Symptoms of ASD that Cause Behavioral Problems

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

Click here to read the full article…


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.

Click here for the full article...


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.

Click here to read the full article…


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."

Click here to read the full article…


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.

Click here
to read the full article...


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.

Click here for the full article...
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

Developing Parental Optimism and Self-Care: Encouragement for Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Because it can be exasperating for parents to deal with the behavioral challenges of a youngster with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), it can be reassuring for them to know that some of the negative behaviors of their son or daughter often become positive traits in adulthood.

For example, the child who doodles and draws all through school may well become an artist; the most manipulative youngster often turns out to be a remarkable leader, entrepreneur or politician; the most obstinate youngster often turns out to have fierce determination; and the youngster who argues all the time (like a jail house lawyer) may actually become a lawyer someday.

This pattern has been evidenced again and again throughout my experience in working with families affected by autism spectrum disorders:
  • One bright child with AS and ADHD who was impulsive, highly distractible, and had a poor attention span, grew up to be an exceptional emergency healthcare specialist. In an emergency, his adrenaline was apparently stimulated, so he became highly focused, able to put his analytic abilities to use while doing several tasks at once.
  • One very hyperactive youngster with AS turned out to be a very enthusiastic, productive entrepreneur.
  • Another child who sold his mom’s jewelry for 50 cents apiece grew up to be a real estate tycoon.
  • One child who was an incessant tinkerer, taking everything apart, became a mechanical engineer.
  • One boy who tried to help his peers avoid arguing, and who was teased because he was always trying to keep the peace and never projected any opinion of his own, became a mediator.
  • Another child who was very inflexible became an airplane controller who could focus intensely on the task at hand.

Self-care needs to be a priority for moms and dads of kids on the autism spectrum. For example:
  • Parents need to find supportive relatives and friends.
  • They need to locate a support group or an online parent support community that will provide a place for them to vent frustrations and obtain valuable suggestions and parenting strategies.
  • Parents need to develop a strong sense of humor. The youngster with AS or HFA needs to feel that it is not the end of the world that he has a disorder – and he needs to be able to laugh at life’s odd twists and turns, rather than taking life too seriously. Moms and dads, too, need resilience and humor. When they can have fun, and be silly with their child, everyone benefits.
  • Moms and dads themselves need nurturing to help nurture their youngster on the spectrum.
  • They need more sleep than other parents do, because the child with “special needs” can sap his parents’ energy; his disorder demands constant assistance.
  • And, parents need to go out and have fun regularly – away from their child.

It’s challenging to be a parent of any child, but it’s even more difficult to be a parent of a youngster with an autism spectrum disorder. In these special cases, parents need to become an organizer, interpreter, analyst, advocate, a spiritual advisor, psychiatrist, problem solver, notetaker, lawyer, a friend and companion, a disciplinarian, and a cheerleader. That’s certainly juggling a lot of balls all at once! But the payoff will be worth it.

Someday, your high-functioning child may very well start his or her own business, become the Mayor of your city, the CEO of a major company, an engineer, or a medical professional. So, when your AS or HFA child becomes successful in adulthood, don’t be surprised – and remember I told you so.

Addressing Problems with Time and Space: 12 Tips for Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“My 5-year-old son with high functioning autism suffers with poor planning abilities and disorganization. It’s feels like the most difficult job in the world to keep him on task. Any tips on how I can help him cope better with the everyday responsibilities and routines that are expected of him, such as keeping track of time, completing chores and online homework, not being so messy, and so on?”

Time and space are organizing procedures involved in every aspect of life. However, due to poor organization skills, central nervous system dysfunction, and neural immaturity, many kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are very disorganized (e.g., appearing lost in time and space, likely to lose belongings frequently, unable to accomplish even the simplest task in a timely fashion, difficulty following instructions, unable to keep their rooms clean and orderly, etc.).

Difficulties with “sequencing” explain why these young people have trouble remembering things (e.g., the seasons, the alphabet, days of the week, the order of tasks and instructions, etc.). These issues are why they have trouble starting projects, sustaining them, and completing them.

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

Poor organization skills often affect home life, relationships with peers (who will take only a certain amount of forgetting and lateness), and academic life (e.g., forgetting to bring home their homework, not having the time-management skills to meet deadlines, difficulty establishing priorities, difficulty knowing what is most important to study - and what is less so, etc.). Sometimes, this disorganized behavior can appear to parents and teachers as simple defiance, when actually it stems from the very nature of the disorder.

12 ways to help children on the autism spectrum develop time-management and organization skills:

1. Make use of picture schedules. Kids with AS and HFA prefer having a routine. Having a visual schedule to refer to will make your son more aware of his routine and help him cope with changes when they occur.

