Drugs to Treat Severe Tantrums in Asperger's Kids: A Bad Idea?

“What is your opinion about using drugs to treat certain symptoms of Asperger syndrome? We have been told by our doctor that our son may benefit from Abilify for treating his angry outbursts and bad temper tantrums, but we are not sure if we want to ‘medicate’ him.”

Drug therapy is not the ultimate treatment for autism spectrum disorders, but it has a definite place depending on the severity of the symptom in question. Drugs can be a critical element in a comprehensive treatment plan. There is a wider range of drugs with more specific biologic effects than ever before. For children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), these newer agents are safer and less disruptive. When paired with professionals who are becoming more skilled at recognizing and managing symptoms, these “special needs” children have a greater opportunity to reach their potential and lead pleasurable lives.

The treatment of complex, disorders like AS and HFA always brings a particular challenge to drug therapy. Also, the specific traits associated with AS and HFA introduce unique complications to childcare and place unusual demands on a therapist's skill and experience. To provide safe and effective treatment, the therapist must understand the core features of the disorder and the manifestations of the disorder in his or her client. Furthermore, a thorough understanding of the family, school, and community resources and limitations is necessary.

Once an assessment has been made, focusing on target symptoms provides a crucial framework for care. Knowing manifestations of symptoms and characterizing their distribution and behavior in the AS or HFA child is crucial. It is particularly important to coordinate behavioral and pharmacologic objectives. The target symptoms should be tracked carefully and placed into a priority system that is based on the risks and disability they create for the child. The skill of drug therapy also means setting out realistic expectations, keeping track of the larger systems of care at school and home, and working closely with moms and dads.

There is an expanding range and pace of biologic and intervention research into AS and HFA. The genetic work has produced exciting leads that are likely to be helpful to future generations. As researchers discover more about the complex neural circuitry that underlie social cognition, repetitive behaviors, and reward systems associated with the disorder, there are good reasons to believe that drug treatment will become more sophisticated and specific. Drug therapy is also moving to design drugs that target more specific populations of receptor and brain functions. This is likely to produce drugs that have fewer side effects, are more effective, and are more symptom-specific.

==> The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


•    Anonymous said... Ability is NOT FDA approved for use in kids. Long term effects are unknown. Do your homework before putting your child on such a strong drug. It is commonly used for schizophrenia in adults.
•    Anonymous said... Abilify is used to treat irritability and symptoms of aggression, mood swings, temper tantrums, and self-injury related to autistic disorder in children who are at least 6 years old.
•    Anonymous said... My 4 yr old son was diagnosed with ADHD just 6 mos ago and put on Quillivant and Guanfacine... the doctor has thought he may also have a mild spectrum autism so I spoke to a specialist who is sure that he has Aspergers and wants to see him ASAP. Meanwhile the doctor is now ready (after hearing the specialists opinion) and after several very physically violent outbursts from my son which has caused him to have to leave one daycare and now on the verge of having to leave another- now the doctor has put in a request to have him approved for Rhisperdal. I am scared to death. I have heard so many class action lawsuit commercials lately about men and young men developing breasts and other claims because of this drug... and now my 4 yr old sons doctor wants to put him on it. I am already having such anxiety struggling with accepting the fact that he may have autism and Aspergers and trying to do all the research I can on it.. and now I am struggling with accepting the anxiety of putting him on yet another "dangerous" drug. I just don't know what to think. He is soooo young. He is only 4!!! The ADHD medicine he has been on for the past few months was hard enough for me to accept as it is labeled a "controlled substance". The doctor assures me that these drugs are "safe" under the care of a physician. But he is just 4! So unsure And just a single mom so don't even have a hubby to share my thoughts and concerns with.
•    Anonymous said... Personally I wouldn't .Try to figure out his "triggers" and avoid them before medication .
•    Anonymous said... The decision to medicate my son was not made until he was 9 years old. My advice is that when the "side effects" of the disorder get worse then the side effects of the drugs, you do it! My child had grown to hate himself, and he needed us to see the importance of his own self esteem. Now he is 12, and he values himself again! For us a thousand hugs meant nothing without the drugs. Our meds were Zoloft and Concerta.
•    Anonymous said... These are such tough decisions. We can't presume to fully understand what another family goes through, and everyone copes with the stresses of life differently. There is much to be said for strenuous exercise and energy output. Acquaintances of ours noticed how calm and clearly spoken their often violent autie became once he exerted himself in some kind of exercise. The said it was like meeting their son for the first time. There's lots of stories like that. I wish there was a silver bullet for everyone. Perhaps meds can be seen as just a phase, until more skills or tools are learned, and maturity sets in. It's still a tough decision.

Post your comment below...


Deliberate Self-Harm in Children with ASD

"What can be done for a child on the autism spectrum who hits himself in the head (very hard) when he is frustrated? We have the scars to prove it!"

Deliberate Self-Harm (DSH) is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue (most often done without suicidal intentions). Forms of DSH may include burning, hair-pulling, head-banging, hitting body parts with the fist, ingestion of toxic substances or objects, interfering with wound-healing, skin-cutting, eye-poking, hand-biting, and excessive self-rubbing.

DSH is one of the most devastating behaviors exhibited by children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). There are many possible reasons why a child on the autism spectrum may engage in DSH. The two main reasons for such behavior appear to be physiological and social.

Possible Physiological Reasons for Deliberate Self-Harm—
  • An AS or HFA child may engage in head-banging in an attempt to actually reduce pain (e.g., pain from a middle ear infection or a migraine headache).
  • Certain sounds (e.g., a baby crying, vacuum cleaner) can cause pain if the child has auditory sensitivities, and DSH may release beta-endorphins which would dampen the pain. On the other hand, the child may be “gating” the pain (i.e., stimulating one area of the body by injuring himself in an attempt to reduce or dampen the pain located in another area of the body).
  • Medications that elevate dopamine levels (e.g., amphetamines) have been shown to initiate DSH.
  • DSH has also been associated with seizure activity in the frontal and temporal lobes. Behaviors often associated with seizure activity include chin-hitting, hand-biting, head-banging, knee-to-face contact, scratching face or arms, and slapping ears or head. Since this behavior is involuntary, some of these children may need some form of self-restraint. Seizures may begin (or are more noticeable) when the youngster reaches puberty (possibly due to hormonal changes).
  • DSH is also common among several genetic disorders (e.g., Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome). Since these genetic disorders are associated with some form of structural damage and/or biochemical dysfunction, these abnormalities may cause the child to self-injure.
  • Excessive self-rubbing or scratching is an extreme form of self-stimulation. The child may not feel normal levels of physical stimulation, so she damages the skin in order to receive stimulation or increase arousal.
  • Moms and dads often report that their youngster's DSH is a result of frustration (called low-frustration tolerance).
  • One research project studied a group of autistic kids who had low levels of calcium. These children often exhibited eye-poking behavior. When given calcium supplements, the eye-poking decreased substantially. 
  • Pain associated with gastrointestinal problems (e.g., acid reflux, gas) may be associated with DSH. 
  • Research on administering drugs to human subjects have indicated that low levels of serotonin are associated with DSH.
  • Some researchers have suggested that the levels of certain neurotransmitters are associated with DSH. Beta-endorphins are endogenous opiate-like substances in the brain, and DSH may increase the release of endorphins. As a result, the AS or HFA child experiences an anesthesia-like effect. The release of endorphins may provide the child with a euphoric-like feeling. 
  • The AS or HFA child’s level of arousal is associated with DSH. Researchers have suggested that DSH may increase or decrease one's arousal level. The under-arousal theory states that some children function at a low level of arousal and engage in DSH to increase their arousal. In this case, DSH would be considered an extreme form of self-stimulation. On the other hand, the over-arousal theory states that some children function at a very high level of arousal (e.g., tension, anxiety) and engage in DSH to reduce their arousal level (i.e., the behavior may act as a release of tension and/or anxiety).

