Noncompliant Behavior in Children with Asperger's and HFA

The question of how to handle non-compliant kids on the autism spectrum is something most moms and dads have struggled with at one point or another. Non-compliance is a common problem for young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and takes many forms (e.g., testing the limits and your authority, exerting control over a situation, declaring independence, arguing with you or not doing something you asked – or doing it very slowly). 

Non-compliant behavior that persists for a prolonged period of time and interferes with your youngster’s performance at school and relationships with family and friends can be a sign of something more serious (e.g., ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder).

In some cases, what appears to be non-compliance may simply be a youngster who is preoccupied with his or her special interest (e.g., a computer game). Understanding what is behind your youngster’s behavior is an important part of addressing the problem of a son or daughter who seems to be defying you.

Below are 9 crucial interventions that parents can implement that are especially helpful for resolving non-compliance in AS and HFA children and teens:

1. Organizing the environment: This compliance technique encourages the AS or HFA youngster to do what is asked because the “response effort” is made easier. You can have a cooperative child in your home – it's just a matter of putting some simple techniques into practice, for example:
  • making use of organization products (totes, foldable drawer organizer, cap racks, etc.)
  • making sure the child’s bedroom has a trash can and hamper where they can be easily used
  • bundling an entire outfit with underwear, socks and everything so that it is very easy for the child to go to the closet and pick out what she should wear that day

2. Simplifying tasks so they are easy to understand: Rather than simply asking your youngster to do something in general (e.g., “Go clean your bedroom”), describe three specific tasks (yes, only three!) that would result in a cleaner bedroom (e.g., “Put these papers in the trash, put these clothes in the hamper, and make your bed”). Be very concrete and specific!

3. Creating a picture schedule for your youngster to view each day: Arrange laminated pictures of certain tasks on a Velcro strip. Go over the schedule at night before bed explaining what will happen the next day, again in the morning, and then continue to cross or check off each item as it is completed (you may want to include some fun things to do, too). Here's an example:

Picture Schedule for "Bedtime"
(smiley faces indicate task completion)

4. Making sure when a request is made that you follow through with your youngster: If you are always making requests that don't get completed, then your youngster learns that what you are asking is not important – so why do it. An example of “following through” would be a scenario where you facilitate a request for your non-compliant youngster to pick up his toys by handing him the toys and telling him where they need to go (while giving a lot of praise as he complies).

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's and HFA Children

5. Giving a 7-minute “heads-up”: This compliance tactic is one that works as a great transition technique. If you let your youngster know that in 7 minutes you want a certain task completed, this gives her time to finish what she is doing and provides some time to process the request.

6. Providing fun activities that occur after frequently refused tasks: By arranging the day so that tasks often refused occur right before preferred activities, you may be able to eliminate non-compliant behavior and motivate your youngster to honor your request (e.g., “After you complete your homework, it will be time for you to get on the computer and play your favorite video game”).

7. Establishing an ongoing, consistent routine: Developing a routine helps your AS or HFA youngster to know what to expect and increases the chances that she will comply with completing tasks like chores, homework, personal hygiene, etc. When undesirable tasks occur in the same order at prime times during the day, they become habits that are usually not questioned and done without thought. Kids think about what they plan to do that day and expect to be able to do what they want. So, when a parent comes along and asks them to do something they weren’t already planning to do that day, this often results in automatic refusals and other non-compliant behavior. But, by establishing a consistent routine and keeping it in place over time, the youngster expects to complete formally undesirable tasks almost every day in the same general order.

8. Provide acknowledgement and praise when your child cooperates: When you acknowledge and praise your youngster’s compliance, you are providing positive attention, which is a great reinforcer for appropriate behavior. For example, “I noticed you put your dirty dishes in the sink without me having to ask (acknowledgment) …that’s you being responsible (praise).” When you do this consistently, your youngster will be more likely to repeat that particular behavior in the future.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's and HFA Children

We’ve saved the best for last…

9. Creating a social story: A social story can be created by a parent or teacher, and is specific to the youngster and the particular situation he is having trouble with. Here’s how to create social stories:
  • Start by identifying the behavior you are trying to address. For instance, your youngster may become very frustrated and angry when confronted with a minor problem (e.g., inability to tie his shoe). Monitor your youngster's behavior and document the frequency of instances where he reacts inappropriately to the shoe tying. The social story must reflect the shoe incident specifically in order to have the best impact on your youngster (he may not make the connection that his behavior should be modified when dealing with an untied shoe if the social story is about how to react to loud noises, for example).
  • Once the behavior is evaluated, write a series of sentences that are age-appropriate and serve the following purposes: (a) a descriptive sentence explains the situation or environment where the problem is occurring (e.g., "Every morning, I need to put on my shoes and tie them"); (b) a perspective sentence gives the perspective of the youngster or others on the situation (e.g., "When I can’t tie my shoes, I get upset"); and (c) a directive sentence gives the youngster specific instructions on what to do or not do (e.g., "When I get upset because I can’t tie my shoes, I need to get up and ask my mother for help"). Feel free to include additional sentences to clarify the point (e.g., another perspective sentence that says, "It makes my mom unhappy when I yell instead of asking her for help”).
  • Now that you have your social story sentences laid out, go ahead and make the book. You can create you social story in book form by folding pages to make a booklet. Include one page for every sentence. Print each sentence on the top of the page. Include pictures to help your youngster better understand what the words are saying, making sure the pictures are specific to your youngster.

Below is an example of a social story about "being dependable." The goal of the story is to get the child to try to do what he is asked, control his feelings, and ask for help if needed:

“Sometimes I am asked to do things that I don't want to do. Everyone has to do things they don't want to do sometimes. This is what it means to be a dependable person. It may not be fun, but everyone has to do things they don't like to do.

Sometimes my mother has to cook dinner when she doesn't want to. This is her job. Sometimes my father has to go to work when he doesn’t want to. This is his job. Sometimes I have to do homework that I don't want to. This is my job. Even though I don't want to do my homework, it is usually best to be dependable and do what is asked. Everyone has to do things they don't like to do some of the time. This is what it means to be dependable.

When it is time to do something that I don't want to do, I may feel like doing something else instead. It sometimes makes me feel angry when I have to do something that I don't like to do. Even though I feel angry, I need to remember that if I just go ahead and do the thing I don’t want to do, it will make everything better in the end. My parents will be happy that I did my best even when it was something I did not want to do.”

All kids are non-compliant from time to time, particularly when upset, hungry, tired or stressed. They may talk back, argue and disobey moms and dads. But, openly hostile behavior becomes a serious concern when it is so frequent and consistent that it stands out when compared with other kids of the same age. When non-compliant behavior affects your youngster’s social, family and academic life – it’s time to utilize the steps listed above in a highly committed way.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's and HFA Children

Melatonin Deficiency in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Melatonin is a molecule that is released as a hormone of the pineal gland predominantly during night. Melatonin secretion is deficient in children on the autism spectrum. This is one of the main reasons why 73% of kids with ASD have problems getting to sleep - and staying asleep. 

More resources for parents of children and teens with ASD [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


Isolation and Loneliness in Teens on the Autism Spectrum

"What can we do as parents to get our teenager with high functioning autism to broaden his areas of interest and not hibernate in his room playing video games ALL DAY. He has very little contact with us and has virtually no friends?!"

Having little contact with family and peers is not uncommon among teenagers with Asperger’s (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA), but if your adolescent's isolation is becoming an issue and advancing into a troubling stage, you will want to quickly solve the problem in any way you can.

The adolescent years come with a host of issues for teens on the autism spectrum – much more so than for “typical” teens. Moms and dads often feel at a loss for how to help their “special needs” adolescent when he or she seems lonely, anxious, depressed or out of sorts.

Adolescents with AS and HFA may choose to isolate themselves, or it may happen as a result of bullying or exclusion by their peers. Other common reasons for isolation include the following:
  • Isolation can be caused by the way these teens look, dress, act, or a combination thereof.
  • Moodiness and erratic or volatile behavior can drive AS and HFA adolescents away from their peer group.
  • Shyness can be a cause of social isolation.
  • Some AS and HFA adolescents may be ostracized by peers due to their excelling academically or underachieving. “Fitting-in” is important to teens, and those that stand out may be pushed to the fringes of social groups.
  • The AS or HFA adolescent may spend too much time on the internet or playing video games, and as a result, lose touch with their friends. They may replace genuine social interaction with online gaming where they converse with strangers.
  • Depression is another prime cause of isolation for these young people. A depressed AS or HFA adolescent loses interest in everyday activities and drops out of social groups at school.

Of the reasons listed above, I have found that the biggest reason AS and HFA teens isolate is because they have been bullied, teased and rejected by their peers. Due to their “odd” behavior, these young people are misunderstood and not heard by their peers. They are trying hard to be accepted, but they simply don’t know how to do it. When trying to cope with this rejection, their brain actually goes into survival mode, and they will either become hypo-aroused or hyper-aroused, which means that they will either hide (hypo) or act-out (hyper). These behaviors then can scare peers and parents. This is why it is so terribly important to look beneath the behavior and empathize with the adolescent's emotional state – and then listen to what he or she is saying.

Adolescents with AS and HFA may end up in a situation where they struggle to help themselves. If moms and dads see this happening, they should get involved and encourage their youngster to take positive action to overcome their social problems. Luckily, there are a few ways to encourage your adolescent to become a part of things once again.

==>  Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

What moms and dads can do to help their AS and HFA teens to improve self-esteem, be more socially engaged, and experience less loneliness and depression:

1. Assist your adolescent with setting short-term and long-term goals for herself. Short-term goals (e.g., completing homework each day for a week, filling out two job applications per week, etc.) will help keep her focused. Long-term goals (e.g., getting a driver's license, saving up enough money to purchase a car, etc.) will give her something to look forward to. Reaching goals provides a sense of accomplishment and improves self-esteem.

2. Consider the treatment options for your adolescent's depression or anxiety if those have been diagnosed. Getting proper treatment for these conditions will help your adolescent to stop isolating himself so much from family and peers. Possible treatments may include counseling and/or medications.

3. Create opportunities for your adolescent to volunteer and help others. Providing assistance to others helps improve feelings of self-worth. There are many volunteer opportunities available for adolescents (e.g., visiting people in a nursing home, caring for animals at a local shelter, etc.).

4. Discuss your concerns with your child when she seems more relaxed. Be honest, telling her that you have noticed that she is spending more and more time on her own. Ask her if there is something troubling her. Be tactful and patient. Do not pressure her to talk, but encourage her by speaking softly and gently and by showing relaxed body language.

5. Encourage social activity by signing your teenager up for community sports, arts and crafts classes, or any other activities that he may enjoy that will help him to meet new friends and explore hobbies and other special interests.

6. Encourage your teenager to get some kind of exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week. Staying active can help improve mood.

7. Even if it doesn't always seem like it, your “special needs” adolescent craves your attention and approval. Spend time together doing an activity that you both enjoy, or let your adolescent choose how you spend your time together. Whether it's shopping, watching movies, or going for a hike, the most important thing is to be there and to get your adolescent out of her bedroom for a while.

8. Explore all aspects of your teen’s attempts to isolate himself by keeping a journal. A journal will contain valuable information for a therapist if your child receives counseling at some point in the future. The length of time “isolating behavior” has been going on is relevant. Also, look at your child’s personality. He may always have been a loner, or he may have previously been quite outgoing. Also, note any signs of a lowering or flattening in mood.

9. Get your support team together. There are school counselors and peer-support groups. There is also individual and family psychotherapy that is provided through local mental health agencies. You may also want to have your doctor check out the possibility of any medical conditions as a possibility for isolation or depression. If your teen is physically healthy, the next step will be to bring him or her to a mental health professional who specializes in autism spectrum disorders. The therapist will give your adolescent a screening for depression and guide you through treatment options. In addition, you can contact your local clergy for support. But always keep in mind that the most important relationship is the one between you and your teenager. The professionals can assist and guide, but you can influence your son or daughter in a positive way that will have a life-long impact on that parent-child relationship.

==>  Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

10. Help your adolescent to find her talents. Encourage her to join a sport, play a musical instrument, or join a club until she finds something where she excels. Also, teach her that she does not have to be good at everything, but what she settles on should be enjoyable.

11. Help your teenager to stick to his usual sleep schedule and eat regular and healthy meals and snacks.

12. Increase your adolescent's self-esteem. Sadness and isolation can sometimes be linked to low self-esteem. Give your youngster lots of compliments and positive reinforcement for the things she does well, whether that's a good grade on a test, helping out with a younger sibling without being asked, or a beautiful drawing she created. Look for the good things about your adolescent and the positive things she does, and make a big deal about them! An adolescent who feels good about herself is more likely to want to get out of the house and enjoy life.

13. Intervene if you feel your child’s behavior is troubling. He may, for example, be spending increasing periods of time in his room with the door shut and locked. He may even be neglecting his diet, appearance or studies. The best way to intervene may be to sign your child up for a social-skills training group.

