Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Children on the Autism Spectrum

“Are there any natural or non-pharmaceutical ways to treat symptoms of high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome?”

Alternative approaches to treating symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders do exist. One such approach is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), which is defined as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.”

CAM therapies used to treat Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have been categorized as “biological” or “nonbiological.” Let’s look at each of these in turn…

Examples of biological therapies include:
  • detoxification therapies (e.g., chelation)
  • dietary supplement regimens that are supposed to act by modulating neurotransmission or through immune factors (e.g., vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium, folic acid, folinic acid, vitamin B12, dimethylglycine and trimethylglycine, carnosine, omega-3 fatty acids, inositol, various minerals, etc.)
  • gastrointestinal treatments (e.g., digestive enzymes, antifungal agents, probiotics, yeast-free diet, gluten/casein-free diet, vancomycin)
  • immunoregulatory interventions (e.g., dietary restriction of food allergens or administration of immunoglobulin or antiviral agents)

Examples of nonbiological interventions include treatments such as:
  • music therapy
  • facilitated communication
  • dolphin-assisted therapy
  • equine-assisted therapy
  • craniosacral manipulation
  • behavioral optometry
  • auditory integration training

Moms and dads of kids with AS and HFA will understandably pursue interventions that they believe may offer some hope for symptom-relief, particularly if the therapies do not have any adverse side-effects.

Unfortunately, parents are sometimes exposed to unconfirmed theories and related clinical practices that may be ineffective or, in worst case scenarios, lead to physical, emotional, or financial harm. Thus, always consult with your doctor before starting any new or unorthodox treatment approach.

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


Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder versus Autism Spectrum Disorder

“What is Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder? And how does it differ from Autism Spectrum Disorder?”

Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder (SCD) is characterized by “a persistent difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication that can’t be explained by low cognitive ability.” Symptoms include:
  • inappropriate responses in conversation
  • difficulties with academic achievement and occupational performance
  • limited effective communication
  • difficulties in the acquisition and use of spoken and written language
  • complications in social relationships

Also, these symptoms must be present in early childhood (even if they are not recognized until later when language, speech or communication demands exceed abilities).

The new diagnosis of SCD more correctly identifies children who have significant problems with verbal and nonverbal communication for social purposes. These problems lead to impairments in their ability to perform academically and occupationally, participate socially, maintain social relationships, and effectively communicate.

Previous editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders didn’t provide an appropriate diagnosis for children with such symptoms. As a result, inconsistent treatment was initiated in various clinics and treatment centers, and a lot of children were lumped under the “not otherwise specified” category of Pervasive Development Disorder.

While previous editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders included diagnoses with related symptoms, the SCD diagnosis is needed to address the special needs of SCD children (e.g., while Autism Spectrum Disorder does include communication problems, it also includes restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities, and gives equal weight to both communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors).

Research shows that communication disorders are very treatable. Thus, identifying distinct communication difficulties is a crucial first step in getting these children appropriate care. The SCD label helps them get the services and treatment they need.

As a side note, Autism Spectrum Disorder must be ruled out for SCD to be diagnosed.

Get Personal One-on-One "Parent Coaching" from Mark Hutten, M.A.


Teaching Interpersonal Relationship Skills to the "Friendless" Asperger's Child

What comes naturally to “typical” kids does not come naturally to kids on the autism spectrum. The lack of interpersonal relationship skills makes it difficult for these boys and girls to make and keep friends – and often leads to social isolation. Now for the good news: Parents can learn to teach interpersonal relationship skills to their “special needs” youngsters.

In this post, we will discuss the following:
  • Practicing reciprocal interactions
  • Rehearsing social situations through role-play
  • Relationship skills groups
  • Teachers' crucial role in teaching social skills
  • Teaching the youngsters how to recognize the feelings of others
  • Making use of “social skills training” materials
  • Making use of social stories

Click here for the full article...


Social-Skills Training and Joint-Attention Training for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Can social skills training really help children with high functioning autism? What should a good training program consist of?”

There is some objective evidence to support traditional and newer naturalistic behavioral techniques and other approaches to teaching social skills. Joint attention training may be especially helpful in young, pre-verbal kids on the autism spectrum (e.g., Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism), because joint attention behaviors precede and predict social language development.

A randomized, controlled trial demonstrated that joint attention and symbolic play skills can be taught, and that these skills generalize to different settings and people. Parents can facilitate joint attention and other reciprocal social interaction experiences throughout the day in the youngster's regular activities.

A social skills curriculum should target the following:
  • initiating social behavior
  • minimizing stereotyped perseverative behavior while using a flexible and varied repertoire of responses
  • responding to the social overtures of other kids and grown-ups
  • self-managing new and established skills

The following are supported primarily by descriptive and anecdotal literature, but the quantity and quality of research is increasing: 
  • peer-mediated techniques
  • play and leisure curricula 
  • scripts
  • social games
  • social skills groups
  • social stories
  • video modeling
  • visual cueing

A number of social skills curricula and guidelines are available for use in school programs and at home.

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


Sensory Integration Therapy and Occupational Therapy for HFA Children

“What does sensory integration therapy entail? And is it effective for children with high functioning autism?”

Sensory integration therapy is often used alone or as part of a broader program of occupational therapy for kids on the autism spectrum.

The goal of this particular therapy is not to teach specific skills or behaviors, but to remediate deficits in neurologic processing and integration of sensory information to allow the youngster to interact with the environment in a more adaptive way.

Unusual sensory responses are common in young people with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), but there’s no good evidence that these symptoms differentiate HFA from other developmental disorders.

The effectiveness of sensory integration therapy has not been demonstrated objectively. “Sensory” activities may be helpful as part of an overall program that uses desired sensory experiences to reinforce a desired behavior, help with transitions between activities, and calm the HFA youngster.

Occupational therapy is often provided to promote development of self-care skills (e.g., using utensils, personal hygiene, manipulating fasteners, dressing, etc.) and academic skills (e.g., writing, cutting with scissors, etc.).

Occupational therapists also may assist in modifying classroom materials and routines to improve attention and organization, promoting development of play skills, and providing prevocational training. However, research regarding the effectiveness of occupational therapy in autism spectrum disorders is lacking.

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


Gastrointestinal Problems in Asperger’s Children

“Is there a correlation between gastrointestinal issues and Asperger Syndrome? Our son seems to be very sensitive to certain foods, especially bread and milk (they cause him to cramp).”

The relationship between gastrointestinal problems and Asperger’s (high functioning autism) is unclear, because most studies have not examined representative groups of kids with Asperger’s compared with appropriate controls. Surveys published in the gastroenterology literature have stated that gastrointestinal problems (e.g., constipation, diarrhea) occur in 46% to 85% of Asperger’s kids. Lower rates in the range of 17% to 24% have been reported in other population-based studies.

One case-control study in the United Kingdom found that only 9% of young people with Asperger’s had a history of gastrointestinal complaints. Conversely, in one cross-sectional study that used structured interviews and matched control groups, a lifetime history of gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., abnormal stool pattern, frequent constipation, frequent vomiting, frequent abdominal pain, etc.) was found in 70% of Asperger’s kids compared with 42% of the kids with other developmental disabilities and 28% of the kids without developmental disabilities.

In young people with Asperger’s undergoing endoscopy, colitis, duodenitis, gastritis, high rates of lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, and histologically subtle esophagitis have been described. Evidence suggests that some immunohistochemical features may be unique to inflammation associated with Asperger’s.

The existing literature does not support routine specialized gastroenterological testing for asymptomatic “Aspies.” However, if a youngster on the autism spectrum presents with symptoms (e.g., chronic or recurrent abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), it is reasonable to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract.

Gastrointestinal discomfort also should be considered in a youngster who presents with a change in behavior (e.g., outbursts of aggression, meltdowns, self-injury, etc.). Radiographic evidence of constipation has been found to be more common in young people with Asperger’s than in controls with abdominal pain (36% vs 10%).


Teaching Students with High-Functioning Autism

Students with High Functioning Autism (HFA) exhibit difficulty in appropriately processing in-coming information. Their brain's ability to take in, store, and use information is significantly different than other developing children. HFA students can present a challenge for the most experienced teacher. Here are some important tips that teachers with HFA students will need to be aware of:

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


Asperger’s and Family Support: Tips for Health Care Professionals and Parents

Effective management of Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) should focus not only on the affected youngster, but also on the family. Although moms and dads once were viewed erroneously as the cause of a youngster's Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is now recognized that they play a major role in effective treatment.