  • A great deal of research has investigated social aspects of DSH. Basically, positive attention can increase the frequency of DSH (i.e., positive reinforcement), whereas ignoring the behavior can decrease the frequency (i.e., extinction). Self-harming behavior will continue if the AS or HFA child receives intermittent reinforcement (i.e., attention) for the behavior.
  • Communication problems have often been associated with DSH. If the AS or HFA child has poor receptive and/or poor expressive language skills, then this may lead to frustration and escalate into DSH. If the child has poor expressive skills, DSH may occur after he tries to communicate, and the parent does not understand or does not respond appropriately.
  • In an 'avoidance' situation, the child may begin to self-injure soon after someone enters the room or approaches her. In an 'escape' situation, the child may begin to self-injure during a social encounter. 
  • Some AS and HFA children engage in DSH to avoid or escape an aversive social encounter. They may engage in DSH just prior to the social interaction. Thus, they may avoid the social interaction before it begins. On the other hand, the child may engage in DSH to escape or terminate a social encounter that has already begun (e.g., the parent may ask the child to leave the play area, and if the child does not want to comply, he may then engage in DSH). 
  • The AS or HFA child may engage in DSH in order to obtain an object or event. For example, he may request something, not receive it, and then engage in DSH. Also, the behavior may be reinforced positively if the child should, on occasion, receive the desired object or event. Approximately 33% of children engage in DSH because "they want something."

Parents’ Interventions for Deliberate Self-Harm—

1. As mentioned previously, DSH may occur after your child requests something and does not get it.  In this case, you should not give anything to her during or following an episode of DSH. Consistency is important, because the behavior may continue even if your child gets what she wants. A behavioral program can be set up to allow your AS or HFA child to make requests to obtain what she wants, but this should occur in a controlled, non-violent manner (e.g., giving the child options at specific times of the day).

2. Behavior modification may teach the child to inhibit self-harming behaviors.

3. Biochemical interventions (e.g., nutritional supplements, medications) appear to be the treatment of choice for AS and HFA children who engage in DSH.

4. Consumption of dairy products are often associated with middle ear infections in many kids on the autism spectrum. Certain foods in the child’s diet may be responsible for migraines. Also, magnesium deficiency is associated with an increase in sound sensitivity. Magnesium supplements are safe and can reduce sound sensitivity in some children (3 to 4 milligrams per 10 pounds a day). Auditory integration training has also been shown to reduce sound sensitivity.

5. Following an episode of DSH, be careful how you respond to your child. Your attention may be positive (e.g., "What do you want?") or negative ("Don't do that!"). Note that your child may interpret a negative comment in a positive manner, and as a result, the behavior may be “positively reinforced” (i.e., she will repeat the behavior).

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

6. If your child tends to receive attention following the self-harming behavior – especially if the attention is positive – then you should do your best to ignore the behavior. If this is not possible because your child may injure himself, then try to minimize contact with him while displaying little facial expression (i.e., neither approving nor disapproving).

7. Many moms and dads have reported reductions in severe self-injurious problems soon after placing their youngster on a restricted diet (e.g., a gluten/casein-free diet, removing specific foods to which their youngster showed signs of an allergic reaction).

8. Nutritional and medical interventions can be implemented to normalize the child’s biochemistry, which may reduce the severe behavior.
9. Parents should give their child attention when she does NOT engage in DSH (e.g., positive attention following 15 minutes without an episode of DSH).

10. The Autism Research Institute has received reports from thousands of moms and dads who have given their AS or HFA child vitamin B6, calcium and/or DMG. These moms and dads often observed rather dramatic reductions in – and in some cases, elimination of – DSH.

11. When DSH is associated with biochemical problems, there may be little or no relationship between the child’s physical/social environment and DSH. Therefore, the behavior may occur in various settings and around different people. But, DSH may occur less frequently in situations in which the child’s behavior is incompatible with DSH (e.g., eating, playing, working on a favored task, etc.).

12. When seizure-induced, DSH is involuntary, and you may not notice a relationship between the child’s behavior and his environment. However, since stress can trigger a seizure, there may be a relationship between stressors in the environment and DSH (e.g., too much physical stimulation from lighting or noise, too much social stimulation from reprimands or demands).  Certain foods may also induce seizures.  There is evidence that DMG will reduce seizure activity without negative side effects.

13. With respect to expressive language, AS and HFA children should be taught functional communication skills. 

14. With respect to under-arousal, DSH would be observed when the child is bored or is not involved in stimulating activities. With respect to over-arousal, DSH would be observed in arousal-inducing situations (e.g., an especially noisy or brightly lighted room).  Social interaction may also be perceived as very stimulating. If the child is under-aroused, an increase in activity level may be helpful (e.g., use of a stationary bicycle). If the child is over-aroused, steps can be taken before the behavior begins to reduce the child’s arousal level (e.g., relaxation techniques, deep pressure, vestibular stimulation, removing the child from a stimulating situation).  Exercise may also be used to reduce arousal level.

15. Your child may be encouraged to apply safe forms of physical stimulation to those parts of the body which she rubs and/or scratches excessively (e.g., applying a massaging vibrator, rubbing textured objects or a brush against the skin, etc.). There is also evidence that placing a topical anesthetic on the self-injured area may reduce self-injurious behavior.

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

A functional analysis should be conducted in order to obtain a detailed description of the AS or HFA child’s DSH and to determine possible relationships between the behavior and his physical and social environment. The information obtained from a functional analysis should include: What happened before, during and after the behavior? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Who was present? The answers to these questions should help reveal the reason(s) for the self-harming behavior.

Before you collect data, be sure to define the behavior of interest. The focus of the functional analysis should be on a specific behavior (e.g., head-banging) rather than a behavior category (e.g., DSH). Combining several types of DSH into one general behavior may make it tricky to determine different reasons for each behavior (e.g., if the youngster engages in head-banging and excessive self-scratching, there may be a different reason for each behavior; head-banging may be a reaction to frustration, while excessive scratching may be a form of self-stimulation).

During the data collection process, relevant traits of the DSH should be recorded (e.g., frequency, duration, and severity). Data collection should also include information about the child’s physical and social environment, for example: lighting (natural light, florescent, incandescent), sounds (lawn mower, another youngster screaming), day of the week, time of day, people in the child’s environment (teacher, parent, peers), and setting (classroom, cafeteria, playground, etc.).

DSH is one of the most disturbing behaviors that parents may observe in their “special needs” child. Using the interventions listed above may reduce – and even eliminate – such destructive behaviors.


Encouragement for People on the Autism Spectrum

There is a philosophy among many individuals in the autism community that people on the spectrum are living their lives on the wrong planet. But this way of thinking favors a flaw-based focus, which is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve. I know in my heart that each of us has a special purpose on this planet. The universe has a plan for you, and your job is to get in alignment with this plan. So, be encouraged my friend. You are indeed on the right planet!

As one mother of an autistic child states: "I agree - too many organizations assume that kids on the spectrum are flawed and need fixing. Now of course there are certain elements that do require help (communication with others for example) But these characteristics can often be addressed with technology and other options. I don't think my daughter is living on the wrong planet - I do think she has a very unique way of viewing that planet though."

==>Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA

How to Get Your Aspergers Child's Attention

Here's how to get your Aspergers (high functioning autism) child's attention when he's engrossed in his special activity: 


The Use of “Structure” to Reduce Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger’s and High-Functioning

Children and teens with AS and HFA often rely on rituals, routines and structure, which helps define the world in terms of consistent rules and explanations. Without this structure, they would be totally overwhelmed and unable to function …they would be unable to understand the behavior of others …and the information they receive through their senses would be nearly impossible to bring together into a purposeful whole.

When structure and consistency are disrupted in the AS or HFA child’s life, the world becomes confusing and overwhelming again – thus launching him or her into “problematic” behaviors as a response.

==> How parents can begin to reduce problematic behaviors in their AS or HFA child...

Helping ASD Children with Transitions

Here’s a 7-step plan for giving your youngster with ASD [Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism] plenty of warning and helping him make transitions more calmly: 

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


Your Child's Rights as Mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

“We are a Hispanic family who moved to the U.S. three years ago. I have a 16 y.o. son with Asperger syndrome (high functioning) who also has a learning disability. He’s failing miserably on multiple levels. I don’t believe the school is making much of an effort to take his disorder into account. Would my son be eligible for special Ed. Class? Also, what are his rights as a student with a learning disability?”

