Programs for Older Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Frequently, the focus of specialized programs for children with Asperger's and High Functioning Autism (HFA) is on early childhood. Unfortunately, published research evaluating educational programs for older kids and teens on the autism spectrum is lacking. However, there is empirical support for the use of certain educational strategies for this older group of children, particularly those that are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Such strategies should be employed across all age groups to generalize behaviors to new environments or situations, to increase and maintain desirable adaptive behaviors, to reduce interfering maladaptive behaviors (or narrow the conditions under which they occur), and to teach new skills.

Middle School—

When kids with Asperger’s and HFA move beyond preschool and early elementary programs, educational intervention should continue to involve adaptation of teaching strategies as necessary to enable these “special needs” children to acquire target skills. The intervention should also include an assessment of existing skills, an assessment of progress, the formulation of individualized goals and objectives, and the selection and implementation of appropriate intervention strategies and supports.

The focus on achieving emotional and behavioral regulation, social communication competence, and functional adaptive skills necessary for independence should continue during middle school. Educational programs should be individualized to address the specific impairments and needed supports while capitalizing on the youngster's assets, rather than being based on a particular diagnostic label.

Specific goals and objectives – and the supports that are required to achieve them – should be listed in the youngster's individualized education plan (IEP) and should be the driving force behind decisions regarding the most appropriate, least restrictive classroom placement. Appropriate settings may range from self-contained special education classrooms to full inclusion in regular classrooms.

Often, a mix of specialized and inclusive experience is appropriate. Even highly functioning children on the autism spectrum often require accommodations and other supports (e.g., social communication skills training, provision of explicit directions, organizational supports, modification of classroom and homework assignments, and access to a computer and word-processing software for writing tasks). Also, sexuality education instruction should be included.

When an aide is assigned, it is important that there be an infrastructure of expertise and support for the youngster beyond the immediate presence of the aide. The aide should receive adequate training, specific duties of the aide should be outlined, and the strategies to be used should be defined.

High School—

In the teenage years, the term “transition” is used to describe the movement from child-centered activities to adult-oriented activities. The major transitions are from the school environment to the workplace, and from home to community living. In schools, transition-planning activities may begin as early as 14 years of age. By 16 years of age, the IEP should include an individualized transition plan. The emphasis may shift from academic to vocational services, and from remediating deficits to fostering abilities.

A vocational assessment is often conducted to evaluate the Asperger’s or HFA teen's interests and strengths, and to determine the services and supports needed to promote independence in the workplace and in the community. Comprehensive transition planning involves the teen, the mom and dad, educators, and representatives from all concerned community agencies.

After High School—

Depending on the older teen's unique traits (e.g., cognitive level, social skills, health condition, work habits, behavioral challenges, etc.), preparation for competitive, supported, or sheltered employment should be targeted. Regardless of the type of employment, attention to skill development should never stop. Skills necessary for independent living should be taught to the degree possible given the abilities of the teen.

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


The TEACCH Method: Structured Teaching for Children on the Autism Spectrum

“Are you familiar with the TEACCH method for helping younger students on the autism spectrum? How does it work, and can it really help these ‘special needs’ students?”

Let's first look at the basic principles of TEACCH. They include the following:

1. physical structure refers to the child’s immediate surroundings; daily activities (e.g., playing and eating) work best when they are clearly defined by physical boundaries

2. having a consistent schedule is possible through various mediums (e.g., drawings and photographs)

3. the work system establishes expectations and activity measurements that promote independence (ideal work systems will communicate objectives with minimum written instructions)

4. routine is essential because the most important functional support for kids on the autism spectrum is consistency

5. visual structure involves visually-based cues for reminders and instruction

The TEACCH method emphasizes structure and has come to be called “structured teaching.” Structured teaching is comprised of three components, (1) teaching methods, (2) physical organization, and (3) scheduling:

1. Teaching Methods— Teaching methods are all behaviorally based. The goal for all programs is to maximize independence. This component includes antecedent and consequence strategies:

Antecedent strategies include:
  • using clear and concise language
  • providing prompts which are student-specific and effective
  • prompting only as much as necessary before a student responds incorrectly
  • presenting materials in an organized manner
  • getting student attention before giving instructions

Consequence strategies employed include:
  • basing reinforcer selection on student preference and motivation
  • clearly defining consequences/reinforcers
  • giving clear feedback regarding correct and incorrect responses
  • giving frequent reinforcers
  • providing reinforcers immediately following the desired behavior

2. Physical Organization— This component should include the following:
  • “teacher only” materials should be inaccessible
  • all areas should be free of clutter and/or broken items
  • play areas should not be located near exits to decrease the likelihood of the child leaving the classroom
  • the classroom should be clearly laid out so the children know where they are supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing
  • there should be adequate space for independent and group work
  • work and play areas should be well organized with all relevant materials available
  • work areas should be arranged in the least distractible setting
  • work areas should be clearly marked so the child can independently find his or her way to different locations within the classroom independently, and the boundaries within those areas should be clearly marked

3. Scheduling— There are two levels of scheduling that are crucial to the structured teaching method – the daily classroom schedule, and the individual schedule:

The daily classroom schedule allows teachers and students to clearly know what will be happening during the day and should balance opportunities for individual, independent, group and leisure activities throughout the day.

Individual students should also have smaller schedules within scheduled activities to clearly define the expectations during the class period. The individual schedules:
  • should be a clear and consistent signal in the classroom which indicates time for a transition (e.g., timer, teacher instruction, student monitors clock, etc.)
  • should contain information about which teachers and/or assistant will be in which area
  • should help the student transition by letting him or her know where to be and what to do
  • should inform the child about where and when to begin and end tasks

The developers of this method have based their model on the idea that to effectively teach children on the autism spectrum, teachers must provide high levels of structure (i.e., they should set up the classroom so that these children understand where to be, what to do, and how to do it – all as independently as possible). As mentioned above, important aspects of structured teaching include:
  • visually structured activities
  • visual schedules
  • structured work/activity systems
  • routines with flexibility
  • predictable sequence of activities
  • organization of the physical environment

With the TEACCH method, there is an emphasis on both (a) improving skills of young people with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism, and (b) modifying the environment to accommodate their deficits. Several reports have documented progress in kids who have received TEACCH services, as well as parent satisfaction and improvement in parent teaching skills.

In a controlled trial, researchers discovered that kids treated with a TEACCH-based home program for 4 months (in addition to their local day treatment programs) improved significantly more than kids in the control group who received local day treatment services only.

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


Psychotherapy versus Pharmacotherapy in Treating Asperger's and HFA

“What are your thoughts on psychotherapy versus pharmacotherapy for children with Asperger syndrome?”

