From Anxiety to Anger to Meltdown: An Aspergers Dilemma

Can an Aspergers child’s anxiety play out as anger, and then morph to a meltdown?  Watch this video to find out:


Finding Hidden Meaning Behind Problematic Behaviors in Children on the Autism Spectrum

Many parents of kids with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism have discovered that some of their youngster’s behaviors make no obvious sense and do not serve any clear purpose. But when these kids engage in “odd” or confusing behavior, they are also sending the parent hidden clues about things that are important to them. Thus, it’s the parent’s job is to break the code so she can interpret the clues.

By becoming more like a “detective,” you can begin to notice coded messages you didn’t see before, and as a result, find more effective ways to help your “special needs” youngster.

Click here for the full article...


The Importance of Early Therapeutic Intervention for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Early intervention is key to optimal outcomes for children with AS and HFA. There's little doubt that young people on the spectrum who undergo therapy at an early age, be it behavioral or developmental, do better than kids who don't. And there's no good reason for parents to wait to provide such therapy.

Even a little progress is far better than none, especially when that progress comes in the form of new social skills that allow the special needs child to “fit-in” with his peer-group. While early intervention is extremely important, intervention at any age can be helpful.

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Asperger's and High-Functioning Autistic Children Who Hate Grooming and Personal Hygiene: Tips for Parents

“I'm ready to explode! My son is 7 and is autistic (high functioning). He absolutely stinks. His bedroom is a bomb site, he won't clean it. I am not allowed to clean it, he opens the door and the whole house smells if he does. He doesn't allow me to go in his room for his clothes. He won't bring his clothes down without an argument. He refuses to take a shower, won’t brush his teeth. I can't take it anymore. I went in his room this morning, found empty yogurt containers under his mattress. Clothes stuffed everywhere. I flung it all on the floor. If he wants to live like that, fair enough - but not here under my roof. I have had it.”

A common trait among children on the autism spectrum is the dislike of grooming and personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is often a very sensitive topic to discuss with a “resistant” Asperger’s or high-functioning autistic child like your son. Nonetheless, it is important to instill good hygiene practices early on to prevent cavities, infections, and other health problems. Your son must also feel safe discussing this topic with you, especially as he begins to go through puberty.

There are numerous ways to teach personal hygiene to “special needs” kids. In most cases, parents need to explain how germs work, develop a hygiene plan – and most importantly, make good hygiene fun! Making hygiene fun rather than a boring “chore” is key!! Be creative. Here are a few important tips to get you started:

1. Use visual demonstrations to teach your son about germs. To demonstrate how people transfer germs, try a chalk experiment. First, recruit the help of his sibling(s) or a couple of his friends. Get a box and fill it with chalk powder. Dip your hand in it and shake hands with your son and ask him to shake hands with the other kids. All of them have powder on their hands, having just come from the initial dip. Then explain saying that germs also spread in a similar fashion. This visual explanation may do more than any words to help you show the problem to your son. Lastly, teach your son the steps of hand-washing immediately after explaining this transfer of germs: (1) wet your hands, (2) apply soap, (3) lather the soap, (4) rub your hands for at least 20 seconds, (5) rinse them, and (6) dry them. Also, teach you son a 20-second song to sing to himself while he washes his hands. For example, a song like "Happy Birthday to You," can help him to scrub his hands clean for the allotted time. Sing with him the first few times.

2. Make use social stories to teach personal hygiene (click here to learn how).

3.  You say you want to teach your son to groom himself? There's an app for that! Download Pepi Bath to get started. It will allow your son to choose a character and role play (e.g., putting clothes in the washer, washing hands, shampooing hair, using the shower, etc.) in a fun and engaging way. Relax and let his favorite character teach him about the importance of proper hygiene.        

4.  Another great way to engage your child in his own grooming is to pump-up the excitement for the chore by adding some incentive. It can be as simple as a brand new bath toy, a cool light-up tooth brush, toothpaste in his favorite flavor, etc. It won’t take much to make the mundane magical.

5.  Create a “behavior chart” (click here to learn how) where your son can earn a reward for practicing proper hygiene. For instance, if he remembers to take a shower in the morning, he could earn extra computer-game time before bed that evening.

6.  Consider your son’s perspective. For example, try sitting him down at a relatively calm time and ask, “What’s the reason you don’t want to brush your teeth? What don’t you like about that?” The goal here is to identify what problem your son is trying to solve by not brushing his teeth. For example, does he have oral sensitivities (i.e., dislikes the feeling of the bristles in the tooth brush, dislikes the taste of the toothpaste, etc.)? Discuss what’s going on and talk with him about how he can solve this problem differently so that he can take care of himself. Then, after addressing the teeth brushing issue, move on to the next issue (e.g., why he doesn’t want to keep his room clean).

Additional tips to help children on the autism spectrum with good personal hygiene habits and organizational skills can be found here:

No parent wants their youngster to be “smelly” or “dirty,” but convincing such a child of the importance of brushing his teeth and washing his body can be tricky and frustrating. To a “special needs” child, hygiene often seems like an unwanted and unnecessary chore. But here’s the bottom line: Your son will always make his own choices – no matter what. As long as you are problem-solving with him, making personal hygiene as fun as possible, using rewards and consequences to motivate him and hold him accountable, and supplying him with the necessary “tools” to take care of himself, that’s the best you can do!