Your Asperger’s (high functioning autism) son has the right to a free and appropriate public school education. Getting involved in his education is among the most important things you can do as his advocate. In order to make sure that your learning disabled son gets the help he needs throughout his school career, you should familiarize yourself with the rights you have as his advocate. These rights are federally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):

1. All tests and interviews must be conducted in your son’s native language. An evaluation process can’t discriminate against your son because he is not a native English speaker, has a disability, or is from a different racial or cultural background.

2. An IEP meeting must be held once a year, and comprehensive re-evaluation must be done every three years (unless the IEP team agrees that it is not necessary). However, you may request an IEP meeting at any time.

3. Be sure to discuss what kind of assistive technology devices (e.g., speech recognition software, electronic organizers, books on tape, etc.) could help your son. Assistive technology services include evaluating your son for specific devices, providing the device and training him to use the device.

4. During an IEP meeting, the IEP team should develop goals for any related services (e.g., occupational therapy), which could help your son. Be sure the team specifies how often and for how long these services will be provide – as well as in what setting the services will be provided. This team will also identify behavioral strategies to support your son’s learning in school and at home.

5. If the public school agrees that your son may have a learning disability and may need special help, the school must evaluate him at no cost to you.

6. If the public school system refuses to give your son an evaluation, they must explain in writing the reasons for refusal, and must also provide information about how you can challenge their decision.

7. Teachers or other professionals can recommend that your son be evaluated, but the school must get your explicit written consent before any part of the evaluation is started.

8. You and your son have the right to attend and participate in a meeting to design an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which must be held within 30 days of your son being found eligible for special education services. An IEP should set reasonable learning goals for your son and state the services that the school district will provide.

9. You and your son have the right to participate in the development of the IEP, along with a team that will include your son's teachers, a representative from the school administration who is qualified to recommend and supervise special programs and services, as well as representatives from other agencies that may be involved in your son’s transition services. You can also request an advisor to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities as a mother or father, and request that this person be present.

10. You have the right for your son’s evaluation to be completed within a specific timeframe. Some states have set a limit. For states who had no limit, as of July 1, 2005, the evaluation must be completed within 60 days of your written consent.

11. You have the right to a copy of all evaluation reports and paperwork related to your son.

12. You have the right to be a part of the evaluation team that decides what information is needed to determine whether your son is eligible.

13. You have the right to challenge the school’s decisions concerning your son. If you disagree with a decision that's been made, discuss it with the school and see if an agreement can be reached. If all efforts don’t work, IDEA provides other means of protection for you and your son under the law. These other ways of settling your dispute allow moms and dads – as well as school personnel – to resolve disagreements (e.g., mediation with an impartial third person, a due process hearing, or a formal hearing in a court of law).

14. You have the right to obtain an Independent Education Evaluation from a qualified professional and challenge the findings of the school evaluation team.

15. You have the right to request in writing that your son be evaluated to determine if he is eligible for special education and related services. This evaluation is more than just a single test. The school must gather information from you, your son's teacher and others who would be helpful. An assessment of your son must then be conducted in all the areas that may be affected by the suspected disability.

16. Your son can’t be determined eligible for special education services only because of limited English proficiency or because of lack of instruction in reading or math.

17. Your son has a right to the least restrictive environment possible. Unless members of the IEP team can justify removal from the general education classroom, your son should receive instruction and support with classmates that do not have disabilities. Also be sure that special education services or supports are available to help your son participate in extracurricular activities (e.g., clubs, sports, etc.).

You know your son best, and your input should be considered at every opportunity. Good luck!

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


Helping Kids on the Autism Spectrum with Motor-Planning Difficulties

“Would you have any tips to help my little girl (age 5) with Asperger’s (high functioning) to be more coordinated with her hands? She has a lot of problems with rather simple tasks like tying shoes, writing, and zipping up her jacket.”

Kids with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism often struggle to learn - and remember - new motor skills. Those who have motor-planning difficulties often benefit from “hand-over-hand” teaching techniques (i.e., the parent holds the child's hand and guides it to approximate the movement required to complete the task). They learn best when they can feel the movements involved. The hand-over-hand technique can be used to teach numerous tasks requiring eye-hand coordination, such as how to draw, cut with scissors, tie shoe laces, and spread peanut butter with a knife.

Kids who can tolerate hand-over-hand physical contact can be taught how to perform certain tasks as the parent places her hand around the youngster’s fingers to perform the required movements (e.g., buttoning shirts, moving a crayon, etc.). Kids who have an aversion to being touched (i.e., tactile defensiveness) often benefit from “touch desensitization” first by having their hands rubbed with lotion or a soft cloth.

Children can also learn motor skills using adapted equipment (e.g., “dual-control scissors” have four holes that enable both the parent and youngster to grasp scissors together, thus enabling the youngster to experience the needed motions without actually being touched).

The hand-over-hand technique is a simple procedure that often yields quick results and helps the child to correctly perform tasks that require fine-motor skills, for example:
  • coloring within the lines
  • completing jigsaw puzzles
  • copying lines, circles and crosses
  • cutting skills  
  • drawing basic figures 
  • fastening buttons
  • playing instruments
  • playing video games
  • pushing buttons
  • scribbling in a closed-fist grip
  • stringing large beads
  • taking the pencil between thumb and index finger and resting on the middle finger
  • tracing diamonds or triangles
  • turning dials
  • tying shoelaces 
  • typing on a computer keyboard
  • using silverware
  • zipping and snapping clothing

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 Benefit of Social-Skills Training for Teens on the Autism Spectrum

“Is it fairly common for teenagers with an autism spectrum disorder to be antisocial? Do you think that our son could benefit from social skills training? He is very shy, keeps to himself most of the time, and has no friends (other than a cousin, who he rarely sees). We also believe he is depressed.”

A teenager with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) who lacks certain social skills will have great difficulty building a network of supportive friends and acquaintances as he grows older – and he may become socially isolated as a result. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of loneliness is an increased risk of developing emotional problems.

Social skills training (SST) has been shown to be effective in treating “special needs” teens with a broad range of emotional issues. Some of the issues treated by SST professionals include shyness, adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders, ADHD, OCD, social phobia and depression. In addition, SST programs are effective in reducing an AS or HFA teen’s experiences of school failure or rejection, as well as the aggressiveness and isolation that often develop in the teen because he has ongoing problems relating to others.

A specific example is the application of SST to social phobia or shyness. AS and HFA teens who suffer from social phobia or shyness may not understand social cues, and they may avoid specific situations in which their limitations cause embarrassment. SST can help these young people to improve their communication and social skills so that they will be able to “fit-in” with their peer-group with greater ease and self-confidence.

When trainers apply SST to the treatment of symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders, they focus on the specific social skills required to handle issues that emerge in the day-to-day life of the teen (e.g., starting a conversation, listening skills, tolerating frustration, etc.).

Another example is the application of SST to depression. Many teens on the autism spectrum suffer with depression. SST can be adapted to the treatment of depression with a focus on assertiveness training. Depressed teens often benefit from learning to set limits to others, to obtain satisfaction for their own needs, and to feel more self-confident in social interactions.

Research reveals that “special needs” teens who are depressed (because they tend to withdraw from others) can benefit from SST by learning to increase positive social interactions with others instead of pulling back.

Do you need help parenting your Asperger's or HFA teenager?

Best comment:

"One thing to consider is probing to see if there are any peers that he likes. If so, make good friends with his peer's mother, and arrange kid swaps. With aspie kids, specifically my son, I noticed that he was drawn to other children who were uniquely different, and also needed help socially. The mother of his peer and I have gone to great lengths to get them together, and they both enjoy one another and have developed a great bond. I have come to terms that he will never be socially engaged like all of his peers (although everyone really likes him, he has a hard time with any attention-and gives off an almost snobby vibe). I am thankful that he has developed a friendship-and I am thankful for the friendship that I have developed with his best friend's mother. Another thing to consider is that your child may retreat from peers because of too much sensory input. Learning to deal with too much sensory input may need to happen before your child can learn to deal with social issues."


