Capitalizing on the Strengths of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Oftentimes, the focus is on the deficits of a youngster with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), which is common due to the child’s communication difficulties, learning disabilities, poor social skills, and/or tendency to experience meltdowns and tantrums.

Years of corrective measures are often spent trying to fix the child’s deficits, rather than capitalizing on his assets. For example, if he has poor handwriting skills, hours are spent teaching that youngster using methods that didn't work in the first place, which often results in behavior problems. A youngster who is acting-out is a youngster who is frustrated over failure or perceived failure.  If he can’t learn the way he is taught, he may as well be in a foreign language class.

Behavior problems can get in the way of teaching to a youngster's assets.  Discipline may reduce or eliminate problematic behavior temporarily, but does not provide stepping stones to more appropriate behavior. Usually there are triggers for behaviors that, when identified and eliminated, result in a dramatic reduction of problematic behaviors. Focusing and building on the youngster's assets usually leads to a reduction in classroom-related problems as well.

A youngster on the autism spectrum already knows that he is different. It is up to educators to teach this child that different is not bad, and that each of us has special talents. Educators can help this process along by showcasing the youngster's assets and special interests. All children have assets, but sometimes they're not obvious. Thus, educators must “hunt down” those strong points and build on them. Every youngster must feel he is making a contribution to his environment. Every youngster must feel important – and must taste success.

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

If the AS or HFA youngster does not have obvious areas of strength, educators should explore every possibility, be it in sports, solving puzzles, photography, mechanical inclinations, collecting insects, the arts – anything of interest that is creative and stimulating for the child.  When the focus is on the child’s “special interests” and areas of strength, the process of building self-confidence and self-reliance begins as well. Of course, parents need to be on board with the business of focusing on strength as well. It is crucial to have a concerted effort both at school and at home, with clear communication between the teacher and parent.

Specific methods for assisting with special needs and capitalizing on strengths:

1. The AS or HFA child should have a special job at school in an area related to her interests and needs. It can be something such as assisting with a classroom chore, feeding the fish in the fish tank, helping the teacher with passing out lesson material – anything that is a regular job. This job does not need to be time consuming. Five to ten minutes a day will work. Accommodating this need takes creativity and ingenuity, but it's crucial. 

Unfortunately, the youngster with a “disorder” that impacts social skills and behavior is often the last youngster picked to assist with different classroom tasks. But, it's one of the single most effective methods to help the AS or HFA youngster gain self-confidence, and should be included as a “need” – not a reward! All “special needs” children need to feel they are making a contribution to their environment. They feel important when they are singled out for a special responsibility, even if it is only for five minutes a day. When these young people feel recognized and valued for their contribution, problematic behaviors often diminish or disappear. They walk taller, gain self-confidence, and have a more positive outlook.

2. The AS or HFA student needs structure and routine in order to function. Thus, try to keep his world as predictable as possible. If there will be any significant change in the youngster's classroom or routine, it is advisable to notify parents as far in advance as possible so that everyone can work together in preparing the child for it.

3. Often times, the AS or HFA youngster who is easily distractible in the classroom shows significant improvement when work is accomplished on a computer. Many kids on the autism spectrum tend to lose their thoughts somewhere between brain and pencil, but are great writers when using a computer. Since these children tend to be visual thinkers/learners, there is an instant connection between brain and screen. Through bypassing faulty circuitry that gets in the way of genuine learning, problem solving and organizational skills often show remarkable improvement. The focus can then shift from the writing deficits to the content assets.

4. Kids on the autism spectrum tend to be reclusive; therefore, teachers should foster involvement with others. Encourage active socialization, and limit time spent in isolated pursuit of interests (e.g., the teacher's aide seated at the lunch table could actively encourage the youngster to participate in the conversation of his peers, not only by soliciting his opinions and asking him questions, but also by subtly reinforcing other students who do the same).

5. Always remember that the AS or HFA youngster's difficulty with social cues, nonverbal communication, figurative language and eye contact are part of her neurological makeup. She is not being deliberately rude or disrespectful.

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

6. Take the example of an AS or HFA child who is struggling with spelling, sometimes spending as much as 2 hours a night trying to learn a list of 15 to 20 words. In this case, a great modification would be to cut the list in half. Alternatively, the teacher may want to consider allowing that youngster to spend spelling time on the computer. With the use of word processors and spell checkers to offset spelling and organizational difficulties, many of these “special needs” students suddenly blossom into creative writers.

7. Remember that the AS or HFA youngster is an individual, not a diagnosis. Teachers should always be alert and receptive to the things that make her unique and special.

8. Although they lack personal understanding of the emotions of others, kids on the spectrum can learn the correct way to respond. When they have been unintentionally insulting, tactless or insensitive, it must be explained to them why the response was inappropriate – and what response would have been correct. They must learn social skills intellectually, because they lack social instinct and intuition.

9. Perhaps the youngster understands math concepts, but has difficulty performing the actual calculations on paper. A calculator is a great tool for such a youngster. Sometimes teachers insist that their students have to first learn math the "old fashioned way." However, if the child can't perform very basic math calculations by the 5th or 6th grade, it will probably always be difficult. It would be best to start early to help the AS or HFA child who has difficulty with math to progress rapidly with the concepts by using a calculator.

10. Kids on the spectrum have eccentric preoccupations, or odd, intense fixations (e.g., sometimes obsessively collecting unusual things). They tend to (a) relentlessly "lecture" on areas of interest, (b) ask repetitive questions about interests, (c) have trouble letting go of ideas, (d) follow their own inclinations regardless of external demands, and (e) sometimes refuse to learn about anything outside their limited field of interest. In these cases, teachers can use the youngster's fixation as a way to broaden her repertoire of interests. A case in point: During a unit on rain forests, one AS student who was obsessed with animals was led to not only study rain forest animals, but to also study the forest itself since this was the animals’ home. He was then motivated to learn about the local people who were forced to chop down the animals’ forest habitat in order to survive.

Children with AS and HFA are unique, and they can affect the learning environment in both positive and negative ways. In the classroom, these students can present a challenge for the most experienced teacher. They can also contribute much to the classroom, because they can be extremely creative and see things and execute various tasks in different ways. These “special needs” children may come from different family backgrounds and leave your classroom for different futures, but they spend a significant portion of their young lives with you right now. Next to the parents, you have the greatest opportunity and the power to positively influence their lives.

Struggling with your "special needs" student? Click here  for highly effective teaching strategies specific to the Asperger's and HFA condition. 

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


Teaching Impulse-Control to Children on the Autism Spectrum

"How can I teach my child to not be so impulsive, that is, acting/saying things without thinking?"

Have you ever witnessed a youngster who doesn’t seem to know how to wait his or her turn, refuses to share, grabs objects out in public even after being told not to touch, has a meltdown in the middle of a crowded store, or constantly dominates a conversation?

Impulse-control is one of the most important skills that moms and dads can teach their children, because it is exceedingly important for success later in life. By learning impulse-control, children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can make appropriate decisions and respond to stressful situations in ways that can yield positive outcomes.

Parents can indeed teach impulse-control, but they need to understand that this skill is learned through a lot of discovery and repetition, not through reprimands and discipline – and this discovery and repetition happens slowly throughout childhood. Parents can’t teach self-control with a one-time lecture, rather they have to do one teachable moment, one situation at a time.  

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

Below are 16 strategies for tackling this challenge:

1. Allow “do-overs.” AS and HFA kids learn from experience far more than they learn from words. The best way to increase their learning is through repetition. After parents have completed any instructive corrections, they should give their youngster a chance to try again. This serves as a punctuation point on the lesson.

2. Demonstrate frustration-management skills. Low frustration-tolerance can be a big factor in impulse-control. Teach your “special needs” youngster how to manage her frustration so she can calm herself down when she’s upset. Time-outs are be a great way for children to learn how to calm themselves down. Your child will be less likely to act-out or seek revenge when she has a better understanding of how to manage her frustration.

3. Focusing on what your youngster did wrong is only half the equation. Parents need to tell their youngster what they want her to do instead. For example, say something such as, “You’re not permitted to hog the video game when you have your friends over. Think of three things you can do while your guests play so you’re able to share.”

4. Impart listening skills. Oftentimes, a child will behave impulsively because he doesn’t listen to the directions. Before parents have finished their sentence, the child is up and moving without really hearing what they said. Teach your youngster to listen to the directions first by having him repeat back what he has heard before he takes action.

5. Model good impulse-control yourself. If you're in an aggravating situation in front of your child, tell him why you're aggravated, and then discuss potential solutions to the problem. For example, if you've misplaced your cell phone, instead of allowing yourself to get agitated, tell your child it is missing and then search for it together. If your phone doesn't turn up, take the next practical step (e.g., retracing your steps when you last had your phone in-hand, calling your phone from a different phone, etc.). Show that good emotional control and problem solving are the ways to deal with challenging circumstances.

6. One of the hardest skills for an AS or HFA youngster who has attention deficits is to learn to wait.
"Wait" Icon
"Reward" Icon
If he is unable to wait, he will usually act-out his frustration in the form of tantrums and/or meltdowns. Since children on the autism spectrum are visual learners, one of the best ways to teach “waiting” is through the use of visual learning techniques – along with something reinforcing or rewarding to the youngster. Thus, create a “wait picture” along with a picture of the reward. Tell your youngster that you and he are going to practice waiting (e.g., 5 minutes sitting quietly on the coach), and then he can have his reward (e.g., an additional 10 minutes of “computer game” time).  Praise your youngster for good behavior during this waiting time.  If he has difficulty demonstrating good behavior, try again for a shorter period until you have success (e.g., 3 minutes).  Then, in subsequent practice sessions, gradually extend the time your youngster has to wait for the reward (usually no more than 15 minutes, though).

