Obsessions and the Autistic Mind: Help for People on the Autism Spectrum

Lecture by Mark Hutten, M.A. - Part 1 discusses obsessive thinking among individuals with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

More about intrusive thoughts in the autistic mind:

Obsessive thinking is like a CD in a CD-player that’s stuck and keeps repeating the same lyrics. It’s replaying an argument with a friend in your mind. It’s retracing past mistakes. When people obsess, they over-think or ruminate about situations or life events (e.g., school, work, relationships).

Research has shown that obsessive thinking is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including depression, anxiety, binge-drinking and binge-eating. For some people, drinking or binge-eating becomes a way to cope with life and drown out their obsessive thinking.

When people obsess while they are in depressed mood, they remember more negative things that happened to them in the past, they interpret situations in their current lives more negatively, and they are more hopeless about the future. Obsessive thinking also becomes the fast track to feeling helpless. Specifically, it paralyzes your problem-solving skills.

You become so preoccupied with the problem that you’re unable to push past the cycle of negative thoughts. It can even turn people away. When people obsess for an extended time, their family members and friends become frustrated and may pull away their support.

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

Creating an Effective “Social Skills” Training Program for Kids on the Spectrum

Impairment in social functioning is a core feature of Aspergers (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). Typical social skill problems include the following: 
  • taking another person’s perspective
  • sharing enjoyment
  • responding to the initiations of others
  • reading the non-verbal cues of others
  • maintaining eye contact
  • initiating interactions

The cause of these social skill difficulties varies, ranging from neurological impairment to the lack of opportunity to acquire skills (e.g., social withdrawal). Most important, these skill problems make it difficult for the child to develop - and keep - fulfilling personal relationships. Although social skill problems are a core feature of AS and HFA, many of these kids do not receive adequate social skills training. This is a sad reality, especially considering that the presence of social deficits may lead to the development of more damaging outcomes (e.g., poor academic performance, social failure, peer rejection, anxiety, depression, etc.). The lack of proper social skills training is particularly troubling given the fact that most of the associated deficits can be corrected.

The long held notion that kids with AS and HFA lack an interest in social interactions is inaccurate. Most of these kids do indeed desire social involvement; however, they typically lack the necessary skills to interact effectively. This lack of “know-how” often leads to feelings of social anxiety. Many moms and dads report that social situations typically evoke a great deal of anxiety from their AS and HFA kids. 

Kids on the autism spectrum often describe an anxiety that resembles what many of us feel when we are forced to speak in public (e.g., increased heart rate, sweaty palms, noticeable shaking, difficulty concentrating, etc.). Not only is public speaking stressful, but just the thought of it is enough to produce a heightened state of anxiety. Now imagine living a life where every social interaction you experience was as stressful as having to make a speech in front of a big crowd. The typical coping strategy for most of us is to reduce the anxiety by avoiding the stressful situation.

For kids with AS and HFA, social anxiety often results in the avoidance of social situations, and subsequently, the development of social skill problems. When a youngster continually avoids social encounters, he denies himself the opportunity to acquire social skills. For many kids on the spectrum, these social skill difficulties lead to negative peer interactions, peer rejection, isolation, anxiety, depression, substance abuse – and even suicidal ideation. For others, it creates a pattern of engaging in solitary activities (a pattern that is often difficult to change).

So, what can parents do to help their AS and HFA children overcome social skills deficits?

The first step in social skills training should consist of conducting a thorough evaluation of the youngster’s current level of social functioning. The purpose of the assessment is to answer one very basic question: “What is preventing my youngster from establishing and maintaining social relationships?” For most kids, the answer takes the form of specific social skill problems. For others, the answer takes the form of cruel and rejecting peers. And for yet others, the answer is both. 

The evaluation should (1) detail both the strengths and weakness of the child related to social functioning, and (2) involve a combination of (a) observation (e.g., watching how your child interacts with others, (b) interviews (e.g., talking to your child, his teachers, his peers, etc.), and (c) standardized measures (e.g., behavioral checklists, social skills measures). 

Parents need to ascertain current level of functioning and effectively intervene at the youngster’s area of need. For example, if the evaluation reveals that your youngster is unable to maintain simple one-on-one interactions with peers, then the intervention should begin at this point, and not at a more advanced group interaction level. As another example, if the evaluation revels that your youngster does not know how to play symbolically - or even functionally - with play items, then the intervention will probably begin by teaching play skills prior to teaching specific interaction skills. 

After a thorough assessment of social functioning is complete, parents should then determine whether the skill problems identified are the result of “skill acquisition” issues or “performance” issues. A skill acquisition deficit refers to the absence of a particular skill or behavior (e.g., the youngster may not know how to effectively join-in games with peers, thus she will often fail to participate). A performance deficit refers to a skill or behavior that is present, but not demonstrated or performed (e.g., the youngster may have the ability to join-in an activity, but for some reason, fails to do so). 

In discerning between a skill acquisition deficit and a performance deficit, ask yourself the following question: “Can my youngster perform the task with multiple people and across multiple settings?” For example, if your youngster only initiates interactions with you at home, but not with peers at school, then you will need to address the initiation difficulty as a skill acquisition deficit.

Too often, social skill problems and inappropriate behaviors are incorrectly viewed as performance problems (i.e., parents assume that when their youngster does not perform a certain task, it is the result of refusal or lack of motivation). Parents need to understand that the majority of social skill problems in kids with AS and HFA can be attributed to skill acquisition problems (i.e., they are not performing socially because they lack the necessary skills to do so). If parents want their kids to be successful socially, then they will need to teach them the skills to be successful. 

The benefit of discerning between “skill acquisition” versus “performance” problems is that it guides the selection of intervention strategies. The intervention selected should match the type of deficit present. Once a thorough social skill assessment is completed, and the parent is able to attribute the social deficits to either skill acquisition or performance issues, social skills training can begin. 

When selecting intervention techniques, parents need to understand the concept of “accommodation” versus “assimilation.” Accommodation refers to the act of modifying the physical or social environment for the youngster in order to promote positive social interactions (e.g., training peer-mentors to interact with the youngster throughout the school day, autism awareness training for peers, having the child participate in various group activities like the Girl Scouts). While accommodation addresses changes in the child’s environment, assimilation focuses on changes in the child herself. Assimilation refers to training that facilitates skill acquisition that allows the youngster to be more successful in social interactions. 

The key to successful social skills training is to address both accommodation and assimilation. Focusing on one, but not the other, sets the youngster up for failure. In other words, providing social skills training (i.e., assimilation) without modifying the environment to be more accepting of the youngster (i.e., accommodation) is a recipe for a failed training program (e.g., when an eager youngster attempts a newly learned skill on a group of non-accepting peers).

There are number of important questions to consider when selecting appropriate social skill strategies. For example:
  • What is the plan to evaluate the strategy’s effectiveness with the youngster?
  • Is there research to support the use of this strategy? 
  • Is the strategy developmentally appropriate for the youngster? 
  • Does the strategy target the skill problems identified in the social assessment?
  • Does the strategy promote skill acquisition?
  • Does the strategy enhance performance?

Once parents have (a) assessed social skill functioning, (b) identified skills to teach, (c) discerned between skill acquisition and performance problems, and (d) selected intervention strategies, it is time to implement the strategies. Parents cannot do this alone however. Social skills training should be provided in multiple settings (e.g., home, classroom, resource room, playground, community, etc.) and by multiple providers (e.g., parents, teachers, coaches, therapists, etc.). 

There is no “best” place to teach social skills, though it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of all social skills training should be to promote social success “with peers in the natural environment.” For example, if the youngster is receiving social skills training from a private therapist, it is crucial that a plan be put in place to facilitate transfer of skills from the clinic to the child’s natural environment. Moms and dads and educators should look for opportunities to prompt and reinforce the skills that are being taught in the clinic. 

The rate of social skills acquisition will differ widely from one youngster to the next. Some kids will begin using their new skills after only 3 or 4 sessions, while other kids may require over 6 months before they begin to “get it.” In any event, simply trying a new skill is just the first step towards success. The youngster will need additional time to master the skill that he is learning and developing. 

“Assess and modify” is the last stage in the intervention process, but it is not the last thing to think about when designing a social skills training program. As soon as parents are able to identify the social skill problems to be addressed, they should begin to develop the methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention. For example, if the target of the intervention is social initiations, then parents and teachers should take baseline data on the frequency of initiations with peers, and then continue to collect data on social initiations throughout the implementation stage of the intervention. 

Accurate data collection is important in evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention. It allows all parties involved to determine whether the youngster is benefiting from the training, and how to modify the training to best meet her needs. In school settings, accurate data collection is especially important. When parents work with school staff, the focus should be on integrating the social skills program with the youngster’s behavioral and social objectives. Also, the “assess and modify” stage is typically a very important part of IEP development and implementation.

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

Tough Love for Adult Children Still Living with Their Parents

Is your adult child with Aspergers or high functioning autism still living with you and taking little responsibility for his or her life? Do you feel that change needs to happen?

Teaching Children on the Autism Spectrum to Handle Teasing

"How can I help my son (high functioning autistic) to avoid over-reacting to 'teasing' from schoolmates? Some of them apparently pester him because they know they can get a 'rise' out of him, which results in my son being the one who gets in trouble."

Too often, children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) get teased by their peers, but they may not fully understand why they are being targeted – or worse yet – when teasing crosses the line into bullying. Thus, it’s up to parents to educate their children about teasing (e.g., when it's innocent child’s play, when it has gone too far, how to respond, etc.).

