Shutdowns in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Guidelines for Collaborating with Your Child’s School

“I’ve begged my son's school to test him for autism. I’ve had nine meetings with his principal, counselors, and teachers. They insist nothing is wrong with him except he needs more discipline, because he is ‘extremely intelligent’. Even though he has run away from school three times, they still don’t think anything is wrong. It's such a shame that these years of school are being wasted because the school doesn’t want to perform a test. How can I get them to change their mind about this?”

In short, you will need to be both a diplomat and an advocate. Being an advocate for a youngster with ASD Level 1, or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), can be tricky. Parents need exceptional communication and negotiation skills – and the confidence to support their youngster’s right to a proper education. Below are some very crucial tips to accomplish this goal in a tactful fashion:

1. Allow school officials to explain their opinions. If parents don’t understand what someone is saying, they should ask for clarification. For example, “What I hear you saying is…” can help ensure that both parties are on the same page.

2. Think in terms of “life success” rather than “school success.” Success in life (rather than just school success) depends not on academics, but on the willingness to ask for - and accept help, the determination to keep trying in spite of challenges, the ability to form healthy relationships with others, a healthy sense of self, and other qualities that are not as easy to quantify as grades and SAT scores. By focusing on these broad skills, parents can help give their youngster a huge leg-up in life.

3. Before any and all meetings, parents should write down what they want to accomplish. They can decide what is most important, and what they are willing to negotiate.

4. Parents can do their own research and keep abreast of new developments in various programs, therapies, and educational techniques for kids on the autism spectrum. Parents may be tempted to look to others (e.g., teachers, therapists, doctors, etc.) for solutions, especially at first. But parents are the foremost expert on their HFA youngster. Thus, they can take charge when it comes to finding the tools their child needs in order to learn.

5. Moms and dads of kids on the spectrum sometimes make the mistake of investing all of their time and energy into the school as the primary solution for their youngster’s disorder. Parents need to recognize that the school situation will never be perfect. Limited funding and too many regulations mean that the accommodations the “special needs” student receives may not be exactly what parents envision for him or her. This, in turn, may cause frustration and stress in the parent. So, in a nutshell, don’t have unrealistic expectations up front.
==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

6. Parents have the advantage of not being “part of the system” and may have fresh ideas. They can do their research and find examples of what other schools have done. So, offer some solutions based on the success of other schools.

7. Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses. Your youngster is not defined by his or her disorder. Focus on his or her gifts and talents. Nurture the activities where he or she excels, and make plenty of time for them.

8. Remember that the school system is dealing with a large number of kids; however, you are only concerned with YOUR “special needs” youngster. Help the meeting stay focused on him or her. Mention your youngster’s name often, resist the urge to fight larger battles, and don’t drift into generalizations.

9. Parents can remind themselves that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to parents to teach their youngster how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Parents should not let the tests, endless paperwork, and school bureaucracy to distract them from what’s really important – giving their youngster plenty of emotional and moral support.

10. Remember that the school will be only one part of the solution for your youngster. So, leave some of the stress behind. Your attitude, support, encouragement, and optimism will have the most lasting impact on your youngster.
==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

11. Stay composed and positive during meetings. The parent should try to go into the meeting assuming that everyone wants to help. If the parent says something she regrets, she can simply apologize and try to get back on track. In other words, try to stay on the good side of school officials, because they can be a big help – or a big hindrance, depending on how they feel about the parent’s attitude. This is not fair, and it’s not right. But, unfortunately, it’s the reality in some school systems.

12. Remember that the parent’s influence outweighs all others. The HFA youngster will almost always follow his or her parent’s lead. If parents approach learning challenges with a sense of humor, optimism, and hard work, their youngster will embrace their perspective (or at least see the challenges as a speed bump rather than a roadblock). Parents need to focus their energy on learning what works for their youngster – and implementing it the best they can.

13. Identify how your HFA youngster learns best – and share this information with his or her teacher(s). Once parents have figured out how their child learns best, they can take steps to make sure that type of learning is reinforced in the classroom and with homework. Let’s look at how to determine what type of learner your youngster is:
  • If your youngster is an auditory learner, he or she: (a) may love music, languages, and being on stage; (b) learns best by listening; (c) does well in lecture-based learning environments and on oral reports and tests; and (d) benefits from classroom discussions, spoken directions, and study groups.
  • If your youngster is a visual learner, he or she: (a) benefits from written notes, directions, diagrams, charts, maps, and pictures; (b) does well when material is presented and tested visually, not verbally; (c) learns best by seeing or reading; (d) may love to draw, read, and write; and (e) is probably a good speller.
  • If your youngster is a kinesthetic learner, he or she: (a) benefits from hands-on activities, lab classes, props, skits, and field trips; (b) does well when he or she can move, touch, explore, and create in order to learn; (c) learns best by doing and moving; and (d) may love sports, drama, dance, martial arts, and arts and crafts.

14. Lastly, write a respectful, business-like letter to the school that describes the issues and your suggested remedy. Ask what the school plans to do for your youngster. If you don’t get an acceptable reply, consult with an attorney who has expertise in special education matters. CLICK HERE for attorneys in any state.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

Do you want to start an IEP process? Do you need accommodations for your son? You can request a comprehensive eval in writing. Many parents I know have gone the private insurance route and done a full psych/educational evaluation and then scheduled a meeting for them to review the results. But of course you can ask the school to do the psych testing--it just is a longer process. However your child has legal rights to receive any accomodations needed to succeed in school. Send a formal email to the principal, teacher, and the ESE person for the school. 
The schools are not required to accept any outside evaluation. But it will signal a necessary start to meeting for disability testing. Everything should be in writing. Since a formal request, in writing, is required for the school district to evaluate your child to determine if they are a child with a disability in need of special education and related services. That starts the legal clock running. The diagnosis itself does not guarantee an IEP (although it may get you a 504 with accommodations.) You will need to show that special education required. 
Do not let the school limit their consideration of need to academics - as other needs are direct instruction in social communication skills, executive functioning/organizational skills, self-advocacy skills, etc. are all valid "special education" needs. Developing appropriate teacher-student relationships, peer-to-peer relationships, being able to participate fully in extracurricular activities, not being bullied or shunned, etc. are all legitimate areas of special education need. 
Also, depending on the state and county, there are services available for free advocacy help where these advocates attend all meetings with the parent and help to move things along by liaisoning with the district. I myself have had the help of an educational advocate. Call your county district school board and ask for a list of advocates you can get help with. Sometimes going over the school's head and speaking with the county makes sense....here in my county they actually have an autism unit...someone who comes into the schools and helps the parent navigate through. And of course, you can go to the superintendent. Hope this helps.

The Blessings of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Dec., 2017]

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.


Hi Mark,

You have been in touch with my wife, Karen, as we've gotten and are going through your course on Parenting/Launching Asberber Teens.  I had a question for your input as I'm looking for a check on how I respond to our son on a current concern.

This is our son's senior year in high school, but he has been able to take college courses this year at the local extension of BGSU.  It has been very hard on him, and he has been bombing out.  I'm thinking he is struggling among other things with different professors with different expectations and time management of projects all combined with currently not having much motivation as he doesn't have a clear picture of career goals, therefore doesn't see the value of the schooling.  (We had homeschooled him through 10th grade, which allowed us to naturally give him a much more consistent school experience, and he did well - with a lot of work on our side and his.)

The issue I am facing now is that it has just come out that he failed his final speech for communication class because he didn't show up, and therefore failed the course.

Further info:  He started the semester with 5 courses, and we immediately dropped one course that he felt would be too hard.  Then later, it came out that he was failing two other courses, so these were dropped even a little late in the semester, leaving him with just art and communications, which he felt he could handle.

Then with about 4 weeks left, it came out that he was slightly failing communications, and there was only one final speech left for him to bring up his grade.  So I had him focus on that project for weeks, knowing it was his key to pass.  I had him go to the prof and talk it over, and helped him to space out the preparations and prioritize it.  Towards the end, we offered for him to practice the speech with us, but he declined. 

After his speech day last week, I asked him how it went, and he said OK.  Just today it came out that he skipped the class and never gave the speech, and so got a 0 and has failed the class.

Soon he will be home and I will be debriefing this with him, and I thought I would welcome any input from you to factor into how I handle this.  He is not at all shy, and talks very freely, so he is not the introvert that is simply terrified to speak in public.  There's something else apparently.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have.


Hi Mark ~

My name is Jenniffer. I have a 15 yr. old son who has not been diagnosed professionally but displays all the signs of living with Asperger’s. He is high functioning.
We had him in public school when he was younger and pulled him out to homeschool when he was in the third grade. He was 8. We homeschooled him until the 8th grade, at which time he asked if he could go back. We agreed and he had a good year. We live in a small town and the grades are combined and as a result he became ‘friends’ with more of his 7th grade counterparts. When it came time for him to move up to high school he didn’t want to go without his ‘friends’. He stayed home for 9th. He is now back in school and those same ‘friends’ told him, within 2 months of starting, that they don’t want to hang out with him any longer.
Around the same time period he came to us and told us that he believes he has gender disphoria. He has never displayed any of the traits or behaviors that would have ever led us to come to that conclusion about him.
He is 6’1 and 220lbs. Before stating school again he was talking about wanting to lift weights and lose a little weight. He would help his dad with outside chores and would comment about how he liked that he was strong enough to help.
Since telling us about his thoughts he has been more anxious and depressed. But, it is not consistent.
 He told us a couple of days ago that he’s also been having nightmares but he can’t or won’t tell us what they are about.
He also has stopped doing his homework. He’s become a C student with one D and because his test scores are so high he’s brought attention to himself. He should be an A-B student. After the holidays the school wants to have a meeting with us to discuss how to get him ‘back on track’. He had a meeting with the school counselor about a week ago and told her he was only at school for socializing and doesn’t care about his grades or homework. He also told her that we are Christians and read the Bible every night and that that is more important than homework. An administrator called my husband, at that point, to see if Caleb had a safe place to do his homework and ‘is it against our religion for him to do homework?’
 We asked Caleb about the meeting and he was baffled that they would ‘extrapolate’ (his word 😏) that from what he told the counselor. We aren’t hopeful...
We believe it’s psychological. He doesn’t buy it, completely. He’s trying to figure it out and he says that if he could change it he would but ‘I was born this way’ and there’s nothing I can do to change it!
Through our own research we have started looking into possibly getting an FMRI. We aren’t sure that a diagnosis, at this point, would help. And we’ve been told because of his age it is going to be even more difficult to get.
I am going to purchase your ebook and am hopeful it will help us to understand him and help him understand himself.