Focused and structured psychotherapy can be very helpful in treating children with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), particularly in the context of the following:
  • anxiety
  • family functioning
  • frustration in regard to education and vocational goals 
  • meltdowns
  • negativism
  • overwhelming experiences of sadness
  • social adjustment

Although little information about pharmacological interventions for children with Asperger’s and HFA is available, a conservative approach based on the evidence from autism should probably be adopted. In general, pharmacological interventions for kids on the spectrum are probably best avoided. Specific medication might be indicated if Asperger’s or HFA is accompanied by a thought disorder, severe obsessions and compulsions, or debilitating depressive symptoms.

It is important for moms and dads to know that medications are prescribed for the treatment of specific symptoms associated with Asperger’s and HFA, and not to treat the disorder in-and-of itself.


•    Anonymous said... "Specific medication might be indicated if Asperger’s or HFA is accompanied by a thought disorder, severe obsessions and compulsions, or debilitating depressive symptoms"  ...Depression and anxiety can be because of they way neuro typicals treat aspergers people.
•    Anonymous said... Finding s good therapist that really gets Asperger's is easier said than done. I often feel like I sm telling the therapists what to look for.
•    Anonymous said... I feel like that with every professional and support person we deal with.

Please post your comment below…


Early Childhood Intervention for Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism

“What are the most important treatment strategies or program goals for treating younger children with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism?”

Although treatment programs may differ in philosophy and emphasis on particular treatment strategies, they share many common goals. There is a growing consensus that important components of effective early childhood intervention for Asperger’s and HFA include the following:
  • entry into treatment as soon as a diagnosis is “seriously considered” rather than deferring until a “definitive” diagnosis is made
  • functional adaptive skills that prepare the youngster for increased responsibility and independence
  • functional, spontaneous communication skills
  • implementation of techniques to apply learned skills to new environments and situations (i.e., generalization) and to maintain functional use of these skills
  • in the educational setting, low student-to-teacher ratio to allow sufficient amounts of one-on-one time and small-group instruction to meet specific individualized goals
  • inclusion of a family component, including parent training
  • incorporation of a high degree of structure (e.g., predictable routine, visual activity schedules, clear physical boundaries to minimize distractions, etc.)
  • ongoing measurement and documentation of the youngster's progress toward educational objectives, resulting in adjustments in programming when needed
  • promotion of opportunities for interaction with “typically developing” peers to the extent that these opportunities are helpful in addressing specified educational goals
  • provision of intensive intervention with active engagement of the youngster at least 25 hours per week, 12 months per year
  • provision of developmentally appropriate educational activities designed to address identified objectives
  • reduction of disruptive or maladaptive behavior by using empirically supported strategies, including functional assessment (see below)
  • social skills (e.g., joint attention, imitation, reciprocal interaction, initiation, self-management, etc.)
  • traditional readiness skills and academic skills as developmentally needed
  • use of assessment-based curricula that address cognitive skills (e.g., symbolic play, perspective taking, etc.)

Applied Behavior Analysis—

One of the most important methods for treating younger children with Asperger’s and HFA is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is a process used to systematically change behavior and to demonstrate that the interventions used are responsible for the observable improvement in behavior. ABA techniques are used to:
  • generalize behaviors to new environments and situations
  • increase and maintain desirable adaptive behaviors
  • narrow the conditions under which maladaptive behaviors occur
  • reduce interfering maladaptive behaviors
  • teach new skills

ABA focuses on the reliable measurement and objective evaluation of observable behavior within relevant settings (e.g., home, school, community, etc.). The effectiveness of ABA in treating children with Asperger’s and HFA has been well documented through five decades of research by using single-subject methodology and in controlled studies of comprehensive early behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings. Kids on the spectrum who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make significant and sustained gains in academic performance, adaptive behavior, IQ, language, and social behavior. Also, outcomes have been significantly better than those of kids in control groups.

Discrete Trial Training—

Comprehensive early intervention programs for kids on the autism spectrum (e.g., Young Autism Project) rely heavily on Discrete Trial Training (DTT) methodology, but this is only one of many techniques used within the field of ABA. DTT methods are useful in establishing learning readiness by teaching foundation skills (e.g., attention, compliance, imitation, discrimination learning, etc.). This methodology has been criticized because (a) there have been problems with generalization of learned behaviors to spontaneous use in natural environments, and (b) the highly structured teaching environment is not representative of natural adult-child interactions. However, traditional ABA techniques have been modified to address these issues. Thus, DTT is still a very useful tool in the therapist’s toolbox.

Functional Behavior Analysis—

Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) is an important aspect of behaviorally-based treatment of unwanted behaviors in children with Asperger’s and HFA. Most problem behaviors serve an adaptive function of some type and are reinforced by their consequences (e.g., attainment of adult attention; attainment of a desired object, activity, or sensation; escape from an undesired situation or demand). FBA is an empirically-based method of gathering information that can be used to maximize the effectiveness of behavioral support interventions. It includes:
  • formulating a clear description of the problem behavior
  • identifying the frequency and intensity of the problem behavior
  • identifying the antecedents, consequences, and other environmental factors that maintain the behavior
  • developing hypotheses that specify the motivating function of the behavior
  • collecting direct observational data to test the hypothesis

FBA also is helpful in identifying antecedents and consequences that are associated with increased frequency of desirable behaviors so that they can be used to evoke new adaptive behaviors.

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

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for June, 2014]

Do you need some assistance in parenting your Aspergers or HFA child? Click here to use Mark Hutten, M.A. as your personal parent coach.


Just another thank you for all the help you are giving us parents! So appreciate it! You are doing a great work. We have two young men now in their teens and are always looking for wisdom to help us navigate these new waters.


Dear Mark,
At the outset, allow me to thank you for the immense "hand holding" you have been doing for and with me and my family as we help my 12-year old son who has been diagnosed to be an Asperger in November 2012.

My purchase of your resource book proved to be one of the most important and valuable decisions I have made as I equip myself with knowledge and continuously search for answers on how best to support my Aspie.

In the last two years, we have moved from school to school (about three of them) since previous schools of my son have admitted to not having teachers who are fully equipped in dealing with his meltdowns. Often, such meltdowns are preceded by his claimed "boredom" either with class work or activities that take him away from this computer and online games. Two teachers have both expressed concern about his possible computer game addiction as a contributory factor for his lack of interest in academic work. I must mention, however, that despite such adverse attitude to academics, he still managed to finish last school year with High Academic Honors.

How can computer addiction be assessed? What are the possible treatment and mechanisms to help him?

Thank you very much! I must also say you are one of life's greatest blessings to me and my family.


Hello there, 

I'm sure you get a million emails a day but my daughter is an adult & not sure if adult kids can be helped as they do what they want.

My beautiful daughter who has lived in a loving home with decency, love & honor has gone to the dark side!  She was our gifted child, the 1st born after a 12 year span between kids.  She was our honor student, classical pianist, ballerina!  She was so driven & wanted to go to Julliard! What happened?  The enthusiasm for success turned into enthusiasm for being bad!  She has turned gang member-ish and is now 24.  Every since puberty she has changed!  Is it a brain condition that caused the drugs or is it the drugs that made her worse?  These are all the questions that go through our mind.  We thought she'd grow out of it & change when she got into college.  Sadly NOT!!!

