Strange ASD-Related Obsessions and Fear-Reduction

“My daughter is totally obsessed with the weather. Reads books on it, watches the weather channel constantly, listens to thunder and lightning sounds on the computer, and so on. Is this typical autistic behavior? Why an obsession about weather?”

Nearly all children with High-Functioning Autism have an area of special, sometimes obsessive interest. Often times, these kids develop this interest as a way to overcome fear (however, this is not always the case). 
Weather, especially tornadoes and hurricanes, can be fearful and even terrifying. A youngster on the autism spectrum may develop a preoccupation with weather to cope with this fear. 

She might watch the Weather Channel continuously, read the weather report in the paper numerous times across the day, or read about different weather phenomena – and be able to share details of past storms when the weather worsens. 

In addition, trains are often a focus of interest for many kids on the spectrum, perhaps due to the train’s ominous size, sound, and vibration. 

One autistic child remarked, “The first time I saw a train coming down the track, I thought it was an angry dinosaur. I was scared because I could feel the ground move. After that, I wanted to know all about trains.” This may have been another example of a child becoming obsessed with something that instilled fear in him initially.


•    Anonymous said... And they call it a DISORDER? a child fascinated by the phenomena of the world she lives in?
•    Anonymous said... I would take that choice and behavior any day over the alternatives
•    Anonymous said... It's tranquil, use the weather sounds on the radio when needed to calm the room
•    Anonymous said... Much better than Minecraft... I could learn about/with/from an "obsession" like that.
•    Anonymous said... My aspie son does the same thing. Anything weather related, especially storms, and he has it pulled up.
•    Anonymous said... Our son loves tornado information and the weather channel also
•    Anonymous said... Weather, geology, evolution... Etc. My son has had obsessions forever. I think they're awesome!

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Children with ASD and Lack of Reciprocity in Social Interactions

“Can you help me to understand what they mean when they say that children with high functioning autism appear to experience a 'lack of reciprocity' in social interactions?”

This refers to a child who does not understand nonverbal communication (e.g., gestures, facial expressions, etc.) and, for example, may continue a conversation even though the person he is talking to is looking at his watch trying to get away. The child with HFA has difficulty recognizing and understanding others’ use of facial expression and gestures during conversation.

His lack of response to this type of communication creates great difficulty for him in social relationships. Likewise, the child may not use nonverbal communication and may appear expressionless in most conversations or interactions with others. This is why “lack of reciprocity” is such an important issue to address in treatment and/or social skills training. 

A reciprocal interaction simply means that both parties benefit equally from the conversation, rather than one person doing all the talking while the other person is forced to do all the listening.

As you can probably imagine, when one child dominates the conversation (i.e., disallowing responses from  listeners), it's not long before the listeners simply tune-out the child, and in some cases, walk away while he is in mid-sentence. This translates to rejection of the child, which chips-away at his self-esteem over time.

Young people on the high functioning end of autism are not stupid -- quite the opposite -- they tend to be very smart. So they know WHEN they are being ignored and rejected, they just don't know WHY (unless they are taught).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Labeling Children with an "Autism Spectrum Disorder"

If your child receives a formal diagnosis of AS or HFA, there are going to be a number of benefits as well as difficulties associated with getting “the label.” In this post, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of getting labeled with a developmental disorder.

It is always important to remember that no person is a diagnosis, and that no diagnosis is the person. AS or HFA is merely one quality of an individual. The person will have many other traits and aspects of his or her personality. Parents and teachers are encouraged to learn about the child FIRST, and then explore the way the diagnosis affects his or her functioning.

In a nutshell, labels are useful as a tool. However, as we all know, some people use labels as a weapon.

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Helping Your Asperger’s Teen to Eliminate Thinking Errors

Many children and teens with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) experience “thinking errors,” largely due to a phenomenon called “mind-blindness.” Mind-blindness can be described as a cognitive disorder where the child is unable to attribute mental states (e.g., emotions, beliefs, desires, motives) to himself or others. This ability to develop a mental awareness of what is in the mind of another person is known as the “Theory of Mind.”

Thinking errors are irrational patterns of cognition that can cause your AS or HFA teen to feel bad and sometimes act in self-defeating ways. If she becomes more upset the more she thinks about a troubling circumstance, she may want to consider the possibility of thinking in a different way. And you, as the parent, can help with this.

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Children on the Autism Spectrum and Peer-Rejection

Studies dealing with the implications of peer-rejection on later development indicate that children with ASD [Asperger's, High-Functioning Autism] experiencing harsh and continuous rejection over the years often reach a stage of despair, a decline in their self-image, loneliness and seclusion, behavioral difficulties, and suffer later from serious emotional disturbances and lack of ability to create meaningful relationships as adults. 


Best Comment:

Interestingly enough I mentioned to our son yesterday that I thought the incident he had in grade 6 with a group of boys who were his buddies and then turned on him at the end of June, was the beginning of a change in him. He, of course, scoffed at this, but I have always thought it had a much bigger impact on him then he ever let on. In the fall of that year, his class moved onto Junior High and the whole social mix changed. He says that he has felt depression since grade 7.  That is the year he began to withdraw from school life and sports bit by bit. We have always supported his friendships in the community by knowing and friending the parents of these kids. But of course we do not really know what goes on at school and how our son interprets things. And he is not one to tell us of things that may have happened at school.

Children with ASD and Holiday Tantrums: Tips for Parents

A holiday stress poll revealed that more than 8 out of 10 Americans experience stress during the holidays. At this time of year, parents have to find a way to add extra shopping and holiday events to their already busy schedule. They have to try to entertain their children who are getting a 2-week break from school (and stuck indoors most of the time due to cold winter temperatures). 
Money, in particular, can be a cause of stress because moms and dads feel demands to purchase gifts, decorations and other items tied to the season. Parents who have kids with neuro-behavioral disorders often experience even more stress.

All children have tantrums. But when a youngster has Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), behavioral problems can be even more intense – and difficult to interpret. Intense tantrums are likely to be a result of disrupted routine, inability to communicate feelings, inflexibility, motor-planning problems, or sensory issues. 
It’s easy for AS and HFA kids to become frazzled during Christmas break. The fast pace, pressure, noise, and disruption to regular schedules can quickly result in over-stimulation and meltdowns. However, planning ahead can go a long way toward warding-off extra stress, and will help ensure that the entire family can relax and enjoy the holidays.

Below are 20 tips to tame a challenging youngster's bad temper during the holiday season. They may not be pretty, or conform to the way you thought you would be parenting, but they will get the job done and buy you some time.

1. For most AS and HFA children, intense tantrums are going to be a fact of life. Making sure your youngster is safe and supported (rather than pacified or pampered) can cut the duration and intensity of the temper tantrum. Remind yourself that, with time and age and therapy, things will get better.

2. If your youngster has a silly streak, sometimes you can use that to nip a temper tantrum in the bud. A silly song, a funny face, a nonsense word, or doing something really off-the-wall to yourself may get your youngster giggling instead of whining.

3. Since your AS or HFA youngster most likely has sensory issues, temper tantrums can be extremely hard to read. Look at the whole day, the entire environment, and the big picture. You will need solve the mystery before you can provide adequate support and problem-solving.

4. If a tantrum begins to occur, physical restraint may be necessary at times for your youngster's safety. But, try to minimize the use of physical force. A physical struggle usually makes matters worse. The problem with holding or hugging the AS or HFA youngster as a way of managing tantrums is that he will come to see physical attention as a reward for having outbursts. Thus, moms and dads may find their youngster having more – not fewer – tantrums.

5. Be realistic about the length of time you can spend in public places with your AS or HFA child. Most kids have short attention spans and little tolerance for staring at their mom’s knees during outings. Kids on the autism spectrum have even less tolerance than “typical” kids the same age.

6. Considering shopping with your husband, your brother, your best friend – anyone. A spare adult can (a) supervise your AS or HFA child while you try on clothes, (b) wait outside with him while you run into stores, or (c) gently escort an angry youngster to the car while you finish up.

7. Build in opportunities for choices along the way so that your AS or HFA youngster feels like she has some control. For instance, if you are going to take a break in mid-afternoon during a shopping trip, you could include a choice of snacks on your youngster's schedule so that he can choose between a grape drink and a fruit smoothie. On the visual schedule, the item that comes after the visit to the grocery store can show two images side by side (a grape drink and a fruit smoothie) from which your youngster can choose.

8. When your child is in the midst of a tantrum, brainstorm some possible compromises or concessions that give her the illusion of control. Very few circumstances are as black and white as they seem when you're in a power-struggle. Find some gray areas, and strategize ways to exploit them.

