Organization Skills for Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

"Any tips on how I can help my child get more organized? He loses and misplaces many things, including homework and school books, which is now affecting his grades. Help!"

Children and teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) often have deficits in what we call “cognitive function” (i.e., the intellectual process by which we think, reason, understand ideas, and remember things). So a child with Aspergers may have difficulties with:
  • “executive function” (i.e., he/she may be detail-focused and less able to see the whole picture)
  • predicting the consequences of an action (e.g., “If you do this, what will happen next?”) 
  • processing information 
  • understanding the concept of time

One or all of these four examples can affect Aspergers kid’s ability to organize, prioritize and sequence (e.g., if they struggle to understand the concept of time, they will have difficulty planning what to do over the course of a week).

Below are some ways in which children and teens with Aspergers and HFA can organize and prioritize daily activities and tasks. At first, parents may need to have a lot of involvement introducing the techniques and helping their child to get used to using them. Also, the techniques can be used in more than one place (e.g., at home and at school). Therefore, it is important that everyone who is using them (e.g., parents, babysitters, teachers, friends, etc.) uses them consistently. Over time, most children and teens with Aspergers will be able to use the strategies independently (although some may always need a certain degree of support).

Organizations Skills—

1. Be a coach: For the best results, you'll want to be a low-key coach. You can ask questions that will help your child get on track and stay there. But use these questions only to prompt their thought process about what needs to be done.

2. Color coding for tasks: Colors can be used to indicate the importance or significance of tasks (e.g., chores, homework, etc.), and therefore help to prioritize tasks and work through them in a logical sequence. For example, a note on the child’s bulletin board written in red could mean “urgent.” A note on the bulletin board written in green could mean “pending.” And a note written in blue is not important or has no timescale attached to it.

3. Lists: Lists, both written and pictorial, can help children with Aspergers in the same way as color coding. Lists can also be a good way of (a) registering achievements (e.g., by crossing something off when he/she has completed the task) and (b) reassuring the child that he/she is getting things done.

4. Make a plan: Decide on one thing to focus on first. You can come up with three things and let your youngster choose one (e.g., if homework or a particular chore has been a problem, that's the natural place to begin).

5. Praise progress, but don't go overboard: The self-satisfaction children will feel will be a more powerful motivator.

6. Sell your youngster on the idea of “staying organized”: Brainstorm about what might be easier or better if your youngster was more organized and focused. Maybe homework would get done faster, there would be more play time, and there would be less nagging about chores. Then there's the added bonus of your youngster feeling proud and you being proud, too.

7. Set expectations: Be clear, in a kind way, that you expect your children to work on these skills and that you'll be there to help along the way.

8. Social stories and comic strip conversations: Social stories and comic strip conversations can be a really good way of illustrating the consequences of an action and can help children to understand why it's good to be organized (e.g., what might happen if the child doesn't get his/her homework done).

9. Task boxes, envelopes and files: Children can store work or belongings in set places, so that they aren't misplaced or forgotten.

10. Teaching materials: You may find that certain teaching materials (e.g., sequence cards, games, timers, clocks, etc.) help some Aspergers kids to understand the concept of time and sequences. Materials like this can be adapted and used in different places (e.g., home and school).

11. Times of day, days of the week: It may be easiest to use times of day (e.g., morning, afternoon or evening) or days of the week (e.g., Sunday through Saturday) to help the child plan and organize tasks, social activities and other events (e.g., 5:00 PM is “homework time” … or Monday is “laundry day”).

12. Visual supports: Using pictures, written lists, calendars and real objects can all be good ways of helping Aspergers kids to understand what is going to happen – and when! For example, the child might have a daily timetable with pictures of a shower, clothes, breakfast, their school, dinner, a toothbrush, pajamas, and a bed to indicate what he/she will be doing, and in what order, that day. This can help children plan their day and organize themselves.

13. Get feedback: Be sure to ask your youngster's opinion of how things are going so far.

14. Start thinking in questions: Though you might not realize it, every time you take on a task, you ask yourself questions and then answer them with thoughts and actions. If you want to unload groceries from the car, you ask yourself:

Q: Did I get them all out of the trunk?
A: No. I'll go get the rest.

Q: Did I close the trunk?
A: Yes.

Q: Where's the ice cream? I need to put it away first.
A: Done. Now, what's next?

Encourage your child to start seeing tasks as a series of questions and answers. Suggest that he/she ask these questions out loud and then answer them. These questions are the ones you hope will eventually live inside your youngster's head. And with practice, he/she will learn to ask them without being prompted. So, work together to come up with questions that need to be asked so the chosen task can be completed. You might even jot them down on index cards. Start by asking the questions and having your youngster answer. Later, transfer responsibility for the questions from you to your youngster.

15. Digital devices:
  • Computer calendars can have important dates stored on them, or reminders about when to complete a certain chore.
  • Mobile phones can be used to store important information, or to act as a reminder.
  • Radios and televisions can be set to come on at a particular time as a reminder to do something. 
  • Instructions can be sent by text. Text messages lend themselves to this especially well since parents should keep instructions brief and simple. 
  • Hand-held voice recorders can be a useful auditory reminder of tasks, work, events or deadlines.

Obsessions in Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

"Why is my 6-year-old son (high functioning autistic) so engrossed in Minecraft, and how can I tell if it is an unhealthy obsession rather than just a fun time activity for him?"

CLICK HERE for the answer...

Potty-Training Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Special Considerations

"Any tips on potty training a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder?"

Potty-training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, not a specific age. Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) show an interest in toilet-training by age 2, but others might not be ready until age 3 or even older — and there's no rush. If you start toilet-training too early, it might take longer to train your youngster.

Is your ASD youngster ready? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Can your youngster pull down his/her pants and pull them up again?
  • Can your youngster sit on and rise from a potty chair?
  • Can your youngster understand and follow basic directions?
  • Does your youngster complain about wet or dirty diapers?
  • Does your youngster seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing underwear?
  • Does your youngster stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day?
  • Does your youngster tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he/she needs to go?

If you answered mostly yes, your youngster might be ready for toilet-training. If you answered mostly no, you might want to wait awhile — especially if your youngster has recently faced or is about to face a major change, such as a move or the arrival of a new sibling. A toddler who opposes toilet-training today might be open to the idea in a few months.

There's no need to postpone toilet-training if your youngster has a chronic medical condition, but is able to use the toilet normally. Be aware that the process might take longer, however.