In selecting the appropriate strategies to deal with "the teaser,” parents will need to determine the specific strengths and weaknesses their child has socially. They can do this by observing their youngster interacting with peers and siblings. Next, parents should take time to think about their child's temperament. Temperament includes:
  • sensitivity or emotional reactivity
  • persistence
  • intensity
  • initial reaction to situations and people
  • general mood
  • distractibility
  • adaptability
  • activity level

All AS and HFA kids are not the same. Finally, parents should take the youngster’s age into consideration.

The best strategies fit your youngster’s situation, age, skills, temperament, and the seriousness of the teasing incidents. Teaching your son or daughter the skills described below takes time and effort. The behaviors must be modeled and practiced if your youngster is going to be successful. The payoffs are significant though. Payoffs include safety, self-confidence, resiliency, ability to handle difficult or frightening situations, and the belief your youngster develops that he has the ability to master and to change challenging situations.

Always teach more than one strategy to combat teasing so that your youngster always has a second one to try if the first doesn’t work out (three to five well-mastered strategies from the list below works best).

How to help children with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism handle teasing: 

1. Begin by teaching self-control strategies. Start with a discussion about teasing, carefully and explicitly describing situations when your youngster should try to handle the teasing herself, and when she should NOT try to manage the teaser.

2. Keep your cool. It is important that the teaser does not see that your son or daughter is upset or afraid. Control of emotions needs to be taught first. This takes lots of practice, especially for kids who are emotionally reactive, timid or impulsive.

3. Describe the difference between teasing, harassment and bullying. When teasing is excessive – it’s harassment. When harassment continues over time – it’s bullying.

4. Carefully define dangerous situations. Your youngster must not try to manage dangerous situations himself.

5. Agree with the facts. This is one of the easier ways to handle a teaser, but it requires emotional control. Example: The teaser says, “You have a lot of freckles.” Your youngster responds, “Right.” The teaser says, “You’re a crybaby.” Your youngster says, “I’m a sensitive person.” When the teaser points out your child’s mistakes, teach your child to say, “You’re right, I blew it.”

6. Tell your youngster that sometimes he will need to find an adult and get help (e.g., “If the teasing doesn’t stop or is dangerous, if the teaser threatens to hurt you, or if the teaser touches you, tell a grown-up as soon as possible”).

7. Ask for clarification. Simply ask calmly and without emotion, "What did you say?" or "What do you mean?" Usually the teaser doesn’t know what to say next and will say “forget it.” If the teaser repeats the comment, stare blankly and walk away.

8. Avoiding the teaser is an important strategy for some situations. Remind your youngster to go a different way, and to stay near other kids or grown-ups. This is a safety strategy for teasing verging on bullying, and for kids who do not yet have the skills or confidence to use the strategies that they are learning.

9. Practice assertive body language with your youngster. Find pictures in magazines in which the person looks powerless, and ones in which the models appear assertive. Point out body posture and facial expressions. Act out assertive postures (e.g., standing tall, looking directly at the other person, tightening the jaw and arms, relaxing the rest of the body, etc.).

10. Teach your youngster a script to say over and over until the teasing stops (because it’s no longer fun for the teaser), for example “This is getting very boring” … “Stop it” … “Don’t you have anything else to do.” The script needs to be assertive – but not challenging. The statement needs a shrug, a scrunched up face and shake of the head, or a slight smile respectively. This technique requires a lot of skill because the nonverbal behavior is very important along with the statement. Remind your youngster to check if the situation is safe before using this technique.

11. Learn how to deal with whispers. Teach your youngster to ask, “Do you have something to say about me?” when peers are whispering and laughing. Assertive body language and an exaggerated facial expression works well here.

12. Decide if the situation is safe. Your youngster must not try to handle situations that are not safe. Unsafe situations can be recognized when (a) the teasing occurs in a very isolated place with no other kids or grown-ups around, (b) the teasers are much older or bigger, (c) the teasing involves pushing, tripping, or threats, and (d) the teasing occurs over and over. In these cases, AS and HFA kids need to get help and report what is happening to them as soon as possible (use the word ‘report’ rather than ‘telling’ given the sanctions against ‘telling’ within the peer-group).

13. Learn to confront. “Confrontational” statements are designed to stop teasers in their tracks. Examples: “I didn’t do anything to you, why are you bugging me?” … “That’s not funny at all” … “I don’t like this” … “Could you please stop?” … “Cool it.” The nonverbal behavior used with this strategy is important. Practice standing tall, using direct eye-contact and setting a firm expression.

14. Use disarming humor. Use humor, laugh about the teasing, and make it playful. A witty one-liner might be enough to make the teaser stop. Laughing can turn a hurtful situation into a funny one (but it requires some maturity on the part of the AS or HFA child to do this successfully). For example, teach your youngster to use clever comebacks like, “Thanks, I love compliments”… “Hard to believe, isn’t it?”… “Old clothes are in, didn’t you know?”… “You made my day” … “Tell me something I don’t already know” …and so on.

15. Use distraction. Teach your youngster to talk about something else to distract or divert the focus of the teasing comments. Make a short comment about a nearby game or activity, a class, or what is going to be served for lunch.

16. Use agreement. Agree with everything that the teaser is saying. Say something like, “Yes that’s true”… “I see what you mean” … “Makes sense to me.”

17. Use compliments. Teach your youngster to compliment the teaser by saying something like, “Wow, you’re better than me, I’m still learning” … “You’re good at this, how about helping me?”…and so on.

18. Use “I Feel” statements.  This technique works best when the AS or HFA child uses it within earshot of a grown-up. If it is used when there is no help around, it can invite more teasing. Practice checking to see that an adult is within earshot, making eye contact, speaking clearly, using a polite tone of voice and saying, “When you ___ I feel ___ because ___ so please stop” (e.g., “When you keep calling me stupid, I feel sad because I thought you were my friend …so please stop”).

19. Show no emotion. Anger and tears usually make teasing worse. Staying in control is very difficult for many AS and HFA kids. It requires active and intense effort. Your youngster must have adequate emotional control to pull this off. For this technique to work, he needs to be careful not to look at the teaser or respond to the teaser. 

20. Help your youngster understand when it is dangerous to try to manage the teaser (e.g., when the teaser is older or much stronger, or when the teasing takes place in isolated areas with no one around).


21. Parents should NOT confront the youngster who is doing the teasing for several reasons:
  • it makes it difficult for the children to “make up”
  • it makes your youngster even more powerless (e.g., the teaser may say something like, “Your ‘mommy’ is trying to save you”)
  • the teaser’s parents may view the situation much differently than you do
  • your youngster may become friends with the teaser next week (you know how kids are – mortal enemies one minute, inseparable buddies the next)

22. Leave assertively. This technique is for situations when the teaser is in your youngster’s face. Teach your youngster to say things like, “I’m leaving” … “I have more important things to do” … “Go bother someone else” … “I’m out of here” … “See you later!” … “Leave me alone” … “I don’t have to listen to this” … “Quit bugging me” …and so on. Teach your youngster to use one of these statements, and then to walk away quickly. Practice making only one assertive statement. Be sure that your youngster understands that this technique may not work all the time. If it doesn’t work, a different technique needs to be used immediately. Thus, when practicing, teach several techniques at the same time.

23. Make sure that your youngster understands that reporting something that is cruel or hurtful is not “tattling,” rather it’s “standing up for your rights.” If your youngster has issues around tattling, and the situation is not immediately dangerous, suggest that she warn the teaser that she will tell if the teasing doesn’t stop. Once warned, it is more acceptable to tell.

24. Question the teaser. Teach your AS/HFA youngster to ask questions, which are designed to neutralize what is being said by the teaser. For example, “Why are you so interesting in my glasses?” … “Why would you care that I didn’t comb my hair today?” … “Are you always a joker, or are you just making a special effort with me?” …and so on. An innocent expression works well with this strategy.

25. Use positive thinking. This technique is for the youngster who is less reactive and feels okay about himself. Explain to your youngster that he has the power to choose how to act when someone is teasing. Your youngster can decide that it isn’t worth the trouble to get upset, or he can decide that there is no way that the teaser is going to win by seeing him upset. Help your youngster see that he doesn’t have to let the other person have power. The person who has the power is the one who stays in control.

26. Use reframing. This is a technique which changes your youngster’s perception about the negative statement. Turn the tease into a comment. For example, if your youngster is being teased about wearing glasses, she could say something like, “Thanks for noticing my glasses” … “That’s cool that you noticed me” …and so on.

27. Teach several relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, counting backwards, thinking of a pleasant scene, etc.). Relaxation methods do not work in stressful situations, unless they are practiced in situations that are not stressful. Practice with your youngster several times a day, making a game of the methods, or calling them “daily exercises.”

28. Use self-talk. Teach your youngster by modeling talking to yourself. This is a silent “pep-talk” strategy. Help your youngster practice saying very quietly (and later to himself) things like, “I don’t like this, but I can handle it” … “I don’t believe what this kid is saying about me” … “I have a lot of talents” …and so on. This strategy requires ability to concentrate when stressed.

29. Just shrug. A quick technique is to shrug your shoulders and walk away.

30. Another good strategy is to simply say, “So?” …in response to teasing. This technique must be executed with appropriate nonverbal communication, thus it needs practice. The nonverbal gestures could include a quick smile, a slight tip of the head, or a slight shrug of the shoulder before walking away.

