Reasons Behind “Impaired Social Interaction” in ASD Kids

"Why does our child (with high functioning autism) have such difficulty understanding the feelings of others? He can be terribly cruel at times, which really hurts his younger brothers' feelings. Yet he seems to have all the compassion in the world for our 2 dogs."

You're referring to a social-skills deficit here. There are various theories as to why children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have impaired social skills. Some researchers suggest that poor social skills may be caused by:
  • weakness or absence of the social gaze response
  • sensory distractions, which prevent the child from concentrating on social issues
  • memory dysfunction (e.g., deficits in memory for faces and common social scenes), which prevent the child from remembering other people or events
  • failure to develop a “theory of mind,” which prevents the child from understanding what other people are thinking or feeling
  • failure of affective processing

The relationship between social interactions and proper social responses are flexible, context-dependent, and generalize-able. For example, general (and unspoken) “social rules” are suppose to govern how a child responds when he or she meets someone for the first time, but the specifics of the meeting are never precise and depend on the context (e.g., whether the new acquaintance is a neighbor, classmate, teacher, etc.).

Similarly, when family members get together for a family reunion, handshakes, hugs and kisses are bound to happen, but exactly how tight a hug will be, or exactly where a kiss in planted, is variable and context-dependent.

These subtle nuances in relationships are difficult for the child with AS and HFA to learn. The child’s style of learning is such that he or she will try to store each social experience by rote memory.  A strong aptitude for rote memory is a typical cognitive tendency among kids on the autism spectrum. For example, these young people may demonstrate the ability to repeat the script of an entire video verbatim or recall specific dates. However, this capacity for strong rote memory may also be accompanied by challenges in simple recall. For example, it may be difficult for the youngster to recall the activity he has just completed or the meal he just ate, although he is able to name all the streets in his neighborhood.

While rote memory helps one retain data and facts, it doesn’t help with gauging the give-and-take aspects of social interactions.  Without extracting complex social cues from multi-dimensional social interactions, the AS/HFA child can’t effectively use the stored information to generalize to new, related social situations. The best this child can do is to follow rigidly the memory entry that best matches the current situation as a script. Temple Grandin, an autistic author, wrote about how she handled social situations better as she got older, because she accumulated more examples in her “visual library” and could find a better match to each social situation.

By observing his teacher’s behavior (called “gaze attention”), a neurotypical (non-autistic) student is usually able to predict the teacher's intentions (i.e., what the teacher is going to do next). As a result, the student may get a pencil and piece of paper from his desk, raise his hand to ask a question, open a certain textbook, or simply sit quietly without taking any action. Exactly what will happen is variable and depends on the context (e.g., whether the teacher is writing something on the blackboard, is looking at the group of students with her arms crossed, or has moved from her desk to the classroom exit). Conversely, the AS/HFA student (by virtue of a rote learning style) attempts to store each instance separately and precisely and fails to extract the ambiguous, context-dependent relationship between the teacher’s body language and her intention.

Compared to “typical” children, AS and HFA children look at other people’s faces (especially the eyes) much less frequently (called “gaze aversion”). One reason for their gaze aversion is that the relationship between facial expression and the other person’s feelings/motives/etc. is hard for AS and HFA children to comprehend. If the AS/HFA child can’t glean non-verbal information provided in facial expressions, then he or she will be less interested in looking at the faces of others, which further reduces his or her chance of gleaning important non-verbal information in social interactions. Another reason for gaze aversion is that the human face is a complex, dynamic stimulus that may overload the “sensory sensitive” AS/HFA child who is trying to “read” another person’s facial expressions.

How Parents and Teachers Can Help—

1. Be aware of times when the AS or HFA youngster is more likely to say something inappropriate about other people and cue (remind) the youngster about positive behavior. The supermarket, doctor’s office and other public areas are prime areas where kids with AS and HFA will blurt out something inappropriate, and often at loud volume.

2. Develop social interaction skills (e.g., turn taking, sitting quietly and waiting) through playing games like Snakes and Ladders, card games, etc.

3. Draw the youngster’s attention to the use of facial expressions, gesture, voice inflection and proximity in social interaction and explain the attitudes and meanings these convey. This could be done through drama and role play.

4. Encourage the child to join in any groups or clubs at the school that relate to an area of interest. This will provide opportunities for interaction with classmates. Point out children in the class who are good role models so that the AS/HFA child can see how to behave. This is important as kids on the spectrum can be easily led astray.

5. Help the youngster become aware that other people have feelings, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that may be different to his own.

6. Improving social understanding will help AS and HFA children become more aware of direct and indirect means of communication, improving relationships with classmates and school staff.

7. Children with AS and HFA need to be specifically taught social skills. They do not acquire these naturally by being in a social environment.

8. For younger kids, role play with dolls and puppets can help them develop an awareness of social rules (e.g., when and how to say ‘sorry’ and to understand the effect of his actions on others).

9. Social stories are crucial to help teach the youngster about the feelings of others and appropriate things to say to people. You can create social stories for any situation tailored to the youngster’s needs.

10. The youngster needs to be made aware that he is being addressed when the teacher speaks to ‘everyone’ to enable him to understand group instructions.

11. Video is often very appealing to kids with AS and HFA, and can be a good medium for teaching.

12. Some suggested topics to improve social understanding include the following:
  • using and interpreting body language, facial expression, gestures
  • understanding words and phrases that have more than one meaning
  • understanding metaphors and idioms
  • understanding inference and implied meaning
  • recognizing that other people have feelings, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that may be different to their own
  • developing social interaction skills (e.g., turn taking and waiting)
  • developing self-awareness

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Unknown said... Interesting...I realized a few years ago that my son, 11 y/o with ASD, is "face-blind" and recognizes people by the color of what they wear or some other identifying characteristic like their sunglasses, long hair on a man, etc. So when he says the "red guy" he means someone wearing red. But he remembers excrutiating details about TV shows and videos, and even events that occurred when he was very young.


Hyper- and Hypo-sensitivity in Children with ASD - Level 1

"We have a recently diagnosed child on the autism spectrum. Is it common for these children to be overly-sensitive in some areas - and severely under-sensitive in others? For example, our daughter absolutely refuses to be hugged by anyone (other than myself on occasion), yet we discovered she had fractured a bone in her wrist - but she didn't show any discomfort whatsoever."

Children with ASD or High-Functioning Autism often fluctuate between hyper-sensitivity (i.e., being overly sensitive) and hypo-sensitivity (i.e., a lack of sensitivity) to unexpected stimuli in the environment. For example, at one moment a touch or noise may make the child jump or scream, while at another moment she may not respond when parents call her name – or she may act as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

For neurotypical children (i.e., those without a spectrum disorder), unexpected stimuli is relatively predictable and anticipated. For example, they expect a loud noise when seeing someone using a hammer, but not when a pillow falls on the floor. They anticipate a hug or a kiss when a grandparent is approaching them with open arms.

Even when they don’t notice someone walking up to their front door, the first knock may startle them, but the subsequent knocks don’t, because they anticipate more than one knock. When their mother starts the vacuum cleaner, the noise may surprise them, but they quickly predict that the noise will persist for a while, and they adapt to it. If it is not raining now, they don’t expect rain soon. Thus, for neurotypical children, the world is reasonably predictable – particularly in the near future punctuated only by brief surprises.

In contrast, many children with ASD have difficulty with prediction and anticipation. To these young people, a loving hug by grandma may feel like a shocking squeeze, and noise from otherwise routine events may be largely unexpected and frightening. As a result, they are frequently startled by stimuli in the environment and they overreact. The child’s weak predictive ability makes many daily events very stressful, which contributes to his or her high level of social anxiety. This explains hyper-sensitivity.

 As a defense against constant surprises from the world, as well as against overwhelming sensory stimulation and the inability to (a) employ “selective attention” (i.e., focusing on one thing at a time) and (b) “filtering” (i.e., ignoring certain environmental stimuli), autistic children may “suppress” stimuli for long periods of time (i.e., they shut it out and retreat into a world of their own, unaffected by all that goes on around them). This explains hypo-sensitivity.

Hyper-sensitivity primarily occurs due to poor prediction. The child often over-reacts to unexpected loud noises or moving objects. But, it is not the noise or motion itself that is frightening. The youngster himself can happily make as great a noise as any that he is afraid of, and he can move objects about to his heart's desire. He may not want his grandmother to touch him, but he will go and touch her. This is because “self-generated” noise and “self-initiated” touch are relatively more predictable and thus less surprising.

In additional to unwanted surprises, “poor adaptive adjustment” also contributes to the child’s hyper-sensitivity to constant (non-surprising) stimuli (e.g., background noise in an airplane, florescent lighting in the classroom, skin pressure from clothes, etc.). Neurotypical children adapt to such stimuli because they can predict their persistence, and as a result they are able to ignore the stimuli. This “adapting and ignoring” skill helps neurotypical children to label background stimulations as “unimportant.”

When a youngster receives a diagnosed of ASD, educational priorities often focus on behavioral interventions aimed at development of social and communicative skills, while the youngster’s sensory needs are often ignored. As paradoxical as it seems, sometimes autistic kids benefit from being misdiagnosed as having visual and/or auditory impairments. Being placed into an environment where their sensory difficulties are addressed may help these young people to respond to social and communication interventions better than if they were placed into a typical environment where the main emphasis is only on training in social/communicative skills.

ASD children should be protected from painful environmental stimuli. For example, in the case of visual/auditory hyper-sensitivity, visual and auditory distractions should be kept to a minimum. Tactile hyper-sensitivities should be addressed by choosing the clothes and fabrics the youngster can tolerate. If parents or teachers can’t hear, see or smell some stimuli, it doesn’t mean that the autistic youngster is being “ridiculous” if distressed by “nothing at sight.”