When you decide it's time to begin toilet-training, set your youngster up for success. Start by maintaining a sense of humor and a positive attitude — and recruiting all of your youngster's caregivers to do the same. 

Next, follow these practical steps:
  1. If your ASD youngster has frequent accidents, absorbent underwear might be best. Keep a change of underwear and clothing handy, especially at school or in childcare.
  1. Some ASD children respond to stickers or stars on a chart. For others, trips to the park or extra bedtime stories are effective. Experiment to find what works best for your youngster. Reinforce your youngster's effort with verbal praise, such as, "How exciting! You're learning to use the toilet just like big children do!" Be positive, even if a trip to the toilet isn't successful. 
  1. After several weeks of successful potty breaks, your youngster might be ready to trade diapers for training pants or regular underwear. Celebrate this transition. Go on a special outing. Let your youngster select "big kid" underwear. Call close friends or loved ones and let your youngster spread the news. Once your youngster is wearing training pants or regular underwear, avoid overalls, belts, leotards or other items that could hinder quick undressing. 
  1. When you notice signs that your youngster might need to use the toilet (e.g., squirming, squatting holding the genital area, etc.) – respond quickly. Help your youngster become familiar with these signals, stop what he/she is doing and head to the toilet. Praise your youngster for telling you when he/she has to go. Teach females to wipe carefully from front to back to prevent bringing germs from the rectum to the vagina or bladder. When it's time to flush, let your youngster do the honors. Make sure your youngster washes his/her hands after using the toilet. 
  1. If your youngster resists using the potty chair or toilet or isn't getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break. Chances are he/she isn't ready yet. Try again in a few months. 
  1. Accidents often happen when ASD children are absorbed in activities that — for the moment — are more interesting than using the toilet. To fight this phenomenon, suggest regular bathroom trips (e.g., first thing in the morning, after each meal and snack, before getting in the car, before going to bed, etc.). Point out telltale signs of holding it (e.g., holding the genital area). 
  1. Place a potty chair in the bathroom. You might want to try a model with a removable top that can be placed directly on the toilet when your youngster is ready. Encourage your youngster to sit on the potty chair — with or without a diaper. Make sure your youngster's feet rest firmly on the floor or a stool. Help your youngster understand how to talk about the bathroom using simple, correct terms. You might dump the contents of a dirty diaper into the potty chair to show its purpose, or let your youngster see family members using the toilet. 
  1. If your youngster is interested, have him/her sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day. For males, it's often best to master urination sitting down, and then move to standing up after bowel training is complete. Create a potty-training social story, read a toilet-training book, or give your youngster a special toy to use while sitting on the potty chair or toilet. Stay with your youngster when he/she is in the bathroom. Even if your youngster simply sits there, offer praise for trying — and remind your youngster that he/she can try again later. 
  1. Occasional accidents are harmless, but they can lead to teasing, embarrassment and alienation from peers. If your toilet-trained youngster reverts or loses ground — especially at age 4 or older — or you're concerned about your youngster's accidents, contact his/her doctor. Sometimes wetting problems indicate an underlying physical condition (e.g., urinary tract infection, overactive bladder, etc.). Prompt treatment can help your youngster become accident-free. 
  1. Most ASD kids master daytime bladder control first, often within about two to three months of consistent toilet-training. Nap and nighttime training might take months — or years. In the meantime, use disposable training pants or plastic mattress covers when your youngster sleeps. 
  1. ASD children don't have accidents to irritate their moms and dads. If your youngster has an accident, don't add to the embarrassment by scolding or disciplining him/her. You might say, "You forgot this time. Next time you'll get to the bathroom sooner." 
  1. Have plenty of patience, keep it simple, and make it fun!

Resolving "Homework Battles" with Children on the Autism Spectrum

"Getting my son to do his homework has become a nightly battle. We are at the point of arguing constantly, which clearly is making a bad problem worse. Is there a way I can help him understand the importance of education and to develop some interest in following through with schoolwork?"

Homework can be very difficult for kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) to understand for the following reasons:

·         they do not understand why they are expected to do schoolwork at home
·         they find school stressful and do not want any reminders of it at home
·         they might have difficulty with organization skills
·         they find it difficult to remember to write down all the homework and remember deadlines

However, there are a number of tips that can help these young people in the future:

1.       Allow kids on the spectrum to make choices about homework and related issues. They could choose to do study time before or after dinner. They could do it immediately after they get home or wake up early in the morning to do it. Invite them to choose the kitchen table or a spot in their own room. One choice kids do not have is whether or not to study.

2.       Doing homework can suck on its own. It’s even worse when your youngster is hunched over the books alone thinking that the rest of the family is having a party in the other room. Sit with your youngster, review the work, encourage and help (but don’t you dare do the homework yourself!). If you must get things done, at least park your youngster in the same room so you can answer questions as you make dinner, pay bills, or post of Facebook.

3.       Eliminate the word “homework” from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word “study.” Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your youngster saying, "I don't have any homework." Study time is about studying, even if you don't have any homework. It's amazing how much more homework Aspergers and HFA children have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.

4.       Only help if your youngster asks for it. Don’t do problems or assignments for kids. When your youngster says, "I can't do it," suggest they act as if they can. Tell them to pretend like they know and see what happens. Then leave the immediate area and let them see if they can handle it from there. If they keep telling you they don't know how and you decide to offer help, concentrate on asking than on telling. Ask: "What do you get?" … "What parts do you understand?" … "Can you give me an example?" … "What do you think the answer is?" … or "How could you find out?"

5.       Disorganization is a problem for most of these special needs kids. If you want them to be organized, you have to invest the time to help them learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach them the system. Their job is to use it. Check occasionally to see if the system is being used. Check more often at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary. If your youngster needs help with time management, teach them time management skills. Help them learn what it means to prioritize by the importance and due date of each task. Teach them to create an agenda each time they sit down to study. Help them experience the value of getting the important things done first.

6.       If your child can’t do his homework at school, he might need to unwind and relax when he first comes home, instead of launching straight into work. Giving him time to reduce his stress levels may mean that he then finds it easier to focus on the work later on. Some kids may also benefit from using either a reward system or a behavior contract. If he successfully completes his homework every day for a week, could he get a reward at the weekend? Alternatively a behavior contract could be drawn-up with everyone in the family, with everyone agreeing to do one task every day - and it could be agreed that completing his homework will be the thing that your child will do.

