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Motivating Teens with Asperger's Syndrome


I need to put drive in my 15 yr old son with Aspergers. When I discipline him with taking things away ... nothing seems to work unless I TOTALLY get frustrated ... then he reacts. I would like him to CARE.


Most teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet. The causes of these struggles (e.g., social, communication and behavioral problems, sensory issues, etc.) can create the desire for isolation and a lack of motivation. Teens with Aspergers easily drop into a lonely state of depression, making the original problems that much worse.

Behavior modification is the most popular area of concentration when treating teens with Aspergers. Social skills therapy and living skills therapy are widely available and do bring about effective progress in most cases. However, you are looking for something new to try.

Motivation is the key to improving your teenager’s circumstances. Actually, motivation is a factor anytime you are seeking to modify any teenager’s unwanted behaviors. Now motivation in itself is definitely an old concept, but using motivation in a new way will create the wanted result for your teenager.

Old Motivation—

As moms and dads, we often use set motivators to achieve the behavior we feel is appropriate. The concentration has been placed on the behavior, which sets a negative tone to the process of change. You can’t blame a teenager for reacting negatively to a negative tone.

• Rewards or bribery- “If you do ______ today, I’ll buy you a ______.” We’re guilty of this one, too. This probably creates more confusion and greed than motivation over time.

• Punishment- “If you don’t do ______, then you will get ______!” We all use this at one time or another and over the course of time, it has proven to be an ineffective motivator.

New Motivation—

Motivators should be positive. It feels good to see your teenager happily learning or cooperating in desired behaviors. Motivators that appeal to the individual teenager should be used for maximum results. Motivation is definitely personal. What motivates one teenager will not work for every teenager.

• Routines- Keeping your teenager’s routines constant will improve his outlook. He’ll know what to expect at any given time, lessening the stress he feels.

• Special Interests- Using your teenager’s special interests both at home and at school can generate positive responses in all situations. For example, your 13-year-old's  love of trains can be used to encourage eating at home. Train themed dinnerware or even themed foods may be used to entice the reluctant eater.



Anonymous said...

try not taking things away for a short length of time. Take them away for good, and tell him he has to 'earn' his things back (one at a time). Hope that works. If he's like my teen son, he'll get back the video game ... then not worry about the rest. I've heard some parents go as far as removing all furniture too, and have them earn back their bed & tv/radio. But I dont have the room to store all that.

Anonymous said...

Hi I have a son going through the same At the moment he is nearly 15 and had started swearing in school and at home he says sorry but we know it's not sincere when we ignore him and send him to his room he bangs the floor and screams and cries and says he's sorry...taking games away etc have always worked in the past but now he gets so mad and frustrated he's taller than me now and uses his size to try and dominate the situation he even swore at his dad recently for the first time ever...week days r the worst as it's a school nights with more rules- bed times etc..

Anonymous said...

My Aspie son is now almost 21 and my husband and I nearly didn't survive his teen years for these reasons. He would rather play his guitar more than anything (including chores and studying). Much to my dismay, he refused to go to college. Well, his band just signed with an agent and he's cutting a demo for a label in a few days. Try to breathe deeply and know that you will come through it. Set your standards but accept that much of the time, he just won't care. But when he does care, it will be magic. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Negotiation works as well as bribery, you have to show them whats in it for them & it has to be something that motivates them. My son loves gaming, ds, wii etc, he earns money to buy them by doing or trying things that I want him to do, taking away things/privileges ( negative reinforcement) does not work with aspies, offering them things to take part or do things (positive reinforcements) work really well.

Anonymous said...

The only time taking something away from my 4 year old is when he had to give it up, for GOOD! Positive reinforcements can work too.....have to try different things. No 2 kids with Aspbergers, in my opinion, is the same.

Anonymous said...

thats good to know. i recently started a sticker chart and when she reaches the goal she will get her fav thing in the world, a large purple bouncy ball.

Anonymous said...

I have also found that the positive reinforcement is more effective than negative. My son (11) earns points for correct behavior. He still gets things taken away for the more extreme misbehavior, but the more minor issues we just don't give points.The points add up to an activity that he wants to do, like miniature golf. We tier it so that he can wait for something big or use the points sooner for something smaller.

Unknown said...

If he raises a hand to you or your husband, call the police. He must know that there is a zero tolerance for violence.

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

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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to read the full article...

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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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content