My question is, do you hear about this often? Gender disphoria? And is there a correlation, in your opinion, with Asperger’s? We have been researching so much and have read that there is a belief that there is but we haven’t actually talked to anybody. His pediatrician has no experience with ASD or gender disphoria and immediately wanted us to go to counseling, which is fine except that the counselor was under the impression that we were interested in transitioning, before even talking with us. We are not interested in helping him transition. We want to help him understand and accept himself as a truly is. Even though, right now, he doesn’t see how that’s possible.
We believe because he is still going through puberty, which when he first came to us he expressed his desire to get on puberty blockers, will grow into his body to become more comfortable and confident in that fact.

I thank you for taking the time to read my email. I want to understand Caleb and how he thinks so that I can talk with him and not frustrate him or me. And right now that seems to be the only thing that’s happening...


Hello Mark, (from Sunny South Africa)

I have learned sooooo much from your videos on YouTube.  I’m a subscriber!!

I have a 9 year old son, Reinhardt, with Aspergers (diagnosed December 2015).  His outbursts is not a severe as other children I’ve seen on YouTube, and the teachers say that he is overall very sweet and obedient.  He copes in school, struggle with language and reading but excels in math.  He is a born drummer – loves keeping a rhythm on any surface and we support that – that’s his thing… as well as running and dancing…

What we do struggle with though is getting the little guy to do things he is “supposed” to do, to motivate him to for instance to do homework “after homework time” (in his mind) if he is not done with the day’s homework.  Example: He had extra classes on Tuesdays, and then in the afternoon he does cross country (loves running) so on Tuesdays, there were very little time for homework.  And if it’s after a certain time in the day, he refuses to do homework, “because it’s dark out”.  And whatever you say, you can even make him sit behind his book and place the pencil in his hand, he will not do a stich of work. 

Same with bath time. He will not bath if the sun is still out – he bathes after the sun is down. 

I understand keeping to a routine and how their thought patterns work, but is there a way to motivate a child with Asperger’s to do things he does not want to do?  Sometimes you need them to take a bath earlier in order to go to a function, or things does not run according to plan and homework or other tasks needs to move to a different time slot… we really struggle with this.  He is obsessed with time an when things must and wil happen:  “Mom, when are you dishing up – you are late (5min past normal dinner time)… or how late will “this” happen, how many days until X happens…. Typical conversations:  What is the date today (although he already knows) and what date are we going to grandma – oh, ok, 6 days… and then this will repeat every day (count down) until the day we have to travel, and then he will start with the hours and minutes… how long until we leave – I’ll say 3 hours.  Him: but what time is it now (7:04) – what time will we leave (10:00).  No mommy, not 3 hours.  Two hours and 56 minutes… ha-ha-ha. 

It is a struggle some days, but most days this is what keeps us on our toes. Talking, discussing, convincing (NOT) and trying to keep everything together, because I have an (almost) 12 year old (sensitive/sweet) daughter – hitting the teens – and balancing her needs with the constant need from her brother… shew, some days are just….  I don’t know….

Maybe there is a video I’ve missed that talks about my questions that you can just refer me to.  Would love to hear from you. 

Thank you for the wonderful work you do for us!!!  We do not have a big Asperger’s support where we live – everything we need to do (like specialists, etc) are about 1½ to 2 hours’ drive away.  Makes it very difficult. In our town I know of only 2 other families with children with Aspergers, and I’m sure a lot of misdiagnosed kids around us…

I hope to hear from you soon, but if I don’t, have a Merry Christmas and a very prosperous 2018 – may you be blessed for helping us understand our children!!


Mr. Hutten,

Believe it or not, we are working through the parenting course but it's going slower than the needs at home arise.  Here's the deal -- Caleb is only 3 courses away from high school graduation.  Less than 3 really because the math courses (Algebra 2 and Business Math) are in process of being finished - he's retaking failed tests to complete the two math courses.  The 3rd course is English.  We mentioned the possibility of withdrawing him from high school and letting him get his GED, but the teacher begged us not to withdraw him since he is so CLOSE to graduating.  My husband Kevin also feels he is so close and maybe it's worth just keeping on with high school.  We have had him withdraw from the college plus program though.

Background info: he is enrolled at a public charter school where the kids can work at home or at the library or at the school itself.  We chose this method to give him more freedom to work where it's easier to concentrate (i.e. not a classroom).  HOWEVER, it has been more trouble than benefit  because he was given a chrome book on which to do his work and he ended up on pornographic sites, gay chat group rooms, etc.  Whatever comes into his mind as a curiosity, he researches with infinite focus and persistence.  We ended up talking to the teacher about it after he put his sister in danger by telling a perverted stranger on Facebook to "check out his sister".  We had him delete his FB account and put strict restrictions on him last year.  The school took the computer back and he worked at the library... but that also gave him access to inappropriate sites.  He was uploading inappropriate photos of himself to homosexual sites after he was curious about that lifestyle and found it interesting.  Evidently the library workers do not keep tabs on what goes on with the computers.  On top of that, he has a fixation on serial killers now, and it worries us that he has access to books and online materials that might jump start some kind of violence/downward turn.  Right now, he is not violent apart from his anger which usually is directed toward himself of yelling at his same-age sister (both adopted at the same time from Russia).  Your material mentions that immature aspergers really should be careful what they see because they can't differentiate between reality and imagination.  THIS is what we are worried about.  The teacher told us to let him go to the library and let him carry the consequences of his behavior/actions should he go astray.  While that sounds great, we have 3 other children that he brings his perversions home to (or sends them out to perversions online).  We have also made it that he is not to take any pictures of siblings at all because he might send them to inappropriate sites.  This is not a nice way to live.

So for him to work at home, it would need to be quiet - but we have a 4 year old running around and just living.  The 4 year old is not quiet, creating a lot of panic and anger in Caleb that he can't focus.  His outbursts are hard to abide.  But he has broken all our trust of what he is doing outside the home when he says he is doing school.  Your materials talk about trusting our child but how do you build trust with someone who is so impulsive and not interested in exercising any self control AND who has really whole heartedly gone to the Dark Side and then talks about it at home without filter and has put his sister at risk in the past (I'd like to believe he has learned from that - but he has yet to regain my trust).

Please, help.  I am so tired of living like this.

PS  One reason it's going slower than we would like is because for safety issues, we have our computer out in the main room.  We usually do the parenting course when we send everyone to their rooms for the evening - when we get regain the quiet of "Grand Central Station".   And some nights it is not conducive to learning/study depending on the chaos of the house.


Hello Mark.  I am a 47 year old mother of two. My son is 22 and my daughter is 18. My husband died in 2014 after a 4 year bout with cancer.
My two kids couldn't be more different. While my son is easy-going and compassionate, my daughter is none of those. I read about your program and I'm wondering if at 18 she is "too far gone". She is also at college so most of my interaction with her is via text or cell phone. She does come home on breaks and those have been trying it best. She absolutely hates my boyfriend and makes no effort to get along. 
She has been in counseling and seeing psychiatrist for medication for a few years. We have gone from diagnosis to diagnosis and nothing seems to really work. I honestly think it comes down to her almost narcissistic tendencies. And I think the way we parented her from the beginning has enabled that.

I guess my question for you is will your program work to help guide me to parent her better now.  To end this constant feeling of dread that a good mood will change and everyone will be miserable.


Hi.  My son was diagnosed with Aspergers at the  age of 30.  He's now almost 37.  I have been to a few conferences and read books and articles about parenting children with ASD but so much of it has to do with children or teens.  I feel so alone with my struggle to help my son.  I even went to a therapist for over a year, with my son, to get some answers on how to navigate my way through his meltdowns, etc.  This was someone who was supposed to have some knowledge of ASD and was recommended by the support group for adult aspies in Portland Maine.  I got no advice as to whether or not my current strategies help or harm.  Do you have any suggestions for me as to where I might get some answers or support?  I would appreciate any help I can get.  Thanks



Happy New Year. I am writing at this time, I imagine, because it is the holiday season. I am married to a man with Aspergers Syndrome, and the holidays have had an extra layer of loneliness and output of energy on my part. This has led me to seeking support, specifically with a neurotypical and high functioning autistic relationship dynamic. Of course, I come with my own set of challenges, emotionally and neurologically. But, they deal with... emotion.

I did not realize my husband had this challenge until the past year. I was very consumed with his daughter, who is also on the spectrum, and trying to learn, or self-teach strategies of parenting her. We have complexities of each of us coming into this marriage, with two children each, after divorces. Our ex-spouses are very challenging and my husband does not take ownership in dealings with his ex-wife, often unintentionally, but very painfully, “throwing me under the bus”. I am seen as the problem by many and it is a large burden, especially when I have committed myself so fully, with so much thought, and compassion, to others.

We currently live in two houses, due to the extreme conflict with his ex-wife, and his inability or unwillingness to reduce that conflict or set a boundary. I “broke” this past year and found myself alone and patterns of passive aggressiveness in my husband’s dealings with the situation. The two houses sets up even more loneliness opportunity, without the minimum of daily contact. I am scared because I think things could improve, in a matter of fact way, but I am exhausted from being hurt and forgotten. I have broken trust from discussions leading to commitments and those important commitments not taking place. I feel I don’t have energy left over for me and my self care. I find myself wanting to be alone, and not participate in activities or a life with my husband and his kids because it leads to such strong feelings of being used, taken advantage of, and broken trust.

We do have many strengths as a couple, and a blended family. However, there are issues that need therapy and structural change in order for things to function in a way that I can find peace and calm.

I am wondering if you do retreat type therapy. We happen to be in Indiana, in New Albany. A long drive. I will start with your ebook, but I find it terrifying. It feels like more work on my part (though there are potential great rewards), and I need a human, and validation and connection from a person, as I continue through this journey. Typical therapy is not going to work. I also believe a third party helps individuals to feel “ heard “ and a place in which accountability is expected.

