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Parenting Adult Children with Aspergers


My Aspergers son just turned 23 and has little prospects of employment due to the way he views the world. How can I help him to develop some life-skills in general – and self-reliance in particular?


Information needed by parents of kids with Aspergers (high functioning autism) is quite different from the information needed by parents of adult children with Aspergers. Kids are being diagnosed younger and are offered therapies and treatments that may not have been available for your son.

The Aspergers condition in adults is relatively complicated. Aspergers can interfere in every area of life (e.g., job or career opportunities, relationships, basic daily living skills, etc.). "Aspies" are very intelligent, but they do struggle with a multitude of issues (e.g., social communication, inflexible thinking, sensory integration problems, poor motor skills, and so on). Without medical, emotional, and educational treatments, adulthood can prove to be awkward, complicated, and extremely lonely.

Psychological, neurological, and medical treatments are very useful for all Aspergers adults. These professionals can test for underlying problems and treat them in addition to the Aspergers disorder itself. Common treatment plans include:
  • Social skills training to help create and sustain relationships
  • Sensory integration therapy to lessen the effects of hyper or hypo-sensitivities
  • Self-care skills to learn the importance of regular medical check-ups and personal hygiene
  • Medication for seizure activity, anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity
  • Daily living skills to learn how to live independently with success
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to deal with emotions, feelings, and behavior

You may also want to get some books and videos that focus on Aspergers in adulthood at your local public library or bookstore. Many of these books are written specifically to parents, while others are written directly to the Aspie himself.

Click here for an eBook that addresses the issue of Aspergers adults who fail to launch.

Best Comment:

I am both angry and sad as it may be that Matthew has Aspergers syndrome. This is Matthews' story. Matthew was a spirited little boy, "he is just being a boy" is what my husband and others would say when Matthew would do things mischievously. Matthew got good grades in elementary school but had some difficulty with attention. He played football, wrestled and loved lacrosse, although never a standout and he did at times have trouble following coach’s cues. He reached middle school and started being identified by teachers as having a behavioral problem.

For years I asked the school to help. We were told he had behavior disorder, ODD, ADHD etc. Although the teachers said he was very bright and had a high IQ, he was lazy and un-motivated. I asked the school to test him and be seen by the school psychologist. He scored 131 on IQ testing and did not qualify for an IEP. Nothing would be done. The school felt that we as parents were responsible for his behaviors. We needed to be stricter. Matthew has a photographic memory, remembers everything he is told and can recite word for word anything he hears in a movie and remembers details of things that no-one could pick up. He received 100% on tests in school but zeros on homework, so consequently most of the time his grades were "D's and "F's".

When Matthew got to the 9th grade this is when his life fell apart. Matthew followed the wrong crowd and finally brought alcohol into school because someone asked him too. We didn't know our rights at the time and took the suggestion that he attend alternative school. Things went from bad to worse. The first day of testing for intake at the alternative school the police came to our house and Matthew was taken away for the break in of our neighbors home ( directly across the street). He did this on the day he was home from school waiting for his intake at the new school. He admitted to the break in and said his "friends, wanted him to do it because they wanted an IPOD and a game". Matthew revived his first Juvenile felony at the age of 14 years old. Again, within a few weeks time, he took his newly prescribed Adderal to school because some kids asked him too. Of course he was caught.

Needless to say between the ages of 14 to 15 my son ended up with 2 juvenile felony charges and a misdemeanor charge. He was sent to a military style school (Canyon State Academy in Queen Creek Arizona) for 18 months for breaking probation. He did very well there, structure, motivation etc. Then he came home. From the time he has been home 2009 till now 2012, he has had 5 jobs (never fired , quit) tried to attend community college( gets overwhelmed and has trouble following multiple syllabus') and has failed his drivers course driving exam 5 times as he gets so upset he cannot parallel park. Consequently he lives in our basement and plays video games all day. We are at our wits end. My husband and I have almost separated as this has become the focus of our lives and we constantly blame each other. Up and down and all around are our emotions. Is he depressed, lazy, psychotic? What have we done or not done? We blame each other.

We have three other daughters that are all doing well. 1 that has graduated from Rutgers University and is married, another getting ready to graduate from Rutgers and a stand-out 14 yr old daughter that is doing OK in high school and is on a highly ranked soccer team. Unfortunately we do the others a disservice as all of our attention goes to Matthew. In the last year it has become apparent to me that there is more wrong than just ADD and conduct disorder. He has never been formally diagnosed with a conduct disorder as a matter of fact Matthew had seen many Psychologist that felt he was a great kid just fell into peer pressure and was a follower.

Many people, including his older sister suggested Aspergers and his former Principle (can you believe this!) thinks Matthew has Aspergers. The more I read the more I am astounded that he is EVERYTHING that you described. I mentioned this to him and he said "no, no, no! I am not an Aspie" He doesn't want to hear it. Matthew is 20 now. How can we get him diagnosed in our area? Do you know anyone? I mean, his dad and I will read your material but I know as a medical professional (RN Nurse Manager) if we get a diagnosis then maybe Matthew will be able to have help for college or trade school. The community college that he attended and quit said that if he is diagnosed then he would qualify for their special services for tutoring and 1:1 help. Do you have a program or a summer camp like that of an "outward bound" to help his self esteem? I realize this is long and has taken a lot of your time but we love our son and want to help him-even if it is for him to understand.


Anonymous said...

We are at wits end at the moment.

Fyi: (We are currently living in Ukraine where he attended an international school. Our home country is Australia. We lived in Holland until Tom was 7).

Last year, Tom has been recruited for his basketball skills to come to a boarding school in the US to do his graduate year there and hope to receive a scholarship for a college in the States so he can play basketball. The year is nearly over and it doesn’t look like he will be receiving a scholarship for neither his academics, nor his basketball skills.

He needs to deal with the consequences and come home to Australia with us by the end of this schoolyear and study there.

Last week he arrived home for a 3 week holiday.

This is what I want to share with you. Life has been hell since he came home, for us and his two brothers. All of a sudden because he has been living in a dorm, he doesn’t allow us to parent him anymore and wants to do all by himself.

He started smoking and using his pocket money to go to the mc donalds and go out instead of making healthy choices. He is not in the position to work because of boarding school and the country we live in and therefor living off our money for everything. He doesn’t have enough money left to go through the last 2 months of school and yet he uses his money wrongly. (we are also paying for his driving lessons he is taking in those 3 weeks because it is easier and cheaper than in Australia).

We cannot say anything because he is turning 18 next month and there for thinks we cannot tell him what to do anymore.

Anonymous said...

I am searching for help for my college son, Dan. He is a junior at Beacon College in Leesburg FL. Although Beacon is the only accredited 4 year college in the US for kids with learning disabilities, I'm not sure they are truly equipped to provide the necessary structure for my son.

Dan is loving his freedom away from home and I just found out is not attending some classes and not turning in work. The same pattern happens every Fall and then he scrambles to pull it off but not with stellar grades. He doesn't see the future and does not delay gratification. Most of his time is spend (as is evident on Facebook) watching movies and writing movie reviews. He is an excellent writer but doesn't make schoolwork a priority.

With only 3 semesters left of school, I am very concerned about his lack of motivation and understanding of his future. He has "escaped" the rules and nagging from home to a place that is not really holding him accountable in a way that emulates the real world of work.

Not sure what to do at this point. He is 22 years old, a good person but involved in pre-teen risky behavior. How do I help him 400 miles away from home?

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here
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.

Click here for the full article...