Having a youngster on the autism spectrum has a significant effect on a family. Parents and siblings of autistic kids experience more stress and depression than those of kids who are “typically developing” – or even those who have other disabilities. Supporting the family and ensuring its emotional and physical health is an extremely important aspect of overall management of AS and HFA.

Doctors, therapists and other health care professionals can provide family support in the following ways: 
  • assisting parents in advocating for their AS or HFA youngster's special needs
  • assisting parents in advocating for the sibling's needs
  • assisting parents in obtaining access to resources
  • educating them about Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • providing anticipatory guidance
  • providing emotional support through traditional therapeutic techniques (e.g., empathetic listening, talking through problems, etc.)
  • training and involving parents as “co-therapists”

In some cases, referral of moms and dads for counseling or other appropriate mental health services may be required. The need for support is longitudinal, although the specific needs may vary throughout the family life-cycle.

One of the main techniques for assisting parents is to help them access needed ongoing supports and additional services during critical periods and/or crises. Such assistance includes natural, informal and formal supports.

Natural supports include: 
  • extended family members
  • friends who can help with care-giving and who can provide psychological and emotional support
  • neighbors
  • religious institutions
  • spouses

Informal supports include: 
  • community agencies that provide training
  • recreational activities
  • respite
  • social events
  • social networks of other parents of kids on the autism spectrum

Formal supports include:  
  • in-home and community-based waiver services
  • Medicaid
  • publicly funded, state-administrated programs (e.g., early intervention)
  • residential/living services
  • respite services
  • special education
  • Supplemental Security Income benefits
  • vocational services

The breadth and depth of services vary, even within the same state or region. Few services exist in many rural areas, and public programs may have long waiting lists.

Sibling support groups offer the opportunity to learn valuable information and skills while sharing experiences and connecting with other siblings of kids on the spectrum. Although the research on support groups for siblings of AS and HFA kids is difficult to interpret (due to study-design problems and inconsistent outcome effects on sibling adjustment), these groups generally have been evaluated positively by participating siblings and parents.

Because each state has organized its services and access mechanisms differently, health care professionals and parents must learn their own state's unique rules to access supports by contacting the state or county offices of the states’ Department of Health and Human Services, local mental health facilities, or the state developmental disabilities organization.

Also, school district special education coordinators, national autism and related developmental disability organizations, local parent advocacy organizations, and early intervention administrators often are knowledgeable about various programs and their respective eligibility requirements.

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 Value of a “Behavior Log”: Help for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Problematic emotional reactions and behaviors (e.g., aggression, meltdowns, self-injury, etc.) are common in kids and teens with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). In many cases, medical conditions may cause or exacerbate maladaptive behaviors. Recognition and treatment of these conditions may eliminate the need for medications (e.g., in the case of an acute onset of aggressive or self-injurious behavior, the source of pain can be identified and treated).

Some of the sources of physical discomfort that may cause or exacerbate maladaptive behaviors in AS and HFA children include the following:
  • allergic rhinitis (allergic inflammation of the nasal airways)
  • colitis (inflammation of the inner lining of the colon)
  • constipation
  • dental abscess
  • esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
  • fractures
  • gastritis (inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of the stomach)
  • headaches
  • otitis externa (inflammation of the outer ear and ear canal)
  • otitis media (middle ear infection)
  • pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat)
  • sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses)
  • urinary tract infection

Additional sources of maladaptive behaviors may include the following:

1. A chronic illness or low-grade infection could make your child irritable.

2. A mismatch between behavioral expectations and cognitive ability of the youngster is often responsible for disruptive behavior. Adjustment of expectations is the most appropriate intervention. A functional analysis of behavior (completed by a behavior specialist in the settings in which the problems occur) will identify factors in the environment that exacerbate or maintain the maladaptive behavior. An intervention using behavioral techniques and environmental manipulations can then be formulated and tested.

3. Being hungry, tired, or thirsty can make your youngster cranky.

4. Changes in routine often impact behavior (e.g., parents going through divorce, a health crisis, a job change, a move, etc.).

5. Coordination problems can contribute to stress and behavior issues. If your youngster has trouble undoing buttons or zippers, the short time allotted for bathroom breaks at school can add tremendous stress. Also, when a child walks awkwardly, negotiating a crowded hallway between classes can be stressful.

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

6. Environmental factors often precipitate challenging behaviors (e.g., fluorescent lighting, foul smells, a room that is too cool or too warm, crowded hallways, etc.).

7. Look for possible sources of pain (e.g., teeth, reflux, gut, broken bones, cuts and splinters, infections, abscesses, sprains, bruises, etc.). Any behaviors that seem to be localized might indicate pain.

8. Maybe your child has no friends at school, so recess is particularly tough for him.

9. Obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to behavioral problems and may be amenable to weight reduction, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, or continuous positive airway pressure.

10.  Poor sleep or coming down with a cold could easily explain unusual behavior.

11.  Some behaviors (especially those that seem particularly odd or abrupt) may be due to seizures.

12.  Negative emotions (e.g., sorrow, anger, fear, anxiety, etc.) can have an impact on behavior.

13.  Flushed cheeks or diarrhea within a few hours of eating a particular food may indicate an allergy, which can in turn create behavioral issues. Try to identify any food allergies or sensitivities that might be bothering your youngster.

14.  When behavioral problems appear to be related to menstrual cycles in a teenage girl on the autism spectrum, use of an analgesic or oral or injectable contraceptive can be helpful.

15.  Your youngster may respond with disruptive behavior if he’s being overwhelmed by too much sensory information.

Many of the behaviors that kids with AS and HFA exhibit do not make obvious sense, because they don’t seem to serve any clear purpose (e.g., an unusual attachment to inanimate objects such as rubber bands and tooth pics). But parents and teachers should assume that “strange” behaviors like this do make some sense to the child. He or she is sending coded messages about things that are important to him or her. The trick is to break the code so that the messages can be “read.”

Behaviors That Should Not Be Punished Because They Are Part of the Disorder 

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

Here’s an effective way to begin to “read” the coded messages:

Start recording problematic behaviors (e.g., emotional outbursts). Does the child act-out when fluorescent lights are turned on in the kitchen? Is the child more likely to have outbursts during recess at school? What time do these events most often happen?

Most problematic behaviors are triggered by an event. Just as one might suddenly feel thirsty as he or she walks past a lemonade stand, there are “triggering events” in the AS and HFA child’s day that trigger difficult behaviors. Thus, it is helpful to use a behavior log to try to identify these trigger events for some of the child’s most difficult behaviors. Rather than looking at the behavior as “bad,” parents and teachers should look for how the context or environment is out of synch with the youngster.

A behavior log is useful in both the home and educational environment where the parent and teacher can monitor the behavior of AS or HFA child. The log allows the observer to identify some specific behavior demonstrated by the child and proceed to consider the best ways to correct any inappropriate behavior. Also, the log allows a monitoring of behavior of the child over a certain time frame before taking action on or against her (i.e., punishment) so that the right experience can be developed between disciplinarian and child.

A behavior log may contain any or all of the following: 
  • Child’s name
  • Period of monitoring 
  • Date of observation 
  • Time of observation 
  • Behavior observed 
  • Description of the specific disruptive incident
  • What was happening prior to the disruption
  • Actions taken to resolve the problematic behavior
  • Comments (e.g., possible interventions that were not used that may have helped the child to calm down, steps to take in the future to help avoid the problematic behavior, steps taken that seemed to have some positive effect, steps taken that seemed to worsen the situation, etc.).

From the above recorded information, the parent and/or teacher needs to study the "behavior trend" carefully before making any conclusions or recommendations. If insufficient data is collected, more observation should be made instead jumping to a hasty solution. This type of study is usually long-term (3-4 months) with a careful eye for details.

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


How to Avoid "Back-to-School" Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's Kids

It's tempting to put off back-to-school preparations until the first day is just a week or so away. The resulting last-minute flurry of phone calls, errands, and meetings can be overwhelming. But this year, you can make the back-to-school process easier. This video will focus on simple things you can do NOW to make this the best transition to the new school year ever.


Helping Asperger’s and HFA Teens Deal with Their Disorder

Teens with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) bring their unique flavor to adolescence, essentially determined by the levels of three principles: avoidance, insight, and interest.

In this post, we will discuss the following:
  • Level of avoidance 
  • Level of insight 
  • Level of interest
  • The grief cycle 
  • Special considerations for parents 
  • Tips for helping your teenager to deal with his or her disorder

Click here for the full article...

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for July, 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.


My 18 year old son has been diagnosed with aspergers, also now known as Social Pragmatic communication disorder. He also has auditory processing disorder, a math disability, and an IQ of 90.
He has lately taken to arguing with me about everything, he talks over me, and will not listen.  Some of this I know is due to the fact that he is trying to find his way in life. But, I am at my wits end. Help!