Are there any practioners with this specialty in Southern Indiana? You are my first step in attempting to remain in our marriage, to which we are both committed, but I find exceedingly draining.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


My son broke the rules again and smoked weed, tested positive after a party he went to, I took away his phone and I Pad, he did not fight me, I went through the Snapchat and Instagram posts and realized that almost half of the kids in his school are posting themselves, while doing drugs.

Many of those kids are put on pedestals by teachers, parents and principal for great accomplishments, the kids are part of SkillsUSA and they are high ranking officers for SkillsUSA and straight A students.
They are champions in world robotics and so on, being followed by a lot of kids worldwide, and there they are on snapchat, smoking big huge joints and pipes.
I was in shock, and for the last week I have been looking at all those posts and reading them.

When confronting and talking to my 15 year old, he did not deny smoking it, he did not lie about his friends doing it.

Here is what he said: "Because I am upsetting you, I might consider not doing it until I am 18 when I will be moving out. Not sure what your problem is, it is good for us, we do better in school, and you all said follow Bryce and be like him. I don't understand your problem with it, it will become legal in 2 days, yes I know I am not 21, but look at all the scientific proof."

He knows 10 times more about scientific proof of it being good, then I can pull up what it does bad.
He is 15 he is in 10th grade and 1/3 done of his college classes.
He never ever gave me any problems, never talked back, never comes home late, never did ever anything to upset me in any way.
That is why I am lost right now, it all changed now. All the things in your book, having dinner at home, we do and have been doing 7 days a week, he has chores,
he earns his allowance, and loses it if he does not follow through, he works for me and is on 1099 MISC, he saves his money for a new laptop, he follows his dreams with photography and take college classes, and now, the last 4 month he puts his friends first, everything I say, reflects he can care less, and they are first, he believes them more than us, and he wants to do what they do.
Do the this unique situation with the kids involved, I really need guidance, I have some of the kids filmed, and I know, those kids have no parents involved, because one of them owns his own house already and lives by himself and that is where they always are. Please advise, thank you so much.


Behavioral Manifestations of Anxiety in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

==> Need more help resolving behavior problems in your child on the autism spectrum? Here you go...

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

Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum to Help Themselves

“How can I help my high functioning autistic daughter (age 7) to be more independent and confident in her abilities to handle tough situations?”

All kids need love, encouragement, and support – and for the child with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), such positive reinforcement can help ensure that he or she emerges with a strong sense of self-confidence and the determination to keep going even when circumstances are difficult.

In searching for ways to help your child, remember that you are looking for ways to help her to help herself. Your job is to give her the social and emotional tools she needs to work through the inevitable obstacles that will come. In the long run, facing and overcoming the difficulties associated with the symptoms of AS and HFA can help your youngster to become more resilient.

Parents should always remember that the way they behave and respond to challenges has a big impact on their “special needs” youngster. A good attitude won’t solve the problems associated with the disorder, but it can give the youngster hope and confidence that things can improve and that she will eventually succeed.

How to help your child with autism spectrum disorder to help herself:

1. Encourage healthy emotional habits. Like you, your child may be frustrated by the problems associated with his disorder. Therefore, try to give him outlets for expressing his anger, frustration, or feelings of disappointment. Listen when he wants to talk. Create an environment open to expression. Doing so will help your child connect with his emotions, and eventually, learn how to calm himself and regulate his feelings.

2. For children on the autism spectrum, being proactive is crucial and involves (a) self-advocacy (e.g., asking for a seat at the front of the classroom) and (b) the willingness to take responsibility for choices. Thus, ask your youngster how she approaches problems. How do problems make her feel? How does she decide what action to take? Discuss different possible decisions, problems, and outcomes with your youngster. Have her pretend to be part of the situation and make her own decisions. If she is hesitant to make choices and take action, try to provide a few “safe” situations to test the water (e.g., thinking of a solution for a scheduling conflict, choosing what to make for dinner, etc.). Also, share how you approach problems in your life.

3. For kids on the spectrum, self-awareness (i.e., knowledge about strengths and weaknesses) is very important. Therefore, work with your youngster on activities that are within his capabilities. This will help build feelings of competency. Help him develop his strengths and passions. Feeling passionate and skilled in one area can inspire hard work in other areas. Ask your youngster to list his strengths and weaknesses. In addition, talk about your own strengths and weaknesses.

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

4. In order to help your child to help himself, you need to be as emotionally and physically healthy as possible. Thus, take care of YOU too. It’s easy to get caught up in what your youngster needs, while forgetting your own needs. But, if you don’t take care of yourself, you run the risk of burning out. You won’t be able to help your youngster to help himself if you’re exhausted and emotionally depleted. On the other hand, when you’re calm and focused, you’re better able to connect with your youngster and help him to be calm and focused too. Enlist the help of teachers, tutors, and therapists whenever possible to share some of responsibility for day-to-day academic responsibilities. Join a support group. The encouragement and advice you’ll get from other moms and dads is crucial. Make daily time for yourself to relax and decompress. Get enough rest, eat well, and exercise.

5. Kids with AS and HFA usually need to work harder and longer because of their disorder. Therefore, discuss what it means to keep going even when things are tough. Talk about the rewards of hard work – and the opportunities missed by giving up. Talk with your youngster about times when he persevered (e.g., why did he keep going?). When your youngster has worked hard, but failed to achieve his goal, discuss different possibilities for pushing forward. In addition, share stories about when you have faced challenges and kept pushing forward.

6. Recruit family and friends so that they, too, can help your AS or HFA child to help herself. You may have tried to keep your youngster’s disorder a secret, which can, even with the best intentions, look like guilt or shame. Without knowing, extended family and friends will not understand the disorder. As a result, they may think that your youngster’s behavior is stemming from disobedience, laziness or hyperactivity. Once everybody is on the same page, they can support your youngster’s progress. Your family members and friends can be helpful teammates if you can find a way to include them and learn to ask for help when you need it.

7. Setting realistic and attainable goals is a crucial skill for success, and involves the flexibility to adapt and adjust goals according to changing challenges, circumstances, and limitations. Thus, celebrate with your youngster when she achieves a goal. If some goals seem to be too hard to achieve, talk about why - and how - plans or goals can be adjusted to make them possible. Help your youngster identify a few short-term and long-term goals, and write down steps and a timeline to achieve the goals. Check with your child periodically to talk about progress and make adjustments as needed. In addition, talk about your own short-term and long-term goals and what you do when you encounter difficult challenges.

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

8. Strong support systems are key for children with AS and HFA. The child that is able to ask for help when she needs it - and reach out to others for support - is often highly successful. Thus, demonstrate to your youngster how to ask for help in difficult situations. Help her to nurture and develop good relationships. Model what it means to be a good friend so she knows what it means to help and support others. Present your youngster with role-play scenarios that require help. Also, share examples of people needing help, how they got help, and why it was good to ask for what you need.

9. When a child with AS or HFA learns how to regulate stress and calm himself, he will be much better equipped to overcome challenges. So, ask your youngster to describe activities and situations that make him anxious. Break down the scenarios and talk about how anxiety and frustration can be avoided. Ask your youngster what words he might use to describe anxiety. Does he recognize when he is feeling anxious? Encourage your youngster to identify and participate in activities that help reduce anxiety (e.g., sports, games, music, writing in a journal, etc.). Also, use words to identify feelings and help your youngster learn to recognize specific emotions.

10. Lastly, prayer and meditation have worked wonders for other parents of children on the autism spectrum. For example, pray for your child’s success in all areas of life – spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially. Also, visualize your child thriving in all of these areas.

==> More strategies on how to help your child to become more self-reliant and confident!

The 3 Phases of a Meltdown in Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


How to Make Sure Your ASD Child Thrives and Becomes a Healthy, Happy and Productive Adult

==> Parenting Autistic Children: Research-based Methods

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Good news! There is such a program. Click on the link above to get started immediately.


How to Help Children on the Autism Spectrum to Feel Competent

“Any ideas on how to help our high-functioning son improve his self-esteem and start to feel more capable of doing certain things. He’s a very sensitive boy that doesn’t seem to have much faith in his abilities… for example, during the last school year he wouldn't turn in homework because he was afraid of getting get an ‘F’… won’t even attempt to ride his bicycle (it just collects dust in the garage)… refuses to attend Sunday School because ‘nobody likes’ him (prefers sitting with us during regular service) …just to name a few.”

A young person with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) often feels powerless and inadequate. He tends to be a passive learner and needs to be totally involved in activities to make him an active learner.

You can encourage hands-on activities (e.g., cleaning, cooking, shopping, and running errands, etc.) to show your “special needs” child that he is competent and can make things happen. These learning activities have the added benefit of resulting in visible, tangible products that are valued by the entire family.

As parents of kids on the autism spectrum, we must be aware of doing too much for our kids, because it has the opposite effect of empowerment and self-reliance. The opposite would be disenfranchisement and dependency. In order to help your son feel more capable, (a) utilize a concept called “active engagement,” (b) foster the development of curiosity, and (b) model the idea that obstacles are actually “learning opportunities.”

The effects of active engagement (e.g., giving your child a special chore to do - that only he does - in which he’s considered the “expert” with that chore) are in fact neurological. Research shows that the sights and sounds of enriched environments cause dendrites to form neural pathways that are called “magic trees of the mind.” The data reveal that a curious mind, stimulated to further inquiry, makes the central cortex thicker, activating the brain to further enhance learning (Smith, 1995).

Moms and dads can foster curiosity in their AS or HFA youngster and lay the framework for thinking and questioning. When the child’s mind is questioning everything, his body is active, his hands are into things, and he is helped to achieve the highest cognitive development possible.

Parents work with their youngster to develop critical thinking skills (a) when the family plays games like chess, checkers, or Clue; (b) when a mystery story has been read and the child guesses who did it; (c) when the family watches a TV show, and the child is asked what the big message was; and (d) when they have her look at photos or drawings and piece together what could be going on.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

In addition, programs such as HyperStudio allows the child to draw, photograph, speak, and scan objects from the Internet – and to make worthwhile multimedia presentations that simultaneously use and develop many skills.