2. Developing clear and reinforced routines can help with structuring time. Breaking routines and other tasks into manageable chunks and communicating what must be done first, next, and last is crucial. For example, if the youngster has to read a book and write a report, the manageable chunks would be: (1) locate the desired book, (2) read the book, (3) write down the basic book report information, and (4) summarize the book in writing.

3. Color code items (e.g., put some blue tape on a math text book along with blue tape on the math note book).

4. Set up specific areas for different activities (e.g., homework area, art and craft area, etc.). Also, get the appropriate tools for each area (e.g., a comfortable chair and a bookshelf in the reading area, shelves for puzzles and games in that area, tables for the child to work at in the art and craft area, etc.).

5. Planning is essential to time-management. For example, if you are going to the museum, have your child make a list of what exhibit he wants to visit first, second, third, and so on.

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

6. Parents - and teachers - can assist these “special needs” kids by engaging them in planning activities (e.g., organizing what needs to be done to collect food for the homeless, planning a garden, planning celebrations, and planning that involves developing lists, going shopping, checking off the lists, and then charting the tasks still to be done - which can then in turn be checked off).

7. Make use of visual timers so your child can see how much time is left. This will teach the concept of time in minutes or hours.

8. Help your child to organize his own stuff by category (e.g., cars and trucks together, specific types of games together, etc.) in large baskets or bins. Label the baskets with pictures so he will remember which baskets are for which category.

9. Every day, set a special time for the child to put things away, make notes in his planner, and clean up his work space.

10. Some AS and HFA children have language learning disabilities (i.e., trouble deciphering language, listening, following instructions, etc.). Thus, it is helpful if parents and teachers limit the number of words used in giving directions (e.g., making use of simple phrases such as “go upstairs” … “close the window” … “come down” …etc.).

11. Get a simple daily planner or agenda book and have the child write down everything each day (e.g., homework assignments, chores, favorite television shows, etc.).

12. Lastly, there's a variety of time-management apps that go beyond simple list-makers. Here are some of the best ones available today:
  • Evernote (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD): The child can access his notes, images, lists, sounds, and links from any device or computer with this productivity app.
  • Skitch (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle Fire): An Evernote add-on that allows the child to annotate and share images (e.g., maps, photos, original sketches, etc.).
  • My Video Schedule (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch): This scheduling app teaches structure, time-management, and motivation.
  • Remember the Milk (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle Fire): A task-organizing app to stay on top of everything that needs attention.
  • TextMinder SMS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch): The sound or vibration of a text message serves as a one-off or recurring reminder.
  • Time Timer (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android): This app teaches time-management skills while encouraging the child to work efficiently and stay on task.
  • Timers4Me - Timer & Stopwatch (Android, Kindle Fire): The child can use his own ringtones and images with this app for multiple timers, stopwatches, and alarm.

All of these apps are useful, engaging, and have the hidden agenda of developing time-management and organization skills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling Like a “Bad” Parent of a Child on the Autism Spectrum

“My son Noah age 10 has been diagnosed with autism (high functioning). He has always been difficult at home, and now I am getting repeated bad reports from his online teacher. Honestly, I feel like I’ve failed my son. I feel like I'm losing my mind at times just trying to make his life easier. Add my other kids too, and it is just pure chaos or eggshells to try to keep Noah from an episode. I’ve tried everything I know to do to help, but my son still remains a mystery at times. All I know to do is keep trying and try to be patient, calm, and strong. I would be curious to know if there are any other parents that feel like they ‘should have’ done a better job. Is it normal to feel like a ‘bad’ parent in this case?”

Discovering a youngster’s special needs is often a puzzling and agonizing process for parents. It’s no surprise that your son with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) – also referred to as Asperger’s (AS) – often mystifies you. As with all children on the autism spectrum, your son has many skills – and deficits. Also, you may have great difficulty understanding how much of his behavior is the nature of the disorder versus how much is simple defiance.

Due to the fact that parenting “special needs” children can so confusing at times, it’s easy for parents to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate and discouraged (e.g., “My child has so many unresolved problems, therefore, I must be a bad parent”). Most parents raising “typical” children do not realize how difficult it is to be a mother or father of a child on the spectrum… until they become one of those parents.

Since the symptoms of an autistic child who is “high-functioning” can be so subtle, multiple and difficult to pinpoint, it’s hard for a mother or father to know whether things are normal or not. For example: What are the indications of a child being off course in his or her ability to listen and follow directions? What is the difference between the youngster who is a little clumsy and one who is having significant motor skills problems? What is the difference between a healthy, very active child versus a hyperactive one with HFA? Are my expectations for my child unreasonable? It will take some time for the parent to recognize and articulate concerns about such a child.