9. Do some behavior analysis to figure out why your youngster feels the need to fight over certain things. Often, her reason is better than your reason. There may be real sensory issues involved in scuffles over food or clothing. Refusal to sleep or use the toilet on demand may feel to your youngster like controlling the only things she truly can.

10. Give your youngster a visual schedule of the places you are going to be visiting while shopping and running errands. Also, have your youngster help you arrange the order of places on the list. In this way, he will be able to anticipate what will occur next and see a clear end-point. Anything that reduces uncertainty tends to reduce tantrums. As you are leaving one place on your afternoon outing, ask your youngster, "Where do we go next?" This will focus his attention on the schedule. 

11. Maybe you and your child are both having a bad day. Maybe you miscalculated her tolerance-level. Maybe there's something extra stressful at the shopping center. Whatever the reason, if your youngster loses the ability to hold herself together, don't threaten or cajole – just get the hell out of there, now! Also, be aware, every moment, of how you will go about doing this.

12. Hungry kids are cranky kids. And kids tend to get hungry quickly and frequently. Thus, bring along a baggie containing pieces of fresh fruit or cheese-and-crackers for snacks.

13. Figure out what you can reasonably accomplish within the time limit you've set. Be realistic. Don't count on being able to rush around feverishly, or find everything you want immediately. Schedule a few stops, then get out. Also, try to choose a time when the shopping center is least likely to be packed. And take a pass on those big sale days, or find a babysitter and leave your youngster at home.

14. Avoid power-struggles at all cost. When the parent and child engage in a power-struggle, the child usually wins. It takes two people to argue, and you have a choice as to whether you want to be one of them. You don’t have to lay down and let your youngster walk all over you. But you do want to look for ways to reach consensus that doesn't involve you saying, "You need to shape up – or else!"

15. Pack a bag of tricks. Books, iPods, GameBoys, portable DVD players, travel games – whatever can be easily toted and deployed to distract – bring it!!!

16. Pay attention to your own feelings and needs during Christmas break. Engage in activities that YOU enjoy and find relaxing. Taking care of yourself helps keep your body and mind healthy and primed to deal with demanding circumstances. Consider cutting back on television viewing, and instead get the whole family out together for a winter walk. This will promote activity and takes children away from sedentary time.

17. Sometimes, rather than scolding, it’s better to empathize. Acknowledging your youngster's point of view may take some of the wind out of the tantrum's sails.

18. Talk to your AS or HFA child about expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Be open with her if money is an issue. Depending on the youngster's age, moms and dads can use this as an opportunity to teach their child about the value of money and responsible spending.

19. Tired kids are cranky and are easily set-off. Don't plan to be out beyond your youngster's usual naptime.

20. Silliness is a good distractor, especially when traveling long distances, or waiting for extended periods of time in long lines at the Mall or at the airport. Here are a bunch of distractors that require no advance planning:
  • Arm wrestle
  • Ask for favorites (e.g., TV show, movie, book, color, game, animal, friend, etc.)
  • Be mirror images
  • Blow a raspberry on your youngster's arm
  • Blow imaginary bubbles
  • Count backward from 100
  • Count by twos, threes, fives, tens
  • Count how many words you can spot (e.g., on signs, posters, clothes, etc.)
  • Count your change
  • Count your currency
  • Crawl fingers up your youngster's back or arm like a spider
  • Do charades
  • Do songs with hand motions (with and without the words)
  • Draw a letter on your youngster's back with a finger and see if he can guess
  • Explain the meaning of various figures of speech
  • Flip a coin
  • Fold or roll up currency
  • Give a backrub
  • Give a math equation for your youngster to figure mentally
  • Give a string of math equations and ask for the answer at the end
  • Give an invisible manicure or pedicure
  • Give your youngster the name of an object and ask what color it is, what letter it starts with, what shape it is, if it's heavy or light
  • Go on a "hike" with your two fingers walking over your youngster's arms, shoulders and head
  • Guess what the people around you do for a living
  • Have a staring contest
  • Have your youngster draw a letter on your arm or back, and you do the guessing
  • Have your youngster name all his or her classmates
  • Have your youngster narrate a favorite movie
  • Have your youngster teach you some clapping games 
  • Hide something in one fist – and guess which hand?
  • Interview your youngster for a TV news show
  • Let your youngster play with your hair
  • Let your youngster try on your jewelry
  • Let your youngster try on your wristwatch
  • Look for things out the window
  • Make a Christmas or birthday wish list
  • Make a puppet face with your fist, with your thumb as the lower jaw
  • Make a stack or a snake with loose change
  • Make faces
  • Make up an acronym for your youngster's name, and the names of other family members
  • Make up math story problems
  • Make up your own secret code
  • Name a relative's birth year and have your youngster figure out how old
  • Pick a number between 1 and 10
  • Play "Rock, Paper, Scissors"
  • Play "Simon Says" 
  • Play "Truth or Dare"
  • Play paddycake
  • Play with your youngster's hair
  • Practice breathing techniques
  • Push palms together to see who can push the hardest
  • Repeat what the other person says; repeat what the other person says
  • Say "Tell me three things you did today"
  • Say words to rhyme with
  • Say words to spell
  • See how many birthdates of friends and family your youngster can recall
  • See how many people your youngster can name in your extended family
  • See how your youngster looks in your glasses
  • See who can go the longest without talking
  • Show your youngster the pictures in your wallet
  • Sing some silly songs 
  • Speak Pig Latin
  • Stack hands one atop the other, pulling out the hand at the bottom and bringing it up top
  • Take off your shoe and have your youngster practice shoe-tying
  • Take off your youngster's shoes and socks and use the socks as puppets
  • Take turns naming words for a letter of the alphabet; last one to think of a word wins, and you move to the next letter
  • Teach your youngster some clapping games
  • Tell a story, taking turns one sentence at a time
  • Think of rhyming words for items around you
  • Throw an imaginary ball
  • Thumb wrestle
  • Try guided relaxation
  • Try some tongue twisters (e.g., supercalifragilisticexpialidocious)
  • Try to make each other laugh -- last one wins
  • Try to remember one of your youngster's favorite storybooks; let your youngster correct your mistakes
  • Use your wristwatch to give a lesson in telling time
  • Use your wristwatch to time things going on around you
  • Whisper secrets, silly and serious
  • Write a poem, taking turns one sentence at a time

The holiday season can be tough of children with special needs …too many people …too much noise …too much food …too much hustle and bustle. Never mind the fact that some AS and HFA children go crazy during big family events. In any case, by using the tips listed above, you can reduce – and even eliminate – your youngster's intense tantrums during this holiday season.

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

The 3 Types of ASD Children

There are wide-ranging differences within the group of kids with ASD [Aspergers/High-Functioning Autism] in their social interests and behaviors. In terms of general sociability, there are 3 sub-groupings of these young people based on social interests:
  1. Active but odd: This group makes initiations and responds to others. They are interested in interactions and seek them out, but their ways of carrying out the interactions are unusual in their odd language, obsessive topics, and lack of understanding of others.
  2. Aloof: This group is indifferent in all situations, particularly marked with peers, though approaching to get needs met and often enjoying physical interactions.
  3. Passive: This group involves kids who initiate few social interactions, but respond positively to the approaches from others.


Holiday Stress-Reduction Tips for Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum

Moms and dads of a youngster with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) know all too well that the challenges are daunting and often isolating as their child can have tantrums, meltdowns and intense needs. But they also know that their child is a vital, loving part of their lives. Once they get a diagnosis, parents have to be a case manager, an education specialist, an advocate – and they have to figure out the medical system. The level of stress is exhausting. Now, throw two weeks of holiday tension into the equation, and the stress can be just plain terrifying. As one parent stated, “You get that feeling like, 'I just want to die.' It's hard. There's anger and a lot of emotions you go through.”

Christmas-related stress-management is crucial to enjoying the season, without being over-burdened with daily stresses. Even parents with children on the autism spectrum can have a smooth holiday experience.

Reduce your stress level with the following stress-relief tips to keep you even-keeled and jolly throughout the holiday season:

1. Stress is often related to worrying about the future or fretting about the past. Find peace and joy in this holiday season by focusing on the present moment. Be here now! Enjoy the laughter, the happy conversation, the fun, the music, and the moments of love and friendship.

2. During the Christmas break, there may be pressures pulling you in all directions off your center. Make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources. Consider what is most important to you. A little advance planning can help identify areas where you could cut back.

3. Eat a hearty, healthy snack before going to parties. With healthy snacks ahead of time, all you’ll be faced with when you arrive at the party is temptation – not hunger AND temptation! When you arrive, enjoy other pleasures (e.g., good company, beautiful decorations, happy kids jumping around, etc.).