I've just learned that our sweet daughter has been leading a double life.  I'm devastated & we don't know how to Help Her!!  There needs to be leverage of some sort to help her.  She lives at home (most the time with friends or hotels) & attends college part time.  No job but
always has money.  She just lost her license.  Always on the edge of some dumb little detail that gets her into trouble like cell phone
talking in the car.  Or tickets for honking.  It's like if she payed a little more attention 90 percent of these problems wouldn't have
happened.  One thing led to another & now she's dancing for money?  Does this mean shes a prostitute?  I heard she's an escort too? 

OH MY GOD!!  Just kill me now.  The shame! The Secrets we'll have to keep in our family to save face.  It reflects us as a family & as
parents.  Haven't told anyone ...just hubby & myself are keeping this to ourselves!  Haven't slept for days & don't know where to turn to help her!!!!

Can your program work for adult children???

The Mom~


Hello Mark,

I read your newsletter faithfully and appreciate your insights.  Briefly, our friends and relatives would not know our daughter (12 years old) has Asperger’s unless they knew quite a bit about Asperger’s or witnessed a temper tantrum.  While Sophie is high functioning and can be very pleasant to be around, she has difficulty maintaining friendships and has severe dietary limitations. 

If not the top student, Sophie has always been among the top students in her class (now attends a private “learning differences” school known as Dallas Academy).  Sophie’s behavior, intellect, keen sense of observation, height and appearance often give people (including me at times) the impression she is much older than 12 years old.   The Social Skills Training message below hits home, as do many of your messages on other topics, and I have often wanted to share your newsletters with her thinking that she is old enough to understand and benefit from your messages.  However, being mindful she is only 12 years old, I have yet to share your messages with her.

Do you recommend sharing your newsletter with young children?  What is your experience with parents sharing your newsletters with their children? I will save the questions regarding dietary limitations for another day.  From your messages (and comments) and other articles I have read, this appears to be a rough nut to crack.


Dear Mr. Hutten,

I have an 11 year old son who was doing extremely well until he was forced by the court to live 50% of the time with an excessively emotionally abusive father.  His father uses extreme amounts of yelling, name calling, degrading, mocking along with causing physical pain through excessive pressure to his trapezoid muscle to drop him to the ground into the fetal position and then isolates him for hours as punishment.

My son is regressing into severe depression and starting to threaten his own safety and his fathers.  I have now started taking him to a psychologist that specializes in Autism. I believe in a nonviolent and positive reinforcement method of intervention but I am in fear for my son. My son will lay and cry for hours in my arms that “all he needs is to live with me and not have to see his father anymore and then he will be fine”.

Do you have any recommendations as to how I can help my son to cope with the abuse while in his father’s care?


Hi, Mr. Hutten!

We are somewhat new foster parents.  Our foster son (D) is 14 yrs old and has been with us for 6 months.  He has been in the system for 9 yrs, and has been through 3 failed adoptions with his his sister (13).  We also have three biological children - ages 5, 4, and 2.

We suspect that D has some attachment issues, although he has only been diagnosed with ADHD and anger problems.  Unfortunately, he has bounced around so much (5 homes between last November and January) that he has had very little consistency as far as therapy.  While we have seen some improvement in his behavior (he has stolen & defaced property at other homes, but not here), his verbal assaults are exhausting.  He is an expert at working a system, and knows just how to get what he wants in order to maintain power.  He frequently blames, accuses, withdraws, and states things like "I don't care about you."  And yet, at other times he will tell us that he loves us and ask for hugs.  There are places where we cannot figure out how to bring peace, like the dinner table.  I have instituted a "closed kitchen" policy between 5pm and 7pm so that he does not snack the whole time I'm cooking.  But, then we all have to listen to him complain about our horrible food and how awful it is to spend time with us.  If he does not eat dinner with us, then he eats nothing but snack food all day. 

We want to be a home of healing for him, but it's tough to know where to draw lines and where to allow freedom.  (We won't be a home at all for him if we get into a power struggle and he disrupts the placement.)  We keep hearing from his lawyer and therapist that he's doing better than they've ever seen him do, but we are burnt out and exhausted. 

Help!  Thanks a bunch.


Hi Mark,

We've been working hard to try to help our 26-year old son, Alex, as per the suggestions in your ebook.  Most have worked; however, at times our home is still a battleground--which I just cannot stand.  The current issue is securing him a car.  We had an agreement as per how to get a car for him which would have involved his monetary and sweat-equity participation as well as some contribution from our end.  Now he is refusing to honor his end of the bargain.

Might you be agreeable to talking with my husband, Bill, and me about Alex?  I'm hopeful that Alex will then agree to talk with you--(and I surely understand that what he says to you, if in fact he agrees to talk with you, will remain private).

I'm sure that you'll have some suggestions as to how to encourage him to talk with you.  (While, at first, he seemed to agree that he might, in fact, have Aspergers, he is now denying it; therefore, I believe that a preliminary conversation--you, Bill and I--might be helpful).


My son is 7 and an amazing, naturally gifted athlete who loves sports.  He prefers to be playing sports with the majority of his free time.  He has not been diagnosed with Asperger’s but he strongly exhibits many of the behaviors so I do read your daily newsletters and find so many of them extremely helpful.  I wanted to ask your advice on how to handle a couple of negative reoccurring behaviors from my son during sports.  First, he is so supportive of his teammates.  He cheers them on and congratulates them.  He picks them up and encourages them if they make a bad play.  It’s great to see.  But, he is extremely hard on himself and does not allow himself to make a mistake and the way he handles it is disruptive to the entire team.  As long as the team is winning, this is not too dramatic.  But, if they are losing and he misses a play or something doesn’t go his way in baseball (and soccer too), he will fake an injury to delay the game.  If that doesn’t satisfy him, he will throw a tantrum after the game.  This doesn’t usually happen to the fullest capacity in front of the team but they can tell something is wrong.  It is usually 100% on the way to the parking lot, all the way home and continues at home.  He will verbally tell himself he is not worthy of being on this team (when in reality he is one of the best players) or that “he belongs on the streets”.  He will also yell mean things to his sister and I like “shut up and stupid idiot” (those are his go to phrases).  He will hit us, try to trip us and throw things.  It’s terrible.  This may last 30 minutes or an hour.  He has a wonderful coach that emphasizes teamwork rather than winning and he has resources at school and I constantly talk to him about good sportsmanship.  But when in the stressful situation he forgets it all and his anger and frustration take over and he is completely irrational.  Is there more I can try to help him remain in control? 


Dear Mark,
I was searching on google on how to communicate with children who have aspergers and I found your details. I think my daughter may have aspergers but I am not sure. Reading information around aspergers I now feel that I may have/still have aspergers which my daughter has inherited. Are there tests to check if someone has aspergers and if so how do I go about it?  My daughter is very quiet, at home and at school. She does not have many friends and does not like to socialise, the same applies to me when I was a child, however I am not so bad now.  Her teachers at school have raised that she is very quiet and  does not get involved with class discussion or express any opinions in class, which could be problem as she is approaching her GCSE exams next year. I do not know if this is aspergers or if she is just a very quiet child….


