Do We Really Want to “Cure” Asperger’s/High-Functioning Autism?

Is it possible that everyone has a touch of Asperger’s (AS), also called High-Functioning Autism (HFA)? Think about it: all the features that characterize AS and HFA can be found in varying degrees in the “normal” population. For example:
  • A lot of people can engage in tasks (sometimes mundane ones) for hours and hours.
  • A number of “normal” people have outstandingly good rote memories and even retain eidetic imagery into adult life. 
  • Collecting objects (e.g., stamps, old glass bottles, railway engine numbers, etc.) are socially accepted hobbies.
  • Everyone differs in their levels of skill in social interaction and in their ability to read nonverbal social cues. 
  • Many individuals are visual, three-dimensional thinkers.
  • Many people can pay attention to detail – sometimes with painstaking perfection.
  • Many who are capable and independent as grown-ups have special interests that they pursue with marked enthusiasm.
  • Most men - and many women - prefer logic over emotion.
  • Pedantic speech and a tendency to take things literally can also be found in “normal” individuals.
  • The capacity to withdraw into an inner world of one's own special interests is available in a greater or lesser measure to all human beings.
  • There is an equally wide distribution in motor skills.

Other “autistic” traits that many “typical” people experience include:
  • Clumsiness
  • Don't always recognize faces right away 
  • Have a speech impediment early in life
  • Eccentric personality 
  • Flat, or blank expression 
  • Highly gifted in one or more areas 
  • Intense focus on one or two subjects 
  • Likes and dislikes can be very rigid 
  • Limited interests
  • May have difficulty staying in college despite a high level of intelligence
  • Preoccupied with their own agenda 
  • Repetitive routines or rituals 
  • Sensitivity to the texture of foods 
  • Single-mindedness 
  • Unusual preoccupations 
  • Difficulty understanding others’ feelings 
  • Great difficulty with small-talk and chatter
  • Has an urge to inform that can result in being blunt or insulting 
  • Lack of empathy at times
  • Lack of interest in other people 
  • May avoid social gatherings 
  • Preoccupied with their own agenda 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Can often be distant physically and/or emotionally

The list above is by no means exhaustive.

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

It is possible that some people are classified as having AS or HFA because they are at the extreme end of the normal continuum on ALL these features – or one particular aspect may be so marked that it affects the whole of their functioning?

The argument could be made that the difference between someone with AS/HFA and the “typical” individual who has a complex inner world is that the latter DOES take part appropriately in two-way social interaction, while the former does NOT. Also, the typical person, however elaborate his inner world, is influenced by his social experiences, whereas the person with AS/HFA seems cut off from the effects of outside contacts.

So, now a new question arises: Is it possible that AS and HFA are simply reflections of object-oriented individuals (i.e., those who have a preference for ideas, tasks and objects) versus people-oriented individuals (i.e., those who prefer social interaction over all else)? If so, does this preference make for a “disorder”?

Also, if we should view AS/HFA as a disorder, whose problem is it? Is it a problem for the person with the disorder, or for the people who have dealings with the affected person? If “normal” people have difficulty with AS/HFA individuals, but AS/HFA individuals are O.K. with themselves, then it would seem that the “typicals” own the disorder.

What if we stopped viewing AS and HFA as abnormal? Many individuals on the autism spectrum embrace their condition. Rather than seeking a “cure,” they seek respect for “neurodiversity.” They want to show that autism does NOT mean “limited,” rather it is simply a different way of thinking and viewing the world. Individuals with differently wired brains have always existed – some of them geniuses because of their autistic traits, not despite them.

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

Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences (e.g., AS, HFA, ADHD) are the result of natural variation in the human genome (i.e., an organism’s complete set of DNA). This represents a new way of looking at disorders that were traditionally characterized as medically or psychologically abnormal.

Neurodiversity is a viewpoint that is not universally accepted, although it is increasingly supported by science.  This science proposes that disorders like AS and HFA have a stable prevalence in human society as far back as we can measure.  We are realizing that developmental disorders emerge through a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental interaction – not the result of injury or disease. 

Talk of “cure” feels like an attack on the very being of many AS and HFA individuals. Some hate that word for the same reason other groups dislike talk of “curing gayness.” Thus, shouldn’t the accommodation of neurological differences be a similarly charged civil rights issue? If their diversity is part of their true nature, shouldn’t they have the right to be accepted and supported “as is?” 

Neurodiverse individuals have contributed many great things to human society.  If those contributions were truly influenced by neurological differences, then an attempt to “cure” such differences would seem to be extremely damaging to humanity.

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

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==> 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

  • Anonymous said… This is an excellent article! In my experience the window of 'neurotypical' is getting narrower and narrower. I have to chuckle when I hear all the labeling and categorizing of people these days - aren't 'labeling' and 'categorizing' hallmarks of Aspergers and HFA? What does that say about our society? People with Aspergers and HFA don't need to be cured. Neurotypicals need to be less rigid in their thinking regarding the wonderful range and diversity of the human brain:)
  • Anonymous said…I know I may be biased, partly due to the fact that I am Autistic. Yet I see many things on that list that apply to me and I don't see some of them as being entirely positive. Autism is generally identified as a multitude of these factors acting as either deficits or the brain's attempt at compensating for these deficits. If one is low functioning the factors contributing towards their Autism may almost be crippling. I am high functioning and I was torn to pieces before even attempting this post, yet I ferl strongly enough to attempt to advocate for those of us who tend to live with society's expectation that we should be the second coming of "Rain Man". Yet even as I undertake a course at Uni for Disability Studies, and don't see the academic value of this article, I do see where it is coming from. I do however, have to ask a question, can't these factors existing in almost everyone, be simply accredited to Human Diversity? Why must we glorify Autism and state (dangerously), that everyone has a degree of Autism in them? Because that in my perspective, sensationalises the stereotype that we all possess superhuman abilities. Sorry for the spiel, I do respect the article, but it is an important idea to raise.


Sexual Deviation in ASD Teens and Young Adults

"Do some teens with ASD make awkward advances to the opposite sex, which are viewed as harassment? Our 17 y.o. was recently called down to the Dean's office for 'making inappropriate advances' to a girl he has a crush on!"

Perhaps the most obvious trait of Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) is impairment of two-way social interaction. This is not due primarily to a desire to withdraw from social contact. Rather, the problem arises from a lack of ability to understand and use the rules governing social behavior.

These rules are complex, unwritten and unstated, constantly changing, and affect choice of clothing, eye contact, gesture, movement, posture, proximity to others, speech, and many other aspects of behavior.

The degree of skill in this area varies among “typical” people, but those with AS and HFA are outside the normal range, for example:
  • Many are over-sensitive to criticism and suspicious of others.
  • Some have a history of rather bizarre antisocial acts (perhaps because of their lack of empathy). 
  • Their social behavior is peculiar and naive.
  • They do not have the intuitive knowledge of how to adapt their approaches and responses to “fit in” with the needs and personalities of others. 
  • They may be aware of their difficulties – and even strive to overcome them – but in inappropriate ways.

Relations with the opposite sex provide a good example of the more general social ineptitude in AS and HFA. One 26-year-old male with AS observed that most of his peers had girlfriends and eventually married and had kids. He wished to be “normal” in this respect, but had no idea how to indicate his interest and attract a partner in a socially acceptable way. He asked some of his friends for a list of rules for talking to females, and tried to find “the secret” in various books. He had a strong sex drive, and on one occasion approached and kissed a female he had a crush on. As a consequence, he found himself in trouble with the police, and later tried to solve the problem by becoming solitary and withdrawn.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

Possibly because of the absence of a reference group, sexual interests among individuals with AS and HFA may be unusual, for example:
  • AS and HFA males may become addicted to adult internet sites, and a few have attracted police attention by downloading pictures of kids.
  • Fetishes are not uncommon and may occasionally lead to forensic problems, as with the person with AS who liked to impersonate doctors and ask women intimate questions about reproduction. 
  • Many young people with AS and HFA manage to suppress their sexuality. 
  • Teens with AS and HFA may relate better to younger kids than they do to their peer group, and may occasionally make inappropriate sexual approaches to them. Older teens – and even some grown-ups – may idealize childhood, and may be sexually attracted to kids for that reason. 
  • Young people with AS and HFA may rarely get into trouble indecently exposing themselves, but this may turn out to be something that someone else (often a girl) put them up to.