31. State the obvious. Teach your son or daughter to comment on what the teaser is doing (e.g., "You’re kicking my chair" … "You’re standing on my foot"). This requires an accompanying nonverbal gesture (e.g., raised eyebrows and pursed lips).

32. Use visualization. Ask your youngster to picture himself as a ball, and the words that the teaser is saying are bouncing off -- or he can pretend that there is a shield or bubble around him so that the words can’t get through. Teach your youngster that he can refuse to listen to the insults, protecting himself with an imaginary bubble or an invisible protective shield. Some AS and HFA kids can imagine themselves as a super-power figure that is safe from insults and mockery.

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

Dining Out with Children on the Autism Spectrum: 20 Tips for Parents

"How can we keep our son from melting down every other time we attempt to eat out? We've had to leave in the middle of a meal numerous times of late (very embarrassing)."

One of the biggest challenges for parents with an Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) youngster is going out for dinner at a restaurant. Some children are disturbed by changes in their routine, others can be annoyed by noisy places, and some simply do not like to wait in line.

So, a lot of moms and dads choose to avoid eating out at restaurants – including on their family vacation. However, there are a few tricks that you can use to making dining out with your “special needs” child more enjoyable.

Tips for dining out with your Aspergers and HFA child:

1. Considering eating dinner a bit earlier (e.g., 4:30 pm) when the restaurant is not as crowded.

2. Demonstrate the whole dining out experience at home first. Practice reviewing a menu, ordering, coloring, etc.

3. Give the waiter your credit card up front and tell her you may have to leave early.

4. Leave early even if things are going well. End on a good note by heading home immediately after you take your last bite. Don’t press your luck by staying too long.

5. Rehearse eating out at a low-stake establishment first (e.g., a fast food restaurant, a salad bar/buffet). This will help pave the way toward managing a meal at a nicer restaurant.

6. Look for restaurants with patios so you can sit outside. It’s usually not as crowded outside, and there is a little more space between tables.

7. If you stay in a Hotel that serves food, consider having food delivered to the room, or get takeout and bring it back to the room.

8. Make sure the restaurant can accommodate a diet for kids on the autism spectrum, because as you know, many of these young people have restricted diets (e.g., gluten-free).

9. Have your child use the bathroom before leaving the house so you can possibly avoid giving with the “public restroom rules” speech.

10. One of the most difficult situations for many of these kids is dealing with delays and having to wait. If you face a long wait, break the time into smaller chunks that can be more easily managed by your youngster. For example, you might tell your youngster that you will be waiting for 10 minutes. When that time is up, walk outside for a few minutes, and then return to the waiting area.

11. Visual cues (e.g., setting a timer) help focus the youngster’s attention away from a long wait. Be sure that you have control of the time. It is important to have a good idea of how long a delay you really face. If the wait takes longer than 30 minutes, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a meltdown.

12. Try to locate restaurants that are renowned for fast service. Many Mexican establishments are great for this.

13. Watch for signs of an impending meltdown (e.g., child is holding his head, frowning, getting fidgety, beginning to exhibit “tics” such as rapid eye blinking, etc.). It’s better to leave hungry while the waters are still calm than to risk getting stuck in an emotional storm with all eyes watching.

14. Prepare your youngster for what is going to happen next during the dining experience (e.g., “the waiter will be here shortly to take our order” … “the waiter is getting ready to bring our food” … “we are going to be leaving in about 10 minutes” …and so on).

15. Pay attention to what your son is doing at all times. Younger children on the spectrum don’t think twice about leaning over and stealing a few onion rings from the guy at the next table, or staring-down the teenager in a nearby booth.

16. Strongly consider allowing your child to take a gadget with him into the restaurant – anything to keep him distracted (e.g., toy, handheld video games, etc.).

17. Try to go to places that immediately serve an appetizer (e.g., chips, bread, peanuts, etc.) so your youngster is not waiting for food. Italian restaurants are great for this.

18. Don't wait until Pepsi has been spilled all over your pants before asking that your youngster's drink be served in a “to go” cup with a lid.

19. Prepare ahead of time by using visual schedules and social stories about what the restaurant experience will be like.

20. If you attempt a dining out experience that fails miserably, just leave early and go home. Do not use the trip home as an opportunity to lecture your child. After he has calmed down, talk with your child about what worked, what didn’t, and what everyone can do differently the next time you go out to eat. Rehearse this at home (i.e., play a game called "eating out"). Practice makes perfect – don’t give up!

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... My son is 12. Eating out does have its challenges we have had some awful evenings out but now we always make sure he has his book/kindle with him
Any stressful situation or bad behaviour we just get him to read,
It relaxes and calms him. He escapes into his story and forgets what's around him.
•    Anonymous said... Thanks this was very helpful. We are going on holiday in a few weeks and its useful to have some helpful advice for.meals out or routine changes etc. I will be taking my sand timer with me for little man to use x
•    Anonymous said... The only problem I have when we go out a restaurant is . My son only eats pizza. So we can only go to restaurant that have pizza on the kids menu:(
•    Anonymous said... We dont have as much trouble with the waiting as we do with him getting sick. I guess being in a social environment makes him so nervous he gets sick when we go out.
•    Anonymous said... We just did this last week with my 5 year old. He is one of five children, and second to last. Our mexican resturant knows our situation, so when ever they see us coming they seat us in thier closed section! Its great because it gives me a chance to work with him and also see where he is at, as he gets older. You never know till you try I feel your challenges everyday! Thank you for your page. Its so helpful and nice to know i'm not alone... Good.luck everyone!
•    Anonymous said... Yes, it's our inclination to avoid taking them out, but I feel it's better to keep providing them with outside experiences. It's about preparing them ahead of time. A few days before tell them you are going out to dinner. Tell them where. It's best to go to the same place when possible for a while and then branch out. Remind them of the place. Describe it to them. Prepare them if you think there will be a little wait. Bring something to occupy them. Think about the menu. Download it if you can. Have them circle what they want. We do that with the children's menu placemats. So when the waiter appears they don't have to "remember", they know! They can even point. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition... it's my motto!

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Children on the Autism Spectrum with Oppositional Defiant Disorder: Dual Diagnosis

Important information for parents of kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism who are also diagnosed with ODD:

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

Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism: Overcoming Social Skills Deficits

"How can I help my child to generalize from one social situation to another? In other words, how can he learn 'social themes' on his own? I would like for him to realize that any particular interaction is nearly identical to some others."

Children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA)  are hard to train in typical social behaviors, but they spontaneously learn things that neurotypical (non-autistic) children may consider difficult (e.g., memorizing license plate numbers of parked cars or home addresses in the neighborhood). The learning styles of AS/HFA children and neurotypical children are better suited to learn different tasks.

AS and HFA children’s difficulty of learning social behavior is similar to neurotypical children’s difficulty of memorizing random factual details (e.g., phone numbers). Both arise from a mismatch between learning style and task. Intensive long-term training would surely make neurotypical kids remember a phonebook better, but they will never do quite as well as AS and HFA kids. Similarly, intensive long-term training would help AS and HFA kids by supplying more examples to match a given social situation, but they will never have the flexibility and efficiency in social interactions that neurotypical kids have.

Since most relationships in social interaction, language and sensorimotor processing contain many “unspoken” variables (e.g., context of the relationship, body language), social skills training should focus on how to teach AS and HFA children to comprehend, retain and model such intricacies.

There are mnemonic tricks (i.e., memory aids) that can help neurotypical children to remember random facts (e.g., phone numbers, digits in π). The idea is to associate random facts with a story or coherent theme that is easy for neurotypical children to learn and remember. These tricks can be reversed to help AS and HFA children. They can learn to use lists of memorized random facts to “code” common themes in social interaction, language, and even sensorimotor processing. AS and HFA kids clearly have the ability to learn certain “social-themes” (e.g., how to start a conversation, create friendships, empathize, etc.), and it is possible to extend their ability through systematic social skills training.

Unlike neurotypical children, who tend to naturally figure-out complex social rules, AS and HFA children have difficulty “discovering” common social-themes on their own, particularly complex ones. Thus, common social-themes should be explained to them explicitly. It helps to start training them on one simple social task (e.g., how to smile and say “hi” to a peer) and gradually move on to more complex ones (e.g., how to start and maintain a conversation).

Case example: One of my young Asperger’s clients had difficulty listening to his mother speaking whenever there was a lot of distracting background noise (e.g., people moving about and talking at a restaurant). This child couldn’t filter-out environmental stimuli and focus on what was his mother was telling him (he had the same problem listening to his teacher’s instructions at school if the classroom wasn’t completely quiet). So, we set-up a training session as follows:

Step 1: With just one source of background noise (in this case, a blowing fan), the mother gave one piece of instruction to her son (in this case, he was asked to button the top button on his shirt). 

Step 2: With the fan blowing, she gave two pieces of instruction simultaneously (“tie your shoe and then please bring me that book sitting on the table”). 

Step 3: We introduced two sources of background noise (the blowing fan and a radio playing within ear-shot). The mother made one, then two, then three requests, and her son was asked to respond appropriately.

Step 4: We introduced a third piece of background noise (the fan, the radio, and two people conversing within ear-shot in an adjacent room). The mother made one, then two, then three requests, and her son was asked to respond appropriately.

We continued this procedure until (a) there were five sources of background noise and (b) the child responded appropriately to five of his mother’s requests.