4. To stay sane, delegate Christmas tasks to family members and friends. For example, it’s good that you ordered the fruitcake, but let someone else pick it up. Have your husband select the Christmas cards this year while you read a good book. Anybody can run to the post office – you don’t have to do it all yourself. Delegate first, and then follow-up for some peace-of-mind.

5. During the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in busy schedules and endless “to-do” lists, and then lose sight of what Christmas is all about. Take some time to evaluate what is really important to you and your family (e.g., carrying on certain traditions, simply spending time together, etc.). Focus on the things that really matter, and fight the urge to go above and beyond that level.

6. Buy a wall calendar when you make your budget and start listing the activities that you want to experience during Christmas (e.g., plays, church services, family meals, traditional gatherings - along with who is to attend, etc.). Post it on the refrigerator and make a rule: “It has to be on the calendar to happen.” In this way, everyone in the family can see what is planned and when it’s planned to happen, and won’t want to go on a Christmas Light Tour (for example) when they know they have to be at Aunt Suzie’s house for dinner!

7. Don’t plot and plan-out every hour of Christmas. Factor in some “down time” for the sake of your sanity. Remember to do it for the over-achievers in your family, too. During the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we all need to be saved from ourselves!

8. Double-booking multiple activities on the same day can result in frustrated AS and HFA children and lost opportunities – not to mention the occasional screaming match.

9. During Christmas break, eating and going to sleep at roughly the same time each day is good for AS and HFA kids. They feel more secure when their days follow a predictable order. It improves their moods, and helps to create a peaceful household.

10. Offset Christmas chaos by involving your kids in Christmas planning. Having a say in the planning can help your “special needs” children feel more in control during busy times. 

11. Ship gifts to your loved ones far in advance of Christmas unless you like waiting in lines at the post office, which is an unwanted hassle for everyone!

12. Throughout the holidays, it’s easy to eat way too much rich, fatty foods – and watch out how the wine flows when family and good friends come together. The best thing to do about the unavoidable overindulgence is to exercise regularly. A good cardio workout will do wonders for the toxins and extra calories from the Christmas experience.

13. Accomplishing the perfect Christmas can be a tough job. Get creative to minimize the workload (e.g., save time and money by encouraging your guests to bring a dish to your Christmas feast; make gift-giving easier and more fun with a white elephant; explore your catering options, etc.). There are many ways to keep the spirit of Christmas without over-extending yourself.

14. Consider having a family meeting to discuss what is available to spend on gifts, travel, etc., and make sure all family members are on the same page. This will avoid a lot of moaning and complaining later because someone’s expectations were dashed.

15. Wrap everything as soon as it’s purchased, then tuck it away until the tree is up and decorated.

16. It’s unreasonable to expect you to not partake of the deliciousness of Christmas dinner. But by implementing portion control, you’ll be in better shape in January than those who “pigged out” – and you’ll feel better about yourself, too.

17. Plan your shopping and avoid doing anything impulsively. Last-minute gifts can bust your budget and your sanity!

18. Learn to say "No" (the world won’t come to an end if you do).

19. Overspending for Christmas gifts not only stresses you out while you're doing it, but continues into the future when the credit card and bank statements arrive in January. Do not throw cash at merchants in an attempt to buy happiness! Budget-management is always a factor in stress-reduction.

20. Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating not only brings back pleasure, it brings back control. Because you are aware of every bite, and celebrating each one, you are more aware of how much you are consuming, and when to stop. You will feel good about stopping because you are satisfied – emotionally and physically.

21. Prioritize your "to do" list. Some things (e.g., buying gifts for your kids) will certainly be at the top the list. But items closer to the bottom of the list (e.g., shopping for holiday tablecloths) can simply wait until the after-Christmas sales. Get to the bottom of the list if you have time. If not, don’t worry about it. Your sanity and serenity are more important than new tablecloths.

22. Family tensions can escalate during Christmas, especially if you are living in close quarters for several days (and perhaps drinking too much). To help keep your temper in control at parties, sip your alcoholic drinks, don’t chug. After one glass of alcohol, try drinking glasses of sparkling water with lemon or lime. Also, drinking less alcohol means you’re less likely to overindulge in holiday junk food.

23. While we all want Christmas to run smoothly, occasionally there may be a few bumps in the road (e.g., cancelled flights, stores that have run out of inventory, the pecan pie burns in the oven, etc.). In these difficult moments, it’s easy to take out your stress on someone else. This is where it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together. Approaching Christmas with a sense of compassion can change everything.

24. Take frequent breaks from the holiday activities (e.g., go for a walk, watch a seasonal flick, meditate, do some yoga, order takeout instead of cooking, etc.). Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s pleasurable and anxiety-free.

25. Other stress-reducers for parents include the following:
  • Finding a music therapist isn't the only way music can help as a stress-reducer. Creating playlists for various moods (e.g., a cathartic mix for when you want to process feelings, an upbeat mix for when you need more energy, etc.) can help you to relieve stress enjoyably and conveniently.
  • Enjoying a good game with a group of friends, or playing something relaxing online can take your mind off of your stressors, and can lead to a more relaxed state. 
  • Consuming caffeine too late in the day can affect sleep quality, which impacts stress levels. 
  • Breathing exercises provide convenient and simple stress relief in that they can be used anytime, anywhere, and they work quickly.
  • Aromatherapy has proven benefits for stress-reduction. It also helps you to become energized, more relaxed, and more present in the moment.
  • Developing time-management skills can allow you to minimize the stressors that you experience, and better manage the ones you can't avoid. When you are able to complete most of the items on your "to do" list without the stress of rushing or forgetting, your whole life feels easier.
  • Journaling can be used in several different ways, all of which can relieve stress. Because journaling is proven by research to bring several health benefits in addition to stress relief, this stress-reduction technique is highly recommended.
  • Practicing guided imagery is a fun and simple way to take a break from stress, clarify what you want, and build optimism. It's a relatively quick pathway to mental peace.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that allows you to relax all of the muscles in your body, group by group. Beginning sessions take several minutes, and allow you to feel physically and emotionally relaxed when done. 
  • While biofeedback requires some special equipment, this stress relief strategy can allow you to become more aware of - and consciously alter - the physiological changes that come with stress. By using your mind to relax your body, you can ease your mind to a greater degree as well, creating a positive feedback loop.
  • The physical act of laughing releases tension and brings positive physiological changes. Finding ways to work more laughter into your day can be an effective route to stress-reduction.
  • Sitting with a glass of green tea and planning for the day ahead, or reflecting on the day behind, can provide you with a nice break and a taste of peace. 
  • Sex can be a fantastic stress-reducer, because it incorporates several other stress relief ingredients (e.g., breathing, touch, social connection, etc.), and brings a rush of endorphins and other beneficial chemicals with orgasm. 
  • Self-hypnosis provides a simple and relaxing route to changing habits, relaxing your body, and altering your thought patterns.

How can you enjoy Christmas while at the same time keeping your AS or HFA child calm and behaving appropriately? Here are some important tips:
  1. AS and HFA kids are often immature. Never tell them to act their age. They have no concept of age-related behavior.
  2. Be sure your child knows what is expected of her during family get-togethers. Use simple language that she can understand.
  3. Encourage your child to enjoy herself and have fun during the holiday season. If this means she retreat to a quiet area where she can be alone, let her be. This is her way of coping and of enjoying the Christmas break. 
  4. Never pressure an AS and HFA child to play with other kids.
  5. Try to keep meals as quiet as possible. Do not allow toys at the table. Instead, ask each child to talk about his or her favorite toy. 
  6. Have a quiet breakfast on Christmas morning.
  7. Keep any physical changes to your home to the minimum. By all means decorate, put up cards and a tree, but just don't make a really big change to the environment. 
  8. Don’t put out any presents until the day they are to be opened, because your AS or HFA child will have a hard time keeping her hands off and may became anxious and potentially defiant.
  9. Your AS or HFA child will need to be given permission to leave the festivities, and you can rehearse this together with some simple role-play ahead of time. This is really important because it gives your child an exit strategy and allows her to get through the celebrations without going into meltdown. 
  10. Keep noise minimal. Do not play music for extended periods of time, or it will become nothing but noise to the AS and HFA child.
  11. Learn to identify your child’s stress-triggers, and avoid them when possible. 
  12. Keep visitors minimal. Family members and friends should keep visits short, and they should visit at separate times. Be sure everyone knows when they are expected, and how long they are expected to stay. 
  13. Allow only one person to open presents at a time. This will alleviate the crinkle of wrapping paper and nose from the excited voices of siblings.
  14. Teach your child stress-reducing techniques (e.g., deep breathing, counting to ten, etc.). Many AS and HFA kids find a stress-ball beneficial. 
  15. Limit choices to keep your child from being overwhelmed.
  16. Prepare your child for any changes by calmly telling her the day before what will be happening. Visual supports always work well, so use photos or simple pictures to explain what will be happening. 
  17. Reduce the time “talking” about the holiday season. Remember your AS or HFA child can’t easily control her emotions. To talk constantly about the event will simply lead to stress and anxiety. Also, it’s wise to enlist the help of others in your home and keep any conversations to a minimum when your AS or HFA child is within ear-shot. 
  18. Sing or whisper words to your child in order to get his attention and to help him stay focused.
  19. Try to incorporate some flexibility into your child’s routine. This allows her to realize and accept that things do change.
  20. Use social stories to prepare your AS or HFA youngster for the holiday experience.
  21. Warn your child well in advance of any changes to be made in the home environment (e.g., moving furniture, putting up a Christmas tree, etc.).