Dear Mark,

Firstly I would like to congratulate you on a very thorough and comprehensive article on SPD.

As a child I was diagnosed very early on with SPD, roughly aged 4-5. I am now 27, happily married and (more or less) a functioning member of society.

I was scrolling amongst a plethora of SPD-related articles as my wife was curious as to the mentality and 'learning difficulties' I had as a child, and I found that your description of this 'disorder' was more or less on the ball (excepting a segment about fully developed adults with this disorder, which was a gap in information I found with near all the scholarly texts regarding this specific type of autism).

Anyway, my name is Don _____, and I was wondering what your sources were... There were many examples that seemed a little too direct towards my own history and it began me thinking that I was diagnosed more or less at the same time the term SPD was coined.

Anyway these are fragments of paragraphs I found bore similarities far too derived from normal generalisation to be mere coincidence..

Creative writing, rather like pretend play, is something which may remain inflexible. Many kids with SEMANTIC PRAGMATIC DISORDER find it easier to regurgitate their own experiences or retell stories. One youngster we know is so accomplished at memorizing stories and interweaving them into new ones that he has actually won prizes for creative writing!

e..Age 11-12, a short sci-fi story was published in a short-story magazine
Adults, kids, teachers and moms & dads are treated the same so when Adam said "don't talk to me like that" to a visitor, he was understandably thought to be very rude, when in fact he was simply repeating what had been said to him. SEMANTIC PRAGMATIC DISORDER kid’s inappropriate or immature use of language can be very embarrassing. They say things like, "why has that lady got such a big nose", or they give tha

e.. My name is Adam...

e now think there is a family link between these Autistic Spectrum Disorders. We have sometimes found that having identified one youngster on the Autistic Continuum, another youngster in the family has been found to have milder communication problems too,

e.. My eldest brother has Aspergers, and my middle has mild dyslexia

Anyway, if at all possible, and if not too troublesome, could you refer me to the sources you drew this article from...?

If it's the case that during my childhood I was used as a case study without my knowledge, I honestly would not mind, simply the fact is that I would like to know if these paragraphs refer to myself. And further continuing this train of thought, I would not be against a conversation regarding how this disorder has affected my later on in life, since I see there is little regarding adults who suffered this symptom during childhood.


Hi Mark,
I have always found your website helpful and I am hoping you can provide some 1:1 coaching for me and my mother.  I have a niece Morgan who is 21 years old with HFA.  She falls in the passive category of HFA and is generally quiet and prefers socializing 1:1 or 1:2 and definitely starts to look nervous when people are socializing in a group.

She graduated at 18, barely , and her mother has always been battling quite a few challenges herself, so for the most part Morgan has gotten by on her wits, but is definitely struggling.  I think in some ways the lack of supports, i.e. late diagnosis (age 11), minimal SPED, no money from mom, has definitely served her.  She has an IQ of 125, but a significant verbal processing disorder.  She writes like a champ and if and when she responds she appears completely neurotypical.  She worked in HS in food service, a job she acquired with a cousin's help who worked in the same place, and managed to pay off a $4,000 automobile and cover her parochial tuition for the classes she had below a "C" in which I think was a smart thing for her mom to have her do.

She is bisexual/lesbian and involved in Anime (goes to conventions).  I think both those groups seem to be more accepting of her quirks than perhaps the general population.  Through Anime she found a group of NT friends though they are just kind of living on the edge of poverty like Morgan which will be brought up later .  She has a girlfriend that lives three hours away which I think Morgan enjoys having her as a girlfriend, but also likes the fact that she doesn't have to spend much time with her because of the distance.  Her girlfriend is NT and again a young adult living on the edge of poverty and a little out of the mainstream.

So last April, Morgan's 24 year old step sister moved into her mom's house because she was basically homeless.  Morgan and her did not mix.  Kate has a lot of issues and there was a lot of resulting tension in the house.  Morgan had two friends that asked her to get an apartment with them.  She had been taking classes at a local community college.  I knew my niece and knew there was no way she was passing them, but when I asked my sister about it she would say that when she asked about grades Morgan would say she was getting As and Bs and they were mailing the report cards and they must have gotten lost in the mail, etc.  So when Morgan moved in with these two friends, she started taking $1,000 a month from her 529 plan for living expenses and cut back her work hours.  I think she was in heaven and as near as I can tell she was skipping school, getting paid to do it, and living with friends in a cool apartment.  Not a bad gig.

Well this spring, they added another roommate and decided to move into a townhouse.  This is when things started to not look so rosy. Morgan switched jobs to a sister hospital and it was not an aspie friendly environment as her last job and she started calling in sick and got fired.  She had failed to pay her tuition instead spending the money on other things including covering the roommates utility expenses and the college wouldn't let her take anymore classes until that bill was taken care of so somehow I think that stopped the 529 money train.  She discovered the joys of credit car use and built up $2500 at least in credit card debt along with a $700 tuition bill. The foursome decided to break their lease this month and she had no money to join anybody's alternate plans and I am not sure she was asked.  She found a job working night shift (stocker) at Target for 25 hours a week and ran completely out of money in between last and first paychecks.

At this point my mother who is no pushover asked Morgan if she and her cat would like to move into her basement for a year.  My parent's winter in AZ so this is a pretty sweet gig if Morgan can pull it off.

So here is where you come in if you can help.  Morgan over the years has honed a few skills and is no slouch when it comes to telling people what they want to hear if it will stop the pain at any level .

Anyway my mom, aunt (helps Morgan out when she is in crisis), and my plan is currently to provide Morgan with matching funds so that if she is willing to follow the plan she will end the year in a much more stable position not just financially, but emotionally.


My husband and I have custody of our 14 year old grandson, and need help, he has ODD and we are not sure how to treat it, he has been going to the Anderson Center, We got him in April, as his mother (our daughter) just couldn't figure out how to deal with him, as she lives in Indy and he was running away, Hanging with gang members, was cutting himself, smoking pot, and god knows what else.. So now he is with us, He did some of IOP at the Anderson Center basically they said it wasn't for him as he was disruptive and JOKED around to much??? So now has Seen Terry who is straight to the point, But when we go SeVion doesn't talk much, He does talk with us or well Tell us what is what... He thinks he should have NO RULES, come and go as he sees fit no matter the time, We have caught him smoking, sneaking out in the middle of the night, his response was " I WAS JUST RIDING MY BIKE" HE THINKS THAT HE WAS NOT IN THE WRONG AT ALL.. He will not admit when he is wrong, He will shove it on everyone else, He also is very aggressive, not really in an angry way, Just when he is PLAYING around I think that he really tries to hurt you, just to show how strong he is, Like picking up the other kids, That are younger and throwing them to the ground (Kind of Body slam without him falling on you) or trying to takel my husband who is 6 foot tall and 225 pounds...  I found your name on the internet and wondered if you can help in any way, as school will be starting soon and that is when he has the most issues, as he has been suspended numerous times in the past. He really is a smart kid very affectionate at times, but just can NOT follow any rules.



Hi, Mark!

As my son, Koby, moves from elementary school to his 6th grade year in middle school, I have a couple of questions that I have.

I've been doing a lot of research online to find some answers, but I haven't had luck in finding any that are convincing for the following issues:
  • Koby's therapist suggested that we find a way to help move Koby further along with his pragmatic use of language as it pertains to him "sounding mature" and developing skills necessary for verbal interaction with his peers at school. At this point, Koby is able to respond appropriately with what he should say, but how he says it is still problematic and it will likely lead to even more teasing at school. Do you have any advice to offer about this? 
  • Also, during these final weeks before school starts, Koby will be working with his tutor on his reading and writing skills. Do you happen to know of any programs that are stand outs in this area?


RE: Do you have any advice to offer about this? 

Just a lot of practice of as many different scenarios as possible. This is something that doesn't come naturally to him (obviously).

Some ideas include:

Role play conversations that might occur with different people in different situations. For example, set up a situation in which your son has to explain the same thing to different people. For example, he might be asked to teach the rules of a new game to a younger child and to an adult. If his explanations are the same for each listener, model different language patterns for an adult.

Provide visual prompts such as pictures, objects, or a story outline to help him tell a story in sequence.

Encourage him to rephrase or revise an unclear word or sentence. Provide an appropriate revision by asking "Did you mean ____.”

Show how nonverbal signals are important to communication. For example, talk about what happens when a facial expression does not match the emotion expressed in a verbal message (e.g., using angry words while smiling).