Parents and teachers need to consider the level of “sensory pollution” in the child’s environment. If there are several conversations in the same room, ceiling fans blowing, florescent lights buzzing, and people moving around, the youngster with sensory hyper-sensitivities is sure to be overwhelmed.  However, if the youngster is hypo-sensitive, extra stimulation through the senses that don’t get enough information from the environment should be provided.

Understanding the way children with ASD experience the world will help parents and teachers to respect them in their attempts to survive and live a productive life in a “sensory-unfriendly” world. If we understand how the youngster experiences the world and how she interprets what she sees, hears, feels, etc., we can design treatment programs in accordance with her perceptual abilities and deficits. Understanding each particular child’s specific difficulties and how they may affect her functioning is vital in order to adopt methods and strategies to help her function at home, school and in the community.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said... Every day is a blessing learning to look through my sons eyes.
•    Anonymous said... I had a very bad morning with mine and based on observing my six year old for years is that he doesnt take well to routine change.
•    Anonymous said... Mine constantly needs background noise when he reads yet when kids in school act up, it drives him crazy!
•    Anonymous said... My son almost needs to have background noise continuously, but his choice is audio books- ones he's listened to hundreds if not thousands of times-ones that are predictable to him. Yes, he's the one listening to a book, playing a game on the tablet and watching the newest episode of Dr. Who or Game of Thrones , commenting "That's not the way it is the the book!". HELP!
•    Anonymous said... My son...my life
•    Anonymous said... Oh how I can relate to this!
•    Anonymous said... This describes Matthew - can't touch him but he is on top of me constantly.
•    Anonymous said... Very helpful.
•    Anonymous said... Wow, a bit of an eye opener here. My 16y son comments daily that there is too much noise in the house and it's too distracting. My husband has raised song canaries for the last 6-7 years and doesn't see what's wrong with having a constant "happy chatter" from sun up to lights out! There are signs that DH may be on the spectrum too, but his sensory issues fall in a different range.

Please post your comment below…


Rigidity & Defiance in Kids with Aspergers & High-Functioning Autism

Many of the conversations your ASD son or daughter has had have generally been about knowledge and facts, not about feelings, opinions, and interactions. As a result, your "special needs" child does not really know how the world works.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said... great video...sent to all my family - nice details helps explain it all
•    Anonymous said... Love the info I get from this page. Lately my 4yr old thinks because we count to 3 to warn him his behaviour is not appropriate and if he continues we take his game away that he can count to 3 then do as he wishes, finding it very hard to define parent and child roles and this video made it clear to me some of the reasons why that is so, Thank you
•    Anonymous said... My son thinks he is the only expert. His biggest issue is getting angry at everyone who likes anything that he does not like, such as a cartoon character or animal. He says that they have tiny brains and are trying to control his mind if they do not like something that he does or if they ask him to change the subject. I have tried explaining it millions of times...It seems to plague him constantly...any suggestions?
•    Anonymous said... VERY helpful and clear explanation. I really wish everyone could "get" this.

The Bullying of Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Adolescent bullying includes a wide range of aggressive behavior, including direct and indirect hostility. Direct contact can be either verbal or physical (e.g., teasing, name-calling, pushing and hitting). Direct bullying is more common among males than females. Indirect bullying (which is more common among girls) happens when teens spread rumors about each other, often in an attempt to exclude a peer from social gatherings or other activities.

When adolescent bullying meets technology, “cyber-bullying” emerges. Through digital technology, aggressive messages can be instantly broadcast to a wide audience. Senders can remain anonymous or fake a user name, and they can attach demeaning or explicit images. This so-called "electronic hostility" includes any type of harassment or intimidation that occurs through various sources, for example:
  • blogs
  • chat rooms
  • email
  • instant messaging
  • text messaging
  • websites
  • other electronic formats

Despite the fact that adolescent bullying happens in so many ways, researchers commonly distinguish several core features:
  • hostility thrives on an imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim
  • hostility is repeated
  • hostility is intentional

Bullying can worsen the mental health of all teens – but especially those with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) since they are already dealing with an inordinate amount of stress. Teens that experience adolescent bullying are more likely to report thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior. All too often, media reports about bullying-related suicides give a face to this extreme consequence of adolescent bullying. In addition, targets of cyber-bullying are more likely than those who haven't been harassed to use alcohol and other drugs, receive school detention or suspension, skip school, or be bullied in person.

Adolescent bullying is also associated with higher rates of weapon carrying and fighting that leads to injury. Investigations of several school-based shootings (e.g., Pearl, Mississippi; West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Springfield, Oregon; Littleton, Colorado) pointed to bullying as a factor that contributed to the outbreak of violence.

Many aspects of adolescent bullying resemble bullying among younger children. Still, unique features emerge. For example, adolescents might be reluctant to report bullying to moms or dads or school officials. In one study, adolescents reported a reluctance to talk about cyber-bullying with educators or other grown-ups at school, because cyber-bullying often happens on cell phones, and it's against school policy to use cell phones during school hours. In addition, adolescents may be reluctant to report cyber-bullying to mothers and fathers for fear of losing their cell phone or Internet privileges.

If you believe that peers influence your teen more than you do – think again! Research indicates that your actions make a big difference. Studies indicate that the parent’s behavior can prevent adolescents from becoming either perpetrators or targets of bullying. This effect holds for all forms of bullying.

Consider these specific strategies:

1. Provide a safe, loving and intellectually stimulating home for your Aspergers or HFA teen. Simple activities such as helping with homework and sharing regular family meals have been linked to reduced rates of bullying.

2. Some research links bullying to unsupervised television watching. Also, keep an eye on your teen's online activities and text messages.

3. Teach your “special needs” teen to manage negative emotions by setting an example with your own behavior. Reflect on how you respond to strong feelings of anger, fear or sadness — being careful to identify and accept your emotions, express them without blaming other people, and respond without hostility.

4. Welcome any chance to get acquainted with your teen's peers.

Traditional adolescent bullying tends to decline with age, peaking during middle school and decreasing during high school. Cyber-bullying might be an exception, however. More research is needed to determine whether this form of adolescent bullying becomes less common as kids mature. In the meantime, talk to your Aspergers or HFA teen about adolescent bullying. Even if he or she doesn't confess to being bullied, offer specific suggestions to keep bullying at bay, for example:
  • Getting involved in a fight may only lead to more hostility.
  • If you're being stalked or you've been physically attacked by a bully, don't be afraid to tell a trusted grown-up. 
  • If you're in a situation where you think bullying might happen, don't go it alone. Stick with trusted classmates during the school day. If you're walking home from school, find someone to go with you.
  • Spend time with trusted friends, or reach out to friendly peers. Make new friends through after-school activities (e.g., music, theater, athletics, etc.).
  • Walk tall, make eye contact, and speak assertively to the bully. Just saying "stop" or walking away from the bully — or deleting offending emails or text messages — may be enough.

If your teen admits to being bullied, take action. Start by reassuring your teen. Tell him or her that you'll do everything in your power to help — and you won't revoke cell phone or Internet privileges as a consequence of being bullied. Never imply that getting bullied is your teen's fault. Then do the following:

1. Find out how bullying is addressed in the school's curriculum, as well as how staff members are obligated to respond to known or suspected bullying.

2. Instead of finding blame, ask for help to solve the bullying problem. Keep notes on these meetings. Remember that it can take time for educators and administrators to investigate bullying in a fair and factual way.

3. Start with the teacher who knows your teen well. Ask whether your teen's classroom behavior has changed or if there are any other warning signs. You might also consult a school dean, counselor or other school contact.

4. Write down the details (e.g., the date, who was involved, what specifically happened, etc.). Record the facts as objectively as possible.

If the above steps don't help the situation, or of your teen has been injured or traumatized by continued bullying, consult a mental health provider. You might also consider talking to an attorney. Taking legal action to disrupt a culture of bullying can make your community safer for all adolescents.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


College Depression in Students with Aspergers and ASD level 1: What Parents Need To Know

College depression is a common problem in young people with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Moms and dads need to understand why the transition to college makes their “special needs” son or daughter vulnerable to depression — and what they can do about it – BEFORE the young adult attempts, and then fails, his or her first semester of college.

“College depression” isn't a clinical diagnosis. Rather, it’s a form of an adjustment disorder (i.e., a type of stress-related mental illness or depression).  Typically, signs and symptoms of an adjustment disorder begin within three months of a stressful life event (in this case, going away to school). Depression, however, may occur at any time.

College students with Aspergers and HFA face many challenges, pressures and anxieties that their “typical” peers do not. Many factors can cause these young people to feel overwhelmed, for example:
  • adapting to a new schedule
  • adapting to a new workload
  • adjusting to life with roommates
  • feeling homesick
  • figuring out how to “fit in”
  • juggling school and employment
  • living on their own for the first time
  • making the transition from adolescence to adulthood

Aspergers and HFA college students dealing with depression are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and perform poorly in school than are their “typical” peers. Difficulty concentrating may cause these young people to have trouble finishing schoolwork, skip classes, lose interest in extracurricular activities – and even drop out and move back home.

Signs and symptoms that an Aspergers or HFA student may be experiencing college depression include:
  • Agitation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Decreased concentration 
  • Distractibility
  • Excessive sleeping 
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt 
  • Frequent phone calls to the mother or father in which the student declares that he or she wants to drop out and return home
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide 
  • Frustration
  • Indecisiveness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of energy 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities 
  • Restlessness
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble making decisions and remembering things 
  • Trouble with thinking or concentrating

 ==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance

Aspergers and HFA college students may have difficulty seeking help for depression out of embarrassment or fear of not “fitting in.” Signs and symptoms also may be more difficult to notice from afar. If moms and dads suspect that their young adult is dealing with college depression, they should talk to him or her about what's going on. Then they should ask him or her to make an appointment with a school counselor or therapist as soon as possible. Many colleges offer counseling services that are extremely helpful in these cases.