7.       If your child finds it difficult to understand why he does homework at home, could he do it at school instead? Some kids find break and lunchtime very hard and they may find it preferable to sit in the library or a quiet place in the school and do their work. Some schools also have after-school clubs or homework clubs, which your child may find of use.

8.       If your child has more than one piece of homework, it may be useful to ask the teachers in each lesson to either make sure your child has written down the homework in his diary, or write it in for him. They may also need to provide written instructions to take home which breaks the task down further as well.

9.       Keep the routine predictable and simple. One possibility includes a five minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing their current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying their back pack of books and supplies, then beginning.

10.   Replace monetary and external rewards with encouraging verbal responses. End the practice of paying for grades and going on a special trip for ice cream. This style of bribery has only short term gains and does little to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of learning. Instead make positive verbal comments that concentrate on describing the behavior you wish to encourage.

11.   If homework is something your children have to squeeze in between karate, piano lessons and soccer practice, they’re not going to think of it as important. And, unless you really enjoy over-dramatic tears and hearing every excuse in the book, avoid doing homework right before bedtime at all costs.

12.   Time slams to a crawl for many Aspergers and HFA children when faced with a stack of papers and a #2 pencil. Set a timer for 15 minutes and, when it dings, tell your youngster to take a quick break to stretch, get a drink of water or collapse on the floor and moan “I hate doing homework” over and over again. Really active children may need to run around the house before they get back to the books.

13.   Use study time to get some of your own responsibilities handled. Do the dishes, fold laundry, or write thank you notes. Keep the TV off! If you engage in fun or noisy activities during that time kids will naturally be distracted. Study time is a family commitment. If you won't commit to it, don't expect that you kids will.

14.   You need to use leverage to get some children to do anything. Do they love television? Computer games? Guitar Hero? Unplug it all until homework is done. You can even exchange homework time for something they love: 15 minutes of effective homework time = 15 minutes with their beloved plugged-in whatnot.

15.   There comes a time when your child has to accept that homework is his responsibility. So, if you’re really tearing your hair out and aging prematurely due to the nightly fighting, it may be time to let your little bird fly on its own. Let your youngster go to school with an unfinished assignment and accept the consequences. Collaborating with the teacher ahead of time may insure an appropriate response to “the dog ate my homework”. 

Behavior Problems At Home - But Not At School

"I have great difficulty with my 6-year-old daughter (high functioning) at home due to frequent tantrums and meltdowns, yet her teacher states that her behavior at school is quite good. Why is this – and what can I do to get the same results at home?"

First of all, just because the behavior occurs at home doesn’t necessarily mean the “cause” of the behavior lies there. Your daughter may find school very stressful, but keeps her emotions bottled-up until she gets home. Most kids with Aspergers and high-functioning autism (HFA) do not display the body language and facial expressions you would expect to see when a youngster is feeling a particular way. While your daughter may appear relatively calm at school, she may be experiencing very different emotions under the surface.

Asking an HFA youngster how she feels may not get the correct response, because most of these young people struggle to explain their emotions to someone. Some find carrying visual “stress scales” helpful for overcoming these communication problems. These scales can be either in the format of a scale from 1-5, a thermometer, or a traffic light system. The idea is that when the youngster indicates that she is at a '4' or 'amber' (before she reaches a '5' or 'red'), she needs to be helped in some way to calm down again.

Instead of adults asking your daughter how she is feeling, she can show them the appropriate number or color. Scales can turn “emotions” (which are abstract concepts that require imagination to understand fully) into concrete examples of numbers or colors. This is something that kids with an autism spectrum disorder find easier to understand. If your daughter finds it difficult to use a scale, she could use a “help card” instead. This could be a red card, or have the word ‘help’ or a meaningful symbol on it, which she could carry around. When she begins to feel stressed-out or mad, she can show it to a teacher. It is important that everyone in contact with your daughter knows what to do if they are shown a card or a stress scale.

Some of these kids may need to be redirected to a different activity, have a quick run outside, or retreat to a quieter part of the school. It can be difficult to find a quiet area, especially in a big mainstream school, but it does not need to be a big space. Some schools will have an area (e.g., the library) where your daughter can listen to her iPod (for example) in order to filter-out external noise for a few minutes while she calms down.

Teachers may be concerned that by giving your daughter a card to leave the room, she may abuse the privilege (e.g., showing it to avoid activities she doesn’t want to be in), thus disrupting her education. Strict boundaries need to be given to your daughter regarding the use of a card or stress scale (e.g., clear instructions about where your daughter gets to go – and for how long). On a positive note, effective use of the card could ultimately reduce the amount of disruption to your daughter’s education. Instead of her being kept in a permanent state of anxiety during class, she may return to the classroom much more relaxed and focused.

Some moms and dads report behavioral difficulties in their HFA kids when they first come home after school, which might be because they are releasing the stress of the school day. If your daughter does this, it might be helpful to have a period of time right after school when she can relax. You could do this by reducing the amount of social interaction your daughter has immediately after school and by providing an activity which you think may help her de-stress. This activity will depend on your daughter’s preferences. If she is relatively physical in her method of stress-release (e.g., kicking or hitting), providing a trampoline, punching bag, or letting her run around the yard may help relieve the stress. Others like to clam-down by watching television or listening to music. Some find lights especially soothing (e.g., a bubble tube or spinning light).

For some kids on the spectrum, the timetable of the school day provides enough structure and routine to help contain any anxiety and stress. They have a strong preference for routine, and this is automatically incorporated into most school environments. Your daughter may benefit from having a visual timetable for home as well (it will make the environment more predictable for her). A timetable can either be constructed showing the whole day's activities, half the day, or simply the activities that are now and next.