Stalking is the area in which the sex life of young people on the autism spectrum gives most cause for concern. “Crushes” are common in the teenage years, and young men with AS and HFA often develop them. Although “typical” teens are aware that their feelings are not going to be reciprocated by the opposite sex, this may not be obvious to the teenager with AS or HFA who may become inappropriately attached.

There is usually an initial phase during which the object of the attraction (the female) feels a bit flattered, a bit alarmed, or very caring toward the AS or HFA male who has become fixated on her. However, there may be phone calls, inappropriate notes, or statements made to others that lead the female who is the object of adoration to decide that “enough is enough.”

There is usually a confrontation that is often clumsily handled because the object of adoration is frequently someone like a teacher or nurse who has a duty of care for the AS or HFA male. The problems begin if this rejection is not accepted. The object of adoration may become an object of hatred and may be targeted with abusive calls or letters by the AS or HFA male. The female’s friends may be the victims of jealous attacks, or the female may be followed.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

How can parents and teachers help? Start by providing a few straightforward relationship tips. For example:
  1. Ask the girl how she's doing or what she's reading instead of commenting on her body parts.
  2. Be aware of the girl’s personal space.
  3. If she ignores you, drops eye contact, or walks away, back off. 
  4. It’s not rude of you to approach a girl, but understand that she is not being rude if she doesn't want to keep talking to you, especially if you initiated conversation while she was running an errand, waiting for the bus, or on her computer at a coffee shop.
  5. Look at her face instead of her chest. 
  6. Males are socialized to think that females don't really say what they mean. Wrong! Take her words at face value.
  7. Not all greetings are out of bounds. There is the matter of context. For example, early-morning dog-walkers may offer courteous "good mornings" as they pass each other on the sidewalk. However, commenting on a woman's form as she walks past is not acceptable. 
  8. Talk “to” the girl, not “at” her. 
  9. Know that there can be a fine line between flirtation and harassment.
  10. Above all, treat her with respect.

Most AS and HFA males will want a girlfriend, but may feel shy or intimidated when approaching the opposite sex. They may feel "different" from others. Although most “typical” teens place emphasis on being and looking "cool," teens with AS and HFA may find it frustrating and emotionally draining to try to “fit in.”

They may be immature for their age and be naive and too trusting, which can lead to social skills deficits (especially in the world of dating), teasing and bullying. All of these difficulties can cause these young people to become withdrawn, socially isolated, depressed and anxious.


Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism is an audio book designed to help parents understand every aspect of these related disorders. The simple yet highly effective strategies discussed in the audio book will help parents cope with - and manage - their child’s behavioral and emotional needs.

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Making the Abstract Concrete: Social Skills Interventions for Kids on the Spectrum

“Abstraction” is a relative concept related to the age of the youngster. For a 3-year-old, “the day after tomorrow” is a highly abstract concept. But for a teenager, “the day after tomorrow” is relatively concrete. The ability to think abstractly is associated with the ability to transfer what is learned from one context to another.

For instance, a child who is a reasonably abstract thinker may learn the organization of an essay in English class, and then transfer that learning to his writing in Social Studies class. Conversely, a concrete thinker may need to be specifically taught in both classes.

Relative to some academic skills, teaching "social competence" involves abstract skills and concepts. Because young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) tend to be concrete and literal, the abstract nature of these interpersonal skills (e.g., kindness, reciprocity, friendships, thoughts, feelings, etc.) makes them especially difficult to master.

As it relates to learning social skills, here are some ways that parents and teachers can make the abstract more concrete for children on the autism spectrum:

1. “If-then” rules can be taught when the social behaviors involved are predictable and consistent (e.g., If someone says “thank you,” then you say “you're welcome”).

2. A large “Z” made of cardboard can used to visually depict the back-and-forth of a conversation.

3. AS and HFA kids learning eye contact may respond better to the more concrete “point your eyes” than to “make eye contact” …or “look at me.”

4. Kids can be taught to look at the eyes of others using a cardboard arrow. Instruct them to hold the arrow on the side of their face next to their right eye, and point it at the eyes of the person to whom they are speaking. This aligns their face and eyes in the correct direction. Once this skill has been practiced using this concrete visual cue, use of the arrow can be faded. When the AS or HFA youngster needs a reminder to look in someone's eyes, the arrow can be held up unobtrusively as a cue. Such visual prompts can then be faded, and the skill can be practiced in more natural contexts.

5. Knowing that an AS or HFA child is a concrete thinker, parents and teachers should adjust their language accordingly. Avoid the use of language that is at too high a level of abstraction, or link abstract language with its concrete equivalent. For instance, in encouraging a child to study hard, the mother or father may say, “Give it your best shot!” However, “Give it your best shot” is a metaphor that may be too abstract. A better alternative would be to say, “Study real hard,” which is a literal or concrete equivalent.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism
6. Personal space can be defined concretely as “an arm away” or “a ruler away” instead of “too close.”

7. Short menus of behavior options can be presented for particular social situations for these “special needs” kids to choose among (e.g., “three things you can do to deal with teasing”).

8. The new behavior must be clearly put into use, and the AS or HFA youngster should be taught to identify it and differentiate it from other behaviors (e.g., “Is this a friend or not a friend?” … “Are you following directions or not?” …  “Is this a quiet or a loud voice?” …  “Were you being teased or not?”).

9. Visually-based instruction is another example of a way to make the abstract concrete. Many kids with AS and HFA demonstrate a visual preference, or learn best with visually cued instruction. Incorporating visual cues, prompts, and props to augment verbal instruction can make abstract social skills more tangible and easily understood. Pictures can be used to define concepts or clarify definitions.

10. Voice volume or affect intensity can be depicted visually, in a thermometer-like format.

After implementing these techniques for a period of time, gradually remove the supports. Just as elementary school teachers gradually remove their students’ reliance on fingers as they do simple adding and subtracting problems, parents and teachers should gradually remove the concrete supports in order to facilitate the AS or HFA youngster’s more abstract social skills.

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

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for May, 2016]

 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.


You are a clever man. You're saving thousands of parents and their children. I just want you to know you're immensely humanitarian and I'm so very grateful to you and the Internet for finding you. After all these years I've only just discovered my son is probably Aspergers but have just thought he's always been a bit awkward and contrary. I never considered he might be wired differently to other children (though he's certainly different to my younger sons). He would hate labels in his clothes as a toddler, would fight other children causing me to avoid socialising with him, going in car seats, getting his hair cut at the barbers etc but he got through school and worked hard despite OCD tendencies and never had behavioural problems at school. He just seemed to lose all motivation after his A Level mock exams in February and wants to hide away and play on his games all day.
It's going to be a struggle but with your help I  hope to get him through before he ends up on the wrong side of the law.
Seeing his counsellor still as he likes him and also trying hypnotherapy for his anxiety. Do you think he will need additional specialist support as he needs to somehow motivate himself to get back to his studies and the outside world? His doctor has prescribed IBS medicine and told him to carry on seeing his counsellor but Aspergers has never been discussed. Do you think I should see him again and ask what support he can obtain with regards to his further education now?


Hi Mark,
I just purchased the book. The program help parent with defiant asperger teen we purchased a few weeks ago really works. My son has not argued with me about two weeks.He is very mild asperger kid, I feel sorry I have not  looked for help earlier since he gets along with my husband very well. He only likes to control me and pick his younger sister. My husband tries his best to help us get along with each other until I change my parent style after I read your book and listened to your vedio.
Again, thank you very much for your help.


Dear Mark,
I have been writing to you on and off about my son Aditya. His main problem is depression. This has been under pharmacological  treatment for the last three and a half years. He also has frequent mood swings between being ok and very depressed.

We  have been telling him about his Asperger personality traits and how the social experiences may contribute to depression and that social skill development is doable and will help him get over his sadness and social inhibition . However he has not really taken this very seriously.
 His main problem used to be about his lack of success with having a girlfriend. However now his depression has made him disinterested in everything and he says he doesn't even want a girlfriend any more. Many changes of antidepressants seem to help only marginally. He seems to have given up on having a happy life. Also he has been reading up on spirituality and it seems to have made him even more detached. He probably has taken it all too literally...
You had once said that you do 'life coaching ' of Asperger Synd people. Is this something you still do? Would you be willing to help Aditya rediscover his joy of living , which he did once have in his younger days? He is 29 years old now.
Please do let me know the details about this,  and also how much you charge for your help.


