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Parents with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Part 1

Many parents with Asperger's (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) experience significant difficulties in parenting -- especially if one their children is also on the autism spectrum. Even though the challenges experienced by moms and dads on the spectrum are significant, these challenges are not well understood in the child welfare community. This is in part due to the fact that the AS or HFA parent is able to parent adequately on many fronts, yet he or she is invisibly "disabled" (i.e., the disorder is not readily apparent to the observer). 

Many AS and HFA parents are relatively high functioning in the workplace, but struggle raising their children due to social skills deficits. As any mother or father can tell you, parenting involves a great deal of social expertise, conflict-resolution skills, empathy, listening skills, stress-management, and effective disciplinary techniques -- just to name a few.

Proper parenting is a monumental task that involves (a) providing emotional, relational and financial support, (b) guidance, (c) nurturing, (d) teaching, (e) short and long-term planning. It is a challenge even for parents who have not been diagnosed with a disorder.

Problems in parenting are the result of some of the traits associated with AS and HFA (e.g., weak central coherence, poor cognitive shifting, lack of a theory of mind, etc.) -- not the result of poor parenting skills. While these parents do suffer from significant neurological deficits that can be mistaken as poor parenting, these deficits have more to do with how their brain is wired. They must not be viewed as "bad" parents, rather parents who struggle with a disorder that can affect their parenting abilities.

Most moms and dads with AS and HFA work very hard to understand their kids -- and are eager to parent in their kid’s best interests. But, due to the challenges associated with the disorder, they often fall short. This, in turn, can create a lot of guilt and frustration in the parent who may be viewing herself or himself as a "failure." 

Unfortunately, when these parents begin to experience significant parent-child conflict, they rarely seek outside assistance in the form of parent education. Instead, they may continue parenting in a rather immature and haphazard manner, which often results in their children parenting themselves and/or growing up too  quickly (i.e., they become little adults who appear much older than they are). 

Autistic parents who continue making the same parenting mistakes over and over do so because they lack insight into their disorder and how it impacts their role as a parent. To make matters even more difficult, many moms and dads on the spectrum have a youngster with similar profiles to their own and who are a huge challenge to them. 

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My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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