assessment done for science as he had been burnt 3 times in the previous school and she is having him statemented after 3 months.

Now I collect a happy 12 year old as he has no pressure to perform or to act the same as others, he can look at the floor she doesn't mind, he can tap his legs, its fine, and his targets have been lowered to more reasonable ones that he can achieve. I would just like to say don't give up your child’s happiness it depends on you fighting for them.


Parenting Tip 14 - Handling transitions

I'm a mother with a 6-year-old daughter who will soon be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Transitions tend to be very difficult, and my daughter often starts talking in a negative way "I hate going home....I never want to go home.....or I never want to come over to so-and-so's house ever again." The translation: "I don't want to leave, Mom, I'm having a lot of fun." I say that the next activity will be fun. She says, "No it won't." I explain why it will be fun, and she still says "No, it won't."

I used to keep explaining in other ways or try to change the subject, but she would continue on the negative kick and then I would get mad at her and we would both be in a bad mood. Recently, I've found that if I stop responding to her after the first or second "No, it won't." then she loses steam and becomes interested in something else.

Another thing that I've found that works in transitions or with getting her to do something is adding a little fantasy to our activity. I change my voice just a little to become a fantasy character (Shrek, Cookie Monster...) and call her be a fantasy name (Princess Fiona, Grover, Big Bird...) and suddenly the obstinet behavior evaporates and she is completely compliant. When it is Mom demanding something of her she balks, but if we are playing characters from a fun show, she'll do just about anything!"


Parenting Tip 15 - 4 Great tips from a mom

I am relatively new to your site but I will list the things I have found useful with my son, Eric, who is now 13 yrs old and was diagnosed with AS in the 3rd grade:

1. To prevent blow ups and resistance to going to appointments or having family over or going to a family/friends house for a visit, I prepare my son well in advance and remind him about as the date approaches. I tell him these are things he has to do. No exception.

2. He likes to wear red shirts and a black jacket each day even though now it is hot here, I don't try to get him to change. I bought enough red polo shirts for the school week. I also let him have his hair long but he has to keep it clean as part of the deal. He doesn't like to shower/bathe and that was always a battle as well. Now he showers and washes his hair Sun, Tue, and Thurs.

3. I organized his room so there is a place for everything. I put hooks up for his coat, clothes, etc and labelled each area to help him keep his room clean and his stuff put up.

4. To help him remember his school assignments and tools he needs as pencils, etc. I will ask him due dates of projects and ask him if he needs pencils before he leaves for school.


Parenting Tip 16 - Appeal from a grandmother

"I am a grandmother of a boy who was diagnosed with ASD in December 2006 and is now 4 1/2 years old. He was very withdrawn, would speak very little, and very solitary. After me and my daughter found out he was autistic we changed our and his life completely. Because I am retired and have all the time in the world for him here what I did. I never let him alone one single minute.

Here I am now writing to you and he is sitting on the floor playing and watching kids TV. I stop every now and again and ask him what is happening now and maintain a constant dialogue with him. This is very exhausting but the results are remarkable and he is talking to me all the time. The intention is just THAT.

When he does any little thing now he tells me even if he needs to go to the washroom he will say 'I need to go pee' and before I used to go with him now he just goes by himself. A LOT of attention and TENDERNESS has proven beneficial. So my suggestion is this ALL GRANDMOTHERS should spend as much time with their ASD kids as possible and play with them always speaking and asking questions and making statements.

Our daughters and sons are young themselves and need help as well. So when I STOP because like I said it is exhausting my daughter steps in. We take turns. Of course his progress is enormous but he gets EXTRA help at school and at day care. Never leave an autistic child alone too long because my impression is that they need the permanent presence of an adult. All this has worked for my grandson he now talks a lot and even says what happened at school, at day care, what he did on that day, he is very sociable and interacts with the others kids and asks them 'come play with me' 'let us play hide and seek things he never did before. PLEASE GRANDMOTHERS STEP IN...