Much like a deaf person who learns to read lips, this young boy eventually trained himself to watch the lips of the speaker as a way to focus on the speaker’s words rather than any accompanying background noise. Also, he was instructed on why learning a general social-theme (in this case, attentively listening to others) is more useful than storing specific examples precisely. He was taught how to generalize (i.e., apply regularity to perform a social task) without “memorizing” individual examples (e.g., smiling and saying “hello” to his teacher is the same way he smiles and says “hello” to all other adults).

Indeed, many moms and dads of kids with AS and HFA are concerned about their youngsters’ social functioning. They know that their sons and daughters have many wonderful qualities to offer others, but the nature of their disorder, or more precisely, their poor social skills, often preclude them from establishing meaningful social relationships. This frustration is amplified when moms and dads know that their “special needs” kids want desperately to have social contacts, but fail miserably when trying to make friends. Often, their failure is a direct result of inefficient programs and inadequate resources typically made available for social skills training. While most neurotypical kids learn basic skills simply by exposure to social situations, kids with AS and HFA must be taught these skills explicitly – and as early as possible!

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


My son has a new diagnosis of Asperger's.  I saw your informative video on tantrums vs meltdowns recently and it really helped me understand what was going on with my 5 year old a couple weeks ago when he had a meltdown in Target over a toy he had decided he was not leaving the store without. I refused to buy it (was $50) so the meltdown began and rocked on in the store back and forth for about an hour. This child is so strong already. I could not physically remove him from the store. (Kicking and hitting me). Of course, I was at the store alone with him. I persevered though. He wore himself down enough to finally cooperate. I also see very specific instructions regarding meltdowns on the website, which I will soon memorize. My other big problem is he is very defiant at times and totally refuses to potty train. Is this typical of Asperger's children?  Can you recommend an approach. I have tried taking pullups away, making  him sit on the potty, the reward system is a joke to him. he just wants to be in his own world and it just stresses him out beyond belief to upset that world. (He is  into Disney Cars right now.)   He does have some sensitivity and aversion to smells/textures and I think that is possibly what is hindering this whole process the most. Other than being too busy to stop what he is doing.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. He was diagnosed in late Nov last year by a psychologist.  The special ed dept at school is suggesting for him to just start pre-k in the fall instead of kindergarten. (Because of potty issue.)  I am pretty frustrated.  The psychologist wants me to make written contracts up for him for every activity he does. (Social stories?)  Do you know of any templates for that?   I have no idea what I am doing.  Please send me any resource links, book titles. Anything! I am going to go back and check out your website more. I want that ebook! :) Thank you!


Dr Hutten -

I could really use some advice. I found you to have some valuable
information online and hope you can help. I'll try to make this short but
might be difficult. My son Ryan will be 20 in October. He was diagnosed
with Aspergers I believe in sixth grade. He started having problems
socially and we couldn't get him to school. He would miss weeks at a time.
He was out of control and twice had him in a psych ward to help settle him
down. We had diagnosis from several doctors ranging for Aspergers, PDD,
non verbal learning disorder - all fairly similar symptoms. One thing that
makes him really unique is his ability to play sports. He was a great
baseball player and soccer player but as he got older couldn't get along
with the kids on the teams and gained a lot of weight. That's how we kept
him social starting at age 3 1/2.

He got completely out of control at age 15 and sent him to a wilderness
program for 2 months. He came back a different child. However, he was not
the only one that needed to change. We all needed to make changes at home
but his mother wouldn't work with the program. We needed some structure.
She would make jokes out of our weekly family meetings which we discussed
good things and bad things occurring in our lives. We discussed our
feelings and how we could make it better for each other. It came highly
recommended from the Wilderness program. When Ryan slipped back into his
old routines, i decided i couldn't live in our dysfunctional environment
any longer and filed for divorce. This devastated Ryan and his sister. His
mother severely alienated both children against me, our friends children
and my entire family. After 18 months of hell with the kids, I allowed
their mother to move to Florida with the kids. She would allow the kids to
call me a F'in loser (I'm clearly not) and any name you could think of.
She would laugh and not parent them. The three of them would gang up on
me. I tried to tell them that their troubles would follow them but they
needed to learn this on their own. I was very against him being taken from
his therapeutic day school and become mainstreamed. Note his mother
doesn't have any family she speaks with. I now have a relationship again
with Ryan but will take longer for his sister. They have been in Florida
for a little over two years now. Ok, that's the "short" history. Here is
the problem at hand.

Although I didn't feel Ryan was ready, I agreed to allow him to go away to
college. If he succeeded, great, if not he tried and he can't come back
and say I held him back. Great news, being away from his mother allowed
our relationship to grow again. He became more outgoing and started to
have a relationship with me, my parents and an uncle again. He made it
sound like he was making friends and that things were changing. He
wouldn't tell anyone at school he had Aspergers as he didn't want to use
it as a crutch. Against my advice and believe his mothers, he took himself
off all his medications. He felt he would do better without them. Well, he
became much more talkative and outgoing being off the medication although
I believe he still needs to be on some of them. You should know that he's
an online game addict. He says he has a ton of friends, but they are all
online. He skypes with several of them and they communicate through the
games, but far from what I call social. He easily is online 14-15 hours a

He took 4 classes to ease himself into college life. Things were great for
the first few months. College is only about an hour from his mother and he
went home one weekend and stayed for a week. Nobody called me to tell me
what was going on and found out when he was driving back to school. He was
frustrated with 2 classes as they were "stupid" and wanted to drop them.
They were environmental classes which he doesn't care about. We talked him
into keeping the two classes as they could be easy A's for him. My parents
drove several hours to be with him and discuss college and why it was
important to him. He told us all he would stick with the classes.

He kept telling me he felt he was doing "ok" with classes but didn't
really know. He told my parents and uncles he was getting a few A's.
Bottom line, I found out Friday he withdrew from the two classes and
flunked the other two. He's been lying to all of us. So, this is where the
question finally comes in. How do I handle this?

He's avoiding my calls although I've been very calm about it saying we had
things to discuss and that it wasn't the end of the world. The worst part
of this is the deception and lying. He needs to learn to be honest and be
accountable for his actions. He can't hide from this. I want him to move
back with me in Illinois from Florida. I want to put some structure back
into his life. I would like him to either get a full time job or go to
some type of computer technical school or community college and avoid the
classes he dislikes. He's very smart and absorbs knowledge like a sponge.
I've tried parenting with his mother but she refuses to talk with me. How
do I approach him about this - am I going about this the right way?


Hi Mark
Our son is what we refer to as ‘pre teen’ 11 years old in Grade 5 struggling socially and academically at school. He spent the first 5 years at school in a mainstream class and finally after many diagnoses over this time when he turned 8 the Aspergers came up. He also has dyslexia and auditory processing difficulties. Unfortunately due to some of the diagnoses coming later in school years and lack of support from the public education system for his special needs he has become further and further behind his peers and the end of last year had another assessment showing he qualified for a Special Ops class to provide more support for his special needs. There are 10 boys in the class some also under the autism spectrum and some intellectually disabled and the work he is doing is at a reception Grade 1 level and he is not been challenged enough ! It is far too easy for him to complete his work and attain his reward minutes on the computer and our concern is he is not been given the opportunity to progress to enable him to return to mainstream classes which are also in the same school he is at.
We have had one term of this new school and Special Ops class and now he is use to it as has no desire to change back to mainstream where we want him to be but still needs that added support in the classroom. Basically we cannot have support in the Special Ops class and the mainstream class. So when he goes to the Grade 5 mainstream class he has no support and is expected to keep up with the other kids.
We have considered home schooling but I know it would be a huge battle to get the work done as he does not have the desire to do the work unless there is a reward attached and he chooses to. I know there will be days when whatever strategy I use will not motivate him to do school work and this is my main reluctance to home school. Plus my other son would stay at school and that would be another set of issues to deal with as he would feel it is unfair his brother doesn’t go to school and he has to.
We are currently with more flexibility  from the school we are at compared the previous school trying to utilise the Special Ops class for the first 2 lessons of the day for numeracy and literacy and the 2 lessons after recess and the two lessons after lunch integrating him into a Grade 5 mainstream class. He is showing a great deal of resistance and saying “ this is too much change”.


Mr. Hutten,

I just wanted to thank you so much for your website.  My daughter was just diagnosed yesterday after years and years of difficulties at school and at home.

I feel like I am not alone.  Your insight and knowledge is incredibly informative and comforting.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with the world.


Hi, several of my grandchildren have been diagnosed with Autism/Aspergers.
One daughter's oldest child (living in Ohio) was diagnosed after having flown under the radar and she insisted on retesting. Turns out the kid was so smart he unknowingly fooled 'em all. Well he is 10, really difficult at times, has 6 sisters now and we are pretty sure that at least 2 of the others are Aspy's though my sweet girl DOES NOT want to get them tested. Her reasoning is that if the kids are ever put into the public school system, that will be a tag that forever hounds them....unfortunately I see her point.
She currently home schools her children, probably very specifically for special needs of child 1 and 2, as it would be so sad to see them eaten up by the school system (having heard first-hand from so many teachers concerning how they'feel' and 'act' towards those students they deem to be 'problems'). Again, not that it matters, but I do so her point.
Another daughter, living in the southwest has her oldest child (diagnosed with Autism and the consensus was that it leaned more heavily to Asperger's than anything else) takes her child to a 'special' school, although the teachers are not really trained in Autism, etc. It is just a very slow moving/expectation kind of school, but my grandson seems to do well there.
My reason for writing this to you, is to find out what the cost of your program is. I accidentally hit your site when my Ohio girl sent me an article relating to her ODD Aspy. While there I also noticed a blip about meltdowns, etc, and got onto your site. My Ohio girl has one daughter who gets those meltdowns and we just do not know what to do. I've just physically had to restrain her at times, like form a tent over her with my body without hurting her, until it winds itself down. I know that isn't the best, but ???? Anyway, the Ohio girl is on an extremely limited budget as her hubby is in doctorate program, so the cost would be very important. The daughter in St. george, utah might be a little more amenable, but who knows.
So if you can wade through all these words....please get back with me. I just spend the last 2 weeks in Ohio helping out as their final baby arrived and came home so exhausted (and Lord help me, I was thankful I didn't have to deal with that every day as they do!!!). Reading and seeing so much about how the Aspy's hurt people, etc, as grown-ups, or as a cop my husband has seen that quite a few of the teen suicides are Aspy's...well this is worry in our souls.