Following the simple tips above should lead to a much more positive Christmas experience for everyone, and will provide your AS or HFA child with the love, support, and confidence to participate fully in this special time of year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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

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

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

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

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

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

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Dec., 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, we completed the course a week or so ago. Generally things have improved. Our son is doing is chores (mostly), he's coming home on time, spending more time at home and helping with projects around the house. We have few disagreements. He continues, however, to be moody, distant and generally unpleasant to me and his dad. Will this change too over time? I should add that he is changing schools now, not his choice, and this is a big disappointment to him. It's also because of his actions and now he's living with the consequences. Anyway, I appreciate the program. Your approach and presentation have been hugely helpful and I hope we can continue that.

Dear Mark, Thank you for your ebook and audio instruction. The techniques are making a difference with my youngest daughter, Nicole 15 who spent yesterday afternoon cleaning her room and is now doing her own laundry.

The reason I downloaded your book is because I am very concerned about my son, James 22 who spends all his time in his bedroom and only comes out to get a drink and to eat.

He needed a lot of help at school when he was young. When he was about 14 he started doing well at Maths. When he left school he went to university and did a Masters Degree in Maths.

He came back home at the end of June and since then he has become a recluse. In the last 4 weeks he has only gone out of the house once to go to a doctor's appointment. Our doctor has put him on Vitamin D capsules as his vitamin D level was very low. He does not want to go out and says he wants to stay in his room. He says he is not depressed. It is very difficult to communicate with him. I do not know how to help him.


You have given me hope of understanding something that has troubled me for 15 years. I was and am still depressed, for my best, most loving efforts to get close to my AS husband did not work and sometimes he has been mean, to be blunt. He is not usually unkind but when I really needed him just to talk, to listen sympathetically, he would have huge walls go up right away. He had a difficult marriage in the past also. It was shocking to me and so painful because it was not the man I married. I could not understand it.
Well, you seem to understand it and give me hope. Thanks again.


I came across your name when I was researching behavioral problems in teens.  I believe my AS son may have bipolar. He is to be evaluated later this month.  The problem I am having now is that he won’t do his homework.  He says he doesn’t have any or he already did it. I offer to help him and he says it’s not my responsibility to get his work done.  He becomes frustrated and shuts down. He is failing almost all of his classes and he is a smart kid. My husband who has raised him since he was about 6 years old is very hard on him.  I understand this but he is harder on him than he is on his sister.  I feel this may be contributing to his stress level and making him have these outbursts.  He is a really good kid and I am just struggling with him doing his homework any advice on this?


Hello Mark!

Thank you for providing such excellent resources. In 1.5 hours my daughter Lydia, age 12 will undergo testing for autism. Her therapist has diagnosed her as having higher functioning aspergers and ADD.

I am wondering if it is possible to hire you for some coaching, feedback and support.

Last week her Father, who I swear to Goddess has autism, decided to give up Lydia, which is horrifying. Unconditional love being the center stone, the foundation for children. He said he couldn't stand the abuse and that I 'undermine' him by picking her up from school when she calls.

I am all for having her full time, he leaves her to her devices, is incapable of nurturing her, understanding her needs.

As far as her behaviors go, she has attacked her father in the past and me more recently, I have scars on my hand in fact. Her verbal abuse is as bad as the physical in my opinion. Her therapist is helping her, she just kind of wigs out over nothing, everything and there is nothing that can be said or done to stop it. She is like a pressure cooker, 80% stressed at all times.

She is completely literal, obsessed with cats, has close friends, is failing school and refusing to attend, I am thinking of alternative schooling for her and my closest local friends home school, so there are options.

This past week has taken high needs to a new level, please let me know if you can offer assistance and what other things you would like to know.


We put our steel face on and have let him feel some consequences for his actions by withholding gas money etc. He has sold some of his things to get gas money in spite of this. Our Aspergers teen has been having relationship issues since he met his girlfriend on 7/4/14. They fight they break up, they get back together etc. he has wrecked his truck traveling to see her which we repaired and he we thought finally broke up with her over her abusive threats of breaking up with him many times. During this time he has left in his truck late at night sneaking out and when we thought that had finally ended he had a call from her today and left at 11 tonight and got home about 1230 and went to bed and said he wasn't going to school tomorrow. We think he has befriended a new girl but not sure what is going on. We have been told by our family counselor to take his truck away but we don't think that would go well. We would like any advice you have on this. I know you don't know him but he is extremely smart and school is finally going well but he will not share any info with us and does not feel like he has any issues but obviously he does.


I am told my 35 year old son is probably on the aspergers spectrum besides the depression, social anxiety disorder, ocd he suffers from.  I'm not real clear on symptoms of aspergers and what applies to him. Would appreciate any information, reading materials, etc. you can recommend. Living with him is very difficult and frustrating.


Hello Mr. Hutton,

I have just recently begun reading articles on your site and listening to your podcasts. I am very impressed so far with what I have seen and heard and so thankful you make your program so affordable. I do have a question before I purchase if you don't mind. 
I understand the premise behind your advice regarding me being my son's favorite toy as he is looking for a reaction from me and that I should put on my poker face. I have done this successfully in the past but here is the "rub" with our situation... My 8 year old son hits me and kicks me and follows me around whence is in one of his meltdowns. Him doing so makes it impossible for me to get away from him and impossible not to defend myself. He is obviously getting a reaction when I have to hold my hand up to block the fist coming towards my face or pull him off of me to prevent him from biting me. I have bruises and scratches and even once had my toe broken from him throwing an ottoman at me. He is always very regretful afterwards and throughout the episode sadly shows self hatred saying things like he is an idiot and that he wishes I would abandon him. I always always reassure him that would never happen and that I will always love him no matter what but he continues to feel this way. He is regularly a very affectionate child telling me constantly that he loves me and asking for cuddles to which I always happily oblige. But when he is in this rage he is a different child and he is very violent. As he gets older and stronger it is scary. We have seen counselors for years and nothing has really helped.

Thanks so much for your time and for all that you do to help special needs families.


Hello Mark,
I am a very concerned grandmother of a 12 year old grandson, who was diagnosed with Aspergers about 2 years ago.  Trent has had a very difficult time in his young life before and since diagnosis.  Socially, he has always had issues, never having friends.  He currently lives in TN, and I think he may have been expelled from his junior high.  He will be moving to FL in Jan to live with his dad, my son.  I truly believe my son AND his ex wife don't understand Aspergers and have never seeked any counseling to get help.  I believe the ex wife hasn't done anything because she doesn't know what to do and I even think Trent may intimidate her.  I believe my son, on  the other hand, thinks that discipline is the answer, and I disagree with his method of discipline  for his child.

I'm scared for Trent and what could happen to him if he doesn't get proper help.  Reading peoples comments about your e-book helped me to feel some hope.  Unfortunately, I live in CA and am not financially able to see my grandson.  He gets angry with me when I try and speak to him about Trent, but maybe he'd read this.

Please let me know your thoughts.  Thank you for the help you give families that have to find a successful way to live with this disability.


Hello Mark,

I’ve recently discovered your website and subscribed to your newsletter.  I’ve encouraged our staff and parents to subscribe as well as many of the topics are relevant to the children and youth we work with.

Many of the topics and strategies you present resonate with the values and approaches we use here at our learning centre to support children and youth with autism, fetal alcohol disorder and other neurological disabilities.  Thank you for offering your years of expertise and resources to the general public.

It is evident in your newsletters and resources that you share similar philosophies with regard to supporting youth with challenging behaviours.  I hope my feedback is received as intended, to express gratitude for your ongoing resources for parents and professionals working with youth with challenging behaviours and to express our support of the use of ‘people-first’ language.


