Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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He has stopped going to school...


We are desperately trying to motivate our Aspergers teenager to graduate from high school. He is a senior who needs 20 more credits to graduate. He has stopped going to school. Any advice? HELP!!!


Every person is unique, but when you face a challenge like teenage dropouts, you are never alone. Countless individuals have faced the exact same situation and have survived and thrived. Teenage dropouts are all too common. Teenage dropouts occur for a variety of reasons, including bad parents, mental illness, gangs, drugs, indifferent teachers, and just generally bad choices. Dropping out of school seems like a good option for teens who are bored in school. But they often have a rude awakening once they drop out and have no place to turn.

How you can help:
  • Make the curriculum more interesting.
  • Offer advice on other teenage dropouts.

What to say:
  • Tell them how much you care about them.
  • "What’s your plan?”
  • "How can I help?”

What not to say:
  • "Yeah, that’s a good idea."
  • "Don't do it."
  • "Don’t worry."

In many states, once a teen turns sixteen years old, he or she can drop out of school. Some school systems are now reporting an alarming increase in the amount of drop outs that occur yearly. What can moms and dads and educators do to keep these teens in school?

By the time a teen reaches the age of sixteen, half of the battle may already be lost. Moms and dads need to instill a love of learning when their kids are small. Moms and dads should begin reading to their kids when they are babies. As kids grow, moms and dads should encourage their kids to excel in school. High expectations should become evident even when kids are in preschool.

As kids move from elementary school into middle school, many kids are left behind academically. If a youngster falls behind in one subject, a parent should take action immediately. Both moms and dads and teachers should communicate in order to plan a successful course of action. A youngster may need extra tutoring, or if there are problems at home, counseling may be in order. If a parent questions their youngster’s ability, testing may need to be conducted to determine if that youngster has a learning disability. A learning disability, such as dyslexia, can inhibit a youngster’s progress in school, and this will leave the youngster feeling discouraged and inept, prompting even poorer academic performance.

It is also important to encourage your youngster to be involved in school related activities as much as possible. The more active your youngster becomes, the less time he’ll have to think about failure. Encourage him to go out for sports and academic teams, band or chorus, and drama. If he is not really the academic type, help him to find a niche that he really loves, such as welding, auto mechanics, carpentry, drafting, and graphic arts. The key to instilling a need and desire for success in your youngster is to help him find what he is successful at doing.

Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances which can lead to a drop in a youngster’s grades. These circumstances may include a youngster’s illness, a recent move, problems at home, such as a divorce or death, or unexplained emotional problems. It is extremely important that these problems be addressed promptly. If left unattended, the problems could escalate, and when a teen reaches the age that he can legally withdraw from school, he may simply give up.

If you are struggling with a teen that seems apathetic to his academic career, you need to discern what the root problem might be. If the youngster is struggling with a particular subject or subjects, he may need extra tutoring. As a parent, you can encourage your youngster by spending time working with him in the evening. If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to tutor your youngster, you can arrange for help from someone else.

Many schools now have afternoon tutoring available to help students who are falling behind. Some schools also have “last chance” programs. These programs are typically given at night or on the weekends. They offer students a chance to take a subject or subjects that they have failed, so that they might still be able to graduate on time.

As a parent, you should realize that there may be more serious causes behind your teen’s lack of ambition. Drug abuse is a real problem among teens in today’s society. If you feel that your youngster is exhibiting signs of drug abuse, you should have him tested immediately. If he tests positive, you will need to decide on a direct course of action. It is also important to remember that even if you succeed in helping your youngster get off drugs, he will still be inundated with temptation if he is hanging with his same crowd of friends. You and your youngster may need to make some serious decisions regarding his every day environment.

Finally, never give up on your youngster. There may be times when both he and you are discouraged about his academic success. Try to hide your discouragement as much as possible, and, instead, let your youngster see that you believe in him and have high expectations that he will succeed.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