RE: Do you happen to know of any programs that are stand outs in this area?
Not one that stands out above the rest... no.



I am a mother of three children, two girls one boy ages 4-8.  I came across your name online and want to share my story

Recently our oldest girl, (8yrs), has been demonstrating some behaviours  that are worrisome.  We have been noticing meltdowns, anger outbursts, unexplained crying, all possible characteristics/ signs of Asperger's, we think.  She is extremely bright, top of her class, her teacher has no behaviour problems with her at school and is very creative and involved in visual arts.
I am seeking guidance, more information on the topic, are we on the right track?
Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated


Thanks Mark,

I am really glad I stumbled across your website. I put into action last night the beginning stages of self reliance after listening to the 1st two audio’s and I was pleasantly surprised how well it came across with my son.

Hi Mark, I take my daughter this month to to get diagnosed, but with all the research I have done I believe she has Asperger's. Do you know of any support groups in my area or how I go about finding them. I'm looking for resources with certain issues I am facing with my daughter as far as she has now graduated from high school does not struggle academically one bit, but with real life skills. She is not able to drive, so we are faced with that issue. I am a single parent wondering also if I have rights for her child support to continue past the age of 18.  Any information you could pass on would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

I have a question of sorts, or just asking for advice.
My 8.5 year old son, technically diagnosed PDD-NOS but I think Asperger’s fits for him (and for his father) developed his first friendship this past school year with a classmate. She is a sweet girl and it warmed my heart when she claimed my son as her friend.
We’ve been out of school for 3+ weeks and managed a couple of playdates at a local park that went fine. The third time we got together she was already there with another friend and hardly paid any attention to my kiddo, and left without saying good-bye.
My son, since school let out and hasn’t been able to see her every day, all day, is ....eating next to nothing, and complaining of nausea most every day. He is moody and subdued most of the time and waiting, waiting until the next time he can see her. I took a photo of them on his Leappad and he made it into a video on his Leappad and cut himself out and .....he’s quite focused on her. He’s not even pre-teen – he’s 8.5 years old!
I welcome any advice you may have. He and I have talked and prepared somewhat for how he will be if she isn’t available to play and if she needs to play with other friends.

Our son is on the second week of summer break. Last week he accepted daily chores and did them each day.

He has missed a lot of school this grade 11 due to depression issues so was to take a summer class beginning last Thursday. He would not go. We decided to let that be.

This week we gave him a daily plan of 2 hours of math homework (he is attempting to complete this online with the approval of his school), a daily chore and to job search 3 companies online per day and send in an online application. This is in the hopes that he will find a part time job. He is also not to be in bed during the day. His dad is home to supervise this.

Our son does not want this plan, we did compromise with him to make it less controlling. We also put it in writing.

Today we began the expectations, he refused and his dad clearly told him that the consequence would be no TV screens/ gaming for the evening. He ignored this. He would not shut off the TV and played Xbox in front of us. His dad shut the power off in his area.

Our son was furious. He came down, yelled and pushed his dad. He shut himself in our bedroom and stayed there for awhile. He came out after 10 minutes. We are not sure of what he took. When we went into our room to see what had happened we saw that he had trashed 2 of his father's dresser drawers.


Mark, I am an LPC and have been in private practice for almost 20 years.  I also have an out-of-control teen-age son.  I have looked at your website, and am wondering if your material would be an appropriate curriculum to use for a “parents of troubled teens” support group that I’m looking to implement at my church.  I am appalled that there seems to be so little resources for us (parents of troubled teens).  I know there’s a lot of us out there, most of us suffering alone and wondering when it will get better (actually, we’re afraid it will never get better!).  Let me know what you think.



I have found out about your website from my 13 year old daughter's social worker at the alberta children's hospital.  My daughter has been officially diagnosed with PDD-NOS, but she's on the cusp of Aspergers. Her name is Kennedy.  She also has the following issues:  ADHD, B-Cell Immune Deficiency, and Learning Disablitlities. She was diagnosed with the Immune Deficiency at 2 months old.  This is a medical condition in which her body does not have any B Cells, which produce Immunoglobulin to ward off bacterial infections.  As a result she has been receiving Immunoglobulin Ifusions through IV since she was a year.  Before age 6 we had to go to the hospital every 3 weeks for an IV over a period of 8 hours.  When the nurse had to put the IV in, there was always 3 nurses and myself holding her down.  She has had IV's in her feet, arms, and hands.  These injections are necessary for her to stay healthy and she is also on profelactive septra 3 times a week. Kennedy was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 8 and PDDNOS and Learning Disablitlies at the age of 9.

We were doing pretty good until recently.  She has taken social skills classes and I have done Triple P Parenting for Children with Disabilities, and also a Parenting ADHD Child class. The trouble started when she started Jr. High.  She was in Grade 7 this past year and is going into Grade 8. in Jr High she befriended lots of different girls, they were all bad news but she stuck it out for the entire year with a girl named Montana.  In January Kennedy started cutting, I didn't find out till April.  In April she posted on her facebook page "What would you do if I died?"  I took her to the emergency room at the Alberta Children's Hospital.  We were referred to counselling through the Calgary Family Therapy Center.  We have started counselling three weeks ago.  In April Kennedy smoked marijuana and went to school high.  She was caught by her principal who called and told me.  In response I grounded Kennedy for one month and made her "work" for her "freedom".  I made a list of chores for her with a point system and told her she has to earn a 600 points.  She did this in a week and she was ungrounded.

June 4th Kennedy was arrested for shoplifting.  I came down hard on her on the advice of the officers that arrested her.  The officers didn't know she is on the Autism Spectrum and she was very rude to them.  They stopped talking to her.  She gave them the peace sign when they went into the room the security of the store was holding her in.  She showed no remorse for her actions.  She was not scared.  She admitted this to me.  At home I took all her things away from her, grounded her, and took the door off her room.  Kennedy ran away 2 weeks later.

On June 20th she made sure she was late for school, went and got a late slip and walked out of the school.  She was missing for over 24 hours.  I filed a missing persons report for her.  I found her the next day at her friends house by calling the numbers on the cell phone bill from her phone.  I was very distraught.  I cried and I pleaded with her.  We made a contract.

Things were going pretty good until a few days ago.  She hates her younger sister and older brother, 5 years and 15 years respectively.  She was verbally abusive to the 5 year old and I called her father, who is also Aspergers and we are divorced, and she is now staying with him.  We have had counselling since then and she has told me that it is her life and she can take care of herself.

Kennedy's medical doctor is very concerned about her cutting.  It has gotten a lot worse.  She was doing her arms and has now started on her legs.  Her left leg is espeacially bad from her knee to her ankle with cuts all over it.  Her social worker has tried to get her into all the different programs through the hospital and is met with the same response, "She will not follow our program, we cannot help her"

I don't know what to do.  Please help me.  I am dealing with this on my own completely because her father is Aspergers and really has no idea what to do or how to handle this.  I don't know either.

Thank You


Dear Dr. Hutten,

I am so happy to receive your newsletter.  We signed up for your online course. Thanks you for your insights and help.  We really are struggling with our 15 yr. old Aspie, despite working with psycholigists weekly since he as 3, psychiatrists monthly over the same period, behavioral therapists, ABA etc.  We are hoping you and your work will help us with a very bright, but very difficult young man.  We really want to help him to be his best self and grow into an independent adult if that is possible.


My name is Batiyah Lampl, and I publish http://reflectrelaterenew.com/, an online newsletter written for the caregiver of a mentally ill family member or a family member with a mental or neurological disorder. Every now and then I like to profile an industry expert for my subscribers. After reading your articles, “Understanding the Brain of a Defiant Teenager” and “How to Control the Uncontrollable Child: 30 Tips For Parents Who Are At Their Wits End,” it’s clear that you are an ideal fit for my readers.

Your articles really spoke to me because I am the mother of a grown son who has ADD and ODD; and I’ve recently been the guardian of his son who has ADHD and ODD. I also have a granddaughter who is bi-polar, and a mother who passed on from Alzheimers. These challenges are what motivated me to start this newsletter.

I am not looking for any original content from you. In fact, after reading the above and some of the other articles you have already written, I’d be honored if you would allow me to simple republish one or two of those.  Of course I would give full attribution and not change the article in any way.

Please let me know if you are able to help me out. My next issue is scheduled to go out soon, and I would love to have you in that one.

Thanks, and I look forward to your reply.