My son is now 17 years old and was only recently tentatively diagnosed with Asperger’s. His homework problems are legendary and he seems to believe that when he becomes of age that things will magically be better because he won’t have to worry about school and homework. Will the lessons listed in your book be helpful for us to convey to him the folly of this sort of thinking?
My wife and I are always interested in finding ways to better help our son but, as you surely know, he is unable to believe that we even care about what he likes or doesn’t like.
We realize there are no guarantees but we welcome the chance to try something that as a chance to help us help our son.


Mr Hutton,

I found your website for a friend who is a Single Mom of a 13 year old boy with Asberger's.

She is currently unemployed without UI benefits. She was disqualified for them when she
ended up in the hospital for 12 days and almost died earlier this year. She was caring for her
Mom with Alzheimer's until her death in March (I believe it was) 2014.

He also has Gluten and Dairy Allergies, is doing some typical teenage boy behavior of being
defiant, can't sleep at night and also not bathing, brushing his teeth like he should.

She has no help and home schools him bc of the push back she has received in the schools, their inability to "deal with him" and their constant thought process of medications, medications etc.
She does what she can with food and supplements for him. I've just shared with her magnesium deficiency and it's roll in his insomnia as well as sensory issues so we'll see if we can improve there.

I've shared your website with her and the Facebook Support Group. Her name is Sharmayne Hall. Because of her ex husband she does not use her photo or name on FB etc  It is Shar Anna Mae on FB.

She was able to get him tested here in Southlake, TX because of the kindness of the church and some members, at one of the Brain centers there. However, the cost for him to go there for therapy is $6k and she does not have health insurance either.

If there is any help anywhere for her, this would be appreciated. He does not have a male role model and this is a challenge as you can understand.

If there are any scholarships to camp etc that would be so helpful.  He is a good boy, he teases etc as most teens do, his is a bit immature for his age but he's also socially immature.

Perhaps someone needs an end of year tax deduction and would donate or gift this to her?


Hi Mr Hutton,
I am writing to you concerning my son Joshua who is 12.  He's was diagnosed with aspergers/high functioning autism at the age of 4. His dad and I are no longer together.  Joshua is very verbal,  very intelligent and has a great sense of humor, very musical,  loves computers.  He is an awesome child.  School has always been very difficult for him,  he can get aggressive quickly over small irritations and has been in trouble for hitting/pushing other children and even a teacher.  His mouth is unfiltered and he often says inappropriate things and swears quite a lot.  He is in year 8 and been in a small catholic school where things have been 'manageable'.  Next year he is going to high school and I am worried about how he will cope as funding for him is basically non  existent.  The senco teacher and other appropriate teachers seem on board to help as much as they can but it will be limited.  Should I take the 'throw him in at the deep end approach' or start him off gradually.  I can imagine him having a meltdown within 2 hours being there,  or getting into a fight.  He is very naive,  takes things at face value,  and tends not to like most teachers (strong authority figures).  He can be defiant and rude to teachers when told what to do.   He has been on prozac but I'm not sure is doing much good.  Do you have any advice?  There is so much more I could write.  I am very worried about next year and how he/the school will cope. To other kids he is 'that weird kid who gets angry'.


Hello Mr. Hutten,

Will like to get your opinion about one issue regarding my son.
Just as quick recap summary his profile is as below.
Summary: My son is 17.5 yrs. old. He was diagnosed with HFA/Asperger’s at the age of 3. A lot of inattentions was the first symptom. A lot of obsessions (emotional rigidity) is also there. All other characteristics of HFA/Asperger’s are there. Stable family.  Special Education since age 3 in town public school.

The question is regarding once the kid is out of school and is put into some transition program, should he be put in a program where he stays at home and commutes to transition place or he should be put in a residential place where for a lot of time he will not be staying with parents. Due to his obsessive and non-compliant personality many people have made comment that my son will perform better when he is away from us. Sometime we also may end up thinking like that. So based on your experience with Asperger’s who are mostly obsessive kids, is our assumption that he will perform better outside, is true? Or it is just a myth and better to keep him home. Somehow we have never sent him to extended camping etc. But one time due to some issues he ended up at Foundation Behavioral Health PA for 10 days. They say he was the best behaved kid there and sent him home much earlier than typical stay duration there. No discipline issue outside but aggressive at home. And as per our judgment his aggression is based on 60% disability (his different belief system!) and 40% intentional. For a moment please ignore the financial implication of residential placement. At stake is what will benefit in the long term.



My son is using self destructive behavior when he is angry at us for taking things away.  It started out by refusing to go to school but now he is violent to us and now threatening to hurt himself.  He is currently at a clinic to deal with these issues but I wanted to know what are ways that we can tell him that he can use if he thinks that we have "wronged" him in some way, especially if we do something counter to what we told him and really confused the situation i.e. can he gives us a time out, or what are the consequences to our poor behavior.


 Our soon to be our 15 year old son refuses to do any homework or study.  He is flunking out of honors biology, this is his second best subject.  His grade has dropped to a  C in advanced algebra 2.  He got a 100% in his placement test in Math and a 90% in science.  Total lack of effort and he doesn't seem to care.  During his Jr High years the amount of homework was very overwhelming.  Our family was always stressed out about it.  We think he got burnt out.
We try to have consequences or loss of privileges but things get much worse.  We have tried rewards of money, starting driving lessons and a smart phone.  Driving lessons worked for while, now it doesn't seem important anymore.  We are getting help from his school counselor and football coach. So far, that doesn't work either.  He doesn't seem depressed.  He does not like smoking, drinking and or drugs.  He thinks it is terrible.   We get along great other than school. 

He is proud that he is very smart and the marks he gets on placement and evaluation test. He already has his Eagle rank in Boys Scouts.  He also talks about getting into a good college.  He clearly doesn't get it.

He does seem addicted to video games.  The school gave all the students an ipad and he is on it constantly.  He has been caught playing on games during class, too.  We try to limit it but things get a lot worse.

I have heard some of his friends say it isn't cool to participate in class and you don't have to do homework.  He is trying to fit in.

We don't know what to do.  He could have a very bright future.


Dear Mark,

Firstly, I want to thank you for every child that is, has or will benefit from your efforts! It is deeply appreciated by myself, and I am certain parents, caregivers, and children and all of us that are fortunate enough to have found our way to you.

I have a 10 year old son that is struggling socially, likely has NVLD and DCD included in the "list" of labels/diagnoses we are trying to wrap our living around. How can we best determine if homeschooling is the best fit for him? Sadly, he has been teased/bullied and his last day at public school was October 31, 2014. He was new to the public system ( which has been on strike, reduction of services etc ) and it seems to be failing him. My concern (among the many I grapple with ) is what criteria to use to try to determine the best next course of action.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions.



My son is using self destructive behavior when he is angry at us for taking things away.  It started out by refusing to go to school but now he is violent to us and now threatening to hurt himself.  He is currently at a clinic to deal with these issues but I wanted to know what are ways that we can tell him that he can use if he thinks that we have "wronged" him in some way, especially if we do something counter to what we told him and really confused the situation i.e. can he gives us a time out, or what are the consequences to our poor behavior.


Hi Mark,
I will make this as brief as possible. My 17 year old stepson has locked himself in the bedroom for 3 days now. He has had no food for 3 days. I hope he is drinking water from the bathroom sink. Here is what happened:
He lived with his crazy Mom until 13 months ago, she bit him and pressed charges against him
He came to live with us
At first he was great
We kept computer downstairs to monitor time, etc
He lied and said computer was broke and he was upstairs working on it
He had been doing dual enrollment at High School and local college
We thought he's going to college now and away next fall and needs to learn responsibility so we let him keep it upstairs
Over the next few months he became so addicted to gaming
Stays up all night, etc.
He said he was doing great in school and loved college
Got his grades 3 days ago and he flunked all courses except one and it was a D
Dad said we are moving computer back downstairs
He went ballistic and locked himself up. He's missed school and meals.

After reading articles of yours and others we realize we need to be a game free home. His phone will be cut off as soon as Verizon opens this morning and we shut off breaker this morning to stop xbox
We did get computer tower out while he was having a meltdown outside.
We feel like he needs to go away and detox and learn skills that we can't seem to teach him
He has a great staff at his school and work with him on issues. He is so close to graduating but hasn't been to school now in days. He talks to my son a lot (21 year old) he told him he's making a statement. I'm not worried about him not eating but I do worry about him dehydrating.

Do you know of a facility that would work with him? Any suggestions?
So appreciate you and your time!!