14. Model healthy self-esteem. Show your adolescent the importance of self-praise, and avoid becoming self-critical in his or her presence.

15. Open the line of communication. Without being overly pushy, let your teen know you are there if he needs to talk – no matter what the problem is. This may help you to find out if there are any reasons for his isolation (e.g., school-related stress).

16. Praise your adolescent for her efforts – even if she doesn’t reach her goals (e.g., acknowledgment of hard work in her sports attempts or academic efforts). Praise positive behaviors (e.g., making healthy choices, solving tough problems). Also, teach your adolescent how to respond to failure with a healthy attitude.

17. Stay in touch with their child’s teachers and coaches. Being aware of what she is doing and who she is friends with is very important. It also lets her know that she is important to you. Sure, she may complain about you being over-protective, but so what – you are the parent.

18. Suggest that your teenager keep a journal. Writing about her feelings, drawing, and writing poetry are some of the ways she can express herself. Sometimes she may be asked to do this by her therapist as well, and maybe share some of the entries. Often being able to identify and express feelings will improve how your teenager feels.

19. Teach your adolescent to recognize cognitive distortions and replace them with more realistic thoughts. AS and HFA teens with low self-esteem tend to have a distorted view of themselves and the world. Frequently, they expect things to turn out negatively (e.g., "Everyone is going to laugh at me when I give my presentation tomorrow in class”). Other distortions may include self-blame and becoming overly-critical of anything less than perfection.

20. While some moodiness and isolation is normal, it's important to be aware of signs of more serious problems (e.g., depression, suicidal thoughts). Symptoms of depression include frequent sulking, a change in eating or sleeping habits, lack of energy, and talking about death or suicide. If your adolescent shows any of these symptoms, seek help immediately. Call a therapist or your physician right away for instructions on what to do next if you suspect a serious problem.

Isolation increases an AS or HFA teen's risk of developing mental health problems (e.g., depression, chemical dependency). Thus, parents of these teens need to help them improve their self-esteem and social skills by encouraging them to change the way they think – and how they spend their time. This can be accomplished by using the steps listed above.

==>  Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


Steve Borgman said... What a great article. I liked the suggestion of getting one's teen in a volunteer activity, particularly in an activity s/he enjoys, such as something related to animals, if s/he loves animals. Also, I appreciate the suggestion of connecting with one's child when s/he is more relaxed.

D Marcotte said... Nice article. I would like to add a couple of suggestions. 1. If your teen is interacting with others online that should count as social interaction - i.e. chat rooms, websites or whatever. My daughter who is high functioning does very well online and has friends all around the world. 2. Introduce your teen to other teens on the spectrum - we have found this to be very helpful. They seem to really understand each other in a way NT people just don't. Their friendship may not look like what you expect, but that doesn't make it any less real. I would also like to mention a great website for families impacted by autism, www.asd-dr.com is designed to help families find the treatments, therapists and services they need in the local area. It also has a lot of links to online support through links to organizations, forums and other references.

Post your comment below…


Time-Management Problems in Asperger's and HFA Teens

“I have a 17 year old daughter with aspergers. She is a good student (high functioning) now that she is doing her high school online through a public charter school. However, she has no concept of time so she is often cramming at the last minute to finish her assignments. How can I help her manage her time better so that she can do her work without stressing out about it?”

While some teenagers are just natural procrastinators, others, like your daughter, have a genuine problem understanding the concept of time, which is a common trait of Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA).

Online schooling is a great option for AS and HFA adolescents. Removing the classroom distraction will do wonders for your daughter's thought processes. The lessening of sensory over-stimulation, the one-on-one instruction, and no bullies are definite advantages.

However, as a side note, you may want to consider social skills group classes and other social outlets to prevent total isolation. Clubs and community groups that are geared towards her special interests will provide much needed social skills practice in a comfortable environment.

Organization and time-management are weak areas for AS and HFA teens. Since these young people are prone to struggle with depression and anxiety, the addition of poor organizational skills can cause real problems. Organizational skills are crucial for young people. Teachers and college professors expect students to contribute acceptable work in a timely manner. Finding solutions that work now will lead to positive changes and less anxiety in the future.

Here are a few ideas to help your daughter manage her time better:
  • Create a routine. As a teenager on the autism spectrum, your daughter probably craves routine and order. A daily routine will set her on the right path. She may need guidance to develop a routine. Work with her to create a smooth flow to her day.
  • Design an ordered workspace. A designated place for everything, comfortable seating, quiet surroundings, and a calming decor will help reduce distractions. 
  • Use visual schedules. Use lists and reminders to keep your daughter moving along. Encourage her to keep a daily, weekly, and monthly calendar. To do lists, written schedules, and assignment lists will give her the structure she needs to begin organizing her life. 
  • Use visual timers. These timers have a colored line that gets smaller as the time passes, giving your daughter a true visual image of running out of time. Each daily task and/or school subject can be timed with the visual timer.

High school can be very overwhelming for AS and HFA teens. With your guidance and a plan of organization, your daughter is sure to finish high school and move on to college ventures with confidence and control.

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

==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's and HFA Children

==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's and HFA Teens

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and HFA: How to Promote Self-Reliance


High-Functioning Autism and Behavior Problems at School

“I have a 6 year old boy who has yet to be diagnosed but, it is looking as if he has high functioning autism. He is having major behavior problems at school including hitting other classmates and staff. Although there are some behavior problems at home as well, the main problem is when he is in a group situation at school. I need assistance to resolve this as quickly as possible or they have threatened to expel my son.”

First of all, you should have your son tested by a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists (ask for a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation) to determine if he, in fact, has high functioning autism, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, some combination thereof – or something else entirely. You're shooting in the dark for a resolution without a confirmed diagnosis.

Since this issue is rather emergent, I strongly suggest requesting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). If the school is sending home complaints about your son's behavior -- and expecting you to do something about it -- put the ball back in their court by requesting an FBA. This will force the school to really think about your son's behavior rather than simply reacting to it. 

An FBA examines what comes before problematic behavior, what the consequences are for it, what possible function the behavior could serve, and what sorts of things could be setting your son off. If a “special needs” boy or girl finds classwork too hard or a classroom too oppressive, for example, getting sent to the hallway or the principal or home could become a reward, not an effect discipline.

Conducting an FBA – and writing a behavior plan based on it – is probably the best way to head off discipline problems, and it can be a precursor to establishing an IEP. If teachers and other staff refuse to go along with it, you may need to do a little behavior analysis on them.

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


Recently Diagnosed Children with High Functioning Autism: Parents’ Step-by-Step Intervention Plan

Your child has recently been diagnosed with high functioning autism (also called Asperger’s). You are relieved to know that there is a name for the odd twists and turns your child’s life has taken, yet you are also very concerned about how he or she is going to cope with this life-long disorder.

Since you are new to this whole thing, you’re not sure where to start or how to best assist you child. That’s why we have created this step-by-step intervention plan below, to give you a concrete place to begin in helping your son or daughter to have the best possible outcome.

Parents’ Step-by-Step Intervention Plan for Recently Diagnosed Children:

1. Take Care of Yourself-- The first step in helping your child has to be about YOU taking care of YOU. Many moms and dads of kids with high functioning autism and Asperger’s feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and sometimes defeated. They talk about difficulties in their marriage and other relationships. While there is no quick fix for resolving negative emotions, you can take measures to care for yourself so your youngster's disorder does not get in the way of your physical or mental health. The following may seem obvious, but is exceedingly critical to your long-term success in helping your child (this is why we put it first, because you will not be able to be the parent you need to be if you are sick - mentally and physically):
  • Eat a balanced diet and stay at a normal weight. Staying fit and healthy is essential to your physical and mental health.
  • Exercise regularly. Keep up with the physical activities you enjoy.
  • Plan time for a break away from your youngster. Find others (e.g., trusted family members and friends) who can help relieve you from these duties as needed. These breaks can help families communicate in a less stressful manner and can allow moms and dads to focus on their relationships with their other kids. 
  • Review your calendar weekly. In the midst of the many appointments your youngster may have with therapists or other health care professionals, write in "appointments" for yourself and your relationships.
  • Schedule regular dates with your spouse, other kids in the family, and close friends.
  • Seek help if you or your spouse are feeling chronically overwhelmed or depressed, or the stress of caring for your youngster is affecting your marriage.
  • Watch for signs of anger, resentment, or opposition from other kids in the family. Your physician can help you find a qualified therapist to help you figure out the best ways to cope as a family.

2. Find a Support Network-- Parenting a youngster on the autism spectrum is taxing – it affects every part of your being. Making sure your youngster gets the help he or she needs can also pose a challenge, depending on whether quality support services are available in your area. Also, you are likely to have ongoing concerns about your youngster's prognosis and long-term well-being. Thus, you need to find strong social support for yourself and your youngster. Gathering your support network involves knowing ahead of time whom you can call for different types of support, even for emergencies, for example:
  • a friend you enjoy being with and who helps you survive disappointments and shares your victories
  • a neighbor or close friend who will help you out in a pinch
  • your youngster's physician, educators, therapists, or other caregivers you can ask for advice on major decisions regarding his or her treatment
  • a close friend or family member who is a confidant and whom you trust with your most personal feelings and concerns

In addition, plan outings with other parents who have kids with high functioning autism and Asperger’s. There are many parents who share your concerns and daily challenges. Talking openly with these parents can give you new insight and better ways of coping. Local and national groups can help connect families and provide much-needed sources of information. Ask your physician for referrals. Also, join online chat groups for moms and dads of kids with high functioning autism. The more you know about this disorder and the stronger your support network, the more empowered you will be to live confidently, knowing that your youngster can get the help he or she really needs.

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

3. Evaluate Your Youngster's Need for Medication-- While there is no medication for high functioning autism, there are drugs for specific symptoms these children may display:
  • Kids with high functioning autism who have anxiety, depression, or OCD behaviors can often be treated with anti-depressants.
  • Medicines may take a youngster with high functioning autism to a functional level at which they can benefit from other treatments. 
  • Short attention spans can sometimes be improved with stimulant drugs that are used to treat autistic children who also have ADD or ADHD.
  • Some drugs may help prevent self-injury and other behaviors that are causing difficulty. 
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests targeting the main problem behaviors when considering medicines. 
  • The FDA approved Risperdal in 2006 for the treatment of irritability in kids and teens with high functioning autism.
  • Some doctors may advise going off a medicine temporarily in order to identify whether it is having a positive or negative effect on your youngster.

4. Learn All You Can About High Functioning Autism-- Try to become an expert on this disorder. Here's how to start:
  • Become familiar with public policies so you can be your youngster's advocate in gaining the best education and care possible.
  • Communicate with other professionals and moms and dads and learn from those who've crossed this bridge before you as they share insights into common concerns.
  • Make sure that plans (e.g., 504 or IEP) are in place for your youngster to receive therapies at school.
  • Read all you can on high functioning autism so you understand the symptoms and behaviors and the differences in medications or alternative therapies.
  • Talk to your physician about the best treatments and goals for educational services so you and your youngster can take advantage of all available resources.

5. Educate Yourself About Treatment Options-- Experts agree that a youngster with high functioning autism should receive treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible. There is no cure for this disorder, but early intervention using skills training and behavior modification strategies can yield awesome results. Skills training and behavior modification helps with impaired social interaction, communication problems, and repetitive behaviors. Also, these methods can boost the youngster's chances of being productive at school and participating in normal activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following approaches for helping a youngster with high functioning autism improve overall function and reach his or her potential:
  • Behavioral training and management uses positive reinforcement, self-help, and social skills training to improve behavior and communication. Many types of treatments have been developed, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Kids (TEACCH), and sensory integration.
  • Occupational and physical therapy can help improve any deficiencies in coordination, muscle tone, and motor skills. Occupational therapy may also help a youngster with high functioning autism to learn to process information from the senses (i.e., sight, sound, hearing, touch, and smell) in more manageable ways. It can also help in performing normal activities of daily living.
  • Specialized therapies include speech, occupational, and physical therapy. These therapies are important components of managing high functioning autism and should all be included in various aspects of your youngster's treatment program.
  • Speech therapy can help your youngster improve language and social skills to communicate more effectively.

6. Look Into Necessary Dietary Changes-- Diet changes are based on the idea that food allergies cause symptoms of high functioning autism. Also, an insufficiency of a specific vitamin or mineral may cause some autistic symptoms. If you decide to try a specialized diet for a given period of time, be sure you talk to your doctor. Your youngster's nutritional status must be assessed and carefully measured. 

One diet that some moms and dads have found helpful is a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. Gluten is a casein-like substance found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley. Casein is the principal protein in dairy products. The theory of the GFCF diet is that these proteins result in an overproduction of opiates in the brain, contributing to social awkwardness and thwarting brain maturation in kids on the autism spectrum. Since gluten and milk are found in a lot of foods, following a gluten-free, casein-free diet is extremely difficult. Also, one supplement some moms and dads feel is helpful for their youngster with high functioning autism is vitamin B-6, which is taken with a magnesium supplement.