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•    Anonymous said… And routine..... And as Angela says, giving a few days notice of things happening, like dental or drs appointments, or visits to family etc
•    Anonymous said… At school barriers are put up. All This takes mental energy and it just runs out by the time you get home. Imagine you are an actor on stage in a 18th century play. Only the play is 8 hours long. Once you're done, you'll be exhausted. One way to take care of it is a stimming regiment after school. Hot bath or hot tub at a gym, heavy blanket nap, meditation, yoga, sports. Video games are okay for at most an hour. Then it's okay to be at home. You know how some men go to the man cave after getting home from work? Or some people hit the bar or gym after work before getting home. Same concept can be applied here. Rest and recharge before being part of the household
•    Anonymous said… Figuring out causes of meltdowns can take time and detective work. Not advised during the actual meltdown - when she's calm, she may be able to give her some clues, and when you're calm, you can think it through easier. Think about 2 categories of "causes" (there may be multiple, not just one): Triggers (what sets them off) & Consequences (what reinforces/keeps them happening). A very short list of possible triggers: exhaustion from holding it together at school, change in environment, change in amount of structure, interactions with siblings, sensory overload (can be really subtle), homework (performance/anxiety) issues, too much information coming in at once, not being able to communicate her needs, picking up tension in another person or the environment, not getting her way (since home is often less structured than school this happens more frequently). Possible Consequences that reinforce the meltdowns: increased sensory or emotional overload from reactions of others, increased desired attention, escape from things she doesn't like or want to do or cause her distress. There's a book by Jed Baker called "No More Meltdowns" that you might find useful.
•    Anonymous said… I always hear that my son is well behaved at school...or even with other people. At home though, or with just me and his dad, my son lets loose.
•    Anonymous said… I feel like my kid spent all day at school trying to be good and figuring out how to accommodate his challenges and how to get by in a neuro-typical world, that he was DONE when he got home. All that overstimulation is emotionally draining, I'm sure. He's 13 now and doesn't have melt-downs. He's able to control his anger and emotions a little better.
•    Anonymous said… It's because home is a safe space where they can let off steam. They have spent all day concentrating and remembering the rules and are totally stressed out. As bad as it is, I always found my son loved a bath to unwind; a snack and if possible, no homework. As he became better able to manage himself, to relax himself, then the homework began to be done. It's still difficult at times, once he's absorbed in something woe betide anyone who interrupts him, even if it is for him to have dinner, or to go to sleep....
•    Anonymous said… I've read that because they try so hard to deal with school, their brains are on overdrive and anxiety high, when they come home they just relax, let it go and meltdown.
•    Anonymous said… Learn the techniques that the school applies while she is there and apply the same ones at home.
•    Anonymous said… My Aspie daughter did horribly in school. It was incredibly stressful for her and have been homeschooling her for years. She is 14 now and we only havery melt downs every now and again. They are not school related as they used to be, I feel blessed to be able to homeschool her but feel bad that she may be missing the social interactions it provides. Her best friend lives in Nova Scotia and they talk online till 4am sometimes. The melt down have eased up so much with age too though. I don't feel like I'm losing my mind anymore. LOL.
•    Anonymous said… My son had this issue .... routine and attention. My son likes to know in advance what and when and how. It relieves anxiety and an irrational fear of the unknown that can lead to meltdowns. It takes extra time to stop and explain things ... little things ... like first we are going to the store and this is what we are going to buy etc. Then we will stop for pizza etc. Even though I am making the decisions he feels in control because in his mind he knows what to expect. Then if things do not go as planned it is good to have practiced a "response" such as a breathing exercise or counting to 10 or whatever ur child likes so that in an instance where there is a loss of control they have a way to get it back.
•    Anonymous said… Same problem so after school pick up we went to the park or for a swim to unwind. We put up pictures of home routine on the wall. But it gets better. Letting off steam from school stress is normal. They do it at home because it's a safe place to let it out.
•    Anonymous said… Same situation with my daughter. As she matured it got better.
•    Anonymous said… Set routine in school and in school some dont like the lime light as such so stay quiet out of fear of being heard(social aspect of it all) home where safe and familiar they let there a change in the home a noise that sets the child off suprisingly even a ticking tock can drive them mad as there senses are heightend...?? Few ideas but who knows really...keep calm keep smiling and loving x
•    Anonymous said… Thank you! I never understood till now frown emoticon
•    Anonymous said… We use a trampoline to calm sensors we find it the best. However sometimes he won't go on it. We have a few other things he can choose from. We have this problem too. It makes me super happy to read it does get much easier. Thank you.
•    Anonymous said… Yes I had the same experience. I'm happy that my son can manage at school as well as what he does. It means in the future he will be able to cope with a job. At home we need to recognise when his brain is frazzled and back off and lower our expectations. As he got older he could handle more. It's tough sometimes and it is stressful and chaotic at home sometimes. Best wishes to you
•    Anonymous said… Yes this is exactly like my son. Home is safe so he can let go of all the stress and tension he holds onto during the day at school. This can happen the second we walk in the door at home, but has often happened in the school car park, or even in the school grounds at school pick up. We try to help him to release some of this built up anxiety by stomping to the car, deep breathing and using his sensory toys. It's not easy and there is no quick fix!

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The Misunderstood Aspergers Child

This video reveals the true reasons behind the behavior that some teachers may view as insubordination. Is your Aspergers or HFA student "misbehaving" - or is he simply experiencing some "autism-related" symptoms? Either way - you can help!

Note to parents: Please email your child's teacher(s) and send them the link to the video below. Copy and paste the following URL into your email:

==> Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

The Strengths of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism possess a combination of strengths and difficulties. 

This video focuses on the strengths:

Most Aspergers children:
  • can stick to routines…
  • are able to forgive others…
  • are accepting of others…
  • are gentle…
  • are honest…
  • are not bullies, con artists, or social manipulators…
  • are not inclined to steal…
  • are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves…
  • are smart, they study hard, and they respect authority…
  • are talented…
  • can make amazingly loyal friends...
  • don’t discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, or age...
  • don’t launch unprovoked attacks, verbal or otherwise…
  • don't play head games, and don’t take advantage of other’s weaknesses…
  • enjoy their own company, and can spend time alone…
  • have a child-like innocence, an exceptional memory, and have no interest in harming others…
  • notice fine details that others miss…
  • prefer talking about significant things that will enhance their knowledge-base, rather than engaging in chit chat…
  • will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong…

Teaching Self-Care Skills to Aspergers and HFA Kids

"How can I teach my 5-year-old daughter with High-Functioning Autism some basic self-care skills like brushing her teeth, taking a bath, getting dressed for school, etc.? Currently she insists that I help her with everything. Help!"

There are two main ways to teach self-care skills:

1. Backward chaining: This starts at the last step and works through the activity to the first step. For example, once your daughter has brushed her teeth with your help, move backwards through each step slowly (“You just brushed and rinsed your teeth. Before that, we turned on the water. Before that, we put toothpaste on your toothbrush. Before that, we got your toothbrush and toothpaste from the drawer.”).