You can also empower your child with AS or HFA to view difficulties as challenges and to know that she has a lot going for her and a team behind her. When parents can adopt a “problem-solving mode” rather than always providing the answers, it helps their child feel competent (e.g., “Let’s figure out where we can find the information we need instead of doling out the right answer much of the time.” “What can we do about this?” “What options do we have?” …etc.).

Parenting kids with AS and HFA requires a lot of problem-solving. In addition, parents need to help turn their youngster into an outstanding problem-solver as well. Learning when to ask for help and who to ask, grappling with adversity, and figuring out strategies that work for him are critical life-skills that the youngster must learn – and will help him feel competent.

More ways to help your AS or HFA child to feel competent:

•  Another great way to instill feelings of competency in your child is to encourage her to take on tasks she shows interest in, and then make sure she follows through to completion. It doesn’t matter what the interest is. It can be anything from beating levels in video games to Karate. The point is for your child to stick with what she starts so she feels that sense of achievement in the end.

•  Don’t over-praise your child. Over-praising does more harm than good. Feeling competent comes from feeling loved and secure. Being competent means becoming good at things, and that takes time and effort. You can’t praise your child into competency. We you over-praise, you are lowering the bar. If you keep telling your youngster that he is already doing a great job, you’re saying he no longer needs to push himself. But feelings of competency come from doing, from trying and failing – and trying again.

•  Allow your youngster to take healthy risks. You may have to force yourself to stand back and allow her to make mistakes rather than charging in to rescue. To build competency in the world, your child will need to take chances, make choices, and take responsibility for those choices.

•  Lastly, allow your child to make her own choices. When she makes her own age-appropriate choices, she will feel more confident. Children as young as 2 can start considering the consequences of their decisions.

Feeling competent refers to a global affirmation of self. When an AS or HFA child feels competent, he is able to embrace ALL facets of himself – not just the positive parts. He accepts himself unconditionally. He can recognize his weaknesses and limitations, but this awareness in no way interferes with his ability to fully accept himself – and to feel empowered and self-reliant in other areas of his life.

==> Is your child suffering from low self-esteem. Then put these techniques into practice...

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

Why Kids with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism Get So Angry

The Best Way to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Children with ASD

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

Anxiety-Related Behavioral Problems in Kids on the Autism Spectrum


Difficulties in Physical Education Class for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Physical education classes are usually a nightmare for kids with Aspergers (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Many have awkward gaits and can’t run very fast. Their poor motor coordination means they have great difficulty throwing or catching balls, balancing themselves, or mastering certain movements (e.g., hopping, skipping, jumping, etc.).

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

Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum: How to Make a Tough Job Easier

“Our son has high-functioning autism and ADHD.  His behavior is affecting every member of our family. We love him of course, but his meltdowns and tantrums are putting a great deal of stress on our marriage, and his siblings. We have put our resources of time and money towards providing treatment and interventions for him - to the exclusion of other priorities – with no positive outcome thus far. I am beyond burned out. To complicate matters, my parents believe that our son simply needs some old school discipline. They are so out-of-the-loop on what’s going on – it’s heart-rending.”

Having a child with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can be hard on the entire family. Usually one parent (often the mom) recognizes and faces the problem sooner or more readily than the other. Confusion and disagreement can result.

For example:
  • Grandparents may blame the parents for not giving enough direct help to the youngster, not doing enough, not being disciplined enough, organized enough, etc.
  • Neighbors can be intolerant if the youngster has low-frustration tolerance, tends to explode or cry at each hurdle, or is very hyperactive.
  • Siblings often resent the amount of attention given to their “special needs” brother or sister, and they may even assert that he/she is a spoiled brat who is perfectly capable.

Almost on a daily basis, the AS or HFA youngster raises the aggravation-factor in family life. Conflict frequently stems from the youngster’s misunderstanding of instructions or going off on a tangent. When wrong or criticized, he may fall apart, withdraw, or act-out in one form or another. Due to the fact that he has trouble dealing with sequences and order, he doesn’t plan well.

This child is usually very disorganized. He may be distracted easily and is often impulsive. Just getting dressed for school in the morning can be a grueling task – sometimes resulting in flare-ups on the part of the youngster and his parents. And, he may leave everyone on edge, because his behavior is inconsistent and full of ups-and-downs, unpredictable, and erratic.

Emotionally, the AS or HFA child is very immature and fragile. She may personalize things that have nothing to do with her (e.g., when family members are laughing at something, she may be convinced that she is being laughed at, and as a result, may get very upset). Also, her moods swing widely; she may be laughing one moment, and crying the next. This fluctuation of emotions is hard to live with.

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

To complicate matters further, the young person on the autism spectrum is prone to anxiety and depression. His sense of defeat and failure may be contagious, in that the whole family can feel his vulnerability and misery. Oftentimes parents, who are otherwise very competent in their daily lives, feel very incompetent when with their “special needs” child. This can take a toll on them. Support and education may be necessary to strengthen their sense of confidence and capability in effectively parenting their child.

The AS or HFA child may be unable to play successfully with even one peer – and certainly not two. She has difficulty reading social cues (e.g., facial expressions, gestures, tones of voice, etc.). Also, she tends to be a very literal and concrete (e.g., can’t deal with subtleties, inferences, nuances, or multiple meanings). This affects peer-relationships and family life because she often can’t understand sarcasm, jokes, or subtle teasing. One of the consequences of this is that the child has to be taught explicitly how to relate to other people.


What can parents do to help? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Coach your child through common social situations until he or she develops appropriate interpersonal behaviors.

2. Kids with AS and HFA often respond well to positive reinforcement. Therefore, always be looking for opportunities to praise your child for the behaviors he is doing well. Be very specific, so that he knows exactly what you liked about his behavior. In addition to verbal acknowledgment of proper behavior, you may want to reward him with extra playtime or a small prize (e.g., a token or sticker).

3. Consider showing the wrong way of handling a situation, and then have your child critique you. The process of problem-solving, acting situations out, and talking about various scenarios will help your child to think through a wider range of options.

4. Stay consistent and on schedule. AS and HFA children like routines. Make sure your child gets consistent guidance and interaction. This can make learning new skills and behaviors easier, and will help him apply his knowledge in different situations. Also, talk to your child’s teachers and therapists, and try to align on a consistent set of methods of interaction so you can bring what your son is learning home.

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

5. Provide your child with practice in anticipating what might happen in various social situations.

6. Take your son along for everyday tasks. If his behavior is unpredictable, you may feel like it’s easier not to expose him to certain situations. But, if you take your child on everyday activities (e.g., grocery shopping, post office run, etc.), it will help him get used to the world around him.

7. Role-play with your child about what to do or say when he wants to join a game that his siblings or peers are playing.

8. Get some support (e.g., online support groups, support from other parents of kids on the spectrum, professionals, friends, etc.). Also, individual, marital, or family counseling can be helpful. Think about what can make your life a bit easier – and ask for help.

9. Work with your AS or HFA child on reading gestures and movements, reading faces, and learning what is - and is not - appropriate to say.

10. Most importantly, take care of your mental health. Here are some ways to accomplish this goal:
  •  Simplify, simplify, simplify…
  • Write your thoughts and feelings down in a journal. This will help you clarify things and can give you a renewed perspective.
  • Use your weekend time for a change of pace. For example, if your work week is fast-paced and full of deadlines, seek peace and solitude on the weekend. If your work week is slow and boring, make sure there is action and time for spontaneity built into your days off. 
  • Always remember that for every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 to 50 blessings. Count them!
  • Unplug your phone and take a long bath, meditate, or read without interruptions. Have the courage to temporarily “disconnect.” 
  • Try to have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we all live in an imperfect world.
  • Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments. 
  • Say “no” to extra projects, social activities, and invitations you know you don’t have the time or energy for.
  • Relax your standards. The world will not end if your child leaves his dirty underwear on the floor, for example.
  • Learn to delegate responsibility to others.
  • Prepare for the morning the evening before (e.g., set the breakfast table, make lunches, put out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.).
  • Eliminate (or restrict) the amount of caffeine and sugar in your diet.
  • Only do one thing at a time. When you are busy with a project, concentrate on doing that project and forget about everything else. When you are with someone, be with that person and with no one or anything else. 
  • Learn to live one day at a time.
  • Learn the difference between needs and preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into water, food, and proper shelter. Everything else is a preference. Don’t get attached to preferences.
  • If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. Then, the rest of your day will be less stressful.
  • Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. In this way, the predictable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
  • Learn to be more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly.
  • Get enough sleep. Use an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed.
  • Every day, do something you really enjoy.
  • Eliminate destructive self-talk (e.g., “I must be doing something wrong, otherwise my child wouldn’t have all these problems”).
  • Do anything that will improve your appearance. Looking better can help you feel better.
  • Allow yourself time every day for quiet, privacy, and introspection.
  • Discuss your problems with a trusted friend. This will help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem-solving.
  • Check your breathing throughout the day – and before, during and after high pressure situations. If you find that your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths. 
  • Always set up some “just in case” plans (e.g., “If we get split up while at the Mall, here’s where we’ll meet”).
  • Lastly, try to have an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can – even your “special needs” child.

Moms and dads whose youngster has been diagnosed with AS or HFA experience a multitude of emotions. They become, through no choice of their own, pioneers in an unknown world of terminology, programs, and treatments. However, in learning to negotiate this daunting territory, parents can benefit from practicing a few basic techniques that will ensure success for both their youngster – and themselves.

==> Need more parenting strategies to effectively parent your child with ASD? You'll find a bunch of them right here...