•    Anonymous said... And rewards for it. Make them things he REALLY likes though!
•    Anonymous said... Can you get an ABA therapist to work with him thru your insurance.
•    Anonymous said... Clean it for him... But...... With trash bags. It might help to do this while he is not home. Yes, there will be a melt down. I have found that sometimes aspire kids need tough parenting. Clear it out, save anything that is expensive or you can't part with. Mine has done better since she started junior high, and her peers have helped some with their comments. They will think they are the boss, and pick your battles. Health wise this is one you have to win.
•    Anonymous said... Could you try a bath? Or even regular swimming sessions (public pools are full of chlorine).
•    Anonymous said... Do a social story about it...emphasing the way it makes others in the house feel.
Maybe try printing a cleaning schedule...use lots of pictures to do this.
•    Anonymous said... Get a shower head with different settings and keep at it...
•    Anonymous said... I always find visual routine charts and visual checklists where he can move the pieces across for EVERYTHING help the best with my 8 year old after a while it just becomes a new habit and the arguments disappear also with the food in the room its a tough one a battle we still are tackling good luck
Also I cleared out his room and made it into his favourite theme (without him there) a mine craft room he seems to care more because it's his special space and revolves around on of his passions
•    Anonymous said... I feel for u my 12 year old drives me nuts with this same issue. I think we just need to take deep breaths and tidy on the sly so they don't have to much of a meltdown when they see you've cleaned up.
•    Anonymous said... I found that a picture of what the end result looks like and support for the problem solving helped. We also have an independance cup that if there is any spontaneous initiative i casually toss money in and this works better than a ritualized reward system. That seems to help, especially when he was apprised of how money could float out of it too...lol, but in the end, the seven year old needs to learn that mom is the highest ranking official in the outfit, just like any kid, you just have to figure out ways to make the expectation understandable and stick to it. Good luck to all! Dontcha just wish for one day you could only have to worry about what everybody else gets to worry about. Give me a busy sports schedule any day!
•    Anonymous said... I get it! I have 2 on the spectrum. I will say this- we are the parents- there is no 'I can't' or 'am not allowed to'. My house, my expectations. Yes it may cause a meltdown, but you can support them through it. Once it gets cleaned up- set up and continue with the expectation so it doesn't get as bad again. Our ASD worker always says- it may explain the behaviour but does not excuse it.
•    Anonymous said... I get strange looks when I say that my 14 yr old autistic daughter seems to thrive on chaos. Her room is like a bomb-site most of the time and I realised, eventually, that she just doesn't see the mess. I don't reproach her, I generally make the odd sarcastic remark (she can now understand sarcasm a bit bitter) and she's not too bothered when I clean it up every now and again. I've found the the personal hygiene issues have evolved and she's now ok about showering every day and (a huge result) brushing her teeth.
•    Anonymous said... I have 7 yr old as well.. Although he doesn't have this much of a distaste for hygiene he does have some diffculty with it.. for him I believe it is the overwhelmingness of the steps it takes.. Clean your room won't work... but if I ask him to bring me all clothes on the floor.. that works. Or any books back on shelf.. One item at a time and not all at the same time of day... If we seperate it out through the day by evening we have a clean room. Bathing... he has a big problem with water getting in eyes or ears... I starting teaching him steps.. first time i only made him do the step one.. but I continued on and stated each step... 1. Get your hair wet.. 2.. pump soap onto palm..3 rub hands together.... 4. rub soap on hair.. 5. rinse hair 3 times. because of the water in eyes thing I bought a cheap plastic pitcher and plastic visor. He fills up the pitcher and wets his hair this way now... After one week he is able to do all 5 steps himself I do list them off but much improvement!
•    Anonymous said... I have a very messy and smelly boy aswell. We introduced showers every other day for a week or two then everyday. One step at a time with cleaning the room works well. We also have star charts which have worked for us.
•    Anonymous said... I have the same problem with my child and she is 17. I have to tell her to brush her teeth or she never will and telling her does not always mean that she will do it. Her room is cluttered with food containers and bags also. She smells like sweat and she wears the same thing ever single day and won't let me wash it very often. When she was in school she took really good care of herself but now that she is home all day she has no interest in hygiene or how she looks. I feel your pain but I know from experience that threats don't work. The only thing that has ever helped is taking away a privilege or a toy. I take away her allowance if she won't clean her room after being asked for several days.
•    Anonymous said... I KNOW the feeling!!! Mine is the same.. I desperately want to contain the mes to one room as currently she shares with her sister, but neither of them want to swap with their younger sister who is less messy! Its not about the mess its about control over her stuff and her space and her sense of being her. We cannot or dare not touch it because we are violating her space and that is special to her. For the sake of as much family harmony as we can we ride it out and just say ok go tidy your rooms, your responsibility, if you dont want us to do it with a black bag, you do it or no computer/wii or tv for the weekend. That usually works, except when there is a lego/dinosaur/minecraft project thing happening on the floor so we leave it alone. Its very very hard work at the moment so I totally sympathize xxx
•    Anonymous said... Important: somehow the room must be cleaned. I let my son's room go for too long, and when I finally could clean it, it was infested with bed bugs. Its a miracle the whole house wasnt infested. It took tons of work, 2,000 dollars, 2 months to finally get rid of all the bedbugs. we had to throw a lot of things away.
•    Anonymous said... introduce a routine, some people need a visual routine, each step has a picture next to it. Try & use pictures of your own towels, bathroom etc. You can use individual tasks broken down into tasks & also try a now & next planner (depending on how many steps your son can comfortably deal with). In the mornings you could put shower on now & breakfast on next & explain that the planner won't move on until he has completed the now task (be prepared for possible meltdowns when introducing the new planner until he understands that things won't be rushed on). You could introduce room clean to the planner on a weekend day & have a breakdown of the steps for what is expected in cleaning his room (x change bedsheets, x Hoover floor etc etc)
•    Anonymous said... Kids need an obvious incentive. You have to answer the question "what's in it for me?". Be creative. If you can't come up with anything, then bribe him. First he'll do it for the bribes, but as he gets older, you can ween him off of them. If likes rules, then make rules like "no food in your room", "no clothes on your floor". Post a list of rules on the wall. Give rewards for following them. I wouldn't reward for the act of cleaning. I would give a daily reward if the room is clean. And a daily reward if teeth were brushed, shower taken, and whatever else you want him to do every day. Maybe use stickers or poker chips. Collect enough and trade them in for something big. I wouldn't use candy for a bribe though - sometimes the artificial ingredients in candy can make symptoms worse.
•    Anonymous said... My 12 yr old was finally told yesterday that he's got Aspergers after waiting 6 yrs. His room smells but only because he doesn't like the window open & he sweats as he's always on his console but his room is spotless. He keeps everything in order & when he's up at 6 every school morning he always shouts down "Just tidying my room".He opens his curtains, makes his bed up,brings down any plates & cups & puts his washing in the machine. Guess I'm lucky on that score but the shower bits a nightmare. He would refuse to have one but i say if he doesn't have one every other day he's banned off his console & I'd hide his controller
•    Anonymous said... My daughter is on the spectrum. Altho her room was clean, her self clean was another issue. She had matts in her hair, smelled, and showers were a battle. I got around the hair issue by cutting it short, ( the choice was given to her, either brush it or cut it). She's 23 now and the shower is still an issue. I'm not sure there is a fix all for this one.
•    Anonymous said... My oldest was the same way. We just had to start a routine where he showered every other day. It was a fight at first but just sticking with it after about 21 days the fights weren't there. Same with the room. We have a laundry system and that is where the clothes go to and if his room isn't clean we won't tuck him into bed. It takes a while to to build a good routine with a kid with aspergers but it does work.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 20 and we have tried everything under the son. He won't clean his room, and often puts on dirty clothing. Help!!
•    Anonymous said... My son is now 15 and he still struggles with this, but he's getting better. I had to figure out early on what I was willing to compromise with, what I wanted to battle, and what I didn't. I found that most of the time, if left to himself, he becomes (even now) overwhelmed with what needs to be done. So, I create a list and he has to do a few things from it each day, that way, he doesn't get overwhelmed but some things get done as well. One time, when we moved, my sister and I found 20 bottles of water (half gone) under his bed and lots and lots of wrappers (gum, pop tarts, etc). We just made sure we packed his room when he was at his Dad's. lol
•    Anonymous said... My son was the same and he is 8 now, I use reverse psychology on him, when he thinks I don't care and I give him a blasé attitude it changes everything, mind you his room still doesn't stay clean for long and showering is only done if I run a bath, it has to be hot and full or he won't get in, I just pick my battles, just work on the rubbish and dirty clothes and ignore the rest, Aspergers kids tend to like their rooms messy its how they know where everything is lol
•    Anonymous said... My two are 16 and 13 years old, same deal they don't clean and their rooms it looks like an they could be on the show hoarderds..I go in and clean their rooms once a month when they are at schooL. They freek out about it when they get home. lol. As for showre my kids didn't know how to turn the shower on under the age of 12 so I would turn it on and tell them to leave it running so the next one would get in, they also tipped all the shampoos out and push the soap in to the drains yes even at 12, now over 12 if they refuse to have a shower I tell them that is fine as long as they don't go anymore than 2-3 days with out a shower And they still don't clean their rooms.
•    Anonymous said... Showers can also be a sensory issue. The water feels like needles raining down on my daughter, causing pain. But she loves baths. Bath bombs and bubbles and being allowed to read before she has to wash. She'll always remember to do her teeth in the bath too. She's 15 and it took me years to get here but she's been so clean now for years. Find out why the shower is a problem. As for 'tidy your room' - way too general. Short, individual tasks, written down if necessary, are much easier. Meltdowns can come from panic of not understanding why you are cross with them and what they are supposed to do.
•    Anonymous said... The way we do it in our house is assigned chores and personal hygiene have to get done before screen time. I give explicit instructions and the kids have specific chores for each day of the week. My 10 year old son (who is the one on the spectrum) has come to appreciate the routine and will get up and shower, do his laundry, etc. on the proper day without being told.
•    Anonymous said... Try make it as part of routeen, slowly add it in to his days, get up make the bed, pjs in the wash basket, after he has done all those things reward him with TV time or something he likes a sticker chart works for zach but do this slowly I did, and he now gets up at half six has a tidy room clothes in washing basket dresses him self ok I lay them out, same with breakfast he brushes his teeth then gets his shoes on then reward time, but slowly is the key he will get used to it x but be prepared for melt downs xxx
•    Anonymous said... We have had similar problems but a bath is easier as they don't need to get their eyes wet and you don't need to wash their hair every time, alternatively if it had to be a shower we used to let our son wear his swimming goggles as this helped to solve the water in the eyes issue. I agree with the others that you must put your foot down and just go with the meltdown for both the bath and the room a few times, use individual instructions for the room as I have always found it's better to break the tasks down and give a reward at the end regardless of the arguing whilst the task is being performed, the more you do these things the less the resistance will be each time as he realises that he will have to do it anyway whether he delays things by refusing or not.
•    Anonymous said... You will set yourself up for long years of at seven years old he has that kind of control. Will there be a melt down YES but that's when you help him learn to work thru it. Use it as an opportunity for him to see that if he wants you to leave his space alone then it needs to be maintained to a certain standard. My oldest currently has an empty room except for his bed a night stand and his night light. He couldn't stop messing with his toys. So those were taken out. He couldn't stop messing with his dressers so those left the room as well. Good luck! It's all trail and error but never give up!
•    Anonymous said…  I removed the door, put everything in the centre and took away all items that were first world 'nice to haves'. I then committed to work with her to clean it and stick to my guns that my house rules did not allow for unhygienic practices. As the behaviour changed so did the return of belongings and the door. Be prepared to walk alongside this area for many years to come. Mine has now left home and made great head way here.
•    Anonymous said…  My Ry (pre dx) was the same ... We worked with a behaviorist and rewarded for when she would shower brush her teeth go to sleep and sleep all night. She is now 15 and takes to many showers lol the water is her soothe when things are rough. I don't miss those early years and the constant meltdowns and tantrums we couldn't even leave the house to go to the grocery store ... Just clean it I threatened to throw her in the shower with me to make sure she was clean and therapy therapy therapy!! Good luck!!
•    Anonymous said… A true aspie 7 year old would have a major meltdown lasting into the night if you touched his room while at school. I know mine would of. His Dr. told me a long time ago to pick my battles of what is important and let the rest go. The shower thing maybe is important and the food containers to keep bugs away, but as far as how he treats is personal items, that should be up to him. It is his stuff, let him take care of it how he sees fit and if something precious is lost or broken he will learn, or not care. My son usually doesnt understand that he should be upset with loss or punishment. My son thankfully likes a neat room, except likes to eat in there(cannot tolerate eating meals with others), provide a trashbag to help contain the mess somewhat.
•    Anonymous said… ABA or professional behavioral intervention
•    Anonymous said… All those above help--but, remember--sometimes teenage boys smell. They just do (neuro-typical or not). It took about 2 years before my son started improving..