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

Another way to help an AS or HFA youngster learn to wait is to teach her time-telling skills.  To some kids, the words "five minutes" mean nothing because they don't know how long that is.  Some kids do well with digital clocks.  There is also a cool device called a "time timer," which shows the amount of time passing as well as providing an audible sound when the time is up.

7. Play impulse-control games. Play games that provide your youngster with a fun way to practice impulse-control. Games like Follow the Leader, Red Light Green Light, and Simon Says require impulse-control (playing memory games can improve impulse-control as well).

8. Promote physical exercise. When a child is physically active, she has a better chance at managing her impulses. When she is a bundle of energy, she is more likely to act without thinking.

9. Provide structure and routine. Providing structure can help parents keep their discipline consistent. When a child knows what to expect, there is less confusion and less opportunity for impulsivity. Repeat the rules and set clear limits often.

10. Repeat yourself as often as needed when giving instructive corrections. The key to curbing impulsive behavior is to teach your youngster how to think BEFORE he acts, and that requires repetition of your lessons.

11. Talk to your child about emotions. When “special needs” children develop an understanding of the difference between emotions and behaviors, it can help them control their impulses. For example, a youngster who understands that it is alright to feel angry – but not okay to push someone – can see that she has choices about how to deal with her feelings without reacting impulsively.

12. Teach problem-solving skills. When an AS or HFA youngster learns problem-solving skills, he will learn how to think before he acts. Thus, teach your youngster how to develop several solutions to a problem, and then analyze which one is likely to have the best outcome. For example, instead of instinctively pushing a classmate who cuts in front of him in line, he can problem-solve several different ideas of how to respond.

13. Teaching “cooperative games” (i.e., where players work together toward a common goal) also teaches impulse-control (e.g., doing puzzles together while taking turns adding pieces). Parents can share tasks as well (e.g., watering the plants together, unpacking the shopping bags, etc.). In addition, parents can give their child things to share with her friends on occasion (e.g., a special snack, a roll of stickers, etc.). To encourage sharing, use positive reinforcement rather than punishment. But, remember that it's reasonable for your youngster to hold back certain items; she shouldn’t have to share everything. As she matures, she will learn that sharing with her playmates (who are becoming increasingly important to her) is more satisfying than keeping things to herself.

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

14. Teaching an AS or HFA youngster how to play independently will also help her to develop impulse-control.  There are many times when parents can’t provide one-on-one attention to their youngster (e.g., when preparing meals, doing chores, talking on the phone, etc.).  It is usually during these times that behavior problems are witnessed, because the youngster is having difficulty waiting for undivided attention.  Thus, create an “activity menu” to help your youngster during these times. Take some pictures of activities that she has been seen to do independently.  Have a selection of these pictures for her to choose from during those times when you need her to play without your assistance.  Make sure that all the materials for the activities are easily available.  Set a timer for how long you want your child to engage in the activity – and every few minutes (5 - 10), praise her for playing independently.

15. To an AS or HFA child, impulses can feel like they have overtaken her, bypassing any logical thinking, causing her to disregard what she knows she should do. In order to help the youngster learn about impulse-control, parents need to break down that process for the child, helping her to become aware of her impulses before they lead her to a bad choice. Look for – and make note of – your child’s “impulsivity-triggers” (i.e., things that immediately precede her impulsive behaviors), and share your observations with her.

16. When giving instructive corrections, don’t preach. AS and HFA kids need time to process and integrate information. When parents lecture, their youngster becomes overwhelmed with too much information and melts down – or shuts down – and stops listening. Instead, be brief, using short statements and instructive action. 

Many behavior problems center around children struggling to manage their impulses. Aggression, parent-child conflict, disrespect, and oppositional behavior can often be decreased by teaching impulse-control techniques.  AS and HFA kids are not always able to express themselves calmly and in words. Frustration with people, things or circumstances occurs frequently – especially before they have the vocabulary to talk things out. But, there are many ways to teach your youngster how to express thoughts and feelings in a more constructive way. The techniques you choose will depend on his or her age and developmental readiness.

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


50 Positive Traits of High-Functioning Autism

People with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome do have some challenges -- for sure! But their strengths far outweigh their weaknesses. Watch this video!


Back-to-School “Quick Tip Sheet” for Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum

Parents of kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have a bigger influence than anyone else on how their children make it through the new school year. Be part of the solution with effective methods that will make this the best school year ever – by participating, organizing, advocating, and any other means necessary.

Here are 10 ways to help your “special needs” child cope with his or her return to school:

1. Adopt the mind-set of “change the environment.” For example, if the educator regularly complains about your youngster's lack of desk-sitting etiquette, save the day with ideas for managing movement, reducing sensory overload, and increasing comfort. Click here for more information on creating an effective learning environment.

2. A “fine motor skill” is the coordination of small muscle movements, usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers with the eyes. Many AS and HFA children have fine motor skills deficits. Therefore, finding the best writing instrument can make a significant improvement in the quality of their written work – and their classroom behavior. Don't just throw a random box of #2s into your cart and hope for the best. Rather, see if your youngster can benefit from a more specialized approach. Click here for more information on fine motor skills deficits.

3. Create a “contact log.” Getting what your AS or HFA youngster needs from school staff is much easier when you can quote the date you were promised something (e.g., an IEP meeting), when it was promised to occur, and who promised it to you. Instead of leaving all this information to your overworked memory bank, jot it down in a contact log.

4. Keeping your spirits up will be difficult when you're battling educators who don’t understand autism spectrum disorders, dreading report cards, and struggling over homework. But, maintaining a positive “can-do” attitude WILL put your youngster on the road to academic success. When you show your child that you have faith in him, he will begin to have faith in himself. Click here for more information on homework-related issues.

5. Parents of “special needs” students need to learn about the differences between a 504 plan under the Americans with Disabilities Act and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Click here for more information on IEPs.

6. Organization is a common problem for many kids on the autism spectrum. Disorganization often results in missed assignments and tests, not having the correct books for homework, etc. Talk with your youngster and get her input on where she needs the most help. Then, the two of you make a plan. When making this plan, consider the following: how homework be communicated (e.g., written down or dictated); if color-coding books by subject would help; what type of binder or folder will be used for loose papers; what type of school bag will work best; what your youngster’s new timetable will be at home and school; whether or not having two sets of school books/tools would be helpful; and if a calendar or diary will be helpful. Click here for more information on organization skills.

7. You are the expert on your child. A simple way to share your knowledge with school staff is by preparing a summary of information on your youngster. The summary should include the following: calming methods, emergency contact numbers, medications, strategies that don’t work, strategies that do work, strengths, and weaknesses. Keep your summary short, and format it so that it is easy to read. Give copies to all school staff who will have interactions with your youngster. Click here for a fact sheet (email or hand-deliver a hardcopy) that provides a short description of AS and HFA – and associated behaviors.

8. Parents are the best advocates for their AS or HFA youngster, because they know their youngster best. However, they can’t be an effective advocate if they don’t have a good working relationship with the individuals involved in their kid’s education. How can moms and dads foster a working relationship with their youngster’s educators, aides, and other school staff in the new school year? Get involved in any parent/teacher organizations. Make and maintain contact with your youngster’s educators before any issues arise. Thank your youngster’s educators when they make a special effort for your youngster. Also, volunteer to help in your youngster’s classrooms, schools, or on field trips. Click here for more information on advocacy.

9. Your youngster doesn't just sit at her desk all day. There are other, less-structured moments that can act like stumbling blocks on the road to academic success. So, stay informed on what your youngster goes through as the school day progresses (e.g., on the bus, at recess, lunch, gym, in the restroom, etc.), and know how intervene.

10. When the parent is standing up for her youngster's rights, it's important to have a good command of the bureaucratic language – especially when the parent is involved with individuals who throw out lots of elaborate terms to let her know they know more than she does. Thus, learn a few IEP acronyms with a cheat sheet (one is provided below).

Cheat Sheet—

Here are the key terms parents will see and hear as they work with the IEP team: 
  • Transition plan: This part of the IEP is for older students and lays out what your adolescent must learn and do in high school in order to succeed as an adult. He and the IEP team develop the plan together before it takes affect at age 16. The transition plan includes goals and activities that are academic and functional, but they extend beyond school to practical job training and life skills.
  • Special education: This is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of your youngster. It should be designed to give her access to the general education curriculum. 
  • Related services: This includes any support services your youngster needs to benefit from special education (e.g., transportation, occupational therapy).
  • Present levels of performance (PLOP): This is a snapshot of how your youngster is doing currently. PLOP describes your youngster’s academic skills (e.g., reading level) and functional skills (e.g., making conversation, writing). The school prepares this report for the IEP meeting. This is the starting point for setting annual IEP goals.
  • Accommodation: This is a change to (or in) your youngster’s learning environment. Accommodations can help him learn and then show what he’s learned without having his deficits get in the way (e.g., if your youngster takes longer to answer questions, he can be given extra time to take a test). Even with accommodations, “special needs” children are expected to learn the same content as their classmates.
  • Standards-based IEP: This alternative to the traditional IEP is only used in some states. A standards-based IEP measures a child’s academic performance against what the state expects of other children in the same grade.
  • Due process: This is a formal process for resolving disputes with a school about special education and IEPs. Other ways to resolve a dispute include mediation and filing a state complaint.
  • Annual goals: The IEP document lists the academic and functional skills the IEP team thinks your youngster can achieve by the end of the year. These goals are geared toward helping her take part in the general education classroom. 
  • Parent report: This is a letter that parents write. It’s a good way for them to document their youngster’s strengths, challenges, and success at school, home, and in the community. By sharing the report with the IEP team, parents give the team a more complete view of the youngster.
  • Modification: A modification is a change in what the child is expected to learn and demonstrate (e.g., the educator may ask the class to write an essay that explores five major battles during a war, but the “special needs” youngster with a modification may only be asked to write about the basic facts of those battles). 
  • Least restrictive environment: Children with documented disabilities must be taught in the least restrictive environment (i.e., they must be taught in the same setting as children without documented disabilities as much as possible). The school must offer services and supports to help the youngster with an IEP succeed in a general education classroom.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): IDEA is a federal law that guarantees all kids with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education.
  • General education curriculum: This is the knowledge and skills that all children throughout a state are expected to master (curriculum varies from state to state).
  • Supplementary aids and services: These are supports to help your youngster learn in the general education classroom (e.g., special equipment, assistive technology, audiobooks, highlighted classroom notes, etc.).
  • Extended school year services (ESY): Some children receive special education services outside of the regular school year (e.g., during the summer, during Christmas break).
  • Disability: To qualify for an IEP, your youngster must have a disability that is one of the 13 categories listed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Learning and attention issues usually fit into one of three categories: specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, and other health impairment (e.g., ADHD).
  • Behavior intervention plan (BIP): This is a plan designed to teach and reward positive behavior. The plan usually uses techniques to prevent and stop problematic behaviors. It can also have supports and aids for your youngster. To get a BIP, your youngster must have a functional behavioral assessment (FBA).
  • Progress reporting: This refers to how the school will report to parents on their youngster’s progress on annual goals. 
  • Assistive technology (AT): This includes any device, equipment or software that helps the youngster work around his deficits. AT can help the youngster learn, communicate, and function better in school (e.g., apps that read text aloud).