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… Exactly what we did. Our son is 16 and we just let him be. He is a super good kid but has no use whatsoever in socializing except when he’s gaming with the headphones. He won’t go anywhere except school and refuses therapy. For my sanity, I stopped trying to do all that. His life is different, his needs and wants are different. He’s content and I’m not so stressed.
•    Anonymous said… Find someone who will understand your child and "why" behaviors are effective for you kiddo. Don't let a on size all approach try to squeeze skills in. Understanding is the key to change not long list of boxes to check of their programs.
•    Anonymous said… Hahaha sometimes I would love to see them try. I think they won have them back before that time. My son is the same way and when a member of the family says something like that in day here take him, please. .. the never do  :)
•    Anonymous said… I feel this way all the time. I’m just burned out and haven’t seen any progress with social skills groups and counseling. My other kids have had to endure hours of waiting or doing homework in the car to make all the appointments happen. Just tired.
•    Anonymous said… I have a 15 year old and I can relate. I thought things would improve as he gets older but it hasn’t. I’m scared for his future but I wake up with hope everyday. Hope keeps me going. I hope things improve for all of us.
•    Anonymous said… I'm dealing with that with my 11 Year old and my Ex was /is the same way...thinking our son will "grow out of it"...it's disheartening...my son has Aspergers and ADHD/SPD ...I feel like I'll be in your position in the future. Hugs to you .
•    Anonymous said… It can feel really isolating when family don't understand HFA!!! I find it can make you feel like a poor parent on top of the everyday struggling. At our place we are starting progress pages on the fridge that tackle one behaviour at a time. We include the whole family in the chart. For example our first is manners. Adding the visual and hands on aspect it makes the behaviour focus more concrete and less abstract. Once the behaviour has been rehearsed enough and feels more logical and comes naturally we'll move to the next behaviour.
•    Anonymous said… I've come to learn that nobody outside of the home can ever understand what goes on on a daily basis. It's sometimes the accumulation of little things, things that on their own seem petty, that ware you down. We've learned to take life in 24 hour doses. Even if issues carry over from day to day, each day is an opportunity to succeed or fail. But today's failure, or more accurately obstacles not failures, do not dictate the next days success.
•    Anonymous said… My ex refused to have her treated, shoot, he refused to have her diagnosed. She is now 21 and my job is to remind her to bathe, brush her teeth, and always put on clean clothes from the skin out. We live one day at a time. Sometimes it is one minute at a time. My advice is like many others. Relax, breathe, pick your battles and love each other.
•    Anonymous said… My son of 23 is out of control have been told to contact NDIS?
•    Anonymous said… Old school discipline  πŸ™„ Somebody once told me that they'd have my son "straightened out" in a week. Um, no. He'll have you straightened out.
•    Anonymous said… Our son is 20 and the transition into adulthood has been so hard. 1 step forward 3 steps back. It's my wife and I alone. No breaks, no support from family. We are exhausted, frustrated and discouraged. No one understands what it is like to live with an ADHD Aspergers kid unless they have done so. If I had a dollar for everytime some one said: " have you tried... or you should..." most days I wonder how or if it will all end. What will become of him. Will he ever be able to leave home and live on his own. Will he ever have a happy life. Or for that matter will my wife and I ever have any peace our selves. Selfish? Yes. Our lives and marriage are controlled by our son. It's a never ending saga for the two of us at an age (we're in our early 50s)when our life together is supposed to be about the two of us. Raising an Aspergers kid is a daunting, exhausting task.
•    Anonymous said… so nice to share the frustrations. our son is almost 18 and the "to adult" transition not going well.
•    Anonymous said… Stop trying to treat him? Stop having him be the bad centre of your family? Try no treatment and no interventions for six month whilst you all spend time loving and caring for each other. I speak from experience. We live more quietly and empathically and we stopped setting our son up to fail. Take off the pressure.
•    Anonymous said… Thank you for saying this. There’s so much pressure to put your AS kid through endless expensive and time consuming treatments. The most helpful advice I was ever given was to spend patient quiet time doing structured activities together.
•    Anonymous said… That could have been written by us. It still breaks my heart looking back on what we all went through for so many years. Bruises, broken walls and tenuous relationships...The good news is now that he is 16, he has matured so much and behaviors are under control. Keep your child involved in a high interest activity- it helps.
•    Anonymous said… The part that’s really hard is the oldest sibling not tolerating any of our sons behavior... it breaks my heart... and it’s so stressful
•    Anonymous said… They all become functioning adults to some degree. How many HFAs do you see in your workplace? Recognizing them brings a whole new appreciation to working with "different personalities".
•    Anonymous said… this is Noah. The way his brain functions.
•    Anonymous said… Unfortunately there is NO short term therapy for AS children. Unfortunately, changes can take years. Temple Grandin spoke about her mom enforcing consistency wherever Temple went so that aunts, uncles, grandparents were all on the same page as to what behaviors they would accept etc. Made a difference for her in that she can work and function and behave in society.
•    Anonymous said… We have found narrowing it down to one word, "unacceptable", helps. Our son is 16 and if I had to walk him through the whys every time Id have a skull size hole in my brick wall. He understands all we're doing is letting him know what behaviour is unacceptable outside the house for his own safety and it seems to work. At times he may get frustrated but he understands its a one word, non-negotiable, non-confrontational observation. No pressure *wink* Works for us anyways.
•    Anonymous said… We have taken a break from BI. It was nice but really, didn’t seem to do a lot. Its so hard to know what works, BI, medication, trampolines!? The list is endless, thats why its frustrating when nothing really changes. We just love him, accept him, use autism-appropriate discipline, and deal with great days and tough days. And yes, we have tried everything. Autism has no cure, we just do what works best for our son. Every family dynamic is so different from another. Do what works best for your child.  😊
•    Anonymous said… Yes...you must accept that your child is unique and do not see the world as the rest...most of them think outside of the box....learn what the triggers are and try to avoid those if possible...for the rest just take a deep breath and don't worry about the rest...they don't understand and never will.

Post your comment below…

The Silent Bullying of Children on the Spectrum

Many kids with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] are inevitably victims of bullying. The National Education Association estimates that every 7 minutes of every school day, a youngster is a victim of bullying, and 85% of the time there is no intervention by other children or adults.

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

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Nov., 2017]

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.


Hi Mark

Our son Josh fell apart in 2012 at 15 and was diagnosed with Aspergers.

We followed your teachings and website very closely during those scary times!

Josh has now produced an incredible book ‘Josh’s Big Year’ about his journey and your website is one of two resources mentioned in the book.

Have a look at his website www.joshcrickmay.com to learn more about his journey.

We would love you to share his story on your network, not just to sell books but because Josh wants his story to give hope to so many parents out there who find themselves in our position. Josh embraces his Aspie status and works so hard at himself. In his words “It’s not a disorder it’s who I am!”

Would love to hear from you

Andrew and Kathy
South Africa


Hi Mark,

My name is Ash Francis, I work for Anvil 1893; a production company based in Los Angeles.  We specialize in unscripted tv series and documentaries.   We are currently developing a documentary about parents who are on the autism spectrum. We are in the initial stages of our development and are looking to speak with parents diagnosed with ASD and gain insight on their experiences and coping mechanisms.  Often times there are documentaries that feature kids with ASD but never about mothers or fathers who are on the spectrum.  Our goal is to not only highlight the challenges and struggles that come along with being a parent on the spectrum but also highlight the community and support systems put in place.  We believe that is important to share these stories because they affect so many people in different ways. It is our hope that sharing these stories will inspire others and foster a greater support for the autism community specifically parents on the spectrum. 

I know that you are an expert in the field, so I would love to chat with you in addition to any parents you can recommend.  Please give me a call or send me an email so I can set up a Skype conversation with you and my VP of Development, Lisa Knapp who is leading this project. Right now, we are in the development stages and still gathering research on this project and to have your insight would be amazing.


Holy cow I just had to email you to say thank you so much for your work and your excellent YouTube videos!

I was married for 13 years to my ex who was diagnosed by 3 counselors as having high functioning Aspergers. The few people in my family and friends close to me.. didn't believe me. It was like salt in the wound. So terribly painful. Your videos are spot-on! I read the Aspergers in love book and a couple others light bulbs went off for both of us.. he said he would do the work but ultimately was not able to. In therapy and at home he would crack his knuckles and stare at the ceiling.

The last counselor we went to worked with many from ESPN which is where my ex works. He explained many aspies going to tech fields where they can work independently.

I would love to help you or your work or support others. I learned from the books and counselors how to deal with him. Now that we're divorced and co-parenting we get along better and he is a good father.

Anyway thank you again it's so good to know your source is out there.


Dear Sir

I used to have a very close relationship with my 12-year old granddaughter. We share a love of classical music and used to sing, play the oboe and piano together. She won a chorister scholarship in our local cathedral two years ago but was ostracised by her peers and became so anxious and depressed that we took her out of the cathedral school and the choir.

She is now much happier in her new school, is working hard, doing well academically and pursuing her musical career (she has perfect pitch and excels in this field). 

However, the bond we shared for 11 years has disappeared - she seems to dislike me and appears cold and indifferent. I’m finding this very hurtful and hard to cope with, as I love her very much,and wonder if you can advise me. Do I continue trying to sustain our relationship, or give her time and space by staying away?  


My son and I are falling apart. My son carries dx of ASD, ODD, ADHD, ADD, Depression, Anxiety, Separation Anxiety.  I have recently dx with ADD, Anxiety, Major Depressive Disorder.  I am fighting to keep my son ( away from the state court-I am up on educational neglect charges).  I feel they don't understand how his brain works.  He missed a large chunk of school last school year (he tested in the top 5% of the state for last school year).  I have been reading your site and I am confused about which book to get.  We fight daily, nothing works ( I am realizing that I need to make some major changes in myself.  He refuses to do homework, chores, feeding the dog, getting off of xbox, etc.   No father involvement. I would greatly appreciate you recommendation.


I have a 15 year old son who is diagnosed with autism, ADHD and ODD We had to put him on Home school this semester because he refused to go and would run off.
He repeatedly defiant He has accidents in his pants multiple times a day tells us he wants to die wants to have no interaction with others anymore. Doesn't want to do anything including his school work except his Xbox where he pays minecraft. I stay at home now due to this increasly amount of responsibility for him. His is unable to read past a 1st grader and struggles through school socially, academically emotionally etc  My husband and I disagree on a lot when it come to Luke and his behaviors. We recently experience an incident where Luke run off onto a busy street and told us he wanted to die, the police came and took him to a hospital Luke become increasingly violent they had to sedate him 3 times in order for him to calm down alone with tying him down to a chair His Psychiatrist recommended for him not to be sent to a behavior hospital. Luke does not share his emotions and it would not benefit him. The Dr. said we will have to do some behavioral modifications to help with his behavior but unfortunaly he said there is no cure. Any direction on help would be greatly appreciated .