2. Forward chaining: This teaches a skill in small steps from the first step of the activity through to the last step. For example, “To get dressed in the morning, first you put on your underwear and socks, then put on your pants, then your shirt, then…” (and so on).

Whichever you decide to use for your daughter, make sure the activity is broken down into the smallest steps possible.

You may also want to use prompts to help your daughter learn self-care skills. For example, if you are trying to teach her to wash her hands, you could use theses prompts in the following order:
  • Gestural: mime washing your hands next to your daughter while she washes her own hands
  • Physical: hold her hands and wash your hands together
  • Verbal: say "wash your hands" or show her a ‘wash hands’ symbol, which you can leave above the sink as a prompt for next time

It is important to remove the prompts as quickly as possible, which can be more easily done by providing rewards when your daughter does a step correctly (e.g., when she washes her hands when prompted, she gets a small reward immediately afterwards). Give your daughter the reward directly after the desired behavior so that she makes the connection between the two – and make sure the reward is meaningful to her.

You may find that you need to leave physical reminders (e.g., symbols, written lists) of each activity in the appropriate room. For example, describe all the different steps for brushing teeth in the bathroom – and the same thing for getting dressed in the bedroom. You can download free symbols from


•    Anonymous said… Don't just brush it off. Mine is a tween and is still learning to brush her hair. For things that cause extra sensory issues for her .. Brushing hair & teeth, washing her hair, bathing and changing daily (or when socks are wet). Don't just relax and let it slide all of the time .. Believe me. Puberty is starting for us.. and if they don't have these skills by time that starts... It's gross. I am a bit of a germaphobe and some days I wish I had done more when she was younger because I feel like there are some things she should be able to do. If she doesn't pick up after herself in the bathroom before she hits puberty, she won't instantly start when she does.
•    Anonymous said… Great questions, because kids do need to learn to be as capable as possible and not overly dependent on parents or others, even though our first instinct is sometime to protect and "help". Dr. Temple Grandin and I just wrote "The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults". It introduces readers to 8 real individuals (and their families) on the spectrum and uses actual examples from their lives of how to put successful strategies in place to maximize a sense of hope and mastery in our kids. We also discuss how to avoid common obstacles such as lack of motivation, anxiety, lack of confidence, and (particularly in boys) vulnerability to becoming stuck in endless online games. Teaching skills to kids on the spectrum often requires customized approaches that work well with their unique ways of processing information and "lovingly push" and stretch them without overwhelming them. Our hope is it helps families with just the kinds of questions you are raising. Best wishes to you and your family.
•    Anonymous said… I have a 15 year old just sits in shower and will not brush teeth. Also has to wear what we call sponge Bob's at night. My 8 year old is following his footsteps. Need to find some way to entice them to care about hygiene.
•    Anonymous said… I have the exact same issue. We use a basic chart with everything he needs to do. Obviously i still need to help however it's not a fight to get him to do it. Our psychologist actually made one for him at the age of 4. We have high functioning ASD too. The best way to look at it is some need it like we need a calander and eventually they get it. You can get apps aswell which are great but we have issues with over stimulation on the ipad. Our hand made visual charts work best. Hope you work something out.
•    Anonymous said… It will come slowly but surely, o.t helped my little boy learn to dress and undress with clothes the correct way around etc, he.was.7 then, it was better a third party for this one with different ideas and not the pressure of rushing in the mornings. Cleaning teeth... he is now 9 and still gags if he tries to do this himself but little steps we will get there. Botty wipes help with toilet time. But he is off the scale reading, has finished the whole school reading scheme, learnt to read music with ease in 12 weeks. Good luck and don't worry too much it will come at some point! X
•    Anonymous said… She's 5!!!!! Autism or not kids need help sometimes and they say you should help kids brush their teeth till around 7/8
•    Anonymous said… Time and patience. It took my daughter until she was 11 to be able to do it all herself and now I don't have any interactions with her on it unless she asks for assistance which is rare we worked on it tho constantly from the usual ages 3,5,7,8 etc... We never stopped but eventually she took over and hasn't stopped amazing me since

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Helping Aspergers Students Cope with Recess

"My son’s teacher told me that he gets nervous and often goes into a meltdown at recess time. During recess, the students usually either go to the gym or outside for 'free-time' recreation. How can I help him deal with this transition and the unstructured nature of 'free-time', thus avoiding a meltdown?"

Recess is a time when students traditionally run-off their stress, but this transition can be very challenging for a student with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism. Students are given instructions, rules and a timetable to guide them through the rest of the day, but recess is rather unstructured, and it can be difficult for Aspergers students to know what to do during this time. Playgrounds are also often noisy and crowded places, with lots of children running around screaming and talking loudly. This can be daunting for a special needs youngster who is not aware of the "hidden" social rules of recess.

Here are some suggestions that may help your son overcome his difficulties with recess:

1. Some playgrounds have buddy benches for kids who are having difficulty making friends, or having a hard day. Decorations or signs should distinguish a buddy bench from other benches in the playground. Other kids are appointed as buddies and given a badge to wear to indicate who they are. Their job is to keep an eye out for anyone sitting on the buddy bench who feels sad or lonely and needs someone to cheer them up. A buddy can chat to them on the bench, or invite them to play a game. Having a number of kids share the buddy role will ensure that any youngster using the buddy bench socializes with different kids and does not become too reliant on one peer.

2. Some schools use break time to teach social skills to Aspergers kids, which can be done by using approaches such as circle of friends. The four main goals of this approach are to: (1) create a support network for the Aspergers youngster; (2) provide the youngster with encouragement and recognition for any achievements and progress; (3) work with the youngster to identify difficulties and devise practical ideas to help deal with these difficulties; and (4) help to put these ideas into practice. Your son might benefit from his school adopting such an approach.

3. Long periods of time in the playground may also challenge your son. Perhaps the school could agree that he only has to play on the playground for the first half of the period – and if he is successful during this time, he could be rewarded with quiet time in the library or time on the computer? This would need to be structured so your son knows what the activity is and where to go.