We have a 16 year old son who has not been going to school for much of this year. He has been to see a psychiatrist and nurse therapist for counselling and medication for depression. It looks like he will fail most of his classes this year. There has been no change since last fall. My son says he cannot help his behavior, he has no motivation. He is in bed all day and most of each evening. He talks about not being around for long. My husband is home from work to keep an eye on him. We both feel helpless and embarrassed. And sad. We don't understand him. How should handle him?


My daughter is almost 19 years old.  She has never been formally diagnosed as having Aspergers.  However, she had been diagnosed as having ADD when she was younger, and I suspect, after reading about Aspergers, that she could possibly have it or at the very least, she has many of the same symptoms. She just finally graduated from High School, which she finished online. This was a huge struggle and I probably did way more than I should have for her. She does have a job working at In N Out and works roughly 5 days a week. She recently had a baby and is currently breaking up with the father because she basically doesn't want to be tied down to a relationship, or "controlled" as she puts it.  I am interested in getting her a life coach.  She needs someone that would help her be accountable. I struggle with helping her because I see life so differently. I have always been responsible and have always taken my responsibilities very seriously. She seems to change her mind from day to day depending on how she feels that day. She struggles with relationships because she is extremely self centered or at least appears to be extremely self centered because she never stops talking about herself or the things that are going on in her life. I could go on and on, but would like to hear your feedback on how she could be helped by a life coach and what that would entail.


Dear Mr.  Hutten,

I am in need of advice that I am hoping you can help me with, My stepson Dean has been living with myself, his dad and our 6 yr old daughter for 4 years now. This is the third time around that he has been living with us in his very short 17 yrs.

The first time was a brief amount of time while his mom went through a transition in her personal life. The second time, Dean was having issues with his mom and it got out of control so her solution was “ go live with your father” this is when he was 9, she dropped him off with nothing not even a coat. No child support was ever exchanged because she claimed undue hardship even though she was in a committed relationship and she had a child with this man.  He stayed with us until he was 12, when at that time I was pregnant with my first child. Dean started to visit his mom more often and all of a sudden we received mail from a “ child therapist” that Dean’s mother forced him to see and the court paper stated various of accusations of child abuse from us. Example: not feeding him any healthy foods, smoking in our house to the point he can’t breathe, drinking copious amounts of beer, hitting him for no reason, stating “ we wish you would disappear” . As you can imagine we were shocked, hurt and abruptly concerned.  The thing is that we were strict  with Dean, we didn’t let him get away with lying or not doing his chores and every time he did something bad he was  grounded and we took away his beloved Xbox. The accusations were completely not true none of them, we don’t even smoke or drink and we certainly do not believe in hitting our children or starving our kids.    Immediately, we were advised by a free lawyer to send the child back to his mom and be more concerned and focused on our unborn child. That is what we did. However my husband did go to court and remained joint custody with liberal access to Dean, but we have had to pay child support.
Dean admitted that his mom coerced him to lie and say all those things so he can come back and live with her and in return he can have no curfew, an allowance and he can play as much Xbox as he wants.  There was never any charges or any action that came from those accusations and we looked in to the “ child therapist”  to find out she was a friend of Dean’s mother and she is a yoga instructor and was attending school to become a therapist of sorts.

At that point I had had our child prematurely from high blood pressure and stress and we were dealing with my health and our new born health. We did not bother to fight at that point but we called Dean a lot and we saw him every second weekend no matter what. In less than 18 months he was back with us. She couldn’t handle him and she had become pregnant.  The mother called us and told my husband she would drop him off on the 1st of august, we decided to go to the cottage the week before when we got a phone call from our neighbour on the July 29th saying Dean was on our front lawn with many boxes.  We rushed home to find out she just dumped him off with court papers stating my husband has FULL custody and that child support payments have been stopped from FRO and she will not being paying any child support.

In more than 4 years now, Dean has not once contacted his mother, his mother has seen him once 3 years ago where she took him for a weekend and dropped him back off with in 24 hrs for no known reason. The mother does not call for birthdays, Christmas did not come to graduation even though we invited her through email…nothing! 2 months ago she called Dean to tell him that her “ husband”  and herself have broken up and he has moved out, the conversation was pleasant and ended well.
Dean in the last 2 months has skipped 40 days of school and is failing, he is lying constantly and is all around cranky. We have talk to him he says everything is ok, we offered counselling but he refuses to go because of the previous experience. We have grounded him, taken away computer, xbox, cable, we have driven him to school, given him the car to get to school. He has skipped out of work ( part time at McDonald’s). We are at our wits end.  Last night he called his mom and all of a sudden she wants to see him and he wants to go to see her. We are very concerned. Dean is 17 and it is getting harder to keep him on track but his mother is so manipulative and really she is all around no a good person. We are not perfect parents but we have fought for him, against him and  with him. How do we keep him from jumping ship here cause we laid down the law about school and attending and the repercussion of not going?  Dean looks for the easy out and we believe the mother looks for a easy buck!

How do we protect ourselves and our other child from so much heartache and stress? Any information would be helpful.


I think that I have Aspergers. Is your ebook just for partners of people with Aspergers? Am I capable of change or is the only way for a relationship to work is if the normal person changes everything that they do to cope, and live having to accept that they cannot get what they need from the relationship? What can I do to change so that I stop hurting and frustrating my wife? Because I can understand that I do things that hurt her, does that mean that I don't have Aspergers and I am just narcisistic or something else? If I can understand after the fact, shouldn't I be able to simply understand not to do the hurtful things?


Dear Mr. Hutten,
I stumbled onto your web site "My Aspergers Child" featuring the article Aspergers and Post High School Education and was very impressed. I want to share with you a little information about our college and the benefits we offer for students with ADD/HD, LD, and Autism Spectrum DO. I am the Director of Disability Services and the Director of The Focus Program at Andrew College and feel that you can benefit from knowing about the unique services we offer.

Andrew College is a very small, Liberal Arts, Methodist affiliated college which offers an Associate's degree in Arts and Sciences in over 75 programs of study. We offer every student a scholarship in many areas of study or an institutional scholarship. AndrewServes is a leadership program that gives students an opportunity to develop leadership skills and be connected to community service projects. All of these are opportunities that students with Aspergers can enjoy and will enhance social maturity.