Parents need to understand that depressive symptoms may not get better on their own — in fact, they may get worse if not treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health issues or problems in other areas of life. Feelings of depression can also increase the likelihood of substance abuse and the risk of suicide.

In addition to seeking treatment, parents should encourage their adult child to take other steps to cope with college depression. For example:

1. Playing a sport or joining a club can help the young person meet people with similar interests, as well as provide a change of pace from schoolwork.

2. Encourage your son or daughter to take time each day to set priorities and goals. This will help him or her develop a sense of control and confidence. It will also help him or her avoid putting off important class work until late at night, which can lead to fatigue.

3. Encourage your son or daughter to get to know people in his or her dorm and classes. Friends can help your “special needs” adult child to feel more comfortable in a new environment.

4. Spending time alone can help your son or daughter re-energize and feel a sense of control over his or her life.

5. Your adult child may be able to reduce his or her stress level through physical activity, meditation, deep-breathing exercises, long walks or other calming activities.

There's no sure way to prevent college depression in young people with Aspergers and HFA. However, helping these individuals become accustomed to their college campus before the start of the school year can prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by the transition. Encourage your young adult to visit the campus and talk to other students, peer counselors or faculty about what to expect and where to turn for support.

If your college-bound son or daughter has a history of depression, talk to his or her doctor about what kind of counseling options might best help with the transition to college. In addition, help your young person become familiar with campus counseling resources. Remember, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a problem can help prevent college depression from worsening.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance


My 13 year old son has not been diagnosed with Asperger's although a couple of professionals he has seen have mentioned it as a possibility. His IQ tested at the low end of average and he is delayed in math, spelling and writing. According to his educational psychologist, his verbal skills are his strongest and long term retrieval is his weakest area. It often seems we struggle with what is age appropriate expectation/discipline with him. Does he understand/does he even remember what the issue is? I don't want to underestimate him, but don't want to frustrate either. In moments of extreme stress my husband tends to fall back to traditional methods like increasingly long periods of grounding. Then he feels like he overreacted and will take it back. I tend to avoid the confrontation in order to keep peace and wind up walking the minefield all day. Although I will face the fire when I feel it is a serious or moral issue. Our son goes through periods of destructive tantrums. Then for months he will rarely have one. We have had two weeks of daily explosions usually triggered by losing a computer game. This culminated yesterday in him refusing to go to church on Easter. He had visited grandparents all weekend and had a lot of change in diet and routine. He got to play computer for a little while before church, lost, then had to quit and boom! My husband stayed home with him while the rest of the family went to church. Needless to say, no more computer before church and all 3 children are being given clearer limits of  when and how they can play as everyone was playing too much. My son is currently under neurologist's care, taking clonodine for sleep and lamotrigine for mood. We have a family history of seizures, although this child has never had an obvious one. I'm afraid the next issue might be refusal to take medication and we can't mess around with lamotrigine.


Dear Mark,
Your newsletters are a source of great information and hope..
I just wish I had known when my son was a kid that he had AS, it
would have helped so much..
As it is now, he has all the secondary emotional issues, low self-esteem,
and refuses to accept that he has AS!! It is also difficult to insist that he deal
with this right now, since he underwent some stresses ( one of them was that
he tried LSD to try and feel better about the world, he's not tried any drugs after
that). The LSD, given his sensory sensitivity, knocked the wind out of him and
disoriented him completely. After that, over a period of some months, he developed
mild symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, for which he is now on Lithium, olanzapine and
fluoxetine. He is much better, but there is a lot of amotivation, confused spirituality
issues and high anxiety.
In your experience, does this drug combination suit the Asperger individual? Are AS
prone to Bipolar Disorder? Given that he is just getting out of the depressive phase of
BPD, when do you think I should get him to look at the AS diagnosis and deal with it?


My husband and I have been married for 32 years. We have two adult children 31 & 29. Our concern is our 31 years old son. We have had problems with him most all of our lives. (Sorry I mean he says we are the problem). We dont know where to begin. So much to say. Whats important? Whats not?  He has never been diagnosed with any problems.  Even though in his young years we had seen many  counselors. He has had many tragic things happen to him. We did the best we could, but still failed.
We had to kick him out of our home about 1 1/2 weeks ago, (he is with his grandparent's, but for how long????).  He keeps coming back. We are afraid this will puts him over the edge. Were just sick. We don't want anything to happen to him.  Maybe at this stage in his life we cant help him,  (especially when he knows he is not the problem).  He really is a wonderful young man. Loves the Lord, never smoked, drink, drugs, loves his relatives.  But he has never acknowledge  any authority, loves being legalistic,  etc... Could you help us get the answers we need, to help our son as well as ourselves after all of these years?  We need to find out why he does what he does. So we can help each other better deal with this situation.


I have an awesome 11 year daughter who has been diagnosed with " Asperger tendencies"... along with adhd and anxiety. She is in 6 th grade this year, the previous three years she was in a Therapeutic Learning Classroom at her grade school. She was mainstreamed back into regular ed this year and is doing pretty good. ( she has an iep and support system)  She makes straight  A's, pretty much effortlessly. Shes also very good on the violin. Shes matured a lot in the last few years. But what makes me sad and frustrated is that she still has "melt downs" at times and cant let things go. ( purposely annoying other kids who have " wronged" her... some of them really have, but still she tends to make things worse)  Shes very enthusiastic and wants to do so many things, like sleep away Girl Scout camp and being in Honors Orchestra... but her occasional melt downs and stubbornness, unwillingness to let things go..... keep her from being able to. She could soar if this wasn't holding her back. I don't know what else to do for her.  It breaks my heart, shes a funny, smart, creative girl with a good heart who is very social and longs to fit in and have friends.


I wondered if you might be able to help with the ongoing problem we have of dealing with our son.
Up until the end of the summer we had a really well structured home-life, he was willing to do his homework each day after school at the same time and had a good balance of organised sporting activities, music practise, seeing friends and relaxation time.  He is a much loved only child and just turned 13 in January.  Previously we enjoyed a really good relationship and did lots of fun things together.
Things started going wrong at the end of the summer, when my husband's twin became ill with cancer and sadly died a few days after Christmas.   We had to cancel our summer holiday and Christmas was awful of course My husband spent every available minute in hospital with his brother.
My son at the same time had an increased workload at school and lots of entrance exams to take for schools starting next September.  The competition is intense and he found it all very stressful.
This all coincided with the onset of hormones  kicking in and a whole new attitude where he  is rebelling against everything in a big way.

He is now refusing to read, refusing to do his homework, refusing to do his music practise, refusing to eat with us, talk with us, go to bed on time, do anything at all really that we ask him to do. From having been really close, he is now totally rejecting me in particular as his mother and completely refuting my authority.  He has had a couple of really explosive episodes, one when I told him his maths tutor was coming to see him and he threatened to run away and hit me repeatedly when I stood by the door to stop him running away and another time when I took the computer away and told him he could only have it back after he had done his homework; that time he lashed out at me again, spat in my face and swore at me.   It has proven impossible to follow through consequences , such as taking away his phone if he is badly behaved, as he just threatens to hit us if we try to do so.   The hitting out and threatening of hitting out has abated since I called the police on one occasion to talk to him about threatening to hit me, but we are keen to avoid any further flare-ups of violence from him.

I realise that he needs more space and that he needs more time to see his friends and less things organised for him, so have definitely tried to back off on this to try and improve things, but there has been no real improvement with his behaviour which seems to now be systematically rude and unco-operative.
We have just been away for a few days with my friend and her children who are good friends of his and he seemed to be improving, but as soon as we got on the train to come home and it was just the two of us he refused to speak to me and just told me me to "piss off" or  "shut my ugly face".  He says this even if I ask him if he would like a drink or anything at all. He is refusing to engage with us at all, just shutting himself in his room and just swearing at us when we try to talk to him, so difficult to know how to handle him.  Hate to see him like this.  Any advice on how to get through to him would be gratefully received.
School have suggested that he sees a counsellor and he will be doing this when he gets back to school in three weeks time after the holidays, but in the meantime I would love to have some advise on how to handle him.  My parenting style is gentle but assertive and I try to stay calm and not shout.  I am a stay at home mum and have always tried my best to give him as much love and care as possible and to give him every possible opportunity.  My husband works hard but is now also trying hard to give our son more of his time and organised a father and son weekend away last weekend, but is also being told to get lost, all very difficult.  Very keen to get things back on track.


Your description is my son to a "T". It seems his Dad and I have lost the ability to control or raise him like we think we should. Nothing we do has worked. He is suffering in school, skips, and is so unappreciative, and disrespectful it's hurtful. He is 16 and an only child and takes meds for Crohn's disease. Just this weekend he was arrested for drug possession, court date is in 3 weeks. Any input would be greatly appreciated.


My son, aged 29, has done something in our apartment that is unthinkable. The noise level in the apartment above us was concerning him, he went upstairs, kicked in their door. We live in a senior apartment. What do I do now? I have not taken him to a counselor nor had him in counseling because he refused to talk. Now, we are facing criminal charges. I have waited too long to address this. Now what?


Dear Mark,
I am very glad I have a connection to you and your work.  I never really thought that that I would take advantage of your availability via email, but I need some advice. I work with a defiant 15 yr. old boy with Aspergers, his single parent, and his younger brother.  I have put into place strategies from your publication "My Aspergers Teen: Discilpline...Teens" which I purchased a few weeks ago.  We have a behavior contract that has worked well for the first 2 weeks.  Mother reports that "the last weekend was terrible, he threatened, menaced his brother and the dog, and refused to do what I asked him to do." (chores)  She went on to say "He is not internalizing anything, you are his 5th therapist and he is just going back to his old ways like all the other behavior plans he's had."  There is a significant amount of baggage that I will not go into detail about.  Help me with reasons I can give his mother to stick with a plan for more than 2 weeks.  "Backsliding will happen, it's human nature" is essentially what I have said to her.  If it would be helpful, I can attach the plan in a future email for you to look at.  Thanks for listening.