Even after a diagnosis, the parent may face a multitude of feelings before she can grasp effectively with the glaring truth that her youngster has a developmental disorder. The parent may even move through a grief cycle that Kubler-Ross described: (a) denying there is a problem, as well as rationalizing why it’s not a problem; (b) dealing with the fear, anger and guilt of having a youngster who experiences many problems; (c) blaming others for the difficult situation; (d) bargaining (e.g., thinking that changing neighborhoods, schools, or physicians will make the situation better); (e) grieving for “what might have been”; and (f) finally coming to acceptance regarding the youngster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as trying to figure out an effective plan of action.

One of the biggest challenges caretakers may face is the big gap between what their youngster can do – and what he can’t do. Oftentimes, the HFA or AS child is very smart, can reason well, knows a great deal about his favorite subject, yet can’t read or write. Your child’s teacher – and even you, the parent – may be telling the child to “try harder.” But in many cases, the “special needs” child is trying his heart out. These kids often tend to work 10 times harder than their peers, but are still called lazy, spoiled, or “a brat” by some people (e.g., extended family members who have no clue how difficult the challenge is).

Another piece of the puzzle for the parent lies in how difficult it can be to differentiate between a youngster who “can’t” do something versus a youngster who “won’t “do something. For example: “How much parental control should I exert?”  … “How far should I ‘push’ my child?” … “How much should I reduce my expectations?” In this uncertainty, the parent may even ask herself “what is wrong with me?” –  instead of asking “what trials and tribulations is my youngster having to face?” Shifting this focus can be beneficial for both the parent and child.

The HFA or AS youngster may seem to be having behavior problems when, in fact, she is simply struggling to accomplish a task. She may experience a meltdown or a shutdown when a task is too demanding. When the child says she hates something, it’s very difficult for the parent to know if she is being defiant – or simply finds the task to difficult or impossible to complete. For example, if the child hates math or reading, these are likely areas of difficulty. If she loves dance, music, or art – but hates drama – it could be that she has a speech or language problem. On the other hand, what she likes and wants to do usually serve as an indicator of her strengths.

While a formal diagnosis can help, the task of sorting-out these problems on a day-to-day basis is quite a challenge. On a planning level, uncertainty can occur because the child’s teacher, doctor, psychologist or social worker may disagree not only on the diagnosis – but on the optimal treatment strategies or programs for the “special needs” youngster.

This can be aggravating and stress-provoking for the mom or dad who has to pull all the information together and decide what to do – right or wrong. In addition, at home and elsewhere, the parent has to anticipate problems and sense when her child is frustrated, tired, or about to explode. The parent has to trust her gut as to how long her youngster can last at a party, be pleasant with visitors, or sit in a restaurant.

Moms and dads of kids on the spectrum are continually trying to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, what causes the youngster’s aggravation, and what brings the youngster enjoyment. The parent must (a) think carefully; (b) support the youngster’s development; (c) reflect on activities of each day; (d) problem-solve to recognize her youngster’s strengths, interests, and areas of difficulty; (e) come up with plans for managing the youngster’s behavior; and (f) analyze everything! All of this takes time and energy that can be draining at times.

Parenting strategies that include structure without rigidity, nurturing the youngster’s strengths and interests, constant approval of positive behavior, and clear/concise instructions will go a long way in overcoming the obstacles associated with parenting a child on the autism spectrum.

It will take time for both the parent and child to embrace the idea that “being different” does not mean “being inferior” – and in fact, can be a good thing. The parent needs to be nurtured and praised too in order to help her nurture and praise her HFA or AS youngster. You may find that you have used almost every resource you have to help your youngster succeed, but still worry that you are not doing a “good enough” job. But you are! You’re doing the best you know how given the circumstances. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