•    Anonymous said… Also I would take everything that he likes out of his room and tell him he could have it back when he is more responsible if he has a total meltdown so be it
•    Anonymous said… Applied Behavioral Analysis is a behavioral therapy generally provided in home where a therapist can identify behaviors that need to be changed or modified and comes up with a treatment plan to accomplish these goals
•    Anonymous said… Better to deal with it now than when he's older. My son is almost 20 and the battles continue. However we do have ground rules. No food in the room for starters-don't want critters. Then we have choices-either you put your dirty clothes in the laundry or I will help you to do it. Also try to focus on one thing at a time. Clean your room can be extremely overwhelming-the old can't see the forest for the trees adage. Try to focus on pick up dirty clothes. Then next focus on picking up trash. Then focus on making bed etc. Charts never worked nor did taking away privileges such as electronics. Your son may have a 'currency' that will work or not. My son does not see anything wrong with not brushing his teeth or showering. He even says "I know you want me to shower but I don't have a problem with how I smell". So I hear your frustration. We finally found a system that works for him. We let him pick a time that works for him within a set boundary. For example we say "You need a shower. Bed time us at 11. You need to shower before 11. What time works for you?" He picks a time. Then we hold him accountable. "It's almost 7. You said you would shower at 7. Do you have everything ready?" This reminds him to get ready and that it was his chosen time. hope you find what works for your son. I have also taken out stocks in Febreeze for those times when it gets to be too much. He hates that so it also gets him to clean lol. Win win for me. Good luck
•    Anonymous said… Can you "plant" some ants in his room. Hopefully, it will freak him out. Then you can explain to him they are drawn to crumbs and dirt. The only way to get rid of them,and keep them away, is to do thorough cleaning and removing all trash and stinky things. This worked for my tween (although I didn't have to plant the ants. They found his stashed food all by themselves)
•    Anonymous said… can you please tell me what ABA is. My son was just recently diagnosed so I'm a little lost on everything I need to know. Thank you.
•    Anonymous said… Clean it while he's at school.
•    Anonymous said… Does he like the pool or to squirted with the hose?
•    Anonymous said… Fortunately, my Aspie has a sense of humor. And he is obsessively neat. However, I could picture myself pulling the garden hose into his room and giving him one last chance before I blast it! LOL. I know you are totally frustrated...I'm just trying to make you smile.
•    Anonymous said… From 21, 19 & 16yo (Aspie) Mom who's been there:
#1 - Logic wins out over emotion with Aspie, every time. #2 - "You gotta do what you gotta do to get to do what you want to do..." Sure you can play on the Xbox, AFTER you do... (Very specific, easily accomplished task-- break it down.) #3 - we have taken bedroom door off hinges, had to earn that privilege back. #4 - I would go in with a big box or trash bag and collect everything up for giveaway (or trash). I would negotiate return of specific items if we agreed on the terms calmly and rationally. Note: #3 and #4 only ever one time, between the 3 kids. They took it seriously! You have to stay calm and rational, with a sense of humor. We all survived-- good luck!
•    Anonymous said… Give a choice. Tell him we will clean it together or I can clean it? There will be a meltdown so get ready for it. He's the child. In life outside your house things won't be easy so he has to learn now how things work. Have less things in his room. Could be too much to deal with.
•    Anonymous said… He is not an adult... He needs to follow rules now ... House rules just like he follows rules at school.
•    Anonymous said… He's 7. Even if he were neuro-typical he's not anything like old enough to be responsible for cleaning his room. At ten you can start expecting that, but only after years of step-by-step, non-emotional, side-by-side helping.
•    Anonymous said… I agree sorry... He is seven, teach him.... maybe do it the first time because by now its way too caotic and hard for him at the state its in... then just help him keep on top of it everyday clean it up.... Parenting is hard and repetitive but it comes down to he is 7 and you are the parent! Parent him now before you lose all of his respect completely!
•    Anonymous said… I checked most boxes on this! I just go into the room every three months and do it for him/her 14/12 (his sister has Asperger too) and I'm past asking the shower, I say go and have one! ...
•    Anonymous said… i feel for you. its soo frustrating. my grandson 20 is and was so similar except for the mess in his room, but changing of clothes brushing teeth showering staying up all night doing nothing for himself. etc. etc.some of it has changed but still needs more improofment. he stresses all of us out.n
•    Anonymous said… I have the exact same problem with my 13 year old son. I have tried everything. We don't allow food up in his room but, he still gets it up there anyways. We have tried charts, reasoning, threating,working for his computer. You name it we tried it. Any other suggestions would be great!
•    Anonymous said… I'm so glad I'm not alone in this our son trashes his room all the time he just can't keep it clean or tidy and hates for us to do anything in there I'm always saying , crack a window it stinks in here , he's only 10
•    Anonymous said… It actually makes me giggle how familiar this story is! Except the chart thing. Charts have never worked for my son. I have to use the 'reward good behaviour' system. Usually do it in weekly or bi-weekly slots, and the reward depends on the work put in.
•    Anonymous said… It's your home, your responsibility. Poor hygiene is common. Take control of your own home.
•    Anonymous said… My 17yr old Aspie is exactly the same but only started like this in the last 18mths! It's horrendous. He's just moved into the spare bedroom and we are going to get stuck into his bedroom and have a serious deep clean, shampoo carpets etc. You'd swear a tramp lived in that room 😖
•    Anonymous said… My boy is very similar . We have tried all sorts : nice shower gels , different toothbrushes , nagging , step by step explanations etc etcetc . Toothbrushing has got a bit better now the specialist dentist is involved . He seems to like his own smell ! And not a fan of washing but now heading to being a teenager I am having to insist but then we get lots of opposition , arguments and general stress . Not as simple as just taking control .
•    Anonymous said… My daughter (yet to get a full diagnosis) 10yrs will not brush teeth and when I manage to persuade her, 30 seconds is about the limit! She laughs at the state of her room, but will let me tidy as there's no chance she ever will! Tips on teeth brushing appreciated. Clean his room when he's out, that's what I usually do if he complains explain that that's how you expect it to be left and if he won't do it you will. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter is seven and she is like the Tasmanian devil. Takes forever to pick up her room in no time for her to undo everything I did. I have to limit the number of toys that she can have at one time. If I didn't everything would be everywhere.
•    Anonymous said… My question is: Why so much Aspergers? What is causing it?
•    Anonymous said… My son did not start having hygiene issues until he was 13, but the thing that helped him was a chart. I made him a visual chart that showed him what needed to be done in the mornings. Also, I remind him daily regarding his hygiene (did you brush your teeth, etc.). He is 17 years old now--and is pretty good. (I also never allow food in his room, etc.) the only clothes on his floor are the clean ones he is supposed to be putting away (they overflow from the laundry basket sometimes).
•    Anonymous said… My son has the potential to be a hoarder so I try to engage him with relinquishing items. I let him make the decision but I don't let up. I say things like are you ready to give that to the kindy. I make him in control of the giving and if something of his is sold he gets the money. This has been an extreme challenge for him as he thinks his memories are tied to things and he thinks he will forget the memories if the thing is gone. Real hoarder ideology. You have to keep at it. I explain to my son that on our planet we are expected to live in clean conditions especially if we ave the means. I speak logic and it usually wins him over. ie: why shower today I did it yesterday I'm not dirty. It's the hidden germs they need to learn. I also taught my son about immunity he is 8 and got the concept straight away so germs and their constant barrage on the immune system really helped him understand the need for cleanliness. Tricky thing with our kids the need to be taught everything in a logical systematic way.
•    Anonymous said… My youngest used to throw the best tantrums if I even drove somewhere a different route. I told him tough luck we are going a different way. Same with the room...it IS getting cleaned, I'm the adult. I continually made my boys deal with change when little because wrapping them in cotton wool does them no service. I should know, I have 2 Aspie BIL's in their 40s who now can't function in society because their parents have died and they did everything for them. They never taught them self sufficiency. My boys on the other hand can now cope with change with minimal disruption to their day. I want my boys to be as independent as possible and if it means constant reinforcement of what is expected of them then that is what I have to do. Yes I am harder on them than their sister but the benefits are paying off.
•    Anonymous said… Oh my this is my life. My daughter is now 16 and I tried every intervention possible since she was 4 including therapeutic support staff, a behavior specialist, a case manager, a mobile therapist and several out patient therapists. Nothing seems to change. Ugh.
•    Anonymous said… Ok so he's 7. I would suggest some ABA or professional behavioral intervention. It's not likely that he wants to live this way but that he can't help himself. I know that sounds crazy but it's true. Aspergers and OCD come along with some very real manic and executive functioning behaviors. Don't try to deal with it on your own but don't act like he's an errant teenager. He's 7, help him. Interventions aren't just for him they are also for you so that you can understand what's going on in his head and body and so that you can learn to engage him in a way that will help him and get results that don't make you pull your hair out. And please don't punish him for something he can't help.
•    Anonymous said… Ok..He's 7. How are YOU not allowed in his room? My aspergers son is 15 knows I will enter his room and tell him what needs to be done whenever necessasary. Yes I have to remind him to pick up his dirty clothes. I have to remind him throw away trash. (no food allowed in bedrooms). I even have to remind him daily to bathe and use deodorant and brush his teeth with toothpaste. He has no access to any electronics until these things are done properly. You will always have to take charge and remind him. Don't let him control you or it will just get worse.
•    Anonymous said… Reward chore chart? Sitting with my son last night his 6 encouraging homework and confidence took about 20 stickers through out the hour of homework
•    Anonymous said… Routine, eat at the table put spoon etc in sink. Clean room before school everyday. Can take ALOT on your part
•    Anonymous said… Set the boundaries and cope with the tantrums. The tantrums will pass. Take away his wifi until it's done. He needs to be challenged to learn do deal with expectation even if he doesn't cope well at the time.
•    Anonymous said… Small steps. When your son is calm and in a state that you can reason with him, ask him conversationally what he thinks you guys should do about his dirty room. His answer might be insightful. If he refuses to engage in your conversation, choose something he really enjoys and tell him that if he helps you to tidy up then he can have it. Even if all he does is put a few clothes in a basket, he still deserves a treat because that is great progress. The shower/tooth brushing/ hygiene thing is often caused by the fact that the sensations are often more painful to an aspie. Did you ever have chicken pox and your mom stuck you in the bathtub? Similar thing here. Possibly try water play in a room temperature tub with bath colours to make it more enjoyable and when he brushes his teeth use a very mild flavour paste and a very soft brush
•    Anonymous said… Sometimes we need to find out why? Ask him if there is smells from rest of house that bother him. Try finding air freshener he likes and slowly clean up.
As for the dirt food and dishes. Give him 24 hours to take care of it or you can do it together. Let him understand this is not acceptable. Pick 1 battle at a time. Trying the we need to do it all may be too much for him to handle at once. Do it for him may not help or may... Try is is to put clothes in basket and you will pick it up on a certain day. My son needed a timeline and to learn appropriate patterns of behavior. Figure out steps and give him 2 choices....
•    Anonymous said… Spot on (from an aspie who couldn't keep my room clean... once it got past a certain point i just couldn't cow with cleaning it but got angry if anyone went in my room)... actually this is still me but less food rubbish
•    Anonymous said… This is a helpful FB page with information how to help your child out of defense mode. This group was started by two adults who have Aspergers themselves. They have some free information and also sell courses.
•    Anonymous said… this is familiar just not to this extreme... I am very stern with the tidying up the bedroom.
•    Anonymous said… This sounds like what we face in our home however, I tell my 13 yo Aspie son that he needs to take care of these areas of concern before he can get on the computer or play that video game he's been wanting to play. Make them earn what they want by having them address their hygiene. It's a win win and it's how the real world works.
•    Anonymous said… Withdrawal of wi fi works some if the time for us !
•    Anonymous said… You need to make it a rule that some things are acceptable in his room, other things are not. Like food. Enforce them- you'll get an improvement, after meltdowns, but don't expect a 100% . Recognise what you can tolerate and let it fall at that. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said… Your son is 7. While I understand the issues involved, you need to be the parent. 1) get him out of the house and clean it 2) set rules and stick to them 3) make it routine to do a clean out listing step by step instructions on how to do so 4) have consequences and rewards for adherence and non-adherence to the rules. Aspergers isn't a sufficient reason not to be the parent. My son has Aspergers and I refuse to let it be a gateway. I grew up spoilt because I had a disability and I played it. Then I grew up and reality was very different - it was harsh. Now I have a good work ethic etc but it took till my 30s.
•    Anonymous said… You're the parent…be one for his sake.
*   Anonymous said... This is how hoarding begins. I wonder if watching a few episodes of Hoarders with your son and a following discussion would begin to help him see what can happen if he continues with his current ways. He is also 7 and you have plenty of years to work together WITH him to establish rules for living in your home, such as "no food outside the kitchen and dining areas." We have two Aspie children and it's been a struggle to teach them basic hygiene. But even though they balk, they shower, brush their teeth, and use deodorant because those are not negotiable in our house. Maybe you and your son could make lists of what could be negotiable and non-negotiable, then pick and choose what battles to fight. That might give him a sense of control in his life. Our Aspies' rooms are always cluttered and messy, because that's their choice. But we don't allow food in rooms, and it's one of their chores to bring dirty clothes to the laundry room. If you need help establishing rules and boundaries with your son, please seek the help of a psychologist with Asperger's experience to work with both of you.