Thank you for providing this resource for us. A little background: My daughter, Josie, is 12 yrs old and in 6th grade. Since she was 4 yrs old she has had assessments done by pediatricians, psychologists, physical therapists, neuro-psychs, and speech therapists. Lots of things were ruled out but until she was 7 yrs old she did not recieve a diagnosis from anyone. A psychologist finally gave her a PDD-NOS diagnosis. She started got her an IEP at school and she started physical therapy and ADHD meds (the meds did not do anything but ramp up her anxiety) she was generally doing quite well at the time, but struggled with impulsivity and self care skills, it was managable for us at the time. She is creative and sings, plays piano and is a great artist. These skills have kept her happy and occupied while she was younger.

Now she is 12 and in 6th grade, and her deficits with executive function and social skills are starting to affect her emotionally. It is no longer enough for her to draw and play music, she desperately wants friends. Resources for tween/teen girls have been difficult for us to find even though we live in Los Angeles. The good programs are out of our reach financially and our insurance won't cover. She has done some talk therapy but that did not seem to help. So we are really struggling with how to help her.  Her main issues are:

1. Self care (she has poor personal hygiene and she will shower everyday but forget to use soap, she doesnt brush her teeth properly but refuses to let us help her, she won't wash her hands and has trouble taking care of her hair etc) This has become more much challenging as she wants and needs independence and gets very upset if we try to help her in these areas. I don't want to have her feel humiliated- so we have made a list that hangs in the bathroom, we give her gentle reminders, send her back in the shower etc. This has been going on for about a year and with our way of doing this she still has not been able to make it routine.  This issue affects the next area she struggles with.

2. Friendship/social skills: She is friendly and fun and initially seems to be able to make friends. These friendships don't last very long though. And she has never really had a true friend. No hanging out with friends after shool, sleep overs etc. She is lonely. She is not very open with us so we do not know what exactly ends these short term friendships, but we are assuming that she behaves in a way that makes the friend distance themselves from her. She tends to obsess over the friend and contacts them too much, her humor is a bit off and she can be very blunt. She also does not understand the give and take needed to establish close relationships and is not very interested in the other childs point of view or interests and mostly talks about herself. We do try to model this for her as well as talk to her about the importance of asking questions, showing interest and not overwhelming a friend. But with this we also are not making much progress.

3. Computer/online use: She is completely obsessed with being on the computer. She loves games like Movie star planet and IMVU. These games have chat rooms and lots of on line social interaction Ironically we have found that she has learned a lot from these games in terms of how to socially interact, music, fashion and other things that girls her age are interested in. So initially we thought it was a good outlet for her to have a quasi social life. The characters the kids create interact etc. And it makes her extremely happy when she is playing these games. At the same time she is not always safe and gives out personal info or gets sucked into drama that is above her maturity level. She creates dramatic alter egos for attention  and we had to shut it down. She was very depressed about this for a very long time and began self harming by cutting her upper arms. Her psychiatrist told us that this is not uncommon for teen girls with ASD and is a form of self stimulation. She ha!
 s not attempted this in along time and we now let her use the computer for very short supervised periods of time. But she is sneaky and will take my phone or use a siblings tablet.

I know that it is best to focus on one issue at a time. These are our main issues currently and we are not sure where to start and which issue to focus on. Her moods are very dependent upon access to being on-line (we use it as a rewards system and that seems to work) We dont know if we should completely take computer/tablet/phone privileges away from her until we have a handle on her behaviors and have built trust, and at the same time she almost becomes depressed if she does not have access because this is her only social connectivity and she really needs that at her age. We hope that you can help guide us on where to start.

We are enrolling her in a once weekly social skills group and she does have a psychiatrist that she sees for anxiety meds and ADHD management but he does not believe that she has ADHD. He tells her that she is immature for her age and that she will grow out of it. What else should we be doing? Are there any skills groups for teens re executive function? We have searched everywhere and cannot seem to find anything for girls her age. Most services seem to be for younger kids. Even social skills groups are mostly for boys.


            I'm sure this is not the first letter you have received from a grandparent asking for your help or if the program can help,so I'm hoping the answer is yes it can. Our grandson is turning 9 in a few weeks was diagnosed with Aspergers in first grade I have noticed he is becoming more aggressive toward his sister and two cousins whom are both girls and younger than him, and not just verbally abusive but also physically. His parents of course are embarrassed and frustrated and his Aunts and Uncles are starting to avoid including him in family functions for fear he will hurt one of the girls, at our last family gathering there were friends over with boys about the same age as him and he punched one in the face and threatened to saw him in half  (I'm hoping he had watched a circus act and meant this in a comedic way but how do you explain that to a parent as they are rushing out the door in horror with their boys). We live about two hours away from them and don't see them as often as we would like but I would love to be able to share this with our daughter so she, our grandson and granddaughters can enjoy family time again.......help?


 I have this immensely stressful situation with our son and in all honesty, I am alone in parenting and managing the chaos because my husband is holding on to so much resentment that he is unwilling to address it or let go of it.  I just don't know how to be the anchor in my family.  I am completely depleted by my sons behavior, but also very much depleted with my husbands reactions, resentment and anxiety.  He also has, all or nothing type of the thinking and an intense level of going through the anxiety cycle that is provoked by my sons behavior.  I feel ungrounded and anxious myself.  I am having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other this week.

My son has refused to come home because he does not want his car taken from him.  We know he is town because I have seen his car in passing and he has texted once.  He has been gone for 2 days and this creates much anxiety in the sense that he has been chemically imbalanced for days now, not taking his meds.  His impulsivity is off the charts and with this imbalance it makes things very nerve wracking on our end because anything can happen.  Our own anxiety kicks in because it's now a safety issue where if he hurts someone we are liable and responsible.  Realistically, what are our options here? 


I've downloaded your very encouraging and extensively-equipped e-book and begun to implement better discipline techniques with our almost 17-year old son.
He has crippling social anxiety which has prevented him from continuing with his studies since February and we're trying all manner of therapy to help him with those issues but he is the most obnoxious, spoilt lad and fits the profile of your example aspergers teen very much although he has got through school all these years with no problems if he has had problems mixing with others but only to a degree until recently.

He has a small group of friends but has totally isolated himself to mainly communicating online so is only reinforcing his social phobia by avoiding going out.

Coupled with these problems he blames us for everything and refuses to seek help or discuss what he wants to do which gets very frustrating.
Today my husband demanded he discusses things with us and it resulted in a huge rage incident where both myself and my husband tried to physically throw him out of the house but were unable to. He's very strong and tall with the mind of a 9 year old like you say.

Anyway we told him to give us his laptop after we confiscated the Xbox and was met with more foul language but he eventually gave it to us after we said he can have his stuff back after 3 days if he doesn't abuse us any more.

He is still being abusive and I guess I'm to tell him he will lose an extra day? The trouble is he will still ignore that and carry on being abusive. Whenever we confiscate his stuff he immediately reacts with abuse. He still has his phone but I've put a timer on the wifi now so nobody can use it after 11pm.
What has prevented us tackling it previously is because giving in I guess has prevented these raging tantrums which his younger brothers have had to witness numerous times.

I'd just like some further clarification on the abuse-after-consequence is enforced as I want to avoid piling up never-ending consequences  but the profanity is simply demonic towards us.

Any advice gratefully received as you seem to know exactly what we're dealing with.


Last night I was hurt by my 13 year old daughter . She didn't want to leave a party ("I was finally having fun mom ") and hit me in the driveway with
Her coat in the face . She didn't realize her phone was in there and it caused a huge welt above my eye immediately and I am still
In pain .

I want to make sure my reaction sends the right message to this serious issue . I am more than hurt. Of course
I am worried someone saw from the front window and our friendship with the hosts and guests will
Be impacted .   I know my daughter is most likely an aspergers teen and was struggling all day . ( a stressful
Private school Spanish exam that cause tons of anxiety that morning, a cake that didn't turn out right and she
Abandoned her friends and the project and the mess at my house that afternoon .  I know she was reluctant to come to the party and I struggle with
Leaving her home because once I do she tries to skip/avoid that social event each time . It seems important to bring her the few places we r still invited and welcome. These families have nice daughters her age that are really tolerant and nice to her.