The Focus Program is an academic support service which provides an intensive level of support and tutoring that allows students to successfully negotiate the transition from high school to college with close monitoring, coaching, tutoring, and supportive adaptive behavior/social skills counseling. Originally the program was developed to serve students with documented LD or ADD/HD. However, over the past 4 years I have had an increased number of students diagnosed with Aspergers who have participated in The Focus Program and have been highly successful academically and socially. My students receive as much personal support as they desire. Students have the opportunity to work daily with Master's level tutors and assistance with social issues that are prevalent with AS. The Focus Program has a limit of 20 students enrolled each semester which allows more individualized assistance, and the Focus Lab is open over 50 hours each week. There is an additional fee for participating in The Focus Program because it is a higher level of academic support than the regular tutoring programs offered at Andrew.

A student with AS making a transition from High School to College has so many more challenges to manage beside the normal "college adjustments" and can benefit from a smaller, nurturing environment. The students with AS, who participated in The Focus Program, have graduated from Andrew and continued to obtain bachelors and masters degrees from other institutions.

I hope I have provided some useful information for you to share with others who may be looking for a good college that will take special care of their students and provide a quality education at the same time. Please look at our web site at www.andrewcollege.edu for more information or contact me anytime.


Hi Mark
Just to say I have implemented week 1. It is hard. So hard. But then living with my 13 year old, Charlie is hard too.
This evening we had tea at the table, he went to the bathroom 3 times during the meal but we all made it to the end. He obviously found it so uncomfortable.
During the week I have told him that I understand how he struggles with anxiety and how hard he finds school.
I have let him earn money for treats by practicing music.
Hardest of all I have walked away from arguments. Just waited for him to calm down then said I understand that you find it hard to express your feelings.
He wanted Chinese food on Saturday, I said no so he bought it with his own money, even walked to the take away on his own, that is completely new. I am determined to increase his self reliance. He resents my interference but can't manage without me.
This is hard on his little brother and his father too, so we have to make it work.
Sorry to take up your time, but just wanted to say we are trying and hopeful of some improvement.
Thank you for your program.


Good morning Mark,
I have a son who is 25 years old and has high functioning Aspergers.  Several months ago I saw your website and now really want to join your membership.  I don't see the link anymore and was hoping to get your help.  I am very sensitive as to privacy only because of the recent violence some Aspergers kids have shown in the US.  My son is not at all violent-quite the opposite-has been bullied most of his life and I am very careful to not include him in the Aspergers profile the community seems to have for Aspergers sufferers.  What I am trying to do is to more fully understand what makes him do what he does so I can help him live a better life.


13 year old grand daughter over eats and weighs 175
She is going to a therapist this coming week who works with over eaters.
She does not want any advise about helping herself or about anything I. E. Swimming, skating etc even if I have experience. She is getting to be like a bully towards my husband and I recently. Of course we sat her down and said if she ever does that again we will have her leave our home.
She use to be a love but now I don't like her
Any suggestions?


Good evening, I wanted to give you a overview of our situation and then ask a few questions please.  My son is 25 and is high functioning.  He has been bullied all his life and is a wonderfully nice young man.  He is over 6 feet tall so could hold off the bullies but chooses not to do so.  He calls himself "socially awkward" although he is perfectly ok trying to start up conversations.  Quite a few people find themselves uncomfortable around him.  I can see their discomfort and don't know what to do to help him and them.  He graduated from High School in 2008 and his father gave him a computer for his graduation.  This was a mistake as he found it hard to stop once he started on the computer.  He worked in a library at the time and spent all his money on games and porn. He gave us excuses as to where the money was going.   At the time this was all happening he also signed up for college.  His first semester he told us he was going to classes and it turned out he was going to the local "Books A Million" instead.  I found out about it when his guidance counselor called me to tell me he needed to drop the classes so he wouldn't get F's.  We talked to him and he promised to do better.  This happened for three semesters.  The third time his stepfather took him to the Navy recruiter and signed him up.  He said he just needed some maturity and the Navy would give it to him.  He was beaten up and robbed aboard ship.  He spent all his money taking taxi's to the building where he could play computer games.  He was given a discharge due to the fact that he couldn't pass the physical test and was above acceptable weight.  When he got home we decided to set up a pool cleaning service for him so he wouldn't have to try to become an employee somewhere.  He does very well as long as there is nothing wrong with the pools and can do the same thing for every pool.  However he doesn't seem to be able to look at a pool and figure out what needs to be done above the normal cleaning.  If anything is out of the normal he forgets to do things that are important to get the job done.  We originally had my husband (his stepfather) following him in another truck to verify his work but the company is getting large and we need to be able to count on my son taking care of the pools correctly-he has been in business for almost 3 years.  Also, when he is asked about things he tends to make things up to cover what he did.  I have told him that lieing is not acceptable and I truly believe he is trying to be honest.  His stepfather is working the business with my son and their relationship is getting very strained and I don't know what to do.  His stepfather is a retired police officer and thinks yelling at him helps him concentrate on what needs to be done.  My son works 6 days a week as he tends to not be able to concentrate on the job if he gets too much time off.  He is not permitted to use the computer anymore but is infrequently permitted to read books, including his Nook (which is the kind that does not have computer access).  He basically works, eats and sleeps. I am hoping to get some insight from you as to what we can do for him to be a successful business owner, but much more importantly how we can help him to stop lying.  I sometimes think he doesn't even know he is doing it when he does.  My husband thinks he does it on purpose to avoid getting yelled at.  Any insight on what I can do to help would be appreciated.


 I want to thank you for taking the time to offer information on RAD. We have recently been told, "I really don't think I can help." by our daughter's therapist and I don't know where to turn. She has no idea what's wrong with her. I have read many RAD info sites today, and finally.... Finally I feel like someone is talking about what we live with everyday. I know I am in no position to diagnose her by google search, but in 22 years of successful parenting and 18years of teaching, I have never seen anything like this.  The self test (the one that says 'if you answered yes to 5 of these statements') IS Jessie (7). I think I only found 5 that DIDN'T clearly define her everyday behavior.
 Thank you for what you are doing to help kids and families. Please continue to post on your blog, and if you have any suggestions for help in Tyler, Texas, we are open for anything. Our next attempt is Brain Gym.


Hello Mr. Hutten

Summary: My son is 17 yrs. old. He was diagnosed with HFA/Asperger’s at the age of 3. A lot of inattentions was the first symptom. A lot of obsessions (emotional rigidity) is also there. All other characteristics of HFA/Asperger’s are there. Stable family.  Special Education since age 3 in town public school.
ADHD meds no net gain, Depression Meds side effects. Had been on/off. Currently no meds.
No behavior issues outside of home. Just shy kid with no social life. We try to help but will not cooperate with us to improve social life.  A lot of mood swings.
We live in central New Jersey. I will like to explain current issue at home and ask for your guidance.

Since the age of 14 the kid had been a bit aggressive at home. Medication Abilify was given in Jan 2012 to control aggression but was stopped after 2 months due to increased weight. He had been a bit less aggressive since then but still pushes us a lot.

Just to give one example of kids persistence in defying parents control, cried for eight hours for stopping TV when he was 7.