Post your comment below…


Fostering Self-Awareness in Children on the Autism Spectrum

“I have a daughter with (high functioning autistic). She has numerous sensory sensitivities (certain food, noise, textures of clothing, temperature, just to name a few), which overloads her to the point of meltdown. She is a perfectionist and very sensitive to feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. Nothing seems to console her when she gets angry and upset. When I ask what is bothering her, she says she doesn’t know. How can I help her?”

If you want to raise a well-adjusted child (which I’m sure you do), a great place to start is with fostering self-awareness in your daughter. When you promote the development of self-awareness, you are raising your daughter to be mindful of her emotions and mind patterns, and why she is feeling or behaving or thinking a certain way.

This will require that you view your child from a place of mindful awareness, without judgment or preconceived expectations (easier said than done). But, if you will practice adding more mindfulness to your own life, you will be able to encourage your daughter to practice doing that same.

As your daughter gets older, help her to become aware of her own sensitivities and tolerance level. Help her to see what she does – and what she doesn't do – when she gets overloaded. Urge her to verbalize her feelings and develop a reflective attitude toward her sensitivities. In this way, she eventually learns to prepare herself for challenging situations.

Because your “special needs” daughter is so sensitive to feelings of embarrassment and humiliation, her needs must be respected. But, at the same time, see if you can build in some humor as well. Shared jokes about her perfectionism and critical attitude, if done in a warm and accepting manner, allow her to become aware of her sensitivities.

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

While empathizing with such a child is difficult, it can be made even harder by her aversion to being patronized. For example, you may find that comments such as, "I know it must be hard" when said in an exhausted tone of voice will not have the desired effect. Conversely, using both empathy and humor to help your daughter verbalize her anger and rage may prove especially helpful.

For instance, if she is glaring at you and muttering under her breath, protesting that the soup is still too hot, a comment such as, "Gosh, I guess you're ready to fire me" or, "I guess you think I'd better practice my cooking some more" will respect your daughter as an intelligent (though upset) person, and is more effective than a patronizing statement like, "I know how sensitive your tongue is."

You, the parent, will benefit from self-awareness too. Sometimes mothers and fathers of “special needs” kids feel some embarrassment and guilt toward uncooperative or inflexible aspects of themselves. Without being aware of it, parents may see pieces of themselves in their child – and if they dislike that part of themselves, they will often take that dislike out on the child rather than be aware of its origins.

All parents have negative traits that they aren't proud of. These hidden "truths" often resonate with traits in their children. It's as if all the "bad aspects" in the collective family consciousness hang-out together. Being aware of these patterns allows parents to take a more supportive and empathetic stance with their children, rather than an overly critical one.

Your “sensitive” daughter can also learn to choose certain physical activities to decrease her over-sensitivity and overload. Many of the same physical exercises recommended for the oppositional child are also helpful for the highly sensitive child (e.g., jumping with joint compression, large muscle movements, rhythmic actions in space like swings or spinning games, etc.). Be sensitive to the particular patterns of sensations that comfort your daughter.