•    Anonymous said… Hang in there. A good school to support you really helps. Every child is wired differently. I have had people yell at me and even was escorted from a mall. I love my son with all my heart. I forgive those people. There is hope. My son is 17 now and he has learned some coping skills. We don’t get out much but that’s ok. He gets out sometimes. God is our strength and our hope. I will pray for you.
•    Anonymous said… he is now at a small private school specifically for kids who just don't do well in the public school system. In Florida, there is a scholarship called the McKay Scholarship for kids which basically gives you the money that the public school system would have used on your child and lets you use that money for private school, so it is free.
•    Anonymous said… I can totally relate to this parent. My son is seven with aspergers. The last two terms has been so bad that the school even calls us to say he need not attend today or call us to come and fetch him. We also have a baby that's also demanding and trust me some days you feel like your only options are to either climb in your car and drife away from the mad house or collapse into a shivering bundle on the floor in a fetal position. As he gets older it feels like the meltdowns and struggles become worse. Where we had 2 bad days in a week or two now we have 2 or 3 good days in a week. We both feel on a daily basis that we are failing our son but you must just pull yourself together and try again the next day. Feeling like a bad parent comes naturally to any parent even ones with children without conditions. Dont beat yourself up.
•    Anonymous said… I do know how you feel. My son is ten and has been diagnosed with ODD and ADHD but was first thought to have Aspergers which I still as his mom, ( living in East tx. There are maybe ten or less specialist, 3 take this disability insurance) think he has the violent form of absorbers I've often read about! Maybe it's ODD/absorbers combined?!! Patience, lots of it and do NOT forget the struggles of the siblings. It's very hard on them too. Mine cry often and have separate therapy bc We want to help but our hands are tied! Demand the school adjust or you sue!! Many lawyers are dying to take a discrimination case!! Bc they have to have a program to fit your child's needs. Mine made one and low and behold filled it with 5 other kids a similar issues, poor kids!! Stay strong and always know you aren't alone. My son gets restrained before school quite often n complete strangers come up to me n hug me. Others do care !
•    Anonymous said… I felt that way all the time throughout my son's elementary school years. However, since starting middle school and removing him from public school (which I realized was causing a lot of his problems) he has made soooo much progress. It definitely get easier as they get older and can explain how they feel and what bothers them, etc. I think when my son was younger not only did I not understand a lot of his behavior, he didn't even understand what he was feeling and doing half the time. He's got a much better grip on things now, and we have a great understanding between us now. So, there is hope! Those first few years of school were the absolute hardest for us. Just be there for him and listen to him.  ❤️
•    Anonymous said… I just exhaled, thank you all. I try to ignore this nagging feeling odor doing right by my son. He is fourteen and I have been homeschooling him for two years. I couldn't take the morning meltdowns every day and withdrew him from public school. The meltdowns are better but now I never get a break and miss those few hours at home alone when he was in school. Then I wonder how effective I am at homeschooling and whether I'm doing the right thing. Sometimes I get mad at him and wish he could just be normal then I get mad at myself for even thinking this.
•    Anonymous said… I think we all have moments where we worry that we are failing our child or should be doing something differently. I think that is normal to be honest. There are emotional days (for us and him), but also days of fun and laughter and silliness. You have to take the good with the bad I guess? Hugs to all of you going through this. Sometimes it feels so lonely
•    Anonymous said… I wish I could talk to this person directly. I am going thru the same thing.
•    Anonymous said… I'm at a loss and don't know what to do anymore. My son disobeys me and now tells me things that hurt so much. How did it become this bad?? Am I such a shitty parent that he now tells me he hopes I die?? Ugh..  😭 😭 😭
•    Anonymous said… I'm so grateful to hear others struggle this way too. It is exhausting and hard for the whole family. Watching our child have meltdowns, and watching what it does to our other children, I've started to feel hopeless and like a failure.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter got diagnosed at age 3, she has great support at school and also at home, it takes time to get the right help but there is hope, also a lot prayer helps.
•    Anonymous said… My son didn’t get diagnosed until he was 17 even though I got him referred to CAHMS 4 times the forth time he was so poorly that they believed there was a problem don’t beat yourself up you try everyday and that’s all that matters My sons now 20 and he has very little help and support from professionals it’s just me my son is having fun enjoying his interests that’s fine with me whatever makes him happy
•    Anonymous said… Regularly beat myself up for 'bad' parenting and then beat myself up for being so hard on myself.... all you can do is make the best decisions at that time...sometimes it blows up in your face....take a breath, read some more, get some help, celebrate the positives and hang in there
•    Anonymous said… Trust me, you are NOT a failure. I don't wish others to experience hard times but it is nice to know I am not alone in this struggle. There are good days and not so good days. And times when the older children accuse us of always giving in to Austin because he's a brat. I try to explain how he sees things different, experiences differently and responds differently. Keep your head up, you are not alone.
•    Anonymous said… Very normal to feel this way & don't give up. We do the best we can with the tools were given. There will be days we are at our best & days we are not & it's ok, part of the journey. Parenting a child with Aspergers takes a special kind of love & it sounds as though you have it. Most important thing I can share is self care. The healthier we are as parents the better our children will be. Build a support network & allow yourself to ask for breaks/help , it's the best gift you can give yourself & your family.
•    Anonymous said… wow, that is amazing. We have an incredible school near us, that people from all over the world come to. It is for higher functioning special needs, but it's incredibley expensive ($40K a year!). I keep thinking if he needs it eventually for high school, it is an option (with scholarships, because who can afford that much!).
•    Anonymous said… You are not a bad parent! You only know what you know at the time. Now you know he's on the autism spectrum and you take that information and learn how to parent an autistic child. Stay strong but everyone needs to break down once in awhile and take care of herself first so that you have enough to give to your children. You are not a bad parent and your son is not a bad child you are both just incredibly overwhelmed.