Starting school is usually a difficult time for kids on the autism spectrum. Every youngster is hesitant to go somewhere new and see a bunch of strangers she has never met before. Moving up a grade means having a new teacher, facing more academic demands, and adjusting to a changing social circle. Children who are starting school for the first time or moving to a new school have to cope with an even bigger adjustment. The good news is that with a little bit of preparation, parents can make those first weeks of school easier for their AS and HFA children.

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 Aug., 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.


I have just listened to you program and now am more able to be more specific!!!  Seriously I have seen 5 psychiatrists, behavioural peds, many psychologists and now 2 specialist psychologists in OCD and Mark, your program is the only one that is practical!  I have been to the “best” specialists in my state and no real progress has been made.  In fact the last person told me this was as good as it was going to get and to just get use to being his carer!!!!!


Dear Mark

Thank you for your email. I am running a small parent support group in
Grahamstown, South Africa and have encouraged the parents to sign up for
your newsletter too. It comes highly recommended. Keep up the great work!

Kind regards,

Amanda Edwards

Speech, Language & Hearing Therapist


Dear Mark,
   I am a pediatrician in Manassas Virginia and have a daughter with ADHD and ODD. I was shown one of your ads by my office administrator who told me that your emails are wonderful and insightful. Hope to learn a lot from you.   Thank you so much.    David Katz M.D.


I have a 16 year old teen that asked to move a month ago but now he is refusing to go. He has called me horrible names and said if I make he go he will raise hell with me everyday. He is already in the system. We have to move. I already have us a place. It's in another state. He thinks he can go to the judge in sue me for the rights of him. I need to know if I go to speak the the courts or is there something else I can do?


Our very bright aspie daughter pretty much has a stranglehold on our family. She is like Jekyll and Hyde, so sometimes she will happily comply, and other times, she is completely defiant. I believe most of her defiance is due to her electronics addiction. Any attempts to set limits or give consequences involving her computer or Nintendo DS (no matter how calm we are) results in her raging, self-harm, aggression, destruction of property, and attempts to kill herself. Tonight after I turned off our internet (with a 5-minute warning and clearly stating the consequence) because she made the choice not to stop playing on her computer to take a bath, she went berserk. First came the attempts to break things (our picture of her on the wall), then trying to hit my husband (he had to restrain her), then she was crying hysterically and went inside our furnace room where we keep our vacuum, and she was trying to choke herself with our vacuum cleaner tube. We have dealt with this type of behavior and worse over the past 2+ years. She does the same types of things if we try to send her to school, plus her defiance level goes through the roof, so I am home schooling her. This type of behavior seems to be more of a panic response from her. She can't handle the thought of anyone "controlling" her. If you've ever heard of "Pathological Demand Avoidance," a subset of autism they've identified in the UK, she fits this description very well. (http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/introduction/what-is-pathological-demand-avoidance.aspx) Any advice would be much appreciated. She has been diagnosed with depression in addition to the Asperger's.


Hello. My name is Tanya and my husband, Michael, and I have a 13 year old son who has Asperger's, SPD and I'm suspicious of ODD.
He wasn't diagnosed until he was 9. 
Its really odd that even at the early age of 2 he was non tolerant of negativity of any kind. If someone on TV raised their voice he'd say "Change it!" and sometimes strike the TV. Yet we've noticed in him a bad temper. He doesn't like loud noises but as a small child he could curdle milk ... while it was still in the cow!
His biggest problem is approaching us and waiting for his turn to talk. If we ask him to wait or interrupt him he flies off. Sometimes he can go for a sit and reel himself in but then there are times that he's just too far gone and he's angry at the situation, he's angry at himself for not coping with it well and then he has a parent, or grandparent, who is after him to "come back here" (because he's walking off and mouthing off too). 
It snowballs VERY quickly and results in angry adults. I try to 'act' not 'react' to him. Not everyone shares that idea, unfortunately.
Recently he was to spend the night at his grandparents' house. They only live 5 acres away and have been a part of his life since birth. I'd love to say that they are on the same page as we are but... that just isn't so.
My son tried to say something to his "Nonnie". Being loud and having a low voice, thanks to puberty he was talking over the TV that my Dad was trying to watch causing my dad to say "Shh. I'm trying to hear this." 
BOOM!  Our son slammed his hand on the counter in anger and then tried to walk off. My dad nabbed him by his arm to "get in his nickers" about it and he pulled away and it all went to hell from there. He started to walk home and repeatedly ignored my Mom's requests to "come back" and made matters worse by swearing at her to "leave him the *f* alone" and the like.
I just don't know if your book can help. Do you think it can?  Like I said, he's 13, Aspie, SPD, he's immature, (like around a 9 year old). He plays so well with little children. He's patient even! Not so much with older kids or kids his own age.  He's homeschooled. I won't lie, he's somewhat protected... okay... A LOT protected by me. I do choose who he spends his time with. He has learned the hard way about "friendships" and the sincerity, or lack thereof, of others. I didn't intervene but had to make him realize that he didn't need to sell himself for someone to play with. Then we had a long talk about quality vs quantity. ;)
He's not typical aspie. He's outgoing, can look you in the eye. He doesn't respect personal space and desires to hug and be close. It can be 'all about him' and therefore hard to interact with multiple children.
He doesn't destroy things and doesn't hurt our animals. And we have plenty of animals. 
He has a conscience. One that digs at him for days. He has a big loving heart and has been that way for as long as I can remember. Even at the age of 2 he understood if my husband or I was sick and would make sure there was water to drink by us and we'd often awaken to little toys that he'd left for us on the bed.
He is definitely HF.  It's the anger thing that worries me most. Combined with his conscience it can be scary.  We are a Christian family and, though far from perfect, we do have a lot of positive influence in our home. Now, he does come by some of that temper honestly. (raises hand slowly)  Yup, yours truly. I've not been the ideal model for self control.  However, I can see where there are things with him that aren't typical triggers or stressors to others.
Anyway, I wanted to give you a little insight, not a flippin book! LOL (sorry 'bout that)  I know there are answers, techniques and therapies.  I want to do what I can for him. He did OT for a couple of years about once a week. The anger thing has been dealt with to some degree but the cognitive grasp doesn't seem to be enough! I even have been buying the "model me" videos. And while he finds them "corny" he thinks on them and has even said to me, "You know... as corny as it is that video made a point." (score one for mom!!!) 
Any advice you have to offer will be appreciated and if you see our son in you writings then by all means TELL ME! and I'll buy it.  But I want to take an active, hands on approach with him. There has to be exercises we can do to really write this on his brain and heart.
If you've gotten this far.... bless you!  And thanks for your time. Time is precious and so very limited.


God bless you, Mark. I sublet the apartment right out from under him. He tried every trick in the book to try to stay. I told him that if he could pay for it, he could have it, but since he has not been working, he was not able to come up with the money. I worry that he may be homeless. He packed up his Subaru with his stuff, and said for me not to worry about him anymore, that he would find a place to stay. I am still going to send money to his bank for groceries , health and car insurance for a limited time, until he gets a job.
I (enabled) helped him fix his car (700.00) so he could come home. He is in Rochester, NY, and I am in El Paso, TX. Several people offered him a place to stay. He said he would come home. Then, he changed his mind and chose to stay there, and look for work. He is a highly trained computer scientist, although he got suspended from college with 2 classes to go for having a low GPA.
So, I don't know where he is, or what he is doing. His neurologist used to say that he was her most goal-oriented Asperger's patient she had. I hope he shines.
So, I sit here thinking about the prodigal son, and how hard it must have been on the father!


I'm wondering why my HFA son struggles with being stubborn and often holds a grudge. Why is it kids on the spectrum often can't let go, when someone has "wronged" them? My teenage son gets so angry and frustrated whenever things aren't 'perfect' or don't go his way. Right now, he won't speak to his father, and it's been three weeks. His father tried to apologize, for throwing out a toy, without telling my son, and his dad has HFA, so he  has difficulty with this sort of communication. Is there anything a parent can do to help?