Hello Mark,
So my 12 year old  daughter ( turns 13 in June) has turned this corner recently.
The corner that came out of nowhere.
We are scared, worried, concerned and confused as to what to do.
I just read your article, and listened to your video, and I couldn’t email you fast enough.
You are describing her like you know her.
Lauren has always been a sweet, kind, gentle girl.
She gets straight A’s in school, like high 90’s, she always has, she is very bright academically.
Socially, well, I think you know, it’s terrible, try as she may, she is unpopular, and she knows it.
She was born at 29 weeks, so she has always struggled at many things.
Physically, she is uncoordinated, she is awkward, she is very frail.
She has never been an easy child, as is my 10 year old preemie (29 weeks also) son.
However, as of a few months ago,  
maybe less than that, she has turned into a miserable, angry, unhappy little girl.
And we couldn’t love her any more than we do.
But we are confused as to how to deal with it.
We snap back, she tests us every minute she can, we get mad,
we ignore her, we probably do everything wrong.
My ex wife and I live separately, we have for almost 8 years,
but we live two  miles apart, we get along famously,
And we talk 365/7 regarding the kids.
I had to at least put that out there, so you know.
My ex witnessed an episode last night, and it seems as though Lauren  is much tougher on me, the Dad.
Who knows why, probably because I am the Dad, not the comforting Mommy.
I am probably tougher on her, don’t put up with her remarks,
but trust me, I am a very sensitive, nurturing father, but I now feel hopelessly lost
but anyway,
We need help!
I could go on and on forever, but I don’t know if you get 1000 of these a day, or 10
She is on a few different meds, she has major ADHD ,
and she has a few nervous ticks and seems anxious quite often.
She sees a therapist bi-weekly
It doesn’t really help much.
Where do we go from here?
I will order the book for starters
I have cc’d her Mom on this email
Thank you for your time


 A couple of weeks ago I found my son has Aspergers. He is 8 years old and a very intelligent child. I have been trying to learn as much as I can about his disorder. He also is ADHD. He is currently on Vyvanse 70 mg and intuniv   1 mg. I have to give him the Vyvanse at4:30am in order for to get and get ready  for school. I give him intuniv at 6:45am. He normally gets up but half of the time takes his time to ready and he does like to brush his teeth. He says he does not like school but once I get him there he  is normally ok. He has has quiet a few meltdowns lately at school. For some time now he has been making a fist and   blowing in is hand. For the last week and a half, he has been making spit bubbles like a baby does and spitting. He spitted on top of a boys head this past Friday. It seems that every year after February he starts getting worse. He is currently getting therapy but the 1 guy therapist he does not like. I am still seeking more help for my child. I had an EEG done that said he has suggestive complex seizures and epilepsy but the neurologist said he does not have seizures. Last year he was blinking his eyes alot and he has also had shrugging of the shoulders. He loves math but when he was younger he like to read but has no interest in reading now. I would like any advice, that will help us with our child. My husband has no problem with him. He is afraid of him. He listens to me sometimes and is getting better at listening to me but still has meltdowns with me when I take him somewhere. My husband is sick and it is hard for him to go with us. If you know any programs or companies that can help I will appreciate any advice I can get. I have known since he was small that something was wrong and one company told me he was bipolar but I kept seeking because I disagree with that diagnoses. I have been looking at some of carol gray social stories.


Dear Dr Hutten,
I am the parent of an 18 year old boy who was diagnosed with borderline Asperger's only at age 15.
Whenever he has a meltdown, he will remember how I told him to learn to get along with his peers when he was in primary school and how I did not rescue him from bullying. I feel terrible for the hurt caused to him due to my ignorance of his condition.
He also hates it when I ask him about school and would take things that I say out of context. He will threaten to move out to the hostel or say better still if I move out so that he will not be stressed by me.
It breaks my heart to hear that he will not visit me when he moves out.
Over the past month, he has had 6 anxiety attacks in school as it is his final year. His psychologist has taught him what to do ,yet, today, I find him home early on the pretext he has a sore throat and a day off from school with a medical certificate from the doctor!
I need help to communicate with him!
Also to get him back on track with his studies! He has a scholarship, told me he is aiming for 40 points ( international baccalaureate) yet he is playing computer games a lot these days.
His father says just let him de-stress and he displays the same AS symptoms and will berate me when his son has a meltdown!
I am near breaking point with two of them in the house!
There are few resources open to me in Singapore.
 I am thankful to find you on the web!



I really need some guidance with my recently turned 19 year old son that doesn't speak to me unless he needs something. I need some ideas on how to launch this program with him not speaking nor sitting still to express and execute this plan. Ive started texting and emailing him to give him a heads up and give him time to adjust;  and yes I'm meeting "resistance". He ripped up some papers, threw them on the floor,  tipped over a chair and slammed some doors. Is their a special style for parenting for  this type of resistance, "The silent, destructive type"? I've felt like I have lived with Hellen Keller for a long time now. I am the therapy drunk you have spoken about and have taken every class twice. Its been very stressful on me, I was air shipped out of the county last year because I went into an adrenal crisis with multi-organ failure, It left me with severe gangrene to my feet, so I had a year in the hospital and rehab. My son and I have been through allot, prior to hospitalization I had my son sent to a military leadership camp, It helped with his destructive behavior; but sense my crisis, we are back to square one and he's starting to display some of the same symptoms.
Any help appreciated.


RE:  Is their a special style for parenting for this type of resistance...

Yes. It's called tough love. He realizes that all he has to do is throw a tantrum - and you back down! By backing down, you are rewarding and re-enforcing this behavior. 

Rather than trying to "reason" with him, you will need to establish some boundaries and NEVER - NEVER back down. For example, "Here are the new rules __________ "  [fill in with your rules]    ...   "If you damage my property again during a rage, the police will be called and I will file a complaint"   ....and so on.

You are playing softball with this young man. And as long as you do, he will continue to smack you like a mosquito on his forearm. You HAVE TO start playing hard ball.

Do I make myself clear?!


(P.S. I'm demonstrating tough love for you in this email. If you are offended by my comments, then I'm afraid I can't help you.)


Hello again Mark,

Monday evening my wife came home from work and read a bit of your ebook, followed by listened to a few of the videos, and she cracked me up as she said, 'I wonder how much he costs!?' (as in having you work directly with our son).

You see the thing is, we have a 14 year old son who has begun going through the puberty years you describe of the Aspergers child. We had a good handle on things up until puberty hit, then it appeared all the rules changed for what was working. He was doing so well in the 7th grade that he really didn't qualify any longer to be in co-taught classes so the 8th grade began his first time being mainstreamed. He did awesome for the first half of the year, and then it all fell apart. You describe him to about 98% of what he is going through. It's very tiring and stressful at times for us even though we already were using many of the tools you spoke of. Since my wife has her degree as a LCSW, and I have had a bit of experience in the field, we are ahead of the game in contrast to so many other parents trying to find their way in keeping a peaceful family when living with such a child who is struggling. Like you stated in your audio book, that last few percent of completing the bridge makes all the difference. 

I'm going on a bit about this because, even though my wife and I had a handle on things at one time, doesn't dictate that the same exact strategies will work when puberty changes things. Your recommendations helped us with fine-tune what we were already doing and it's had positive effects so far. We thank you for that, Mark. 
After we both listened to your audio presentation, we've both printed out our own copies of the ebook and are gleaning details from it. One thing that I find refreshing in your style of delivery is you have minimized the fluff and have distilled the information a bit. To many times I hear an audio presentation where the speaker talks the first 10 minutes and I'm none-the-wiser and I feel that he/she is actually causing me to become attention deficit. So thank you for your concise delivery.

We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to send him to Talisman Camp (http://talismancamps.crchealth.com)  in a few weeks. We hope he can walk away from his 2 week visit with confidence that he isn't an outcast and he has many good qualities that he draw on for that inner strength he needs. He loves being around people but, as you are well aware of, the Aspergers child can really struggle with those personal connections. At the very least this experience may give him fuel for conversation with his peers.

So between the experience he will get at camp and his mother and I fine-tuning things here at home with your recommendations, we are much more confident in his future.