Post your comment below…

The Telltale Signs of ASD Level 1 [High-Functioning Autism]: A Comprehensive Checklist

Below you will find the majority of symptoms associated with High-Functioning Autism (HFA), also referred to as Asperger’s. The HFA child will not usually have all of these traits.

We will look at the following categories: sensory sensitivities, cognitive issues, motor clumsiness, narrow range of interests, insistence on set routines, impairments in language, and difficulty with reciprocal social interactions.

Sensory Sensitivity Checklist—

1. Difficulty in visual areas:
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Displays discomfort/anxiety when looking at certain pictures (e.g., the child feels as if the visual experience is closing in on him)
  • Engages in intense staring
  • Stands too close to objects or people

2. Difficulty in auditory areas:
  • Covers ears when certain sounds are made
  • Displays an inability to focus when surrounded by multiple sounds (e.g., shopping mall, airport, party)
  • Displays extreme fear when unexpected noises occur
  • Fearful of the sounds particular objects make (e.g., vacuum, blender)
  • Purposely withdraws to avoid noises

3. Difficulty in olfactory areas:
  • Can recognize smells before others
  • Displays a strong olfactory memory
  • Finds some smells so overpowering or unpleasant that he becomes nauseated
  • Needs to smell foods before eating them
  • Needs to smell materials before using them

4. Difficulty in tactile areas:
  • Complains of a small amount of wetness (e.g., from the water fountain, a small spill)
  • Complains of clothing feeling like sandpaper
  • Displays anxiety when touched unexpectedly
  • Does not respond to temperature appropriately
  • Difficulty accepting new clothing (including for change of seasons)
  • Difficulty using particular materials (e.g., glue, paint, clay)
  • Difficulty when touched by others, even lightly (especially shoulders and head)
  • Difficulty with clothing seams or tags
  • Overreacts to pain
  • Under-reacts to pain

5. Difficulty in gustatory areas:
  • Can’t allow foods to touch each other on the plate
  • Displays unusual chewing and swallowing behaviors
  • Easily activated gag/vomit reflex
  • Rigidity issues tied in with limited food preferences (e.g., this is the food he always has, it is always this brand, and it is always prepared and presented in this way)
  • Makes limited food choices
  • Must eat each individual food in its entirety before the next
  • Needs to touch foods before eating them
  • Will only tolerate foods of a particular texture or color

6. Engages in self-stimulatory behaviors (e.g., rocking, hand movements, facial grimaces)

7. Is oversensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects)

8. Is under-sensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects)

1. Mind-blindness:
  • Displays a lack of empathy for others and their emotions (e.g., takes another person’s belongings)
  • Displays difficulty with inferential thinking and problem solving (e.g., completing a multi-step task that is novel)
  • Impaired reading comprehension; word recognition is more advanced (e.g., difficulty understanding characters in stories, why they do or do not do something)
  • Is unaware he can say something that will hurt someone's feelings or that an apology would make the person "feel better" (e.g., tells another person their story is boring)
  • Is unaware that others have intentions or viewpoints different from his own; when engaging in off-topic conversation, does not realize the listener is having great difficulty following the conversation
  • Is unaware that others have thoughts, beliefs, and desires that influence their behavior
  • Prefers factual reading materials rather than fiction
  • Views the world in black and white (e.g., admits to breaking a rule even when there is no chance of getting caught)

2. Lack of cognitive flexibility

A. Distractable and has difficulty sustaining attention:
  • Engages in competing behaviors (e.g., vocalizations, noises, plays with an object, sits incorrectly, looks in wrong direction)
  • Difficulty when novel material is presented without visual support
  • Difficulty with direction following
  • Difficulty with organizational skills (e.g., What do I need to do, and how do I go about implementing it?)
  • Difficulty with sequencing (e.g., What is the order used to complete a particular task?)
  • Difficulty with task completion
  • Difficulty with task initiation

B. Poor impulse control, displays difficulty monitoring own behavior, and is not aware of the consequences of his behavior:
  • Displays a strong need for perfection, wants to complete activities/assignments perfectly (e.g., his standards are very high and noncompliance may stem from avoidance of a task he feels he can't complete perfectly)
  • Displays rigidity in thoughts and actions
  • Engages in repetitive/stereotypical behaviors
  • Difficulty incorporating new information with previously acquired information (i.e., information processing, concept formation, analyzing/ synthesizing information), is unable to generalize learning from one situation to another, may behave quite differently in different settings and with different individuals
  • Difficulty with transitions
  • Shows a strong desire to control the environment