Dear Mr. Hutten,
Caleb has always been unique.  He has vision problems and has worn glasses since he was 15th months old which has contributed to him being physically timid.  He has also never liked getting dirty, and he's never been one to transition easily.  He was always such a happy and content baby that I didn't see much concern with his idiosyncrasies.  Then, when he was three his sister was born.  After the birth of his sister his personality has been changing.  Gone is the happy, content, and easy mannered child.  Again, I wasn't too concerned because I figured he was just adjusting, but now he is five and some of his behaviors are escalating rather than diminishing.
I am the baby of the family and was not raised around many children so I am unsure if I am overreacting or if there is true cause for concern.  Here are the behaviors I am worried about:
1.  He craves sugar constantly day and night.  We have tried several times to put him on a no sugar diet to see if it would help his behavior (we all did the diet with him).  Three times we've tried and have found him hiding with the jar of sugar, bottle of honey, or package of powdered white sugar eating by the spoonful.
2.  He is either "on" or "off", meaning, he is either charming, helpful, and compliant or he is mean, angry, and resistant.  There is seemingly no middle ground with him.
3.  He gets along well with older children, especially girls.  He cannot seem to foster a relationship with his peers and he is hostile and mean to children that are shorter than him.
4.  He is very intelligent, but he is easily frustrated and virtually gives up if he can't accomplish something on the first try.  
5.  He has poor muscle tone and shies away from most physical activities.  For instance, he can't ride a bike with training wheels, do a push-up, or run for any period of time.  My husband and I are not into sports that much, so I understand this to an extent, but he won't even hardly sit on a tricycle and try to push the pedals.  We do like to hike, walk, and play ball with him.
6.  He has an extensive vocabulary, but he won't or can't verbalize when he is expressing different emotions.  He screams and shakes when he is excited and screams and stomps when he is mad.
7.  He is literal to an extreme and has no sense of humor.  
8.  He has automated and rigid body movements.
9.  He is not very good at reading nonverbal language.
10.  If a child is disruptive, hits him, or in any way does anything out of the ordinary he has to  "top them" by showing an even more extreme behavior.
Why am I concerned?  I am concerned because even though I have worked with children for years and am a certified teacher I feel like I don't have the tools to help him overcome some of these issues.  For example, the routine in the morning is that he get up, get dressed, and make his bed.  Nearly everyday he acts as if this routine is a surprise to him and he will throw himself down on the floor and scream at me because I've asked him to complete his am routine.  He is loving and sweet when he gets his way, but if we say no about anything he screams, stomps, and throws himself on the floor.  I wouldn't be so concerned about this behavior if he were two, but he's five!  He also never did this when he was two.  It's almost like he started the terrible two's at three and half and hasn't given them up yet.
I am also concerned that he might have food allergies that are exacerbating his behaviors or that he could have a form of Asperger's, but   I don't want him labeled or diagnosed with that because of all the implications.  Plus, I don't know how much of that is just hype.
My husband and I are pretty cut and dry when it comes to discipline.  We have an if-then chart that we refer to.  For instance, if he screams then he has isolation in his room for 12 minutes or until he calms down.  We also have a reward system, we take him on dates, we read to him everyday, and I am a stay at home mom so I am with him nearly 24/7.
I know you have children and have seen probably thousands of children.  I am wondering if the above issues are typical for his age, and if not, who should I speak to to get some strategies to deal with these behaviors?  I am losing patience with him, and I feel like a prisoner trapped in my own home on some of the harder days.  Do you have any suggestions?


Good Morning Dr. Hutten,

My name is Katie and I recently joined your online news letter regarding parenting Asbergers children. I have found the articles informative and I wanted to ask a few questions.

I have three children, all on the spectrum 2 with Asbergers and 1 with PDDNOS. My oldest, who is now 14 has received the bulk of attention and all three are late diagnosis. Sean (14) rec’d his DX at 9 yrs when I changed schools due to bullying issues, which of course continued in the next school.  In 6th grade he tried to hurt himself and was hospitalized two times. We are in financial ruins trying to pay for services out of pocket. I was able to sue my insurance company (HMO) and received social skills classes through Michelle Garcia Winner’s TEACH SOCIAL. The insurance pulled him from the center, because they do not work with insurance companies and won’t play by their rules. Almost all progress has been undone as they keep referring me to company after company that only deals with “early intervention” NOBODY works with adolescents.  This is a child who has spit in my face, kicked me, thrown drinks at me and punched me. He is 6ft and 270 pounds. He refuses to follow rules and has become the bully, terrorizing my other boys. Sometimes, when my husband gets involved the escalations have become violent, leaving my other boys in a fetal position hiding behind furniture. Now the other boys have decided not to follow rules because Sean doesn’t (of course I enforce the rules with them anyway) Behavior plans become debating matches as he searches for loopholes to get around rules. The laws changed this year and finally all three have been approved for ABA. When all three go off at the same time with different needs it is almost impossible to get on top of things. Homework is a four to five hour ordeal daily

I am exhausted and have been fighting for these boys for almost ten years now. He talked his way out of his IEP by telling the teacher he knew all the friendship rules. She exited him from the special ed program without my agreement.  My husband and I have not been on a date in three years and struggle to agree on a parenting style.

How do I bring peace to my home? And do you know how I can qualify for some respite care? I feel isolated and like I am throwing punches in the air.


Today my son was held down and carried down the hall by two people, right in front of the hall full of students, they left bruses on his ankles and wrists. He suffer from PTSD and only one of the people were trained in restraint. They say he was a threat to others and him self. The man that was involve was told not to work or be around my son since 3 rd grade and he was in 5th . Now he cant go to school. I have lost my good job after 21 years, because one of the ladies that works at the school was my new supervisors wife. She would call my work almost every day. And I wasn't suposed to get that may phone calls. I called the police and they say the prosecuting attoney in a small town doesn't want to take the case. How can I help my child? He can't go to Community Health building or he gets out of control. I lost my health insurance with the job. So he cant see the counselor that was helping him after this happened because they charge 125.00 per visit. And he dosen't trust other adults to keep him safe and not hurt him. Help!!


Dear Mark,
I haven't had time to finish reading the Living with an Aspergers Partner Book. I did however download the Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens book at the end of last year, this book was a real life line to getting our whole family back on track.It seems our entire family; myself, my husband and three children are dealing with similar issues to varying degrees. The hardess part of the process is finding professionals who are familiar with the condition, I have had some particularly bad experiences, whilst the medical profession seem to be lagging in enlightenment , especially with my two daughters, I have found educators are more ahead of the game. With still no official diagnosis for any of my children, life goes on and parenting has to be effective, and I have found your resources and website to be most useful I have come across.
Keep up the great work!


My 7 yr daughter has been diagnosed with Aspergers a few months ago. We are struggling with Oppositional behaviours. These behaviours are not all the time , maybe a couple of times a week some weeks more depending on how tired, anxious, or whatever she is. She can just try to pick an argument, shout at us over something minor, get frustrated with what she is doing etc. if she is in a negative mood or heading that way it seems a meltdown is inevitable. We can deflect sometimes by letting her get away with being rude toward us or her sister ( who by the way is happy and easy going 4 yr old) but that doesn't seem right either. Once she is in a state, you can't reason with her she seems altered in a way like in a zone almost becomes robotic in her shouting. We try to put her in her room which she fights us on the we have to hold the door handle while she try's getting out or kicking the door while shouting "stop it" or "go away". If we don't hold the door closed she will come out and follow us around shouting "go away" over and over. Ignoring doesn't seem to help and reacting doesn't help. It can go on till we are all wrecked then she can just stitch and be fine like she gets it all out of her system. She won't discuss how she feels after. She is fine at school, can be distracted and not always helpful with class mates. Can be a bit stand off ish with people if feeling anxious or unconfident. We don't know what to do, she seems to be getting worse not better in intensity at least. She won't be told and is hard to teach as she doesn't want to listen unless you get a rare moment of happy go lucky chatty but calm enough to listen mood. Help is this something you see In others? Are there solutions? I feel we are reasonable parents, we have boundaries but not unreasonable, our other daughter is fine, we are just coming a cropper with our 7 yr old. Not sure what to do next.


Hi Dr. Hutton,

We just realized in the past few years that our son, Kyle, is a high functioning aspbergers.  He graduated 6th in his HS class, and served a 2 year mission for our church.  We thought things were going well (after a VERY rocky elem school period) but things have been going downhill since about May 2011.  He is still in college, after struggling to find a major, he once again isn't sure about what he wants to do "when he grows up".  He's struggling with calc III and thought to be a mech engineer, but now may be changing his major once again.

Our concern is more to do with the increasing depression we see in him. We think it stems from his complaint of not being able to get past the friendly acquaintance phase in a relationship, obviously he hasn't got a girlfriend, but would sure like to have one, and a few guy friends too.  Unfortunately his PCP is stuck on the idea of Wellbutrin, although as a family ARNP I know this isn't a great idea for people who have an anxiety component to their personality, his doctor is stuck on the possibility of sexual dysfunction - which Kyle may never experience if he doesn't ever date & get married!!  Fortunately, Kyle has sought the assistance of a counselor, and has his first appt this week.