Dear Mark,
I have been with my boyfriend, Charles, for seven and a half years. he is 64, I am 50, I have a son who is eleven. We have been living together for three years. Shortly after beginning to live together (or maybe shortly before) we learned about Aspberger's. For me, the Aspberger framework fit the way Charles acted very well. He got a book about it and related and I thought it would give us a framework from within which to change our relationship. However, he rapidly decided he did not have Aspberger's and that my criticisms of and demands on him were his problem. I felt I had nowhere to stand and did my best with other strategies, trying to pretend that wasn't the problem, but none of it has worked. I feel alone and misunderstood. I have done quite a bit of therapy and also have a lot of experience of recovery in the 12 step program Co-dependents Anonymous. My son's father is a recovering addict in NA with twenty years clean. I never felt as alone with him, even in the two years we were togetehr when he still used, as I do with Charles, despite the fact that many aspects of my relationship with Charles are more fulfilling.
Today was the last straw, we had a big fight where I once again felt misunderstood (and I guess he did as well), and my son became afraid. After two years of pretending it isn't the problem, I found myself typing into Google "What if you're in love with someone who has Aspberger's and won't admit it" and after reading an amazing article about couples, and a few other articles, I found your book.
I am going to order it tomorrow (right now I'm on a computer that won't work for the download). I also had been thinking I would ask a friend for a contact of a therapist who does work with Aspberger/addictions and whose native language is English (we live in Spain but I am American and Charles is English), when I saw that you do online skype sessions. Your price is reasonable and from your bio you look like a really nice guy:). Are you open to doing a couple's session if Charles is open to it?


I am trying to find a group either online or in my central VA area for support and sharing.  My daughter is 28 and recently been diagnosed, though I have suspected this for years.  She lives on the other side of the country, and I think I may have "lost" her communication-wise, which for symptomatic reasons is more difficult for me than her.  Thanks.


Dear Mark,

What a blessing to find your site!  I am a pastor's wife in Danville, IL, and I have suspected for some years now that my husband may have a mild form of ASD, as he seems to exhibit only about half of the symptoms. Certainly we have experienced relational issues similar to those experienced by AS/non-AS couples. However, as he has worked in the psychological services field as a Theraputic Support Specialist with children on the autistic spectrum, he believes his issues are not related to AS and that I am being rather obsessive in a quest to find something wrong with him.  We did see a Christian counselor in Minneapolis who is familiar
with ASD (Mary Einarson, Spectrum Counseling); in person for testing and a few times via Skype, but he felt I had unfairly biased her in my previous contacts with her, so he didn't find the counseling helpful, and we discontinued.  (Finances had something to do with it, too.)

I am aware that I have my own issues that challenge our relationship.   These days the Lord is giving me grace to grow in acceptance of him and to do the things that, on my side, will contribute to nurturing our relationship.  I am very thankful for that.  And I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong about ASD. (He is aware of the need for bonding in our relationship and desires interaction with me, which often I don't give him anymore because of frustration and feeling overwhelmed with the talking, and also because of my own bonding issues.  Perhaps if he had ASD he wouldn't desire this?)  It just would be nice to talk to a counselor with understanding of ASD who, while helping me examine some of my issues, could help us identify whether ASD might be a factor in our relationship. And I would like for him to have a fair chance to explain things from his point of view. (Again, I see only about half of the symptoms.  The others don't apply to him.)

Can you tell me a little about your rates - either for in person counseling or for Skype sessions?  Our son is starting college at Taylor University in Upland later this month (I believe the 28th), so we would be in the area briefly.  We serve a struggling congregation, so at this point our income is limited. Do you happen to offer a sliding-scale rate?

Thank you so much for your time. God bless you, Chris



Hi Mark

I have a 22 year old son with ASD and severe anxiety that has developed into serious OCD.  He is quite adamant he doesn’t want to grow up.

Although 22 he has the emotional maturity of a pre-teen,  He doesn’t have any friends, very low self esteem and intellectually has not developed due to the fact of constant anxiety.
I did get him through high school however it was through homeschooling and he had no interest what so ever.  He had numerous breakdowns from age 10 - present.

For the past few years, he has been working a few days a week in our dental lab… he started off well but hates work and making life difficult for the people around him.

He does take medication for anxiety but in the past few months, he has decided he wants to stop it due to side effects such as weight gain and sleeping all day.

So… he is totally and utterly abusive.  He screams us down constantly and plays the OCD card constantly  to his advantage i.e. he fears soap therefore doesn’t wash up or go near the kitchen apart from a small bench where he sits… also he does not wash himself… does this with mentholated spirits and rubbing alcohol.

I am exhausted with fighting with him… I am trying to be very strict with him and consistent setting very strict boundaries… He has picked up a scalpel to cut himself.  One arm has 15 cuts on it when he was asked to pick up paper.  He also picked up a scalpel and cut his leg to get out of training at technical school for lab work.
This week he was so abusive at 5 in the morning because he was told he needed to go to work when he wanted to stay at home to download computer stuff.
We was screaming like an animal at us so we called the police.  He was taken to the emergency department and then took off.

We do the take things away, we do the non-emotional stuff until he just is so abusive and we just lose the plot!  We called the police in.  He feels he has a great sense of entitlement.  He works at our business but that now will stop.  He however due to his ASD can get $790 per fortnight from the government (australia) and so sit around and play games, eat crap if I refuse to buy it and he refuses to eat what I cook.  I have the ability to have this pension paid to me… he signed paper work a number of years ago for this.  So how do we go from here?

We had him at our work because it made him have to get up out of bed and mix with people (he was severely depressed and anxious prior)

Now he is not useful and abusive at work.

Step 1 -  Sack him from work

Step 2 - Continue to take internet privileges

Step 3  ???????

How do we deal the abuse that is going to happen?   As I have explained he uses the OCD card which is real to him but manufactured to keep him in his childhood. 
He laughs at us when we say he can leave….

He is really like a 12 year old!

We are totally exhausted and he is in total denial … sorry for this disjointed rambling but we are really at our wits end with him and seem to be getting nowhere fast!


It's amazing how all the stories sound the same. You have the launching program I see. I get emails like this numerous times per week. The answer is always the same: You have to make living at home more uncomfortable than living elsewhere.
Having said that, I can tell that you are doing many of the tough love strategies that help... so good for you on that point.
The ultimate goal here is to get your son is a position where he is independent, happy and productive. But that's not going to happen as long as he can stay in his comfort zone. No significant change, no rebirth of sorts, happens in a comfort zone. Without significant discomfort, no lessons are learned, no emotional muscles are developed.
I think you're 80% of the way there, but you are still allowing him to lean on you to some degree. You do indeed need to push him -- even if that breaks him. As hard as this is to hear - he needs to be broken. Just as a broken arm that is healing out-of-alignment needs to be re-broken and reset, your son needs to fully experience the emotional pain that comes with not taking responsibility for his life. It sucks... it's painful for everyone involved including the parents. But what is the alternative? Answer: more of the same (e.g., abuse, refusing to be productive, etc.).
He will get stronger emotionally and otherwise if he is forced to deal with life on its terms - rather than his.


Hi Mark,

My aspie boyfriend of nine years left me for another woman two months ago. He's 45 and she's 60. I was and still am devastated. I haven't heard from him since although he did give me enough money to live on for six months. We struggled in our relationship from the start.  I came from an abusive childhood and so was triggered by his behavior. I became very mean and criticized him endlessly. I hate myself for that.  I'm the one who figured out he had aspergers two years ago. He agreed but at that point I was so angry/resentful and he was so hurt. I became depressed and developed autoimmune disease. It was then that he left me and said the other woman accepts him as he is. I've attached a chart which pretty much sums up my experience.

I'm working on getting my health back now. I'm not sure if I will ever hear from him again. I'm not sure how to navigate this situation. Is it common for someone with aspergers to walk away from a nine year relationship and never call? Aside from the aspergers he is emotionally immature and I was his first long term relationship. I think he has some growing up to do. When he left me he said I could contact him any time but I told him I would not since he was leaving me. Regardless, I really feel like I need to understand asperger behavior. I am a very sensitive, kind, loyal, attractive, intelligent woman and it's shocking what I became in the relationship. I am going to order your ebook. Is there anything else I can do or read to understand all this? Any advice is appreciated.


Hi Mark,

We have a 23 yr old son who has been diagnosed with high functioning autism. We have not been successful in helping him to launch. He refuses to get a job because he is 'working' on becoming an artist. He is living with us and does do some, but not many, household chores. He suffers from depression but refuses to take medication or do the things recommended (get more exercise, eat better, etc) to get better. We have worked with therapists and even a mediator to come up with contracts, etc. When he refused to cooperate, we took away his computer. He became suicidal. At one point we told him if he couldn't abide by our rules he had to leave. He left, in the middle of a snowstorm, dressed in skateboard shoes with no socks, shorts and a t shirt. He was gone all night and we had the police looking for him. Turns out, he walked to a church and was able to spend the night there. We took him back into our home, gave him back his computer, and we're back to square one!

I am curious about your coaching. I would imagine the person you coach would have to be fully committed to the process, right? That's a problem with our son...it's hard to get him to commit to anything. What do you recommend?


Mark, my husband of twenty-eight years just found our he has Asperger's. This comes after our twenty year old middle daughter diagnosed herself, then strongly suspected her father. We are currently in counseling since there have been conflicts in our marriage and family due to his undiagnosed AS. Both will be documented asap.

My husband has felt out of control since his layoff from his electrical engineering company three months from his early retirement. We had to sell our nearly paid off house in order to buy a new one where we were moving, and had to eat our 401k.
 He recently accepted a job back in our original town, but was told three weeks into his new job, the job would not last probably past fall of 2016. My poor husband feels so out of control, meltdowns are sometimes more frequent than I would like, and I feel more hurt than I would like to since they seem aimed at me or our sixteen year old daughter. There are many hard feelings with our youngest and how she feels about her father. That is another story.  We have two other daughters, one Aspie, one married. She and her family have lived with us for the past three years since things are tight with them. Their desire is to move out as soon as possible.