Hi Mark,
About 6 months ago, my daughter was diagnosed with mild Asperges, of which was relief and worry for her.  She lives independently but naturally is struggling with aspects of her life. 
I always knew her to be different, but honestly had no idea that she was Asperges.  I guess my efforts were concentrated on her dyslexic brother, so I just parented her the best way I could.  She has since commented that the way I treated her was a good thing, as I never told her she was different, just treated her as normal, as I believe she still is, just with an added gift of seeing the world differently.  No different to my son with dyslexia....he is no different to anyone else as a person, he just learns differently.  Both children have high IQ which adds to their frustrations in dealing with 'normal' people.
Anyway, I have decided to do some research as the communication between my daughter and myself at times is strained.  I came across your website, but it seems to deal with children, pre-teens and teens.  Most of it still seems applicable as my 23 yrs old often seems to behave as a younger person....in other words, I've always felt she was a few years behind her own age group, yet in some ways, way ahead of them.  Confused?
What I would like to know is if you have any information available that deals with parenting (or communicating) and young adults, or can point me in the right direction.  The facebook support group really seems to be for mothers of young children, so I don't really fit into this category either.
I am in the early stages of learning about Asperges, but hopefully with educating myself, I will be able to assist my daughter in her struggles and come to a better understanding of why she behaves as she does.


Our 15 year old son was diagnosed with oppositional definance, aspergers and high IQ.  We have had less incidents and more compliance.  Of course still difficult and trying, but livable.  Last December, while newly implementing the program, fresh off the videos, we called the police one night, days after Christmas, when our son took a baseball bat to the walls in his room and barricaded the door because he had a 24 hour no Internet consequence for saying no repeatedly to a simple request.  The police did come and spent almost 2 hours in he middle of the night talking with us and Jack, together and separately.  When the police left, they told us they didn't know how we did it.  That this was not a normal house call, he argued, cried, said he needed to report parental abuse.  They said he was not the typically spoiled child, that he argued like an adult or a lawyer.  They asked him to detail the absuse and told Jack that his father had the right to restrain him.  In his fit with the bat, he almost - accidentally hit my head.  It was bad. 
It took weeks to get some equilibrium and we moved forward.  A few weeks ago, out of nowhere Jack brought up the police.  He prefers to communicate through text to bring things up and he texted me that he hated us and would never forgive us for calling the police.  He also said that we ruined his chances of ever doing anything good because now he had a record.  I addressed the comments face to face and said that if he were behaving anywhere else the world like that, the police would be called and my home would be no different.  He always talks to me and not his father when it is regarding something he is worried about.  I also assured him that with that first phone call the police said that his name was not recorded and he should not worry about that.  We dropped it at that point.
We are are still having some issues with compliance or his behavior with compliance.  I will say that if he says no again during a request, that he will be choosing whatever 24 consequence I chose.  He almost always complies, but responds with this while he is complying. "haha, you are a joke.  or hahaha, no i wont do it.  or hahaha and mocking my statement back to me."  We generally ignore this because he is doing what is asked.
Lately I have told my husband we should rewatch the videos.  Refresh.  And then two nights ago....  The day after my son became an Eagle Scout (ironic) and he privately thanked me for helping him and said I love you so much, he came home from an event with friends and started screaming at me.  Screaming about anything and everything.  I was on his computer, I showed someone boy scout pictures he didn't want me to.......and so on.  He refused to calm down, went into his room screaming and I followed (first mistake), then I engaged with him (second mistake), he became really defiant - I started crying (third mistake), told him if he didn't stop yelling, saying no, and threatening to destroy my pictures which he had and pushed me away when I tried to take them back that I would call the police, he laughed and said I was a joke.  I dialed the police but hung up.  They called me back and I said never mind.  He refused to go to school the next day.  He is back at school today, we talked yesterday, he even came to me this am to tell me something interesting from school and then when I got to work he texted this to me:
"I can't believe you called the police.  I hate you.  I will never forgive you.  You are nothing to me anymore.  I truly wish you were not my mother - you are the worst mother.  I am serious that I will never forgive you.  What you have done is horrible and I can never overlook that.  I don't love you."
I said to Jack that I will make mistakes and you will make mistakes, but we still have to speak to each other respectfully and that saying no in our home is not an option. 
Where do we go from here?  How do you go pick up your son from school after he has sent you such horrible things?  I am supposed to drive him to swim this afternoon, pick up a carpool.  I feel abused and treated like a dog and then I go pick him up and cart him around.  I am at work and can't function.  I just want to go to sleep.  I am re watching the videos this morning.  My husband and I are on the same page.  I'm refreshed on not providing any intensity.  However, my son has a huge hang-up regarding the police and I am still having trouble with compliance.  Like if I want to remove his computer, he physically wont let me and he's taller and stronger.  He's also taller and stronger than my husband and they don't go there on the power struggles over removing something because it will be another police phone call. And then generally he will comply so we don't have to remove anything.
Incidently, my husband take him to school each morning and I asked how this morning went. He said Jack was on his phone sitting down and I said lets go.  Jack said I am not going today (he was ready and clearly intending to go), my husband said lets go Jack and Jack said something similar again, my husband said you are being disrespectful to me Jack I need to go to work.  He mocked something back, got up and went to school. What the heck is that?  Seriously, it's crazy. 



 We have a 7 year old son.  He doesn't really have much for 'friends'.  He seems to think that everybody is his friend, but he doesn't get invited to play dates or birthday parties from his peers at school.  There is a neighbor girl about his age that moved in last summer.  She has been such a blessing to us and my son because she comes over to play with him and does well when he is having a meltdown, or when his lack of social skills is in full swing.  My question is, do some children with Aspergers act or feel as tho they own a friend?  Sometimes this girl would like to play with the neighbor girls or other friends and then my son goes into a total meltdown that can last a very long time.  He will also try and structure our weekends and weeknights around this child.  Not wanting to go anywhere because she might be able to play.  Sometimes he just wants at our house, but then he doesn't want to play with her.  Yet if she were to go home he would be in meltdown mode. 


RE: My question is, do some children with Aspergers act or feel as tho they own a friend? 

Sometimes. They have just one or two special interests (as you know). In this case, his special interest is his friend. He doesn't want to share her in the same way he wouldn't want to share a favorite toy.




I can't thank you enough for this book.  I am sitting here in tears and I have only made it to page 15 of 69. It's a miracle I found this tonight.  If only you knew what we have been going through, it appears so far you do. But you don't have the particular's of our situation.  The tears won't quit flowing.

My son was recently diagnosed finally with Asperger's, after being in and out of the hospital this past year for up to a month at a time.  It took the residential treatment facility to diagnosis him and sadly he was only there 3 weeks and insurance denied coverage further for residential.

Our history in dealing with this situation is long and painful as you can imagine.  Our son has been lost for so long going undiagnosed and I am still in a state of worry that the Autism Institute that is going to see us later this week, if we make it that far...... will agree.  He is in pain, we are in pain, he is angry and has become increasingly defiant and violent and we are becoming increasingly helpless and as your book brought out my tears, as it outlined all we are trying and or that I am saying, threatening calling police again, telling him he will sent to juvie, telling him he will have to live elsewhere because we can't manage him and he refuses to allow us to parent him.  It's so stressful on top of his GrandFather / my Father passing away this week.

What is amazing is your book clearly, sadly, out lines where we at. My child that wasn't usually violent and rageful, directed at us...... anyway, in the many months has become someone we don't know and quit frankly someone we are scared of.  The past few weeks he is becoming unmanageable and his behavior becoming a regular occurrence of tantrums, threats, physical violence toward us and his brother to the point, as tonight, we have set an alarm on his room door so we know if he comes out in the middle of the night, and the three of us are in the master bedroom with the door secured and an alarm on our door so we know if someone is trying to come in during the night. We went as far as removing all the knives in our kitchen.

This has to stop! We are all miserable.  We are to see an Autism Specialist on Wednesday and I am not sure we will make it that far with my son living in our house. We are in fear and walking on eggshells that we will say or do something to set him off.  Like not giving him his way when he demands.  My calling the police and having him removed via ambulance to the hospital last time he lost control didn't do any good. He only blames us to the last counselor/counselors and or the police about my "bitching" at him. Now we as his parents fear calling them because they told us he will go to regular jail not juvie, because he is 17.  Yet at the same time we fear DFACS thinking we are abusive parents or not doing enough to help my son.  He has special needs... he is not a full fledged criminal...yet.... his past behavior indicates if we don't get him help, he may well become one on many serious levels, but Nothing is helping... Nor are our continued threats to call the police, nor are the facilities and or professionals we have had him to yet.   He tells me go ahead....call the police.... he doesn't care.

HELP! What to do?   I am scared to go to sleep tonight... and was researching anger and aggression in Asperger's as this violent side to him toward us and his brother has seemed worse since they placed him on the mood stabilizers and since he was in that residential treatment facility with drug and alcohol children/ juvie's that were violent.  It has brought out this horrible side that doesn't seem to be calming down.   We are fearful of allowing him around others at church group or social situations because we don't know when he will act out or possibly go off on someone and or us as he did this week even at the funeral home with his brother upon visitation for my Father's passing.  We are living in fear of knowing what to do and how to protect everyone.  We have another child to protect as well, this is so frightening.

I know I could go on all night about our situation and his ..... I just wanted to thank you for your book and for allowing me tonight, to not feel so alone and terrified about how we are going to help this situation.  At least from all of my own counseling, I have learned the only one we can change is ourselves.

So hopefully with your book, and all the other Asperger books I am reading on learning how to become a better parent to my son before we lose him completely to his poor choices and or our lack of knowing how to parent and or help him....your book can help us be better at helping him and helping ourselves.  As the multitude of emotions are all over the place.  Especially for me as his Mom. The guilt of feeling I haven't done enough, and I should have pushed harder a long time ago, I have failed him, are there.  Your book has hit them all on the head.