Parenting Difficult Teens with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism

If you are a parent of a teen with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), you undoubtedly have bigger challenges to overcome than you ever thought possible. There may be days where you feel all alone in your trials and tribulations.  You are most likely aware that he somehow always finds a way to get under your skin. Furthermore, his meltdowns, unpredictable temper, and natural instinct of reclusiveness may make communication nearly impossible.  If this is a challenge that you are facing, the tips listed below will help you positively parent your “special needs” adolescent.


Should ASD Teens Try To Be "Normal"?

If you have a teenager with  Autism Spectrum Disorder [Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism], how do you let him be who he is while still protecting him so he doesn't emerge traumatized? 

 •    Anonymous said... It is EXHAUSTING trying to be normal in this NT world. NO, they should not try to be normal. They should have acceptance in this world for being themselves.
•    Anonymous said... let them home school
•    Anonymous said... My husband was "forced" to be normal because his parents had no idea. Some of that helped him, but not all of it. Now, his littler brother (currently 16) is getting the exact opposite treatment for his Aspergers. I find that this is also unhelpful however. He gets away with murder most of the time. Forcing my husband to be "normal" helped him get a job and be able to go to college and to drive. My husband and I often talk about the two different experiences. He wishes there was a little more give in his childhood, but quite a bit more take from his brother's. Home/Private schooling would have been a dream. Right now, his brother is doing half online and half in room classes. My husband was forced to take responsibility for himself, but his brother isn't at all. There should be give, but I don't think carte blanche should be allowed.
•    Anonymous said... They can try, for sure, but experience shows they will be found out. So sad that others can't be more accepting of our differences. Having a couple of bullyguards is something I think every autistic individual should have. I had a few in school and that definitely helped, but social situations can leave one open to dangerous possibilities.
*   Anonymous said... When I was in highschool, there was a boy I am now certain had Aspergers. But back then, he was just viewed as a 'nerd'. He was ostricised, laughed at, had no friends. I felt so bad for him. But most of the time, he appeared oblivious. These days things are different, though. Being 'different' isn't as big a deal; more and more kids are letting their differences out. More people are aware of Asperger. I feel the key to an Aspie having a successful highschool 'career' lies in having a strong support system and a knowledge of what to expect. Just make sure they know that most kids will be very social, that there will be kids in relationships (make sure they know what that means), and ask them regularly about their day, if they had any issues or concerns. My son needs to be excused for pep rallies, for example: too loud, too much chaos. But there are so many opportunities. There are so many clubs where Aspies can delve into a subject of interest, giving them a sense of belonging and a chance to contribute. 

Please post your comment below…


Dealing with Asperger’s and HFA Children Who Hate Change

Parents may find themselves “walking on eggshells” in an effort to circumvent any extreme reaction from the AS or HFA child. Also, the children themselves may articulate their anxiety over fears that things will not go according to plan, or that they will be forced to make changes that they can’t handle.

Sometimes these behaviors are identified as “obsessive-compulsive” because of the child's need for ritualized order or nonfunctional routine. The idea that OCD and these “needs for sameness” could share some biologic features is a popular notion among professionals.

In this post, we will discuss the following:
  • the causes of inflexibility and behavioral rigidity
  • the signs of inflexibility and behavioral rigidity
  • what can parents do to help their AS or HFA child learn flexibility

Click here for the full article...

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Oct., 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.


Hi Mark
Can we have your advice please ?
Our son is 13 not attending temporary placement, not allowed in mainstream school - currently waiting for approval off the local authority for specialist school for social, communication & behaviour concerns.
We are allowing him out as we can't keep him in all day & night but he isn't a pleasant boy around the house.  He is very demanding & forceful when he wants something & he has no patience.
Because of his poor choice of words & his respect for us his parents I refuse to give him money.  His Dad does give him money so he is able to buy a drink & food as he says he needs it if he his out for 7 hours.

What is your advice to giving money to your teenager who hasn't earned it ?

We are aware he is smoking canabis that's another reason why I don't like to give him money.  He has sold his items & stole from us & family members to buy canabis.



I have a question, hoping you can help me with it.  My daughter (PDD) was with Children Disability Services but when she turned 18 lost all supports.  She doesn't qualify for anything because her IQ is over 70.  She is very vulnerable (has been a victim of cyber bullying and child exploitation).  She has no friendships and her social skills are challenged.  What kind of supports are available for young adults with Aspergers and high IQ?


Hello Mark,

We have a 3 year old son who is currently in a special education preschool in a Los Angeles public school.
The school district feels he is on the spectrum and has stated this on his IEP. Some behaviors that are currently of concern are banging his head on the floor when frustrated or when his personal space is invaded by classmates in addition to pulling hair and hitting his classmates. Limited speech and sensory issues seem to be factors.

He has greatly improved with sitting during circle time and really loves going to school. He particularly likes his teachers. He is a pretty happy little guy overall and tantrums are fairly minimal for the time being.

Our son is currently going to special ed. preschool 4 days a week for 2 1/2 hours per day with 1 hour/week of both speech and O.T. offered during class time. In addition, due to developmental delays he attended Early Intervention education which included Center Base and both Occupational therapy and speech 2 hours per week from the age of 2 1/4 - 3 years old.

He has been going to his current preschool for 3 weeks now. I am feeling the need to find some sort of social skills class where a professional can work with him alongside one or two kiddos to address some of these behaviors and teach friendliness with peers. I am not having much luck finding such a service.

I did however, find your information and would like to know if your ebook can help me help my 3 year old.
Any additional advice or suggestions would also be very much appreciated.


I'm loving your newsletter, thank you!

One issue I have with my 12yo Aspergian boy is that of portion control.  I don't mean just food, either.  He seems unable to moderate the amount he takes or uses in LOTS of things.  Shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.   -- even when he pours water from one container to another -- it is as though he just cannot control what he is doing and always uses or pours too much.  Any tips that I can try?


I would like to order your e-book and program, but find I barely have time to get an article read, moreless a book...having children 3, 6, 8, and 17 (grandparents who adopted/are adopting their grandchildren), makes it difficult to really "FIND" time, yet I know that if we don't understand this, we are wasting A LOT of time, theirs and ours.  My question is, will this work with my 17 year old who has non-verbal learning disability.  She has become addicted to sexual issues, on line (we've taken away her home computer, but seems to be able to access it from friends at school, during school).  She is dangerous to herself and to us with the "conversations" she has with these "people" on line...she constantly is watching shows about babies, crimes, ER rooms, sexual scenes in movies...something that seems "normal" like kissing to us in a movie, she gets all grossed out, yet the way she talks on the internet is COMPLETELY the opposite...she's getting more aggressive also.  She's been in counseling and on meds for years, but nothing seems to be improving....we tried to do on-line schooling because of situations that developed at school with two boys, but that just opened up the world of porn to her.  Now back in school, after many attempts to get her into an impatient facility (she didn't qualify in ANY  of them) because she is possibly (per one counselor) a sociopath, and can deceive many, I fear for her safety (and ours).  She's starting to get daily reports of her missing classes but how can we prevent it when the school doesn't seem to be concerned until it's up to 10 a semester???  I also have an eight year old boy who has an abnormal bran scan, and lots of neglect and abuse (possibly) for the first year 1/2 of his life.  But no time to write more, just know, he is totally unpredictable...the slightest thing sets him off and he freezes up and huddles in a corner or just won't move....he constantly steals, hoards things, lies....We want to help both of them, but some days are just exhausting....no place we've contacted wants to do outpatient services with him....so I guess it's up to us to find out the correct things he needs...He does WONDERFUL in school, so we just do not get it, and wonder if others think we are just making mountains out of molehills regarding him....Thank  you for your time.