What would u do ? For how long ? Who what where when????  I know the why .

Please help me . Our therapist sees us every other week and downplays most of my concerns.


Hi There,

I am really concerned about my 9 -year old, he's adjust about 3 years.  My
son has a multitude of complex medical issues. He was recently
re-evaluated for his special ed eligibility.  We found out that he has
receptive language disorder and most likely from the OT eval central
auditory. He's been through OT and speech when he was younger and some
early intervention. I have been told he's been cleared of being on the
spectrum and that was through several speech therapist.

Here is what Joel is doing. His expressive language is o.k., but when he
speaks, usually excited about something he will repeat the sequence of
something he did or something he gets to do. Its almost like the brain
gets stuck or a continuous loop, I try to redirect , but he still stays

I live in a small town, so not allot of services, would like some input.

Here is what he does:  "So for example his dad will take him to turn in
cans and then to get a video after he has save his money."

So this is Joel's conversation: Daddy going to take me to get cans , turn
in, go to game stop and he will repeat that for several hours, some times
a pause, until it happens.  plus excessive talking and interruptions. Dad
and I both try to redirect, but it does wear on us.

I have been doing research, and I wasn't sure if this would fall under
Asperger's or not. I know that Echolalia term has been used ..

Any input would be helpful...


Dear Mr. Hutten,
I am a mom of a 17 years old boy. It was only last year I brought him to see a psychiatrist after he broke down and refused to attend public school.  The psychiatric just said that he has asperger syndrome after seeing my son body language. He was unable to make him talk after 4 session with him. He told me it would be fruitless if my son refuse to talk to him. It was best for us as parents to guide him at home.
My son was a normal kid until we sent him to Chinese speaking school which he did not master. It was fine for the 1st year, for the 2nd year results was not good. I spent time to coach him Malay language and sent him Chinese tuition. His grade getting better for Malay but not Chinese. He never fail the Chinese subject, though. By the way, all subjects were in chinese. He excelled in his chinese maths. Maths is his favourite subject.
It was until when he was in year 3, i believe one of the teachers made fun of him or scolded him in front of the class that cause him refusing to speak to teachers until now. He is a very prideful child and smart kid. He knows he was rude for not speaking or not looking at teachers when spoken with. He would speak to his friend and the friend would answer to the teacher.
My son told me he has social anxiety and didn't know why he was reacting that way. He was very frustrated that was when he accepted psychiatric help. But when psychiatric waz unable to help, he felt hopeless for a while and refuse seeing other psychiatric. I could not even mention it, he would shut himself out.
Since the day he broken down, I hv pulled him out of public school and let him studying ICGSE O-level on line. He is coping very well with his studies and less depressing now. 


At school, if he gets yellow or orange behavior card, he is grounded for 2 days and no privileges to use his toy and free time. (he needs to get green or blue behavior color to receive all of his privileges)
We have noticed that he sometimes change the color of the behavior card he receives (he erase yellow color, and change to green before come back home), and we have decided to ground him for 3 days if he lie or cheating. (2 days grounding for normal violation and 3 days of grounding for cheating or lie)

Problem is he violates(cheating, do not follow grounding direction) for almost everyday since middle of the April, and we reset grounding for almost 3 weeks. So, he has no use of anything for 3 weeks!  Incident happened yesterday was, he stole small accessary (lock and keys) at school book fair, and teacher noticed him, and consequently got a office visit.  Me and my husband also brought him to local police station last night to teach him a lesson.  However, he brings his wallet to school today to buy the small accessary without our permission.

I know 3 weeks of grounding is really too harsh to him, and he seems frustrated everyday.
I wonder we are really in the right track...to keep this program is worthy for him.
Actually his first IEP meeting is 2 days ahead, we don't have much strategies for the meeting.
He has diagnosed as ADHD in 2015 and additionally diagnosed as mild ASD & Asperger's syndrome in April 2016 from private doctor. (he is 7 years old and 2nd grade)
School district has also assessed him during 1 month, and I have received evaluation report yesterday. For your reference, I am attaching APPENDIX part of school evaluation report.


Hi, I adopted my granddaughter at age 6, she is 11 now.  She was taken away from her mom at age 3 and placed in foster care.  She lived out of state so I did not have much of a connection until she came to live with me.  She has been diagnosed with RAD and ODD.  She was in counseling the first 3 years she lived with me, and the counselor felt she was no longer in need of his services.  I just had a incident at school where she lied and said another student hit her, but found out she had not and that the student had accused my granddaughter of stealing one of her pencils.  She went do far with this lie that she told 2 teachers and the principle about it.  I have seen more anger issues lately, she has stolen things off and on, and much lying.  My question is what can I do to help her?  Is there a special kind of therapist or counselor I need her to see, and what approach should I be taking with her?  Thank you for your time


My 10 year old son has ODD. He gets sent home from school early everyday & his schedule is only 3 & a half hours daily already. The school has called DFS in the past for my “inability to parent” . He did great for a few months but like everything else it worked for awhile then it no longer did with no apparent reason for the change. Everything I try takes so long to work the school assumes I’m doing nothing at all. Explaining what I’m doing also does no good because they assume I’m either making excuses for my son or myself. The last time we spoke about his behavior they were vague & mentioned ‘outside agencies’ might be necessary. I’m at the end of my rope with no end in sight. HELP!


Hello, I am seeking answers for a situation I have with my son who has Asperger's/ADHD/etc. The situation is so multi-layered, I don't know where to begin. I will try to condense. My son has Asperger's/high-functioning autism, and he is so intelligent in some areas that it is really hard to tell for some people. If you don't live with him, people just think he is a selfish jerk. At age 19, he decided to exclude himself from family holiday gatherings that have always been dysfunctional and torturous for us to make our obligatory attendance every year. He told me to tell everyone that if they wanted to see him, they were welcome to come by and visit as he would be celebrating comfortably and happy at home. I commend him for his independence and logic, but they call him selfish and rude. Anyways, this is just a little insight about his nature. The problem I seek answers to at the moment is this: Almost a year ago, his girlfriend moved in with us (my son and I) the day she turned 18, to get away from her “controlling” parents. Last night, I was in the kitchen cooking and they came in to make their dinner. My son was apparently trying to teach her how to cook. This is when I noticed what other people have recently noticed. He is very controlling of her. He was telling her very detailed instructions in a very rigid manner, and she had no room for error. I had to step in and comment when I saw her body language and facial expressions, which reminded me of my own past abuse issues from bad relationships. I told him to let her do it the way she wanted, more or less. She then looked mortified at what his next reaction would be. He became very silent and I knew a storm was brewing. In a nutshell, I have many of my own issues, my son has many of his own issues, and his girlfriend has hers. We are oozing issues all over each other and I don’t know where to begin, as we all need help. My son won’t do anything to seek help. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!


Dr. Hutten
I am a speech pathologist working in a private school for children with learning differences and high functioning autism or asp in high school.  I have experience with younger children but need more information regarding teenagers.  I would like some suggestions for my program and especially would like information I can give to my parents.  Thank you for your support. 


My daughter is 15 now and  was diagnosed at an early age.  She has had early intervention, sporadic therapy , and medication.  We recently changed her meds as abilify was way too expensive and it was not a perfect fit either, she is now on Lexapro.  Currently she is having many rage issues, anxiety, meltdowns and has described herself as scratching herself on her bus ride home due to over stimulation around her.  She does see a therapist and a psychiatrist, although my husband and I are seeking additional resources to help with her behavior. Will this program be helpful for her and us? When her therapist sees her my daughter presents as a normal adolescent , not like the individual we experience daily for this reason I don't feel the therapy she is receiving is very helpful .


Dear Mark,
I just came across your website while searching in desperation for advice on what to do with my 13 year old stepson. I'm not sure if you offer advice over email, but I thought I'd try. 

My stepson (we'll call him Alex) has always been hard to discipline because he has absolute to response to consequences - good or bad. You can offer the exact thing he's been wanted and he's willing to throw it out the window in favor of acting out or not listening or you can take away absolutely everything and he doesn't care. I have often wondered if he has separation anxiety disorder or depression (as I tend be a bit of an armchair psychologist). 