Batiyah Lampl, Ph.D
Organization Development Consultant (retired)


My name is Evelyn and I am trying to locate information regarding Asperger.  Although my 7 year old grandson has not been diagnosed as Asperger, I believe he is.  The doctor stated he is severe ADHD.
My concern is:  I have seen many children in my life that have been ADHD, but never with the destructive tendencies that he has.  He will waste food and drinks and destroy  most anything in the house when he gets mad, or if he gets upset with someone.  He is so mean to his brothers, (not always to his younger sister), that they want nothing to do with him.  He believes no one loves him, but it is difficult for them to care about him when he treats them so mean.  My daughter and her husband are at their wits end.  They have 5 children and I am afraid they will give up on them. 
My daughter is willing to try anything, her husband gives in because it is easier. 
I have read over the information on your online coaching site, and believe it might help, especially if all of us could access the information. 
Please respond regarding if this program sounds like what I am looking for.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.


i came across your page and was reading up on everything and it was amazing. I am planning on ordering your online book of Living with an Aspergers partner. Because right now I'm in a relationship with my partner who right now i am becoming frustrated with and emotionally upset and not understanding how to cope with someone who has Aspergers. We been together for 3 months now and my partner had told me that they had Aspergers and I was like oh okay and never really took the time to read up on the Syndrome and what it was all about until recently today. because I'm afraid that my relationship with my partner might end and i just want to say I'm excited to start reading your book because I'm hoping it will help us. make the relationship stronger.


Hi Mark,
I am in the process of working through your program with my son, Paul. He turned five years old April 30th, and has been diagnosed with being on the spectrum of autism (which I guess in "old terms" would be considered Aspergers), We are currently working on the second week of assignments, and I guess I just need some feedback on what I'm doing. The problem behaviors that I would like to address are when we go to church. For this year, our church time has been moved from 1pm-4pm (it will change to 9-12pm in January), and Paul is one of those children who really needs a nap during the day. Well, obviously, that is during his nap time. He is going to be starting kindergarten this fall, and so I'm trying to somewhat wean him off naptimes, unless I see that he really needs one.
But I digress.....in the last couple of weeks, his behavior in church has been awful -last week he had to be taken to his dad during Sunday school because he wouldn't pay attention or stay in his seat (I was busy teaching, so I couldn't deal with him at the moment). He constantly was up, moving all over the room, and disturbing the other children and wouldn't listen to his Sunday School teachers. I told him beforehand that if we had to take him out for time out that he would lose 3 days of iPad, movies, computer, etc. Well, he had those privileges taken away, but because he did such an excellent job the next day at Kindermusik, I let him have his screen time back.
Well, he was even worse this week. He couldn't be in the chapel because he would collapse on the floor when we tried to redirect him or get him to simply sit down. We took him out and sat with him in a private room, and he cried, screamed, (meltdown) etc....tried to get out of the room, rolled around on the floor, messed with the thermostat....so basically it was VERY INEFFECTIVE. For this, we currently have him on restriction from any screen time (it's killing him!!) and he's going to stay on that restriction this time, no matter what he does at Kindermusik tomorrow. I don't think he even has a clue on how long 3 days actually is!
Any suggestions???  I've been glancing through your assignments and I'm not sure if any of this will be addressed, seeing as he's a child of special needs, and I need some help NOW with this. I'm finding that he is acting this way anytime we go out in public (store, kindermusik-or any type of group activity where sitting down with a group and listening is required - , transitioning from one activity to the next -- i.e., leaving the pool after swimming lessons, or leaving the playground).
I'd like to also say that I love my son very much. I see these behaviors in him and it just breaks my heart, especially when he is around other children and they just kind of look at him, and in some cases I've seen them make fun of him. I don't want this to happen to him when he starts school in a regular classroom (he has an IEP and has lots of accomodations). He really is a sweet boy with a kind heart...very smart and funny and can read just about anything you put in front of him...and I'm just trying to find my way with helping him and being the best parent I can be. This is baffling to me, because his behavior was fine in preschool - but now that he's been home for the summer, his behavior has become quite a problem. (I have put him in his old daycare for 2 days a week so that he can still have interaction with other kids, since he is an only child....)

 I am at my wits end. My dtr is 31 and I tried everything to get her out of my home. As with most kids with her problems I knew things would probably take a little longer, but to add to the problem she got pregnant at 25 and I've been caring for her and my grandson now 6. She now has a boyfriend that is barely able to support himself and she brings him over on weekends and expects him to stay weekends. What legal resources do I have to try to get her out but at the same time not throw out the child as she has never taken any financial responsibility for him. She loves him but is a child herself emotionally. HELP!


Dear Mark,

Your resources look terrific but I'm on a limited budget and need to check that I'm getting the appropriate materials for my twins.

My 6.5 year old identical twins were recently diagnosed with high IQs, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and severe learning difficulties. I have not received their formal reports yet from their paediatric psychiatrist (the psychiatrist is 4 hours drive away because we live in a small country town).

Both boys are extremely bright chatterboxes, their general knowledge astounds people but they are really struggling with their reading, writing, arithmetic and social skills at school. In addition the boys say that the classroom noise and bells etc really hurt their ears. Their general behaviour appears quite immature to their school peers - they are like excitable and naughty 3.5 year olds with sophisticated vocabularies. They are inquisitive, creative and excel at art projects and building Lego. They are also disobedient and have problems with impulse control.

They hate their school (they started school at the beginning of the year) so they are moving to a very small bush school in 4 days - there are 36 students in the whole school (7 other students have diagnosis like my twins). The new school wants the boys to start doing part days on Mon, Wed, Fri and gradually work up to full time. The boys will have 1 teachers aide between them in class. I hope they like their new school better - they are far-behind their neurotypical peers academically but their general knowledge is impressive.

I asked if their diagnosis is the high functioning old aspergers term? I was told by their paediatric psychiatrist "I prefer autism spectrum disorder..." I understand that the term aspergers is not used anymore - can your resources  help my twin boys? Even though aspergers is not part of my boys' formal diagnosis what resources and techniques do you suggest?

I'm having real trouble teaching both boys that if other kids (often older kids) tease them 'not to hit the teaser or hit the teaser's glasses etc...' instead say/shout 'stop' and tell the teacher.

Instead boys insist to me: "We're not afraid we're going to fight."

They recently broke an older boy's glasses - the boy was teasing them at a school disco and his mother wants me to pay up to $300 for his glasses if they are not covered by warranty. I'll pay half the cost but I cannot afford this.

Last night a friend visited in her brand new fancy 4wd - my boys loved her 4wd and asked if we could get one too. I said no boys - to my horror both boys threw pebbles at the brand-new 4wd. I immediately put them on time-out and I have banned their DS games long-term. I gave my friend $250 to repair a small stone chip caused by the boys. I'm a single mother on full-time carers allowance and carers payment (because of the boys' diagnosis). I cannot afford to keep paying for damages like this. What do you suggest?


What to do when child chooses to violate the consequence over and over again.

We have a 17 year old daughter who was given a 3 day grounding for staying out all night with out permission. She went to her boyfriends house who lives in a neighbourhood where there is known drug abuse and violence. She was given no phone or car privileges. After day one she left the house. She took her car as she feels we cannot ground her from the car she has bought with her own money. She has not returned for two nights. She has asked to talk with us when she calms down but says she is too angry with her grounding and needs time and space.  This is the third time she skipped out on the 3 day consequence. She reacts strongly to being grounded each time and will not accept the consequences. How do we get her to stay grounded for the 3 days? She may return today and we will start the grounding over but if she decides she's not complying she will leave again choosing to start over when she returns. The last time she did this she eventually served the 3 days only to do it again when she was next grounded. Her peer group is never grounded. She feels we are unfair and strict as others don't have rules about curfew or staying out all night.

Please give us advice when she chooses not to comply with consequences and leaves and we start the 3 days over and over again upon her return.


Hi Mark,
My son is 25 with aspergers/OCD. Every now and then he brings up the fact that he will never marry. He says it is because I said (when he was very young) that someday he would get married, and he does not like to think about the future that is just the way he is. He gets very upset that I do not understand this. I have told him over and over I would have never said it if I knew he would take it so wrong (and at the time I did not know he had aspergers) Can you tell me how I should  respond to this? Why do people with aspergers have such a hard time with knowing what will “probably happen”. Thank you for your help!    


I am between a rock and a hard spot and would love  your opinion. 
My 26 year old AS son has been working as a seafood clerk at a big chain grocery store for year. His passion is fishing, and after failing at an academic degree in fisheries found this job and absolutely loves to sell seafood to people. He got this job originally through the DVR and had a wonderful job vendor that helped him train as a cleaning person and after 2 years he was transferred to the seafood clerk position, which he was so excited about. He says he is made to sell seafood and can see doing it for his life career. He seems to be very, very good at certain parts of this job and often gets compliments from customers.