Hi Mark, I am a professional clinical counselor and grandmother to a 13 year old boy with HFA. Yesterday went shopping with his mom, a friend and him... He chose to tag along. Mom prepared him well and everything was fine until we encountered the escalator. He refused... For quite awhile to get on. Tears, strangers help and all. Mom has been encouraged by his counselor to help him face his fears, so she didn't want to back down. After about half an hour he finally got on... Clinging to her every inch of the way. When he got to the top he dropped to the floor... As if to hug the floor. Not sure if that was relief or drama... He can be dramatic at times. He is also afraid of elevators and is clumsy and slow on stairs. I think there is more going on than just anxiety... And wonder if occupational therapy would help him. Mom reinforced him for finally getting on the escalator .. Maybe a bit excessively. I wonder if the over reaction is getting reinforced as well by all the attention he receives for a melt down. We were all exhausted by the event. I worry about the age appropriateness of his behaviors, how this will affect him as he moves along in school, etc. The school has refused to help with his large motor skill deficits stating that it doesn't interfere with him getting around in school. I don't agree. Do you know if there are other ways to get therapy for him... And do you think it could help? Thanks for any input in advance.


i just wanted some advice on parenting him.. He is your typical aspergers kid.. the list that was published is him to a tee!! lol

We seem to have the most problem with listening in general..School as well
he is having a difficult time there as well.. has to sit by himself so others can get work done  Being so smart he is finished his quickly then want to socialize.. OF course in a class of 30 this is not happening? .. What can I suggest to his teacher? to get his to focus and listen?  I know this is a BIG question that has LOTS of answers but anything would be appreciated.

.. I mean most kids are like this i realize BUT with him its a little different as you are probably aware..it is just not about the listening its tuning you out!!!

For example going to bed, getting ready for school, stuff like that   stuff he really doesn’t want to do!!  The noises and sounds he makes when you try to talk to him.. hands over the ears making rude sounds and stuff..  Our parenting my husband and I, are quite the same.. we speak and we speak and we speak UNTIL it gets to the taking away privileges which is the only thing that seems to work and it seems to be when we get to the beyond reason point!! My husband loses patience quiet easily quicker then I and he usually has to raise his voice.

 How do you get through to him without these threats and yelling for discipline?  He so tunes me out in the morning trying to get him dressed breakfast  lunch ready etc..
 i am just one big angry frustrated mess by the time i drop him off at school… i don’t think i can do this for the next 8 yrs of school lol  i guess i just want a few suggestions to help ease things around here.


I have a son who will be 21 this month I have had him in mental health since he was five. From the time I was pregnant until now I have not understood how to talk or communicate with my son. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, Depression then when he hit adulthood Aspergers. After reading and thinking back on my sons behavior I believe it is Aspergers. He doesn't like pants he only wants to wear shorts and he is addicted to video games. My son has a learners permit but takes no interest in driving. I cant get help from the vocational rehab people until he has a license. He worked with my husband two months at his job and is at home depressed and back to his same routine. I am desperate to find him help so that is why I bought your book. Just from what I have seen on your video's I finally found someone who knows what I am up against.
Thank you, Lucy


How can I assess when my “mind-blind” adult daughter would be ready to live on her own?
She could not live off-campus(totally messed the rented apartment), and she could not live
own her own(same scenario except add four cats) because of internal anger and newly acquired physical pain(car accident). Medical professional claims that daughter has behavioural issues. How can these issues be resolved? Daughter lives in a group home for another reason, but is free to leave.
Also, I understand the principle of prioritizing, but in the scenario of  “hoarding specific items vs necessities” how should these be addressed. eg. adult daughter lives elsewhere but insists on bringing home “her belongings” vs. necessities for weekend visits(like clothing especially underwear)
Her books, and stuffed animals, are kept at a minimum but at great emotional cost to both of us.

DO you counsel parents over the phone?  I am seeing a therapist now but constantly come back to…did I do enough.  Alex was diagnosed at 6 years and I did EVERYTHING I was told to do plus more.  He is not 100 % apsergers…he has aspergers symptomology.   We sent him to a college prep high school and he did very well. He graduated from George Washington University and is now living in Bethesda and looking for work.  He help many internships unpaid and then paid while inscholl and after.  Socially he is behind.  We put him on a financial exit plan.  After college we gave him $XXX/month for 6 months and then would lower that amount by 25%  every 6 months.  After 2 years of this, we would be done supporting him.  Keep in mind, he has NO DEPT!!  He is mad at us now since he don’t have a job.  I guess that is our fault.  We don’t really talk to him much but try to check in on occasion.  I never worked so hard with so little appreciation.  If there is more I need to do, I will gladly do it.  But my gut tells me to let him figure out his life.


Hi Mark,

Our son Aaron (9years old) will be celebrating his First Holy Communion in a couple of weeks. We have planned a party to celebrate this occasion. We have invited quite a number of our extended family (approx 60 people). We are just wanting to know if you have any strategies/suggestions so that Aaron does not get too overwhelmed/ anxious on the night.


Dear Mark

What a wonderful well structured article.  

We live in England with our six year old son, who is definitely on the spectrum of high functioning Aspergers (although not officially diagnosed yet). 

As parents we all have our individual journey in coming to terms with Aspergers, we have found acceptance of who they are the biggest turning point.    Luckily for us, we knew from a very early age that Oliver did not react to the world the same way we do and we adapted our parenting to support Oliver as best we could. 

We have now placed him in a local private school with small class sizes and amazing, supportive teachers. 

We are now looking for advice and resources that we can utilise to assist our amazing son in the areas you mentioned in your article.  Any advice welcome.


Hello Mr Hutten:
I have been married to a very unusual, sweet/affectionate (or he used to be) - terrifically immature (extraordinarilly unreasonable/unrealistic) 53 year old man/person.

He lost his Business Banker job a year into our marriage and did not look for work for 2 years (my alimony paid for our house). 

In the last five years he has worked two jobs
each after my begging/pleading with him to find work - he lasted at both for 3-5 months and each were  andabsoluty fruitless. 
He has not looked for work for probably a year now -- our electricity has been turned off, his truck was repossessed -- but unless something is pretty much on fire in front of him - it doesn't exist.
(When I came home to no electricity he told me we were experiencing a brown out. Despite the fact he hadn't paid the electric bill for three months).

It had been pointed out to me that he's very likely Aspergers. 
His Mother tecently told me he was on meds for ADHD as a child, and, that there was Autisim in his father's side.
So I researched Aspergers. Everything was scarily familiar.
He does not have an awkward gait, but does move his mouth in exaggerated, unusual ways - especially when he is upset. And he's come to speak very, very loudly.  There are many aspects that put him on the spectrum.

He continually self-sabotages, is forgetful, and everything has worsened and worsened... and although I have continually been there to rescue him, I put an end to that a few months back.

He has become quite fractured, doesn't have a penny, looks awful. He's not taking care of himself - and I am the only person in his life. (In six years, I've never met a friend of his. Apparently he was always on his own as a child as he never got along with the other kids).

He really is quite intelligent... academically. Emotionally -  that - is an extraordinarilly trying area, and quite isolating for me socially.

I have made sure we have health insurance (if he was in charge we would have neither health nor auto ins .... As it is there isn't even money nor a budget for groceries or gasoline).
He has Blue Shield and I'd imagine there's some provision for therapy.

I told him (as his Mother has) that he really needs help - someone to guide him, help give him some perspective - and hopefully some behavioral therapy.

He's no idea of time -- he becomes entirely lost/absorbed in what he is doing. Five minutes can turn into five hours. 
He is absolutely saturated and can barely keep a thought in his head. When I saw that you deal with Adult Aspergers, via computer(!?) -- that was a God-send.

Personally, I came from a long term, privileged marriage and as such had not worked for 25 years (nor had I attended college) - but I had had some money. 
During  my marriage to Chris I have loaned him thousands and thousands, based upon his sincere promises and best intentions - but have never seen a penny of it back.   
Dealing with him, cleaning up his endless messes has been a career in itself and I am beside myself trying to pick up the pieces.

I told Chris about you and he said he was willing to talk to you and get help.
Please be aware that he can feel picked on quite easily and become defensive.
He has a lot of repressed hostility and about 7,000 justifications for everything.

(He does not know how to use Skype, but I can help him there).

This man truly has no one and is in dire straits.
I am not equipped to help him. I've done all I can and far beyond.

Please tell me what's next...
I want to see him get the help he so severely needs. He is like a child and although it can be freaking, nuclearly maddening - it is heartbreaking.