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

7. Consider Behavioral Training-- Behavioral training teaches children with high functioning autism how to communicate appropriately. This kind of training may reduce behavior problems and improve adaptation skills. Both behavioral training and behavioral management use positive reinforcement to improve behavior. These therapies also use social skills training to improve communication. The specific program should be chosen according to your youngster's needs. Consistent use of these behavioral interventions produces the best results. The youngster's functional abilities, behavior, and daily environment should be thoroughly assessed before behavioral training and management begins. Moms and dads, other family members, and educators should all be trained in these techniques, if possible.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is uniformly recommended by experts. The goal of behavior therapy programs is to reinforce desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable ones. For example, the youngster is taught to perform tasks in a series of simple steps and is given a predictable schedule. The behavioral therapy is then continued at home. Often times, both behavioral therapy and occupational therapy are given at the same time.

8. Educate Other Family Members-- Many mothers of children with high functioning autism talk about feeling isolated. Once the youngster is diagnosed, mothers often find that family members stop asking about the youngster, or the youngster is left out of birthday parties or other family gatherings.

Sometimes spouses and siblings admit to feeling stressed, lonely, and even angry because all attention is focused on the youngster with high functioning autism. While these feelings are natural, you can help your family members cope by educating them about high functioning autism and your youngster's specific needs.

Training family members about high functioning autism and how to effectively manage the symptoms has been shown to reduce family stress and improve the functioning of the youngster with high functioning autism. Some families will need more outside assistance than others, depending on their resiliency, established support systems, and financial situation.

In conclusion, be assured that this journey will be both demanding and rewarding. Raising a youngster with high functioning autism is the ultimate parenting challenge. But with the necessary support and ongoing training, you and your family can learn how to cope and work as a team. Parents of a child with high functioning autism talk about having very close relationships with him or her as they organize his or her therapy, hire specialists, purchase supplies, and act as his or her advocate to receive the best treatment. The biggest payoff comes from a unique bond you can have with your youngster and the joy you receive with every developmental accomplishment.


•    Anonymous said…  My son (14) was on meds for 5 years and just last year I had him evaluated by an innovative health doctor and had a full blood work up done and he had some major deficiencies and was placed on high potency natural supplements and is completely off meds. I'm not saying it will work for everyone but he's been so much better. I had a therapist say something like this to me and I'll leave you with this... If your daughters kidneys were not working properly would you give her medicine to help their function? If the brain chemistry isn't working properly maybe it needs something to function better. And since I've done both... Maybe it's something we are just lacking that can correct that chemistry. Hope this helps.
•    Anonymous said… A heavy metals detox! Which you can do at home. That's a HUGE one
•    Anonymous said… did you notice an increase in inattention with the Zoloft? I did with my daughter and stopped it
•    Anonymous said… Great idea to take time for yourself, and spend time with spouse and other children but in reality it doesn't happen.
•    Anonymous said… Has anyone had success not putting their aspie with anxiety on meds? My daughter's (13) drs suggest meds for her and I'm not convinced. I'm very reticent on messing with her brain chemistry.
•    Anonymous said… I understand sometimes it is very necessary but how can you be sure the is a chemical issue without tests? I have many friends who work is the child phsycology field who see the negative parts of medicine that out scares me. How long before you can see a difference with just therapy alone? My girl has made an improvment with therapy. She finally tried something new. She had me sign her up for a cheerleadeing class. She doesn't talk or look at them but she makes it in the door. That is a big deal for her
•    Anonymous said… I was bullied into medicating my son from the school... After taking these meds for a period of time , he developed turettes .. I took him off them and eventually it subsided .. Sometimes your better knowing what your dealing with .
•    Anonymous said… I would say no a child phycologist will help them much better.. medication just masks the problem but doesn't really deal with it properly and so many side effects or health problems from them down the line..I would definitely try more natural ways..diet screen time sleep etc it all really helps.
•    Anonymous said… Medical cannabis oil, folks! That paired with therapy is what's life saving. As long as everyone votes the cure into office, its the cure to SOOO MANY things. Very much including autism. And something I learned... Is YOU need to provide all these services, if they aren't available to you for whatever reason. Do your research folks. :) YOU can help your child. YOU can be therapy for your child. The diet has A LOT to do with their behavior and anxiety.  You are able to spend time with your spouse and other children. You just have to be smart with your time. And seriously, diet adjusted, great therapy, and not allowing the autism to be an excuse...you can live a normal life... Well, close to it. But what's really normal?
•    Anonymous said… My son just diagnosed last April - just starting therapy August 30 ~ I have a comment for both comments - first one about asd results- yes they did take Asperger diagnosis away here as well and now grade by numbers 1-3 - 3 being more severe- I came out and ask what he is considered- she said - yes hfa/ Asperger - on one category he was rated at a 1 other category 2- they gave me a copy of Dsm-5 - so maybe that will help- then you can go look up your test results to see how he was scored- a lot of good speakers are out there- I have learned so much but still so much to learn-next question about meds- I wonder same thing- I've fought so hard not to give anything but my sweet boy says things daily against hisself - 😰- there's not one day now especially now that school is back in that he doesn't put hisself down or even threats to hisself-I'm feeling like lately I'm doing more harm than good- the first 2 days of school he just wanted to come home- he was sent to nurse to talk to nurses- pretty much we made the decision to make him stay- not even knowing if that was really what I should do- then finally he's been staying- so I ask him to night - you are happy now right? He says no- im really not happy- I just miss my home- and you and I still just don't want to be with those kids all day- so in his heart he's no better- he's just suppressing- and being forced into that situation- I just don't know what to do anymore- I'm so upset tonight- just feel broke - - maybe I'm hurting him so much more by not getting him on medication to help this anxiety and depression- he's just not being helped right now- 😓
•    Anonymous said… My son takes zoloft and it works great
•    Anonymous said… My son was diagnosed last September and the specialist told me they only diagnose now with ASD. None specific, I was annoyed as o need to know they name to find the right strategies.
•    Anonymous said… My sons school kept throwing it out there that meds would be helpful. (He's 8) I said no. Even his Dr's have said no so far. The school just doesn't want to deal with him. I won't put him on anything until it's absolutely needed.
•    Anonymous said… Struggling to find these services.
•    Anonymous said… That's v frustrating for you. I don't like labels generally but they can be helpful. The blanket term of ASD has been used since DSM 5 (2013). The latest changes to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual was most dramatic with regard to ASD. You might try asking your doctors what the diagnosis used to be called eg "Before DSM 5, would this have been Aspergers" for example. ! Try googling the subject and see what comes up - if you acquaint yourself with some of the terminology and commentary it will help you feel more equipped and better able to undretsand whatthe doctors are saying. Hope this is helpful.All the best.
•    Anonymous said… The diet has nothing to do with a food allergy besides that is poison for the body period! Heavy metals detox followed up with a gluten and casien free diet. High in B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. Huge behavioral changes. Huge anxiety relief.

•    Anonymous said… Very useful post. We're recently diagnosed too and I have so much to learn, it's overwhelming!
•    Anonymous said… Don't medicate them full stop I know 1st hand what medication does to your mind and body and it's not a good thing giving it to your child is ignorant and lazy.

Post your comment below…

Acts of Violence in Teens with Asperger’s

Reports that some of the recent school shootings may have been committed by young people with Asperger’s have led many to wonder whether the disorder plays a role in such acts of violence (e.g., the Adam Lanza case in which 20 children and six adults lost their lives at a Connecticut elementary school).

While experts strongly believe that Asperger's does not make a young person more likely to commit a violent crime, some believe it may affect the way a crime is carried out. Also, while experts agree that individuals with Asperger’s are not more likely to commit violent crimes than members of the general population, they do say that, in very rare cases, it can happen.

People who commit crimes usually do it for some kind of concrete reward (e.g., money, sex or drugs). That’s not the case in teens on the autism spectrum. In cases involving these teens, the motives are very different. The motive of the violent act is to communicate that the teen himself is very offended. Other people have treated him in a very bad way. He wants revenge, and he wants to communicate that on a very global level to lots of people. But, we need to understand four very important points here:
  1. Violence among individuals with Asperger’s is exceedingly rare.
  2. Studies have revealed that 84% of violent offenders with autism also have co-existing psychiatric disorders at the time they commit acts of violence.
  3. Also, there is no evidence that Asperger’s - alone - contributes to violent behavior. In fact, due to their lack of social skills, general naiveté, and odd behavior that gets them bullied and ostracized from their peer-group, Asperger’s teens usually end up being the victim rather than the perpetrator.
  4. Lastly, in the Sandy Hook tragedy, Adam Lanza’s violent attack was preplanned and deliberate. But there is no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and “planned” violence. Aggression and violence in people on the autism spectrum is reactive, not preplanned and deliberate. For example, sometimes Asperger’s kids will get violent because they are sick or frustrated and unable to communicate how they feel.

To imply or suggest that some linkage exists between school shootings and Asperger’s is wrong, and it’s harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and people who live with autism each day.


The Truth About "Acts of Violence" in People with Asperger's

Reports that some of the recent school shootings may have been committed by young people with Asperger's (high functioning autism) have led many to wonder whether the disorder plays a role in such acts of violence (e.g., the Adam Lanza case in which 20 children and six adults lost their lives at a Connecticut elementary school). 

Best Comments: 
  •  Anonymous said... Thanks for sharing this! Every time more info comes out about the Sandy Hook killer, (like the recent interview with his father), the ignorance about Asperger's, ASD and mental illness come out too.
  • Anonymous said... I was once told that my son would become one of the "columbine-type" of people. this was two years ago when he was 7. I was stunned and angry that this person would make that assumption.


Q & A on High-Functioning Autism: What Parents and Teachers Should Know

Why is this disorder referred to as “high functioning”?

High Functioning Autism (HFA), previously referred to as Asperger’s, is a term applied to children on the autism spectrum who are deemed to be functioning at a higher cognitive level (IQ>70) than other children on the spectrum.

Is there a difference between High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s?

The amount of overlap between HFA and Asperger’s is disputed. While some researchers agree that the two are distinct diagnoses, others argue that they are identical. On the other hand, the term HFA may be used by some researchers to refer to all autism spectrum disorders deemed to be cognitively higher functioning, including Asperger’s, especially in light of the removal of Asperger’s as a separate diagnostic from the DSM-5.

HFA is characterized by traits very similar to those of Asperger’s. The defining characteristic most widely recognized by professionals is a significant delay in the development of early speech and language skills before the age of 3. The diagnostic criteria of Asperger’s exclude a general language delay. Additional differences in traits between children with HFA and those with Asperger’s may include the following…

In contrast to those with Asperger’s, HFA children:

  • are less empathic
  • have a lower verbal intelligence quotient
  • have better visual/spatial skills (higher Performance IQ) 
  • have less deviating locomotion (i.e., clumsiness)
  • have more curiosity and interest for many different things
  • have more problems functioning independently

Also, the male to female ratio of 4:1 for HFA is much smaller than that of Asperger’s.

What are some of the other conditions that may coexist with HFA?

There are several comorbidities (i.e., the presence of one or more disorders in addition to the primary disorder) associated with HFA. Several of these comorbid symptoms are internalized within the child affected by HFA. Some of these include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In particular, the link between HFA and OCD has been studied. When observing the connection between HFA and OCD, both have abnormalities associated with serotonin.

Several other comorbidities associated with HFA are external. These external symptoms include ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, and criminal behavior. While the association between HFA and criminal behavior is not completely discerned, several studies have shown that the traits associated with HFA may increase the possibility of engaging in criminal behavior. While more research is needed, recent studies on the correlation between HFA and criminal actions suggest that there is a need to understand the attributes of HFA that may lead to violent behavior. There have been several case studies that link the lack of empathy and social naïveté associated with HFA to criminal actions.

Do we know what causes High Functioning Autism?

Although little is known concerning the biological basis of HFA, there have been many studies revealing structural abnormalities in specific brain regions of children with HFA when compared to typically developing children. Regions identified in the social brain include the amygdala, superior temporal sulcus, fusiform gyrus area, and orbitofrontal cortex. Additional abnormalities have been observed in the caudate nucleus, believed to be involved in restrictive behaviors, as well as in a significant increase in amount of cortical grey matter and atypical connectivity between brain regions.

What are some of the telltale signs that a child has HFA?

The main signs of HFA include the following:
  • Insistence on routine: HFA children have an attachment to certain routines or rituals and demonstrate frustration when these can’t be accomplished.
  • Language problems: HFA kids have difficulty understanding how others use language. For example, they have trouble comprehending metaphors, figures of speech, irony, humor and sarcasm. Also, the language spoken by others is taken in its literal form.
  • Mind-blindness: HFA children have a lack of awareness of the emotions of others.
  • Social awkwardness: Unlike other forms of autism, most children with HFA have the desire to interact with others, but do not have the ability to do so appropriately. A significant sign of the presence of HFA is the attempt to interact with peers, but in offensive or abnormal ways. These young people lack the ability to learn from the interactions of others or change their behaviors based on social cues given by others.
  • In addition, HFA children have difficulty reading body language and other non-verbal information given off by others, and they may have inappropriate displays of emotion.