  We don't know how to teach him how to take friendships to the next level - we don't want to talk 'down' to him - but it seems very basic to us.  Incidentally, his big brother has similar problems, and is also a double depressive, who at age 28, is finally getting "out there" in the dating world, and starting to feel panicked that he will never marry.  Little brother is "Normal" with oodles of friends and girls falling all over themselves to be by his side.  Kyle & Eric do NOT appreciate their little brothers advice on women.  Can you help us help them?


Please tell us why our high functioning aspi understands what we say, what is wrong, don't, stop, quit, no,
do not, (the list goes on) but refuses to respond to any of these. He is 51/2 years old, highly conversational but has no remorse. He has been told about throwing rocks, how they can hurt kids, and even shown the result of a dirt clot hitting a neighbor child's face.

Yesterday, we say him down the block, throwing rocks and pieces of concrete and when I went down to bring him home, he dropped the rocks, as if to hide them, as he knew he was knowingly doing something wrong. We have been giving him the benefit of the doubt......up till now, but my suspicion has always been that he is disobedient, and purposely refuses to mind.

His mother was a drug addict, and he may as well have been raised by animals....as he does nothing he is asked to do, and never, ever shows remorse of any kind. He acknowledges household rules, acts as if he remembers no conversation that is even one minute old, and as I have said before, no, don't, quit, oh hell, why am I going on and on, it never ends................ please help me and let us know if we are crazy or just stupid


Hi there Dr. Hutten - I am a mother to  6 year old boy with AS that got to see his dad run and say hi on Monday
for The Boston Marathon 2 days ago! And my son is not able to stop asking questions about - WHY? WHY Boston?
WHY the 8 year boy that lost his life? It is getting to him, my son had questions before bed last night, about why do
you think this guy did this and do you think because my daddy ran the Boston Marathon is that guy coming to our
house to hurt us? and does he know where we live? I told him he is safe with us and we will always protect him and
also learning to be more aware of who people are and why are they too friendly sometimes - I also told him he will
always be safe at school - last week they did a (child  assault prevention program) and he came home asking a lot
of questions - why he needed to learn how to protect him self from strangers - because he LOVES LOVES to talk to
people ( yes ) strangers he is very friendly and caring..
 So all of these was very fresh in his mind - we are so lucky we live so close to the Boston marathon course - 8 to
10 minutes after the bombs happened  by miracle and chance my husband answer the phone by the 2nd time I
called his cell and I told him to stop running and that we were coming to get him.. So we picked up my husband
by 3:18 pm and the bombs were 2:50 pm...  my son told my husband in detail what had happened - and for him to
grab that much info just by listening to the radio on the way to pick him up.. that means my son had more info
then he actually needed to know.. I feel horrible about it .. he is so upset I won't let him WATCH THE NEWS... I am
hoping there is something I can learn from you - to say to my son to help him cope with all this (WHYsss???)
  It was very hard for him to see his dad - be standing there waiting for us and not running to finish the race.. Oh, as
you can tell by now it was hard on all of us here in Boston - but we have the support of the very caring USA - we
saw soldiers walking the Boston Marathon and my son - was so proud of the he HIGH FIVED the guys and hugged the
female soldier and people were very very touched I actually cried.. and other people were also teary.. (wow) I am sure
these (kids)the soldiers  were under 23 years old!! But to us in Boston to see the walk for buddies the lost at war
is very touching! (the are still babies )

any how - any thing you think I can tell my son - I called his pediatrician to let them know that he is asking lots
of questions and if they can help out with advice - but they have not called me back yet.. so I am hoping you
get this email soon.. and I thank you for taking the time to read my very long email and for your website .. my
son does have AS and is taking social pragmatics class and speech class.. - he has this thing about THE SOLAR
SYSTEM - MATH - MAPS - GPS - MAZES - oh yes, I can't forget he listens to classical music - is that normal for
him to be only obsess about this things only? he tells me that kindergarten is BORRRRING! he turned 6 4 week
ago! So he is not old enough to ask for trips to classical music events,no? he says he does not understand why
his K - teacher is not teaching about the moon, sun ....  oh, boy! I have my hands full here!

 I am hoping I can find and connect with other parents with kids like my son here in New England - if there are
any groups you know of please let me know - I looked on your site but was not able to find where .. I saw one
of you YOUTUBE videos that you said where to click.


Hi everyone! I have a 12 year old boy who loves watching videos on his Kindle Fire. He especially likes watching videos on youtube about his favorite online game (mine craft). The problem is on many occasions I have heard foul language used in the videos. I am against him hearing this language. I have set the safety search on for his youtube account but that doesnt protect against language being used in the video itself. I have explained why, I have removed his kindle for a weekend (after I had attempted parental controls on the kindle) and he still watches these videos. His reply is that it just words......I know what they mean and I dont use them. I really do not want to block the website completely as I want him to learn responsibility. I also do not wish to be constantly over his shoulder but when it comes to things like this that he doesnt see as important he will not take me seriously. We have had the talk about what consequences will take place but I really want to teach him why its important and have him follow the rules without constantly having to remove the privelege of internet. Thanks in advance!


I am a wife of an Aspie (undiagnosed, but all the signs a there) and our first son is as well (confirmed diagnosis), our fourth son is going thru testing now. There is so much I could say here, but I will do my best to keep this problem oriented.

I've been married to my husband for 10 years and I've seen him move from one obsession to another. Some are long term hobbies, others are new obsessions that can drain our bank account. 

In the time we have been married, he hasn't made one single male friend, but will have infatuations with one woman to the next and call them his "friend". There is only one at a time and he becomes obsessed with them. They are all he talks about, etc. As a wife trying to protect her marriage I have tried to call him out on his behavior but he sees nothing wrong with his female friends and accuses me of being jealous, then refuses to talk to me about it. (There is a lot of emotional stonewalling.)

His last obsession turned into an emotional affair when he sent her a letter telling her she is "all he thinks about, he is confused because he doesn't want to come home to me but only wants to be with her", etc. She responds buy saying he got the wrong idea and for him not to contact her anymore. He is adamant that she "acted" like she had feelings for him.

He doesn't understand these boundaries or cues from women nor does he understand what a real friendship even is. His idea of a friend is someone who takes interest in hearing him talk. Furthermore, he has NO interest in friendships with men. If a man tries to be friends with him, he will identify what he doesn't like about him and shut them out.

He is a typical Aspie in every way. Very task oriented, unaffectionate, obsessive, doesn't get social cues, high IQ, gets sensory overload and needs to be alone, etc. What I can't find in any literature anywhere is the obsession with women. If there is another case like this you have heard of I would really like to read about it. I feel very alone here. All this talk about Aspies being faithful because of their lack of interest in relationships doesn't apply here and it is very upsetting. I have so much resentment for him and I don't know if our marriage will survive this. I need help but no one seems to be able to apply Asperger syndrome to this kind of obsession that seems too "social" for an Aspie.


Dear Mr Hutten:

I would imagine you get tons of emails of questions pertaining to the former diagnosis of aspergers.
I am a black american female with diagnosed as an adult with aspergers.  

I have basically struggled through life, raised in single parent home, grew up thinking I was an angry
& depressed person.  I had no idea I was on the spectrum and needed to be on medication.  

Raised in strict religious faith that discouraged medication so I just kept "running" away from stress until I met 
my husband who really saw me as a person, beyond the surface.  

In short, I would hope that you are able to respond to my email. I would appreciate your assistance with treatment and resource information as it is almost non existent at this stage in life and also help with telling my story.

May 1996 Graduated from High school (captain of basketball team)
Mar 1997 Dropped out of college (due to first bad grade)
Nov 1999 Joined Air Force (after death of Father, unsure of what to do with my life)
Nov 2001 Medical Discharge (hypersomnolence/failure to adjust to military life suggested that I take modafanil)
Dec 2005 Graduated from college BS Family Studies, Psychology minor
Mar 2008 Met my husband
Aug 2009 Fired from State Job (introduced to aspergers)
Mar 2013 Officially diagnosed by VA physician

Will you please explain how the DSM V change will effect my diagnosis as mine was not by an MD until 2013?
Also, what medication combinations do you know of that work best for someone like me with aspergers and a
severe sleeping disorder like hypersomnoulence?


Our son knows our rules about using internet appropriately.  He knows that he is not to watch you tube videos that have foul language or inappropriate content.  I did set the safe search to "on" in the settings for his you tube account.  It filters out search results that have certain words but it does not filter out language in the video itself.  Last week he was watching videos that the person had used the "f" word a few times.  He was told he was not allowed to watch you tube videos the rest of the day.  He was warned that if he did we would put parental controls on which would require a password for videos.  He proceeded to watch it while we were gone that evening and the following day we set a parental password to be required.  Somehow, I didn't set it right and later on when I checked the history of his kindle he had watched videos anyway.  The next consequence was keeping his kindle for 24 hours.  The rest of the week went well in him following the rules and shutting off the video if swearing occurred.  That leads into what occurred last night at our house:

My son was given a time to exit the computer and have no more electronics for the evening.  About 45 minutes later I asked my husband what our son was doing to find out he had been in the bathroom with his kindle reading on websites.  First of all I know there should be a consequence for not following the rule of no more electronics which I had planned on delaying the time that he could get on in the morning by the time he had used up the prior evening.  What we found to be very disturbing is the content of what he was reading which is what I am asking advice for on how to impose a consequence for.  He was a website called creepypasta.com and was reading stories about "My Little Pony" only in horror fashion.  Not only were these stories terribly violent, they included vulgar sex scenes as well.  The material was very graphic.

We explained to him that we thought his choice in continuing to read the material once he realized what it contained was disappointing and that we needed some time to think about what the consequences are going to be but for right now the kindle is off limits.  He immediately felt guilty and ashamed and cried for quite awhile before bed.  He still feels that way this morning and informed us that he knows he shouldn't have read it and feels ashamed.  He wants us to take his kindle.  I have read ahead in the ebook and know that you say 3 days is best for a grounding. That definitely sounds like a good idea to us but also I think there needs to be something following that up…..Thats where my question is, should we be restricting web on the kindle after the 3 days for a certain period of time?