Last year when he was more aggressive, we called some state mobile service for emotional de-escalation, but 3rd time he did not care for them. Last year ended up calling cop 2 times when he pushed us to do something that was unreasonable. But after each occurrence he becomes less fearful of cops. So since last year we had been trying to pick up the battles and have not called cops etc.

My son has what you call learned dependence. Also whatever his behaviors is, that is also due to his disability also. So our guess is half bad behavior due to disability, half intentional learned.

So the question now is, next time he tries to push us (say we stop excessive TV), he will become aggressive. Should the cops be called? If called what we ask them to do? Any other ideas welcome?  Now he is physically bigger than parents.


Not sure for seven years that my granddaughter was somewhere on the autism spectrum, I finally convinced my daughter to get a REAL diagnosis.  I went along to the appointment and after an hour of observing while asking us questions, the doctor dismissed the idea of autism and says she has "Sensory Processing Disorder". 

As the hour was running out, I tried to ask a few last questions which the doctor graciously answered but now I'm having more questions and we don't have another appointment until December.  I asked if SPD was "under" the autism category and he very definitely said "No".  I asked what her potential is for her future and he assured me that after establishing consistency, etc., that she can and will become a fine young lady who will be able to do for herself though college may not be in the picture but everyone isn't made for college.

That made me feel better and I'm committed to helping her any way I can (my daughter and grand live with us).  After having worked for 43 years and finally got to retire, I sure wasn't expecting to have to go thru meltdowns and all this obstinacy.   It's driving me crazy at times. 

For the most part she can be a sweet and engaging girl, but when she "flips the switch", we're just helpless.  Any books or sites you can suggest would be appreciated.


Hi Mark
I'm not sure I can do this but am trying to find a way to tell my 16 year old about his favourite Aunt being diagnosed with Cancer.  It was spread through her body and there really isn't much they can do for her.  She has been a part of my son's life since he was born.  He is Asperger's in Grade 10 integrated into regular classes but does attend a couple of learning strats classes.  He is very bright, funny but extremely sensitive.  I know this is going to devastate him and need to find a way to break it too him.  I have been on google to see if there is an easy way to do this but haven't found anything yet.  Please let me know if you can help me with this.  Thank you so much for your articles and all you do for the parents of family and friends with Aspergers.


Thank you for your website.

I have a 13 year old who we have trouble with anger issues for some time now.  We have not had him evaluated, because we were not aware of what was causing the problems until I recently researched some information online and found your website. He matches just about all of the characteristic trairs of an Asbergers teen.

Can you offer any suggestions as to what type of medical professional would be best to have him evaluated and properly diagnosed in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area?


Hi,  I'm not really sure where to begin... I just feel overwhelmed and frustrated.  Our son, David, is 14 years old and will be starting High School this fall.  About 4-5 years ago, in 4th grade I think, his teacher was telling us that he was making odd noises in class and would often times ask to go to the nurse for a stomach ache or the bathroom many times a day.  So, the chaos began and we went to a neurologist who diagnosed him with tourettes and he sent us to a Gastro... specialist for the stomach aches.  There he was diagnosed with Anxiety.  At that point we started seeing a psychologist who was recommended to us for adolescences.  We worked with him for about 2 years - he felt David had OCD in addition to High Anxiety and Tourettes so he had us see a psychiatrist for medication.  Feeling like David wasn't getting the help he needed, we went to the Tourettes clinic at Rutgers University and worked with a therapist there for his 7th grade year.  We also spent this year fighting with the school to get him some help with an IEP.  Even with tutoring and therapy, he still struggles with anxiety and reading comprehension.  We ended up spending our own $ to get him testing at Chyten, where the tests showed that he has a slow processing speed and should have some accommodations for this.  Still having no help from the school, we found a different psychiatrist and paid for an evaluation.  It took the school almost the whole year to even observe him in the classroom (every meeting we had with them, the teachers would say they didn't see signs of tourettes... no one was listening to the fact that it was more - high anxiety and ocd...).  At any rate, once they finally started observing him in class, they felt he did need an iep so about 3 weeks before the end of 7th grade, he finally had an iep.  8th grade seemed to be much better with the IEP, but it still seemed as if he was struggling and so was I.  This past January, I started therapy for myself at work (which is 2 hours away - I work from home 3 days a week) and, the therapist kept saying she wanted to meet David because she just couldn't see how he had the diagnosis that he had.  So, I've driven him down after school twice to meet with her and she really connected with him and pulled out things that I didn't even know.  At any rate, she sent me some information on Asperger's last week and felt that even though he hasn't been diagnosed with it, some of his symptoms could be helped with some of these strategies.  We would like to get him evaluated for it though... it seems as if we just keep going around in circles and we found your site with some referrals and I'm so hoping we can get him some help.


Hi Mark,

My name is Jordan Lipp; I'm the Director of Development  with Loud TV, a Leftfield Entertainment Company and a major US television production company that produces shows like Pawn Stars for History Channel, as well as series on Spike TV, Bravo and HGTV, amongst many other major networks.

I'm reaching out because we're currently casting for a show in development for a major cable TV network that explores how Dads of children 1-13 would choose raise their kids differently than their significant other.  It's a fun format that will expose whether or not some dads are really equipped to raise their kids without their wives' influence.

Since this show is for a very male-oriented network, we're currently looking for a no-nonsense host who's either a successful father that's seen it all raising his own kids, or perhaps a parenting coach or expert. Ideally this Dad would be between the ages of 35-50, have a dynamic personality fit for television, and be able to really coach Dads on what they're doing wrong.

If there's anyone that you may have in mind that fits the bill, I'd love to be in contact with them. This is a major opportunity, with potential nation-wide exposure.

Thanks for your time, and feel free to give me a call via either means below if you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the opportunity.


Dear Mr. Hutton:

I have been married for 11 years. A second marriage for both. My husband is a brilliant man and highly functional, a world known surgeon. He is the nicest sweetest man and then he can be very aloof and distant. He adopted my 2 sons and he had 3 sons from a previous marriage. When we were first married he would tell the kids put away the toys you want to keep and he would take the rest to good will if they left them out in the yard. When I was reading one of your letters from a wife I was in disbelief, Oh my gosh, this is my life. I was highly successful before I met my husband owned a large PR firm so obviously communication was my business. We dated for 3 years, I always thought he was shy and reserved but was a very loving communicator with me. Not to go into too much detail he was a great provider to all 5 boys, his boys were estranged from him for many years, with a very sick and manipulative mother, 2 of the boys are communicating with him but one he has not seen or talked to him in 14 years. We have been invited to the one and only wedding end of September, this year.  Other 2 weddings we did not get invitations too. I want to get him to a place that he can communicate better and we can all have a good time. I do everything for this man and I am tired, all I wanted was a good and loving father for my boys.

Our anniversary was last week; he races cars and did all weekend, which I was ok with. But he said we would go for dinner Sat. night. Thinking he would make a reservation. No he said he was waiting on me to decide. I blew up and said boy if you need car parts you could get them, but could not research and make a reservation for dinner. He started crying real tears; I was shocked, he was really sorry. I need this book so I can learn about this syndrome and I can be happier and hopefully and can be too.