Of course the problem comes with the management communications and his lack of ability to multi task, or do things within the time slot he is scheduled for. He feels that they are not training him correctly and won't listen to his needs or help him learn. They do get mad at him for this, and he comes home very mad and frustrated ready to lose it.

Since his DVR case is closed, I was thinking of going to his work place and trying to strike up a conversation with his managers to see if there is anyway to help clear up his needs or help come up with some plans for a solutions to problems they are having with him. I hesitate since I am his mother and he is in a professional position, but I don't know where else to turn. I would hate for him to lose his job due to a miscommunication.  I have purposely stayed away for the past 3 years, but hate to think that they could all be doing better if everyone was on the same page of understanding and direction.

Any thoughts on parent getting involved with adult Aspies work places? I'd hate to have this backfire.
Rather than you going in and playing advocate.. it would be better to teach him how to advocate for himself. What would you say to his managers? Teach HIM to say these things... practice it with him (you play the manager).

 I am excited and relieved to find your handbook. After working with Preschool and Elementary age children with challenging behaviors, I accepted a position with a school district to assist in training aides to work with children with challenging behaviors. Thus my new exposure to ASD. I have welcomed all training but was not prepared to find my own child, 12 years old, a high functioning Aspergers AHA!!! The fact that I now have a route to follow, my hope is she will finally get the tools she has needed to be a positive member in society. I have always thought she was just introverted.

Anyway, excited for my family! Educating her older brother will intensify our knowledge.

Thank you!


Thanks for some educated opinions. At 26 years, we were one of the first to be diagnosed AS in our area being so new to the medical diagnosis. It is so great to see so many sources now, but still lacking in adult help. I so appreciate your materials. It has been very reassuring. My son has worked very hard and is a great example of a high functioning AS. I am very proud of him.


Hi Mark 
I have a 19 year old daughter. Her behaviour toward me is bewildering and sometimes violent. I have been left with bruises and scratches. (This behaviour started when she was 16 but is getting worse) It is bully like behaviour that she usually only displays when we are alone. She swears at me(we are not a family that swears in this manner), tells me everything I do wrong as a parent and generally blames me for all that is supposed to be wrong with her life. 
We have always supported her, sent her to a private school and she is currently in university which we pay for. To friends and other family members she is happy and bubbly but I seem to be the person she tears into continually. This behaviour can be exacerbated by the smallest of things eg no avocado left in fridge or if you ask how uni is going
I am very concerned as her behaviour some days is almost Jekyll and Hyde-like. Following her latest attack, which was verbal and lasted for almost an hour, she became chatty, friendly and helped with groceries. A complete 180! I was stunned. I find myself walking on eggshells whenever she is home and the tension is palpable throughout the family. She has three younger step brothers. I am concerned for her well being and I don't know if she needs help. She drinks and smokes but denies taking anything else. She takes risks when she drinks and frequently has bruising from falls. 
I am frightened at times and I am usually a confident and calm person. I can deal with criticism when I have done something wrong but I just don't think I have been such a dreadful parent. I am divorced from her father who she dislikes intently ; he used to treat me in much similar ways. I am scared for her. 
I am just wondering if there is I a book,link or anything you could suggest. She doesn't live at home and I have tried to get her to a doctor but she won't go. It is distressing for me to watch a beautiful girl at times be so hateful towards us. 

 My son has been attending a special school for years and while there are times of difficulty, we are blessed in that he has a good heart and has grown so much over the years. We have worked very hard and have had access to resources as needed. I however am the one that is oversensitive to his pain, but when I let go and pray, he can work through challenges as he has years of learning the tools.
Also, being only 15, I jumped the gun going too far into the future, where I need not be looking for trouble where it doesn't exist and may never come to pass. I just want so much to help when I need to step back. For me it is difficult having physical limitations wishing that I could take him around to broaden his horizons, but I cannot and it is just the two of us.
Basically, all things considered, I believe that I made the wrong selections. What I think I need may not be right at all, but at this point I need to trust in him to experience trials, succeed or fail, be supportive and watch him grow. Do you have something more along those lines? Through his school and my church he has a network of what I would call friends, but he holds back, rarely reaching out, but enjoying times together when arranged for him.
Trying to slowdown, take it one day at a time, and appreciate how far he has come. Of course I am there to support, listen and make suggestions or share thoughts when he is open to them.
It is also a very exciting time for him. In September he will take US history and geometry at the local high school, and then return to his special school for the balance of his classes. I don't know if it is going to overload his sensory systems and allow him to learn in that environment, but support will be there for him at both schools. Major growth opportunity if he can be strong and CALM. My greatest fear is that he will not allow himself to step back if he needs to or if they make fun of him, or if he thinks they have when they haven't. I' am optimistic that he will do well, but part of me wishes that he could learn the dance of life allows us to take steps backwards, or even sideways, before the next steps forward without having to crash and burn, o even if that happens, to learn to accept, learn from experiences and move forward. He is such a perfectionist prone to crash if his vision isn't fulfilled. He desperately wants to be his vision of normal, not realizing he is such a great person as he is.
So, which would be the correct support tools from your selection given our circumstances? I think I want to be prepared with a safety net while not g8ving him unnecessary crutches. Does any of this make sense? I wish for him to celebrate his growth with love and acceptance, not to go back to past failures negating all he has accomplished. He's doing exceptionally well but doesn't seem to see.


Our child who was diagnosed with Asberger's has such problems with making and keeping friends.  It's the keeping them after meeting them for a short time that is the problem.  She either act ridiculous, shows off, gets them in trouble on... and on... This has been a problem since Kindergarten with her acting out.  Why does she do this.  We purposely put her in sports in grades school and she is still in sports but she seems to interact with them in sports only.  She doesn't have any friends outside of sports.  She doesn't get invited to sleepovers and when she did get invited and went when she was younger she would act out causing trouble.  We either would be called by the parent or/and she wouldn't be invited back.  She doesn't get invited to parties the past 3 years as she has become a teen. She says "I don't care, I don't need friends" but we don't believe she REALLY believes that, but this past year my husband and I are questioning that maybe she really doesn't care and has resigned to not having friends outside of sports since she says she doesn't need them outside of sporting evens.  We have been we feel maybe too liberal with giving her every sports (she uses it against us) if we in the past take an event away from her or 'say we will' as she even says "you won't" or "no, I will do it anyway" She knows we don't want to hurt the rest of the team to not let her go to a practice, games so she does just what she needs to do to get into the sport at the beginning of the seasons then she knows we won't/can't take her out after we have paid especially and we don't want to hurt the team.  Is this hurting her in the long run and how do we get her to have lasting friendships other than just in sports as it seems superficial in sports and they don't invite her anywhere in a group and she sabotages friendships when we have had them in our home doing silly sometimes stupid things, etc.


Dear Dr. Hutten ,my name is Marikate Kingston.  My husband and I have read your website and  the information your e book offers.  We are mentally worn down and exhausted.  Everything on your website ,about your book and I mean everything, sounds like our lives.   I CRIED WITH MY HUSBAND.   We need your book  Can you tell me how much it costs / .  We are moving back to Ct from Vermont to get more help with our son Joshua who has Asperger's and other disorders that are related to this condition.  Your website gives me hope .  Maybe you can email me the cost of your book and any other resources you can  I would be grateful...  Marikate and Jim 


Man,  I just read through this blog and it is certainly extremely accurate.  We have been trying to "help" a young man from our church for the last year.  He is 19.  He just lost his 4th job I think.  We basically did all the things you said don't work.  My question is do I tell him that he has RAD?  I am not sure we are equipped to get him through all of the things you suggested.  We bailed him out of jail for a minor offense, he re enrolled in high school and graduated in the Spring of this year.  We helped him go to CNA school where he did great.  He recently just became very hard to live with but thought we were equipped to help him but now we are really wondering.  He has a kind heart and has no drug/alcohol addictions.  
Any thoughts?  There is obviously a lot more we could tell you but I am sure you have heard most of it. Thank you for your time!  Great information.  Wish I had found it a year ago.

My Asperger's daughter is getting ready to start the 8th grade. I am going to have to homeschool her this year. The public school basically made it clear to me that they do not want her back and even though they are required by law to offer some help with this, they were so hateful I just let them keep their "services". They seem to try to make things more difficult. However, I am an educated woman and I understand my child, so I think I can do a good job of this. The problem is, since she will no longer be at school during the day, I cannot work outside the home and the entire mess has put me in a serious financial bind. Is there any financial assistance available to help cover the costs of curriculum and materials when a disabled child is more or less forced into homeschooling? I have not home schooled before and I want to get an actual curriculum so I have some kind of guide. I am sure after this first time of doing it, I will be able to continue in future school years without this extra expense.  Thank you for your assistance.