Hello. Thank you for your help through these emails etc. My son needs more then can be offered at home. What do you recommend for therapeutic homes that doesnt cost a fortune. Thanks. 
An 'I'm done' mom


Dear Mark,

My name is Anthony and I am an adult that suffers from Aspergers.  And the reason why I decided to subscribe to you is that I want to receive the most support and help from your site.  My biggest issue with having Aspergers is interacting with other individuals socially and I would like to know if you can offer tips and suggestions on how to better socialize with others?


Please let me know what the new politically correct words are used today to describe Asperger's. Since the name Asperger's is not a diagnoses any longer. Makes it very difficult  for families today to find help since the medical or insurance field don't acknowledge this diagnosis . Why do you still refer to this illness as Asperger's. You need to explain this please.


Do you know of a resource to justify 40 hours of testing by a neuropsychologist to properly diagnose my boy with HFA and ADHD (and a few other things too)? The insurance (Value Options) has paid for 12 hours of testing. The neuropsychologist says this is way too little to properly test for autism. The insurance says the testing was primarily for educational purposes - not true - we didn't know what was wrong with the little guy - though the educational advice that came out of it was extremely useful.

Are there professional guidelines somewhere which we could quote as to what the standard battery of tests or hours of testing is to test for autism?

I can give you more detail on the testing if you'd like.


Dears Mark Hutten

My name is Iara, from Paraguay in South America.

Two years ago I married  "the almost perfect guy". It took me not long to realize that things were not under the average level of struggle a new married couple should expect.

After lots of reading I came across Asperger Syndrome. Now We are looking for support, what is almost impossible to find in this area of the globe, due to the lack of professionals specialized on this issue.

Do you provide counselling to couples as well as kid´s parents in the spectrum? Is there a way other than FB to contact you ?

I would be greatly thankfull for your precious attention.


David, my 12 yo son Joshua has high function autism. He has been on risperidone (only for about 3 months as the side effects were scary) and he is currently on prozac (for about a year) for anxiety issues. I can't really see any positive results from the prozac and feel I should wean him off. He has issues with spontaneous anger and violence, pushing hitting etc. He threatened another child who was teasing him, with a knife. I feel he needs a medication to chill him out a little but don't know what to try next. Any advice you have would be appreciated.


I have downloaded and your online books and found them to be interesting, makes sense. But in application, I am still having difficulties with my son, Sean. Failure to launch, classic case. He is now 23 and does nothing but video games and online games with friends. He was doing volunteer work for a cat rescue place, clerical work, but recently quit. He was taking online classes but flunked the last one and has quit that as well.

He actually has a college degree, but in history, so has not been able to find any jobs. He has applied to several online positions, but cannot get any interviews, even for the simplest job, like in a grocery store. He was not labeled as aspbergers until his first year of college. We always knew he was different, quirky, but it seems to have come out as an issue, more as an adult. He was always a top student, so when he flunked his first college course, it was such a change that we took him to a therapist for family counseling. The guy basically said that there was no therapy to help him or us and to just cope with it. So, the work he did with him was just trying to motivate him. He said there was no help or support groups in our area, of Charlotte nc. Since then, I have found a couple of groups, not nearby, but those kids seem to be much more obvious, and my son has zero interest in being with them.

Then, my husband got cancer and our world stopped. I focused on my husband and his care, quitting my job, until he passed away in October, 2013. My job is no longer available and I am just doing part time work now. Sean, my son, managed to stay in school and graduate, but not with a good GPA. His school, UNC-Chapel Hill was not helpful, the psychologist there said there were no aspbergers kids enrolled and did not offer any guidance to help Sean with his struggles. Now, as a widow, trying to find my own way, moving twice, he is home with me, gaining weight and has no direction. He does still have a few friends, he drives back to visit some of them in college still or with childhood friends sometimes when they are in town, but they are all moving on with their lives and he is not. He refuses any more therapy, says he sees no value in talk therapy. So, I am at a loss as to what to do or how to get him out the door. I am afraid that any low level job, exposed to dealing with all kinds of people will result in him being frustrated or having some conflict with a boss and result in him being fired or quitting, which would then just deepen his despair and mine too.

He was taking online classes for accounting and business, but has stopped those. He says he can quickly understand concepts for just about any low level course, but whenever it becomes more involved, he cannot grasp it. I truly do not know if he is just "playing me" to avoid having to work so he can sit at home in his room, doing computer games, but he claims he is not. He is social on the games, I can hear him talking to others and he is an administrator for an online group. He tried computer programming classes and once it got detailed, he was lost, so he does not want to pursue that option either.

I cannot see how I can manage to continue like this, as it is preventing me from moving on in my life as well. Is this what parenting a special needs kid is?  It is endless, constant disappointments. I think he has every ability to live independently, he did for four years of college, away from home, but despite all my suggestions, prodding, anger, resignation, frustration, love, compassion and desire for him to be independent, it is to no avail. I tried to set boundaries and deadlines, I do not give him money, but I have to house and feed him, cannot turn him out on the street.


Dear Mark Hutten 
Thank for taking the time to read this . 
We are parents that love our son very much and have done 
Everything humanly possible to help him he is currently seeing Dr.Pfifer for any medicines he is taking and he is in cousiling with the 
Bridges here in Dothan, Alabama we have also had to put him in the Lora Oaks Behavioral Health Center and when he comes home things are good for a little  while he is currently being treated for ADHD,OCD,Sleep Disorder,Impulse Control Disorder,Tic Disorder but the older he gets the Defiantness gets worse no matter how we punish him it is still a battle with he has lack of responsibility and does anything that is distrustful to him self we have had to call the police on him because he feels it is neccasrry to hit people he is constantly in trouble in school for it and doing what ever he wants to do . We go to a grocery store and he takes off on us with no regards to how we feel about it . We have even left him in the stores when he leaves us like that and when he throws a fit . We would loves nothing more to have our child here with us but he needs a true wake up call before things get any worse we don't want to loose our son to anything . He is currently on Medicaid and we have one income in our house so my options are very limited . Any help would be appreciated .


Dear Mark,
Please I want your advise, I have an 8 years old with HFA, he is in a public school in third grade, his main disability is speech and it takes me a while sometimes asking him what's wrong, he is in an inclusion class, he is been bullied in school by another child in his class every day when they are in the school bus in the morning, this kid call my son dumb, he throw papers, crayons and pencils at him, in PE he shoved him on the floor, and my boy gets very upset with this, two days ago the assistant principal called us to pick him up because he was saying he wanted to kill himself; and now they want a meeting to reopen the FAB again. I'm very worried for my little boy. l think that regular school is getting too stressful for him. How can I find a good special school for him. Is it any website I could check? He is already approved for Mac key.  


Things have progressed to quite severely unmanageable with my aspie husband.
He is in absolute defense mode, between being passive/aggressive and contrite. 
He lies, without seeming to be aware of it -- his home is in foreclosure, he has avoided a BK and process servers for a year. He is near emaciated and requires help.

He has been in sales most of his life but after losing his job a four years back....
but for 2 short lived attempts he has not had formal employment.

He is working at a business if his own, but it is not within reason. He does not sleep and drives to distant locations (shows) to try and sell at 3-4AM.

Having been a salesman he knows how to cover up and sell a good image. 
-Nothing- could be further from the truth. 
He has not looked after himself nor his health.
I have asked him to move out and now he has nowhere to go.

He has no one but me. Can you please help???


Hello Mark,
I am a teacher of Autistic Su7pport in a middle school located  in Philadelphia , PA.
I am planning on recommending this site to 2 of the parents in my room, for their AS/ADHD boys  of 11 years and 12 yearas old.
When I read about the remp-er tantrums- it was describing one of my students to a tee! Other information is to reassure and provide support to this other parent, highly involved, who keeps thanking me for understanding her son. That makes me question---who has he had before me?
Anyway, I'd love to share information with them to help them understand that they atre not the only ones out there, and that they do not have to feel alone for answetrs to their questions. I told one, that adolescence is tough for regular kids, let alone having to deal with their children with other issues.
I feel these 2 students, though very different and similiar at the same time, are Asberger kids with ADHD. It's not the typical and obvious autistic studentn as I've had at lower levels. These students have only been kept out of regu;lar education due to some of the behavioral deficits you speak about in the video.
How do I get the book in print? I"d love to purchase it for at least one of the families, in addition to myself as a reading book to grow and develop my own knowledge of AS.
This is a learning year for this specific Magnet school who rates above the district average for academic perfoermance. I love AS and the school is working out as we learn. There is another AS class next door, and we do have the classes working on individual instructional levels in math  and reading.
Would love to see if you plan anything in Philadelphia over the spring or summer. I would try to get  one of the parents to go with me to hear you--I'd even pay for her, as finanaces may be an issue. I can say I won a pass to the lecture! :-)
She would "get it" as she is open-minded to try new strategies to help him at home,
Thank you for sharing your expertise. I'm feeling validated in whatn I am doing, what my observations of my students are and developing my professional skills.
After considering retiring as a teacher in the district for varied reasons, I feel GREAT in this school with this AS population. LOVE the Asberger's kids, using picture vocabulary for 2 others, and one is in between them both-but a good reader.
Whew! Rambling on. Sorry--but have not been able to share my thoughts with too many experts. Learning that I have to be a stronger structured teacher but am so thrilled with the experiences thus far.
Happy holidays and can't wait to hear what you have to say!