Thank you, and thank you for the help that I pray you may provide.

Thank you so much for addressing the topic of aggressive aspergers teens.
Not sure a protective order is realistic-- many of us do not want to put our sons out – we just want advice on how to stop or manage the aggressive behavior—holes in walls, in your face, etc.  My son even punched dents into my car with his fists.   [In all cases, he has to fix the holes himself and he had to pay the car deductible].
At the moment, things are calm bc I have been using the privilege of driving and being able to borrow the car to control his behavior, including doing his school work, etc.   This was a great topic and gave me more to think about in case his aggression escalates. 

Wow Mark Hutten, I am so happy to have found you online. I am the grandma of 6 year old Alex, my daughter's oldest kid(a 2 year old sister and a newborn sister). Alex is a new first grader and is a high flyer(genius IQ)-----he was reading signs on buildings and trucks when he was 3 and now can do some four-function math equations as well as has taught himself some of 14 different languages (including Russian,Hebrew,Arabic). He is also a walking encyclopedia on the solar system. He was diagnosed w/ Aspergers last year in kindergarten but was observed for a month in class by psychologists and did not qualify for special services. His wonderful teacher w/ 25 years of teaching did a fabulous job of giving enrichment activities to Alex. Toward the end of the year the kids were actually asking Alex how to spell stuff and add stuff. He loves structure and order of course and also playing on the playground. He has just started a bit of imaginary play w/ others but would prefer to have others play his made up game "Spaceships" where they assign the different play structures as planets and land on them. He begs kids to play w/ him and we have explained that he needs to do what they want to do occasionally as well as talk about what they want to talk about----because it is polite. My daughter and her husband have done well bringing Alex to 'normal' groups stuff at church, the neighborhood and their friend's kids houses and he has managed to tolerate peer interaction ok.....All this is background info for my question. The other day he was playing Frisbee w/ a boy at the park and the Frisbee accidentally hit Alex in the nose and he started crying----the other kids felt devastated and was sad and wanted to convey that to Alex but Alex kept scream


We really appreciate your newsletter. One of our children recently got the diagnosis (by phone, of all means...), and I really think your insights are very good, helpful and different from others that can be found on the worldwide web - eg, your observation of the silence before the rage (helps me to notice her lighter skin colour and adjust my own behaviour) and the clear priorities (if it's not really dangerous, like fights with siblings, let it go). Therefore we would really enjoy reading a book written by you.


Hi Mark,

We just bought your OPS package to help us to deal with out 15 years old daughter. In just half year we got all issues from six-stepapproach.html page. The biggest issue that we are trying to address at this moment is drugs. But we also thinking that we need to address shoplifting as soon as possible. We have a huge department store nearby and she is going there to steal sushi, cosmetics, cloth... I think she is doing it already for at least two months and nobody caught her yet. I tried to talk to her multiple times but she just smiling at me. Recently I was able to take away some clothes that she stole there but I am not sure what to do with it. Should I throw it away, should I return it back to the store and they will charge me for the items or what ? We also went to this store and talked to a manager describing the situation and asking them to catch her so the authorities can deal with her but so far nothing. We need to address shoplifting at this point because we think she brings the stolen food to the older kids who have money to buy drugs and they share with her. We also called police on her several times when she was aggressive, sneaked out at night but they are telling us that this is parenting issue and they can't help us. She also has two social workers working with her but she was able to fool them around. 


Mark:  Our son is 20 years old and will be 21 in May 2015.  He graduated high school with A's and B's and has completed a Solar Technician class and passed a national test.  He just took an exam to be accepted into the Electrician's Union.

However, we are a standstill.  He is working in my law office doing filing and court runs but says he is bored and no longer wants to work there.  We are a loss as to how to direct him.  He seems most content playing video games. 

We know you talk about my Asperger's Teenager but it appears to us that he is about 3 to 4 years behind emotionally and in his social skills.  Do you have any advice for is since he is fast approaching young manhood.  Thank you.


Dr. Hutten,

This is just a very short addendum to my previous email.  I forgot to mention a couple of behaviorial issues which might have further bearing on my charge's situation.

First, this young man LOVES music, and his mother plays nursery rhymes at home, and he hears them here also.  The little dog doll, which I mentioned in my earlier message, plays songs, and at times he will be heard singing along with the last verse of the song.  He sings the "ABC Song" well, and will continue singing it if I'm singing it and stop.  Although most letters he says are not recognized, because we know the song, of course, I can make out what he is singing.  When I sing a nursery song with motions, he will stop and watch and sway, but doesn't not participate. 

Secondly, we look at books -- board books -- at his level, and he has his favorite pages, to which he will turn, sometimes saying words -- not clearly.

 Thirdly, last week I noticed he was doing something that his mother had told me about over a month ago.  That is he puts his fingers in his mouth, one at a time, grabs his nail with his teeth, and pulls with all his might!  He has a VERY strong bite -- believe I know because my finger was caught in it one time (and he knew it too) -- and she showed me where he had successfully pulled his fingernail(s) out of his fingers.  Apparently, he has done it with his toes, also, but I haven't witnessed it. 

Fourthly, he lives with both parents, who are both loving toward each other (when they ARE with each other) and toward him, and his dad is very affectionate with him, but firm.  His mother, as I mentioned, is loving and affectionate, until her son cries or has an "episode" or whines, etc., sometimes showing anger and raising her voice to tell him to be quiet. Sometimes, I chalk that up to the fact that she's had a long hard day at work (for the government at the drivers' license bureau), and is tired.   I treat him with affection here, hoping he knows that I love and care about him, and also tell him I love him, he is a sweet boy, and other affirming words.

I thinks that is all.  Thanks soooooo much for your time, and I know you can't make a diagnosis online!!  I'm just looking for any suggestions you might have to help me help this child and his family.  I saw your book, and want to purchase it, and will when I have the money to do so. 

Help us deal with out 15 years old daughter. In just half year we got all issues from six-stepapproach.html page. The biggest issue that we are trying to address at this moment is drugs. But we also thinking that we need to address shoplifting as soon as possible. We have a huge department store nearby and she is going there to steal sushi, cosmetics, cloth... I think she is doing it already for at least two months and nobody caught her yet. I tried to talk to her multiple times but she just smiling at me. Recently I was able to take away some clothes that she stole there but I am not sure what to do with it. Should I throw it away, should I return it back to the store and they will charge me for the items or what ? We also went to this store and talked to a manager describing the situation and asking them to catch her so the authorities can deal with her but so far nothing. We need to address shoplifting at this point because we think she brings the stolen food to the older kids who have money to buy drugs and they share with her. We also called police on her several times when she was aggressive, sneaked out at night but they are telling us that this is parenting issue and they can't help us. She also has two social workers working with her but she was able to fool them around. Btw, we live in Canada.


Good morning, Mark.
I am emailing as I noted your book on My Asperger Child.com Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management. Do you have another online book or resources to help unravel what happens if there was a misdiagnose and no prevention?  My 16 year old was recently diagnosed with nonverbal learning disability (along with possible schizoaffective disorder).  While we appeared to be communicating, she did not truly understand what we as parents have said even if she summarizes what we have said.  There is a disconnect.  While teachers and friends deem her brilliant in her talents and intellect she has incredibly low self esteem.  There is the disconnect.  She was repeatedly misdiagnosed child (due to high verbal skills and intellect).   Thus, we are past our opportunity of  prevention mentioned on the discussion of the Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management book.  I strongly feel that helping her understand more about her autism spectrum disorder will help
 further her healing.
Thank you for your time.