Hello my name is David and I need help with my son. He has been diagnosed and he is 12 years old and we are homeschooling. I need help with some information on how to teach him better. If I can communicate and get some help as to how to teach him better as a learning coach it would be great. Sometimes I find myself frustrated and wonder why he doesn't understand some of the subjects that he's learning. But I do understand his condition I just don't know how to go about teaching him properly. I will be waiting for your response to see if I can get some help in helping him learn better.


We have a 16 year old son whom we know has aspergers.  He has not been formally diagnosed.  He is in counseling and we have not seen any improvement.  We hope your curriculum will help.

Our current crisis is:  Our son wanted a $100 Polo jacket.  We explained to him that because he just had a birthday and Christmas is coming up that he would have to spend his birthday money to purchase the jacket himself.  He has gone on a rant for 4 days now because of this.  In his mind because we live in a large home and he says we buy his sister and brother EVERYThiNG they want that is it unfair and that we are horrible parents who do not love nor care about him because, “any good parent would get their kid a jacket in the dead of winter”.  I told him we would be happy to get him a $15 or $20 jacket before Christmas and he could put the Polo jacket on his Christmas list because it was a “gift price” item.  I explained to him that we never purchased his sister or brother items that expensive other than on their birthday’s or Christmas.  Our other son’s birthday is 18 days before Christmas and our daughter’s is 18 days after Christmas and it is a very expensive time of the year for us. He honestly feels like he has been done wrong and his demolished his bedroom door, punched and kicked two holes in the wall, thrown an item against another door and put a hole in it and continues to be destructive.  It is going on 4 days now.  He ended up purchasing the jacket with his own birthday money but insists that we “refund him his $80 bucks”  (we got a discount for him because I work at the store where he purchased it. My husband is ready to just give him the $80 and I am TOTALLY against it.   If we do it will cause a major rift in our marriage.  I don NOT think aspergers or not that a teen should be able to punch enough holes in the wall until he gets his way.   I feel like it is setting a horrible standard.  Please help!  Any advice would be appreciated.


My daughter is Being treated for general anxiety disorder,  depression, ADHD, OCD, at one point on suicide watch .  Her Psychiatrist has suggested we research Aspergers Spectrum. I don’t know that his Handbook would be appropriate at her age. Would you recommend?  She has taken a few of the online quizzes and I have looked back on her life and it seems to be a pretty good fit if you will.  I just want her to be happy and know that she is OK.  She says she has no purpose and just exsists.  She is talented beyond belief, with a great sense of humor when you can get her to open up. She Just doesn’t see the amazing person that she is.  Thank you for your time.


Her Psychiatrist has pretty much confirmed it as money is tight and insurance doesn't cover much. She has researched our area and there just isnt the help for the recently diagnosed adult it is like geared toward helping the parents of the diagnosed child. If only more was known. About this when she was younger maybe her life would have turned out differently. Last night was a meltdown of epic proportion.  She is on. Blogs trying to get help from. Others but it's not working  most say they understand but can't offer any suggestions that she has to tried.    The over help or support is at least an hour drive  or more. She won't go by herself a day I work 3 jobs and can't just go with her it's been she and I since she was 5. My whole life is my daughter.  This is excruciating watching her fall apart.  Her Dr has her on a few med that most of the time keep her going. She is much improved  compared to a year ago. Dr isn't so worried about the suicide anymore but after last  night I'm not so sure I may give her a call depending how today goes.  Seems like our best Avenue for help will be books and online research but blog sites concern me. Who is really at the other keyboard?  Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.


Hello Mr. Hutten,
    My name is Rachael, I have a newly 4 year old little boy named Noah..

I want to give a back story, because I believe it has a lot to do with his behavioral issues, and HFA (Asperger's).

When I was 34 weeks pregnant, My son's father regrettably passed away on the night of my baby shower. (I was 19 yrs old.) Super traumatizing at that age, and I still have issues. Unfortunately, Social Security refuses to provide us with SS Income, or Survivor benefits, nor am I qualified for Food stamps, welfare, etc. I couldn't pay the $49.00 for the membership because right now I'm super strapped.   (I want to become a member, because we actually NEED this.)

But this needs to remain about helping my son, and getting him where he needs to be...

So fast-forward a little bit, Noah is super smart, and more excelled that the kids his age.. I've started noticing signs and symptoms that he was either Autistic or Asperger's... Noah is very aloof, terrible eye contact skills, sensory issues, emotional, temper-tantrums, you name it. He does not listen to me AT ALL> he will listen to everyone BUT me... (I think possible ODD and HFA).

Unless I'm just a terrible mother... I'm not sure. I would like to think that I'm a good mom, but the older he gets... the more I think I'm failing as a mother. :(
I'm not sure, if him not having a father has anything to do with it, since he doesn't see that other role, yet he sees me being both.  (I think it is bothering him that I play both, could be getting bi-polar from it)

I don't have the extra cash right now, but hopefully after I pay off the bills this month, I could find extra and buy your program. I'm desperate. I can't go out in public because of his behavior, with his melt downs and not listening. He's gonna get hurt one day because he does not listen to anything I say.

I just need help, I'm not even sure you're going to read and respond, I could just be wasting my time again on a long email, basically begging for help, and nothing could come of this. but I know I'm trying, I'm trying to get my son help, and me too.


I wanted to ask you about the part where you mentioned the difficulties a surviving Aspie spouse might have and the children might have. Are there measures that parents can take in advance in the case an unforeseable event ocurrs? Can the neurotypical parent do some kind of will? My husband does not want to be tested for Asperger’s. What measures can I take so that in the event I die others will know the situation my children find themselves in?

For my husband as it is for my mother (who also I am certain has Asperger’s) talking of a disability is taboo.

I found it immensely helpful. There is very little material on adult’s whose parents had Asperger’s. Your article captured much of what I experienced. It also recognized that children are perceptive and aware that something is wrong. My son is very much aware and living with an Aspie parent creates a lot of anxiety for him.

I want to make sure that in the unlikely event that something happens they will still have an emotionally and socially nurturing, not to mention functional, environment.

I look forward to your thoughts. Perhaps there is someone who specializes in this area that you might refer me to.


Hello Mark,
A few months ago I bought your complete guide to teaching students with Aspergers and HFA. I found the information included in it very helpful and thorough. You mentioned in your website you can be accessed as a coach and this is the reason why I am writing today.
I have a seven year old who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in my class. His main difficulty is that he gets overwhelmed around a lot of people. He cannot seem to be able to control himself at school. He gets angry, throws his books and pencils and asks to change school. He gets out of the classroom without permission. He thinks his classmates bother him, talk about him, make fun of him but on the contrary his classmates help him and even pick up his stuff when he throws them away. He screams and swears (using very bad words). He hits other children during break.
I have worked a lot with him using the techniques you suggest. He also did the program suggested in the STAMP treatment manual. He carries a little booklet with relaxation techniques with him at school. There is also a special teacher that comes in class to help him handle his anger, but she is only with him for a few hours Monday-Wednesday.
His mother tried to explain to him that his mind works differently than other children, that’s why he is so good at picking up the details, at math etc but he has difficulty handling his emotions when he is with other people. He doesn’t seem to get it, he is persuaded that it’s the other children’s fault. Maybe he is too young to handle it.
He doesn’t want to go to school because he is afraid he won’t be able to handle himself and hit someone again.
We already had some complaints about him from parents whose children he hit. We need to do something before the situation gets worse. How can we make him realize that his classmates are not against him and want to help him?
Thank you in advance.


Our son, Kevin has been using marijuana regularly.
He is now 18 years old (last week turned 18).   I believe he is addicted as we have tried several things.....
After sophomore year of high school, he attended a great wilderness therapy program for the summer in Idaho - We saw our old Kevin back, very fun, loving and clean.
He did attend a college prep boarding school (traditional) for his junior year, away from home   He did very well academically and played sports.   He does suffer from a bit of depression and anxiety, but now its hard tot ell
what is what with the marijuana use.   We decided we really wanted him home his senior yer as it was his last year before college as he always wanted to attend a good college.   Again, grades are not good and he is using 2 x daily.  
We now have him seeing an addictiion counselor.   We  are all for recovery for Kevin but do not think he wants help.   

I hate to see my son struggling so much....


My grandson is a high functioning autistic/aspberger's boy and his 16th birthday is December 1st.
I haven't seen my grandson in several years. My son and wife live in South Carolina-I live in Virginia-an 8hr drive away.
I am 82 and worried that I will not see Thomas before I die.
 A visit from me would be some kind of disruption-as I see it.
I ask my son why they don't even acknowledge his birthday. I asked if I could send something for his birthday.I must admit there are hard feelings between
my son and his siblings who live here in Virginia. They think their brother is wrong to isolate Thomas from his family.
I would like to have your opinion, or advice.


Mr Hutten, Thank you for your reply. I try not to be confrontational with my son. They are raising my grandson with good intentions. My son taught Thomas
to swim and they use a post pool at Ft. Jackson 2-3 times a week. He also plays piano and takes lessons. My son says he is accomplished at the piano.
But I have questions and why birthday celebrations are verboten. I sent a tiny music box last year that played happy birthday, but my son said he didn't
give it to Thomas. He does have a ''stim''-ceiling fans. I guess it would be called an obsession in a situation other than autism.
I want to add that he is also a good swimmer. The lifeguards at the pool thought he should compete because he is so fast, but my son explained that it was
out of the question because of the noise of a crowd, and traveling to a pool{s} unfamiliar.I am curious as to other parents raising their Asperger's son and
if it is much different than my grandson's upbringing.


My grandson is 5 yrs old, I believe he has Asperger's but hasn't been diagnosed yet. The symptoms sound just like they are talking about him.
I try to help him out as much as I know how, my husband (grandpa) his generation is ignore it and it will go away. Mom and dad doesn't seem to interested in helping out. He needs some help. We have him 5 days out of the 7 days, including night as well.
He will be entering kindergarten fall of 2018. Hes in early childhood preschool now with OT, PT and speech. I don't think its working. What else can I do?


Hi Mark,

My name is InΓͺs and I am NT.