His mom lacks basic parental instincts or behavior and will often say the most awful things you've heard a mom say to a kid. She left him to be with another man in the middle of the night and that's part of why I wonder about the separation anxiety disorder (not getting attached to things that can be taken away). Alex is with us Friday PM-Tuesay AM which means every weekend is awful - his defiance completely ruins every weekend.

After 5 years of me pushing for a conversation with the school and the doctor, my husband finally pursued an ADD/ADHD evaluation because Alex was clearly off-the-charts ADD and we received the diagnosis in March. Instantly, on adderol, Alex was a different kid - handwriting changes, he was thinking critically, writing in complete sentences, clearly articulating what's happening in school, remembering things etc. His grades went from Fs to Bs in a matter of weeks.

BUT, getting him out of bed has always been a challenge and we've seem to run head on into teenage defiance meeting a body that needs rest from both puberty and the meds. He absolutely refuses to get out of bed for school, and because he doesn't care about consequences, your suggestions from this post aren't working. We fought super hard to get him onto the baseball team through his new 504 and despite of his bad grades. He's thriving, but willing to throw it away because he won't get out of bed. He doesn't care about make-up homework or grades and will just flat out refuse to do anything my husband tells him to do. He was always nice to me, but has become flat-out defiant and nasty to me and won't do anything. Just yesterday, one of our chickens had been attacked and had no skin on his head; I was only home with Alex (who was sleeping) and ran into his room with a bloody chicken in my hands asking for help saving it's life and he just rolled over, told me to get a towel and deal with it myself, and went back to sleep. I no longer choose to engage with him (which is probably the opposite of what I should do, but I can't take the abuse being hurled at me, and as the stepparent, I'm backing away).

My husband is at a complete loss of what to do and feels helpless. I'm newly pregnant and need to focus on minimizing my stress. 

Any help you can offer would be appreciated more than you could know.

I read online this program might work for adults.  My son became a diabetic at age 23-diabetes type one. He now was living out of state. His job moved him there. Alcohol wa a problem in college but once diabetic he quit drinking.  He was in hospital frequently with keto acidosis. A pump helped wonderfully for 5 years but with insurance changes could no longer afford supplies.  Now he is on dialysis and has gastroparesis.  Why am I asking niw you say "he purposely shoots himself in foot all the time"  he much if the time has vomiting diarrhea or both.  He did not like last endocrinologist and didn'go until had to. Wouldn't change either.  I think he could help some with gastroparesis . After about 10 days of Gi issues wanted to go out to eat after studying menu ordered fajitas with chorizo. Eric I said to him chorizo?  We hadn't been home an hour until all came up? Why he knew better.


Good Morning!
I am back to scouring the internet for solutions on what to do with my son, when I came across your website.  I am considering trying your OPS, but I have a couple of questions for you. This system seems to be tailored more towards defiant, oppositional children, and my son doesn't really fall into that category.  (My son just turned 15 this month and is on medication for ADHD.) 
However, he has been sneaking out of the house repeatedly, despite our efforts to keep him from it.  A few of the nights he snuck out he and some friends stole the school's driver's ed car and the police brought him home.  So he has been in trouble with the law, which as it turns out was very lenient with him and only gave him community service, took his license, and gave him a curfew.  I thought the curfew would deter him from sneaking out but it hasn't. We have taken all of his electronics to deter communication with these "friends", however he keeps finding ways to get iPods, he stole his sisters, and his friends keep providing him with them. 
We also grounded him from doing anything outside of the house, no friends ect.  We started a reward/punishment system with him where if he does certain things like sneaking out for example he gets another month of grounding; picks on his brother or sister, an additional day; and if he does certain positive things he can reduce his grounding.  We thought putting this in his hands would help give him control over the situation and realize his actions have consequences.  It has been going great during the day, he has been more responsible and doing what we ask around the house, earning back some days from his grounding, then we find out he snuck out 3 more times earlier this month and had one of his friends Ipods, which is how we found out he had snuck out!
I don't know what more to do.  We have tried counseling (which didn't help at all) and even tried to get him in to a boys home for help, but that isn't going to work either unless we want to be bankrupt!  Will your system help us too? 
He is a good kid, loving, in fact he acts immature for his age.  The problem is he has this other side to him that he continues to sneak out to hang out with his friends despite all we have tried, or even the fact that he could get in trouble with the law being out after curfew.  He claims he meets with his friends because he and his friends confide in each other, his friends need someone to talk to. I believe there has been some drinking involved initially.  And he was messing with making cigarettes before as well.  I have no idea if that has stopped.  Oh, and did I mention the lying?  He is a very good liar. 
No one seems to have any answers for us, not the counselor, the states attorney, his doctor.  I don't know what else to do aside from having a security system installed on our house and hire a babysitter to watch him all day! We cannot trust him at all.


Hi there

I'm a mum from Scotland is despair. My son is having several problems at school and unfortunately I'm not receiving much help from his teachers or the school itself.

How do I know if my son has Asperges. I've been through many websites and he does follow some of the patterns, but by no means all.

He struggles to get involved in teams and often prefers to play his own game, he's happy for others to get involved but he struggles to involve himself in their games.

He lacks empathy and resilience, things we are working on. His teacher recently suggested he receive support with his spelling and social stories for his inability to get involved with his peers. Does this mean she suspects Asperges?

I am very lost and need help. Any suggestions would be gladly received.


Hi Mark,

Thanks for your follow up email. 

Currently encountering cross road about my marriage and we just got married last year October.  Its our second marriage!  When he told me after we got married that he is Aspie which I've no cue what is that about.  He seems to be fairly normal and smart but he does have some issues which I thought it was related to his family upbring.

I have been reading about Asperger and does helped me to understand certain behaviours of his.  The point is I am not sure he is aware of his aspie issue can destroy the relationship?  It has been challenging to deal with his disrespectful name calling towards me?  Not feeling remorseful nor sorry.

We have not been talking for a week now, emailed him (he said communicated via email) to ask for a proper discussion on how are we going to move forward. His replied was he is not ready and he is shutting down. He just returned from US ( we living in Asia) and he had an back operation few weeks ago.

Anyway, I am ready to give up now. 


Hi Mark,

I came across your interesting website and decided to write to you. I have a 27 year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome who has refused to communicate with me for 10 years. I love him and was his advocate all his life. His behavior towards me became violent at around age 13-14 and then, at 17, his father was forced to let him live with him. His father and step mother did not want him but coped with the situation. My son turned against me and they allowed it. My AS son lives with his girlfriend and doesn’t even communicate with my younger son anymore. I have reached out and searched for an answer to this sad situation for years. My AS son needs social skills help (he is gifted and bright, drives, takes care of himself and girlfriend but doesn’t work or go to college). I am wishing for an intervention of some kind. 


We have an almost 24 yr old son, Andrew, with Aspergers’ (though he denies it).  We also have a 20 year old daughter, Alison, with Rett Syndrome.  Andrew blames Alison for ruining his life.  He claims he was traumatized at an early age by her because he didn’t understand what was going on with her.  We tried desperately to help him to understand her condition as will as try to provide equal time between the two of them.  He now claims that he was totally paralyzed with fear and afraid to ask for help.  He is now mad that we never realized it.  We’ve had him in therapy on and off for years trying to help him deal with our family situation; nothing seemed to provide relief.  It wasn’t until three years ago that we told him of his diagnosis and, if hind sight is 20-20, we probably should have told him from the beginning.  Both kids were diagnosed around the same time and we didn’t want him to feel that something was “wrong” with him like there was with his sister.  Anyway, for the past three years he’s been in therapy and has been seen by numerous Psychiatrists (he hates them all because he feels the profession is BS).  He says he doesn’t consider his sister to be human and we need to put her away so he can get on with his life.  That is not an option for us for various reasons.  The bottom fell out a few weeks ago and we’ve had several family sessions with his Psychologist.  Unfortunately we haven’t really gotten anywhere.  Andrew has his own apartment, drives for Uber, and can, for the most part, live on his own but he comes and stays at our house quite frequently because he says he keeps having relapses because “of her” and can’t get on with his life. The stress of him being here is insurmountable.  We in no way minimize how he felt as a little kid, but we do see a pattern here.  He has always done the classic obsessing  over things which have lasted for months at a time and we think he is doing it again with this, only this has manifested into something very damaging.  It is almost like he enjoys being the victim, the comfort of the attention from his dad myself, and his psychologist, and the excuse to not have to become responsible.  We are at our wits end.  We think his Psychologist is too passive and basically lets him vent without giving him concrete skills to overcome this.  It’s so frustrating because he would rather blame everyone for his woes.  There has to be a way of getting him unstuck from his past and take responsibility for his thoughts, feelings, etc.  How do we do this?   Your help would be greatly appreciated.