Hi Mark,
  I have contacted you several times over the past two years about my son Cameron. He has an adult brother that kept
running interference and the last time I contacted you was Father's Day, and you said, "Let go and let G-d." So I did. It
has been a rough several months with the two of them barely speaking to me, but I have managed to hang in here.
  Long story short, after 6 months of this, they are both losing the shop my adult son had, and neither of them has a place
to live, as they chose to build a room off the shop and live there. Landlord found out and wants them gone by the 31st.
 Between bad credit and No Credit, plus no recent rental history, no one wants to take a chance on them. They have
not asked to move back home, but instead have asked me to take care of their dogs while they drive to California & then
to Florida to "scout out locations" for their future move.
  Neither of them has made any effort what-so-ever to maintain any kind of contact with me during this entire time and
now they need a dog sitter??? Not for one dog, but two and I already have one of my own. I told them I was not interested
in discussing that over the phone and invited them to dinner Sunday so we could discuss time frames for their departures
and returns. Surprisingly, they agreed.
  The crazy thing is this, I am suddenly feeling like I may want to cancel on them and just let them figure it out for themselves.
It is not that I don't want to see them, it is just that I do not want to see them ONLY when they need something from me. Now
that I have a chance to try and patch things up with them, I am suddenly feeling very anxious and unsettled.


Hi April,
You've got nothing to lose by having them come over. Maybe some unexpected blessings might take place. Their agenda is to pawn the dogs off onto you. Your agenda should be to simple make a connection with them. See how you feel after the conversation. You might change your mind and decide to help them out, or you may have confirmation that it's their problem (in which case, you will need to tell them why you can't keep 3 dogs).
Again, you've got nothing to lose by having them come over -- but that doesn't mean you have to take responsibility for their issue.

Mr. Hutten,

I went online and saw your website on aspergers and though my 15 year old son has not been diagnosed, he has many signs and symptoms. When he was in 3rd grade, he was borderline ADD. (But I had to stop with any diagnostic work as my then husband 'flipped out' that I was even doing this. Personally, I think he was trying to hide his own inadequacies). 

When he (David) was 3 years old, he walked on his toes. After years of wearing leg braces and the last stretch of getting a 'normal' gait, his dad told him he didn't have any problems and he didn't need to wear his leg braces. Why would someone do that? I lost respect from my son. He refused to wear his leg braces any more. He lost his zest and 'doing hard things'. 

In grade school, David showed everyone he was pretty smart. In middle school, it didn't work so well to 'wing it' and still get a good grade. Doing the homework was beginning to be a chore. So much, that he wasn't doing it. Teachers would always say that he is very focused in class and does well on quizzes and tests.

Below are a few symptoms that seem to 'fit': 
  • Swearing (verbally abusive)
  • Defiant (doesn't help with chores/pickup after himself/leaves messes)
  • Does not do homework
  • Bullied many times
  • No real friends (7th grade was the last time he 'hung out' with someone)
  • Talks loud
  • Personal hygiene low priority (leaves boogers on bathroom wall/cabinet)
  • Disorganized (weak executive functioning)
  • Never smiles (saw it twice in 9th grade; before that 7th or 6th grade maybe). Seems angry
  • Takes revenge; when angry, he will damage or destroy something (ex:  make scratch marks on something)
  • Intense with 'stupid' you tube stuff. It's a battle to get phone away. I do turn off internet at night. Locks himself in bathroom to play video games.

Please advise what my first steps are. Everyday I feel stressed/tormented/angry at him. I never smile. His behavior is destroying me(physically, mentally). I can't go on living like this. They say 'help is out there'. I am asking you for help, please.

My boyfriend is a single parent of a 9 yr. old with Aspergers.  Since mom abandoned the marriage and their son, the father has spent the last year trying to cope on his own.  He refuses to see help from any source that can provide him with the proper tools to help his son and himself.

The main issue is the most extreme separation anxiety that I have ever seen.  The child refuse to be away from dad other than to attend school.  It is effecting my relationship with my boyfriend because we cannot alone time except for one evening per week, for just a few hours, and his son constantly texts or calls him to ask when dad is coming home.  His son will only spend this away-from-dad time with an adult brother and occasionaly his grandmother.  The child is extremely high functioning and knows exactly how to manipulate dad. I am at my wits end and ready to shelve our relationship unless help and support can be provided. Any assistance from you would be wonderful.  I am willing to purchase your program for my boyfriend is I can be assured that the above issues are addressed.


Hi Mark:
This last week our son has moved down hill.  He did not attend one full day of school last week. We do not say much about school work and attendance we say that it is his responsibility. We do not allow him to use our vehicles on the days he does not attend.  He did not go to his guitar lesson, his band practice or hockey game. He says he is too depressed to do this. He only did one of five chores this week. He keeps insisting that we must ask him to do the chore and then he will consider it. There is a list on the fridge.  As a result of no chores, he eventually moved into a restart of a one day full grounding/lost of privileges  Saturday. On Saturday he left the house in the evening anyways. We locked him out for 24 hours, he could come home 8:30 tonite. It is Sunday evening he has not returned. He hung out with friends and as far as we understand he is at the movies this evening.

We are checking into see if we are handling the situation correctly as we are worried that he may behave the same next week. Do we continue the same consequences? My husband and I have discussed our parenting skills and agree that he has been nagging somewhat and I have not been using poker face consistently. Other than that....


Hi ~
We are enjoying your course. Thank you.
Looking forward to seeing it implemented and working over time in our home. Transformation is what we need and I believe we are on course for that.
My wife and I are seeking assistance through your program and others, as well as marital counseling (this teenage season has taken it's toll on us too), and genuine friendships through our church community group. Lots of support around us and it is still not easy, but we are pressing onward together.

We have 2 teenage boys ~ ages 15 & 17.
Both are "Prodigals" currently, but we have faith in the Lord's promises and provisions and love and power, that they will come to their senses and return to a higher moral and ethical standard someday soon.
In the meantime, we are in the thick of it. Their immaturity and rebellion is way more than I (we) ever imagined we'd face.

In the past, I have reacted with anger for their rebellion and disrespect and our relationship is severed. I am well on my way to recovery through professional help and prayerful support from many, and am confident that the self-control I need to have, will be restored. I did not always separate myself from them emotionally when things went sour and I mucked it up. As a result, they now have serious anger and resentment towards me. It's the worst thing I've ever experienced in my life.

So, their rebellion ~ yes. But it is accompanied by an excessive amount of anger, hatred, bitterness, profanity, and talk of drugs and sex.
This past week, our youngest was told (by both mom & I), to return to the house to finish his homework, since he has "zeroes" in many classes and a few F's.
He said NO and skated away. We repeated our request and he did the same and left.
We withheld his privilege of going out this past weekend for his evening social times with his peers (who by the way, are like-minded and in similar academic and behavioral slumps).

Question for you ~
Today at breakfast, he told us that he doesn't care what consequence we give him about what he is about to do. And that is ~ he is going out with his friends on Halloween, no matter what. He said he didn't care if we took away his weekend privileges for a month ~ he was going to go out no matter what. He says it's too big of a party and crazy fun night to miss. My dictionary defines incorrigible as "impervious to constraints or punishment, willfully unruly, uncontrollable."
That is what we are dealing with.
Your advice?


Hello Mr. Hutten,

First, I'd like to say how much you have helped my family and I with our son and his many emotional and neurological set backs.

My question is: What do you recommend for compulsive lying? Our son is almost 14. He must take laxatives even though he has been placed on a gluten free diet. I just started this with him a little over a month ago. We do know that him on gluten puts him into orbit as we discovered this last Friday night after he had a hamburger with the gluten bun. He is still having problems but settling back down. But our son is always putting the pills in his pockets which we check everytime he takes the laxatives. He has been on these since he was 8. They work well. I want to continue with the laxatives for another 6 months to see if the GF diet works at helping the stools become more and more as the way they should be. 

Our son lies about anything possible. We have tried putting him in time out, good behavior charts, toileting charts (even with a toilet training specialist), being yelled at, incentitives, restriction from his favorite activity, which is computer and Legos. Nothing seems to phase him. Nothing makes him want to stop. He even lies about going to the bathroom (#2) which we have tried the same type of approaches to correcting his behavior. He has been to 3 GI's which have not worked at all. 

I am currently schooling him with on line schooling so I can work with him at home so he can be kept on a regular schedule, kept on the GF diet at all times, no bullying, but he has socialization with rock climbing with a homeschool group with kids his age, he is taking karate with kids his age, and has a church youth group that is his age. He also is on medications with a psychiatrist, has had assessments (home and psychological assessments), and goes to a counselor every week. 