Why is HFA hard to diagnose in some children?

HFA is much harder to spot than regular forms of autism because the child can pass with limited problems due to his or her normal - or higher than normal - intelligence levels. However, there are certain things that can be looked for if the presence of this high functioning form of autism is suspected: Look for the child to have an intense passion about a couple specific topics, determine if he or she has the ability to engage in small talk, and watch for how he or she handles conflict – because if autism is present, the child will not handle conflict well.

How is a child diagnosed with this disorder?

A diagnosis is based on the physician's assessment of the youngster's symptoms in three areas:
  1. Interests in activities, objects, or specialized information (e.g., playing with only a part of a toy or being obsessed with a particular topic)
  2. Social interactions (e.g., lack of eye contact or an inability to understand another person's feelings)
  3. Verbal and non-verbal communication (e.g., not speaking or repeating a phrase over and over again)

The physician may gather information about these areas by:
  • Seeking a speech and language assessment
  • Requesting physical, neurological, developmental, or genetic testing
  • Observing the youngster's behavior
  • Interviewing moms and dads and others who have frequent contact with the youngster
  • Establishing the history of the youngster's development
  • Conducting psychological testing

In addition, the physician may request tests to rule out other causes of the behavior (e.g., hearing problems).

Cases of HFA are typically diagnosed by 35 months of age (much earlier than those of Asperger’s). This may be due to the early delay in speech and language. While there is no standard diagnostic measure for HFA, one of the most commonly used tools for early detection is the Social Communication Questionnaire. If the results of the test indicate an autism spectrum disorder, a comprehensive evaluation follows and leads to the diagnosis of HFA. Some traits used to diagnose a child on the autism spectrum include a lack of eye contact, pointing, and severe deficits in social interactions. The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule are two evaluations utilized in the standard diagnosis process.

Do all children with HFA have similar social-interaction styles?

There are two classifications of different social interaction styles associated with HFA. The first social interaction type is a “passive” style. This aloof style is characterized by the lack of social initiations and could possibly be caused by social anxiety. The second is an “active-but-odd” social interaction style classified by ADHD symptoms, poor executive functioning, and psychosocial problems. The difficulty controlling impulses may cause the active-but-odd social behaviors present in some kids with HFA.

How is High-Functioning Autism Treated?

HFA can be treated with a variety of therapies. Behavioral training is the primary method used to help HFA children overcome problems with social interaction. Here are therapies that are often used:
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): This is a method of rewarding appropriate social behavior and communication skills. This method is based on the theory that rewarding behavior encourages it to continue.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): Treatment for HFA often involves addressing the individual symptoms. For example, to treat anxiety, the main treatment is cognitive behavior therapy. While this is the approved treatment for anxiety in general, it may not meet all the needs specifically associated with the symptoms of HFA, because there is little attention given to the parent's role in anxiety intervention and prevention. A revised version of cognitive behavior therapy has moms and dads and educators acting in a role as social coaches to help HFA kids and teens to cope with the issues they are facing. The involvement of the parent in the life of the youngster affected by anxiety associated with HFA is extremely valuable.
  • Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH): This is a structured way of teaching communication and coping skills. The system uses the youngster's strengths in memorization and visual skills.
  • Other treatments may be recommended based on the youngster's needs. These include: (a) speech and language therapy to help with communication and language development; (b) social skills therapy to work on language and social issues in the context of a typical group interaction; (c) physical or occupational therapy for assistance with motor skills; and (d) medications to treat obsessive behaviors, anxiety, inattention, hyperactivity, and depression.

Are there any techniques to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with HFA?

While no single effective intervention exists for children with HFA, there are some proactive strategies (e.g., self-management) designed to maintain or change the child’s behavior to make living with HFA easier. Self-management techniques provide the child with the skills necessary to self-regulate his or her own behavior, leading to greater levels of independence. Improving self-management skills allows the child to be more self-reliant rather than having to rely on external sources for supervision or control. Self-monitoring is a framework, not a rigid structure, designed to encourage independence and self-control. A framework for self-monitoring may include:
  • Setting goals and keeping them
  • Identifying positive target behaviors 
  • Establishing alternative behaviors that are constructive
  • Establishing a self-recording sheet

The goal of self-monitoring is to have the child obtain the self-monitoring skills independently without prompting.

Online Parent Coaching: Help for Parents with Children on the Autism Spectrum

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for March, 2014]

Got Questions? Join Online Parent Coaching for all the answers!


Hi Mark

I just thought I'd feed back to you how spot on you are with your descriptions even though you say they are general. I wanted to ask specific advice on how to deal with my situation if that's ok with you.  As in my first email I explained that Dom, my partner walked out on me as I would not allow him to drink any longer.  He became alcoholic over some years. He went homeless, then for last six weeks has been in dry house 4 hours away from me. He has become settled there and they are going to rehouse him in that area.  He's now started up drawing, and going to college studying forestry management and is doing well.

He got back in touch with me via fb, and we have had the odd conversation on the phone.  He's concentrating on himself and I am doing the same with myself. He's also going to do a weekend course on ASD. I'd always said to him that I believed he was aspergers albeit mild, but he never got a diagnosis. I worked at a school for students with severe autism. I read the book by Rudy Simone and it was so like him and me. I think he blames me saying I'm too controlling. He hasn't got to the point of saying sorry, I have. I have mentioned that there is no blame, that we are who we are and if we want it to work then we need to forgive and leave the past behind. But he can't think of what he feels for me now.  He's just putting himself first and when I suggested that sometime in the future maybe I could come and visit him when he's settled he said he's not looking that far ahead, just as far as the weekend where he's going to watch a film. I'm wanting to know where I fit into his life now, and whether we have a future together, whether he sees us now as split up and just friends and it's so difficult to just get these answers from him.  I'm in recovery from a major sacral and lumbar fusion on my back which is going to take the best part of this year to recover from.  He doesn't ask about how I'm doing, or what I'm doing.  I have to say, now do you want to hear what I'm doing? And he then says, yep, fire away. Does this man really want to be just friends with me and no relationship any longer? He sent me via fb a song to listen to by The Script called 'sitting on the corner', now if you know those words in that song it doesn't add up to what he behaves like on messages and the phone.  I do get confused and don't want to hurt him so am always watching how I word things to him.

I know this is only a snippet of our complex lives but here's hoping you have some suggestions.  Should I stop messaging him for a bit and only reply to his messages?  I really just want a simple life and once we were just so easy together and life was just nice living with him but it got messy with the drinking.


RE: Does this man really want to be just friends with me and no relationship any longer?

As much as I hate to say it - I think he's done with the relationship. He is either engaging in emotional blackmail (emotional blackmailers lack the empathy for others that they expect others to show for them), or he wants to break up but doesn't have the balls to come right out and say - which holds you hostage. Either way - he wins.

RE: Should I stop messaging him for a bit and only reply to his messages.

I think so. In the meantime, I would be thinking about moving on. Seriously.


I'm not sure what to do about this.  My daughter is a 14 year old high functioning autistic girl.  It is very hard making for her to make friends.  This is due to lack of eye contact, and budding in at the wrong time.  She does have 1 person she talks to her a lot, but she at times is very rude to her, but she doesn't want to part the friendship because she feels she will not be able to find someone who half way understands her.  How can I help her in this existing in a neurotypical world?


Hi, I am a parent of a 32 year old woman who has a masters degree but is unable to retain a job more than a year or so. She makes people "uncomfortable" with her odd aspergers ways. Personal space, lack of initiative, inappropriate comments etc. will this ever end? It seems to be getting worse. Thankfully she has a supportive boyfriend she lives with but we dread it if that should end somehow. Even he says she shouldn't work with people at her job. But it's unavoidable to work with people. I am feeling more like a counselor than a parent at this stage. Do you have advice for helping older adult asperger females keep a job?


My son is now 12 years old, and I should have been taking him to church to learn about God and how one should live their life. I don't know why it has taken me so long to ask questions about this, but I do recall the reason I previously had avoided the issue: my ex husband (from the beginning of our divorce) has almost always been purposefully & nonsensically oppositional. I did not want to pave the way for possible opposition about religious beliefs during Koby's early childhood. We were in a counseling session during the early stages of our divorce, and the counselor asked us in which faith Koby would be brought up. I said Baptist (which is the kind of church that we attended regularly as a family), and he said that (even though he'd converted to Baptist) he was raised Lutheran. I decided to steer clear of the specificities of the topic; I felt like the differences in the two denominations would confuse Koby and have a possibly negative effect if he'd been told one thing on one weekend and something different the next. I knew that if I pressed the issue of determining the "this or that. "  it would elicit competitive behavior. So, I suggested that we should just agree to raise our son as a Christian. I predicted that time would move this issue to the back-burner for my ex. So, now I think way more than enough time has passed for this to be an "okay situation," for he is now old enough to understand.   Also, I read somewhere (don't remember where) that the appropriate approach to Religion with Aspies is that one should focus on "goodness." 


Dr. Hutten:  My husband and I are grandparents of a grandson who is currently 8.  We have always known he was a bit different.  I have been doing some reading on line and strongly think he has Asperger's syndrome, as he portrays many of the symptoms, or something similar to this.  He will not look at you when you are talking to him.  If he is not winning a game, he will quit and walk away.  It always seems to be about him.  We have to explain any situation to him regarding interactions.  An example would be if you run over my dog equipment with your four wheeler, it can damage it.  He is young for his age, has no friends.  He just does not seem to get social interaction. 
My question is what would be the best book/information/etc. we can read or get to help him.  His mother has asked we spend more time with him as when he comes home from our house he seems to be more independent for a bit.  It doesn't last long she says.  We want to help him be the most successful he can be for the future.  She is seeing a behavioral therapist this month so I think she is finally coming to grips that he needs some help.  So what can we do to help him the most?  



Thank you for your last reply.  We have noticed a tremendous difference in our son when he visits on the weekends.  He has stated eating while at home, but still continues to eat very little at college, mostly snacking and drinking coffee.  Unfortunately, he is still in a state of depression and refuses to take medication or seek counseling.  He sleeps until noon on the weekends and does very little after he gets up.  Although, he does spend time with friends when they are in town visiting (good Christian buddies).  He shows little to no motivation while he is at home and does not want to discuss anything (college, a roommate for next year, his previous relationship, activities at college, a job, his health, his well being) .  The real problem is when he returns to college.  He attends classes and does his homework, but spends the rest of his time in his room alone.  When we call him, he does not contribute to conversation; only answering with one or two words: yes, no, nothing much.  He has no friends and occasionally talks of loneliness when he talks at all.  It is a large campus with virtually every kind of activity imaginable.  He chooses to do nothing and isolate himself in his room.  We hear him change overnight upon his return to school.  My question is, “how can we motivate him to treat his depression and get involved?”


RE: “how can we motivate him to treat his depression and get involved?”
You can't. If you could, you would have done it by now. The best way to approach this is to (a) let this be your son's issue (the more responsibility you take for this, the less he will take - it's an ownership issue), and (b) give him permission to live his life however he wants. This is called a paradoxical approach. You are, in a sense, doing the opposite of what you want to do (i.e., you want to work at "fixing" him - but instead, you are doing nothing).
Aspies need a lot of down-time. He's not just hiding in his room, he is recharging his battery. Believe me when I say that, if he were forced to be out and about socializing all day, he wouldn't last a week in that scenario. His isolation is much more than isolating, it is a form of taking care of himself. You need to understand that rather than looking at it as "wrong." It's not ideal, but it is the next best option. Support him in this, and you may see a difference in his level of depression.



I have a teen with aspergers, a client of mine, who was sexually abused. Now we're having a lot of personal space issues. He touches boys inappropriately, and most recently kissed a woman on the cheek.  I'm an occupational therapist. Obviously there's more here going on than sensory, with the abuse history. Suggestions for anything I can do on my end?


My 16 y.o. son has been suspended from his christian school for telling another student that he is a sociopath who sometimes thinks about killing people.  He is in therapy and being treated for ADHD and depression.  I don't know what to do or where to turn.  Is there testing that can be done that determines whether or not someone is what he claims to be?  I am afraid expulsion is next. I have sent an email to the psych.(just today) and left a message with his therapist (yesterday).  The school disciplinarian(assistant headmaster) is still investigating and keeping me updated.  Any advice or direction that you can give would be much appreciated.  Thank you.