Hi Mark, My suspected AS partner of a year has had a few meltdowns with me. Each time was because of a very light conflict.  He said it was a signal for him that he should get away from me. He broke up with me then said he just needed space. I've barely heard from him in 5 weeks.

I don't know how to reach his mind or get him to be willing to address his problems or face me.  It's clear the meltdowns aren't my fault, but I do trigger him accidentally. Our whole relationship has been extremely positive, supportive, and loving. Any insight would be great.


Dear Mr Hutten,
I saw the information online about your book and I have been very concerned that my 19 year old son might have Aspergers. I was never able to get him appropriately tested through the schools despite constantly begging for further testing so he graduated with a very limited grasp of academic material.
I'm still trying to get a neuropsyche evaluation through the state as my finances are quite limited. I am not working and caretaking a relative full time.
My primary concern is that from what I see on the website many of these kids are often fairly smart and even the couple of kids I have known with this syndrome have seemed quite smart. My son has been bullied quite a bit ever since he was very small because of being a little different and also from being the only native kid in mostly all white schools where we had to live so I could go to school. After that started, he paid very little attention to academics because he was spending so much time just trying to survive these bullying situations and wasn't sophisticated enough to prevent when they were trapping him into getting blamed for things, stealing things from others and putting them in his desk, physical abuse, making fun of his name and his long braids et cetera. As a result it's difficult to tell where there are big academic gaps in learning and where there are serious learning disabilities and dyslexia so I just don't know if this is the right thing. He has definitely missed social cues from very early on and had quite pressured speech going on and on about video games to people who could care less or hugging people that were strangers like old ladies in the market when he was just very small because he thought they looked like they needed a hug. When he was in high school he was always trying to hug his male friends because he's just very loving and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable . Even now he constantly is trying to tell people how things are and sort of giving lectures although some of that may be because he grew up with a teacher, he often does not have the knowledge base to be saying what he is saying and he will never read a novel but he will sit down with a book of every animal on earth and sit and look at the whole thing. He states he has trouble tracking when reading. He is an incredibly gentle person that is so depressed and defensive and spends all day and night playing video games and barely has any social interaction since high school ended and only has a couple of friends to stop by occasionally and he still continues on the video games when people are there.
He does not attend to basic hygiene needs appropriately and also has cystic acne which is a nightmare.  He could care less how he dresses or looks because he thinks everybody thinks he's ugly anyway He seems to have an auditory processing disorder because if i give him more than three basic facts in a request verbally he cannot keep it in his mind straight and he also does well if I just write a list of things for him. He was never able to listen to a teacher and write notes at the same time and his writing was poor anyway although it improved greatly in the last couple years because he actually started to use capitals and punctuation occasionally. He seems to be a great poet though. He also was incapable of writing down basic homework assignments completely enough that I could tell what the assignment was because the chapter would be missing or the due date or the question numbers or some very pertinent piece of the assignment that would prevent him from being able to complete it and he often would be hard to teach because he didn't want to be wrong so he would just forge ahead with the way he thought things should be done like math problems . He did do fairly well in science but he grew up with a science teacher.
I'm just wondering if you have a recommendation of any sort or if you think that these profiles of these types of kids are also associated with significant learning disabilities as well such that would require different treatment? Does this all sounds like the Aspergers profile to you? Or do you think there is more going on? Do you think your book is appropriate to the situation?
I was a substitute and alternative ed high school teacher for 10 years  and had 2 kids with Aspergers. I question if my son is so fearful of driving and resisted going into basic social situations with peers or having any kind of romantic situation with girls etc if he has more going on but he is extremely friendly especially with adults . He always ran over to help teachers if they tripped or dropped something and is the most loving gentle person and also seems to have healing abilities. He can tell when people are in pain and is constantly trying to help others. His compassion level is usually enormous but right now he is in a very difficult situation where I am caretaking a very irrational disabled surviving parent after losing my beloved father so the household is quite difficult and the stress of having an abrasive passive aggressive mentally ill person in his face all the time is starting to show as he is becoming short tempered for the first time even with me, his only parent, which was never the case . His father passed away 10 years ago.
Apologies for this long letter but I really need to make my son my priority and I'm just wondering what I can still do. I actually got the hit for your website after enquiring "is it too late to read to a 19 year old with learning disabilities and still get benefit?"
Does your gut tell you that something here sounds like Aspergers alone and the profile contains these elements or do you think there is something very significant beyond Aspergers having to do with more cognitive disability. I know he tested as having executive functioning difficulties with the little bit the school did . Really having trouble knowing where to turn. Want to make the right steps and certainly do not want to have him be a burden on social security and sitting around doing nothing but video games the rest of his life. He says he's only doing it because he's bored and has nothing else to do but unless someone interrupt him with a request he certainly does not do anything else.
Thank you for your time and for the help you have given so many people.



I recently downloaded your ebook  Living with an Aspergers Partner.  Although the ebook had some terrific insight into handling a marriage with an Aspergers spouse I was particularly interested in learning more about parenting with an Aspergers spouse.  Do you have any recommendations on resources for this topic? 

My husband has Aspergers.  We have been married for 22 years and have two children (ages 18 and 14).  Parenting has been an enormous challenge with my husband.  Now that we have an 18 year old it seems to be even more difficult.  My husband sees 18 as the magic number of no longer needing to parent.  He doesn't mind pouring money into our son for college, gas, insurance, etc.  He just doesn't see a need to set limits and enforce family rules now that he is 18.  It literally happened overnight.  The day of his 18th birthday my husband wouldn't support me on curfews, family rules like telling us where he is going and what he is doing, etc. 

I'm hoping to find some research to help with parenting teenagers when one spouse has Aspergers.  Thanks for any help you can provide. 

I know there are very few couples who stay married when one person has Aspergers.  If you need any information for your research I would be happy to participate.


When parents have different disciplining styles, there's bound to be dissention and arguing. Tension's a given anytime two or more people work on the same project but each take a different approach.

Co-parenting is similar to any other partnership. Each person brings to the table what's been learned along the way. As parents, we're influenced by the disciplinary approaches we experienced growing up, and we tend to apply them to our children-often without first talking them through with our partner.

Imagine a baseball team-eager to win a game-but guided by two coaches who follow different rules and dish out contradictory information. Imagine the tension and the reactions of the players as they witness the coaches quarreling. If you and your husband fight in front of the children, you may not be aware of the ways in which they are affected. Some children may learn "that must be the way people resolve conflicts." Others may learn how to play one parent against the other, which causes even more confusion and distress in the family.

Here are some strategies that can be helpful:

Agree on a signal to alert both of you that the conversation is, or is about to, get too heated and needs to be halted. Make a commitment both to honor – and act on the signal. You might walk away and have an agreed-upon cooling off period. Or set a time to revisit your differences in opinion. Or write down what you're feeling and later share it with your partner, who might better understand where you're coming from.