4. Setting up a number of different playground games that everyone moves around will bring some structure to recess, as well as reducing boredom from playing one game for the whole playground time. There are a number of websites suggesting playground games, many of which have video clips which you could watch with your son so she knows what to expect in different games. Your son could also have some tasks to do during recess (e.g., handing out basketballs, picking up trash on the playground, etc.), which would add further structure to his recess time. However, take care that this is not seen as a form of discipline and does not set him apart from his classmates too much.

5. Relaxation techniques could also help your son to recognize and reduce his anxiety before it becomes overwhelming. Techniques might include:
  • breathing deeply
  • counting to ten
  • jumping on a trampoline
  • kicking a ball
  • punching a punching bag
  • stretching
There are a number of books that help Aspergers kids learn how to identify stress and teach relaxation techniques.

6. Your son could indicate his nervousness to the teacher by using a help card or a visual stress scale (e.g., traffic light scale, thermometer, 1-5 scale, etc.). Stress scales can be used as a secret code between the student and his teacher, which might be useful if your son does not want to draw attention from his classmates. If your son indicates that he is at the high end of the stress scale, there should be a quiet place that he can go to calm down (e.g., in the library). He may also want to cut-out external noise by listening to music.

7. Your son might find school recess especially difficult because one-to-one "staff monitors" often take their own breaks at this time. However, if your son no longer needs support in certain lessons, but is experiencing high anxiety during break times, it’s possible that the hours could be restructured so that his monitor is with him during recess. Check with school officials to see what can be done.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns


•    Anonymous said... A school administrator with a child on the spectrum said to me "We are not required to teach socialization in school." This statement was a relief, because the school didn't balk at his IEP stating recess & lunch would be in a quiet environment with one or two peers of his choosing.
•    Anonymous said... I was going to say the exact same thing. Your son does not have to be forced to participate in recess. They can absolutely set up something else for him. Do not be afraid to be assertive with the school with your child's needs.
•    Anonymous said... My son was also allowed a quiet zone for recess and lunch.
•    Anonymous said... why are the school not providing him with a safe zone? my son was allowed in the library during break or on the sofa in the main reception area, where staff could supervise him while still having their own break
•    Anonymous said... Yes, quiet zone is a must, and he should also be allowed to go there during class if it gets too much for him. My girl wouldn't be able to attend school at all unless she had this safe zone to go to.

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Aspergers Children and Biting

Understanding the developmental factors that contribute to biting behavior in children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can help moms and dads make environmental or programmatic changes as necessary to minimize the behavior. Guidance to kids who bite should be provided with the goal of helping them develop inner control of their feelings and actions. A quick and consistent response at home can help kids who bite learn to express their feelings in words so that they can become better able to control their behavior.

Why Do Children With Aspergers and HFA Resort To Biting?

1. An attempt to gain sensory input: Many Aspergers children experience sensory difficulties, so it can be helpful to consider the possible sensory functions of particular behaviors. Chewing and biting are proprioceptive activities (i.e., they provide sensory input to the proprioceptive system, which regulates what different parts of the body are doing at different times). Biting can also provide oral stimulation and may provide pleasant or even necessary stimulation to this sensory system.

2. Communication difficulties: For children who may not be able to communicate their wants, needs, and emotional states effectively, biting can be an extremely effective way of letting parents know that something is not right, and is therefore a very useful and powerful form of communication.

3. Developmental stages: The mouthing of objects is a normal part of development. Very young kids put various objects in their mouths to explore the size, shape, and texture of the objects. This normally becomes a problem if the youngster continues to mouth objects frequently past the age of 18 months or so. However, a youngster who missed the initial mouthing phase due to sensitivity in the mouth area or medical issues may have to go through this phase later.

4. Frustration or distress: Sometimes biting can be an expression of sheer frustration or distress in response to a range of different stressors and challenging situations. It is important to remember that life can be exceptionally overwhelming at times for kids with Aspergers and HFA, and that sometimes, the child may engage in a behavior that is a response to this.

5. Learned behavior: Children learn from experiences that they have had, and they use this information to determine how to behave in the future. If they find that behaving in a particular way brings about a good outcome, then they are more likely to behave that way again in the future. Some children might also appreciate the physical or emotional reaction of others in response to biting. The child may enjoy the sound of a raised voice or the sense of control created by behaving in a way which brings a predictable reaction from parents.

6. Toothache or jaw pain: In some cases, biting may be a response to physical pain, in particular tooth or jaw ache.

What Can Parents Do About Biting?

1. Anger management and relaxation training: Some children with Aspergers and HFA may experience difficulties managing emotions (e.g., stress, anxiety, frustration, etc.), which may lead to behavioral outbursts like biting. It is helpful for these children to learn how to identify the physical cues or bodily sensations which indicate that they are becoming agitated, and then to develop alternative, more appropriate activities to assist them to calm down. For example:

• aromatherapy
• asking for help
• counting to ten
• going for a walk
• jumping on a trampoline
• listening to music
• playing on a computer
• swinging
• taking a bath
• taking a few deep breaths
• thinking positive thoughts
• walking away from the scene
• …and any other type of redirection to pleasant, calming activities

2. “Chewables” are cylindrical pieces of rubber tubing (non-toxic, washable and latex-free) that can be sucked or chewed on and provide good resistance for children who need the sensory input provided by biting. Research has shown that “chewables” appear to provide a calming, focusing and organizing function and act as a release for stress. Alternatively, parents may put together a bag of items that provide a range of sensory experiences (e.g., raw pasta, dried fruit, etc.), which the child can be re-directed to.

3. Communication difficulties: Encourage your child to use alternative forms of communication (e.g., visual signs or symbols). Use a range of symbols that he/she can carry around to communicate basic needs (e.g., 'yes', 'no', 'stop', 'go away - I need space', 'I’m in pain', etc.).

4. Environmental modifications: Try to plan for situations that the child finds challenging and make necessary adjustments to the environment. For example:

• increasing structure through the use of timetables or schedules
• maintaining familiar routines where possible
• minimizing unpleasant sensory stimuli
• reducing the number of people

5. Frustration or distress: Frequently remind your child of anger-management and relaxation techniques – especially when he is calm.

6. Functional analysis: Finding the cause of why your child bites is critical in determining the best way of responding to the behavior. For example, if the biting is an expression of frustration, the focus of intervention will be on teaching the child alternative and more appropriate ways of coping with frustration. A good way of determining why a child may be engaging in a particular behavior is to keep a record of behavioral incidents. Some children may be able to communicate their reasons for biting, either verbally or through the use of visual strategies.