 I have a very bright, kind, and wonderful 24-year-old daughter with Aspergers who has been living with my husband and myself for the past four years, since attending college for about a year (in the honors program). After college she had a job as a hotel night clerk for about 18 months, but quit that job because she could not handle the stress of dealing with customers (even though she worked the night shift and had minimal contact with guests). She did help out our other daughter with full-time day care for her 3 year old daughter for about a year, and continues to help out with daycare, but only a couple days per month at this point. She is very talented musically, and along with playing many instruments and writing songs, she has taken several online courses in music and movie editing and production, but so far that has not led to any tangible work. I almost feel like she's taken on, what I consider, minimal projects as a way to avoid or as an excuse to keep from really doing anything tangible.  
I guess our problem is, because we started out letting her stay at home when she was working at the hotel, and allowed her continue living with us after she quit her job and was doing daycare for our other daughter, we established a pattern that is hard to break. I ask her to help out with household chores, but I typically have to remind her several times to do them, and it always seems as if what I ask her to do is overwhelming to her, and her idea about how much she is contributing and my idea about what she is contributing are two completely different things. Even though she hasn't worked the night shift for over a year, she has not been able to change her sleeping schedule back from "vampire hours." She typically goes to be between 3 and 5am and gets up at 1-3pm, something that admittedly really gets under my skin. 
When I speak with her about either finding a job, or commit to a more full-time education program, her anxiety seems to be overwhelming to her and she typically says we don’t understand how severe her anxiety really is. I’ve suggested seeing a counselor and even offered the name of a life coach to try to frame it differently for her, but she has declined both these suggestions, saying she can’t imagine herself talking with a stranger about anything, let alone about very personal issues.  I’m in a real quandary about how much to validate and support her and how much we pressure her to make some kind of forward progress.  I alternate between feeling very frustrated with her lack of progress while at the same time understanding the intense anxiety and fear she feels. 


First of all I'd like to thank you for putting so much useful information out there for parents who search for expert opinions on daily situations like myself.  I have been following your blog for a couple of years and it has proven to be the best resource of all media.  You are truly a gem to society!

My son is 10 years old and was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at 5 years old.  Though at times it has been difficult, he's always been in a normal classroom in public school.  We've believed this to be the best situation for social skills development even when we often have to teach the entire lesson at home.  The teachers have spent weeks teaching only how to ace the upcoming standardize testing, coupled with a recent incident in class that resulted in several parents emailing the teacher requesting that the "dangerous aspergers student" be removed for the other children's safety has left my son stuck in the special ed room all day for the final 7 weeks of school.  On a side note, he's never had any sort of physical altercation at school or even threatened to another student.  The incident that frightened parents involved a dramatic attention seeking unrolling of an entire roll of paper towels to dry his hands.  Unfortunately, thanks to the news focusing on asperger's syndrome in Newtown, many uneducated closed minded people here in Alabama are now scared of the disorder.

Now that my son completely hates school, my question for you is what type of school tends to be the best situation for aspergers children?  There is an art school in our area that we are considering but it seems to be unstructured.  My son is a very talented singer and his life's goal is to be a professional singer.  I feel that I am at a crossroads deciding if I should sacrifice his happiness to conform to society or sacrifice a quality education to allow him to freely be himself and enjoy his childhood.  Any input you may have is greatly welcomed!


Mr. Hutten,

Greetings! I am an educational consultant working abroad in Central Asia and the Middle East. I provide educational support to over 200 American families who school their children while working/serving abroad. My families use international schools, national schools,  and homeschool. At least nine of my families have children/teens/young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. I, too, have a son with AS (he is now 21 and living in Texas). I started an email/skype support group for these families (who have limited income as many are supported through churches and humanitarian organizations).

Today, one of my colleagues sent me a link to your site and asked me if I was familiar with your ebook Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management or familiar with you as a speaker/author. I told her that this was the first time I have heard of you (and I have read and viewed a lot about Asperger’s Syndrome over the past 10 years.

I am not sure if your book is something that will help my families (those with kids who have AS as well as those with kids with other neurological disorders). And I’m not quite sure I understand how your consulting service works. 


Hello Mr. Hutten,
I have looked a long time for answers to my 9yr old daughters "traits" that she expresses and when I came across your show and your website, I cried.   All of the answers were there right in front of me and I knew I had the right answers.  This journey for my family has been very challenging and emotional and once I read your site, I knew that this has been even more frustrating for my daughter.
     Please excuse me if I ramble on and on, I'm just so excited to finally have a direction to go for her.
     Since my daughter was 18mon, I have known that something was different with her.  She doesn't respond neurotypically to situations.  She can't stand bright lighting, any big change in routine and she is falling apart.  When someone else is singing around her, she grabs her head in pain and immediately has to scream at them to stop.  She does make decent eye contact until she is in trouble and then when we repeatedly ask her to look at us, it is almost as if it is painful for her.  When we move in towards her for a hug, she immediately turns her back but yet when she wants to move in, she is open arms.   I feel that we have a lot of small tantrums and I can honestly say there have been a handful of MAJOR meltdowns.  
     Our school is completing my request to have her evaluated for HFA Aspergers and Anxiety also, so I'm hoping the results can lean towards what my intuition has been telling me for awhile.   One of my concerns and what her teacher keeps repeating to me is that she NEVER acts out at school.   My answer, my daughter is relentless when it comes to following the rules...almost to die for, and she would be humiliated if she were confronted for acting inappropriately at school.
I guess as I get to it, my husband and I need some help at home.  I teach during the school year and I am a stay-at-home mom in the summer.  I love this schedule, but without some guidance, it can be grueling to know how I can help her!!!


Dear Mr Hutten

I found and read your article today "The Aspergers Parent" and enjoyed it very much: it is insightful and informative.

My interest in reading the article stems from having an ex undiagnosed Aspergers wife and an undiagnosed Aspergers eldest son.

I have been researching Aspergers quite intensely for the past eight months and your article has helped to fill some gaps in my knowledge.

My research and subsequent learning has lead me to deeply ponder the idea of love.  My ex ASW would respond to my expressions of love with "I love you too"...but it sounded like a intellectual reflex, rather than an empathic heart felt response.  My eldest boy has always been 'stiff' and non-tactile.  He never seeks touch (hugs), unlike my NT middle and NT youngest boys. My eldest (AS) would also respond to my expressions of love in a similar manner to my ex ASW.  However, in recent months he appears to have leant 'scripts' and will now sometimes say that he loves me unprompted: these occur when in bed and it's lights out and when saying goodbye (dropping off at school or hanging up on the phone).

Although my eldest boy states that he loves me, I can't help but feel it is without genuine heart felt feelings.  His statement is delivered in the same tone and timbre that he might say "Dad can I have the salt".

Based upon the above background, I am drawn to the statement in your article. "The Aspergers parent loves their child very much."  I sense that my ex ASW loves our boys, but sense that her love may be more intellectual than empathic and deeply heart felt.  I suggest that the main motivation for her displays of quasi loving behaviours is to perpetuate her image of being 'normal'.  I can't fault my ex-ASW for her parenting routines - organising birthdays, holidays etc... she is a high functioning AS who keeps lists and works through the lists with great diligence.  So she provides all of the functional requirements with great 'robotic efficiency'.  So to the outside world, she is a very competent mother.  However, there is an absence of higher order thinking/conversation and heart felt empathy.

So I ponder if my ex ASW's definition of love and her feelings of love match mine?  I suggest that Aspies may 'love their partners and children', but that love is very different to a 'neurotypical love'?  Maybe love is the broadest term in our language, and everyone's definition and feelings of love are different...but I ponder, does an Aspie love like a Neurotypical?  I suggest not.



Dear Mark,

Thank you for creating ‘Living with an Asperges Partner’ which is a fantastic resource. I have really enjoyed reading it and hope the strategies will really help my marriage. As the non-Asperges partner I must admit I have some significant concerns regarding the current status of my marriage I was hoping you could shed some light on as I can’t find them specifically mentioned in your book.

My husband was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago (something I had long suspected) and in his early thirties, was frustrated that it hadn’t been recognised earlier so he could have been provided with strategies to assist him through his schooling years. He did find it comfort as he had always ‘felt a little different’. Our 5 year old son was diagnosed with Asperges Disorder last year and over the last few months, my husband has noticed that he shares many of these traits with our son and that perhaps he may also be suffering from asperges, especially traits the ADHD couldn’t explain. I think these traits have become more evident now that his ADHD is under control.

My largest concern is his aggression. It is usually a 3 month pattern however has been getting shorter – something (anything, usually something small) will happen and he will explode at me. These episodes can last up to a month and involve him – putting me down publicly, ‘nit picking’ me like I’m not good enough, yelling abuse at me, seeming to ‘not be home’ and ‘not himself’, excessively and irrationally blaming others, physically intimidating  – it’s like a dark mood /fog overcomes him and nothing I can say or do makes a difference. I often hear myself saying ‘You’ve gone into your cave and are not being a very nice person right now – please come home, please let my husband come home from wherever you have taken him/done with him.’