Hi Mark,
I believe my partner has Aspergers, however he is undiagnosed and unlikely to get assessed.  He is 49 years old and has held a very executive role in Banking.  Unfortunately he underwent surgery in 2000 and as a result it created more health problems, namely headache pain and migraines.  Subsequently he retired 2005 at age 40.  
I live in Sydney Australia and am wondering if you know of any support groups that I could attend in Sydney?  I am very stressed as a result and need support as our relationship is becoming very strained.  I often think about how different my life would be without the complications of his health condition and his misuse and overuse of pain medication, along with his nightly wine intake (1/2 – 1 bottle of wine) and yet I cannot leave.  I do love him!
I am burnt out and I have been with him for almost 4 years dealing with his addictions.  Since realising he is an Aspie I now understand the reasons for him abusing pain medication and alcohol, and why change has been extremely difficult.  I know there is still a lot for me to learn however I cannot find any information directly relating to Aspergers and drugs/alcohol.  I would appreciate your direction and any of your own personal thoughts and suggestions on this specific issue so that I can approach a variety of situations with a more positive approach for the benefit of us both as I am almost ready to walk away due to exhaustion. 


Hi Mark,
My son is 9 years old with HFA. Recently, we have noticed that he becomes escalated or upset (crying, yelling, covers his ears) when people use certain words. Examples are plasma, algebra, pregnant, sob/sobbed, and the list goes on. I am unable to find any pattern to these words to explain his aversion/anxiety. When asked, he only says because they are "stupid words". To help decrease his anxiety at school with this, I made a "Book of Silly Words" for him to take to school. Every time he heard someone say a word he didn't like, he was to write it down and bring it home. I would make a silly sentence using the word, (i.e. When mom goes to the lake, she gets alge in her bra = algebra). This worked for about a week. He is fine with words like bobbed or robbed (i.e. sounds similar to sobbed), so it can't be the sound. He also knows the meaning to these words. He is comfortable with someone being pregnant, although he refers to it as "bun in the oven" because he hates the word "pregnant".
He also has a problem doing worksheets at school that contain word problems with names. Staff have to cross out the names. He is fine with some names and his explanation to this is that he knows someone with that name. So it almost sounds like, he is able to visualize the person in the word problem and has difficulty doing a word problem that contains a name where he is unable to visualize "who" this is and therefore interferes with his ability to complete the problem.
Have you ever seen or heard of something like this? Nobody can give me and answer to this problem and I need to help him learn to cope since obviously people will always talk and have no way of knowing what words he does not like.



Realizing you can not make an individual diagnosis, please can you tell me if it even is possible for a child who was profoundly communicative young may have Aspergers/High-Functioning autism?

My fourteen-year-old-daughter has many of the typical symptoms which other parents find unbelievable when they ear or witness them. As an infant, however, Grace responded and initiated interactions using facial/eye/body/sound communication and taught herself to read by age four (with proper dramatic intonations etc.) Sharing feelings or personal experiences never became part of her otherwise highly verbal personality. 

Listing her many unusual behaviors seems unnecessary, but currently the most problematic is depression/anxiety resulting in huge troubles attending school.


Dear Mr. Hutten,
I'm the parent of a 9 year old who was recently diagnosed with Asperger's, and I've found your articles and website to be an outstanding resource.  Every email, every article is right on target.  I can't tell you how helpful that is.

Wasn't sure if you've ever addressed this situation:

How do you get a child with Asperger's to accept help?  My daughter needs a social skills group to learn appropriate behaviors but she gets highly agitated at any mention of therapy.  It makes her feel like she's "broken" or damaged and needs to be fixed, and she flat out refuses to go.    

Any advice is appreciated...


Hi Mark,

Thank you SO MUCH for offering me some help!  My son has been defiant for over 4 years.  It has been a VERY LONG and rough road for me and my daughter...and my son!  (My husband isn't home much and is in denial about the problems and BLAMES ME!--I'm in the process of calling a mediator & divorcing him).  I started taking my son, Brian, to neurologists, psychiatrists, counseling, a neuropsychologist(recently) and I get diagnoses of Asperger's, no ADD, yes ADD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  We've spent thousands of dollars trying to get help.  Two doctors don't agree that he has Asperger's, but that was his first diagnosis at 7years old.

My biggest problem is that my son won't (or IS NOT ABLE...that's a possibility) to do anything I ask the 1st or the 8th time I ask him!  He doesn't "get to it" until I tell him sternly, "I'm setting the timer for 3 minutes.  If you are not dressed by the time it goes off,  then you'll lose T.V. for 2 hours", for example.  Then, my son's response is, "You're mean" or "Geese...I was just starting to do that!"  It is EXTREMELY frustrating!!!  Homework is a HUGE nightmare!!!  He can't "get to the table" to do it!!  My relationship with my child has not been the loving, calm, nice relationship like I have with my 11 year-old daughter!  It is VERY upsetting and frustrating to live this way!!--My daughter is frustrated also!!  I feel SO BAD for her...she's right in the middle of this mess--mostly because they play together and she is a VERY good, caring sister to him.  I know Brian loves me (I do feel that he thinks I hate him since I'm always yelling and giving him consequences), but the interactions on a daily basis are strained because he never does anything I ask.  My son gets almost irate at times(Thank God he only slapped me once or twice)...I am learning that when he gets irate and angry, he is overwhelmed/over-loaded and I try to diffuse the situation by telling him, "I understand you're having trouble.  Go calm down on the couch or in your room for a few minutes".  I also reassure him that "It's OK!"   

I made the psychiatrist put my son on ADD medicine, but at the follow-up visit my husband wouldn't agree to keep him on the medicine (when I saw that he needed the dose to be increased!)  My son also has anxiety to new people and places and sensory issues--he wants me to lay on his back, pull his toes, and it hurts him if I "pull" his skin as I hug or pick him up.  He's also not very affectionate...I am coming to the realization that I am ASKING FOR  a hug/kiss, or I initiate the cuddling.

I do see where my son is "a loner", somewhat.  He is very smart and has his own interests.  He "thinks outside the box" and finds his own ways to have fun.  If he doesn't want to do something, he's NOT doing it!  It's hard to watch him not be "with the group" and the doctors differ on WHAT is causing him to not be with the group.  The neurologist points to the autism, and the neuropsychologist pointed to inattentiveness as being the issue.

I don't know if my son has dyslexia, Asperger's, ADD, a processing disorder, or sensory integration disorder.  I have spent probably 200 hours on the computer learning, reading, printing out articles, etc.  And I still don't know HOW TO HELP MY SON!!


Our son has every single 'characteristic' and then some as described on your website.
Here is my million dollar question for you and some insight:
I'm a divorced 44 yr old mom with an extremely bitter and resentful ex who's been letting our son be in control and make all the decisions. From what I believe, our son is putting BOTH households in total turmoil though my ex is just now coming around to finally admitting same. BUT....my ex refuses to co parent, so we can get our son under control. Our son gets to decide when he WANTS TO come stay at my house because my ex gave him that power to make that decision.... my household has the many rules contrary to my ex's. 

It's gone as far as Childnet now being involved in my ex's life since he thought it'd be a fun experiment to grow marijuana plants at his house as our son faces juvenile charges and is right now suspended from school yet again for smoking pot on school property. Our son is at risk of facing expulsion the next time.

Hello Mr. Hutton,
Thank you so much for the invite and the newsletter. In fact, I would love your input on a couple of things.
First off, I have a 9 year old that is in process of getting diagnosed with ADHD. I suspect she was high functioning
autistic, prior to cleaning up her diet at the age of 4, after discovering that she had massive food allergies and
asthma. Although I've seen lots of improvement in her brain function and behavior, as a single, homeschooling
mother it is a daily challenge to keep her on track and focused.
In addition, I have been doing a lot of research around ADHD, Autism, Asthma and Allergies, what Dr.
Kenneth Bock calls the 4A disorders. I'm in the process of launching a support group for parents
whose children suffer from these disorders.  I studied holistic nutrition and my main focus is
diet and supplements.
In the midst of my research, I have become very certain that I too am an undiagnosed sufferer of ADHD
and that I've merely learned how to navigate life in spite of it. My problem is how does one
properly raise an ADHD child as an ADHD parent. Do you have any resources? I feel at a loss
without the proper tools and my daughter and I are having daily battles. She is a very strong willed,
with a defiant personality that has me worn out and frustrated most of the time.
If you have any input that could possibly help, I would be so grateful!
Thank you so much for your time and effort!


I am 42 years old and I have beta brain waves of 46 and my neuropsychologist says my
QEEG shows my social center of my brain is not turned on.  He says this is an autism/aspergers brain wave spectrum issue.  I have been trying to get help for 12 years....I am an RN that can't get along with my peers well enough to keep a job.  I don't read faces or remember them, don't get social jokes etc....I feel everything so intensely emotionally.  I am finally being tested and my Dr. thinks I have autism.

As a 42 year old with massive counseling in CBT and Emotional Regulation.....this does nothing for my social skills.  Do you have a program for adults and if not would you please make one available.  The Autism Society, Autism Speaks and other groups are very deficient in Adults with Autism services.

We need help as Adults who have functioned high enough to get by but really are very disabled.

Please send me any info that you many have.

Thank you----a struggling adult.



I came across your page while looking for parenting support with my 12 y.o. Daughter. I am not sure if your approach is what I am after. I was hoping you could take a minute to read a bit about my situation and see if you may be able to help.

My trouble with my daughter began when I separated from my ex-husband 2 1/2 years ago. She was 10. My ex was emotionally abusive and very controlling. I took the blame for the separation saying that I didn't want to be with him anymore.

I had always been close with my daughter and my ex had not really wanted to be a hands on parent. He worked long hours and resented having to help with the kids (I have an 8y.o. As well) After the separation my eldest really took sides with my ex and blamed me for breaking up the family. She became very defiant and disrespectful towards me and my ex revelled in this as a way to get pay back at me for leaving him.

So much has happened since. In a very brief description: She ran away to be with him and he cut me off from seeing her for 12 months. DHS removed her from his care due to concerns about sexual abuse as she was displaying concerning behaviour. Also because when I met my ex he was 29 and I was 13. He managed to turn me against my mum at this time as well.

When she was removed from his care she became very aggressive and was out of control. We had physical confrontations, she said horrible things and physically lashed out at me. I the end I hit back at which point I knew this couldn't continue. I requested that she be put in to foster care as I couldn't manage her behaviour. We had counselling and we worked out many things. My daughter gradually spent more and more time with me until she was returned to my care. The kids were stopped from seeing their father for about 6 months and slowly re introduced to him as well. They now spend every second weekend with him. Things had settled down and were going quite well.

Recently the police contacted my ex as I had pressed criminal charges against him for the fact that I was underage when we started sleeping together. It has taken over 12 months for the charges to be investigated and come to a head. Once my ex was served the trouble with my daughter started again. I am not sure what he has told her but she has become very angry and defiant again. I am trying to discipline her as she refuses to help around the house and she calls me names (asshole, prick, whore) and tells me that it's my job as a mum to do all those things. Last night things escalated again as I tried to take her phone off her as a punishment and she grabbed me and tried to get it back. This lead to a physical altercation again. I have been so calm and together when dealing with her lately and I feel like I have just undone so much of my hard work. Even the counselling left me short of how to deal with some of these tough situations. I know I nag her too much and have been to down on her lately for the little things. Looking back I know this has added to the situation.

I am looking for help to show my daughter that I do love her more than anything but that I deserve respect. I often feel like if I discipline her she will just go running back to her dad again who she often says that she loves more than me. Do you think that you have any methods that can help me in this complicated situation?
I am ever hopeful.


Hi Mark,
I came across your website the other day advertising your ebook when searching for some solutions to the problems in our household.
I had never heard of Oppositional Defiant Disorder before and am unsure if that is what is happening between my daughter and myself.
Even though my daughter is out of control and displays pretty much all of the signs that indicate ODD she seems to only act like that with me. At school she seems to be fine, with other people she seems to be fine….only with me she seems to act like this…as far as I know L. Shbe is highly intelligent and pretty cagey and good at hiding things, manipulating situations.

I am a solo dad who has been raising her all by myself most of her life. Her mother is an alcoholic and drug addict and is now, finally in and out of rehab.
Her mother used marijuana constantly during the pregnancy and while breastfeeding (she stopped drinking from 2nd trimester until the birth at least).
My daughter, who is now 12 y.o. was living 50/50 between both houses from age 1 until 11 years when I finally managed to get full custody after 10 years of battles through court. Living with her mother was a trying and tumultuous, abusive time for her.

My daughter has always been a little difficult on and off due to her disjointed childhood and I have always tried to do my best for her, although until recently it was really just picking up the pieces from when she was at her mothers and helping her deal with her experiences there. Over the past 1-2 years since she started puberty things have deteriorated a lot. She constantly argues with me about anything at all, refuses to do pretty much anything she has been asked and unless I back down (which I no longer do now that she is at home fulltime) the situation quickly worsens ending up in tantrums, total defiance, mass destruction of our property and often violence from her towards myself. Any consequences from her actions are quickly blamed on me. Also she is also constantly lying and steals from me….I suspect she is stealing from the the other schoolkids too but do not really know.