C. Inflexible thinking, not learning from past mistakes (note: this is why consequences often appear ineffective)

D. Can only focus on one way to solve a problem, though this solution may be ineffective:
  • Continues to engage in an ineffective behavior rather than thinking of alternatives
  • Does not ask a peer or adult for needed materials
  • Does not ask for help with a problem
  • Is able to name all the presidents, but not sure what a president does
  • Is unable to focus on group goals when he is a member of the group

3. Impaired imaginative play:
  • Attempts to control all aspects of the play activity; any attempts by others to vary the play are met with firm resistance
  • Engages in play that, although it may seem imaginary in nature, is often a retelling of a favorite movie/TV show/book (note: this maintains rigidity in thoughts, language, and actions)
  • Focuses on special interests such that he dominates play and activity choices
  • Follows a predetermined script in play
  • Uses limited play themes and/or toys
  • Uses toys in an unusual manner

4. Visual learning strength

A. Benefits from schedules, signs, cue cards:
  • Uses visual information as a “backup” (e.g., I have something to look at when I forget), especially when new information is presented
  • Uses visual information as a prompt
  • Uses visual information to help focus attention (e.g., I know what to look at)
  • Uses visual information to make concepts more concrete
  • Uses visual information to provide external organization and structure, replacing the child’s lack of internal structure (e.g., I know how it is done, I know the sequence)

B. Has specific strengths in cognitive areas:
  • Displays average or above average intellectual ability
  • Displays average or above average receptive and expressive language skills
  • Displays high moral standard (e.g., does not know how to lie)
  • Displays strong letter recognition skills
  • Displays strong number recognition skills
  • Displays strong oral reading skills, though expression and comprehension are limited
  • Displays strong spelling skills
  • Displays strong word recognition skills
  • Excellent rote memory
  • Has an extensive fund of factual information

A. Difficulties with gross motor skills
  1. An awkward gait when walking or running
  2. Difficulty coordinating different extremities, motor planning (shoe tying, bike riding)
  3. Difficulty when throwing or catching a ball (appears afraid of the ball)
  4. Difficulty with motor imitation skills
  5. Difficulty with rhythm copying
  6. Difficulty with skipping
  7. Poor balance

B. Difficulties with fine motor skills
  1. Has an unusual pencil/pen grasp
  2. Difficulty applying sufficient pressure when writing, drawing, or coloring
  3. Difficulty with handwriting/cutting/coloring skills
  4. Difficulty with independently seeing sequential steps to complete finished product
  5. Frustration if writing samples are not perfectly identical to the presented model
  6. Rushes through fine motor tasks

Narrow Range of Interests/Insistence on Set Routines Checklist—

A. Rules are very important as the world is seen as black or white
  1. Has a set routine for how activities are to be done
  2. Difficulty with any changes in the established routine
  3. Has rules for most activities, which must be followed (this can be extended to all involved)
  4. Takes perfectionism to an extreme — one wrong answer is not tolerable, and the child must do things perfectly

B. Few interests, but those present are unusual and treated as obsessions
  1. Has developed narrow and specific interests; the interests tend to be atypical (note: this gives a feeling of competence and order; involvement with the area of special interest becomes all-consuming)
  2. Patterns, routines, and rituals are evident and interfere with daily functioning (note: this is driven by the child’s anxiety; the world is confusing for her; she is unsure what to do and how to do it; if she can impose structure, she begins to have a feeling of control)
  3. Displays rigid behavior:
  • Arranges toys/objects/furniture in a specific way
  • Can't extend the allotted time for an activity; activities must start and end at the times specified
  • Carries a specific object
  • Colors with so much pressure the crayons break (e.g., in order to cover all the white)
  • Erases over and over to make the letters just right
  • Feels need to complete projects in one sitting, has difficulty with projects completed over time
  • Narrow clothing preferences
  • Narrow food preferences
  • Has unusual fears
  • Insists on the parent driving a specific route
  • Is unable to accept environmental changes (e.g., must always go to the same restaurant, same vacation spot)
  • Is unable to change the way she has been taught to complete a task
  • Needs to be first in line, first selected, etc.
  • Only sits in one specific chair or one specific location
  • Plays games or completes activities in a repetitive manner or makes own rules for them
  • Selects play choices/interests not commonly shared by others (e.g., electricity, weather, advanced computer skills, scores of various sporting events) but not interested in the actual play (note: this could also be true for music, movies, and books)

