Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Teens with Aspergers and Their Struggles

Teens with Aspergers (high functioning autism) often struggle through their teenage years. The years from 12 to 17 are often the saddest and most difficult time for these teens. 

Here are just a few of the challenges faced by Aspergers teens:

1. A teen with Aspergers typically does not care about adolescent fads and clothing styles (concerns that obsess everyone else in their peer group). Teens with Aspergers may neglect their hygiene and wear the same haircut for years. Males forget to shave; females don't comb their hair or follow fashion.

2. Aspergers adolescents are often more immature than their peers and may be naive when it comes to puberty and sexuality. If they have not been taught about sex, they may pick up information from pornographic material. This can lead to inappropriate behavior and touching that could land them in trouble.

3. Aspergers is characterized by poor social skills. These include a lack of eye contact during conversation and body language that conveys a lack of interest. The teen years revolve around social interaction and an adolescent with Aspergers may be ostracized and mocked by their class mates because of their lack of social skills.

4. Aspergers adolescents are not privy to street knowledge of sex and dating behaviors that other adolescents pick up naturally. This leaves them naive and clueless about sex. Males can become obsessed with Internet pornography and masturbation. They can be overly forward with a girl who is merely being kind, and then later face charges of stalking her. An Aspergers adolescent may have a fully developed female body and no understanding of flirtation and non-verbal sexual cues, making her susceptible to harassment and even date rape.

5. Bullying is a big challenge in the lives of many teens with Aspergers. Because of their unusual behavior, they tend to attract bullies and are less likely to report this than their peers. Moms and dads should watch out for physical signs that an adolescent is being bullied. These may include bruising and cuts. In some cases, the teen with Aspergers may respond with violence and end up in trouble at school.

6. Depression may result from the social issues and bullying that adolescents with Aspergers commonly experience. They may feel worthless and in extreme cases, may consider suicide as an option.

7. Fashion is important to adolescents, and many young people with Aspergers have little dress sense. If they do not attempt to conform to their peers' standards, they will often be mocked and left out of social events.

8. In the teen world where everyone feels insecure, adolescents that appear different are voted off the island. Teens with Aspergers often have odd mannerisms. One adolescent talks in a loud un-modulated voice, avoids eye contact, interrupts others, violates their physical space, and steers the conversation to her favorite odd topic. Another appears willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because he is unable to share his thoughts and feelings with others. Isolated and alone, many teens with Aspergers are too anxious to initiate social contact.

9. Many Aspergers adolescents are stiff and rule-oriented and act like little adults, which is a deadly trait in any teen popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for an Aspergers teenager, even though she wants it more than anything else.

10. Many teens with Aspergers with their average to above average IQs can sail through grammar school, and yet hit academic problems in middle and high school. They now have to deal with four to six teachers, instead of just one. The likelihood that at least one teacher will be indifferent or even hostile toward making special accommodations is certain. The Aspergers student now has to face a series of classroom environments with different classmates, odors, distractions and noise levels, and sets of expectations.

11. Pain, loneliness and despair can lead to problems with drugs, sex and alcohol. In their overwhelming need to fit in and make friends, some teens with Aspergers fall into the wrong high school crowds. Adolescents who abuse substances will use the Aspergers teen’s naivety to get him to buy or carry drugs and liquor for their group.

12. Some teens with Aspergers remain stuck in a grammar school clothes and hobbies instead of moving into adolescent concerns like dating. Aspergers males often have no motor coordination. This leaves them out of high school sports, typically an essential area of male bonding and friendship.

13. Teens with Aspergers with their distractibility and difficulty organizing materials face similar academic problems as students with ADD. A high school term paper or a science fair project becomes impossible to manage because no one has taught the Aspergers teenager how to break it up into a series of small steps. Even though the academic stress on an Aspergers adolescent can be overwhelming, school administrators may be reluctant to enroll him in special education at this late point in his educational career.

14. The teen years are more emotional for everyone. Yet the hormonal changes of adolescence coupled with the problems outlined above might mean that an Aspergers adolescent becomes emotionally overwhelmed. Childish tantrums reappear. Males often act up by physically attacking a teacher or peer. They may experience "melt down" at home after another day filled with harassment, bullying, pressure to conform, and rejection. Suicide and drug addiction become real concerns, as the adolescent now has access to cars, drugs and alcohol.

If moms and dads are aware of potential problems, they can help their teenager by providing solutions that will help him to cope. Many of these can be implemented in pre-adolescent years and will prepare the adolescent to manage better during their adolescent years.