Parenting Tip 17 – Meltdowns

I am the parent of an 11yr old Asperger’s child. A trick I have found helpful to minimize major meltdowns was a simple reward system. For every two (2) hours that he does not have a meltdown, or major tantrum he gets a simple reward. It could be an ice cream, a special sticker, a fruit bar, string cheese, or an ice pop, anything that is special that he does not get on a regular basis. It doesn’t always have to be food but if it is it can be a healthy snack. Getting to go to the market or any quick trip can also be a reward. Hope this tip helps someone else. I love the tips from other parents, it has been a God-send for me as I am a single parent of 4 with irtually no other support team except your wonderful website. Thank you and keep up all the great work.


Parenting Tip 18 – Vacations

We have a son who is 8 he was diagnosed as being Aspergers last year. We left him with his older sister and we went on a (well needed) vacation. Before I left I bought a tape recorder. We recorded us saying good night and be good and we love you. I told him if he starts to miss us just say what you are thinking into the recorder. He did and he even tried to read into the recorder. I have to say it worked. I think I will still use the recorder for other time too

D Dubois

Parenting Tip 19 - Explaining your child to their teacher

I've enjoyed reading your articles and have found them very helpful. I'd like to share an idea with your readers. I've been working on it all summer and many of your readers might find it helpful as a Back-to School activity to do with their AS child. My son (age 7) was diagnosed with AS two years ago and we've struggled to explain exactly what AS is to the staff and teachers at his school. The part that bothered me most at our meetings was that I wanted the teachers to not see my son as the AS kid but as Jacob, who happens to have AS.

So, we designed a scrapbook together to give to his teacher at the beginning of the year. It has Jacob's picture on the front and uses an alphabet format to explain AS and the individual struggles Jake has. The part I love most is that his picture is on every page and he helped me write it and drew pictures for it. He loved putting in the stickers and we talked about what we felt was important to know. (This also was a great way for me to start gently explaining to Jake what AS is.) I doubted a could get a teacher to read a 300 page book on AS, but I sure can get him/her to look at a colorful, artistic scrapbook with 26 pages! The format I used is below, but your readers could alter it anyway they choose:

A is for Aspergers
B is for Brain
C is for Computers
D is for Drawing
E is for Exceptional
F is for Frustrated
G is for Goofy
H is for Help
I is for Intelligent
J is for Jacob
K is for Ketchup
L is for Likes/ Dislikes
M is for Math & Music
N is for Noises
O is for Optimistic
P is for Perfectionist
Q is for Quiet
R is for Routines
S is for Special
T is for Touch
U is for Unique
V is for Vocabulary
W is for Writing
X is for X-cellent
Y is for Yearns to make friends
Z is for Zany


Parenting Tip 20 - A success story

I live in Australia this year in January or February my now 10 year old son was diagnosed with Aspergers. I think what I want to share with you is our journey to having this diagnosis made. My son as a baby was the happiest and easiest of my three sons. He has always been a very clever little man and could speak fluently from about 16 months of age, he had an absolute compulsion to push buttons. He would speak to anyone and looking back, would interrupt and continue talking way past what is socially acceptable.

I never realised my son was any different to other children, probably because all three of my children are very similar and I just thought they took after me (maybe they do). When he started school aged 4, everything changed with the teachers complaining that my son was very immature, would tap things and touch other people, would talk out of turn and although he had been diagnosed as gifted was not learning and could not write to an acceptable level.

At 6 years old I started seeking answers as he had become highly volatile and was hurting teachers, students and property and spending every day in detention so that he could complete his work. At 8 years old he was expelled from his school for using inappropriate language and his other meltdowns, his work refusal and avoidance of school as well as being teased and bullied and he was behaving this way in return.

At the next school he became the victim of daily physical attacks and constant bullying. It took 3 years of different services and doctors assessing my son for a diagnosis of Aspergers and ADHD to be given. Since he started school 6 years ago I think I have spent more time at the principal’s office than the students.

Since he has had this diagnosis, started on Concerta for the ADHD, and has started at a school that is willing to accept he is different and put different strategies into place, he has absolutely excelled. The school read all the books I gave them, attended training seminars and have really put in an effort to make an environment in which my son is accepted and can learn. He has learnt to skip, played football on a team and made friends as well as he has finally started to learn academically.