My example is something that happened yesterday. My husband keeps 'emergency' money in his Bible. I was heading out with our middle daughter (also aspie) and instead of going to the the bank since our account is getting smaller until he is paid in a couple of days, I took $26.00 and made a note to in my phone to replace it when he got paid. I did tell him last night, and all hell broke lose. He basically accused me of being a thief and said he would have to put the money elsewhere 'since now he could not trust me.' After having such a great evening, and with 28 years under our belt, being told my love could not trust me, wounded me deeply. I cried most of the evening, and even some today. He apologized and I agreed to never do that again unless I informed him first. Rational grown-up talk I respect, but these meltdowns are very hard on myself or our kids, depending on who they are aimed at.
There are times I will ask our Asperger's daughter to see if I was in the wrong. I can rely on her to tell me the truth without bias. I don't want to involve her in everything though, since that would not be fair to her.

I know he doesn't mean things he says or how he says them when he is in meltdown mode. Nothing I can say calms him down, and I get caught up in arguing with him, which as you know, does not help at all. I wind up hurt, crying and depressed, and feeling alone. We do talk about it afterwards and he does apologize, but words and tone do hurt. He likes metaphors, so my metaphor to him is the metaphor of a woodcutter splitting wood with a wedge. Every time the wedge (me or others) is split by the woodcutter's ax (his outburst), there are splinters everywhere and the log is split, bit by bit. We did speak calmly later on, and I realized his needing to know everything is just part of who he is, though trying to be up front and honest got me no where. I tried to let him know the dangers of the meltdowns. I tried to explain to him that blowing up at someone just made them want to hide their actions or lie so there would not be a 'situation'.

What can I do to grow a thick skin, and defuse the situations before they cause more hurt and depression on my part? I have no intention of going anywhere since I've been here for 28 years. He is a great, generous, loving and affectionate guy when he's not in meltdown mode.

I love your book and youtube videos. Thank you for making yourself accessible to not only Aspie's but NT's also.


Hi Mark,

I read through the ebook and listened to the audio.  A lot of the material was familiar to me but I'm finally understanding how different communication must be in order for this type of relationship to be successful.  I continue to work on my own communication deficits and my abandonment issues.  I see now that I had unrealistic expectations of him and I need to take a different approach in getting my needs met.  I understand now It's not that he didn't love me or care.

In the last year of our relationship my ex was actually reading a book on Aspergers.  We had many discussions about the dynamics of our relationship and that things needed to change.  Unfortunately, neither of us knew how to do that.  We tried counseling together in the beginning of the relationship and he also went on his own trying three other therapists but that was before we know about the Aspergers.  He did not want to go back and I understand.  I continued to push him somewhat over the last few years to get help from a qualified person but I'm not sure pushing him was a good thing.  Although I voiced that I had issues too and I was in counseling myself I think he felt in my eyes he was flawed.  That he had a deficiency that must be fixed.  After eight years of conflict, hurt and him feeling like he failed me we were both stuck and I see our relationship had to end as it was.  I think now that it must be his choice to pursue the help he needs.

When he initially told me he had feelings for someone else I broke down and told him how so sorry I was for the way I treated him and that I really did still love him. I explained that I was reacting out of my own insecurity, pain and confusion.  He cried and said he wanted to stay and work things out with me.  He even wrote the woman an email that he showed me telling her that he loved me, that he had issues he needed help with and he wanted to work it out with me.  She apologized (not very sincerely) saying she was sorry if she crossed the line and that he didn't need any counseling, that he was perfect the way he was. A couple days later he went on a preplanned business trip with her which I asked him not to go.  He assured me that he was committed to me and that he had not had sex with her.  When he came home from the trip I sensed that he had been intimate or something with her. I was a mess, untrusting, angry, scared, unsure etc... The next day he told me that it was guilt not love that he felt for me and he was leaving.  He told me he wanted to leave two years prior.  He said we never went anywhere because I was always sick, we had three cats to care for and he didn't want this life.  He said that nothing was ever enough for me.  He said she accepts him the way he is and she likes his sense of humor.  She told him I was lucky to have him.

The few days before he left we talked kindly to each other about what went wrong and how sorry we both were.  He told me he didn't blame me for treating him that way and that he understood.  He said that when we met he didn't know what the hell he was doing and that his parents had not modeled any healthy relational skills.  He told me that he was really unhappy, depressed, he couldn't take it anymore and had to leave.  He said he didn't know what he wanted but he needed to grow up.  He seemed somewhat conflicted and told me that I was the kindest most genuine person he knew.  He said "You are just so much more advanced in relationships and emotions than me."  I told him I have a lot to learn.  He said "I hope you can forgive me someday and we can be friends." I could tell he was very upset also about leaving the cats which he is very attached to.

At this point as I said it's been two months and no contact. I feel that we both need time to heal and he will contact me if or when he is interested in starting again.  Since he was my sole provider,  I was ill and unable to work he gave me enough money to pay my bills for six months.  He is also still paying for my cell phone bill and water delivery.  He told me I could call him anytime if I needed anything or more money.  I told him I wouldn't be calling him since he was the one not wanting to be in the relationship.

What is your opinion on the way I'm handling this? 


I have a 22 year old autistic son who recently broke up with his girlfriend of 2.5 years. She was not on the spectrum but was ADD and LD. He met her while he was still in school. Needing to find a way to help him find a new girlfriend and not sure where to turn.


I was diagnosed with hfa/aspergers at 5 am now 28 and I have no friends does anyone on here know where I can talk to people like me so I can try make friends? Thankyou


I'm not quite sure where to start. But I feel alone. There are no support groups, neither have u met anyone else with aspergers like me, I feel alone in this and the inability to understand and connect with people or hold down a relationship longer than a year or so and the constant mood changes and confusion over simple things coupled with depression is making me feel suicidal, and I'm struggling to fight the impulse... I'm not looking for attention or sympathy, I just don't understand why, what is the point of me if I can't connect or get by in this world? I feel empty, the doctors just want to give me anti depressants .. I don't know what to do anymore


Hey there I'm just wondering if you hear of many people with aspergers always getting wound up and just literally winding yourself up as I'm finding it hard recently always stressing myself out and starting to think it's not healthy as I'm not eating barely at all and was wondering if you knew of any things to try or take to help me feel a bit better? Hope to hear from you soon


My son just graduated from high school and I happened to read something on aspergers. The symptoms read as my sons life over the last 18 years. I would like to have him tested but do not know where to start.


Hello...I recently realized that I've been misdiagnosed my whole life and after reading look me in the eye I realized I relate more to that than anything about what all the doctors have said. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders...but I don't want to just self diagnose...I've talked to others with it and another friend who's husband and son are autistic. They all said it sounds like a high functioning form of autism. She gave me the link to this page. If you have any tips for steps I should take to see if it could be right...please let me know.


Hello, I am very new to this and looking for information. I have been dating a man who I believe has Aspergers. Through out the relationship I have had problems with getting him to understand my side of things. I am 52 and he is 61. He does things that I found very hurtful and thinks nothing of it. I have been very confused because he is not a mean or hurtful person. After the last episode someone said to me,"He sounds like he has social problems,like Aspergers." I have been researching since and I continue to see him in many of the things I am reading. The last episode,when I thought it was totally over and I couldn't take anymore,consisted of him taking his ex gf to a movie. He was helping her with her house,she lives out of town,they had extra time so he brought her to a movie. In the mean time he has been telling me,WE cannot go to movies,he doesn't like the movie house and he has no money,which I believe is true but I could pay,which he never allows. I was so hurt that he would bring her to a movie and not me. All my friends said he is a player,well I know he is not. I told him how hurt I was and told him I couldn't do it anymore. He had no response and thought there was nothing wrong with bringing another woman,let alone his ex,to a movie. After researching and reading,I asked if we could talk. He said "Sure,no issues on this end" which basically shows me he has no clue that it is not right to date another woman when you are with one. I have said how would you like it if I went out with an ex,he said I am fine with that. He now is planning on going to a mid western state to visit the son of this woman and bringing her along. He helped raise this young man. I am hurt that he would take her for a weeks long trip and we have never been anywhere alone. I know I am happier with him than without him but how do I manage this? He is the same way with his ex wife,very involved. This woman is an ex gf of many years.


I am wondering what a good source would be for testing to see if I do have a form of High-Functioning Autism. Are any of these symptoms possibly autistic related? My father read an article and thought it stuck out as similar to me socially. I have learning and emotional disabilities but autism has never been diagnosed. 1. I get obsessed on stuff but often on things that are not abnormal OCD obsessions but rather topics I stay on long after the conversation is over or relationships where I like the person but become obsessed with them to the point of being stalkish. As a result extended family members are my main social network. I do have OCD but some obsessions don't seem like classic OCD but rather positive habits I do too much (like go overboard with religious activity or Christmas traditions with family). 2. I am brilliant in some areas (can tell you details of today in history for many dates that no one would remember) and very slow in other areas (vocabulary especially). 3. I have no romantic desires (not sure if that is an autistic trait or not) 4. I often have social relationships in my imagination then in real life. Not so much imaginary friends as more imaginary socializing with real people. I do add in imaginary acquaintances also. 5. I was very social as a kid with the adults (my parents cousins, friends, etc.. all thought I was so nice.) Yet I seldom socialized with people my age. To this day I am uncomfortable making friends but the first to offer to help out with elderly people or to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc..... 6. I have an obsessive memory. For example if you ask me today what happened today in history I can give a long speech of several occasions in my personal life on this date that no one else would have any memory of. Yet as a result I have PTSD from bad memories that others would be able to let go of. 7. I am very ADHD yet I can get super focused on some things like family trees or historic events in the 20th century and their causes. So just curious if these symptoms stick out as autistic or if they are likely related to other things. I acted so similar in school to a student with Asperger's that I have long wondered this and my father brought it up today after I was talking about relationship anxiety I have.


Hello I am a partner to a mildly Asperger high functioning man. He's amazing and I am going to make a film to take to Sundance. I need to reach out to the foundations that support Aspies.... Do you have any list and contacts of foundations that are about Aspergers?