Here are some suggestions:

• Adolescent fashion sense can be improved by taking the adolescent into a store for a makeover. Alternatively, look for a group of females at school that would be willing to teach the adolescent how to dress, groom themselves and mix and match clothing and accessories. Although people should not be judged by what they wear, it helps an adolescent to find acceptance if they have the right clothing and labels in their wardrobes.

• Specialized drama classes can help adolescents with Aspergers to learn appropriate body language and understand how to listen, speak and act.

• Pets can become a valued companion to Aspergers adolescents. Dogs in particular are accepting and loving and are generally relaxed around people with Aspergers. While it is important for adolescents to work on human relationships, a pet can be a source of comfort and love.

• Internet friends can be good so long as the situation is monitored by parents. Adolescents with Aspergers are often naive and vulnerable to inappropriate advances. Internet interaction, however, has a number of benefits if it is handled properly. The adolescent is not hampered by their body language and lack of eye contact when chatting online and they can build some strong friendships.

• Alternative friends groups can be of great benefit to adolescents with Aspergers and can often be arranged by their school. The basis of this idea is to assemble a group of like-minded adolescents who have a common interest such as computers, astronomy or electronics. These adolescents can function as a club or simply spend time together enjoying their hobby.

Adolescent years can be trying for parents and teens. This is especially so when adolescents with Aspergers are struggling with the extra issues that are part of their condition. While Aspergers cannot be cured, there are a number of effective ways to improve the life of an adolescent who is suffering at the hands of their schoolmates.


Anonymous said...


I’m slowly working through the first week’s videos and webpages that you sent. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sending those links—there is a LOT of information here that is not in the e-book. I’m so excited! I’m on the Fight Fair page and I really love how specific your examples are on how to explain why you are upset and what you’d like to see changed. And all those ways to reframe negative attributes into positive words—that is great! We try to do this, but some traits are hard to think of a positive way to think of them, but you DID it!

So, thank you again for sending the links. They are so helpful and I now find I am able to focus on just week 1 of the program. I will keep you posted as we move through the four weeks.


Anonymous said...

I am a newlywed AND a new step mom to a very sweet, but stubborn, 17 year old daughter who also happens to have Aspergers. We and her mother and step father were at a loss as to how to motivate Jessica to pass math and pass her driver's permit test. She needs to do both in order to graduate high school (she is a Junior now). She says she wants to graduate but she was unable to make the connection between doing these things she has no interest in and getting something she does want (graduating high school). I read a couple of your articles this morning and was able to go in and talk with her about both issues and set up a reward system of her choice. I really think this will work for her! We have all been focused so much on consequences (which of course she didn't respond to) we lost site of rewards! I know it was because we all felt frustrated and were using things that motivated us as teens instead of asking her what motivated her. But that's exactly what I did this morning. I asked her what she would do if I was her and she was the parent to get me motivated to pass math. She immediately focused on a reward. So, that's what I went with! I really feel this will work! Here is another issue I really don't know what to do about. Jessica really likes Thomas the Tank Engine and constantly talks to imaginary friends that consist of the characters in that show. She is 17 now and will turn 18 in a few months. She has no friends she hangs out with or even talks on the phone with outside of school. She is also in a rural area, going to a very small school, and has never gone to another school since she started kindergarten. I guess I'm scared she is isolating herself and just wants to talk and mingle with her imaginary friends rather than "real people" friends. I don't know what to do about this. Is this common with children with Aspergers? And when I say constantly, I literally mean it is hard for her to focus on anything because she is looking off into space and talking to "Thomas", laughing with "Thomas" etc... I have tried to talk to her about living in this world and that she needed to tell "Thomas" that she needs to meet and have friends that aren't imaginary and she looks at me like I have 3 heads! I am at a loss as to what to do. And it just continues to consume her. Oh, and "Thomas" is also not interested in driving or math and tells her it's ok not to do it. I know this because I asked her this morning what Thomas "thinks and tells" her about math and getting a drivers permit and that is what she said. Please help me with a way to handle this situation.

danielle barkwell said...

I am struggling with my aspie, hes 13 and we struggle with the internet and inappropriate sites. The lying is the worst, even when hes caught he will lie right to your face still then be upset when you punish him. We are at a loss with him......

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers 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 Aspergers Children

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 child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s 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 Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers 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 Aspergers 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 Aspergers 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.

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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.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content