My son is 7 yrs old and he is QUICKLY falling between the cracks.
There is no doubt according to his past teachers, assistant principal, school counselor, etc. That he has Asperger's.
Your explanations of meltdowns vs. Tantrums is soo RIGHT on, so I KNOW you are WELL educated.
CHildren with Asperger's or any other disorder often will behave differently when in a controlled one on one situation
Without anything stimulating their sensory issues.
I am a struggling first year teacher who has TRIED through the past couple years to get him the right help. Diagnosis
Is imperative. I know schools say that diagnosis does NOT drive placement but it sure does.
I'm a special education teacher and a mom who has raised ONE ASD child already who also had coexisting tourette's etc.
Anyhow, I'm struggling to find him a REAL counselor who is familiar with ASD, I was sent to one who instantly in a 20 minute
Appointment said "there is NOTHING wrong with him other than spoiled and needs anger management" WRONG I follow
Through on consequences, I've worked in residential with behavioral children, and he is my 5th child, this is definitely NOT the issue.
When I asked her too look at the school reports etc. And the explanations I had she refused to listen any further saying "I don't care what
The school says, I see NOTHIGN wrong with him" this is after 20 minutes with him!!!!!
For insurance I need a licensed counselor to refer him and to be seeing him regular in order for him to see a pediatric psychologist.
I had the appointment and went to it and unfortunately insurance and the counselor did not get paperwork in order and NOW
He won't be seen until the end of September when I will be forced to take off work for this. DUE to being a new teacher my
Days off are extremely limited.
DO you have any way of helping find a licensed counselor that is educated in this area?
Thanks for any and all help, he has ransacked classrooms last year during school and here in Las Vegas the ONLY thing that
Prevented legal issues was me being at the school, them calling me in and doing the management of the meltdown....I
Will be in a different school next year and I'm really scared right now and been crying on and off. He DESPERATELY needs
A counselor to help and understand.
 Hi Mark:
Thanks for responding to this so quickly last week. Just thought I would update you. 

Our boy did come home that night around midnight. He was quiet and wanted to go straight to bed and didn't want to hear from me, re: taking off. I just asked him to come closer so that I could see if he was clean and sober. In my opinion he was. I just said good night. 
The next day, Saturday,  he acted as if nothing happened. I calmly told him that his 3 day consequence was starting over.  He was mad, and blew me off. While I was away shopping, he broke into my jewelry box to get his phone charger. He also found his way into the locked garage and laundry room again.
I stayed calm as I did not want this to be the issue.  To me the issue was still about compliance in chores, math, job search and being grounded from everything. His 3 day consequence was to end Tuesday 6:00.  He actually did what he was supposed to until Tuesday 4:00. He left the house to meet his friend.  I told him that it was now starting again. He was furious, but he worked it through, finally, so his consequence was lifted yesterday.
My husband was out of town for most of this week, so I was handling him on my own. My husband came back later in the week so together we told our boy that the next time he leaves without permission he will be locked out of the house.

Thanks for your help. You don't know how much this means when you are in the middle of the drama and are not sure what to do next. 
We know this is not over, so we are having our locks changed to make sure we can handle the next one.

We are a blended family with my husband Paul and his son Tom aged 8 years then my two children Alice 17 years and Sam 13 years old. My husband died nearly 8 years ago and Paul and I married  nearly five years ago. My husband has aspergers and was diagnosed pretty much the same time as his son Tom when he was 4 years old so 4 years ago. My husband struggles ( understandably ) immenmsely with the diagnosis  and any attempts at us attending any counselling  either for Tom or ourselves or for him parenting my children has not worked. Paul has walked out on one occasion and believes that most therapists are parasites earning money from people and shouldn't be trusted !! As more and more challenges arise with Tom I find I am trying to find solutions to them on my own. Paul will put down any behavioural issues regarding Tom down to the fact that he is so bright so therefore bored. Tom hasn''t got friends as he is far too intelligent for them  when in fact Tom is very socially awkward and doesn't know how to make a friend and he incessantly takes about cars so other children get bored. Paul also believes when it comes to my children dealing with Tom they should not get upset when he's aggressive towards them or irritating them and be less sensitive. Do you have any suggestions that would help ny husband better understand his son and more accepting of his diagnosis.It is me that's does all the reading, sees the therapists etc when it should be both of us. Pauls mother will also not accept Toms diagnosis saying he is a very bright boy that needs a firm hand !! I therefore feel that I am managing this on my own. Pauls exwife is very understanding re Tom on the other hand but Paul has a terrible relationship with her that has resulted in many trips to court regarding the care of Tom. Any help would be appreciated.


 I have just come across your course online.
I am intrigued and desperate at the moment. My son is so rude to me, disrespectful and angry all the time. He has trouble dealing with normal teenage disappointments and kicks off whenever things don't go his way. He has no consideration for me or his sister but is perfectly polite to others. I feel like he really does just hate me and it does seem to be all targeted at me and my partner only if he steps in. However reading about defiant teens and ODD I don't think he has it, he just seems really angry with me and has no respect. If anything he better fits the description of an over indulged teen which I read on one of your advice pages I think.

Thank you
Toni (sad mum)


I am suspecting that my son who is 14 years old, visually impaired, has Asperger's Syndrome.This observation was done also from one family member in our trip to NY. I am reading more about the syndrome. I have that mother intuition. I always was confused about my son since I blame the part that he is visually impaired. Now that I read more wbsites and had more information about the Asperger's syndrome, I can relate more these characteristics to my son. My son is an excellent student. He finished this year his middle school with the medal of excellence. Next year he will attend High School- IB Programs, which is very strong program.We live in Florida, South West, Cape Coral which is very close to Fort Myers( most of the medical specialists are there). Could you please recommend me a psychologist with experience  in this area of SW Florida.
 I talked to my son's pediatrician at his  annual check up  two weeks ago,  but he told me that " I do not need another label for my son, there is no cure for that." My son will tremendously  benefit of some cognitive behavior therapy. (I am not a psychologist.) My son needs an evaluation and a formal diagnostic first. I called to his pediatrician to ask for a referral for a psychologist.
My son needs some help, I think right now he feels isolation. He is on time to receive help. Two days ago I had a long talk with him, he expressed  that he sometimes feels alone.
 Thank you so much for your New-letter.I'll be waiting for your answer.


We are experiencing very challenging behaviour with my 8 year old that we are struggling to deal with. At the moment we are finding it incredibly hard to have any enjoyable conversation with him at the moment.. He corrects anything or changes the sentence you say to him or ignores you even though you know he has heard you as he will go and do what is asked of him without repeating yourself but with a threat of losing time on computer games or whatever. He constantly interrupts without really knowing what he is going to say  and it is totally irrelevant to the conversation. He will constantly talk about his cars ( he knows everything about super cars )

He seems to get pleasure out of hurting your feelings by making a joke or he will say to his dad "you are so fat and ugly " .. his brother " you are so dumb " He said to his brother the other day I wish you would die so I could have all of your toys ! He told me he had seen his dad kissing another woman with long blonde hair like me while we were waiting for him to come back from the shops while on holiday. ! He seems to get pleasure from hurting our pets pulling the cats tail and squeezing it and deliberately opening a fridge door onto the dog who who was sat by it and didn't make a fuss of it when he hurt it. He kicked his brother on the stairs while coming down for no reason but when asked why he did it he said he was testing the airflow underneath his legs. He will switch the light out on anyone in the bathroom at night or when saying goodnight to my daughter while she is doing her homework so he leaves her in the dark.

My husband believes he is behaving in this way as we are not challenging him mentally and he announced last night that he should have more responsibility and something special that he can be really good at !! I fail to see why that would change his behaviour. I also need to understand why Tom behaves this way and how we can help him as no wonder he has no friends at school talking to people in this way.


My son has been a huge challenge to get his teeth brushed, bathe, cut hair, change clothes. When he was younger there was no reward system he was interested in. He may agree to one, but when it came to performance he completely cared less. All he cared about was his mom, and it is pretty hard to take mom away, (single parent). I opted for force as it was the only way we could get it accomplished. He has grown. I no longer can pin him down to accomplish the tasks without the house becoming destroyed.  He just is embarking on showing a bit of concern at some instances, but generally agrees to sit on his bed doing nothing at all, for as long as it takes if that is the only option to avoid attending school or what have you. 
He is not diagnosed as of yet, he has been diagnosed with chronic anxiety.. and separation anxiety. We are approaching separate beds, (huge other health issues also- vomit in night not wake up and choke, stop breathing, turn blue and remain sleeping. Also sleep apnea, and adenoid tonsil blockage unknown for several years causing asthma attacks/chronic chest and sinus infections.... sleeping together was to ensure he was ok... literally)  with some success. 