After conducting a recent google search about ADULT Aspergers and having attended a hospital appointment for diagnosis maybe ten years ago and being dismissed out of hand due to childhood abuse issues, I want a proper test and diagnosis from another GP There were no strategic questions asked like in the Aspergers tests and all we did was talk about my childhood. I still have the report. I let it go and assumed he was right but the older I get the worst I am becoming and a 52 week therapy ending caused increased suicidal thoughts and plans plus other traits are making me want to go and fight my corner. I did a test last night and I am conclusively a high functioning Aspie. I have a different GP now so I am trying to be brave enough to approach him to ask for another referral because I am 100% sure I have it and what has given me hope is that I now see that people over the age of 40 are now being successfully diagnosed. I live in London UK. Can you connect me with the right communities here in London or the UK so that I can get the best support possible. Thank You


Hi Mark,

That's great thank you. My partner is undiagnosed but after lots or research and listening to your seminar number 1.....we are both 100% convinced he has ASD. We are at that point where im trying my hardest to explain where things are not working and the more I go on the more he shuts off. Ive read a lot that says if I explain how I feel in writing as that's less confrontational it may help so I did that. Sometimes I get a lengthy reply and sometimes I get nothing...followed by a grand gesture. Flowers sent to my work or a meal out. He has had 4 relationships prior to us which they have all ended with them leaving him as he never said he loves them, come across as rude and arrogant. He is so rude when you say things that just arnt logical to him. I knew he wasn't right almost straight away. It wasn't until my gran said he didn't look her in the eye that she said do I think he is on the spectrum. 

He has taught himself good social skills now and the improvement in him since we got together over any past relationship is amazing. I think I ring out a more confident side to him that even he has not seen before. Our only problem is I have needs, im a leo I need compliments and love and in his own words...hes just not wired that way. My best compliment to date is "im growing more fond of you with the distinct lack of moaning"....oh I did laugh. He laughs at himself too which is good. I hate that he feels I moan at everything as like in your seminar I am only trying to do what I think is helping our relationship.

On a personal level there has never been any sexual issue until lately. There was emotion and passion and kissing and he has got more emotionless of late so I have tried to discuss this and now he has back right off. We talk a lot and he admitted that he thought now he wasn't good enough so just stopped altogether unless I start it.

Its a constant battle, we are perfect for weeks then he zones out a bit, I get more needy and moan and he backs off more then we get to a crucial point. We discuss it, I cry he sits in silence then I get flowers or a meal then we are good again and he makes more effort for another few weeks. We are in love and I will not give up on him but we really need to be able to work on lessening the tension and working out a way to live where we can both be happy more of the time.

I really feel that a diagnosis will make this easier as all the time i'm convinced but not 100% confirmed there is always that doubt in my mind.


Hi, Mark, God bless you again and again.

I lie awake at night praying for God to protect him.  I am not sending any more rent and, of course, all of his problems are "my fault".  I still send him grocery money, auto and health insurance.  I plan to wean him off of that.

I see homeless people out on the streets.  Now, my son is homeless, but by his choice.  Several people have offered their homes him, but he says he would rather to stay in NY so he can be near his doctors.  He can not get it into his head that medical records can be transferred.

He would rather engage me in an text-battle over controversial questions of faith.  I try not to get to wrapped up, because I think he is trying to divert my attention away from the fact that he is stuck in a rut.

He blames everything on me, and never concedes that I spent $$,$$$.00 on college, room and board over 10 years.  That hurts me so bad.  I wearily took on a second job to send him to this top-ranked college.

Over-nurturing is the worst!! It backfires like a swollen can filled with botulism. I am so emotionally drained.  I feel like I am constantly on emergency high-alert.  I have forgotten how to take care of myself.
His very wise and nurturing older sister lives only 10 hours away in Tennessee.  She has opened her home to him temporarily, only if he is back on his Prozac. Today is the last food assistance  that I will send to NY, and the next payment, if he wants it, will have to be picked up in Tennessee, where she lives.

Thank you for feedback.  Your area of expertise is so highly focused on this very special, special-needs population and their bewildered families who love them.


Thank you, Mark, because your replies reinforce me with strength to do what I need to do.

Can you please send me the PDF files so I print and read them wherever I am? 

I want to focus on that fantastic piece about re-framing.  I don't want to argue with an unreasonable person anymore.  I can use this skill to try to hear the heart of what he is feeling, and try not to have a knee-jerk reaction to his incendiary words.  He said that he never wants to talk to me again as long as he lives, but just in case he changes his mind, I would like to be detached enough to respond correctly.

Nevertheless, I think re-framing is a good skill to utilize even with the general population!


Hi Mark,

I really can't see how we are going to get past this point. I asked tonight why he has backed off and not wanted to touch me and he said he doesn't know. Then flared up saying he feels worthless and that he's not good enough anymore. Silly points he said like he can't even empty a bin properly, as I said to him I shouldn't have to ask him every time as its practically the only job he does in the house.  The more I try to mend it the more he is shutting  down and he said what the point of him bothering. Where do I go now? I've text him how it makes me feel, told him how great he is trying to boost him back up? If we can't even make love now....with now other form of closeness other than cuddles there is really no point.

Can you advise on how I can move this on?


Hi Mark

I have two sons one 17 and the other 14 1/2. We ordered the materials to address the younger who just started his freshman year in high school. No he's not diagnosed with anything. 

He is struggling with "being controlled". He thinks he should be able to make the decisions that affect him. He desires immediate gratification and struggles with self control. He also looks at issues from the perspective of what is"fair". We have used love and logic techniques but find he is challenging our family rules and constantly pushing to have things his way.

I also think he might be struggling with sibling competitiveness. My older son is very successful academically and involved in school sports and activities.  I get the vibe he thinks he's being compared or we want him to be like his brother. We are mindful not to compare the two and have not verbalized this but nonetheless he will occasionally say "I'm not Dillon" when we encourage him to join a school sport and get more involved in school activities.


Hello.  My husband and I have just completed all of the videos and information for Session# 1.  Our question is: our son will be starting back to school next week after the long summer break, and we're wondering if you recommend starting this program now, since session# 2 would start at the same time he starts school.  Or, should we give him 1-2 weeks to settle into the school routine first, and then start the program?  We just want to do this right, and we are hoping it works for our family.  Thank you for your time.


Hi Mark

Thanks for your website and the Living with an Aspergers Partner resources, which I’ve found very interesting.

I was prompted to seek out information about the relating strategies of men with Aspergers because I’ve been seeing a charming and delightful man for about seven months now, and I’ve noticed some patterns of behaviour which are unusual and distressing, not only when they occur but in their implications for the prospects of a functioning longterm relationship.

My boyfriend is 49 years old and has never been married. He is a computer programmer with a number of obsessive side interests which are very much a part of his daily life. He also has a history of falling out with friends and family, stretching back to childhood.

He is a highly intelligent, funny and kind human being and I genuinely believe he has no malice in him whatsoever.

However, he seems incapable of dealing with any kind of emotional setbacks, disappointment or conflict. In a situation where there is stress or a disagreement, however minor, he prefers to walk away rather than do what is necessary to lower the temperature of the situation, accept that the fact of matters being sub-optimal is not an absolute reflection on him or an implication of failure, merely part of the process of getting to know something of the sensitivities of others and trying to come together to a point of greater understanding.

I worry very much that if he cannot accept the possibility that adversity happens and has to be processed as part of any longterm relationship, he will be unable to confront the greater challenges that life throws any couple.

What I’m saying is that he is not lacking in affection or attentiveness when things are going well - the material you provide addresses this quite thoroughly - but I’m still at a loss to know how best to manage a situation where, for example, I am upset (as we all can legitimately be at times), and instead of meeting with compassion and affection, I find myself either shouted at or shut out. That at the moment of my vulnerability, instead of providing some kind words or support, he becomes another source of worry, rather than comfort.

Does this sound like a familiar form of response to you? If so, I would be very grateful to receive any insight and advice you may have on this.


Thanks for this, Mark. The pattern is very straightforward: as long as we are happy and all is going smoothly, he is fine. But the instant some cloud comes into the picture, the most minor tiff or setback, and with it the notion that he has somehow “failed” or “disappointed” me, or that the relationship itself does not conform to some controlled ideal of what love should look like, the world seems to fall out of joint, and he can’t face it. So either (in the majority of cases) he walks out, or he loses his temper and starts shouting. I’m pretty sure he walks out, because he knows he won’t be able to control his temper.

I’ve never been with someone with Aspergers before, so I find it hard to gauge whether this a natural pattern within the condition, or whether I should in fact be worried about this behaviour for more conventional reasons.

Of course I appreciate that you only have what I’m saying to go on, but if you have any further observations on this, it would help to guide me in how I deal with these situations. At the moment, I don’t even know whether the right thing to do is to leave him to cool down for as long as it takes, or whether giving him silence and space would be read as rejection in my part. It feels like a minefield!


Mark,  I ran across your website on Pinterest. I am very impressed; what a great resource for parents and family members. I notice that you offer online parent coaching which  is right in line with my company, ReachTherapy.me. We offer a platform for speech therapists to conduct their therapies online.
  I would love to collaborate with you and hear more about your services. 
Look forward to hearing from you.


Dear Mr Hutten.

I have received your book. Thank you.

My boy is 14 and  suffers from Aspergers and it is as if you have written your book with me in mind!  And he has attempted to commit suicide and the situation with his addiction to i-pad and computer games is absolute overwhelming for the family – although we have wonderful assistance from the therapists.

Are there short term and intensive “training” or other form of centres in the USA that he can attend to help him cope with life and all its difficulties. I believe there are superb   experts in South Africa but I do not know of a dedicated “school” or institution that he can attend to assist him to learn to cope with life. I will, of course, study your book and have read others but will never be an expert.

I am looking forward to hear from you.


Dear Mr. Hutten:

Thank you for the weekly newsletters and other accompanying information. I have helped me and my family to a very large extent.
I am looking to attend a Living with an Aspergers partner workshop.  Can you forward information on how to find the dates/ locations?