Interesting my counselor recently before she moved on for her rotation told me we need to try to not engage with energy with him when he is acting out like he is.  That it actually feeds him... I was a bit perplexed on what she meant by that and even questioning how she could be sure.   But your book is much clearer on why and I have to admit, I wasn't sure I believed her until I read what you wrote.

I will keep reading hopefully until I fall asleep.  I pray we can survive this without having to call the police and possibly have him sent to regular jail. I fear we will need to take him back to the hospital and have him admitted, and they so far have been zero help for the past year and didn't even have him diagnosed right. All they seem to do is drug him and that isn't helping either. He is feeling more out of control, more angry and groggy and irritable...eating constantly.  His obsessive behaviors have become worse along with his focus and obsession regarding his passion. It seems out of control.

We saw another Asperger Specialist a week or so ago, and after reviewing his history and some of the records along with his IEP, he feels is certainly has now been diagnosed properly by the residential care facility with Asperger's.  I have felt like my son had it since I even learned about this condition a few years ago. The course of his personality and behaviors fits exactly like the book that the doctor we met wrote.  It was though I was reading all we have been seeing and struggling to understand all these years. How it has gone on so long without an accurate diagnosis, bewilders me.

But hopefully we are on the course to answers and the right help we pray.  Thank you again for writing this book and for allowing me to download it immediately tonight.  Hopefully it will help us do a better job of knowing what on earth to do to help him and be better parents.


Hello Mr. Hutten,

I am the single mother of a 16-year-old on the spectrum. His actual diagnoses are PDD-NOS, Thought Disorder, and Psychosis. His main symptom is bizarre behavior. For instance, last week he went to school with an overcoat when it was 90 degrees and had two mismatched shoes. He is also speaking in a language that no one understands - he calls it spanish. He loses his train of thought in the middle of conversation. He also talks to himself constantly.

I have been having the hardest time over the last number of years getting my son to take his medication. We first started with pills, he said he was afraid it would stick in his throat. So we tried liquid form. He found another excuse as to why he could not take the liquid. We have tried the type that melts in your mouth, he tricked me into thinking he was taking that, but I later found out he was spitting them out when I turned my head.

This cycle has gone on and on over several years. Over these years he has had several episodes which lead to inpatient treatment. While in inpatient hospital, he often required several men to hold him down due to his strength. Unfortunately we have not been able to find a psychiatrist/psychologist willing to find the proper treatment for him. Most give up because they say he won't respond to them. I have reached out to treatment facilities in our area, and they tell me they can't force him to take medication. It's been very difficult and as he get's older, I really worry about him. Do you have any idea what I can try next?


Thank you for your welcoming email.  I am having a current problem and am trying to find guidance/point of view from someone familiar with Asperger's.  I wish you could offer some advice.
My son is 19 and just completed his 2nd semester of a four year college of which my husband and I are so very proud .  However his 1st semester he flunked one class and his second semester, he only passed one class.  This puts him on academic probation and he has one semester to bring up his GPA or then he is on academic suspension and not eligible for any available funding.
He admitted to having a problem with the one class the 1st semester in time to drop the class before it affected his GPA.  The second semester he did not check in with Student Special Services that will issue him a letter to give to all his professors to inform them of his AS.  He should have been checking with a mentor, a senior student, to assist him with his freshman year, which he claims no one ever told him of this service.  And he was so ashamed to admit to anyone that he was in such academic trouble and when he finally told me, I felt so responsible.  Then I spoke with his academic advisor and student special services.  We got him set up with his mentor, got him in counseling, got tutors for him and notified his professors of his AS. But everything was alot but too late.
His history is he was diagnosed with AS in junior high school, previous had been diagnosed by his pediatrician with ADD.  After several medication trials, I did not like the "zombie" effect in him.  So I discontinued the meds, started a vitamin and herb treatment and we started working with a pesonal trainer and his outlook changed.  We live in a small rural town, population less that 600, and our school from kinder to 12th grade are all one campus.  In high school it is very common to have the same teacher for different years and/or subjects.  So he was always an A.B student and got a lot of one on one from his teachers.  His AS was diagnosed by the school district Special Education department.  When I researched the diagnosis, it was like reading about Luke.
He is an only child and we, his parents, are available and ready to give him any support he needs and will do whatever it takes to help him reach his STARS!  He wants to make video games and I know with all my being that he will be doing this one day.
So he has been home for 2 weeks now, he attends Texas A&M University in Kingsville, about a 2 hour drive from home.  Socially he adapted very well and made quite a few friends and has a girlfriend that lives here.
After discussing the situation we have come up with a game plan for the fall semester because he is determined to get his degree and we will do whatever we need to to help him get there.  He will get registered with Student Special Services right away so he will get the notification to his professors from the start.  I spoke with the Dept head of special services to find out what the professors know about AS and was told that the professors would have to research AS themselves, which I doubt will happen.  So my son and I have decided to create a handout about AS and his particular strengths and weaknesses.  He will get tutors for all classes immediately.  He needs to develop a good relationship with his professors and meet with them frequently, he will create a schedule for this and I will hold him to this.  He will be checking in with his academic advisor regularly.  He will use a tape record for all lectures and will request a mentor for this semester again.
I mentioned earlier that I felt so guilty.  I was of the mind set that "he graduated from high school and college, no problem".  I feel without giving him these tools from the beginning I was setting him up to fail.  As you know AS kids do not like to admit/ask for help, don't want that label and don't want others to find out.  The college he attends is highly recommended and has a great student to teacher ratio.  One more piece of the puzzle, I am disabled and have chronic daily migraines, migraine pain constantly.  I spend about 95% of my time in my dark, cool bedroom and has to take pain medications regularly under medical supervision.  I feel this is a problem in dealing with Luke's problems.


My 15 year old son, Rye, is claiming to have a 'hand that does not work.' It is his writing hand, although he is now managing to write left-handed at school. We have done every medical check, but I had my suspicions it was not genuine. I'm ashamed to say we filmed him in secret to discover that when he is alone in a room he uses the hand completely normally. We have not told him this.
How best do we tackle this one? He has faked it at school and home, with his favourite mentor and his only friend. He accuses me of  'not believing him' although I have never said this. I thought maybe it was a way of having an excuse to fail at school, but apparently he is still working (although not very well, but that is not important to us in the scheme of things).
All this is along with increasingly unpleasant behaviour, encouraged by his older, Aspie brother who is both cruel and menacing towards us, telling me, in front of Rye, that I would drive Rye to commit suicide, yet unable to tell me what I am doing wrong.
Here in the UK we are quite behind in our understanding of Aspergers; so far nobody has been able to come up with a good approach! I have met other parents who are frightened of their Aspie teens ~ yet it is still not really talked about.
I am sure I will read your book and solve some of these issues, but what to do about the hand?! I am worried I will make the situation worse if I don't handle it carefully.
I do hope you can spare the time to give some advice. On our second Aspie teen we are feeling a bit haggard and despondent, as well as grieving for the lovely boys we feel we have 'lost'. (We have 3 boys with this condition!)


I have a 111/2 year old son  with Aspergers,ADHD,PPD-NOS and turrets. He is going into Junior High and up until this year I have been very fortunate to have teachers for him that understood and took necessary steps towards his success. Unfortunately this year (5th grade) ,one of the most critical ,I have not been as fortunate and things have not gone well. Therefore, I have decided to learn as much as I can about how things can and should be done in the classroom. He is in behavioral therapy (DePelchins Children's  Center) once a week for 1 hour and he receives services in the area of Pragmatics at the elementary school as well as structured time with his special ed. coach. However, next year he will have at least 6 different teachers and a whole new environment. I have been in touch with the Lead Autism Specialist with the school district and have become close with the superintendent. However, I am not sure that I feel comfortable with him going to school for grades 6-8 due to all of the changes that not just he is going through but every other child as well. Junior High was not my favorite time and I do not have aspergers. The last thing I want to do is home school him for those three years , however if the alternative is Jail I may not have a choice. My son has extreme behavior problems - this year has been pretty bad - the prior years were not choice but progress was being made and there seemed to be a more visible light at the end of the tunnel. I have not worked since my son was  31/2 and he was diagnosed at 4. He has been in therapy and special pre-schools, small group therapy etc.. year round since he was 4. He is currently taking Abilify 5mg twice a day and has been on it for about 2 years. Where as it has helped in his ability to stay calm long enough to think about his choices, we both know medication in this case is only a small part of the solution. After reading up to page 40 of your book I see very clearly what may have contributed to this year turning out the way it has. That is what I have to try my best to prevent as much of this as possible next year. According to Texas law my son can be arrested and taken to juvenile hall for 5  days before he even sees a judge and I can do nothing about it. If he threatens someone with what appears to be a weapon it is a felony offense. Unfortunately the circumstances leading up to this and whether or not it is a manifestation is irrelevant. I have a lot of work to do this summer before I call an ARD before school. 


Hi Mark

As you'll see from my signature on this email I'm the senior IT
executive of a multi-billion dollar corporation operating in over 100
countries however that said I'm also a parent of I think (undiagnosed as
yet) an Asperger's Syndrome teenager who has almost split our family of
six apart with his inappropriate social behaviour.