When your daughter develops self-awareness, she “knows” herself at a deep level, she is clear about what she likes to do and what she doesn’t like, she experiences feelings about events and how they impact and change her, and she understands – and feels comfortable with – her self-behavior. Without this deep awareness of who she is, negative thoughts and emotions can surface into behavior problems later. Your daughter is not perfect, but a deep understanding of herself, her fears, the things that excite her, etc., can all help her to live in harmony with others.

To begin the process of fostering self-awareness in your daughter, considering asking her some of the following questions:
  • Who do you love in your life and why?
  • What things give you the most joy?
  • What things cause you the most anxiety, and what can you do about it?
  • What fears do you have about your life, and what can you do about it?
  • What do you love to do?
  • What is most important to you, and how do you follow what is most important?
  • What goals can you put in motion to align yourself to what is most important?

More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for July, 2015]

 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.


In the search for information that could potentially help Lisa and us to a less distressful everyday life,  I stumbled over your e-book
"The Aspergers Comprehensive handbook".
After just talking a very short glance at the now successfully downloaded pdf-file, I can only conclude that it indeed seems comprehensive.
I like that it in a straight forward way adresses everyday problem situations and ways of dealing with them. We really need that kind of support.


 Dear Mr. Hutten,

I purchased your book in and around May 5th.  My husband has Asperger's (along with other issues including many many incidences of infidelity, more recently I found out even with men) and somehow, through these many issues, we have been married for 35 years, very very rough years and I am not sure how much longer I can hang in there. I think we have only lasted this long because I can't bear to see my children hurt and deal with their emotions and mine at the same time if I divorce him.  We are also linked professionally and work in the same place in the same department. My husband indicated the book has helped him tremendously and he felt as if you were in his head and his life as so much was what he was reading was how he was feeling and perceiving.


Thanks Mark!
I´m more or less shocked by the sheer speed at which you give me valuable answers.
I will pass the sites you sent to Lisa, and check if there is a support group near us.
Again, thanks a lot for your concern and assist.
Best regards,


Doctor Hutten,  I have a 9 year old grand son that needs to be evaluated and diagnosed.  I am sure he has Asperger Syndrome.  We are having a difficult time finding someone that will evaluate and diagnose him.  I need some one in Kansas or Oklahoma.   I need some one to help us with this so that we know how to best place him in school and help him at home. 
Thank you,


Dear Mark,
I am very grateful that i have found your site and have signed up for the online course...yet to start as chaos has ensued with my son's difficulties at school. I do not know if it is appropriate to ask you this on this platform, but i am in such a quandary and really need advise on who to speak and a face to face parent support group? My 9 yr old son has been suspended from school numerous times over the last 18 months, and after changing schools after much deliberation with his dad (we're divorced but still have an amicable relationship), on day 1 of week 3 there was a minor incident in the morning followed by a far more serious one in the afternoon leading to a 20-day suspension pending exclusion....well he is now excluded, not only from that school but ALL schools except distance education. Reading the details of incidents is like reading a story about a strangers child...not my son who has meltdowns but never ever even close to the level of aggression and violence evident at school. Im going to stop there as i do not know if this is the right place, but thought a bit of background. Your time and assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Mark,
My grandson Jake was diagnosed a few years ago with aspergers. He was probably about 9 or 10. Up until then Jake seemed like the perfect child. Did not have any trouble with motor skills as a toddler. He could carry on a conversation like an adult...Was the first to read in Kindergarten etc. We moved him to a private Christian School. He is now 15 and is having issues in school. His grades dropped down this year. He is a bright young man. In the 7th grade he scored  the highest on his ACT than any other student in the history of this school for a 7th grader. He does not want to go back there. In fact the only way he can attend is to have a teachers aid with him at all times. His anger issues have increased. Jake is seeing a therapist. He is on Amphetamine Salts Er 25mg 1xd and Risperidone 0.25 mg 1 2xd.
His Mom and Dad have gone through a divorce during the past two years and he goes back and forth for visits.He does not like this arrangement.
I guess my biggest concern right now is what is best for Jake and his Education.
How do you feel about Home Schooling and the Aspergers child?
I do not think there is a private school for the Aspergers child near us.
I am just a grandmother who keeps her grandson a lot and loves him more than life itself.
Do you have any suggestions on the direction we need to take at this time?



Your program helped so much even before I was finished. But then we got into a busy season of graduations and vacations and everything fell apart. I have a question, which is really two questions:

My daughter is 13 (14 next month). She has an iphone and a laptop which are very important to her, and pretty much nothing else in the world matters to her, except maybe TV but she only really watches that if she has no phone or computer.

There are times when I have told her, if you choose to do/not do whatever, you lose your phone for 12 hrs, or 24 hrs. But then she refuses to give it to me. I have in the past physically taken it, but that turns into a physical fight so I avoid that now. Also I think she should voluntarily turn it over. So I say something like, If you don't give it to me now, instead of 12 hrs it will be 3 days. And she still refuses to give it. So what do I do then?
I can shut off her cell service easily, but I cannot shut off the wifi that the phone is capable of using, and honestly she uses the wifi more than the cell part. She can talk and text through internet apps. So I learned how to change my wifi password. But that is  inconvenient for myself and my other, older child. There is always a bit of a problem getting our devices to accept the new password.

So the first question is, do I continue with shutting off the cell service and wifi, in spite of the inconvenience (older child leaving for college next month so I won't have to worry about her being affected so much), or if not what do I do?

Maybe I should say something like I am shutting off the cell service and the wifi, and it will be off for 3 days, and the 3 days does not start until you hand over both your devices?

Second part, is what do I do now...

We went away on vacation recently where she refused to give me her phone when I told her to for some misbehavior. I could not shut off the wifi in the hotel, so I grabbed the phone out of her hand. She attacked me pretty badly and cut and bruised me and it hurt a lot. At my instruction my older daughter videotaped this. Being in another state I was afraid to call the police or anything (all I needed was for her to end up in foster care or one of us to end up in jail in Florida. We are from New York. I am rooted in my community and have relationships with the courts and law enforcement b/c of my work, but I don't know what I am dealing with in Florida so I was afraid).

Once home I gave the phone back after a couple of days. I felt I had let the assault go too easily but did not really know what to do.

But before I gave her the phone back I told her I wanted the ability to control it if she did not give it to me. With the help of extended family I set up the "find my iphone" feature which allows me to erase the contents of the phone (she is very attached to her pictures and videos she had stored on there). I told her I am now giving you the phone back, but if you ever refuse to hand it over when I ask I erase the phone. She agreed.

A week later she woke up on a Sunday. We had an event to go to where she was getting an award, and she likes to get up 3 hrs or so earlier than she has to leave to allow herself a lot of time. I guess she slept through her alarm and I knocked on her door 1 hr before we had to leave and asked if she was awake. She saw the time and immediately started screaming and crying REALLY loud, like a temper tantrum, b/c she was upset she woke up "late." My older daughter works late in a restaurant at night and I was afraid she would wake her (the older one has already been put through so much by his child. And her tantrums have been a big problem for years and have disrupted our family life to a great degree). I said stop screaming, and if you wake your sister you lose your phone. She only got louder. Her sister woke up. I said give me your phone. She refused and hid it under her body. I said if you refuse to give it back I will erase it. I gave her a few warnings  then walked in my room, opened my computer and erased her phone. She walked in a second later and gave me her phone. I said ok but it's already erased. She went totally wild and yelled like crazy and started hitting me. I called 911.

They took her to the psych ER b/c they asked if she had ever threatened suicide. I told them yes, but it was months ago and I did not think she meant it. In the psych ER she saw a social worker and a psychiatrist. They released her with a diagnosis of ODD and a recommendation that she see a therapist. (She has been in therapy but does not feel comfortable with the therapist and won't open up. So we spoke as we were waiting in the ER and I told her we would find a new therapist, and she seemed to understand she has to open up. )

When we got home she wanted to go to her dad's for a while. I agreed b/c I really wanted her out of the house. But now I don't know what to do.

I left her dad 11 years ago b/c he was very abusive to me mentally. financially, emotionally and physically. I have always had sole custody. He has visitation for only 6 hrs on Sundays. I have encouraged him to see them more, though, and really wanted him to take them some overnights when they were younger b/c I worked some nights and it was a great struggle to afford child care (he has resisted paying support and still does. It is a constant court battle). He refused to take them, mainly, I think, to make it hard for me. His hatred of me exceeds his love for them. Anyway in recent months I have tried to reach out to him, despite our differences, for help in dealing with her. He blocks my number and won't speak to me. For a while this past year, whenever I tried to impose a consequence she would "run away" to his house. The problem was 1) I could not confirm she was actually there b/c he won't communicate with me, and 2) While I support her spending time there, she should not be going there to evade my rules. That running away only stopped when I filed police reports against the both of them- her for running away and him for interference of custody.