Our house has definitely become a battle ground and is not pleasant at all to live in. She has now taken to running away as well which worries me greatly due to being often at night and I worry about her safety.
The amount of stress I am constantly under is greatly affecting our lives, my health and pretty much everything else. The constant fighting is also seeming to push her closer to her mother who is still pretty messed up and has a physically abusive boyfriend (to the mother and my daughter). This really scares me as I am sure that you understand. I am also at university doing my 2nd last year in a bachelors degree so this added stress is really taking its toll on that as well.

I am totally at my wits end. I have tried everything that I can think of to try and fix our situation but nothing seems to work at all….maybe for a day or 2 at most then back to destruction and hurt.

Does this sound like ODD to you? Is it still ODD if it is only happening when she is with me…..or is that because I am the main authority figure for her….or possibly she is taking out all her inner pain upon me because I am the only one she feels safe to do that with? I took her to see a child psychologist locally for about 1 year but now she refuses to return as she says that the psych knows too much about her now…..she was having good progress and I think the psych was managing to get through the masks that my daughter puts and and could see through her lies and that is why she does not want to return.



 we have an 8 year old boy who has had mild-moderate sensory issues ever since he was an infant/toddler. He went through a time of motor ticks when he was 4 and 5, but those have resolved, but there are still a lot of sensory issues involved.  He has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS/ Aspergers traits, and has a lot of Asperger's traits except for lack of eye contact/non wanting to be touched etc - in fact, he is very lovable, always seeking hugs.  Its almost as if the Aspergers turns on/up when he gets upset - he starts spinning out of control and can not self-regular, and then doesn't want to be touched, make eye contact, etc - Not sure if he usually just suppresses those traits or if they just simply exhibit themselves when he becomes more upset.

Last year we moved to a new school district and I proactively met with staff, counselors to let them know about his diagnosis, issues, etc.   The school did do an evaluation, but since he had not yet had an meltdown at school,  no services were offered.  This year, in 2nd grade, he has had  three incidents, which have still not led to services, but some accommodations, which are unfortunately not helping much.  The school now wants to move to an IEP and wants to re-evaluate, but services would not be offered until next year, and I feel strongly this kiddo needs some help now.

He gets upset at the expected things (schedule changes, things he views as unfair, etc) but also at unexpected things.  We need help in helping him to recognize when he is getting upset, and how to help him soothe himself. We have a swing in his room which is helpful to him when he gets upset, but often he gets upset so fast he refuses to go there.  He tends to have a negative view point of others (i.e., everyone is always trying to have bigger portions, better seats, etc) -  he is convinced that we are all unfair and always trying to be negative towards him.  He does great (no tantrums at some points) and not at others, and is it sometimes overwhelming to the whole family.  Something as simple as asking him to take the dog out before he goes to bed can lead him to stomp, yell, complain loudly, etc.

He is very bright, and has been tested in the gifted range - the current school does not have a gifted program until next year, so he is quite under challenged, which inly adds to his behavior it appears - he acts out more she he is not engaged in something, and on the flips, sometimes we can distract him from a meltdown with math..


RE: “Offhand, where are some good resources for researching the subject of colleges students coping with Aspergers ?!   It still seems to be a relatively unexplored field----or am I wrong ?!”

Not sure, but I would start here:

MAAP Services for Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD
P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN   46308
Tel: 219-662-1311
Fax: 219-662-1315

Autism Society of America
4340 East-West Highway
Suite 350
Bethesda, MD   20814
Tel: 301-657-0881 800-3AUTISM (328-8476)
Fax: 301-657-0869

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1600 Clifton Road, N.E.
Atlanta, GA   30333
Tel: 800-311-3435 404-639-3311/404-639-3543

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 2A32 MSC 2425
Bethesda, MD   20892-2425
Tel: 301-496-5133
Fax: 301-496-7101

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6001 Executive Blvd. Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD   20892-9663
Tel: 301-443-4513/866-415-8051 301-443-8431 (TTY)
Fax: 301-443-4279

Autism Science Foundation
419 Lafayette Street
2nd floor
New York, NY   10003
Tel: 646-723-3978
Fax: 212-228-3557

Autism Speaks, Inc.
1 East 33rd Street
4th Floor
New York, NY   10016
Tel: 212-252-8584 (888) 288-4762
Fax: 212-252-8676

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC   20009
Tel: 800-695-0285 202-884-8200
Fax: 202-884-8441

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
Research Triangle Park, NC   27709
Tel: 919-541-3345


Hi Mark
I have just subscribed to your newsletter and I thank you for responding straight away
I am step mum to Blair who is 12 and has been an Asperger from a very young age (obviously)
I came into his life when he was 8 and I knew nothing about the condition.
What I know now about the condition, I have researched or experienced through Blair
My concern is Blair is now 12 and will go to High School next year. He is also showing signs of of puberty and the onset of teenage behaviour.
I want to give Blair the best of everything, including the courage to begin his high school years. He's feeling anxious already and I wonder if you have any suggestions for me to help him?


To:Mark Hutten

HI there,

Late 2012/early 2013, I was enrolled on a higher education college course. Unexpectedly and perhaps rather unprofessionally in a tutorial session my lecturer told me that he suspected that I may have "Aspergers" which had perhaps gone 'unnoticed' and was the source or reason behind my special interest in music, my ability in that field and difficulty socialising. He had obviously picked up on my difficulty socialising from various group work and my unusual talent in one aspect of music throughout the years I attended the college. I'm sure you can imagine how shocked I was to hear this and I instantly doubted what he said. This was unprofessional/insensitive of my lecturer in some regards and maybe not his place to inform me of his suspicions. Having never heard of AS previously and being unaware of the meaning behind it, even though my college course has finished I can now say that I do thank him.

I have obviously carried out a fair amount of research since then and have tried to analyse my life so far. The truth is I have always struggled in a social sense, including feeling uncomfortable in certain social situations. I have purposely avoided experiencing certain social situations such as clubbing/partying. I have never had a real relationship (girlfriend) and only ever had one true friend. In fact, it's even worse than that as I still feel intimidated and embarrassed visiting simple places such as the gym or venturing into social situations or groups (so I avoid). Increasingly worse, I still don't know how to kiss and have convinced myself that learning to drive would be a bad idea. I have never had any work experience. Then there are activities I have always wanted to participate in/learn such as some form of martial arts or boxing but avoided as I would probably only feel comfortable doing that on a 1/1 basis with an instructor which I don't currently have the funds for. You can imagine how incredibly frustrating this is at the age of 22 to have never visited a club or had a girlfriend/kiss, job/interview, driving license or real attempt of independent living. It's a feeling comfortable problem with a lot of these if I was trying to define the underlying issues . In terms of the club it's due to feeling out of place not knowing how to dance and not knowing how to kiss. In terms of the gym/boxing, its fear of not being able to show proper form, technique and coordination and consistently getting them wrong and being laughed at (always have being slightly clumsy and no good at sport as my thing has always being music) With driving it's a fear of the unknown, being bad at following directions, reading other drivers and understanding instructors. It isn't all bad. In terms of education I have achieved a level five foundation degree with the option of an extra year study to turn it into a full (BA Hons) degree. Education has being my goal since school and from that do have the possibility of going down the self-employed route to try and get somewhere within the music industry. However the negatives outweigh the positives analysing my life so far. In a way, I've used higher education/ my time spent studying at my local college (also the loans/financial support) to avoid work or living in the "real" world. Obviously positives have come from my time spent studying in higher education, such as improved communication and writing skills.

So I suppose the real question is do I actually have AS or do I just possess a very strong introverted personality trait. Before reading up on AS I always knew I was 'different'. However the reason for my genuine lack of outgoingness and lack of experiences above could be caused by having practically zero confidence (stemming from my horrible experience at school), misfortune of being genuinely unattractive and being slightly overweight. Then again I have just read some research on personality disorders and it seems like I suffer from a couple of the traits under "Schizoid" which could be a side effect of Aspergers.

Even if I do happen to have AS I don't think I will ever want to talk to anyone about it (hence this message). I don't want to get an official diagnostic or request support. I don't particularly feel comfortable being this way (why should I as I didn't ask to be) so any form of official diagnostic or labelling with words such as autistic, syndrome, disorder, disability doesn't really encourage me. I would rather my family continued not to know and I continued to fight harder to hide my traits and try not to be overly oppressed by a "scientific fact". In my opinion I do have a sufficient understanding of how the world works, my IQ is "above average" and I can understand humour and sarcasm. Maybe I will struggle to "fix" my driving fear and sexual experience/girlfriends problem and maybe I might never have lots of friends (I can just about live without that). I think I need to focus on living a more eventful/busy life by leaving the house more. I need to spend less time using and interacting with people via computers and need to find some form of stable employment/money to get close to that independence/normality I desire (with a bit of luck perhaps the self employed route in the music industry as mentioned earlier) AS or not, I do believe with hard work I have the ability to change, improve or hide/act (depending on how you look at it) some issues. Even simple ideas like learning to pitch my voice and speak in a more enthusiastic, less monotone tone would be helpful. I am going to fight this. I'm not a natural actor but I will get there.

Anyway. I am fan, I am subscribed and will continue to watch and enjoy your videos :)

PS: Apologises for the lengthy essay like story/message as I do acknowledge it is 'cringe-worthy' in parts.


How can I phrase to my Aspergers husband that I do not want him yelling at my ten 4th-8th graders, pushing them, trembling as if he is going to blow up or yelling, “shut up” to the parents at an 8 hour robotics competition this weekend in a way that he might accept? Typically whenever I try to spell out exactly what I am hoping or expecting, he does the opposite or tells me, “Don’t tell me what to do” or “don’t tell me what to say.”

As you probably know, I talk about “reframing” in the eBook. This would be a good time to use that strategy. Please refer to page 37 where I give some example of reframes. They have 3 components: a positive spin, a problem statement, and a statement about your desire. So you might say something like this:
·       "I know that you feel passionately about wanting the children to stay focused." [reframe]  
·       "But that creates a problem for me because _____ (fill in with how it causes a problem for you?)." [problem statement]  
·       "Id rather we come up with a plan where _____ (fill in with your desired outcome). [desire statement]  
In this way, you are recruiting your husband as a “partner in problem-solving” rather that telling him what to do.

Response to Answer:
Well, that was interesting.  Here’s how it turned out: As we began collecting the items we need for tomorrow’s robotic competition, I said as nonchalantly as I could, “I know as the assistant coach you feel passionately about wanting the children to stay focused.” He immediately responded with lots of animation in his face and said, “Yes, but I need to be careful.” I responded, “Yes, because as the coach it is my responsibility to keep the kids safe and for them to have fun.” He had a surprised look on his face and said, “Are you concerned?” I started to say, “I’d rather we come up with a plan…” He started scowling and cut me off with “Be careful” then he quickly walked across the room and sat right next to me on the couch.  I tried again, “I’d rather we come up with a plan…” Vic cut me off again and said, “Well at the competition the kids will not be allowed to eat food at the competition tables and all our practice is done now so we can just enjoy it.” I tried a third time, “I’d rather we come up with a plan to give you a break whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.”  He stopped me again and said, “I’m feeling irritated” and started shaking. I finished very quickly and said, “Maybe you could take Trevor outside every hour or so to give both of you a break from the noise.” He raised his voice and said, “I feel irritated that you are talking to me in such a demeaning way.”  I let it go.  I’m curious to see what tomorrow will be like.  What are your thoughts?  Is this how someone with Asperger’s would respond? 

Answer #2:  
It is typical of Aspergers. But don't view that exchange as a failure. I think you made some progress. The only "mistake" perhaps was to mention this at a bad time (while collecting things for the competition). Now that we have 20/20 hindsight, in the future, use your reframes at a time when he is calm and in a good mood (e.g., while watching TV, at dinner, etc.). Maybe have the conversation again a week ahead of time. He has some anxiety around this event, and it comes out as juvenile anger.

Response to Answer #2: 
Thank you for your encouragement.  I agree we did make progress.  The conversation seems to have helped because we had an amazing day.  He was helpful, never raised his voice, was enjoyable and was able to problem solve without losing his temper!  In fact, things went so well he was able to help the team solve a hardware issue on the robot at the last minute and our team came in second place and are moving on to the next level!  I appreciate your help.  I look forward to using reframing in the future now that I’ve started practicing this new skill.  It’s already helping me internally to reframe his looks, comments and behaviors in a positive way to myself that allow me not to take things personally and I don’t even feel I need to address every little thing!  Sweet! Thanks for your help! 

Two years ago my husband (who has AS) was laid off. For the first two months he tried to find another job, but he’s since given up. He sits around and plays video games all day. We lost our house and we’re living in a friend’s basement right now with our three little kids. I can’t go to work because I’m nursing a baby, but he has no motivation to get up and find a job. He just says there aren’t any out there, but if I tell him about places that are hiring he huffs off and leaves the room.