C. Failure to follow rules and routines results in behavioral difficulties, which can include:
  1. Anxiety
  2. Emotional responses out of proportion to the situation, emotional responses that are more intense and tend to be negative (e.g., glass half-empty)
  3. Inability to prevent or lessen extreme behavioral reactions, inability to use coping or calming techniques
  4. Increase in perseverative/obsessive/rigid/ritualistic behaviors or preoccupation with area of special interest, engaging in nonsense talk
  5. Non-compliant behaviors
  6. Tantrums/meltdowns (e.g., crying, aggression, property destruction, screaming)

Impairments in Language Checklist—

A. Impairment in the pragmatic use of language
  1. Uses conversation to convey facts and information about special interests, rather than to convey thoughts, emotions, or feelings
  2. Uses language scripts or verbal rituals in conversation, often described as “nonsense talk” by others (scripts may be made up or taken from movies/books/TV). At times, the scripts are subtle and may be difficult to detect
  3. Difficulty initiating, maintaining, and ending conversations with others:
  • Does not inquire about others when conversing
  • Does not make conversations reciprocal (i.e., has great difficulty with the back-and-forth aspect), attempts to control the language exchange, may leave a conversation before it is concluded
  • Focuses conversations on one narrow topic, with too many details given, or moves from one seemingly unrelated topic to the next
  • Knows how to make a greeting, but has no idea how to continue the conversation; the next comment may be one that is totally irrelevant
  • Once a discussion begins, it is as if there is no “stop” button; must complete a predetermined dialogue

4. Unsure how to ask for help, make requests, or make comments:
  • Engages in obsessive questioning or talking in one area, lacks interest in the topics of others
  • Fails to inquire regarding others
  • Difficulty maintaining the conversation topic
  • Interrupts others
  • Makes comments that may embarrass others

B. Impairment in the semantic use of language
  1. Displays difficulty understanding not only individual words, but conversations
  2. Displays difficulty with problem solving
  3. Displays difficulty analyzing and synthesizing information presented:
  • Creates jokes that make no sense
  • Creates own words, using them with great pleasure in social situations
  • Does not ask for the meaning of an unknown word
  • Has a large vocabulary consisting mainly of nouns and verbs
  • Difficulty discriminating between fact and fantasy
  • Interprets known words on a literal level (i.e., concrete thinking)
  • Is unable to make or understand jokes/teasing
  • Uses words in a peculiar manner

C. Impairment in prosody
  1. Rarely varies the pitch, stress, rhythm, or melody of his speech. Does not realize this can convey meaning
  2. Has a voice pattern that is often described as robotic or as the “little professor”; in children, the rhythm of speech is more adult-like than child-like
  3. Displays difficulty with volume control (i.e., too loud or too soft)
  4. Uses the voice of a movie or cartoon character conversationally and is unaware that this is inappropriate
  5. Difficulty understanding the meaning conveyed by others when they vary their pitch, rhythm, or tone

D. Impairment in the processing of language
  1. When processing language (which requires multiple channels working together), has difficulty regulating just one channel, difficulty discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information
  2. Has difficulty shifting from one channel to another; processing is slow and easily interrupted by any environmental stimulation (i.e., seen as difficulty with topic maintenance). This will appear as distractibility or inattentiveness. (Note: When looking at focusing issues, it is very difficult to determine the motivator. It could be attributed to one or a few of the following reasons: lack of interest, fantasy involvement, anxiety, or processing difficulty.)
  3. Displays a delay when answering questions
  4. Displays difficulty sustaining attention and is easily distracted (e.g., one might be discussing plants and the HFA child will ask a question about another country; something said may have triggered this connection or the individual may still be in an earlier conversation)
  5. Displays difficulty as language moves from a literal to a more abstract level (generalization difficulties found in the HFA population are, in part, due to these processing difficulties)