7. Improve communication: Assist the child to develop alternative, more appropriate ways of communicating his/her wants, needs, physical discomfort and emotional states. Visual strategies can be very effective, because they can be used in a broad range of situations – and are particularly useful for indicating physical pain or communicating emotional states. Also, social stories can also be helpful in describing why it is not appropriate to bite and by outlining what the child is able to do instead.

8. Increase sensory opportunities: If the child is biting to gain sensory input, then it is important to provide alternative and more appropriate ways of meeting this need.

9. Reinforce appropriate behavior: It is important to pay attention to instances of behavior that you want to encourage to help the child learn that other, more appropriate ways of behaving lead to positive outcomes. Rewards can take the form of:

• preferred activities
• small amounts of favorite foods or drinks
• tokens
• toys
• verbal praise and attention

Clearly name the behavior that you are rewarding, and ensure that rewards are provided immediately after the behavior that you wish to encourage.

10. Respond quickly and consistently to incidents of behavior: Keep responses to biting behavior to a minimum by limiting verbal comments, facial expressions and other displays of emotion (these may inadvertently reinforce the behavior). Speak calmly and clearly and keep facial expressions neutral.

11. Rule out medical and dental causes: Ensure that the child is not biting as a response to physical pain (e.g., toothache or jaw ache). Arrange a check-up with the dentist to rule out any possible physical causes for the behavior.

12. Sensory issues: Re-direct the child to alternative sensory activity such as “chewables” or a “bag of tricks” with edible items. Also, redirect the child to another activity, and praise the first occurrence of appropriate behavior. Maintain physical space and closely supervise the child following an incident of biting.

Coping With Difficult Child-Behavior: Tips for Parents of Children on the Spectrum

"My child’s behavior is often very difficult to understand. And since I don’t really understand a lot of his behavior, it makes it difficult to think of an intervention to change it. Why does he over-react to certain things (e.g., flipping into an intense temper tantrum when asked to put his Legos away -- even when I ask him nicely), and what can I do to help?"

There is a range of reasons why kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism have difficulties with behavior. The world can be a confusing, isolating and daunting place for your youngster, and it is his fundamental difficulties with communication and social interaction that are often the root cause of difficult behavior. There are some other possible reasons, too.

It's important to say that your youngster's behavior is not caused by bad parenting – and is not your fault. It may seem as though your youngster's difficult behavior is only directed at you - especially if it tends to happen at home, not at school. You are not the only parent in this situation, although sometimes it can feel that way.

Reasons for behavior:

1. Bullying— Unfortunately, kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism can be at more risk of being bullied than their peers. If you notice a sudden change in your youngster’s behavior, see if there has been any reported bullying or teasing in school. Your youngster may find it difficult to tell you if they have been bullied (not all kids with High-Functioning Autism even recognize what bullying is) so you might need to play detective.

2. Change— Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism can find it difficult to cope with change, whether a temporary change to their timetable at school, or a more permanent change such as moving house. You may find that your youngster's behavior alters at times of change, but settles as he/she becomes used to a new environment or routine.

3. Communication— Kids with High-Functioning Autism can experience a number of difficulties with communication: (a) understanding what's being said to them (i.e., receptive language), (b) understanding non-verbal communication (e.g., facial expressions, body language), and (c) communicating with others (i.e., expressive language). Because of these difficulties, ASD kids can find it hard to communicate their needs or to understand what other people are saying to them, or asking them to do. This can cause considerable frustration and anxiety which, if it can't be expressed any other way, may result in challenging behavior.

4. Medical reasons— If your youngster's behavior suddenly changes for the worse, check that there isn't a medical reason for the distress. Kids can find it difficult to tell parents how they're feeling or where something hurts, even if their verbal communication is generally good. Some kids have seizures that can cause irritability and confusion, or gastrointestinal problems which may be painful. Parents can try using a pain chart to help the youngster indicate where he/she is feeling discomfort. Alternatively, some moms and dads use symbols to help their youngster indicate where the pain is.

5. Sensory processing difficulties— Many kids with ASD have difficulties processing sensory information. For example, kids may not be able to manage some tastes or food textures, or find that someone touching them - even lightly - is painful. Certain smells, lights or sounds can be distressing. Some kids may find it difficult to block-out background noise and what they experience as excessive visual information. Instead, sounds, lights and other sights are all processed at the same level of intensity and lead to sensory overload. You may find that your youngster starts a repetitive behavior in stressful environments (e.g., hand-flapping, spinning) to try and block-out external sensory information. Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism can be very sensitive to subtle changes in their environment. If there's a sudden change in behavior, think about whether there has been a recent change in the environment.

6. Social situations— Communication difficulties can impact on how these kids deal with social situations. They may find social situations very demanding or stressful because they have to work hard to communicate with other people. Not all kids with High-Functioning Autism will understand that other people hold different views from theirs. This may also make social situations difficult. Kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism may not understand 'social rules' (i.e., unwritten rules that govern social situations), such as how close to stand to other people or how to take a turn in conversation. This is especially true if kids find themselves in a new, unfamiliar situation. Therefore, social situations can be daunting and unpredictable. Some kids may engage in a particular behavior to try and avoid social contact.

7. Unstructured time— Kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism can find 'sequencing' difficult (i.e., putting what is going to happen in a day in a logical order in their mind). Many kids have timetables so they can see what is going to happen, when, and plan for it. However, unstructured time (e.g., break times at school), which can be noisy and chaotic, may be difficult to deal with. This is because it's difficult for kids to predict what will happen and how they are expected to behave. You may find that behavioral difficulties occur more in transition times between lessons or activities. Abstract concepts such as time aren't easy to understand, and kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism may find it hard to wait. It helps if you can be clear about why and for how long you are waiting (e.g., “We have to wait for five minutes, until 10.30. This is because the doctor can see us at 10.30.”).

Your child behaves the way he does for a particular reason...

In other words, he is trying to accomplish something (or avoid something). Here are two questions to ask yourself when looking at a particular aspect of your youngster's behavior:
  • What is the function of this behavior?
  • What is my youngster trying to tell me by his behavior?

Think of your child’s behavior as an iceberg. The behavior you are actually seeing is the tip of the iceberg, but there's a lot more going on under the surface. Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism can't always express their feelings through facial expressions, body language or speech. Instead, they may be expressed through other behaviors. Your youngster might be trying to tell you she is tired, stressed, annoyed by something that happened earlier, or in need of some time alone.