Have you ever had to do something and the thought just scared you so much you ran away from it? It just seemed like too big a task and you didn’t even know where to begin. I think some Aspergers men are like that when it comes to getting a job. Where do you start? The resume? Trying to find interviews? Trying to find openings? It’s staggering. And how long will it take? And because it’s all tied up in their idea of manhood, too, it’s really scary to think about. If they try and fail it’s almost worse than not trying at all.

Perhaps you can help by talking to your husband and breaking it down into bite sized pieces for him.
Maybe he feels his resume isn’t good enough but he doesn’t know where to start. Maybe he doesn’t even know what kind of job he’s looking for. Again, break it down into small chunks, and ask yourself, “Which of these chunks can I do for him?” Perhaps you could say to him, “You call these five people that we know who may know of job openings and arrange to meet them for coffee this week, and I’ll research how to write resumes and I’ll make you a top-notch one, and ask Mr. X from church, who runs human resources for a big company, to look at it and tell us if it’s a good resume or not.” In this way, instead of nagging him, you’re coming alongside him and cheering him on and helping him.

If you’ve done this, and he still isn’t motivated to do anything, then speak to him about having a deadline which, if things don’t change, you will start changing them. For example, you could say, “If you don’t have a job by December, then in January I’m going back to work and you’ll have to look after the kids.” You can’t live on people’s charity forever. It’s just not right.

If your husband genuinely is trying, and there just simply aren’t jobs in his field right now, but there are likely to be soon, then perhaps staying in a family home for a time really is the only thing you can do. In that case, it’s not that he isn’t engaged in trying to find a job; it’s that he genuinely can’t (and that very well may be true).

If you are going to be the one going to work, then he needs to understand what it is that he will be expected to do with the kids. Lay out a daily schedule of what needs to be done so that he sees it in black and white.


Perhaps it could be that you need to go out and work, and he needs to stay and care for the kids. That may not be ideal, and it may not be what you wanted. Maybe you did always want to be a stay at home mom. But if you have skills right now where it’s easier for you to get a job than it is for him to get a job, or if he can only find a part-time job, so you need your income to supplement, then that may be what you need to do. You are a team, and you have to figure out a way to bring in some money.

If you follow this route, though, it needs to be understood that you will not be carrying two loads. There have been a lot of women who have gone to work who have also had to put their kids in day care because the husband wouldn’t/couldn’t look after them during the day. He found it too hard. You both need to work; one (or both) bring in money, and one (or both) care for the kids. Doing nothing should never be an option.

Lastly, if he just doesn’t agree, or you can’t get him to put the video games down and work at something, I’d talk to a mentor couple, a pastor, or a counselor. You are a spouse – not an enabler. If your husband is refusing to do any work at all, and is acting like a teenager, this isn’t something you should tolerate. It endangers the family and your relationship, but it also seriously endangers his own future in the workforce.

I know this situation is tough, because so many of us are going through it. A lot of men are really depressed in this economy, and they are feeling like they’re not worth much of anything, which can get them on a downward spiral of trying even less. It’s so hard to watch, but it’s also really hard when you’re bearing the brunt of it. As much as possible, keep working on your marriage so that you can talk about it. Express your faith in him (without babying him). But do make plans, and do set goals, and be on his team so he that he can see his way forward.



I've been married for 10 years and I dated my husband, who has Asperger syndrome, for 7 years before we got married. My husband has been recently diagnosed with anxiety disorder and he is getting worse every day. This last 3 days he went to hospital with panic attacks and he says he just wants to die so that his pain can go away. He went to a psychiatrist so he is medicated. However, I feel his symptoms are getting worse and he is always angry at everything and everyone. He does not want anyone in his family to help him or talk with him. He says he just wants to be alone and sleep.

Last weekend he told me he wanted to leave home, to live alone for a while in order to find out what his feelings are about me. However, he tells me he still needs me and he is constantly asking me to help him understand and heal this problem. Even so, he only wants the help HE requests, no other help is welcome and he reacts with anger whenever I do something good for him. On the other hand, if I don't do anything, he blames me for not caring enough.

I had to deal with serious problems by myself recently (loosing 2 pregnancies at 18 and 5 weeks within 4 months) as he didn't want to support me because "I made him feel bad with my problems".  Now I realize that he was already depressed at the time and seeing me crying all the time made him feel worse and useless (I think!), but he didn't know how to help and, I guess, wasn't feeling well too. I'm still trying to cope with my own problems, although I think I'm much better know. I found a support group online that was very helpful.

All being said, I feel very lonely in this task of trying to help him and help me also. How can I help him feel better and how can I avoid that he addresses all his anger towards me? He now says that I make him feel worse. I already lost 2 babies I don't want to lose my husband too. Should I let him go? Should I convince him to stay? Can you help me help my husband? I love him very much don't want to lose him.


Men on the autism spectrum get depressed more often than “typical” men do; however, they are much less likely to recognize that they need help. Traditional gender roles dictate that men remain emotionally strong and suppress feelings of sadness. The stronger a man associates with such traditional roles, the more he will resist mental health treatment. If your husband is suffering from depression, you can help him accept the help he needs.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.       Accept that you cannot cure your husband yourself. Depression is a serious condition, and your husband must work through it himself.
2.       Ask for help if you need it. Your husband's depression takes a toll on you, too. Don't try to do everything yourself. Too much stress will leave you feeling resentful, frustrated and burned out.
3.       Avoid minimizing your husband's condition. Depression is a serious illness. Take all suicide threats seriously.
4.       Don’t be an enabler. You are not helping your husband by trying to cover up his symptoms or by lying or making excuses for him.
5.       Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of depression to enable you to recognize it in your husband. Symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, irritability or apathy; loss of interest in activities he previously enjoyed; withdrawal from family and friends; talking negatively, arguing, or being overly critical; a significant change in eating or sleeping habits; lack of energy or listlessness; or alcohol or drug abuse.
6.       Encourage your husband to seek help. Convince him that therapy is not a sign of weakness. Offer to accompany him when he goes to the therapist. If your husband continues to resist seeing a counselor, suggest a general check-up with your regular family physician. This is less threatening for your husband, and his physician can rule out medical conditions as a cause of his depression.
7.       Give your husband unconditional love and support as he struggles with his condition.
8.       Recognize that it takes time for therapy to take effect. If medication is prescribed, it does not relieve symptoms immediately and often several different medications must be tried before the most effective one is found.
9.       Set a good example. Eat healthy, exercise and convey a positive attitude.
10.   Supply whatever support your husband needs and wants: Help him schedule and keep appointments, make sure he takes all medications as prescribed and help him talk about his emotions. Be careful not to push him; let him progress at his own pace.
11.   Urge your husband to be active. Go for walks together, see a funny movie or show or go to a favorite restaurant or museum.
12.   Voice your feelings and concerns. Don't suffer in silence; it will only cause frustration and resentment to build. But talk to your husband with sensitivity. Communication is important, but do it gently and without any implication of blame.


I am convinced that my boyfriend (of 8 years now) has aspergers syndrome. He disagrees however. His father had it, and they have very similar personalities (i.e., rude much of the time). We are going through some tough times right now, and both of us are apprehensive about getting a formal diagnosis because that could open up a whole can of worms if he does have it. How should we proceed? I think I could get him to talk to a professional about it, but I don’t want to upset the apple cart and scare him away from seeking help. Any advice?

It can be both a major relief and a major disappointment when you discover that your partner has Asperger’s. Your hopes may be dashed, and it may feel worse right now. But the truth is your partner is still the same person you have loved all this time. There is no way out of the diagnosis, but if you and he learn more about his sensitivities and behaviors, it will finally be possible to find ways to compensate and learn and change and grow. People can change – even those with Asperger’s. Since your partner probably functions at a high cognitive level (Asperger’s is also called “high functioning” autism), he should be able to learn social behavior that is less awkward and rude. In order to work on this, it will be important for him to accept his diagnosis. That is the next hardest step. After that, you and he can work on overcoming the hurdles and progress can be seen. He can change.
Accepting the diagnosis may be the biggest barrier to change. If your partner is willing to see a therapist, or even to get a second opinion so that the data begins to grow, it could help him to see what is difficult for him to accept right now. Reading books by other high level grown-ups with autism (e.g., Temple Grandin) may also be very helpful for him to begin to gather the cognitive evidence he may need to understand and accept his diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made and then accepted, he should be able to move forward – not quickly and easily perhaps, but slowly and steadily. It takes patience and perseverance.
You will both have to change some of your current understanding and expectations. In every relationship, partners must make some sacrifices and compromises that they did not expect, and this often brings them to a deeper more mature place in their love and commitment to one another. It is also important to look at the history of your relationship. You must have had good times together and shared positive feelings about each other. Try to recapture whatever glimmers of that you can of what brought you together. You may benefit from consultation with a therapist who is experienced in helping couples affected by autism spectrum disorders. Even if your boyfriend won't go with you, you may gain some insight into the relationship that will help you regain some hope, and possibly change the chemistry of what is happening right now in your relationship.


I am a single mom and I work 9-12 hour shifts.  My daughter has Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD, plus she is terribly spoiled.  At least that's the way it seems. She's currently on homebound schooling and from what the middle school principal told me on March 5th, I am going to have to home school her after this 7th grade year is finished because (and this is not his words but it IS what was meant) basically she is too much trouble for him and the teachers and he doesn't want her back in school unless and until she can behave like the other 300 and some students. Mind you, this school has never once tested or evaluated her--they accepted her doctor's paperwork, gave her a para with all of 10 minutes experience, and shoved her into regular classes, then wondered why she had melt-downs and wanted me to tell them how to fix it.

She is not doing her (very small) list of chores and has tons of excuses for not doing what she is asked to do.  And all it boils down to is that she doesn't want to so she isn't going to.  If I refuse to accept her barrage of excuses, she works herself into an autistic episode and then there is no point in trying anything further.  

Because I have to work so much, she is home alone--a lot.  I am trying to get services for her so that someone will be here once or twice a week to take her out and do things with her, and a dear friend has offered to come and give her art lessons as her schedule will allow.  She sees her therapist once week, but I think the isolation is making things worse. 

Last week she called me at work and said she wanted to kill herself. THAT made for an intense day at work!  We got past that, for now, but yesterday, also while I was at work, she went outside our apartment and decided to stick up for/defend some smaller kids.  She didn't seem to grasp that she had no authority to do so.  I understand, her intentions were good, but her approach was not. 
She got in 2 fights and basically had her butt handed to her. One of the fights was with a full grown adult woman!  My neighbor, God bless her, stepped into the fray and told the woman to take a step back because this girl might look 20 years old, but she's only 13.  The other fight was with a girl of her age, but my daughter was not expecting anyone to hit her.  (and she got hit 3 or 4 times)  She could have been seriously hurt. 

Is that bad parenting because my ASD 13 year old doesn't understand the basic social rules here? Or I it bad parenting because I was at work and not here with her to keep it from happening?  I need to be able to depend on her to have some self-control and self discipline when I can't be with her.  I want her to learn to be more independent and illustrate the ability to accomplish tasks of daily living as appropriate for her current age.  (She will be 14 on Sunday.)  I am trying to get placed on a different shift at work so I can be home with her more, but I don't have seniority, so it may take some time. 

Other than all that, she does tend to get mouthy, which she never used to do.  She has been increasingly more disrespectful to me, and to other adults from what I'm hearing, and she has decided just lately to try to lie to me--which, by the way, she has never been successful at--but she is persistent, God bless her, and keeps trying.  I suspect these are things that may be a result of her spending so much time alone. She is used to having no supervision for most of the day, so when supervision is present, she doesn't acknowledge it o respect it. 
Honestly I am so exhausted at this point, I'm not sure I'm even thinking straight. 


I am writing you because I am being swallowed by my own fears and doubts. I have a 10 yr son with Asperger and up until 3 mths ago I thought I was in control and had everything figured out. Well, not everything but I thought I had a good hold of what I was up against. Lastnight that all changed. My 10 yr was diagnosed in 2010 with Asperger and with that diagnosis came a sense of relief because things made more since but also a weight was replaced. Recently, we moved from VA to TX and Iain, my son has outgrown some challenges but new challenges have surfaced; as with any child. He is more aggressive, interested in violent video games, sings what he calls "war songs”, fascinated with his genitals, little attitude or what I refer to as "smelling his self". Although he is at the very beginning of puberty am I am not ready for him to experience or have these behaviors. We have recently had more meltdowns in school and distractions. His grades have fallen from a, s and B's to low C's. I know part is the move and the new environment. The kids here are exciting to him, they are edgy. smooth "cool". He misses his father whom he saw every day. He is going to spend the summer with him again but I fear that may worsen our current situation. He saw a therapist back in VA monthly and since we've moved he has not seen one here. I did schedule an appointment for April with a therapist. But in the meantime it’s important we continue to lay the foundation and do the work. He is a brilliant, loving kid but he is struggling internally. He says he feels different, like he doesn’t fit in with "normal” people. That is the most heart breaking thing a mother can hear. I have hit a wall. He needs coping skills and self awareness, to learn consequences but I just don’t know how to teach him. 