So now she has been at her dads for the last week and while it has been great to have a break from her, I wonder how I should deal with her coming home. I am still looking for a therapist but it is going to be a few weeks before I get an appt. Yesterday she asked me for her phone, and I said you lost your phone privileges when you hit me. She replied, then I am going to live here b/c dad will get me a phone but only if I live here.

So he is undermining my consequence of her dangerous behavior.

I am considering filing a PINS petition (NY law- person in need of supervision- family court intervenes and forces the kid to do what is needed). She has talked about him filing for custody. I don't know if he has any desire to do that, and I can't imagine he would ever win, but I hate to go through that.

How do I let her back? How do I get her back? How do I deal with the devices? Do I continue to withhold them b/c she has gone so far as to forfeit them? Or do I give them back b/c without them I have no leverage?


Dear Mr. Hutten,
Where do I start? This is so complicated but I will try to get to the point asap. I have a daughter Sarah who is 15. She will be going into high school this year. She went to catholic school until third grade. She was sort of diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability and they would put her in the lower grade in the back of the room. Bad situation! I put her in public school and she thrived at first with the special attention and great fourth grade teacher. Socially she struggled. I started noticing things that didn't seem to develop and she went to a special school/health center who deal with Autism. I asked for her to be with a female and they had no female staffer, so she went unwillingly and tested poorly, and they said she is on the Autism Spectrum???
The problem is ... they made her be present at every meeting, sometimes waiting in the outside room. She felt like we were calling her stupid and saying something is wrong with her. She didn't take the diagnosis well. The next day we had an IEP at her school and they said she was doing WONDERFUL. She was brought into that meeting late and when they told her she was doing great she started to cry uncontrollably. She was happy and her special ed teacher didn't see that diagnosis being accurate at all!
Fast forward now, I put the diagnosis on the back burner and we have tried to work with her at home. Bringing her social skills up a little. I recently saw another physchologist that went over her records and she was appalled that the school or doctors never did an IQ test. She said that was terrible that she had to go to the meetings, while she is testing at a very low math 5th grade, she will go into 9th grade algebra. I worry more about her not having many friends or being so socially shy, awkward, not knowing how to make friends. She is wonderful with her sister, who is 21 and commutes to college. That is her best friend.
I made an appt. with a local Dr. who specialty is ADHD and Asperger's, however,  the secretary said that Sarah must be present for the initial meeting. Here we go AGAIN! I understand its because of insurance??? I wanted him to go over the papers or ask his opinion. They did tell me she can wait outside while I talk to the Doctor and fill him in. She has a book about Executive Functioning Disorder and that sounds not as scary to her. So I was going to tell her we are just getting the diagnosis right.
I am sorry to ramble, I don't know how to help her and I think it does damage to her self-esteem. She seems so sensitive. There is a boy across the street who has severe Autism and has to go to school at times in a helmet. I think when she hears anything about Autism she is making a connection??? I know she feels left out by her peers so she feels like something is wrong with her. She is also overweight and tired all the time. I want to take her to the best people to help. Please help me. 

Dear Mark

Thank you for alll the valuable insights you are giving. I have bought
& read many of your books. My son has 2 major issues that are
bothering us in social situations as well as home. He does not talk AT
ALL though he talks when he wants to ask for something & he is a
middle school all A student. Recently we went to a wedding and he did
not talk at all to any one . He also does not talk at home at all
(except rarely with his sister where the conversation doesnt have any
substance). He does not accept that this is an issue. He also doess
not want to sit next to me and he hates touch by people. He says he
hates me and my husband but he seems to connect more with my daughter
& tolerates my husband more than me. How can we help him with these
issues as we are worried he will never be able to get a job or
function in society this way however smart he is.



My partner of 12 years is 55, educated, a successful athlete and businessman…and he has many Asperger symptoms, specifically with regards to our relationship.  The more I read….it all fits, but he has not been diagnosed, nor have we discussed it as he is extremely intelligent and at times volatile and he really sees that his problems all stem from me.

I dialogued with a therapist who specializes in this area hoping he’d be the one to bring this to light so we could work together in managing our relationship better.  We’ve seen him 3 times and his philosophy to me privately was that unless my partner states he is having difficulties, he wouldn’t bring it up.    I really feel that it needs to be discussed, but I don’t think I should be the one to tell him what I suspect.

Do I dialogue with this therapist again, tell my partner myself, or find another therapist?
My partner, who has never had more than a 2 yr. relationship, will feel denial, then anger.
I just don’t know what to do.
Your advice would be most welcome!


Hello Mr. Hutten

My name is Lisa, and I have a sister named Jamie. Jamies son, Tyler, has Aspergers. He is at the high end of the spectrum. Tyler is 12, soon to be 13 years old.

The reason I am emailing you today is because Im worried about my sister. She has always dealt with tantrums with Tyler, but now he is very strong and is way more physically mature than kids his age. My sister has her own health issues and she cannot take the physical tantrums. The problem is that Tyler feels horrible when its over and that makes its harder on my sister. My sister has always been very emotionally strong, and she really thinks she can handle everything. She probably can, but we need some advice.

The hard part for our family is watching my sister get hit and not being able to do anything about it. My sister has a hard time doing anything because she always falls to the side of Aspergers. I believe at some level he is spoiled, but I dont know the difference sometimes. I know my sister struggles with that as well. Tyler does have a lot of "stuff", meaning games, ipod, etc...

He had  a complete meltdown last night because my sister took away a video game that was given to him that my sister had not seen yet. My sister watched it and it is very violent and took it away from him. He went crazy and was uncontrollable. He was violent with my sister. I dont want her to be hurt, but also am concerned about Tyler. I know he struugles with his own issues.

This is very difficult fro my family, and would really like some advice. My sister has always been a strong advocate, and she is awesome. She loves her son very much. She is always watching videos and trying to find solutions. I am just trying to help.

Do you have any suggestions? He does have a counselor that he started talking with. He is only violent with my sister.


Hi Mark,

My husband and I follow you and read all your articles. I wonder if you could recommend which book of yours we should buy to help with our 5 and a half year old ASD high functioning (acts more like an aspie but we were diagnosed when aspie was removed from diagnosis). Do you ever come to Colorado? We would love to set up time to meet with you and have additional assessment of our son. 

One other question I wonder if you've had on the forum yet. Our son, Tillman, is adopted. We discuss his birth family (aunt, uncle, two older siblings) and he knows them and sees them. Birth mom is never around and we won't ever meet birth dad. We both think Tillman is too young to talk to about this complex situation, especially with his literal world and how he overthinks things. Can you share some advice on how and when we might best discuss this? I don't want to scare him and we want to be very open with him when it is appropriate and relevant.

Many thanks for the work you do as it has been incredibly helpful to us on our journey with our sweet boy. 

Our son is 34, with Asperger's. Loses every job, has no friends, rarely leaves the house, throws awful temper tantrums, curses of great vulgarity.  We got your workshop. The problem is, he won't accept he has Asperger's, feels it is a label and won't go for help. After four years of being unemployed after being fired from his last job, my husband found a little part time job for him, but after only three weeks, he just stopped showing up and was fired. My husband and I just had our 43rd wedding anniversary, but our marriage is in real trouble because of our son.  He lives upstairs, but we feel we have no privacy, are extremely stressed and feel completely hopeless.  He had some therapists in the past, but they didn't help at all.


I'm dating a mother of a 4 year old and newly diagnosed HFA son. I also have a son, mine is 2, yet because work and parenting visitation schedules our boys haven't yet met.
I really care about them and believe her son is a special gift. He and I have bonded. I want this to work. Do you have advice on dating HFA parents when both parties have boys who are of similar age?
Sincerely, Thank you. 


Hi again Mark, and thank's a lot for being so quick in respons and helping me out in this matter!
My 15 year old daughter Lisa was sadly not diagnosed with Aspergers until end of March this year.
This after 2-3 years of steadily worsening mental health, with her acting out more and more drastically
to a degree making us parents really worried.
Finally she scared me and her mother Karin almost to death by one morning, the 24:th of September 2014,
not turning up in school, but instead stepping down in the dark and cold waters of Gothenburg's harbour,
which we got informed about at work by phonecalls from class mates, who were really worried after recieving MMS messages
with pictures of the water surface and intentions from Lisa.

One hour later we sat at the hospital emergency with an indeed hypothermic, but thank God ALIVE Lisa.

That was, besides a brutal eye-opener for us,  the abrupt start of an investigation at the regional psyciatrical
clinic for children and youngsters in Gothenburg.