Hey Mark!
I'd like to pick your brain on something.
I work at a company that trains individuals with AS and HFA how to develop apps, games via technology. 
There is an individual I will refer to as Nick (that's my son's name) with AS.  Nick has had a crush on two different neurotypical young female staff members.  The first crush was handled by one of the (male) directors.  This director talked to Nick about his apparent 'crush' on female #1 was not appropriate since she was staff, etc. 
Now when Nick sees female #1 he literally runs in order to avoid/escape her presence.
Last week Nick tried to kiss Female #2 by telling her he wanted to show her something.  He had her seat in front of a computer and when she sat, he put his hand softly around the back of her neck and reached down and tried to kiss her.  She rejected his attempt.  Female #2 told him no and held her hands up to block his kiss.  He voiced that she was giving him all of the signals that she was interested in having a relationship. 
Female #2 feels awful that Nick was under the wrong impression.  The director called him into the office and explained that it is inappropriate for Nick to have a relationship with staff. 
Female #2 also feels awful that her 'actions' may have gotten Nick in trouble. 
I told her to be prepared for his escape/avoidance behavior next week. 
She told him last week that they would talk  about the scenario and he said don't come near me.
Do you have some helpful advice for her?  And for him?
Thanks.  Interested in your thoughts!


My son was recently diagnosed, because I noticed his increased difficulty to keep friends, he's 8 years old, and nobody ever gave us an indication of his situation. I always had to ask him about his social time at school and last year wasn't that bad, he had a best friend, but this year little by little he's become isolated, even kids who were friendly to him, now are rejecting him. How can I help him? It breaks my heart to see that he used to be a lively and happy kid and now he's not like that.


Hi Mark,
First off, I wanted to compliment you on the page you have created at http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2010/09/aspergersautism-online-resources.html. While I was on the page for work, I noticed you featured FamilyEducation's homepage:
FamilyEducation is a great resource for teachers, but what if you want to easily create and customize a free lesson plan for a math, science and language arts class? Well, our startup, FormSwift, has a solution.
We thought that we could create better-looking, more efficient lesson plan templates, which could help teachers and educators expedite the process of writing a lesson plan at absolutely no cost. Here is our finished work:
In my opinion, our Lesson Plans Hub is more thorough, up-to-date, and user-friendly than any other existing online lesson plan template resource, not to mention it is completely free for anyone to use. So, considering you have previously shared FamilyEducation's website, I think it would be great if you could add our Lesson Plans Hub as a companion tool for your readers.
I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration!


We have seen 4 therapists, 2 pediatricians, an internal medicine doctor, a sleep study doctor, taken a 15 minute test for ADD from licensed psychologist, consulted psychiatrists, been in an inpatient behavioral health center for a little over 2 weeks. I have had conflicting advice and diagnoses. One therapist said no to Borderline Personality or Aspergers. One therapist said he may possibly be on the spectrum. Another had a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Psychiatrists one said he was depressed and put him on Prozac. Which seemed to help, but the son quit taking when he goggled what it was for. Another psychiatrist prescribed Adderal which seemed to help one day but he stayed up all night playing video games and blamed the medicine. He quit taking. The latest therapist is seeing obvious signs of video game addiction. He has stayed up 24 hours playing when allowed by therapist advice. (Awake for 36 hours with 1 1/2 nap.) Refusing to do school and stay in bed all day when gaming taken away. Currently 6 months behind in school. Current therapist sees possible personality disorders including borderline and narcissism. Son will be 17 in a month. We have not had autism tested, but therapist suggested. Our teen is non-compliant concerning medicines, therapy appointments, and doctor's appointments. We have made and missed multiple appointments. No guarantees to get compliance on anything. He is a picky eater. 6'2 and 145 lbs. Only wants certain foods at home or eat out daily. Very difficult child. Lazy, not motivated. Doesn't care if he is a high school drop-out. His plan is to live at home with parents, play video games and spend his car fund savings account on gun graphics for his game. Need help.


Hi Mark:
My son threatened suicide and is now in  a treatment center.
We have struggled all of his life . However, now that all the
stress of school is gone and the pressure is off I can see
the mental component much more clearly.
It gets lost in public school and in daily life.
Now placing him in an alternative school for High Functioning Autism.
is extremely difficult .
I have my work cut out for me . Matthew , has an I.e.p, but the school
thinks they can handle it . They cant I am seeking counsel in my area.
This book is going to help us further parent Matthew, my son .Thanks.



I think I have a brother with ASD, it's causing my mother and I a great deal of emotional problems. Can you help me to understand if he does actually have this, or just a total asshole or psychopath. It would really help us to deal with him. 

I can chat via skype, and send you a very long email thread that will show you everything about our relationship. 

Please get back to me. My skype is: olli
I get a lot of spam, so please include a message saying it's about this with your request. 



We have a son with high functioning aspergers. We live in California. He was adopted at birth as well. He is a great kid but has always been difficult. He is being a bit rebellious and has trouble with disrespect to us and anger. He is pretty social but sabotages any friendships even though he is liked. He suffers from low self esteem and wrong perspectives. We are not doing well as a family here and are seeking help. Maybe in depth therapy somewhere to help him and us with our relationship. He is not violent or a drug user and we are a Christian family. Do you know of any place he can go for some therapy that would be safe and helpful with the knowledge or aspergers .? Appreciate any help.


Can you point me to links/help related to an ex-spouse who is enabling & coddling 20 yr old aspie son, specifically what WE can do to set boundaries with 1. son (who refuses to go to therapy/help) and 2. mother (who coddles like you rarely see, e.g. mom texts before he goes over there if he wants his cinnamon sugar toast ready-level of coddling, etc..)

My husband (Dad) and I (step-mom) are all on board with suggestions per Mark's launching advice, however while ex-spouse sees spectrum behavior, she has ignored Mark's info which we sent to her and seems to believe her "ways" will someday ("maybe it will take him until he's 27") finally "work" and he'll be independent.  

Her level of coddling with a NT would be dysfunctional and harmful for launching.  Add an Aspie and it's lethal.

What can we do to set healthy boundaries with son and ex-wife, so that when the next crisis happens it's on her and he can't live here unless he gets help and shows effort towards independence.

-admitted to hospital psych ward after he wigged out about a family friend (girl), who took him under her wings away at college, finally set HER boundary and said you need to figure this out by yourself..... he must have thought she liked him and then was devastated she abandoned him.

-2 horrible college semesters (away, huge state college)
-3rd semester he did nothing, literally 0.00 for 13 credits....................no care in the world when he came home and lied during semester when dad went up there many, many times to check on academic status

-flew the coop on a bus to another state bec he didn't want to watch his little sister during the summer (mom's 7 yr old daughter she had while married to dad = divorce)

So step-son is "messed up" with that too. I.E. needs therapy in many ways, social skills training, etc....

Do we tell him can't stay night here unless he agrees to therapy?  Do we say mom you're on your own with him.  Don't call us when the next crisis happens.  You made your bed with him now sleep in it, until you agree to support healthy moves to independence?


Hello Dr. Hutten,

I have a 12 year old son who has been diagnosed with Aspergers. I knew something was wrong since he was a baby and I have been through a very rocky road with him trying to get doctors to explain to me what was going on but, they all just pushed him aside. They even said they could not really diagnose him for sure with Aspergers because he was all over the place. He had a little bit of everything. Even a so called “author of Aspergers” told me the exact same thing. I was so frustrated with the system that was suppose to be there to support us but, instead they turned their back on us. If it wasn’t for certain angels I met along the way, I don’t know that I would be where I am with him today. I have pretty much struggled on my own to be an advocate for my child and have hit quite a few bumps along the way. On top of this my daughter (my son’s twin sister) recently developed generalized anxiety. She is also on the borderline of anorexia nervosa. Why borderline? She too does not “quite meet the criteria” for a treatment program. Her BMI is barely 16 and the criteria is 15. Trying to get help for her has been a struggle too.