Regards, Bill 


Mr. Hutten- As parents we are very concerned about our daughter Jennelle who is 17 yrs old. As she will be graduating next year and doesn't want to go to college. We need to approach her on careers that she would be a good fit for. She wants to be a singer and has a lovely voice. She also has type 1 diabetes which we struggle for her to manage.Any advice please let us know.  Thank you!  Rosanne


Question:  how can I help my 11 year old grandson develop empathy?  He recently got in trouble in a gym class for calling a girl fat.  When I discuss this with him, I asked him how he thought this made her feel.  He replied, "sad."  Then he said, "I don't care."   I replied, "this makes me sad."  Do you have any suggestions as to how I can help him develop empathy?


Hi Mark,

My son Lloyd has now finally been rejected by the whole Grade 6 group due to lack of “I don’t know what”….i am desperate and see my child disintegrate before my eyes. I am heartbroken!

Maybe he is this Asperger Child….i don’t know what to do anymore…. They call him a faggot, retard, moffie…

I would appreciate his help!


Hi, Mark, God bless you.

My son is still homeless in NY.  It has been 3 weeks.  He has had family offer homes him: 2 homes in TX, 1 in TN and 1 in NM, but he says he is "in so much PAIN," and "he missed his doctor appointments... because he is HOMELESS...(my fault) and was not able to eat the correct diet for the tests the doctor was going to run......." 

He said he is forced to eat junk food because he does not have a stove to cook because he is homeless.... and it is all my fault.....because I sublet his apartment..... Then, he told me in a very angry voice, "I HOPE YOU SUFFER AND I HOPE YOU DIE!"

(Not much gratitude shown here.  I just sent him $200 for groceries, because I felt bad about the apartment, and 3 weeks ago, sent his $700 to fix his brake line and front brakes because he supposedly was going to come home.)

I do believe he is sick, but  but even more so, mentally ill.  He certainly has depression on top of the Asperger's. I am sad because he is a highly trained computer scientist, almost graduated but failing miserably in life.

He might to go to his sister's in TN, but who knows if he really will go? The lad needs to get out of NY, and go to a place where he can receive support, but not enabling. 

It is so hard for me to go to work with this insane burden on my shoulders.  I give my best, but I'm considering taking a different job with my same school district that may not be as stressful.  I don't know if I can continue to work with 4 year-olds while this family situation explodes. His unkind words of hatred echo in my mind.  I almost sought treatment for depression.  Everything is (always) so unstable.


Hi Mark,
I am a Mum of two boys and I have Aspergers myself. Our older son (Alban, 6) has Aspergers and our youngest (Lucas, 4) is neurotypical, like his Dad.

Our problem is this. Alban has few big 'meltdowns'. Being Aspie, myself, I have been very conscious of learning the sorts of things which trigger these in him and I think we do pretty well in keeping him stable and content. However, on a day-to-day basis his temper is constantly foul. When small annoyances happen (e.g. he drops a favourite toy car) he has to blame someone else - usually me, Dad or Lucas. We get a torrent of 'I hate you' 'it's your fault', and often hitting. 

We can see that the two brothers wind each other up and, when things get too rough, I often suggest to Alban that he takes some time alone to calm down (because that works for me). The trouble is that he sees this as a punishment or as being 'misunderstood'. He yells that he is 'not angry' and that Lucas is to blame for everything etc etc.

When Alban is not angry, he is a joy to be with. I wish that he would admit to getting angry and allow us to find solutions.


How are you? I Hope you’re doing well.

My name is Jillian Petrova, and I’m delighted to write you this email. You’re running a great blog here, loaded with interesting and educational stuff. Your efforts are very well appreciated. Mind if I ask you, “would you allow me to write a guest post for you as a personal input of mine?”

Looking forward to hearing more. Cheers!

Warm Regards,



I must have died a thousand deaths yesterday.  I felt blindsided by the horrible thought of my AS son committing suicide.  I imagined the burden of living the rest of my life with the guilt of not letting him have what is left of my money. 

He is a highly trained computer scientist from RIT (hasn't graduated, though), and he needs to be working!    
He is holding out because he wants an apartment in NY, (so he can be 'near his doctor').  I don't want to undo the effects of all the tough love that I have given him over the last 3 weeks.

Sometimes I wonder is he is really sick.  His medical file folder is probably 5 inches thick with woes, some real, most imagined due to hypochondria.
I tried texting him this morning, and guess what?  He texted me, so, he's alive. (I should have known!)

I feel so foolish for starting a missing person report. I have 2 states looking for him under "missing and endangered."  If they find him, they will do a welfare check on him.  Do you think it is OK to just leave that report on file in NY?


Hello again Mr. Hutten​.  We follow your column and I am a paid subscriber to your one-on-one parent coaching. We (me, my husband and 6-year old daughter) just came back from a short summer vacation.  Our 9-year old son (with ASD, high functioning Asperger's) did not go with us.  At the last minute, he said he would "ruin" our vacation by panicking and needing to come home.  We suspected this to be a fair and accurate forecast based on numerous prior experiences when in fact, he was panicked and arguing to go home.  Desperately needing respite, we arranged for him to stay with my parents.  He had a great week nonetheless.  He went to Philadelphia to see a Phillies game (Star Wars Night, no less), saw the Putnum County Spelling Bee at the Bucks County Theater, exercised 10,000+ steps according to my mom's fitbit each day, participated in daily house chores, ate every meal, and did his back to school shopping, gleefully.  My parents said he had absolutely "no problems" (with transitioning, going out, exercising, eating, enjoying himself).  On our vacation without him, we enjoyed doing all of the things our son usually CAN'T do without a fight.  Examples include: not wanting to do what we're doing includes simply being on the beach or going to a pool), not wanting to get in the car to go from place to place (or fighting viciously with his sister the whole ride), being difficult about where we eat, and basically, EVERYTHING that involves decisions made by us.  If we're enjoying ourselves, he's got a mindset to make it stop.   We're so worn down by it.  Of course after such a successful week at their house, my mother thinks she "cured him."  After an hour home with us, he showed signs of breaking down.  We got in the car to go into town and he had a full violent tantrum (hitting his sister and non-stop kicking the back of the driver's seat as hard as he could) and insisted we go home and that he could not go out with us.   We turned around after about 10 miles of driving.  We did not go into town to see the Liberty Bell or Independence Mall (his idea, not ours).  He did not go the Philadelphia Eagles game for which we were gifted tickets.   My husband, me and our daughter were all in tears, he just fumed at us until we got him to the house.  I've mentioned in therapy that I identify a barrier to success of progess, that WE, mom, dad and especially his sister, are, in Nate's mind, triggers of anxiety.  This is horrifying, but well illustrated by his calm behavior in our absence (including school), and his behavior in our presence.  My husband reminds me how ANGRY he's been with ME since we told him I was having a baby (our children are three years apart).   While we did not probe him with questions after yesterday's outburst, he did tell my husband, on his own, that like at school, he was just "holding himself together" for his grandparents, because he knew he was expected to behave "a certain way."  For us though, he unleashes anger and distress, anxiety and discord.  He tells us he does not know why. 

I don't need to know why he abuses us.  I know that our unconditional love for him makes us a dumping ground for all of his accumulated distress and negative energy.   What I do want to know is how to handle the fact that WE are a TRIGGER of his sensory processing dysfunction.  We've changed the light, the noises, the stimulus of situations he wishes for us to avoid on his behalf - but we are his LOVING family, and WE are not going away.  What do you do when you -  mother and father and sister are your child's trigger?  


Hello Mark:
We are in a struggle with our son who turned 18 last Saturday. He continues to spend many days in bed especially during the week.  He found a job with a landscaper for the summer but has easily missed 1-2 days a week. His employer has been kind enough to keep him on, although I don't think for much longer.  Fall is coming and we told Alex that we expect him to attend school full time or work full time. If he works full time we expect him to pay room and board. He has only half of grade 11 completed. He has not made any moves to register for school. He has several choices: regular high school, adult ed, or go to a university that has high school classes. 

I believe we are going to be in a position of housing this young adult man who will be home much of the week. I don't think he will go to school or find a job at least one that he has to attend daily. Alex says his behaviour is a result of his depression.  Is it time for Alex to be on his own, meaning should we ask him to leave and support himself? 


How do you my mother of a child with Aspergers. Is currently just turned 11 years old and we have been diagnosed since he's been three and a half. As a family we've been dealing with the ups and downs, lots of downs for quite some time. Not only does my child have aspergers but I have been afflicted with lupus for the last 7 years. As a mother dealing with extreme health issues as well as a child that struggles immensely I have started writing a book regarding our experiences. Not only the experiences but how we have dealt with them some successes some not so successful. The book I have been writing is a conjunction of living with lupus as well as living with a child with Aspergers. I am looking to publish this book to assist others in common situation. I'm reaching out to you to see if you can provide any assistance names and/or contacts that might be able to assist me in providing this information that is invaluable to these parents as well as those that suffer from lupus. If you can be of any help would be greatly appreciated?
Again thank you for your time and consideration. I would appreciate any assistance you might be able to provide me with.
Thank you,


Hello ,
My son, Patrick is 19 with Aspergers and ADD and getting ready to start college. We've ALWAYS had a great relationship until he started seeing a girl about 7 weeks ago and he no longer cares about anyone else except the girl and her family. He also has Type 1 diabetes so he's always checked in with us whenever he was gone out. Now, he not only doesn't check in but comes and goes as he pleases with no warning and no indication where he's going or how long for. He wants nothing to do with us and leads a very secretive life with that family. They all lie to us and they lie to the father. My son suddenly has no respect for us and it is hurting us and our marriage. My husband is at work all day so I'm left with all the drama. When I call him he gets very upset and now is saying he's going to move out because of the tension and fighting between all of us. This person is NOT MY SON ANYMORE!!!
He doesn't care about me or anything but this family and the girl is not allowed to come here yet he goes with them every day...
There is so much more but Zi've tried everything I know and it just gets worse.
I came across your name and what you do late last night and it gave me hope! But, he got up today saying he would help me (I have disabled arms at the moment) with anything and suddenly said, "Well, they're here so goodbye"
I said where are you going and he said,"with them" and left! I don't know what to do and I feel like I've lost my son! I've spent his whole life trying to get him help and all my time and energy. He has no license, no job and will take 2 college courses that he won't try at and will fail. And this family is buying him clothes and he's hiding everything from us.
I know it's a lot but can you give me any advice at all? The girl is 16 and still in high school. This is my last resort as he has a therapist and he ignored every word she said to him.
Please help?