The diagnosis was put the 24:th of March, and as you would expect we are now in a phase of retrospective and re-evaluation
of Lisas and our lives so far.
What Lisa herself desire the most, is to get in contact with people with the same diagnosis and who are in a similar situation as she is, to be able to share
thoughts and her own experiences with someone who really can relate to them. She feels terribly alone , misfit and outside the social context of her class mates.
Of course that is a fact that is very hard to bear also for us parents. It does not seem that the health care here in Gothenburg have summoned such local groups, or can
assist in helping her getting the desired contacts elsewere.

Do you have any ideas? Getting in contact with such groups in the US or other places would these days not be a problem over internet, if we just knew them and knew how to find them.


Ok. Here's the challenge I am facing every day with my 12yr old, Aspie. The problem is, he just doesn't know when to stop! I will give you an example. It is a really hot day, so he starts squirting me with a water spray in a bottle with guests at the table. After a few squirts, I tell him he has done a great job, that I feel much cooler and now he needs to stop, but he carries on and carries on, laughing away until I am drenched!

Another example, playing with his brothers in the pool, he starts becoming too physical and they say stop and it's like you can't get through to him. The more you ask him to stop, the more he carries on. He thinks as long as he is having fun and he is entertained, then the other person is having fun too, even if they are getting mad, screaming, crying....

It can get dangerous. How do make him understand enough is enough. I tried suggesting I rang a bell to signal, he really did have to stop, but that didn't work!

 It happens at school too when he interferes with others and they say "get off", "stop" and he just carries on laughing and doing whatever it is.

I have a 27 year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome. He has recently moved back home after trying to live independently.  He is a gifted artist and dreams of being an animator (the next Walt Disney), however, despite gaining an animation degree he cannot find work or move forward with his life in any way. He is angry, frustrated, depressed and anxious and this leads to meltdowns and family arguments. He has tried working in various roles but it never works out.  He hates having the condition and somehow got through university without anyone knowing. He is one of 5 children and his siblings are also suffering or don’t care for him anymore. I am really the only person he has but I am struggling to cope. His father left when he was 7and although he has helped financially he has not been in his life other than that.  

Family life is not good and as his mother I do not know how to help him.  I feel depressed and helpless myself and have less patience with him and although I know this makes things worse I do not seem to have the capacity anymore to deal with his issues as I am also struggling to cope with my father who has dementia.  My son is getting no help from the medical profession now that he is an adult. 

My 16 year old son was recently diagnosed with Aspergers / High functioning ASD. He also struggles with Depression, Anxiety and Self- Harm issues. Up until last year he was a 4.0 student, then he got very depressed and spiraled down quickly. He's been depressed off and on for years, but would never open up about it. We tried several therapists. I'm interested in the parent support group.  Do you know if there is a teen support group online as well?  He does much better communicating inline or via text than by telephone or in person.
Thank you,


My name is Melinda. My 15 year old son has a diagnosis of Asperger's, ADHD, adjustment disorder with anxiety.
My Husbands ex-wife has filed charges against my son that he is a danger to her children also accused inappropriate behaviors which from what we understand are lies. My son is currently on house arrest ordered by the judge until my son can receive testing. I need help knowing what to do to ensure fair handling of this case as well as support for us as a family.
Any advice or recourses welcome?
Thank you!


Dear Mr. Hutton,

I was interested in you're book about teaching social skills and emotions. We have  2 young children my son is 5 with Autism and I think on his way to becoming more high functioning he has made tremdous strides, however he still has a long way to go but I believe in him and if he has the right tools and foundations it will help him continue on this path. We also have our 4 year old daughter whom was finally officially diagnosed with ASD - aspergers. It was hard to get her help because she didn't present her symptoms as severe as her brother etc... Is this book something that you think would be helpful for us now at this age and stage. Or do you recommend something else that pertains to the younger children with ASD ASP/high functioning or classic Autism. I am a very proactive person and I believe in treatment and help as early as possible but I'm not sure if they are capable of understanding what I'm trying to teach them yet. Well actually my daughter might? Please any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time I hope to hear from you.


Thank you, Mark! I have been in an on-again, off-again relationship with an HFA man for five years. Off-again because, in spite of agreeing that he is HFA (he has diagnosed himself and will not get screened), I keep expecting him to act as a neurotypical man would do. I have also pressured him to get therapy, but he refuses. I keep trying to leave the relationship, but he is very constant, and steadfastly loves me, although his trust is compromised greatly because I keep running away. Now I feel that I must accept him as he is, and that he will not change. I love him so much -- he is a creative genius, extremely intelligent, funny, and a lot of fun (one on one)--but his negative, critical ways of speaking to me, especially when he is under stress or anxiety, wound me so deeply. Also, stress and anxiety cause him to withdraw sexually, which has been very difficult for me. Your book is already helping me to understand him better. I truly want to help him to feel safe with me again, and to learn to live with our differences. When he feels loved by me, and safe with me, the love he gives to me is unparalleled. It helps me so much to know that you are there.


 I'm writing to you about my 26 yr old son. Diagnosed with, A.D.D. in first grade, then LD in Middle school.
He was never diagnosed with HFA, but tested and suspected of having it.
We moved from MI to FL a year ago and I talked to his previous PHD over the phone and he told me, "He now realizes that my son indeed, should have been diagnosed with Aspergers." He also mentioned that if I take him to get another opinion in FL, that he would back the diagnose up. Well, his insurance ran out last year through his dad. My son and my husband don't think it's necessary to have him diagnosed....or as my husband calls it, labeled. He thinks it would be worse for our son. We do agree that he needs help with social skills and self confident.

Confused and desperate!


Hi Mark-

I'm trying to put together pieces about my wife- she's run away from home again for the 3rd time in a year.  We met in Canada in 2011, married there in 2012, moved back to my home in Texas for work in 2013- she's from PEI, Canada and I grew up in Plano, TX.  Two nights ago after a lengthy email to her family back in Canada, concerned about her- no way to contact her- and letting them know I still was trying to love and help Katherine- but this time I ran to file for divorce, not knowing Katherine may have Aspergers and laid out to her family how concerned I was.  2 hours after sending that email of concern to her family, I receive your welcome newsletter email and another from USAAA in my inbox- addressed to me that I never signed up for.  No actual response from Katherine or any of her family- only these two emails for aspergers newsletters.

From what I understand this is most commonly found in men- diagnosed 4:1
I'm starting to realize I may be married to a beautiful high functioning woman.


My 22-year old grandson stays at home with me, his mother, and 2 siblings in hermit-like fashion, saying that he is waiting for God to tell him what to do with his life. My impression is that he probably is unsure of himself & afraid to look for work. However, when I approach him about doing something constructive with himself (joining Job Corps), he resorts to yelling, name-calling, etc., to get me to back off.  He ends the conversation by saying, "Do what you feel you have to."
My biggest problem is that I feel that I cannot turn him out. He has absolutely no place to go and NO survival skills. He couldn't even succeed at begging on the street corner because he wouldn't look at the cars to see who was offering him food or money! I feel that turning him out would be equivalent to turning out a young adult with Down's Syndrome, and I truly don't know what to do.
Thanks for any help you can provide.

Mr. Hutten,

I am a teenager with Asperger’s, and I need some help. Even when a situation is minor, I get upset, make a noise reminiscent of a seagull, and end up whining! And it is getting on my nerves! Counselling has never worked, nor my relatives, or a local specialist… It seems after I break the meltdown, I think of myself as a pathetic failure. And I have but 7 or so real friends. Everybody else makes me think they’re my friend, but in reality, they are repulsed by me, most likely due to my meltdowns, which involve kicking, banging, screaming at the top of my lungs, and making suicide threats. I need to turn my life around this instant!


I came across your page on Facebook and subscribe to your email newsletter.  Thank you for what you do!  I am the parent of a 12 year old (son) who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 6.  He has been treated accordingly with ADHD medications off and on since that time. He has always been a "quirky" kid but the older he gets, the more it seems to me that he should have been diagnosed with Asperger's instead of or in addition to ADHD.  He is not an extremely obvious case, if that makes any sense. Once you spend time with him (more than the 1-2 hours that a typical assessment seems to last), his unusual social behaviors make themselves apparent.  What would be the diagnosis that a child who would have been diagnosed with Asperger's would receive now?  I feel strongly that he has more than ADHD but I am unable to find anyone who will spend enough time with him to get to the bottom of it.  I greatly appreciate your advice!

Hi Mark
My 12yr old aspie's current obsession/passion/ Interest is "Minecraft". He is at his happiest playing this. Should I restrict the amount of time he plays a day or should I not worry if I feel he is still getting lots of exposure to other activities and experiences? I am making sure we have a real routine about turning it off otherwise he has the biggest meltdowns about stopping.