This has been happening for some time and at the decision to have another child he promised to address his aggression so as not to direct it towards me. By this stage they were not as frequent or violent/intense and only lasting 2-3 days. However the more he has recognised some asperges traits in himself the worse these episodes have become. He is currently in one of these moods and completely lost it after a bad day at work a couple of weeks ago – this had been after a few days when there were signs he was slipping into this mood that he ignored from me – even though we agreed on verbal cues to try and alert him to when these behaviours where starting. He is currently illogical, irrational and not himself and seems so down in the dumps about everything that he can’t see his way out. I have suggested that learning about asperges and using the strategies in your book along with others we know from our work with our son will help and that being positive about it, acknowledging now he understands a little more about himself may help, but he is unable to see this at the moment. His most recent outburst was in front of our 5 year old son who then spoke rudely to me for days ‘because daddy speaks rudely to mummy’. Even this revelation hasn’t been enough to completely bring him home even though he does seem a little better in the last couple of days.

I am just wondering if this pattern is common amongst asperges males? How can our marriage improve if I am the only one applying the strategies because he feels defeated and refuses to take charge of the situation to improve it? At what point do I have to leave our marriage because it is effecting our children? How long do I continue feeling so unhappy and helpless with no one to lean on because he just doesn’t understand and cannot empathise with the effect this has on me at all? I have even reached the point of saying ‘You are going to end up an old and lonely man’ to try and get him to see that he is pushing away the people who love him the most but his response has just been ‘oh well, I guess I’ll be alone’. He used to be a fun loving man who loved being outside and catching up with friends and now I struggle to get him of the house for anything. The weird thing is that when we do go out or catch up with friends and family, and he is in one of these moods, he doesn’t treat them like this – this is just something he does to me. He has shared that his father behaved this way and this is the example of how men deal with anger that he grew up with and that he doesn’t want to repeat that but then it just happens again.

Any advice on how I can approach this would be greatly appreciated. I love him very much and feel like I am doing everything I can to save our marriage but don’t feel like I am getting anywhere – in fact things seem to be getting worse. I feel like I am giving all of myself which he gladly takes and get nothing in return.


RE: I am just wondering if this pattern is common amongst asperges males?

It occurs, but it’s not common.

RE: How can our marriage improve if I am the only one applying the strategies because he feels defeated and refuses to take charge of the situation to improve it?

I don’t think you can.

RE: At what point do I have to leave our marriage because it is effecting our children?

After what you’ve told me, the sooner the better.

RE: How long do I continue feeling so unhappy and helpless with no one to lean on because he just doesn’t understand and cannot empathise with the effect this has on me at all?

Not another minute. Below are some signs that you need to leave the relationship. If most of these statements are true for you, then you really need to protect your kids and yourself by moving on…

1.       If you fight back, your husband blames you for the abusive behavior. "If you weren't so dumb, I wouldn't have to yell at you.”
2.       When talking about an accomplishment - a promotion or something equally exciting - your husband sneers at you, putting you down, mocking your achievement rather than celebrating it.
3.       When you do talk to your husband, he puts you down and makes you feel stupid.
4.       You feel helpless, like you're trapped in the relationship.
5.       You find yourself having to rush to his defense whenever he is brought up in conversation. You make excuses for his behavior regardless of the situation.
6.       You make yourself available to your husband no matter what the personal cost - just to avoid a confrontation.
7.       You no longer want to bring your husband around your friends or family because you're afraid he will berate you and humiliate you in front of your loved ones.
8.       You'll go out of your way to please your husband, no matter how much you have to sacrifice. If that means staying up all night to wash the floor, so be it. It beats the "lecture."
9.       Your husband keeps a tight control on all things: money, the phone, using the car, who you see and what you do.
10.   Your husband treats you like an object, like property, not like a person with real feelings.
11.   You're afraid to tell your husband about a normal happening - your car needs brakes, your boss made you work overtime - because you're not sure how he will react.
12.   You're in complete isolation. Your husband doesn't want you around your friends or family and has convinced you that THEY are the ones who are abusive to you - not him.
13.   You've begun to believe that you're the crazy one -- that you're the one with the problem.
14.   You've begun to feel as though you deserve to be treated badly. If you were a better person, you wouldn't make him so mad!
15.   You've begun to see yourself as worthless -- just like your husband tells you you are.

I hope you make the right decision here. I’m telling you – you need to get out of that relationship!!!



RE: Launching Adult Children with Aspergers eBook... Wow.  I listened to some of the tapes and printed out the book.  Just wow.  It is what I have been looking for for a long time.  There is so much acceptance here, practical solutions.  Re-framing anger-------when I read that, it was such relief.  The phrases, "social skills" and "emotional muscle" are right on. 
One day my 33 year old was screaming at me, "I don't communicate. I don't communicate.  Just give me a few words."  That made me look up asperger's.  

Without accepting the label, he is finding his way around Asperger's symptoms.  He came home recently from his part time job and talked about how proud he is of his new social skills, said he used to never talk to co-workers.  It seems the acting classes he's found are helping him with this.  And now I'm able to give him chores and consequences starting with "least restrictive."  I had thought he was too old for this. It's working so far.  Thanks so much for the practical guide. Even if these things I'm learning didn't effect him, it is making me feel centered, calm and ok with things, not frantic and scared, freaking out because I have no clue where he is coming from.  I understand him better and myself too.
  Jean :)


Hello, Mark.

I have been reading your e-mails and publications for quite some time now.  I recall reading you would try to answer specific Asperger's related questions if possible.  So, here's mine:

I have a 17 year old son with Asperger's.  He is very, very complicated.  Matthew has high intelligence, scores in the 98 percentile on most national tests, yet cannot keep track of schoolwork, so those grades are fair.  Very typical Asperger's.   Matthew has dysgraphia and is colorblind.

Matthew is a yo-yo Master and has competed nationally.  When he was eleven years old, he won Fourth Place in his age group for his event of choice.   He loves the attention of yo-yoing for people.  In fact, when we are out in public, no matter where it is or if it is appropriate, Matthew pulls out his yo-yo and starts playing.  He gets a lot of attention and admiration for this skill.

Matthew sticks with a thought or activity for six months and then he moves on to something else.  He used to attend yo-yo events at least once a week.  Now, it is more like once a month.  Matthew will decide his food of choice is pizza and he will eat only pizza for dinner, to the exclusion of other foods, for six months.  Then he will decide it is linguini.  Then it is eggs.  Currently, it is sushi.

After fifth grade, I withdrew Matthew from public school and enrolled him in private school.    Smaller classes, more challenging curriculum, flexible administration was agreeable.

When Matthew was 15, he started losing considerable weight.  Long story short, he is 5'9" and weighed 120 pounds.  He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at that time.  When he was 16, he started cutting and having suicidal ideations.  He was put on Lamictal and all cutting and suicidal tendancies have disappeared.  He has gained some weight.

Of late, Matthew has decided he is transgender.  This came on very suddenly, as all of his "issues" and "causes" have.  It is my belief that he is not transgender, but, rather, is an Asperger's child who does not fit in, has no group to be a part of, has no self-worth, and thinks this will give him lots of attention.  At his private school, there is a girl Catherine, friends with Matthew, who decided she is a he and now calls herself Jake.  Her parents have allowed the school to call her Jake as well.   He is getting a lot of attention from this new development.  He has changed his name to "Jenn" in his private circles.  When he comes home from school, he often has eye makeup on and gets right in my face, waiting for me to say something about it.   I don't.

Matthew has few feelings.  The first time I ever saw him cry was when he was 16 and his cat of 8 years died.  Before that, no feelings.  Now, if I call him "Matthew", he cringes and says "that hurts me".  I don't believe it hurts him.  I don't believe he has these feelings.    He says "Jenn" just feels right.  The statements such as "that hurts me" or "just feels right" can be found verbatim on the transgender websites.  These are not original thoughts.   If he sees me crying (which is very, very, very rare), he does not react, does not ask what is wrong, does not say he is sorry I am sad.  He just keeps talking about whatever scholarly subject is on his mind.

Finally, my question to you:  Do you have any resources I can tap into to learn about Asperger's teens having no self-worth, no groups, turning to transgender or other confusing identities?  Second, how can I find a therapist for Matthew that will know about Asperger's and can guide him through this with an understanding of Asperger's and not simply agree with Matthew's abrupt assessment of his gender?   I may be old school, but I think children at age 17 are not mature enough, nor have they experienced enough life experiences, to make a decision as important as this.  


I have a teenage son 14 who is out of control , and getting worse he has been in counseling along with medication management for a 3 years. He has been in trouble with the law but has that under control to some degree. My son also has become violent and has been diagnosed with ADD and a Conduct disorder. He has been trying numerous drugs cigarettes pot, X, pills and possibly more. My son has had some dramatic events happen in his life however he is getting to the point of no return and I am afraid for his life and safety at this point  he is doing out patience services through Aspen Center in Co springs he has lived with me his mother his entire life however he became too violent for me to handle and raise his brother along with keeping his brother out of harm. We decided we would let him move to my mothers in hope this new track would help him get on track so we continued his therapy down in co springs and school. I am at a loss at what to do I  really can’t afford a lot however if I moved out of my apartment moved in with my mother while Lucas was in treatment some where I could afford something please help me if you can find a place that is reasonable and safe that might help my son and I.


Dear Mark,  I just read an ad for your book.  I am a wife with Asperger's, and my husband has ADHD  and an addiction that he is receiving help for.  I just wanted to tell you that the photo on the cover of your book may be an unpleasant position for someone with Asperger's or Autism.  I've always hated being hugged or surprised from behind, even when I know it's my loving husband.  I think it's a common concern for us Aspie's.  If someone wants to hug me, I like it, but I need some warning.  And, the first time a casual boyfriend did it to me, I got very angry.  I was surprised by my own reaction, but it was very visceral.  If he wants to hug me or kiss me on the cheek, he should have the guts to do it face-to-face.  I didn't say that to the poor 15 year-old boy at the time, but I thought it.  I decided I wasn't ready for boys yet.  I was a slow developer socially because I was born very premature, just under 6 months gestation.  I am happily married to my husband, Scott, now, but we both work really hard on our issues.  Our Lord Jesus sustains us. Has any husband of an Aspie written a book yet?  I know we are less common, but sometimes, I really think my husband needs support for all he does for me.  I have mental and physical health problems as well.  