Hi Mark 

Just found your sight and it is wonderful.

I am a parent of a 13 yr old Aspergers son in 8th grade here in Santa Clarita CA. My husband and I are really struggling with our son now more than ever at home and school. A very difficult and emotional time for him too with being in a new Country,State,City and middle school with no support .School is very challenging and overwhelming as he is in main stream. Staff are in the process or reassessing him for a IEP due to his previous IEP not being valid anymore.I had signed off on it due to him being bullied and pulled him out and homeschooled him with no services. 

He has a diagnosis and feel I need a advocate here to support us so we can reinstate his IEP and place him in a aspergers program at another school and getting some resistance as they don`t know him very well .He is lonely and cannot find kids like him, with similiar interests. Want to find a best place at school and outside hewill thrive. He is very tech savy,loves books,movies,gaming,videos and creative...

He is being very defiant and not making friends and anti social with absorbing himself in his gaming. Has a history of being bullied allot :( There is so much to cover including his physical health,posture,eating habits,sleeping  habits,social skills and our family is very challenged meeting his needs and understanding how best to proceed with everything etc...To get sevices is all so expensive and not within our budget. he needs social skills/behaviiural help and self asteem bldg and OT/PT asap.


I am in the middle of a crisis and I looking for advice.  Our 17 year old son is on a hunger strike.  He is holed up in his room.  This is the second day of the hunger strike. I think he is drinking some water (not enough) but he is not eating and even more concerning,he is not taking his medication (for anxiety/depression) which is 20 mgs. of Lexapro.

Some quick background:  He has always had neurological problems from birth - he was extremely colicky and cried 24/7 unless he was in a moving car, stroller, or being carried.  He wouldn't sleep for more than an hour at a time.  He grew out of the crying when he could walk but then he would get overly emotional and have meltdown. In second grade we had to take him out of school because he couldn't handle the stress and homeschool him.  Eventually he became too defiant for me to homeschool him and we sent him to high school.  Big mistake - he had daily meltdowns and just couldn't adjust. In fifth grade (while being homeschooled) he did a year of counseling which didn't help because he wouldn't cooperate.  The counselor suggested medication to make him open to therapy.  At the time we said no to medication but then in sophomore year of high school we decided to try medication and also counseling again.  The Lexapro did cut back on the meltdowns but didn't eliminate them.  We transferred him to a small charter school with project-based learning and this also cut back on his stress.  Meanwhile he quit everything he did or belonged to because he said it caused him too much stress: guitar lessons, swim team, tennis team, youth group, etc.  Now all he has is the computer which he is on all day.  After two years with the counselor she gave up on him because she said he doesn't cooperate which is true.  He doesn't want to go and he no longer wants to take the medication which I explained you cannot go off cold-turkey without going through withdrawal.

He was diagnosed with HFA, anxiety, depression, OCD, and PDD-NOS.  He is not fully typical of autism.  He is rule oriented but he is not rule compliant.  Only when he wants to be.  His room is a mess for example.  He has to be nagged to do his chores.  I have a schedule up but he won't follow it.  He can never remember what he is supposed to do.  However he has almost all A's and had a 30 on the ACT.  He has been offered a half tuition scholarship at a nearby university where he will study electrical engineering. He is always in a bad mood, always negative, doesn't want to do family activities and when forced to, makes sure he makes everyone miserable.  We can't wait to send him off to college, a half hour commute away but we don't know if he can survive in a dorm.  We know he won't be able to get along with his roommate and teachers.  But we can't have him live at home (except come home for weekends) because it is too stressful for all of us to deal with him.  He is the oldest and was the only child for 5 years until his little brother came along, whom he is very jealous of.  His brother is the opposite -- loving, affectionate, neurotypical.  He is constantly berated by his older brother but still looks up to him and tells him he loves him.  But my teen never returns affection with any of us.

Anyway, to the point at hand. We had another argument with him over his behavior which has been getting worse as he gets anxious for the start of the school year.  When he gets anxious he gets obnoxious.  He sometimes used the threat of not eating for a week to get us to comply with his demands and by blackmailing us this way he avoided the hunger strike and got what he wanted. This time my husband and I have had enough and won't give in.  So he has dug in his heals and won't eat or take his medication. I called the psychiatrist's office yesterday to ask what to do and he is on vacation until Wednesday with no doctor on call. The receptionist just said if he is a danger to himself take him to the emergency room.  However, he will not go to the emergency room and given that he is 6 ft. tall we can't physically make him go.  He does not understand the physical consequences even though I explained them.  I am also afraid he will become difficult to control as he goes through the medication withdrawal.  We took away his computer and phone when he refused the medication.  So now he just lies on his bed all day.  Are we supposed to just wait until he passes out from low blood sugar and then call an ambulance?  Or should we give in again?


Dear Mark,

I think my 17 year old daughter has high-functioning Asperger's. (She is highly intelligent but fits quite a lot of the symptoms - difficulty making friends, dealing with school/social situations, hates changes in routine or expectations, doesn't notice people's appearance, has developed eating disorder, extremely good memory and maths skills, has difficulty compromising in teamwork, games or opinions. On the flip side, she spoke very young - whole sentences by 14 months, and has always had an extremely strong imagination, been good at developing imaginary characters and explaining their motivations - but I wonder if this is typical of Asperger's girls?)

She has frequent devastating meltdowns at home and your "traditional parenting techniques don't work" statements ring very true with me. I've always had to take a different approach with parenting her: never trying to take control - it's been a matter of collaborative parenting with her. This worked very well when she was young and still does most of the time, but since her dad and I divorced (6 years ago, when she was 11), she's had violent and drawn out melt downs - which for a long time I thought were related to the divorce and puberty and massive disruption in her life. But I'm beginning to think it could be Asperger's-related.


Dear Mark:

The cops found him and took him to the psch ward, where (evidently) he got back on his prozac.  So, even though it is a lot of drama, it was good for him, because I know he must have seen a psychiatrist.

I keep giving him $ to come home and he spends it on other stuff (like a smartphone from Wal-mart "because he needs a GPS when he gets on the road").  Now, he says that he needs $ for his storage ($88) which I did not even know I was paying for!!  I don't know why he wants to pay another month, if he is supposedly going to Tennessee to live with his sister.

I told him that $ is the last that I am going to give him.  I had earmarked this for gas money to move to Tennessee, and I think he is going to blow it on that storage. 

He says that if I don't send $, he will have to steal food and it will all be my fault.
He still is stuck on blaming me for all of his woes. I feel like I need medication for depression.  At work, because I am standing up for myself on lingering issues, I know that this stressful situation is putting me on edge.  I applied for an inter-office transfer, a different job because I am so strained.

Thanks, Mark.


Your learning module has changed the way I’ve been parenting my kids. I’ve gone through all of them, however I’m still coping with some adjustment. For your information, my Overindulgence Questionnaire score was 90.
My husband and I are working and most of the time my children are left with my maid. My 19 year-old Oppositional Defiant Disorder kid has been assaulting my maid several times. I’ve told my maid to keep away from him when we’re not around and not to follow his orders all the time (he like to disturb her eg: order her to make coffee and fry eggs in the middle of the night even during sleep, telling her to watch TV programme together and not to leave the house even when she has some important things to do like buying goods). Being scared, she just followed whatever he has ordered for fear of being beaten again when the request is not fulfilled.
He is less rebellion now and has been communicating with the other siblings and involve with outdoor activity with my neighbour. However he still have difficulty to connect with people outside and he is very much dependant.
Now my maid has decided to go back since she could no longer bear the situation. My husband though, still insisted her to stay. I’m willing to make a police report of the assault even though my husband disagreed.
My questions are:
1.     How should I advise my maid? Is leaving the house a good choice?
I remember 3 years ago my Asperger son suffered Major Depression when the maid went on leave for 2 months. His depression continued for additional months after she returned. He was treated by Psychiatrist and was no longer depressed.

2.       Should I proceed with the police report?

3.       Should I isolate him from the rest of the siblings to ensure their safety?


Hi Mark,
I'm not sure if you take questions from the public for your weekly columns or not, but I have a conundrum with son. My son is high-functioning and in the 7th grade, but he's not very interested in engaging peers in conversation. At recess, he prefers to walk around the track by himself instead of talking with other kids. At lunch, he sits at a table with six other boys on the spectrum and admits that he doesn't really say much to them. He says he has different interests. He also doesn't talk much with kids in the hall or during class unless it's required. He tells me not to worry; he's fine and happy and doesn't really need friends since he has us (his parents) and his sister, who is one year younger. He used to be more interested in doing things with other kids -- namely playing video games, but not any more. Should we let him be? Or push the issue? (Although I don't know if you can "make" anyone talk to others.) He also has anxiety issues too.
Thank you for any advice you can provide.

My 6 year old grandson has been removed from school due to violent outbursts against his teacher, and the whole family is participating in his homeschooling at this time. I am caring for him several afternoons a week and have tried everything that has been suggested when discipline is necessary, but I cannot keep him in time out if he does not want to be there. Frankly, the only thing he responds to is the threat of a swat, but I feel deeply that this is just not the right way to discipline this boy. It seems like violence in order to keep him from resorting to violence makes no sense, and he is smart enough to know that. Short of tying him up, do you have any thoughts?


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