Hi Mark,

I bought Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management ebook a few months ago and have completed reading it. 

My son is now 16 and is diagnosed of having asperger last July. I am a single parent, his father left when my son is 10 months. I need to work and I have a maid in the house to take care of him. We live in HK, a crowded city. He is diagnosed of having ADHD and ODD when he was 8. He took Retalin for about 4 years, and after discussion with the doctor, he stopped already. 

He started to avoid leaving the house since late of last year. He said to me he hates human being and hates living in the world. He studies in a middle school near the house and he walks to school every day. Apart from attending school and going to some tutorial class, he is very reluctant to go out. 

We lunched every Sunday in the past with my mother and my sister. Starting late of last year, he said he hates seeing my sister (because she turned long face before him once before). Starting this Mar, he said he hates seeing my mother also as she is always nagging and he regards old people as worthless. Last Sunday I successfully convinced him to go out for lunch with me in Tsim Sha Tsui, a popular place full of people. He again showed a lot of anxiety. When we walked in the street, he hid behind me expressing that he felt painful when seeing a lot of people. He opened an umbrella so that he can cover the sight of seeing people. When we are inside the MTR, he said he felt dizzy and painful. He then said to me he will never go to crowded areas and will only lunch in our living place without the need of taking any transportation vehicles. In fact in the past 3 months, I cannot convinced him to go out for lunch. Every time he will change his mind and refuses to go out in the last moment. I then bought take-away back home for him. 

Can you advise how to handle such situation? in the past few years, whenever I go into his bedroom (as our house is small, and my clothing and skin care are in his room), he is very angry saying I am intruding his privacy. He spoke a lot of foul language upon me and always forces me out of his room. He also has violence. He will use violence to force me to give him mobile or computer to play. He could play over 10 hours a day in computer games or Japanese animation videos. His English and Chinese are very poor. He has never passed his Chinese exam in the past. But his Maths and Physics are very good. I always remind him that he needs to spend more time  in language study and that will trigger his anger easily. He needs to sit for the public exam in less than 2 year time. That public exam will determine whether he can get into the university. He seems very much wanting to go to u, but he cannot have the will power to study. I am afraid of he cannot survive and could not find a job. Going into the university is somehow to buy time or defer him to enter into the society so early. 

In addition, he will use violence to force me to buy different junk food for him if I am reluctant to do so. He eats a lot of chocolates, potato chips and ice-cream. If I don't buy for him, he will squeeze my neck, or push me to corner, or blocking the way that I cannot move. 

I don't know how to handle him and . Can you give me some advice?


My son has a passion for filmmaking and is making fan music videos on YouTube as well as stop-motion animated short films for which he has a true gift, but I cannot get him to go to College and apply himself to grow that gift into a career. He plays video games when he isn't working on a new video of his own and he tells me he cannot work outside the home. He literally gets panic attacks during job interviews and they are real panic attacks, not fake!  I wonder if your book can still help him? He does also suffer from PTSD and ADD.  

I have been able to get him to establish and maintain good credit, set up a checking account and he has his driver's license and has had it since he was 16 and has driven accident and ticket free all these years. For those accomplishments I am very proud of him, but it is time to date, get a job and/or go to college.  With his multiple issues, I was just wondering if you believe that you can still assist him? Could you please let me know?


Hello Mark,

My name is Burt I am 35 years old recently diognosed with Asbergers.  I now realize why I have never really fit in with people and have had very few friends all my life.  Could you help me to understand the symptoms of Asbergers?  I have been told that there are several ways to pick up on body language.  Several ways to pick up when females feel uncontfortable as well as, in relationships and building communication.  These are things in which I have suffered from all my life from grade school tell now.  

My parents and my family do not understand ASBERGERS.  My peirs as well as my friends whom come into my life.  

I have pursered many relationships in my lifetime and have not been successful due to some of the symptoms which of ASBERGERS.  Which I am not aware of the symptoms and things that I do that are the diognoses of ASBERGERS.  I do not know when they are effecting me.  

I do not want to use ASBERGERS as a crutch to go on with my life.  I do want to understand how to avoid the symptoms and to be able to recognize when a symptom is accuring. This is a major problem in my life.  Mostly with communication and understanding body language.  I am very active in my community but, have made very few friends which I communicate with on a regular basis.  Now I understand why.  They may have felt uncontfortable and they did not tell me.   These are things I do not pick up on.  

Can you possibly give me the tools to understand better.

Thank you for all your help.  

I found your information from a facebook blog on those suffering with ASBERGERS.

Hi. I have some questions about Pathological Avoidance Syndrome. Is Pathological Avoidance Syndrome considered a disability? Is Pathological Avoidance Syndrome the same thing as autism, high functioning autism, mild autism or Asperger's Syndrome? What specifically is Pathological Avoidance Syndrome? Would a highly intelligent person who doesn't have the social problems people with Asperger's have, doesn't have a lot of intense interests, doesn't talk obsessively about things like french revolution, music, astronomy, etc, spins objects a lot, is obsessed with people and often asks a lot of questions about people, prefers simple friendships over complex friendships, likes to spend a lot of time alone, etc be classified as having Pathological Avoidance Syndrome? Take care.


Hi, God bless you, Mark: 

I live in El Paso, TX and he my son is in college in Rochester, NY.  He only had 2 classes to go to finish his Computer Science degree, but got suspended for 1 year for making less that a 1 point GPA. I am stuck making 500.00 payments to my credit card when I charged 3000.00 for those last 2 classes that he failed.

I told him he needs to come home because I am going to sublet the apartment to someone else since he is no longer in school or working.

He is embedded in that apartment and refuses to move.  He must think that if he ignores me, then I will just keep sending money up there.  I am on a teacher's salary and this expense is breaking me.  I would like to retire, but I am concerned that I would not make it financially. 

I am sending him about 1600.00 a month for room, board, auto and health insurance.  He has been in college for about 10 years, but I have been paying out-the-nose for 6 years, since he started attending out of state.

Maybe he is "playing his cards" because he knows that I will not legally break the lease, thus allowing him to stay there.  The rent is 650.00.

He says that he is sick and cannot work or go to school, but I think he has hypochondria.  As much as he chases diagnosis and visits doctors, he still to this day has not gotten a diagnosis.

I posted the apartment on several sites and people are calling me because they are interested in it, but my son will not answer his Google-Voice so he can show it to them.  Management will not get involved. He is the only one who can help me sublet, since I do not live there. He will not return my calls.

The only other way I can "flush him out" is stop sending him food money at all, but then, he will not have money to eat.

I would appreciate help.  I need MAJOR intervention, but he is (effectively) ignoring me now from 2,000 miles away.

I tried to get counseling, but all they ineffectually said was, "What do you need to do for yourself?"



My wife and I are SEN teachers and parents of a twenty four year old male adult, who has though undiagnosed has definite traits of asperger's Syndrome (he has actually been diagnosed with social communication difficulties and dyspraxia). Eight months ago he came back home after living in a shared house with friends. Though we love him very much, we are finding living at home with him to be intolerable on days and would appreciate help as to what do do next. My main question is would you be able to help us, despite the fact that we live in the UK?

Best wishes


Hi Mark,
Do you have any suggestions for helping my 14 year old son to be ready on time without forgetting anything?  We have tried getting him to bed earlier, adding extra getting ready time to his schedule, packing things up for school/sports the night before, laying his clothing out ahead of time, etc, making lists of what he needs for the day so he is prepared.  He gets so annoyed if we keep on him in the mornings that we are all tense by the time we get into the car.  What can we do to have a peaceful morning and not be rushed or late?  He tends to function only on sloth mode and can't seem to pick up the pace at all.  Do you have any ideas?
Thank you,


 Hi Mark,Would the strategies offered in this ebook be relevant to a 12 year old, without Aspergers? I am noticing that though my daughter is bright, outgoing, full of laughter, very affectinate... she is very clueless to social cues and any non-verbal communication of others. She just seems to be oblivious. I have quietly pointed a few things out after awkward situations I've witnessed, because I feel like if she doesn't see it, how can she learn unless I tell her? But she just gets exasperated and says I'm picking on her. I do not intend to frustrate or embarrass her, but what else am I to do?



I am a big fan of your blog and have been a reader for quite a while. Are you currently accepting guest posts? If so, I would be happy to write one for you want - The choice is yours! (The only thing I ask for in return is just one or two do-follow links back to my website.) I am professional writer with a lot of blogging experience, so you can count on me to produce quality content. As soon as you reply with a topic, I will get started right away.

I saw that you featured some guest posts in the past and I thought the piece was an excellent fit for your site and your readers. Let me know if you’d be interested in reading and possibly hosting and article, I’m excited about the possibility of working with you. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

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