Hi Mark,

My son has been diagnosed with aspergers. Through this diagnosis, it was made apparent that my husband has it too. I've watched a dozen videos and read loads of articles now, and am pretty understanding with this all. It's opened my eyes to so many things in my marriage and parenting.

I'm still struggling with finding one answer though. Hoping you can help.

Apart from his general obsessions, he's obsessed with looking at other women. I know he loves me. He professes it daily. But the continuous looking is starting to threaten the marriage. He denies point blank that he has Aspergers. Says he's just different. He denies point blank looking at other women, even though, as an example, it'll be the only other person in his line of vision and he cannot stop himself from looking.

Is there something I can do to stop this or some technique for myself to use? I feel totally disrespected and embarrassed when he does it, as everyone else can see it. I'm starting to hate myself and finding myself falling into a self hate depression of not being good enough. He's worse apparently when he's without me. I'm scared his obsession of just looking will turn into an affair if the woman is willing. And we live in a place where cheating is quite common unfortunately.


I absolutely love your email newsletters and wonder if you have any insight for me.
A quick personal picture into our life to maybe get a better picture. I divorced my ex 3 1/2 years ago. Our son from the very beginning was allowed by my ex to be very much involved in our divorce battle as far as getting to decide the time sharing schedule that worked for him vs the 63/27 split outlined in our agreement. Our son had his initial involvement with the system in 7th grade, followed with many internal/external suspensions & a Poss Marijuana arrest Feb 2014. He completed diversion in 2012 & drug court in 2014 (I work at the Court system helping him with the process). My son, ex and I attending family therapy at the beginning after the divorce, followed by primarily I and Blake attending toward the end. Our therapist definitely agreed that Blake has ODD, struggled with the divorce, feeling obligated to be my ex's caretaker and stuck in the middle yet playing the situation. 
Fast forward to now...I'm remarried, my son does adore my husband, has adapted well to the new life, but very much follows his dad's (and his entire family's history) path of alcoholism and drug use (one of my main reason of divorce). Dad buys and gives him whatever he wants i.e. infamous iphone (yes, I also believe that my son does suffer from social media addiction), since he literally has toddler meltdown over his phone. Dad and I have polar opposite parenting styles and hardly ever communicate unless we have to for our son's sake. Our son saw therapist, etc while attending Drug Court who also confirmed along with myself that our son will have to learn the hard way to eventually quit pot...He tested positive multiple times, was given second chances, spend contempt time in juvi and did manage to graduate dRug court at the end. 
I also handle all schooling and behavior issues because Dad doesn't know how. Parental alienation also exists on top of everything else (not per my diagnosis, but therapist's). Working in the system, I've tried to use same to get my son help. I've reached out to the school system as well. 
My question, do you have any other suggestions of helping my failing in school son? He's back to getting high daily, I hardly see him when it is my visiting time since he runs back to ex's house then (we live 5 min apart). I dropped him already once off at my ex's to give in to my son's badgering wishes that that's where he wants to live. My ex NOW finally makes him come to my house which I believe is because he needs that break. My ex will not agree to a re assignment of school, let's him run with his 'homies' and undermines everything I try to do to help our son. He will not agree to send him far away to a therapeutic school, so me spending my life savings to go forward without my ex's wishes will be null and voided by him 'rescuing' if he were to run away. I'm taking my ex back to court for IRS and child support issues hoping yet again to utilize the Court system to 'make' my ex go to drug/alcohol eval, parenting classes to help our son succeed....I'm conviced that our son believes that him observing dad's current situation it's totally acceptable since Dad has survived thus far being able to support his habits, hold a decent job and have a roof over his head.
Tough love is all that I see left, letting our son fail out of H.S. and choose his path and stand back waiting for him to eventually have his 'aha' moment. Any other suggestions besides me maybe going back to therapy to learn to have a back bone/standing my ground during this upcoming difficulty time? Thank you for reviewing my email.
Sincerely, overly concerned Mom


Hi Mark,

I have spent last night/ today reading the ebook and listening to the audio as I felt there was nothing I could do to save this relationship I have with my Aspergers Partner.

We are engaged and have been together for 4 years. He did not think we had a problem. Generally he is a wonderful man who makes me happy but at times he can be very self absorbed. Reading through the ebook has helped me find areas we need to work on, which is great so thank you.

My main concern though is financial stability. I am working full time as a teacher, but he has only ever had casual jobs in areas he loves- music & art. I am worried as time goes on and we plan for the future to have children, that if I want to take time off work to look after the children we will not be able to make ends meet. Is hoping that he will get more work selfish of me? I feel like I would do so much to keep this relationship going because most of the time he is my best friend, but I don't know if I can go back on my beliefs of raising children/ having a family.

Please help. I honestly don't know what to do.


Just this past year we have found out our Grandson and my wife of 41 years have Asperger's. We have another Grand Daughter who has Tourette. Now we realize my wife also has Tourette.

I have read several of your news letters. Everything is beginning to make since now. Thank you for providing this information on your website.

I now have some tools to understand why our family deals differently with situations. Over the years I have always been defensive, thinking my spouse was hostile towards me.

Now I understand, and find myself being extremely protective for her safety. I want her to have the life she has. I love her just the way she is.

Even when she does things I do not understand. I am going through a learning curve to stop the anger I have built up.

It is not something she can control, it is my problem. I must learn to remember to think about the situation before reacting.

I have a long road ahead. But now by reading and trying to understand we can move forward with our life together.

Also we understand our family better.


 I feel like you have hit the nail on the head. I have been experiencing the pain, the grief, the depression, and some resentment due to the heartbreaking frustration of being married to a man with AS. I did not know for years and years. I tried my best to be a good wife but whenever I tried to reach out and have a 'heart to heart' with good intentions, or if I had concerns, and I tried to speak as I had learned, to be fair, using ' I statements', and or 'I fee'l. Now I learn feelings are a foreign language for aspies.


G'day. I am a 61yo with over 40ys association with the Psychiatric system. During that time I have had many diagnoses and have had everything done to me that that system has to offer without any benefit. Now it has been suggested to me that I may have Aspergers and my research on the subject has been enlightening. I saw you on youtube and hope that I may be able to speak with you,. I think I need to speak with someone who has an understanding of the subject one to one as the literature and websites I have visited are quite overwhelming and not really helpful to me at this stage. Geographically I am far removed from any form of assistance and have been hopeful of finding a person, such as yourself, to speak to online. I hope that that may be possible as I am quite lost out here and would like to have some understanding of this strange experience that I have had to call my life for so long - Hoping to hear from you. Regards. Philip


Dear Mark: I am looking for some on line coaching, if you can work with my son's obsessing about germs. My son Jimmy was first diagnosed sensory dysfunction at at age four. His was diagnosed with aspergers at age six, he is now just turned 16. His mother have been divorced for three years but things are vary amicable. I am back in school working on a behavioral analysis degree for one (vary challenging) semester. I'm not sure what other background information you need.

I am writing to you because I need help. I am Polish and my boyfriend is from Cyprus. We live together in Poland. Chris does not speak Polish and therefore I can't find anyone he could talk to him here in English ( he is bilingual as he was living in England for most of his life). He is 49 and two years ago after searching on the internet I came across information about Asperger syndrome that seems to be the answer for his behaviour. I told him this and he does not believe me totally. Only sometimes he says that he has "cheesburger " as he calls it and that's why he behaves like e does.He has never been diagnosed. Two years ago we went to a psychologist here in Poland but she said he does not have Asperger. On the basis of what she said he believes I am wrong.I am a coach and help people with their problems. I know there is something not right. I don't know what to do as living with him is getting so difficult. 
Is there any way you could help me through email or skype? 