Do not to go overboard in trying to avoid arguments. Having small squabbles in front of the kids – and then resolving them peacefully – can actually be good for them; it shows that it's possible to disagree with someone you love, and that relationships don't end just because people are quarreling with each other.

Don’t be trapped by your past. That includes both your own childhood and the style of discipline you may have used in an earlier marriage. Look for ways to explore, with your spouse, your unquestioned assumptions about disciplining kids.

Have a conversation about the ways childhood histories may be influencing the disagreement about discipline. Take a problem-solving approach to identify: (1) What is the specific child-rearing issue that is causing disagreement between parents? (2) What are the feelings and beliefs that each parent has about the issue that may be rooted in childhood family history? (3) What problem-solving alternatives can each of you commit to that will resolve the disagreement and unite both parents in adapting the beliefs and practices of your families of origin to your family life today?

Sit down with your husband and try to agree on ways to discipline at a time when nothing is wrong. When you discuss things calmly, you're more likely to come up with a plan you can both stick to. This will allow you to talk about what's best for your child, and not "who's right."

Remember your successes. During your marriage, you and your husband have undoubtedly successfully negotiated many situations -- with each of you both giving and taking a little until you reached some middle ground.

Lastly, know that a weaker parenting plan (even a lax one) supported by BOTH parents is much better than a stronger plan supported by only ONE parent.

Hope this helps,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

Mark I'm a little concerned about purchasing your book because my son is no longer a team he is about 23 years old. He has not been diagnosed with either of the as or autism although he and I discussed that he some of the attributes, and he agrees. My concern is he does have friendships but how he functions in the friendships is somewhat tentative. Here's my question do you think there are some principles included in your text that would help my son? And, I'm a little tentative to approach him with the matter. Do you have any suggestions?

My 27 year old son with Aspergers has a job interview coming up for a 911 dispatcher position. He has had a few interviews and has not done well with them. He gets extremely nervous, starts perspiring, clearing his throat and freezing up. Others as well as myself have tried to practice interviewing with him. Would he be better off going to the interview and telling them up front that he has Aspergers and that is why he isn't a strong interviewer or not say anything about it? I'm just not sure if he will scare them off if he tells them about his disability or if he should take his chances on doing okay in the interview. Any thoughts are appreciated. He has been working part time for 2 years as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store but really needs full time employment so he can begin living independently.


Hi Mark,

I don't really know if there is any hope here. My husband of 35 years was diagnosed with asperger's last year. It explains a lot but has not changed anything. My husband has been out of control for the last decade. He charged up so much debt behind my back that I finally had to make the decision to file bankruptcy 4 years ago. As much as I try to manage things, he has gotten cards behind my back and charged more debt. The biggest problem is he is a chronic liar. He lies to me about anything and everything, big and small and in between. I am a phone call away from divorcing him. I am overwhelmed and cannot handle his bad behavior anymore. He saw a psychiatrist for depression last year and she talked to me and told me to try to find someone to help me manage his bad behavior. I put him in Celebrate Recovery for 9 months where the pastor and director worked one on one with him and he attended meetings twice a week. He still was lying to me and charging during this time when everyone was trying to help him. Nothing has worked. 

He is also passive aggressive, avoidant, defiant, and so many other things it's hard to keep up. He has been seeing counselors and pastors off and on for over 20 years while his behavior continues to get worse. He also stole money from his mother. She gave him access to her checking account and he took full advantage of her. She continued to enable him until she passed away a year and half ago.

I just now downloaded your book but I guess I wanted to get your opinion on whether there is any hope or not. I have watched a few of your videos and I am very angry and resentful. I have never had a husband and have always had to be his parent.

My adult son is 33 and also has asperger's and had to move back home over 2 years ago. He has a lot of health issues and is not functioning at all. I believe once we get his health issues resolved he will be able to start functioning and move forward. At least I hope so.

I really feel like it is hopeless and divorce is my only option. I am physically disabled with an autonomic nervous system dysfunction called Postural Othostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (P.O.T.S.) and my cardiac doctor told me if there was any way possible to work this out, that P.O.T.S. patients do better with someone to help them. The problem is that stress is the worst thing for P.O.T.S. patients and the stress from my husband also made me really ill about 4 years ago. The stress is relentless because I never know what is coming next. 

Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Please let me know what to do.


Mr. Hutten,

Major Parenting Strategy Breakthrough--

My son's obsessive interest is watching youtube videos on his phone using the wifi.  I ask him several times a day to give it a rest. I do not allow his phone at the table while eating. 

Today, my son was very disrespectful and argumentative when I asked him to put the phone away at lunch.  I kept calm but was shaking, not from anger, but from stress.  After some more choice words to me, he left the table after eating and went up to his room.  I thought to myself how unacceptable it is to be shaking from the way my son talks to me.

I went upstairs to his room.  He told me to get out several times.  I showed him that my hand was shaking from the stress of how he had been talking to me, that it was unacceptable and gave him the directive to turn off the wifi setting on his phone.  He could turn it back on later if his attitude was good and respectful toward me for the rest of the day.  (

His new iphone is password protected but that's not a battle I want to fight right now.  He is a good kid and is obsessive about internet searches and videos on his phone, but the content he accesses is harmless. After asking him twice, he continued refusing to turn it off. I stood at the entrance to his room and told him for every 5 minutes that I had to wait, his bedtime would be one hour earlier tonight.  He was angry, left the room, then walked past me in thehall and said he had turned it off and went back into his room.  I didn't ask to see it. I trusted that he did it.

I went downstairs and checked the modem.  He was still accessing the wireless connection.  Usually I have unplugged the modem which disconnected the entire internet connection including my desktop.  This time, I researched it and found directions to turn off the wireless only inside the modem through my U-verse account online.  I turned it off then went back to what I was doing.

Within 5 minutes, he was in the bathroom brushing his teeth and is now outside doing his chores.  Not one word out of him to me.  Blissful silence.

Thank you! 



Thank you so much for your recent posts for teens.  It is disheartening that everything is geared toward early intervention, but I also agree with it fully.  We just need to get him evaluated as a teen and that isn't turning out to be easy to find a psychiatrist to do the required testing.  CHOP won't even send you paperwork for 2 mos. unless you are under 3mos. old.  and one place only evaluates up to 14 years old.  I've left them a message anyway, hoping they may see him (he turned 14 in March). 

Thank you for all of your great articles :-) 

Hi Mark.  I just read your ebook.  Great stuff.  I have a 16 year old son, Jake, with Asbergers.  This is a relatively recent diagnosis and not something that any of us have really figured out.  Relationships are tense; resentment is high, etc..

I think a Life Coach for Jake could really help.  Can you recommend someone in the Washington DC area?

Related, my wife and I could really use someone to talk to about plans, options, etc..  We want to better understand Jake, change our parenting style to match Jake's needs, etc..  Not sure where to start to even look for such a person.  Can you point us in the right direction?


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