It can be useful to use a behavior diary to try and find out what triggers a particular behavior. This helps you to monitor the behavior over time and see what the possible causes are (e.g., if always happens at the end of the day when your youngster is tired after school). One way of recording behavior is an ABC chart. On this, you record the Antecedent (i.e., what happened beforehand, who was there, where your youngster was), the Behavior itself, and the Consequence (i.e., what happened following the behavior). By identifying potential triggers for the behavior, it can be easier to come up with ways of preventing it from happening in the future. Interventions are more likely to be successful if they address either the cause or the function of the behavior.

When trying to tackle behavioral difficulties, select at the most two behaviors to focus on at a time. Using too many new strategies with your youngster at once may result in none of them working. You could write down all the behaviors you're concerned about then prioritize them, choosing the two most important ones to concentrate on first. Don't worry if things get worse before they get better. Your youngster might at first resist change. This is a normal reaction when kids want things to stay the same and try hard to see that they do. It's important to continue with the strategies you are using and be consistent.

Ways to deal with behavior problems:

1. Be patient. Your youngster's behavior generally won't change overnight. You may find it useful to track your youngster's behavior in a diary; then it may be easier to notice small, positive changes.

2. Check that skills have not been forgotten. If you have used strategies successfully in the past, it might help to revisit them from time to time so that your youngster remembers how to use them. You may also need to use them at periods of stress, illness or change when old behaviors can return. Visual supports can help with this.

3. Consistency is of the utmost importance. Whatever strategies you decide to use to help your youngster should be used by everyone involved with him, including other family members, teachers, babysitters, etc. Inconsistent reactions to behavior by different adults can cause confusion, stress and frustration for a child with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism, and can make the behavior more difficult to tackle.

4. Exercise can help to relieve stress and frustration. Some studies have shown that regular exercise throughout the day can have a positive effect on general behavior. Many kids with High-Functioning Autism enjoy exercise like jumping on a trampoline.

5. Give praise where praise is due. As your youngster learns a new skill or coping strategy, give him/her as much praise as possible. Some kids like verbal praise. Others might prefer to get another kind of reward, like sticker on a star chart, or five minutes with their favorite activity or DVD. Try to give your youngster praise in a way that is meaningful. Try also to offer praise immediately after your youngster has demonstrated a skill. Your youngster will hopefully learn to make an association between the skill and the reward and start to use the skill more often.

6. Learn to identify emotions. Many children with High-Functioning Autism find it difficult not only to understand how others are feeling, but also how they feel themselves. Emotions are abstract concepts, and we need a degree of imagination to understand them (we can't simply 'see' anger, for example). There are ways to turn emotions into more 'concrete' concepts, though. For example, stress scales are a good way of helping kids with ASD to identify how they're feeling. You can use a traffic light system, visual thermometer, or a scale of 1-5 to present emotions as colors or numbers. For example, a green traffic light or a number 1 can mean 'I am calm' …a red traffic light or a number 5 can mean 'I am angry'. You need to help your youngster understand what 'angry' means. One way to do this is to refer to physical changes in the body (e.g., “When I'm angry, my tummy hurts/my face gets red/I want to cry”). When your youngster has begun to understand the extremes of angry and calm, you can start helping him/her to understand the feelings in between. If your youngster sees that he is getting angry, he can try to do something to calm himself down, or he can remove himself from the situation. Alternatively, other adults can see what is happening and take action.

7. Learn to relax. It can be very difficult for kids with High-Functioning Autism to relax. Some have a particular interest or activity they like to do because it helps them to relax. It is, of course, worth being aware of these. Can time doing their favorite activity be built into their daily routine? However, special interests or activities can sometimes be the cause of behavioral difficulties if a youngster can't do them when he wants to. Other ways to relax include having time alone for short periods of the day to unwind, playing soothing music, or using homeopathic remedies. Some children may find lights soothing, especially things like spinning lights or bubble tubes which are repetitive.

8. Modify the environment. Kids with High-Functioning Autism can have difficulties processing sensory information. Some things in their environment can act as severe irritants. If this is the case, it can be easier to remove the thing that might be irritating your youngster rather than trying to change a behavior pattern. Flickering fluorescent lights, humming noises, certain smells, etc., may be causing distress. It may be something you have hardly noticed at all, while your youngster experiences it much more intensely.

9. Children with ASD can find it difficult to transfer or generalize new skills they've learned from one situation to another. Encourage your youngster to use new skills or coping strategies in different situations (e.g., at school as well as at home).

10. Punishment for ASD-related symptoms (versus true misbehavior) rarely works, because many of these kids  don't understand the connection between their behavior and a punishment they have received. Also, punishment won't explain what you want from your youngster or help to teach him any new skills.

11. Speak clearly and precisely. Some behavioral difficulties arise from kids’ frustration at not being able to communicate what they want. Some kids with High-Functioning Autism have a good grasp of language and speak quite fluently. However, they may struggle to tell you something when they are anxious or upset, or find it difficult to understand what you are saying to them. As a general rule, use short sentences, with your youngster's name at the beginning so that they know you're speaking to them. If you use short, clear sentences, your youngster won’t have to try to filter-out the less important information. If your youngster finds spoken communication difficult, consider using alternative ways of communicating (e.g., visual supports).

12. 'Time-outs' are a way for your youngster to calm down, especially if environmental factors are causing distress. Whatever location your youngster goes to should be a calm, safe environment where she can be observed. This should only last a few minutes, and your youngster should then be directed to an activity she finds relaxing. Some kids have time-out at home, perhaps time alone in their bedroom, or the chance to do a favorite activity.

13. Use visual supports. Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism often find it easier to process visual information. Some kids use picture symbols or photos to communicate what they want, while others use sign language. Using a visual timetable can make it easier for a youngster to understand what's going to happen throughout the day. It also gives a sense of routine, which kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism usually like, and removes feelings of uncertainty.

14. When tackling any behavior, be realistic and set achievable goals. You don't want to cause yourself more frustration by feeling you've failed to meet unachievable goals.

15. Write a social story. Social stories are short descriptions of situations, events or activities, often with pictures, which include information about what to expect in that situation and why. They can give a youngster with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism some idea of how others might behave, and therefore be a guide for appropriate behavior.

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