The reason for my hesitancy is that in South Africa trying to diagnose
Asperger's children has proven extremely difficult due to a lack of
experts  - generally they work with very 'obviously' Autistic children
and we've been to more than a dozen specialist GPs, education
psychologists, adolescent psychologists, psychiatrists and neurosurgeons
including a paediatric neurologist. He has definitely got Temporal Lobe
Epilepsy (TLE) and was borne with one kidney which means his auto immune
system has always been problematic. However from a small child he has
exhibited virtually all the Asperger's traits you describe on your web
site to the point that as a teenager he is totally ostracised at school.
The headmaster has now said that because of his inappropriate social
behaviour, distractedness in class, disorganization, loud talking across
others and inappropriate laughing at non-jokes is embarrassing others,
he should go home to be loved! Interestingly his school grades are in
some instances A+ so he certainly is not even close to failing but he
does bear the brunt of constant bullying to the point that he needed to
be hospitalised to have his injuries treated. At a subsequent
disciplinary hearing he 'outed' the perpetrators by being naively
without guile and telling the gruesome truth of the beatings in detail
(all other witnesses were sworn to silence) resulting in all six Grad 12
boys being expelled. 

Other than his twice a week psychiatrist and quarterly paediatric
neurologist visits we've employed the services of a Life Coach who has
drawn up a program for our son to assist mostly in his organisational
skills development and schooling in social appropriate behaviour
including manners - he has appalling manners including a diabolical
dress sense. On the positive side he's very loving, compassionate and
can articulate with adults for hours on end at an amazingly intellectual
level for his age of 15 years. An embarrassing behaviour is his cutting
into adult conversations where our other children would dare not go. He
also retains a vast mental library of almost unbelievable facts on quite
a few subjects such as animals, war history and fly fishing coupled to a
wild imagination. By the way evidence of ADHD has been ruled out however
he does exhibit ADD to some degree but its sporadic and we've noticed
that if he does things he loves he can concentrated for hours in fact
tying flies for fly fishing will keep him occupied all night and it's a
problem to get him to go to sleep. Medication wise he only takes anti
epilepsy drugs although we might have to put him onto something like
Prosac for his anxiety - Ritalin caused him to have severe grand mal

This tall 6 foot 174 pound amiable yet extremely shy boy with quirks
such as a head tic desperately needs help and his parent more so.

The primary question though is how does one get a diagnostic other than
going through endless research such as what we have done this past year?
Are there online diagnostic tools or is this something we have to
discuss with a specialist? We do have your eBook and will be following
your program avidly however a diagnostic would prove extremely helpful
because we can then get on with 'treating' his behaviour including our


Mark! Thank you so much for all the info. you send. It really helps with the students I am working with.

I am very appreciative of your work and expertise.



I have been a primary school teacher for over forty years and recognise the signs of Aspergers in my grandchild.  In many ways he does not present as badly as he could because he is very well parented.
He is eleven now and although high functioning academically struggles with many social skills, tends to be clumsy, was a late talker, has obsessive interests that he pursues until he is an expert. Thomas the tank engine, dinosaurs, books and natural disasters to mention a few.
I have not used the word Aspergers with his parents as I am not sure they want to hear this from me. Psychs do not seem to have mentioned it - I wonder if good parenting is masking the obvious?
However, I believe that the book would be excellent for him (and them) as they are beginning to accept my suggestions that he needs "scripts to handle social behaviours and develop friendships."


My 10 year old daughter is only very recently diagnosed, but we have struggled for years starting with school refusal.  Now her rages and refusal to do anything we ask are getting worse and harder to deal with. I guess she is probably heading toward puberty so the hormones are not helping.
Up until now the only advise we have been given was from a psychologist who is supposed to be an expert in autism, told my husband and I to physically drag her to school kicking and screaming no matter what, pj’s and all.  Obviously we have not taken her ridiculous advise so we are lost as to what to do.  I feel we have lost all control and happiness in our home. Any advise is greatly appreciated.


I can appreciate the many frustrations the parents of youngsters with Asperger's have, but I'm dealing with a 24 year old who refuses to help himself launch into adult independence.   He was diagnosed at 12 years old (misdiagnosed for the previous 8).  In 2012, an additional diagnosis was added: schizoaffective disorder, primarily because of his catatonic episodes he goes into when he's confronted by a situation he doesn't want to deal with.  It will take him several hours to come out of one, and he needs to be left alone during them.  He's extremely intelligent, and with that he's also very manipulative.  He also has sensory issues, primarily touch. 

We've had him in and out of therapy for over a decade now and have not made much progress.  He almost didn't graduate from high school.  He's only passed 3 out of 12 classes at the community college (he dropped one class).  Because we're the ones paying for those classes it has made a significant dent in our finances.  We will only pay for one class per semester since he can't seem to handle more than that, no matter what HE believes.  Therapy and one of the helpful medications have stopped (since last August) because we don't have life insurance anymore. He's been denied SSI (by a judge), and that decision is in appeal.  He doesn't receive MediCal either.

Our son gets $200 per month in food stamps which covers FOOD ONLYwhich means we still pay for everything else, like deodorant, soap, etc.  He couldn't care less about his hygiene so Not buying his own is fine with him.  He only brushes his teeth about once a month, if that.  He showers ONLY because we hold the computer as hostage until he takes one, and even then it's every other day.  I can tell he's not cleaning himself properly. He smells even after he claims to have bathed himself.  His clothes smell like mildew, and so does his bedroom.  He hasn't cleaned his bedroom in over 4 years.  His door has to stay closed because the smell is so bad.  Removing his door is not an option at this point. He doesn't even notice his own stink.

We are at a loss of what to do to help him gain his independence.   He recently told us that he's perfectly content living this way.....but we're not.  If I could afford a Life Coach, that would behelpful, but right now my butt is owned by student loans and other financial responsibilities.


Dear Mark,

Many thanks for this link which came in after I  had written to you. I have now been able to download a copy of the pdf file and it does work fine. Looks like excellent work, and will undoubtedly be fantastically useful for us. We are based in Guatemala and obtaining this sort of information is not easy. Do you give lecture tours outside US?

Best regards and if we have any questions or ideas on the topic we will take you up on your invitation to correspond. 


I have a fourteen year old that has been diagnosed with a mood disorder (bipolar).   This started when she was in fifth grade, in the beginning of this year she had swine flu ;and walking pneumonia, then in February of the same year she got mono.  The beginning of her sixth grade her period wouldn't stop and she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  She also had a bullying incident that caused her to retreat and now want to go to school.  She has been hospitalized four times in the past three years.  The first hospitalization was because she started eating a lot of fiber bars around 2 am and exercised in her room.   She lost too much weight during that time and her heart muscle was weakened.  The other three times she threatened suicide.  The last two times were within the last two months.    She has major anxiety about school and we have tried six antidepressents.  She is rebellious and won't go to school and I feel she plays victim a lot.   I just want to take a chance that she will do something that would seriously injure her.  She also used to cut herself.  We are with Kaiser and we are working with the school district..I know that my husband and I would love parenting help for her.  She does have a lot of friends and wants to go out all the time.  But she hasn't really completed any school work in the last three years.   We really need to get a handle on this so our ten yr old daughter doesn't get more affected by this.   Do you think your program could help us?  We almost sent her to a therapeutic wilderness camp, but the cost would have been close to $12,000 for 45 days.


When my son was diagnosed with AS last year, after a little time I came to the realisation of my husband having the same issues/traits. It gave me an explanation of why we were having relationship difficulties and why I was feeling like I was.  In talking about this to him in a supportive way, I thought with this understanding we could improve our marriage.  However, he has not accepted he has AS/traits and was offended that I would suggest this. We have separated at his initiation.  He was not open to any counselling.  What can you do if he does not accept about AS? I am not sure if leaving is because he can't deal with things?


Hello Mr. Hutten,
My 19 year old son was just diagnosed with Aspergers about three weeks ago. I should have had him evaluated a lot earlier but I felt I didn't want to place a "label" on him, that he would outgrow his quirkiness and that his behavior would improve with age. Boy was I wrong! His behavior only worsened when he started college. He got to the point that he was abusing drugs and alcohol and engaging in self injury. He got involved with a group of guys who were into criminal activity and somehow found himself in a situation where he is now facing serious criminal charges as an "accessory after the fact".
Mr. Hutten we really need help. My son is incredibly immature, has suffered immensely through his teenage years due to his social isolation and quirly behaviors. His eagerness to be accepted by peers and naive, immature behavior was exploited by these people who he called "friends". He was so fiercely attached to them and was unable to determine their intentions until it was too late. It seems like he cannot evaluate a situation, body language, unspoken cues etc to make a proper assessmnet of whether a situation is good or bad.
His case is still pending and we are fighting to avoid prison time for him. Sadly he will not only have to face his condition but now will be a felon as well. This is where I would like your help. I need to make sure from now on he will be equipped with the life and social skills necessary to handle adult life and prevent him from gravitating to those harmful relationships.


 I am a great grandmother of an 8 year beautiful young man that has been diagnosed with ADHD/Mild Autism/Aspergers.However, we do not have the diagnose in hand as of today. He and his mother have recently moved back home for us to help both of them. He has a very high IQ..however, his social skills and being able to be in a classroom setting is very hard. He is fixated on weather and living in Florida has become a real problem when storms occur. His Mom is doing everything in her power to work, keep him in school and teach him the social skills needed to attend regular school. She is also going to a support group monthly for assistance.
We are in the process of getting a doctor here to help us. My question is about Med's.. What has worked for you and what to avoid.We are also trying to get him gluten free and working on dairy products..Trying to feed him with veggie's, fruit, and meat.

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...