•    Anonymous said… A senior who still has 20 credits to earn (half of the required number to graduate with a diploma, not a certificate) isn't interested in graduating high school. Home schooling won't change this. Alternate schooling won't change this. Only the Aspie's mindset will change this. If he cannot be motivated and he cannot motivate himself to buckle down to business and earn the outstanding credits, he will not graduate high school in the time allotted by the department or ministry of education in his state or province.
•    Anonymous said… Can't you look at things another way? What are his hopes and aspirations for his future. What work does he want to do? If it's something he needs exams and qualifications for (sorry, english so don't get your system) then point out that these boring credits he must earn are a step he must take to get there. If otherwise, investigate work experience and apprenticeships, things to look good on a CV and give hands on experience of employment. Ultimately we want our children supporting themselves independantly, and conventional routes may not always work, so find others. Good luck!
•    Anonymous said… Homeschool instead! Either with an online program through the school system or with something completely different of your/his choosing.
•    Anonymous said… I think this article overlooks the aspergers mind. Encouraging is often seen as nagging to them which leads to shut downs.
•    Anonymous said… I would love to homeschool my daughter but I am afraid she will use that online time for computer games or unrelated school things.
•    Anonymous said… No it's not. It's just a different way that they see the world. All they may hear is 'you're a failure' rather than 'you need to do xy and z to succeed' and that will just push them in a downward spiral.
•    Anonymous said… Same boat. My son is very close to high school exam and he does not have motivation to study. I am thinking of a new environment for him however Vietnam does not yet have homeschooling or online learning for high school. I dont know what to do. Pls advise! Thanks.
•    Anonymous said… Sometimes it's a matter of giving him the environment he needs. Does your state have online school? If he can do his studies in the comfort of his own home where you can easily review his progress , that might be a better way.
•    Anonymous said… That's justification for poor choices on the part of the Aspie.

Post your comment below…


Jillian Damon said...

Is there a way he can go to an alternative high school to make up some or all the credits? I've seen a lot of students make up most credits then return to the traditional high school to graduate with their class.

My next suggestion would be to work closely with the school couselor and the teachers. Maybe a schedule/teacher changes may be in order. Also make sure he is being providing the emotional and academic supports necessary. Maybe see a mental health professional to see if there are additional supports that your son could benefit from.

Anonymous said...

See if your area has a computer based credit recovery option......because of being inpatient for two now 18 yr old was way behind others......they put him on this program .....he gained 22 credits his freshman yr and now is back on track to graduate with his class.....

It also helped that this program worked at his pace not a teachers.

Anonymous said...

I took my asperger son out of school at 5th grade. This year would have been his senior year but he is going to get his GED instead. Then going straight into college. He just could not handle school then, with the bullying and all the stuff our aspergers children have to deal with. Most, if not all colleges will take students with the GED. This has worked out great for us. I wish you well.

Anonymous said...

Home schooling through one of the computer based agencies has helped my friend's 17 year old. Pamela's idea above is also a great idea. I have seen that work well too. Good luck! My Aspie is only 7 but I'm already dreading Middle School and High School.

Anonymous said...

Is your son able to articulate a reason for not going? Its difficult to know how to motivate w/o knowing the reason to not go...

Anonymous said...

Another solution is to look into the junior college near you - many HS will offer credit for college courses (sometimes twice the credits!) I had a friend who graduated HS and received his AA in the same week! lol - he may well have been on the spectrum but such levels of success were not considered autism back then.

Anonymous said...

We did independent studies for a semester. which got us though a rough patch. My daughter would do her work o a computer and spend 1 hour a day at the alternative high school. She did finish at the high school. There was a class she could go to that she could go to just to do her work. That lessened some of her anxiety. Talk to the school Ideally they should help you with options.

Anonymous said...

Try to work something out with the school, perhaps a more flexible schedule. At the same time, give him a kick in the pants and let him know what is expected. Also, start looking into what he does after high school, getting a certificate of some sort at the community college or whatever. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

What about the younger kids? I have a 9 year old who is having such a hard time with school. Ive tried different schools, meeting with teachers and nothing works. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of virtual homeschool programs and some have a correspondance school where you drop them off at the Y or some location for a few hours to do their work. I know many aspies who had to go to "alternative" schools and ended up completing 2 yrs worth of work in 3 months! I have a 7 yr old and we pulled him out of school this year for 2nd grade. IT is going much better. His anxiety levels were through the roof before and now he can actually concentrate and remember stuff. k12 has a free online program but it doesn't start until 3rd grade in Texas. Other states have online kindergarten programs. They send you all the materials and even a laptop to do your work on.

Anonymous said...

Honestly - online school
There are so many resources now and he could just knock it out.
Message me if you need more info.

Anonymous said...

I realize this article and many of the comments posted after it cover 99% of the issue pretty well. But I'd just add that in my experience, there's a HUGE difference in the overall environments of high-school and college. Even the seemingly minor things, like college classes often being spaced out more than the back to back (3 minutes to get from class to class) nature of high-school make a difference.

If high-school is so frustrating, a teen really wants to drop out? There may be valid reasons for it. As some people said, a GED is a good alternative here and then give college a shot.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to start this out just like Tamara did, "honestly~you better start rocking his world if you already haven't. I mean strip his whole world, or else. The "or else" would be, military school, jail, being kicked out, no cell phones, computers. Once you have dropped the bomb on his world, then he can start "earning" things back, slowly. I know it sounds cruel and inhuman, but sometimes that tough love is all you can do. In your case, you have no more time, it's now or never.

Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot about summer school, need to throw summer school in there. He will probably more than likely, not graduate on time. Sorry to say.

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