Mr. Hutton:

Our son is 6 years old and has been diagnosed with AS by Dr. Pappas at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent in Indianapolis.  We would like to seek whatever assistance is out there both in the way of financial help (not as critical but appreciated), but primarily support.  We had enrolled him in a Christian based private school; however, they placed him with an elderly teacher who didn’t want to learn about his diagnosis when we tried to explain it to her (along with a book that we purchased for her use).  As can be predicted, she was not able to understand, nor know how to handle his exuberance.  After that, my wife, myself and our sitter have all worked to homeschool him as we do not want to put him in public schools, nor do we want to put him in another environment where he is not accepted.  He loves the idea of going to school and would be heartbroken if he had to be pulled again.  He is extremely intelligent and has been also going to Kumon for math and reading for several years.  Like all aspies, he is a sponge and remembers everything.  We think that eventually, he will learn to recognize the things that are unacceptable and hope that he can once again get integrated into a group environment, provided that it is not too large of a group because he seems to have the most difficulty when in large groups.  He simply gets over-stimulated and forgets his social skills or runs off.  We looked into the Autism Behavior Centers; however, we don’t think that he will thrive when it is just one on one contact with a teacher.  He wants to learn and play with other friends.  I contacted the State of Indiana to see what assistance may be available and was promised a return call, but it never came.  At some events, we actually would have our sitter stay at the function with him to be that calming effect and monitor his behavior one on one.  We think that might still be a great solution but wondered if there might be other alternatives or least some financial assistance to compensate us for the time the person needs to be with him at school.  We seek your advice and wisdom.

Hi Mark,

I get your weekly updates and find them very useful but wondered if you could please advise on a particular issue we are having?

My son is 7 years old diagnosed with 'traits of Aspergers' this year he has been amazing at school with no issues following 2 years of very bad behaviour.  But at home he is very difficult, especially at weekends and the holidays as we are in now.  He has a 4 year old brother whom he does love and care for but is so jealous of him and constantly irritates him mentally and physically.  He is also being very rude to us ( his mum and Dad) and spitting, saying Poo, showing his bum and other inappropriate things (sorry to be explicit) to the point of us shouting at him and him just laughing back.  We are both getting to the point where we are loosing our temper on a daily basis.

We are struggling to understand why he does these things as it seems like a sign of unhappiness, disrespect and animosity towards us.

We would really appreciate any help you can offer.


I am writing today to ask if you know of any support for people in my area. We live in northern Michigan. We really do need to learn to work with this AS. It is the 'elephant in the living room'.
I am only just coming to accept the fact that my husband has AS. Bill acknowledges it too but I don't think he has any idea the effect it has on me or our marriage. We don't talk about it accept in passing, in general terms. We just found out his grand daughter has it. My husbands son certainly has quite a lot of difficulty and I have suspected that he may also have the condition. We only just learned about this condition in the last couple of years,  first through reading a book by Cohen, "The Sociopath Next Door" . I borrowed it from the library, as my husband Bill had expressed an interest in such things. Not a 'special interest', just some interest. I often visit the library and sometimes pick up a a book for Bill. He reads some of them. We both read a lot.
Well, he took the quiz and was shocked, according to that assessment, that apparently he had little empathy. At that time he even said once that he becomes extremely uncomfortable even discussing feelings because he does not know what he is doing, like being adrift in uncharted waters.
We kind of put this whole issue on the back burner as we were going through some very, very difficult times. After my dad passed away in 08, my mom having been his primary care giver for some time, my sister and brother were diagnosed with cancer and passed away 4 months apart in 2011. Then my mom suffered from a tragic hospital accident that turned our lives upside down. I helped her as much as I could. intensive care giving, giving up my full time job, moving in with her, then, with numerous complications, selling her house to my sister, who had been diagnosed with cancer, mom moving in with us, finally getting her own senior apartment. I tried so hard to help her with her health. Time after time she rallied and was in pain again, or something else would happen. She had been strong and independent her whole life up to this point. She passed away early this year. It was very tragic. Again, doctors mistakes did not help. Very sad.
We had to settle the totally unsettled estate of my sister and try to assist her two, young adult, adopted daughters. Enough of all that. You get the picture.
Well, my husband Bill is a good guy. He is faithful, responsible, intelligent, funny. We get along very well most of the time. In many ways we are on the same wavelength. We often call each other at the same moment and can frequently finish each others sentences. We are very connected, but paradoxically quite disconnected. 
All these years. (we've been together since 99 and were married in 06) there has been what I can describe as a disconnect - a serious problem with communication and intimacy. My vulnerability and best efforts seemed only to arouse his anger. My concerns are not, cannot be addressed because my dear husband lacks the ability to have a heart to heart conversation. 
He had a difficult marriage in the past. He is defensive and reactive, he is easily offended and can be downright mean. This doesn't come up much because I just don't talk much about anything that might elicit this response or rather reaction from him. I have learned the hard way that no matter how I say it, he is virtually unreachable. I cannot express loneliness, or seem critical or even bring up concerns for us to address together.
I am not perfect, I have my own psychological issues, but I have good intentions. But when I end up more hurt and lonely than before I asked, I stopped asking.
The hardest part was, I could not understand why this was happening. I questioned myself constantly. This behavior of his was out of character and only happened when I really needed him! Very hurtful for your partner to 'turn on you', when you open up, when you need him the most. 
But since we just this Christmas found out about Bill's granddaughters diagnosis, I can say, feeling pretty certain, that my husband has AS. As if I needed more confirmation. He is practically a textbook case; but he is so smart, you cannot readily see it. He can behave in a way that would not be obviously AS. It is at home, in an intimate relationship, that this appears. 
I have been deeply wounded over the years, not daily or weekly, though there are little things there too, but maybe 2 or 3 times a year, when I am brave enough or foolish enough or just sad enough that I try to have a talk with Bill, I get hurt pretty badly. He just almost instantly becomes defensive. He is unsympathetic, rude, either walking out or stone walling. It's pretty impossible to have a meeting of hearts and minds there. And because he is normally a very decent guy, this just made no sense to me. And we never would go back and sort it out together to resolve, heal. 
Over time this is so corrosive to a relationship and very bad for the person trying to make sense of it, being alternately hopeful and in despair, feeling at times, totally unloved, disposable, unseen, but then loved. 
I am sorry this is rambling and it may sound dramatic, but it has been our experience. I never wanted a divorce. I wanted a healed marriage. But I was finally, reluctantly, thinking about it. I had just about given up hope when I finally had to admit to myself that no matter what I did, how I talked, he was simply never going to change and I was getting very weary of carrying a lot of stress and feeling increasingly isolated and hopeless. 
But now, if we actually face this thing and learn how to work together, if he is willing, maybe we can come through. I take inspiration and hope from The Book of Best Practices. But I will have to be the one to initiate the changes, because Bill just doesn't bring up such topics. I get that this is 'normal' for aspies. I think though, that he may finally be receptive to working this out in our marriage. 
But I don't know how and where to begin.
I know it will take two to make it work, and If Bill cannot or will not help, I won't be able to do it alone. But I would like to give it a chance.
Any advice? Or possibly names of local professionals or groups to assist us?

Thank you very much! Did read the article and hopefully will be able to distinguish. I discussed her "Disneyland" dad with you. She NEVER has meltdowns over there and does OFTEN here. My two teenagers tell me so i know it is true...she is much more enjoyable to be around there, and at my house very inconsistent with her moods. She came in tonite and had full blown meltdown because I had moved something in her room to a new spot. My teenage son was saying, "why do you act like that with mom and not dad??" Makes me feel like a HORRIBLE parent and disciplarian!! Like I have no control but her dad has all control. He has told me she is great over there and the problem is me. I sat down tonight to ask her specifically why she does this with me as not with dad...thinking maybe I AM the problem! Feeling unsure of myself and embarrasses in front of teenagers for lack of parenting control. The following was her response:
"Dad understand me more, he knows what I like, such as I get to go to bed whenever I 3am, I get to eat things that actually sound good all the time. I don't have to eat anything I don't want. If he tells me I have to take a shower tonite, I get to take it whenever I want. He will turn on a video game for me no matter what time it is, on the big TV. If I have a friend spend the night we get to close my bedroom door and stay up as late as we want...all night if we want."

So, obviously zero parenting, so NOTHING to set her off or make her mad. She has never once spent the night with him on a school night. Only weekends and she does WHATEVER she wants! She has been there off and on since after Christmas. 

Could even an aspergers kid not feel the need for meltdowns when they have no rules or limits?
If she's truly aspergers wouldn't she have some type of frustrations even in that setting where "anything goes?"
Or is she just possibly "misbehaving" for me because she has to follow rules here. I am NO dictator...just normal parent with guidelines and rules. I can hardly stand it anymore!! Especially knowing she is an angel there and can sometimes act AWFUL here!! I am trying EVERYTHING to help her but am just so angry that she's one way there and one way here. Please tell me if there is any reason an aspergers kid would be so affected by normal household rules and guidelines, or is she just GIVING ME HECK and it may have nothing to do with aspergers at all!

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