My daughter has not officially been diagnosed with RADs but she is 14yo and has been acting out for that past year.  When she was an infant she had reflux but it took a while for it to be diagnosed.  So as an infant she was in a lot of pain and was often inconsolable.   When she was 2yo her brother was born and I had post pardum psychosis.  I wonder if these things would attribute to RADs.  There were o other traumas in her life that we know of.    I am looking for professional help in my area for her.  She did go through a partial hospitalization program through Akron Children’s hospital.  It is a  two week program where kids learning coping skills, however, things at home have not really changed.  Can you recommend some books and how can I find a therapist in my area to help?  She is going to a counselor now and she is on an antidepressant but neither is very effective right now.

Hi Mark

  My son is 16 and has Aspergers. We have two workers for him both are female. Also both are 24 and two complete different personalities.  One is in her first year at our local college taking the autism course and the other is a part time teacher who is currently working with 3 or 4 other older and younger autistic people. The problem is my son has fallen heavily for the one girl who is cute an upbeat. She has a very busy life and works at two jobs while going to the college. When she can`t make it here to work with him, he is totally devastated and has major meltdowns, both ladies have a boyfriends and my son Cameron knows this, but emotionally he can`t seem to handle it when she can`t come. We are no sure how to handle the situation. Can you possibly advise. He has no friends. He had a friend Matt whom he used to visit and hang out with and eat lunch with at school, with two other boys. One day Cameron was walking down the hall as usual and see`s Matt walking down the hall also, and Cameron went up to Matt and says Hi Matt see you at lunch and Matt says get away from me. Cameron tryed to ask Matt what he did wrong but Matt won`t speak to him. As a result the other two boys won`t sit or talk to Cameron either, so he sits by himself for lunch every day or goes to library. Can you please help us with these situations

Mr. Hutten,

I have recently pulled my 13 yr old son out of school, so that I can home school him.  He has been diagnosed with Asperger’s.  He also has OCD, ADD, and Dyslexia.  School work had become overwhelming and very time consuming every evening.  He was just going through the motions but not understanding any of the work that he was doing.  I would like to find a curriculum that best suits his needs and will further his development.  He is an 8th grader this year.  I am a working Mom, mother of 2 (13 yr old Son and 3 yr old daughter), and my husband had a massive stroke 4 years ago, that left him disabled, due to complete loss of speech and impairment with his cognitive thinking (Global Aphasia is his condition).  He has gained little speech back after two rounds of speech therapy.  His brain also confuses words that he would like to say, with words that he says that are similar but incorrect.  I tell you all of this, so that you know that (1) my help is limited and (2) so is my financial situation since I am the only one that is able to work.  I am the only one who is truly able to teach my son even though his Dad might try, he cannot.  However, some of the work I have him doing now, my son is able to do without my assistance.  What work he needs help with, we do in the evenings when I get off of work. 

I am looking for a curriculum that is either free or low in cost, that will be suit my son’s needs and reach him on every level, not just regarding his education.  I would like to incorporate, life skills, social cues, etc.  If you can point me in the right direction with any suggestions you might have, I would greatly appreciate it.  Thank you in advance.
Please I need your advise for my little boy, 
he has been diagnosed with high functioning autism, now he is in 2nd grade in a regular school, he is part of the day in resource room and the other part of the day in regular classes, I'm very worried about next year because the school doesn't offer the resource program for next year. They only offer inclusion program for 3rd to 5th grade and I don't know if this is a good option for him.  Please give me an advise for this I don' t know what to do.
I absolutely love your emails, find them to be a great learning tool and have shared some with our son's teacher, school SLP and Vice Principal as a learning tool.
While I do a lot of reading about Asperger's (every little bit is a tool to learning and understanding our son), this is the first time I've heard or seen reference to throwing away paperwork. Our son did this often in 3rd grade when the need to correct mistakes happened. We saw a number of crumbled up papers at parent/teacher time. He still struggles with the process of correcting school work, even if it means a better grade.
I now understand this is a part of him, how his mind works. Thank you for this knowledge.


Thank you for the timely articles.  Your advice is very helpful and insightful.

Michael came to us four years ago, undiagmosed and having suffered many hardships in his life.

In our efforts to find social opportunities for Michael we ran into some disappointments.  An after school strengthening program was canceled and Boy Scouts is much too competitive for HFA and Aspergers kids.

Then we learned of 4H.  A welcoming group, they accept and encourage children of all abilities.  Michael is now learning to care for horses, and soon will be riding.

We are so happy that he has found this group, and that he is participating in 'live' activities.  No video games there!

I have high functioning autism, and am married to a NT wife.   We have lived through 13 years of disastrous marriage. My wife has been trying to connect with me and has not been able to.   She holds a tremendous amount of resentment, of which, she is making the decision to let go of.  I really hope she does, as my intentions have never been malicious and one of my life goals has always been to be loved and have a family.

We are not divorced, yet, thankfully.  I think there is still a chance to make this right and for us all to be happy (we have two kids as well).  I am in the Omaha, Nebraska area, and have been to a therapist, but she did not really understand the aspie mind.  She informed me of that fact before we met the first time, but I was desperate, heart broken, and was having a hard time maybe facing the loss of my marriage.   I would love any references to someone in my area that can help me succeed.

I am starting to think that I am going to need to start completely over with her, and am going to need a bunch of patience, understanding, and hard work to make this happen.   Any assistance you can provide would be of monumental value for us.


Hello - I have a 16 year old daughter with Asperger's.  She was diagnosed about a year ago.  I came across your site while researching drivers tests and Asperger's.  She is having a really hard time passing the written test here in Ohio.  We have taken her 4 times already and I cannot seem to figure out what it is that is bothering her.  She has taken numerous practice tests online at home and passes all of them 100%.  She wants to pass it so badly but has huge test anxiety, at school as well.  Any suggestions?  Is this normal?


Hello Mr. Hutten,

I’m a Producer at NBC News in New York City and would love to talk to you about a project I’m researching on families in crisis. 

I’m hoping to focus on parents who are trying to cope with an out of control pre-teen or teenager and during the course of my research, I came across your wonderful online parenting coach website that deals with these exact issues.

Is it possible for us to talk?  If so, do you have any free time this week?  I all left you a voicemail.

All the best and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Cassandra Marshall
Producer, NBC News

Hello Mark,

We have a troubled Aspergers 14 year old that has been depressed, suicidal, lashed out physically and verbally at his family. He has trouble keeping friends and now is looking desperately for a girl friend. We are having trouble slowing him down and he does not take "no" for an answer very well. He gets along with teachers and works hard in school, plays the drums, and likes art. At home is hell (modes shift quickly and is very dark in personality)we have been active with counseling, have started behavioral therapies, started IOP, but everything these last three weeks have escalated and blown up. He has been hospitalized three times in the last month and docs are suggesting RTC to help but insurance will not help and we will not be able to afford for long. I do not want to put the rest of my family in harms way. Really at a loss right now. His school is upside down- we are not sure how to transition next year to high school- the schools are good- but certain people are at the school he would be going to, set his emotions on end to start this recent further escalation. Overwhelmed.


I have a 12 year old daughter with aspergers she  doesn't want to accept it  and refuses to go for social skills she is really argumentative, I need help, how can I make her understand that is ok the way that she is?
she has been going for counseling for four months I don't see any positive changes at all, of course her counselor has no experience with aspergers. due to her insurance and the area where I live is hard to find the right counselor.

she complaints about kids at school she goes to a middle school with 1200 kids I am tempted to switch her to charter school, they don't have that many kids and she would attend school only three days per week the other two days she would stay home and do homework.
any suggestions would be highly appreciated
I have not officially been told that my 8 year old son has Aspergers but through research and after reading much of the content on your website I feel as if many of my questions and possible curiosities to his extreme behavior are being answered.  I have been directed to possibly visit VCU Pediatric Developmental Clinic and I was curious if you have any connections in Richmond and know of a good avenue to get my son evaluated?  Do you recommend evaluations or should I work with  your program and follow my gut feelings based on his symptoms?

He is experiencing sensory processing issues, chewing quite a bit, stomache upset, aversion to certain foods, repetitive and highly addictive to TV, video games and sports statistics,  and most recently peer to peer interactions have changed and he is being bullied.  The underlined items have been present since he was 2 but in the last month have become much more prominent and we think he is suffering quite a bit.  I know now after listening to one of your videos that we could be punishing him incorrectly and offering more ineffective treatment than recommended should he have Aspergers.

In addition, he is very advanced at math, and reading.  He seems to be about 12 or 13 years old conceptually in an 8 year old body.  Poor handwriting and at times he flails himself while running..He has recently mentioned that his body is moving so much he can't sit still and see's numbers floating?  He recently recorded the numbers on his arm because he said he liked the texture of the marker on his skin.  The numbers had significance to him but Im not sure why?

We are confused and unsure where to go.  We are hoping our Pediatrician will help us get a quicker appointment in VCU Pediatric Developmental Clinic but are not sure this will happen. Otherwise the waiting period is 6 months.


My son is 15 years old, diagnoses as Profoundly Gifted by Dr. Linda Silverman three years ago and ASD by Dr. Scott Faber this past November. He has a fairly normal fraternal twin brother.
Currently my husband is working out of town during the week, so most of the time I'm functioning as a single mom.
Because our school system has nothing in place for a PG child, we have homeschooled him most of the time.
Tim is so intelligent that he's conniving. He often loses electronic privileges and we've had to put a lock on our TV so it only works when in the ON position. Often he sneaks downstairs after I've gone to bed to watch TV for 4-6 hours. If I forget the keys downstairs he uses them to unlock the TV. If I DO take the keys upstairs, he takes a cord from another device that will fit into the TV. We've talked to him over and over again about that being a fire hazard, but he does it anyways. We've tried fining him for sneaking TV. He continues to do it.
He has an obsession with anything electronic - tv, computer, ipad, my cell phone, etc.

While searching online, I came across information about your EBook "Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management". I was wondering if you could provide me with some information.

My son is 19 years old and was diagnosed as having Aspergers only a couple months ago. He had gone off to college last fall and had a lot of trouble navigating the social part of living on campus and making new friends, and now he is back home.

I was wondering if the skills/teachings in your Teaching Social Skills EBook are targeted more toward younger kids with Aspergers (or other similar issues which impact their social development), or if the content is appropriate for any age? Also, given my son's age, would it be better for him to read the EBook himself, or have me read it and try to teach him?

Alternatively, do you have another EBook that might be better given my son's age? I noticed the EBook for young adults still living at home, but I don't know if that would be a better fit for his needs because he does want to go back to college and he does have a plan for the degree and career he wants. His problem is that his social anxiety and problems developing peer relationships is holding him back.

I was very excited to find the link to your EBooks and I'm hoping they can help my son, but I'm just not sure which EBook is right for his needs. I'm hoping you can provide some guidance.


Hi Mark,

I bought the teacher's guide and gave it to my child's teacher to read earlier in the year.
Unfortunately I don't think she even read it.
She keeps telling me my son is getting worse, with more meltdowns and tears but I don't know how to help her if she won't even read your advice.
I have told her everything I would do for him, but without being in class it is hard for me to say why he is finding it so hard there.
He's 8 and he's not very good at identifying when he needs a break. He really tries to keep it together at school but he is very stressed and on the edge all the time.
When he does anything wrong and gets told off he just cries and can't get over it. His teacher is quite strict and he is getting in to trouble a lot for things like disturbing the other children, talking when he shouldn't etc.
One of the biggest stresses seems to be that she wants him to write better, neater and more. He hates writing and finds it very difficult.
What can I do to help this teacher?

Thanks in advance, I find your page so helpful and just wish I could get people to use it as much as I do.
Maybe instead of trying to get her to read an entire eBook, she may have time to review a quick fact sheet of sorts. Here's one example: http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2010/11/helping-teachers-to-understand-your.html

I am desperate, will this work for a 24 year old son who is totally isolated his room, will not even come out to other parts of the house.  I feed him through the door, wash his clothes hand them back through the door.   I just discovered it was aspergers by putting all the pieces together myself from childhood on.  He is afraid of doctors and people.  He was bulllied all through his school years and quit at the age of 16.  Looked for work, but could not get anything for more than one month.  He also has stomach problems with diarrea and constipation and nothing over the counter helps.  He had a meltdown when we tried to move to another house and the houses were too close to each other.  He couldn’t stand being that close to people.  I din’t know it was a meltdown because I never seen him so aggitated and he would trying to hurt his self.  the police was called and they treated him like a criminal and hurting him.  
They took him to the hospital and kept him for two days putting him on prozac and trazadone.  Trazadone gave him horrible nightmares.  Any way, he said he would never trust a cop again or doctors.  I tried to get them to do tests on his stomach while he was there but they only put him on omeprazole. They diagnosed ocd.  He has all the syptoms of aspergers.  I cannot get him help because he doesn’t want to trust anybody for fear of going back to a mental hospital.


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