I realised a few months ago watching a documentary that my husband has Aspergers. I am a medical doctor and I suspected he had autistic traits before but when I mentioned it to him he would get really angry.

I just ended up telling myself most men especially engineers are like this and blaming most of our differences being because we have a different culture and language ( I am European he is Australian).

But the culture difference was more the NT and Aspie! Not Europe and Australia!

It explained so many things!

We had some very difficult times and I was really close to a burn out.

Don’t get me wrong I always knew my husband loved me and that he was a good and honest man.
But in a NT view some of his reactions seemed to show the opposite.

I was struggling to put “two and two” together and feeling isolated because other people would just not understand and think I was in denial about who he really is.

But now I know I was right all along and that my husband does love me and is an amazing man. He just thinks in a very different way.

I want to thank you for your website and your ebook. I read it really fast and it was so helpful. I made my husband listen to the podcasts and he did think they were useful too. Hopefully he will read the ebook as well when he feels like it.

I just have some advice to ask. How can I convince my Aspie husband to have children?

I’m 30 now and I really want us to start a family. I tried being logical and not giving emotional reasons. I think it half worked but he is still really scared.

We have family support, are financially stable and everything has finally fallen into place in our lives to make this a good time to start.

But he is still scared.

 Also it’s hard for him to be flexible in his routine and regarding our relationship to also make pregnancy physically likely to happen.


our daughter has a 7 year old who was diagnosed a few years ago as suffering with mild Aspergers.  Recently he has been diagnosed as also suffering with ADHD and was immediately started on Ritalin as there were massive issues at school that were resulting in him being suspended every second week.

Reading the points on your tutorial on how to treat a teen Aspergers sufferer it seems that our daughter is enduring many of the issues that you address.  We are wondering whether or not this is the tutorial that would serve her best in dealing with her 7 year old who seems to exhibit many of the traits described in the teen sufferer, or if there is some other tutorial that may be better for he circumstances.  Our biggest concern at the moment is that the relationship between mother and son seems almost toxic and abusive and as there is a two year old daughter and sister in the household, the picture complicates further.

Our daughter is separated from the father of the two children and doesn’t have her son living with her full time.  She is currently embarking on having him live with her for the next seven weeks but the situation is breaking down after only 24 hours.  She seems unable to cope with the constant disrespect, arguing and fighting and is in desperate need of some form of assistance,.


Good morning Mr.Hutten

I am glad that I can  find your information on how to deal with teen who is on the spectrum. Although haven't officially diagnosed yet,  (she is 14 years old and carry the trait as my husband) this is just one way of how to deal and communicate with my daughter. My husband is also self diagnosed  aspergers. I have a question for you, do you also have marriage couple support by emailing? thankyou kindly.


I adopted my daughter at the age of 7.  She turned 19 last week.  It has been a long haul.  She had a history of abuse and neglect prior to the adoption so there were attachment issues.  She had many, many behavior issues from the beginning and with the help of a great adaptive behavior teacher she made great progress except in one respect.  She has never been able (or willing to accept the word no).  If you tell her no or take something from her or remove a privilege then she begins yelling, demanding, screaming, and ultimately becoming aggressive.  When she was 12 I was diagnosed with cancer and am still facing many medical issues as a result.  The constant stress and turmoil of her almost daily meltdowns is literally killing me.  It is just beating me down.  Two years ago things were so bad that she went to a group home for the year.  She wanted to go because she didn't want to follow the rules and wanted to be anywhere but with me (I am a single parent). So, with much despair and feeling like a complete failure I allowed her to go to the group home.  She hated it but she stayed for the school year.  She begged me to come back.  I made her sign a contract about her behavior and for a while it was good.  Then school came and all back...the electronics addiction.  She will do whatever it takes to gain internet access to watch cartoons (her special interest).  I have no issue at all with the fact that she likes cartoons.  I do have an issue with the fact that she has no self control and this becomes a huge issue.  She sneaks on them in class.  She abuses it at home and gets on it when she isn't allowed.  She has taken other people's phones, tablets, etc to watch cartoons.  She lies and denies doing it even when caught. I am at a loss.  Over the summer we started working with an ABA therapist to improve her socialization skills and she was doing really well at home, with her therapist and at her job.  So we worked out a system where she had 2 hours per day of screen time and could add increments of 10 minutes if she did things like cook a meal for herself or help make the grocery list...things she doesn't like but needs to know for her independence.  It worked beautifully.   Then school started up.  She told me daily that she was following the rules in class and doing her work.  A few weeks in I receive emails and calls letting me know that she was once again sneaking on the computer in class, asking students for their phones, or taking them if they were on their desks. I was flabbergasted.   I told her that the deal was if she used her screen time inappropriately in school then she would not have it at home.  So she has now ultimately lost her time altogether.  I have taken away both her computer and phone because of the constant fits and meltdowns regarding this.  I am truly at my breaking point.  She is still sneaking on it at school and lying about it to both me and the ABA therapist.  She tries to get her to "tell me to give it back".  She will act appropriately for 2 or 3 days and then say now I want it back or else and if she doesn't get it she will scream, yell, demand, hit, etc.  The week before the Thanksgiving break she refused to get out of the car for school in the morning and screamed for 45 minutes that she wanted her phone.  I told her if she didn't get out of my car I was going to call the police.  She immediately stopped screaming looked me in the eyes and said,  "Go ahead. I haven't touched you.  They can't do anything to me." 

I feel like I am trapped in my own home.  I never know if today is going to be the day that she goes off.  When she does it is for hours on end.  I am in therapy myself and she said that I am responding as if I have PTSD.  It has been this way for years.  She has been fixated on cartoons since she was 11.  The cartoons themselves have changed but not the interest in them. It isn't just the sneaking and lying. If she watches them for too long then she needs more and more and more.  It seriously seems like a true addiction.  If she watches the too late she stays up acting them out in her head over and over and can't function the next day.  She gets to the point that she can't dress herself.  Prior to going to the group home she would refuse to stop watching them to go to the bathroom and had started ticketing in her pants again at 15-17 years old.  Her ABA therapist is coming twice a week and they are working on emotional regulation but it really seems like she is going through the motions.   She keeps asking how long do I have to do this to get my stuff back. I told her she ran this off in the ditch in about 5 months time and had many chances to change the behavior so now she really needs to work on building trust and changing the behavior but she gets angry at that response.

Prior to getting sick I was a teacher. I have kept her in therapy. I had her in social skills classes and she flew through them but then once out of that setting preferred to isolate herself.  I had her in Christian Youth Theatre because she loves to act and sing.  I had her in rehab driving lessons but the instructor said she wasn't emotionally mature enough to handle the feedback so we have to delay them for a while.  I have been consistent in discipline except when I was sick for the year and a half with cancer.  She was bounced around with family and friends on weekends so I could rest.  I am sure they let her watch the tv to not deal with the meltdowns.  I am also sure that most of her teachers don't say much because she is a strong student and will get her work done also. However, the aide in the class has to redirect her to do so. She wants to go to junior college in the fall and has been accepted but I am concerned that with no self control that she will not fare well at all.  I don't even know if we will make it that long together.  I love her but I can barely tolerate her now.

Her diagnosis are: Asperger's, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and they told me she might be Oppositional Defiant. She was born addicted to cocaine and had to go through withdrawal.  Her birth mom abused drugs and alcohol.  She was removed from her birth mom at the age of 3 and I adopted her at 7.  Prior to that she was in 4 foster homes.  We had a hard time with attachment and I thought we were there and then I was diagnosed.


My name is Jennifer. I live in Moultrie Ga. I have a 12 year old son that was diagnosed about 4 years ago with ADHD, ODD, Separation Anxiety and Asperger.  We see a psychiatrist and get medicine for his ADHD. but we we still have anger issues. He has always gotten mad and threw things or would run and hide or just sit and scream for no rhyme or reason but here lately he has gotten violent with me. I have tried to get help but seems to be able to help or cant tell me where to go to get help. I am at my wits end I dont know where to turn. I need help in understanding how to deal with this and how to help him deal with this before he winds up hurting me or himself. CAN YOU HELP.


Hi Mark,

Wow...you hit us on the head all of it.  I am literally telling myself to get up daily because I have no desire to face my life anymore.  We had counseling for RAD initially from our adoption therapist but she would never truly participate in therapy or talk.  I would.  I was so frustrated.  I have lost almost all of my friends because of her behaviors.  No one wants her at their home and in turn doesn't want me.  My sister turned me in for child abuse because she couldn't believe that my 9 year old daughter was hitting herself and causing bruises and damaging things. 

I have dealt or tried to deal with all of my guilt.  Did I do enough? Did I over indulge? I just wanted to give her a good life. I did get frustrated and angry.  I have put up walls.  Now, I hardly talk to her.  I have such resentment towards her.  Yes, I go to my own therapist regularly to work on my depression and this issue.  It just never ends.  I am always crying and not eating or sleeping.  I have contemplated taking my life to end this hell.  There really is no one left in my corner.  My own mother told me well you adopted her so you made this choice to take on all these problems and you got what you asked for.  It is almost 13 years later and it is like nothing has changed.  She does play everyone against everyone else.  Therapists vs. Me, my mom vs. me, teachers vs. Me, even her coworkers vs. Me. 

So, thank you as I am typing this with tears streaming I feel a sense of relief that I am not crazy in what I have lived through or told others. 

However, you have said that consequences should be short and brief.  How do I handle her electronics compulsion/addiction.  She looks at the fact that I have taken the phone and computer as a consequence and I have taken them because she was abusing them but they were also the source of daily battles and meltdowns.   My therapist told me to remove the problem.  Honestly, it has been better.  I know she still sneaks some at school but she doesn't have access at home.  What would you recommend.  Her ABA therapist has told me that I need to give her a concrete timeline that she can have to work towards earning back her phone and computer.  Is that how I should handle this?

As for her...with this RAD and Asperger' s and ADHD and Bipolar Disorder what is the actual likelihood that she will be able to attend college and then be a productive member of society?   I know there are no absolutes.   She is so bright.  She is an A/B student in regular general ed classes.  She really only has support for the ADHD and the behavior.    However, this manipulative behavior along with her unwillingness to learn daily living skills concerns me.  She refuses actual counseling on her own because there is no benefit to her because she can't use it to manipulate me.  I am asking because I need to make some hard choices.  I can't continue like this.  If ultimately she will end up in a group home then perhaps that is the next step. 

