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Aspergers and Attentional Difficulties

There are several different kinds of attention, some of which tend to be impaired in kids with Aspergers. In particular, there are often problems with shifting attention, the ability to shift attention in a flexible way from one subject to another. Aspergers kids may engage in over-focused, repetitive play for lengthy periods of time, under-reacting to distractions in the environment... These observations suggest good sustained attention, but deficient flexibility in shifting attention. There is a distinction between active and passive (distractibility from outside) attention. In autism spectrum disorder, the problem tends to be more one of active attention. Aspergers kids are not interested in directing their attention to outside stimuli... They follow their own ideas, which are mostly far removed from ordinary concerns, and do not like to be distracted from their thoughts.

A related matter is that of relevance, the ability to judge where it is important to focus one's attention. Aspergers kids are unable to calculate what is relevant in the normal way, hence the observation that the focus of their attention seems peculiar. Thus, one could say they often cannot see the forest for the trees.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for students with Aspergers to have considerable difficulty with schoolwork and homework, because of their attentional problems. This difficulty often exists despite superior intelligence. In one striking example, John, a fifteen year old with Aspergers, had an I.Q. in the superior range, but was failing almost all of his high school subjects. His difficulties were not due to a lack of effort on his part. Unfortunately, almost every time he sat down to study or write, he became flooded with his own rather unique thoughts.

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My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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