I have a 22 year old daughter studying Biochemistry at University in her 2nd year and struggling.  She is top of her year but finding it increasingly difficult to manage away from home on her own.  I visit her every weekend to keep her there.  This is her 3rd attempt at University and it has cost us a fortune so far.  I am concerned that if I dont try and help her cope with her life and move on she will have no future on her own when we are not here.  We have had problems since she was 10 but it is only now that Aspergers has been mentioned.  I struggled for 6 years(aged 10) when she had anorexia and managed to pull her through that with little help but since leaving school at 18 there has been a string of problems culminating at the moment with anxiety (racing heart) depression, anger and wanting to change her life with all sorts of 'to do' lists to bring about these changes and how she wants to look etc but then not bothering with the lists.  She picks at her chin, sucks her thumb, and is so tired all the time and has panic attacks. At the end of my tether.



Thank you for the article and the book....  My husband and i thoroughly digested your atricle and found it so enlightenting and refreshing to finally be UNDERSTOOD!  After sending our son to COUNTLESS phschologists ,psychiatrists,  counselors, etc.....we finally KNOW what we are dealing with!   I ordered your book today and am watching the video links....
We have done NOTHING at this point towards the Aspergers, as my son was MIS-diagnosed as ADD......I KNEW he wasn't  progressing under the ADD
diagnosis--we are NOW  taking the first baby steps to find out how we can help him.  
MY BIGGEST QUESTION IS THIS!    How do we , as parents, introduce the fact that he has Aspergers to him?  How do we tell him  without getting his anger, rejection or defensive response?  We want to help him on this journey....
Thanks so much for everything!
I FINALLY feel that we are on a road to healing, understanding and recovery....
Thank you, thank you!


If I know someone who I think has Aspergers, should I tell?
Yes.  My bias is that it is better to know than not to know. If you have Aspergers and don’t know, it affects you anyway; if you do know, you may be able to minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that one has Aspergers, one often fills that void with other, more damaging explanations such as failure, weird, disappointment, not living up to one’s potential, etc.

How do I tell an adult that they may have Aspergers?
Lead with strengths! Most people with Aspergers have significant areas of strength (even if this has not been translatable into tangible success). Bring up areas of strength with the person with suspected Aspergers. Next, tactfully point out the areas in which they are struggling. Then, suggest to them that there is a name for that confusing combination of strengths and challenges, and it may be Aspergers. You may lead them to www.MyAspergersChild.com or other resources for further information. Provide support along the way.


Hi Mark,
I just downloaded your eBook, went through it all, and need your thoughts before we embark with my wife in this journey.  Our son D is 24 years old and we need to know how to apply your program with him.
I wish I had known these long time ago, but we did not.  Our son presented this behaviour early in his life but was more noticeable during his teen years.  He started having problems with authority at school, and we switch him to another one for a couple of times.  Psychologists, at the schools and in private practice, did not help much.  But the thing is that my wife and I have been the indulgent type of parents and have solved his problems for him all along.
We are from South America and moved to Canada 4 years ago, one year after D had barely finished high-school.  He has an older sister, quite independent, who finished university, has a career, and lives in USA.  He also has a younger brother who just finished university in Canada and lives one hour from us. His younger brother did poorly at the University one year, but then he recovered and finished his studies.
D has not adjusted well to Canada.  At the beginning he worked for a while but then he quit. He did a 1-yr introductory program at a local college and then embarked in another 2-yr program at the same college, but quit one month before finishing the program.  He believes the program is of poor quality and that he does not like the program, but he says that he was following it because that is what we wanted/pushed him to do.
D has also been consuming marihuana for several years now.  It has gotten to the point that he no longer cares if he leaves pipes and other related stuff around the apartment for us to notice. I did indicate to him that we do not want that around and that I would flush/throw it when I see it, and so I have done. He gets angry but stops leaving things around for a while.
The thing is that he has become verbally abussive.  This started while he was playing Soccer with his PlayStation.  He would become frustrated with his performance in the game and start swearing at every little incident, making a lot of noise.  Finally, he started calling us names and shouting at us.
This past week, while his brother was visiting, got into an argument and his younger brother punched him in the face. After that he became more violent and broke a couple of dishes and kept shouting and insulting all of us.
D blames us for everything, specially for bringing him to Canada.  He has no close friends, at least not as close as the ones he had in Ecuador (with whom he would also share substance consumption).  
D is very creative and intelligent.  Did a lot of tennis with his brother early on, participating in tournaments and going to compete with their team to different cities and countries a few years ago. He was not as successful as his younger brother though.
Whoever meets him says that he is very lovely, kind, always smiling.  He goes to Church, goes to confession, receives communion, but then again, he would start with his abussive behaviour shortly after.  Her sister has indicated to us that he seems to have very strong positions about issues in the Internet, intolerant to other people and groups.
My wife would suffer it all, mainly for the fear of him not finishing his studies (highschool/college). I would try to put some limits, but then again, I have come to lower my expectations with time. I understand the fact that he has to make choices and accept the consequences.  My wife not so much, and we have had arguments about this all the time.
Quitting his college studies may be is the first real choice he has made own his own.  I do not like it but accept it.
I have mentioned to him that it is time for him to move out and start living on his own, but he does neither work nor look for work, he does not take care of his things, he hardly helps at home.  May be his scalating negative reaction is beacuse of this fear to be sent out. I suppose he would love to be free but he does not know how.
Under this scenario, what can we do to help him become self-reliant?  The stuff/freedom and self-reliance cycle would not be applied the same way as with a teen-ager.  How do we need to adjust it?


Our daughter was bullied in grade 7 and subsequently began home schooling for term 2 of grade 7. She does not trust anyone, refused to get help to overcome her bullying and has connected to a group of older 18 - 23 year olds where she goes and stays overnight - 3 nights in a row. She wont let us know where they live or give any contact numbers. She does not answer her mobile phone either. She has said that she is depressed but will not take medication for this and generally does not eat or drink when she runs  away. She is manipulative to get what she wants but has no concern for the family unless there is something in it for her.

We recently had a family holiday away for 2 weeks, she came and was quite well behaved; but on return she has changed again and is aggitated and wants to spend time with these people. She seems to have an emotional attachment to one guy who had a serious accident and may have to have a leg amputated. I think that this is the place that she runs away to, but I cannot get any information and she has been very careful to keep it from us. She has not kept up any other friendships since she started to see these people and has said that they are the only ones who understand her and it is the right thing to do to go there.

Anyway, I cant write eveything in this email. We have two other sons. One almost 16 years. He is quite fed up with her carrying on. The other son is almost 10 years. He is quite hurt by the way that Laura can change in an instant from being a loving sister - to a quite mean and nasty one.


I have a 16 yr old daughter who was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 5. She has been quite a handful at times over the years I must say. I was a single Mother for a long time ( her Dad & I separated when she was 10 months) but she had regular visits with him. They don't have a close bond & neither do I with her, especially over the last couple of years.

She is very wilful & demanding of attention(of family & friends), has low self esteem, gets very depressed & angry. She has also started self harming over the past 12 months or so. ( cutting )
She is the obnoxious rude entitled brat at times, then sweet & nice the next moment.
Unfortunately she blames everyone else for her problems & takes no responsibilities for problems she has caused involving friends, family & police being called on one occasion.

She has seen counsellors at school & in the community for the past 2 years, but I see little improvement. I've made an appointment to see a psychiatrist in a couple of weeks to help. I have an older son who works in a psych emergency dept at a city hospital here in Sydney. He feels & believes that given her behaviour emotions etc that she may have Borderline Personality Disorder. All the counsellors she's seen haven't been experienced in this to make any diagnosis.

Do you have any experience in BPD & ways of dealing with teens with it? Should it be any different to your normal guidelines for dealing with out of control kids ? Do you think she could benefit from a Boot camp type of facility, to learn self reliance plus actions & consequences ? I think perhaps if she feels she's "hard done by " at home, she would be in for a shock if she had to endure one of those places.


I discovered your information as I was researching Asperger. My 6yr old stepson has been diagnosed with Asperger. To be honest I am not sure if he does not have pediatric bipolar disorder or both. I have known him since he was 2 1/2 and has made some progress in social skills, but the reality is he is living in an environment of hatred and possibly a mother with issues herself. As the stepmom, it has been extremely difficult to deal with my husband's ex, watching the hurtful things said and done to my husband in front of his children, dealing with the divorce and custody battles and dealing with the Asperger.

My stepson was suspended for a day in preschool-yes I said preschool and by the time he started kindergarten had been to three schools and moved from the only house he ever knew (this was done because his stepdad did not like the house and moved the kids). The courts in Virginia favor the mother, even when the father is a good father and forget joint legal custody when the court system chooses a physical address that parent acts like they have sole custody. His doctors have said the move was detrimental, but unfortunately there is no going back to fix, but just damage control now.

Yes I am very bitter with the court system because they have caused more damage to children when they are SUPPOSE to do what is in the best interest of the children. I have read that 80% of marriages involving a child with autism results in divorce so I wonder is this how it is for every family? My husband and I are not asking a lot, all we want is everyone to work together to help our little angel and to have an active part of his life and in his brother's life. My husband pays his child support and goes above and beyond but his actual time is limited to when it is convenient for his ex. This seems detrimental to a child who has to overcome social skills.

Lately our angel has had a lot of lack of self confidence and nobody loves me and has even expressed hatred to his older brother. He has a hard time at "losing" even when there is nothing to lose. My husband and I truely want peace in our lives and to make the divorce as non devastating for the children as possible and help our angel navigate this crazy world we live in.

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...