I feel like my husband and I have tried everything. His brother is three years older is also very understanding and tries to be a help in helping him see his needs met. Our son is academically smart, proficient to advanced. But he lacks the emotional, social, and many of the coordinating skills of a Aspie. He also has ADHD and deals with severe depression. Another reason for "homeschooling" him. 

Sorry for the long email, but I feel if our son, who can be wonderful, has a quick wit, but is very crafty, doesn't get his behavior of lying lessened any sooner, there are going to be severe problems as he grows up more. 

Could you please address so my husband and I can know how to get through to him? We understand this is one of the problems with a child with Austism, ADHD, and other problems. I am almost convinced that our son deals with PDA. So many of the symptoms fit. But I feel having our son assessed is a mute point as medication wouldn't do anything seeing it is behavioral and seeing it part of autism, behavioral issues, and such, it is something we just have to work with, which we are more than willing to do. My husband and I just want to get our child to be able to function as adult in society. We are very concerned. 


Hello Mr. Hutton,

My husband and I are interested in meeting with you to help us with our adopted daughter.  She has ADHD and was recently diagnosed with RAD.  She spent her first 17 months of life w/ her bio. mom and was neglected as well as subject to witnessing repeated domestic violence and homelessness.  The first piece of tangible help we have found is your website.  Even though she has been in therapy off and on since she was 3 years old.  She completely manipulates her current therapist and we feel it does more harm than good.  For instance they play games and the Therapist lets her cheat to win at every game.  Now she is 11 and the hardest thing we face now other than disobedience and attention seeking is that she is constantly stealing!  She mostly steals my things (adoptive mom) like heirloom jewelry, glasses, money, makeup, etc, but she is also stealing from school and stores.  She is currently banned from our local Rite Aid store.  We have emptied out her bedroom to simplify caring for her and her clothes.  She is allowed to access her belongings, but cannot store them in her bedroom because she hoards and allows food to rot...and uses her "stuff" inappropriately to hide stolen items.  I do take away things she uses wrongly- and we are applying the many counterintuitive parenting approaches suggested on your website.  My informative parenting style was all wrong for her!  But we are a very devoted family and I spend quality time with her and her brother, even making time each week to allow her to lead the play, so she can exert personal control in a positive and appropriate way.  I appreciate your newsletter and would like to know if we might "meet" with you for some direct coaching.  I fear her issues are becoming so big that soon her mistakes are going to have long term consequences.  And for us- it's exhausting dealing with her, because she wants control all the time and is always working some kind of angle.  Please let us know how we might arrange a cyber meeting with you.


Hi Mr. Hutten,
I had a counselor share your information with me on Reactive attachment disorder about a week ago. I can't begin to describe how much your response to the adoptive parent in ask the parent coach touched me as I read it. You were some how able to express in words for me what I have tried for five years to do with no success. We adopted three children from the foster care system in 2009. One has RAD ( recently diagnosed). She has been misdiagnosed 4 times and each time we were given incorrect parenting techniques. Just as we got the RAD diagnosed CPS became involved because of allegations. Unfortunately, a year later we just made it to the court room this week and kids have been out of our home for 8mths. I still can't get DSS or the judge to see the disorder for what it is. I am still the one at fault in their eyes. At this point they are recommending more ineffective counseling because she isn't showing symptoms at my mom and "seems" to be attaching to her because there are no behaviors so they think this disproves the diagnoses. I am at a lost now as to how to help my child. That being said, I can't thank you enough for the words you wrote because after all this time I was really thinking I was crazy and a bad parent and all these other people were right. Your words have given me the strength to continue to fight this battle. I know we have a long road but you have been my shining light in this battle. Thank you greatly for the informative information.


My name is Alvita and i saw your youtube video about counseling on skype. For the past two days I have been looking online for support for AS. Im kinda in a tough spot trying to deal with this and find a way to cope through life with it. I'm at my whits end with this. I just want to scream sometimes. 
I don't know how much the sessions would be but i work part-time and get paid twice a month i don't make very much and i pay $300 a month to my mom  for rent. I just need to find some help and counseling, someone i can talk to. I hope you can help me. I don't know what all you allow your clients to discuss with you...like what topics and stuff  for example: just what goes on in my life in general or just strictly AS stuff. I live in a small town and don't have the full proper help i can get and my schedule dose not allow me to travel all the time for proper help and support. This could be a good thing for me and I think more convenient for me as well as long im accepted as a client of yours and i can afford to pay you what you think you will charge me. Please email me back info and what you think you could do for me. I appreciate your time.


My (just turned 17) daughter was grounded a month ago for staying away friday and saturday night without permission. Her phone, Wi-Fi, TV, and some clothes  were taken away, and her curfew was earlier. She continues to not come home the last 3 fridays nights. SHe was told the police were going to be notified that she was a missing person, and I did notify the police. My husband and I are thinking of implementing ZERO TOLERANCE and telling her that she will be pulled out of the school and put in a local school in our town. However, I feel she will test this limit and we will have to follow through in the end, not improving the situation.

DO you have any/other suggestions?


My daughter is going to a charter school in another town. It's on Fridays after school when she decides to not come home.
SHe has told us she wants to be emancipated and live in the town where her school is.


Hello Mark Hutten.

My names Ryan and im 19 years old living in Manchester, United Kingdom. Doing some research on the internet led me onto your youtube channel and site in which has been helping me in understanding asperges. 

i came to a link on one of your videos and it listed a few experience in which most of them match me. I don't think i have asperges/autism but after my mum kept talking to me about it, she convinced me to get help, i did accept eventually but only if she would be there 100% of the way as i coudn't do it without her.  

I have seen 2 psychologists, i have been to my doctor too see what he suggests. These that i have listed led me in circles, i always got referred onto somebody else and i coudn't find the right person, and until i do, i dont know which step to take. Although none of those helped i am currently attend a place called "streetwise" it offers support to people with health or social problems and its trying to help me get on the right track.

I would like to copy the things from your site and list next to them in how they affect me.

  • obsessive routines - Routines can be difficult for me as i have got only 1 and i find it really difficult to break the routine and try something different. Everyday the routine is the same and i cannot find anything else to do that will break the routine.

  • problems coping in social situations - I suffer from really bad anxiety and depression and i find it difficult to interact with people in the real world, its also difficult to speak to new people who i meet on the internet via voice communicating. i cannot make and maintain friendships, this is something i've never been able to do and has a big impact on my life. I've been told my house is my comfort zone and in every possible case, i'd choose to stay at home instead of going out places.

  • intense tantrums called "meltdowns" - These happen sometimes but it's only when somebody has said something to me which i didn't want to hear, i wont always do it but it depends on whats said.

  • oversensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights -n/a

  • preoccupation with one subject of interest - I love to focus on and research music and sound, i will constantly research the same thing over again but with different searches.

  • being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes - This is one thing i cannot cope with, if its a change of my life or my routine i hate it and cannot agree with it. ME and my mum found that if she was to move it and show me what the change would actually look like, i might consider it if i did like it.

Thanks for reading, sorry its unorganized and after reading that, i would like to know what you think ?

There is so much more to tell but i would first like to know what you think and if possible i could get back to you with a more organised email containing a lot more info.

Thanks, Ryan

Mr Hutten
I was so excited to find your clips on you-tube, I just bought and
downloaded your book. Been married to an Aspergers for 19 years, have 3
Aspergers children (diagnosed, not sure yet about the 4th). So I got to the
blame, dissappointment, depression, just like you so brilliantly explained
and then found your sites, thank G-d). We have been going for marriage
counselling but I now understand that because the therapist is not trained
to work with Aspies, so he treats us like normal couples and nothing
changes. I am not sure that there is a better therapist where we live and I
do have confidence in this therapist that if he learns the right material,
he will be able to help us better, should I refer him to you or what else do
ou suggest.

Another question, my eldest son, 16 years, diagnosed, had a dog for 4
months. He was so happy, the happiest we had seen him for a long time.
Unfortunately, we had to get rid of the dog because of problems with the
neighbours (I really tried everything possible to avoid this option, but it
was not possible). He obviously is now very down, very resentful, not
talking to me. We usually have an incredibly good relationship. Do you
perhaps have any suggestions on how to help him.


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