I often feel overwhelmed and like I am failing my children not to mention that I feel like a failure as a Parent and, I am reminded of this on a daily basis. There are times when I just feel like I can’t hang on anymore but, I know I have too. My health has taken quite a toll. Lately, I have been extremely stressed out and I am about to hit menopause. I have circulation problems along with nerve damage on the right side of my body and, arthritis in both my knees. I am always putting myself aside because I do not have time to tend to my needs with everything I have on my plate. So, I just suck it up and deal with all the pain and keep moving forward. I just learn to deal with it! But, I don’t like it. I don’t feel the happiness that other parents feel with their children. I often wonder if I am just not cut out to be a parent but, then why would God have given me 2 beautiful children? I love my children. My calendar is always full of doctors appointments. That’s all our lives seem to revolve around. I feel that it is taking a toll on the whole family. I don’t want my kids to grow up and most of their memories are doctors offices.

I feel like every time I reach out for a resource that fits the bill, my child is turned away because they just “don’t meet the criteria completely”. I hear this alot.

My son has therapy on a regular basis, but I feel that it is not really working. He has been on medication for some time now to treat his generalized anxiety, vocal ticks and ADD. He also has a little OCD.  Recently, he started middle school and that is when all hell broke loose. He gets upset easily and trying to talk to him is usually a failed attempt because of his resistance and explosive outbursts. Everytime he gets in the car with me he starts attacking me by yelling at me, calling me horrible names, and takes out his aggression on his sister which ends up in a verbal fight. I put on classical music for him after school while in the car, he has his phone in case he wants to play a game and, I try not to have conversation so it does not cause a reaction out of my son. I dread the time we spend together in the car. Never pleasant :(

Today, he took his fist and hit my dashboard inside the car as hard as he could because I told him we could not get ice cream today when he had asked me. As I started to explain why, he interrupted me and yelled at the top of his lungs. I tried to tell him we could go tomorrow and , he wasn’t having it until he calmed down an hour later. I feel he has no empathy whatsoever and now, I am getting scared that he might hit me in the near future while I am driving or I might be the story of the child who killed his parents while they were a sleep at night. My son is frustrated with me and he feels that I do not listen to him at all because he wants to yell at me when he wants me to listen to him. I always feel like I am the bad guy. I guess this is how most parents are feeling but, I feel it on a different level.

I desperately need some guidance. A support group for all of us. I don’t know if I need to do brain mapping, ABA therapy, or what.

My son plays the violin which he loves and is doing exceedingly well. He is a part of his school orchestra and a conservatory of music outside of school. My daughter is an artist and loves to sing with her school choir. My kids love to go camping which we do a lot. They both have playdates, but my son tends to want to have down time a lot which for him means, “don’t go anywhere, just stay home and play wii or watch tv”. I prefer he gets some outside activity. His Dad will take him to play basketball and I will sometimes take him to play tennis with his sister and I. He likes both of these activities.

Both of my children made Honor Roll this year on their own. No pressure from us. I don’t believe in that. I am very proud of them, but my son feels I am not always proud of him.

Any guidance you can offer would be greatly appreciated :)


Hi Mark,

I really need someone to talk to about my 14 year old son with Aspergers and my ex-husband who I believe has Aspergers.  We also have two other children, ages 12 and 8.  We have been divorced for about 3 years but I want to reconcile, but that doesn't go over so well with someone with Aspergers (and probably most people anyway).  I am in a very, very difficult situation with my children right now and I really need someone knowledgeable about Aspergers to help me sort out some things.  I know we haven't met, but if you have any time today I would really appreciate it because this is really urgent.

I would like to discuss with you two main things:  any experience you have with reconciliation between a couple where one partner has Aspergers, and though very difficult for anyone, how you would approach this with someone in that very rigid mindset (also, he does not know I think that he has Aspergers, but I now understand Aspergers much better and can give many reasons why I believe this is the case); second, I need help structuring a treatment plan for my 14 year old son (including my other two boys, ages 12 and 8, who have been deeply affected by this situation dealing with home life with their brother).  I want to discuss with you our current situation, what I am trying to do, and any input you may have on what I may need to include that I haven't thought of.  I realize this is a tall order, and you don't know us personally, but I want to talk with someone with your experience and just get your general opinion.  I know that there are many other people who are advocates for autism, Aspergers, etc. with a lot of knowledge, but I notice that in much of the information out there, you go in depth into the topic of marriage/living with an Aspergers partner more than most, and really advocate for that aspect of it.  You also go into a lot of depth about about dealing with defiant Aspergers kids/teens, and that understanding is very important to me as well.

There are three more things I want to mention.  First, my children's Dad does not recognize or accept that our son has Aspergers, in fact, he completely disagrees with it and believes that I am labeling our son, despite having seen certain behaviors himself and psychological assessments.  Second, he is currently trying to get full custody of the boys.  This was triggered when I started to renew efforts to get some more assessments done for our son, and our hearing is next week.  

Finally, I don't know if you are a person of faith or not, but for me, a big spiritual component has developed.  Despite all these obstacles, despite how impossible it seems, I believe God is bringing us around this mountain again.  The legal custody thing is important, but to me right now its not the biggest thing.  Its just one component of a lot of things.  I have struggled to fully get my son the help he needs over the last few years, and my other boys are at their wits end with dealing with this.  We are at a critical tipping point of either getting on the road to health--or not.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Our home life has become so difficult that we are at a crisis level.  There is no 'win' in this custody thing either.  The only thing that is slightly better is that I will have out on the table all of the therapy and treatment that my son needs, and with me, I will pursue treatment.  If the boys go with Dad, Dad will not support treatment.  But, everyone's hurt either way.  God has put on my heart in the heaviest way the depth of what I have caused in this divorce.  It is almost unbearable to me.  But God has also placed in my heart to pray for restoration and healing of my WHOLE family, to include reconciling with Dad and facing his Aspergers, and that this situation is NOT impossible.  I believe God wants me to trust Him and pursue this.  I really hope you can help.


Fostering Self-Acceptance in Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Most teenagers with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) experience frequent social failure and rejection by peers. Because social encounters are seldom reinforcing (rewarding), these young people often avoid social interaction.

Over time, they may develop negative attitudes about themselves and others. The poor self-esteem that may result makes it difficult to continue attempts at social interaction. As a result, the cycle continues. Therefore, social skills interventions are greatly needed – especially in the form of fostering self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance refers to a global affirmation of self. When an AS or HFA teen is self-accepting, he is able to embrace ALL facets of himself – not just the positive parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. The teen can recognize his weaknesses and limitations, but this awareness in no way interferes with his ability to fully accept himself. Furthermore, behavior clearly reflects feelings of self-acceptance For example, a teenager with high self-acceptance will be able to:
  • tolerate frustration
  • take pride in her accomplishments
  • offer assistance to others
  • handle positive and negative emotions
  • attempt new tasks and challenges
  • assume responsibility
  • act independently
  • accept mistakes as a path to learning and growth

Conversely, a teen with low self-acceptance will:
  • put down her own talents and abilities
  • feel, or pretend to feel, emotionally indifferent
  • feel unloved and unwanted
  • blame others for her own shortcomings
  • be unable to tolerate a normal level of frustration
  • be easily influenced
  • avoid trying new things

Moms and dads – more than anyone else – can promote their AS or HFA teen’s self-acceptance. It isn’t a difficult thing to do. If fact, you probably do it without even realizing that your words and actions have great impact on how your teen feels about herself.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

Here are 30 crucial strategies to use that will help your “special needs” teen develop self-acceptance:

1. As much as possible, let your teen settle his own disputes between siblings, friends, and classmates.

2. Be supportive during a conflict. If, for example, your AS or HFA teenager is in the middle of a conflict at school, listen to her side of the story without being judgmental (even if you think she is at fault).  For example, say something such as, “I can understand why you think you’re a better choice for class president, and I’m sorry that you feel you have to point out Courtney’s shortcomings rather than concentrate on what makes you the better candidate.” The conflict may seem trivial to you, but to your teen, it could be a major source of strife in her life.  By developing the habit of supporting your teenager through the good and the bad, you will be laying a strong foundation for open communication when bigger problems arise.  Knowing that she has a parent to lean on who loves and accepts her will help build your teen’s self-acceptance over time.