On top of this he has had one meltdown at school and three meltdowns at home in the last 8 months. It is like living with a different child. In a conversation I had with him the other day I asked him about school which he promptly replied “My school is the best school and everyone wants to go there. They can teach and I can actually learn, it is fantastic.”

Yesterday I offered him a day off school as he had hurt himself in a clumsy accident, he refused the offer saying, “I want to go to school.” I never thought I would hear these words from my son. It just goes to show if you can find a supportive and patient environment to match a good home life things can get better.


Parenting Tip 21 - Finding the right physician

Don't know if this is the kind of "tip" you seek for your newsletter but ...My grandson was diagnosed as Asperger/ADHD in 2007 after much frustration, changes in medications for ADHD, etc. Our local pediatric community was of virtually no help (as would be the situation in most small/mid-size communities).

After several fruitless searches and useless referrals, we found a Developmental Pediatrician whose specialty is ADD/ADHD/Asperger. Anyone within driving distance of Macon, Georgia might like to know there is understanding and assistance in the offices of Dr. Stephen Copps and Mark Prigitano, therapist who works with Dr. Copps to help children develop social skills, greater self-esteem, etc.


Parenting Tip 22 - Walking

Our 16 year old daughter has Asperger's and, in common with some adult Asperger's in the region, she loves to walk. She walks about two to eight kilometres a day. Fortunately we live in a very safe area, and we have put in a lot of time teaching her road skills. She always wears a flouro orange vest. We find that if she doesn't get to walk in the neighbourhood, she walks in the kitchen.

That is, she paces around and around the kitchen for anything up to an hour. She knows to do this when no one is using the kitchen. Because this is obviously the way she offloads so much sensory over-stimulation we do not stop her now. We used to, because we found it very irritating, but also found she would get quite withdrawn and depressed.

Since her diagnosis we understand her behaviour and are much more tolerant. I would suggest that if your Asperger's teenager is exhibiting repetitive behaviors that are not offensive, to let them do them, as it seems to be important for their mental wellbeing.

Our daughter also no longer attends school because she found it physically too challenging being jostled in the corridor, etc, and mentally not stimulating enough as she was well ahead of her age level. In the end it was not a difficult decision for us because she does not enjoy the company of her peers at all, and I only work occasionally as a casual relief teacher. However, it has meant that we have to work on creating a fulfilling life for her.


Parenting Tip 23 – The library

We joined her up to the local library at twelve months old and she reads three to four adult books per week. She loves to write for several hours a day. We never go into her room without knocking and waiting for her to invite us in, and we do not interrupt her when she is writing. We believe it is even more important for her with her Asperger's to have her own creative space and time than for non-Asperger's teenagers.

She loves music of all genres and art in all forms, so although we live two hours drive from the nearest city, we make sure we take her to quality cultural events at least once every three months. It is possible for Asperger's teenagers to have fulfilling lives outside of school, especially since in Australia they can receive a disability support pension, which our daughter receives and is learning to budget, use EFTPOS, etc.

But it does take effort on parents' part. It's definitely worth it, though, as our daughter has blossomed, learnt heaps of life skills, and is much happier than when she was trying to attend school which she described as "torture". I hope this helps anyone in the situation we were in, who might be agonising over their Asperger's teenager being utterly miserable at school.


Parenting Tip 24 - Classical music

My son is 7 yrs old. He was recently diagnosed by the children’s hospital in our city as having PDD-NOS-A Typical Autism. The special ed department at his public school says he is AS. I don't care what the diagnoses as long as he gets the help he needs. Anyway, sometimes car rides can be difficult with him and his sister in the same vehicle.

One Friday they both were out of school. Friday is grocery store day. Taking them both at the same time in the same car can be bad but, also going to the grocery store can be really bad. We are a house who likes to listen to different kinds of music. Usually we listen to blues, the old hard rock, and occasionally country. It just so happened on this Friday I thought, we haven't listened to classical in a long time. I had a CD of Bach's Bradenburgs in the van. I popped it in the player. I noticed my son was calm and quiet. After a while he asked me what that song was that I was playing. He said he really liked it. He started talking to me on a higher level than he has before. 