A. Inability and/or a lack of desire to interact with peers
  1. Displays an inability to interact because she does not know how to interact. She wants to interact with others, but does not know what to do:
  • Compromises interactions by rigidity, inability to shift attention or “go with the flow,” being rule bound, needs to control the play/activity (play may “look” imaginative but is most likely repetitive — e.g., action figures are always used in the same way, songs are played in the same order, Lego pieces are always put together in the same way)
  • Displays a limited awareness of current fashion, slang, topics, activities, and accessories (does not seem interested in what peers view as popular or the most current craze, unless it happens to match a special interest)
  • Displays a limited awareness of the emotions of others and/or how to respond to them (does not ask for help from others, does not know how to respond when help is given, does not know how to respond to compliments, does not realize the importance of apologizing, does not realize something she says or does can hurt the feelings of another, does not differentiate internal thoughts from external thoughts, does not respond to the emotions another is displaying)
  • Displays narrow play and activity choices (best observed during unstructured play/leisure activities: look for rigidity/patterns/repetitive choices, inability to accept novelty)
  • Engages in unusual behaviors or activities (selects play or activity choices of a younger child, seems unaware of the unwritten social rules among peers, acts like an imaginary character, uses an unusual voice — any behaviors that call attention to the child or are viewed as unusual by peers)
  • Initiates play interaction by taking a toy or starting to engage in an ongoing activity without gaining verbal agreement from the other players, will ignore a negative response from others when asking to join in, will abruptly leave a play interaction
  • Is unable to select activities that are of interest to others (unaware or unconcerned that others do not share the same interest or level of interest, unable to compromise)
  • Lacks an understanding of game playing — unable to share, unable to follow the rules of turn taking, unable to follow game-playing rules (even those that may appear quite obvious), is rigid in game playing (may want to control the game or those playing and/or create her own set of rules), always needs to be first, unable to make appropriate comments while playing, and has difficulty with winning/losing
  • Lacks conversational language for a social purpose, does not know what to say — this could be no conversation, monopolizing the conversation, lack of ability to initiate conversation, obsessive conversation in one area, conversation not on topic or conversation that is not of interest to others
  • Lacks the ability to understand, attend to, maintain, or repair a conversational flow or exchange — this causes miscommunication and inappropriate responses (unable to use the back-and-forth aspect of communication)
  • Observes or stays on the periphery of a group rather than joining in

2. Prefers structured over non-structured activities

3. Displays a lack of desire to interact:
  • Does not care about her inability to interact with others because she has no interest in doing so. She prefers solitary activities and does not have the need to interact with others, or she is socially indifferent and can take it or leave it with regard to interacting with others
  • Is rule bound/rigid and spends all free time completely consumed by areas of special interest. Her activities are so rule bound, it would be almost impossible for a peer to join in correctly. When asked about preferred friends, the child is unable to name any or names those who are really not friends (family members, teachers)
  • Sits apart from others, avoids situations where involvement with others is expected (playgrounds, birthday parties, being outside in general), and selects activities that are best completed alone (e.g., computer games, Game Boy, books, viewing TV/videos, collecting, keeping lists)

B. Lack of appreciation of social cues
  1. Lacks awareness if someone appears bored, upset, angry, scared, and so forth. Therefore, she does not comment in a socially appropriate manner or respond by modifying the interaction
  2. Lacks awareness of the facial expressions and body language of others, so these conversational cues are missed. He is also unable to use gestures or facial expressions to convey meaning when conversing. You will see fleeting, averted, or a lack of eye contact. He will fail to gain another person's attention before conversing with her. He may stand too far away from or too close to the person he is conversing with. His body posture may appear unusual
  3. When questioned regarding what could be learned from another person's facial expression, says, “Nothing.” Faces do not provide him with information. Unable to read these “messages,” he is unable to respond to them
  4. Has difficulty with feelings of empathy for others. Interactions with others remain on one level, with one message:
  • Fails to assist someone with an obvious need for help (not holding a door for someone carrying many items or assisting someone who falls or drops their belongings)
  • Ignores an individual’s appearance of sadness, anger, boredom, etc.
  • Talks on and on about a special interest while unaware that the other person is no longer paying attention, talks to someone who is obviously engaged in another activity, talks to someone who isn’t even there

C. Socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviors
  1. Laughs at something that is sad, asks questions that are too personal
  2. Makes rude comments (tells someone they are fat, bald, old, have yellow teeth)
  3. Engages in self-stimulatory or odd behaviors (rocking, tics, finger posturing, eye blinking, noises — humming/clicking/talking to self)
  4. Is unaware of unspoken or “hidden” rules — may “tell” on peers, breaking the “code of silence” that exists. He will then be unaware why others are angry with him
  5. Responds with anger when he feels others are not following the rules, will discipline others or reprimand them for their actions (acts like the teacher or parent with peers)
  6. Touches, hugs, or kisses others without realizing that it is inappropriate

D. Limited or abnormal use of nonverbal communication
  1. Averts eye contact, or keeps it fleeting or limited
  2. Stares intensely at people or objects
  3. Does not observe personal space (is too close or too far)
  4. Does not use gestures/body language when communicating
  5. Uses gestures/body language, but in an unusual manner
  6. Does not appear to comprehend the gestures/body language of others
  7. Uses facial expressions that do not match the emotion being expressed
  8. Lacks facial expressions when communicating
  9. Does not appear to comprehend the facial expressions of others
  10. Displays abnormal gestures/facial expressions/body posture when communicating:
  • Confronts another person without changing her face or voice
  • Does not turn to face the person she is talking to
  • Has tics or facial grimaces
  • Looks to the left or right of the person she is talking to
  • Smiles when someone shares sad news
  • Stands too close or too far away from another person

More information can be found here: Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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