3. Encourage your teen to exercise! Being active and fit helps him feel good about himself. He will relieve stress, and be healthier, too!

4. Encourage your teen to try new things, and to give herself credit. Urge her to experiment with different activities to help her get in touch with her talents. Then tell her that she should take pride in her new skills. One Asperger’s teenager signed up for track and found out that he was pretty fast! The positive thoughts associated with this discovery became good opinions of himself, and added up to high self-acceptance.

5. Encourage your teenager to ask for what she wants assertively, pointing out that there is no guarantee that she will get it. Reinforce her for asking – and avoid anticipating her wants.

6. Encourage your teenager to behave toward himself the way he would like his friends to behave toward him.

7. Encourage your teenager to develop hobbies and interests which give her pleasure and which she can pursue independently.

8. Help your AS or HFA teenager develop “tease tolerance” by pointing out that some teasing can’t hurt. Help him learn to cope with teasing by ignoring it while using positive self-talk (e.g., “names can never hurt me” … “teasing has no power over me” … “if I can avoid reacting to this teasing, then I’m building emotional muscles”).

9. Help your teen learn to focus on her strengths by pointing out to her all the things she can do well.

10. Help your teen to aim for effort rather than perfection. Some AS and HFA teens – especially those with OCD – get held back by their own pressure to be perfect. They lose out because they don't try (“If I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all”).

11. Help your teen to edit those thoughts that make him feel inferior (e.g., "That guy is so much better at basketball. I should just stop playing.”). Does your teen often compare himself with others and come up feeling less accomplished or less talented? Teach him to notice his negative, self-destructive thoughts.

12. Help your teen to focus on what goes well for her. Is she so used to focusing on her problems that they are all she can see? Say to her, “The next time you catch yourself dwelling on problems or complaints about yourself, find something positive to counter it.” Also, have your teen write down three good things about herself each day, or three things that went well that day because of her effort.

13. Help your teen to notice the critical things he says to himself. A harsh inner voice just tears you down. If your teen is in the habit of thinking self-critically, help him to re-train himself by re-wording negative, unkind thoughts into more helpful feedback.

14. Help your teen to recognize what she can change – and what she can't. If she realizes that she is unhappy with something about herself that she CAN change (e.g., getting to a healthy weight), help her to start today. If it's something she CANNOT change (e.g., her height), help her to work on accepting it. Obsessing about her "flaws" will skew her opinion of herself and lower her self-acceptance.

15. Help your teen to set goals. Ask him to think about what he would like to accomplish. Then help him make a plan for how to do it. Encourage him to stick with the plan and keep track of the progress. Urge your teen to train his inner voice to remind him of what he is accomplishing (e.g., I've been following my workout plan every day for 30 minutes. I feel good that I have kept my promise to myself. I know I can keep it up.").

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

16. Help your teen to view mistakes as learning opportunities. Teach her to accept that she will make mistakes. We all do. It’s part of learning. If, for example, your teen has the thought, "I always screw things up," remind her that she doesn’t ALWAYS make mistakes, just in this specific situation. What can she do differently next time?

17. Help your teenager to think in terms of alternative options and possibilities rather than depending on only one option for satisfaction. Whenever your teen thinks there is only one thing which can satisfy her, she limits her potential for being satisfied! The more you help your teenager realize that there are many options in every situation, the more you increase her potential for satisfaction.

18. Include your teen in everyday family decisions, and implement some of her suggestions. For example, what does she think about the new chairs you’re considering for the dining room table? AS and HFA teens love nothing better than to be treated like competent adults, and they’re usually flattered anytime that you invite them into the adult world.

19. Laugh with your teenager – and encourage her to laugh at herself. A young person who takes herself too seriously is undoubtedly decreasing her enjoyment in life. A good sense of humor and the ability to make light of life are important ingredients for increasing self-acceptance and overall enjoyment.

20. Let your teen know that he creates – and is responsible for – any feeling he experiences. Similarly, he is not responsible for others’ feelings.

21. Let your teen know that you are still interested in what is going on in his life, even though he’s a “big boy” now. Teens like to be self-sufficient and want their parent to believe that they have everything under control. But that doesn’t mean that the parent doesn’t need to keep the lines of communication open and flowing. So, when the parent asks questions, he or she should try to formulate them so that they require more than a “yes” or “no” answer (e.g., instead of asking, “How is history class going?” … ask, “What are you currently studying in history?”).

22. Sometimes it’s necessary to constructively criticize your teen’s behavior and choices. However, when the criticism is directed to him as a person, it can easily deteriorate into ridicule or shame. Therefore, learn to use “I statements” rather than “You statements” when giving criticism (e.g., “I would like you to keep your clothes in your closet – not lying all over the bedroom floor” … rather than saying, “Why are you such a slob? Can’t you get more organized?”).

23. Teach your teen the importance of helping others. For example, he can help clean up the neighborhood, participate in a walkathon for a good cause, tutor a classmate who's having trouble, or volunteer his time in some other way. When your teen can see that what he does makes a difference, it builds his positive opinion of himself and makes him feel good. That's self-acceptance.

24. Teach your teen to accept compliments. When self-acceptance is low, it's easy for young people to overlook the good things others say about them. They don't believe it when someone says a nice thing. Instead, they may think something like, “Yeah, but I'm not all that great…” and then brush off the compliment. Instead, encourage your teen to accept a compliment, appreciate it, and take it seriously. Also, teach her to give sincere compliments to others.

25. Teach your teen to change his “demands” to “preferences.” Point out that there is no reason he must get everything he wants – and that he need not feel angry either. Encourage him to work against anger by setting a good example and by reinforcing him when he displays “appropriate irritation” rather than “anger.”

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

26. Teach your teen to remind himself that everyone excels at different things. Help her to focus on what she does well, and cheer on others for their success. Self-talk such as, "He's a great football player, but I'm a better chess player” helps your teen accept himself and make the best of the situation.

27. Teach your teen to take pride in her opinions and ideas. Tell her that she need not be afraid to voice them. If someone disagrees with her, it's not a reflection on her worth or her intelligence. That person just sees things differently.

28. Teens remember positive statements that their parent says to them. They store them up and “replay” these statements to themselves. Thus, practice giving your teen words of encouragement throughout each day.

29. Use what is called “descriptive praise” to let your teen know when he is doing something well. Develop the habit of looking for situations in which your teen is doing a good job or displaying a skill (e.g., “I really like the way you straightened up the garage. You put each thing in its place”).

30. What you think determines how you feel – and how you feel determines how you behave. Thus, it’s important to teach your teen to be positive about how she “talks to herself” (e.g., “I can get this problem if I just keep trying” … “It’s OK that I didn’t get an ‘A’ on the test today” … “I tried my best, I can’t win them all”).

The primary aspect of AS and HFA that characterizes it as autistic is the problem of human connectedness. The term most commonly used to describe this core weakness of human connection is “reciprocity.” This refers to the teenager’s ability to engage other people in a way that makes others feel connected or not. In social conversation with a teenager with AS and HFA, eye contact is often poor, fleeting, or absent. These “special needs” teenagers may not be able to read subtle gestures and facial changes or to interpret subtleties in language (e.g., irony or sarcasm). They do not read or respond as most people do to small changes in body posture or to gestures. They seem either distant, stiff, or in other ways unconnected.

AS and HFA teenagers not only seem disconnected, but in some cases uninterested in being in relationships with others. They may generally have very little interest in the feelings, experiences, other human qualities, or possibilities of others and, hence, lack demonstrated empathy. They do not seem to derive pleasure from engaging others, learning about them, talking with them, or sharing experiences. In the many cases where the symptoms are milder, the teen may wish to connect with others, but simply does not know how. She may have feelings for others, but can’t seem to mobilize the demonstration of those feelings.

The good news is that parents (and teachers) can assist in these challenges by helping their AS or HFA teen to develop a set of social skills. And as mentioned above, the most important skill to possess in this endeavor is called “self-acceptance.” With self-acceptance, the teen capitalizes on his strengths rather than trying to “fix” his weaknesses, yet he accepts his weaknesses for what they are.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

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