Any ideas please for brushing teeth, grooming/hygiene, stopping him from peeing into the toilet and all over the seat/floor? Hair cutting, showering.... going to school?  

 He is extremely clingy, requests to have hugs or just be touched, and banters at me constantly no matter where we are.  His counsellor indicates to me I am /have been doing things right, she is an anxiety counsellor and has mentioned the treatment for Aspergers is different than the technique for anxiety.  How do you get a child to respond? Be interested in rewards and the like?

Dear Mark,
I am writing you because I don't know where else to go. My son was diagnosed with adhd and ocd. I have a strong feeling he might have aspergers. I have an appointment to meet again with a specialist nuerologist to do more thorough testing on him. It has been really hard on me lately. I am dealing with eating issues he won't eat sometimes and picky about what he eats . He read on line about antioxidants know he limits his food barely eating . He is getting so thin . I am so depressed about what to do? I feel like I have to watch him constantly he is not thinking clear. I feel so sad . I am on antidepressants and suppost to be going to counseling because my doctor knows what I am going through in trying to diagnose him. I really feel like I am on my own as I think his dad has traits of the same issues just not as bad. What can I do for the eating we have been to hospital once for this . I keep telling them it has to be a developmental issue and to get us help. I do have a referal I am so happy for that. I am just trying to deal with it daily it's taking so much out of me I am afraid my healtH is deteriorating enduring all of these issues.
Please send me some suggestions I really appreciate all you are doing for us parents. I know he has depression to how can I help him?


Dear Dr. Hutten:

My name is Lynn Ray. My son, Ethan has been diagnosed with PDD. He is 11 years old and a great kid. His speech consultant, who is on your email list, I believe, recommended I check out some of your research because of questions I was asking her. Your research has opened more questions, if you have a minute.

Here is a quick story. Ethan's teachers and doctors recommended putting him on medication. I have resisted because I do not understand the random nature of dispensing chemicals to children with autism.
My son's doctor recommended we consult a specialist who would recommend medication. The specialist interviewed us both for an hour and sent the results of our talk back to the doctor. In reading the results, the doctor said, "Funny, she didn't recommend any medication. I will be right back." After 5 minutes, she returned and said, "I consulted with a colleague in the hall, and we think Ethan should be put on Adderall."
I did not take her recommendation. Five minutes in the hall? Isn't there a better way to decide if and what medication is necessary when dealing with children suffering from autism?
Your research on the human brain and its relationship to increased autism is extremely interesting, especially when you talked about...
"...the idea that certain neurological disorders are by-products of increases in metabolic capacity and brain size, which occur during human evolution, has been suggested before, but now researchers have access to new technical approaches to really put the theory to the test.

The human brain is unique among all species in its enormous metabolic demand. If researchers can explain how the human brain sustains such a tremendous metabolic flow, they will have a much better chance to understand how the brain works - and why it sometimes "malfunctions." But is it truly a "malfunction" (i.e., functions badly)? Or is the human brain on its evolutionary path to "hyper-functioning" (i.e., functioning above and beyond the norm)?"

This made me wonder whether you have done brain scans on children who suffer from autism while they are performing tasks, such as video gaming or computer time?

My son can't sit still for 5 minutes trying on new glasses, but can spend 12 hours at the computer without breaking a sweat. Simultaneously, while on the computer, he is watching videos on his TV (or streaming Netflix), as well as playing his DS (using the computer occasionally to find you tube videos of the DS game he is playing so that he can overcome obstacles that are frustrating otherwise), while at the same time watching movies off the DVR in the other room, while at the same time being aware of everything going on in the house, and outside the house.

Hyper-functioning is an apt term, but I would like to see it in action in my son's brain. That is why I ask if you do scans of children's brains while they are in full activity mode? Would that help pinpoint what area of the brain is hyper-functioning? Would that help figuring out medication? Would that help in pinpointing special areas in which they might excel?
I would be interested in having Ethan participate in any test studies you may be doing on this topic. As long as he has a computer, he has endless attention. It would be amazing to actually be able to see how his brain functions.
If studies like this exist, I would be extremely interested in participating.
Hello Mark. Many years ago therapists thought that my son might have a SPD, instead of autism. The line is indeed quite thin between both disorders, as far as (deficit of) communication goes. Thanks for this article.

Mark, thank you for the email. I am a vocational rehabilitation counselor who is becoming increasingly frustrated with my inability to make headway with folks with aspergers. I have skimmed the guide already and listened to the first of the audio guides. It was very interesting and I already have gotten good ideas. I am going to share your site with every parent of a kid with aspergers who comes in my door. We need people like you who know what you are doing. Our state is miles behind in acknowledging the need for doing things differently, they just make committees to put on conferences and study stuff. One of my providers said “we don’t have time to study, we have to walk with them now”.

I have only skimmed your guide but may be getting back to you on how to assist an individual with aspergers to employment. Any resources you could share now?

Thanks again, I stumbled on your website while I was desperately searching for help and I think I have found a very good resource with you.

Kari L Shea, CRC
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation


I wanted to send you an e-mail that for the first time.  In a LONG, LONG TIME, I am gaining some hope in dealing  with my extremely defiant 16 year old.  I  purchased the course a few nights ago, and am on Chapter 1, and MIGHT be seeing some improvement.  I started a notebook tonight and I am going to “practice” situations and responses from him, so I can be ready.  The best thing so far, is the Poker Face.  I am good and doing that for a little bit, but eventually lose my resolve, and all hell breaks loose. 
I am therapy drunk, as you say, and you make  A LOT of sense.  He is seeing someone now, but like you state, with time being so limited, it’s not doing to produce many long lasting results.  He was in the hospital last year for some issues that got out of hand, and,  I was flabbergasted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, for basically telling me he is emotionally much younger, (as you state, and I do agree with) but their solution was, since I am basically raising two kids, was to:

  1.  Get a sticker chart( like I haven't already tried that??)  and 2.  Strongly suggested a rehabilitation center since was a sick little boy  3.  Send him to a part time outpatient treatment center, (which I did) but didn’t produce any results at all, and I felt they put the blame on me.  And yet, no one can give me advice on how to manage him and they keep telling me it’s relational.

As much as I hated what we were going through, I truly believe he his a good “kid” and didn’t want to throw him into the system.  And, here I am, thousands of dollars owed, and situation is still intense.

I have been searching and searching for ways to make this work with him, but nothing is every really effective.  I know I need to make changes, and I am willing to do that, I just want to find something that WORKS.   I am very willing to put the time in and I intend to do so. 

I have started the notebook to practice role playing and being prepared.  I can’t tell you how many times I have dropped him off at school and have cried the whole way to work from the verbal abuse.   it is going to help me immensely, to have a support system to turn to and study on a daily basis. 

I have shut off the phone, taken cable away, cut out the “extras”, tried hard, hard disciple, and all of it has back fired on me.  l do not like feeling this way about my child, but it’s not a good place for me to be right now.

I can’t talk to anyone about this…no one would understand or “get” it.  If anything, the course is a support system for me, which is what I need.  I am a widow and have been for 9 years now.  I have tried and tried to get him to  deal with his grief, but he refuses to.

I hope to have good news to report in 4 weeks, or at lease some sort of improvement.

Thank you,



Mr. Hutten;
I am in your social group, but I try not to talk about certain issues with our grandson there.  He can become very aggressive and goes in to a blind rage at times.  My husband is disabled, and I have some health issues, but I am pretty healthy.  Anyway, during those episodes, my grandson usually grabs me and he hits me during his rage.  I have in the past called the police who usually calm him down, but at times have sent him to the ER to calm down.
During those times when he is so angry, he says things like calling me a B,  I will kill you, etc.  His psychiatrist told me she doesn't think he means what he says, he is just so angry, he just blurts things out.  This usually happens when he is caught doing something he shouldn't do, and he doesn't want to be responsible for his actions.  We have been told by previous ABA, to walk away when he starts getting upset.  He doesn't want to talk about it later, no matter how calm you are, or how much love you show him....and that you aren't angry with him.
Otherwise, most of the time he is a very good kid.  He prefers to be alone sometimes, and doesn't want to do things with his friends on the weekend, etc.  He sees all of them at school, and he goes to school year round.  We just get stuck at home on the weekends, because he doesn't want to go out.
Should I be alarmed? What other help does he need, and what are we doing wrong?

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