I think the classical music is helping him. His music teacher has had problems with him in class and has communicated this with me. I emailed her what I found out. She said she had noticed he was calmer in class the few times she played classical in class. She said there was a study called the Mozart Effect done in the past. I had not heard of this. I relayed the info I had to my son's class room teacher, whose has been wonderful. I bought some CD's for her to play in class. I haven't heard how it is working, yet but I hope it is helping. I don't think anyone will be hurt. Anyway I hope this might help others.


Parenting Tip 25- Use an exercise ball

My son has been diagnosed within the autism spectrum disorder, he is 10 and loves being on the computer, but finds it hard to just sit on a chair and sit still. He will twirl the chair on one leg, rock back and forth, and whatever else he can find to do with it. We have gone through a couple of chairs. I came up with the solution to two problems.

My son is also on medication that has made him gain some weight which he is struggling with. I was looking to buy an exercise ball for myself at my computer, because I had read that by doing that you will strengthen your inner core muscles. So I thought it would be great for me, but then before I even got to use it I thought what a great idea for a chair for my son. And it has worked out wonderfully.

He can roll back and forth in the living room, the chair can move all the time and not break anything and he is also getting some great exercise and has lost a couple pounds just having the ball for a month. I don’t know why I never thought of this before but I sure wish I would have. So anyway, that’s what’s worked for me to get rid of some of that excess energy that my son has.


More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> 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

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Anonymous said... This is a terrific post. I can relate to all of it and it always makes me feel better to know that I am not alone. I wanted to comment on the music. Long before we knew anything was wrong with our son (other than a new parent learning curve) we discovered music was the key to keeping him calm and focused. Little did we know how important that tid bit of knowledge would be.

Anonymous said... My 10 yr old son is in process now of diagnosis of aspergers. I have 2 older kids and started to notice that Jamie was different from about 2 yrs old. I went back and forward to doctors and psychologists who kept sending me to parenting classes. I have now gone to his school and at last I'm being listened to. I am so glad but annoyed that my parenting skills were blamed which has made it all a very long road. 

How to teach a younger sibling not to pick up unwanted behaviours:

"I would like some tips on how to teach a younger sibling (age 3, not in school yet due to rural location) not to pick up unwanted behaviours from his Aspie brother."

You might be concerned that your 3-year-old will pick up unwanted behaviours because he might have Asperger’s Syndrome, also. Asperger’s does, indeed, have a genetic component.

New research in the area of Asperger’s has shown that toddler siblings of autistic children are more likely to exhibit the same atypical behaviours as their brothers and sisters with autism, even when they don’t eventually develop the disorder. Andy Shih, PhD, of the Baby Sibling Research Consortium, states that this increases the importance of careful monitoring of high-risk siblings of children with autism (or Asperger’s) for any signs of a disorder. If one should occur, you are well-situated for early intervention. If atypical behaviours occur, but there is no Asperger’s, you will feel relief at knowing that your second child does not have it.

If you have a child with Asperger’s, the odds are 50 to 100 times greater that your second child will be diagnosed with Asperger’s. At the age of three, it might be difficult to tell if the child has Asperger’s. Ask yourself the following:
  • Does your younger son have age-appropriate communication skills?
  • Does he follow his brother’s exact behaviours?
  • Is he overreacting to sensory stimuli (e.g., actions, lights, sounds)? 
  • Does he cover his eyes or ears to avoid sensory stimuli?

If you answered “No” to these questions, your son is probably just imitating his older brother, and that is very common with siblings. He might see his older brother as a role model, or he sees his brother getting a lot of attention for these behaviours, and he is imitating him to get some of the attention.

If you answered “Yes” to the above questions, consider having a professional, such as an Intervention Specialist or special education teacher, observe your three-year- old when he interacts with his brother, and when he is alone. You might be thinking of waiting to see if your son outgrows these behaviours; however, if he does have Asperger’s Syndrome, you should begin early intervention. Make sure that the professional you consult is experienced in assessing autism spectrum disorders, and that his experience specifically includes Asperger’s Syndrome.

Your awareness of the sibling relationship, along with the help of a professional, and the book mentioned above will give you information and assistance to help with your three-year-old, if he, too, is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Stay in touch with the professional involved and re-read the book so that you can provide a comprehensive level of care for both your children.

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