I am dealing with Lupus, Psoriatic Arthritis, Chronic Opportunistic Infections (from stress and as a result of the meds I take), Major Depression, Hypothyroidism, High Blood Pressure, Chronic fatigue and pain. 

I just need some answers to hopefully make a plan.  She knows that my health is bad and pushes until I end up at the hospital or in my room sick.

I have wondered why after all this time she has never once (on her own) thought to make or buy me a card or gift for any occasion.  She rarely says I love you but will scream I hate you at the drop of a hat. She will say things like..."If you love me then you will do....or "A real mom would..." and it is always "Why are you doing this to me?" She never accepts responsibility for her actions.

I know I am rambling.  I just am barely clinging on to anything at this point.  I just don't understand how any human could treat another like she treats me but tgen expect what she does in return.  I feel so many different things at once.  I want to love her she us my daughter but she has hurt me deeply.  I have given almost everything I have to help her financially, emotionally and physically and there is nothing left of me. I feel resentment now.  I feel guilt for the resentment.  I feel angry that I am stuck.  I feel stuck.  I feel like I can't just ask her to leave even though she is an adult. 


Go to medium.com/an-aspie-comes-out-of-the-closet. Click on Latest Stories and you'll find the cover, the prologue and chapters 1-8. The book is titled "An Aspie Does Basic...Badly." The subtitle is "1971: Peace, Love And Remembering To Use The Front Sight On The M-16. It tells the story of a scared-to-death Aspie and his struggle to get to the end of boot camp. Keep in mind this was during the Vietnam War when only a few researchers knew about the autistic spectrum. The print version will be available in a few weeks. The main goal of this project is to increase the public's awareness of Asperger's. To that end, I'll give a book to anyone who wants one. Just contact me at garretmath@gmail.com
I’m retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. I penned more than 6,500 stories and columns in a 39-year newspaper career on a variety of subjects from murderers and moonshiners to the members of a snake-handling church. My legacy website — www.pluggerpublishing.com — has links to some of my favorite columns as well as my writing about pet subjects, Appalachia and the civil rights movement. Scroll down to learn about my several books and plays.
In 2016, I learned that I have Asperger’s. It was a great relief to finally put a name on this “thing” that has sat on top of my head for so long. When I found out why I’ve always been different, it was like unbuttoning a cement overcoat. Now I understand why I think this, why I avoid that.
I blog on the subject at medium.com/an-aspie-comes-out-of-the-closet. I have been in touch with dozens of men and women who work with Asperger’s folks in their roles as counselors and therapists. I’ve also reached out to universities and colleges who have programs designed to help Aspies adjust to campus life. If I can contribute — even peripherally — to just one person having a similar “Aha” understanding, this effort will be worthwhile.
A decade ago, I wrote a memoir about my Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in the fall of 1971 and how scared I was.
Scared because the military was new and I hate new. Scared because the Army is all about bivouacs and cooties and going to bed dirty and I require a daily minimum of two showers. Scared because I don’t prefer the company of strangers. Scared because I had just completed four years of free and easy college life, and now I was darkening down a path that would be the polar opposite.
Indeed, a part of me actually believed I would certainly be maimed, if not killed, because in my nervousness and fear I would do something to offend the Defense Department.
The stress was almost unbearable. The other trainees would wink at each other when the drill instructors threatened to throw the entire lot of of us into the stockade. I took the words at face value. I could just barely handle the barracks. How could I possibly deal with being locked up?
I didn’t know I was on the spectrum. I had never even heard the words. I just knew I was terrified.
My saga is based on a diary I faithfully kept during the proceedings plus notes I scrawled in moments of sit-down time during guard mount and KP and when I did typing work for the supply sergeant.
These days the United States has an all-volunteer military. Men and women with autism serve only if they want to.
That wasn’t the case in 1971 when the country was waist-deep in the Vietnam War. I had a low lottery number from the nationwide draft which meant the armed services required my presence.
I was trying to figure out a long-form project regarding my Asperger’s. Then it hit me. Let’s revisit the Army tale, but this time in full honesty and disclosure.
In my initial piece, I glossed over my lack of social skills and my inability to attract women because I wanted to appear at least somewhat cool. This time I’m telling the truth. Verily I say unto you. I was a virgin in the female department. Friendless in the male department. And, yes, not cool.
I’m keeping a good deal from the original manuscript. Here I am at the grenade range afraid I’ll drop the thing and my remains be scattered throughout the Midwest. Here I am being screamed at for not having the common sense to know how to attach the bayonet to the M-16. Here I am unable to make my bed in such manner as to please the Pentagon.
But I added material from the lens of my newly minted Aspie self that helps explain why I was so scared and why I was convinced only the worst would happen.
Why am I doing this?
— Sue me for bragging, but I think this basic training recollection contains some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever written. Fear indeed does begat humor. It’s devilishly delicious to look back at my Fort Leonard Wood experience.
— I want to help folks better understand Asperger’s. Here we have a real-life Aspie caught up in the dread and fear of a new situation and a new environment. What coping mechanisms did he use to get to the end?
— I want to suggest to Aspies considering the military that perhaps joining the service isn’t a good idea.
— While I hated every second of my military duty, I want to trumpet one positive outcome. In high school, I took many classes with boys and girls who were also college-bound. During my four years at Blacksburg, Va., I never hung out with anyone who wasn’t enrolled at Tech or some other institution of higher learning. One of the first persons I encountered in Central Missouri was a little black kid who came to the post in bedroom slippers — the only shoes the son of a sharecropper possessed. There were dozens of others in Alpha Company who came from poor households. Spending time with them was an education unto itself, one I badly needed.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

The book can be accessed for free online. If you’d like a complimentary print copy, I’ll be happy to provide one. Contact me at garretmath@gmail.com.
Matthew Skillern of Indianapolis drew the cover art.
Some of this material originally appeared in “Defending My Bunk Against All Comers, Sir!” by the Zone Press.
The photographs are public domain from the Vietnam era. Nary a snapshot was taken at Fort Leonard Wood.
The story is based on men I lived with in the college dorm, and those I marched with at FLW. With one exception, I did not use real names. I combined two or more people into one when I felt it necessary for clarification and simplification. I have also taken certain liberties in the telling of the story, particularly having to do with the precise sequence of events and who said what to whom.
Thanks to the Internet, I managed to contact several guys in my basic training platoon. They shared some details that helped with the narrative.
Drill instructor Raymond Waldspurger is quite real. I never forgot the compassion he showed to me and others during boot camp. I wrote to every Waldspurger on Google’s phone list hoping to get the right one. “Thank you so much,” I penned. “Your kindness meant everything to me.”
A few months before undertaking this project, I heard from Raymond’s sister, Mrs. Marion Copes of Pinellas Park, Fla. She told me he served 23 years in the Army and three years in the Navy. He volunteered for two tours of duty in Vietnam. Raymond moved to Florida in his later years where he did security work and was a maintenance man for a Catholic Church.
He died in 2015. Mrs. Copes found my letter when going through his things.
“He didn’t keep in touch with many from the military and I never came across any scrapbook or such in his papers,” she wrote. “The fact that he kept your letter must have been because it meant a great deal to him.”


Hello Mr.Hutton,

I have read your book and you gave me great hope. However, my dear husband does not believe he has Aspergers, and he has claimed to have taken an “online test” and read articles that I found when I first discovered about aspergers 3 years ago, but it hasn’t helped. Me mentioning it seemed to have made it worse. But my husband still has been getting better with his anger over the 24 years we have been married. But he still has unpredictable moments where he is triggered and he gets extremely angry (meltdown).  We almost separated last December, and this week he had another meltdown, but they are fewer and farther in between.

I just want him to see an expert to diagnose him so we can work together without anymore denial. He finally agreed to see someone of my choosing. I would like to choose you, but do you diagnose over video call?

Please let me know if this is at all possible, and what your rates are.
If you are not able to do so, would you be able to recommend someone?
 We are in Denver, Co.
Thank you and I look forward to your reply.


Dear Mr. Hutton,

Our son is not diagnosed with Aspergers.  He is 18 and a senior in high school.  You mention using these principles with kids up to 19 so I assume at 18 he can still benefit (and especially that my husband and I can benefit) from the principles you will teach.  Am I correct?

A bit of background:  When we adopted him from a Russian Baby House at 15 months, he looked like a child with severe autism or retardation.  Once we got him home, he normalized a lot.  Still, there were some quirks: odd fixation on movies/actors/pop culture (which remains to this day).  Extremely out of sorts if we took him anywhere new.  Extremely out of sorts if we changed his schedule.  Throws fits to this day every time we have a family birthday or holiday - if it centers on him or not, he has a meltdown.  Etc.

At age 8 or 9, we had him evaluated at Children's Hospital in Akron, OH - I suspected he had ADHD.  I was homeschooling him, so I had a tight reign on his schedule and his work - sending him back to do it again and again and again if needed.  They instead diagnosed him with anxiety and gave us parenting strategies that worked pretty well.  FIRM boundaries, FIRM structure, etc.  They told us the teachers would not put up with him and his needs without medication and I tried to avoid meds as much as possible as I could tell he struggled with depression and I worried that he'd get suicidal (he already talked about wanting to die).  We worked with his diet, schedules, etc.  We made it through to 10th grade, but I frankly I burned out because he takes 100% of my time if he is in the house.  He is now in a public charter school (because there is flexibility in letting him do work at home if he wants to) and he's at the local college doing dual credit.

He has been though trauma therapy and counseling - many adoption issues, post-abuse/post-neglect issues, etc.  In spite of that, he is not right.  My husband has long thought he is on the spectrum.  I did not know what that meant.  Despite our efforts and the input from therapists and counselors and social workers, he cuts every 2-5 days and has told us in heated moments that he will not go with us to any more counselors - it doesn't work and he doesn't want to change.  He is so mindless we don't dare let him behind the wheel of a car.  We let him bike all over town - he loves freedom and independence.  But there is no way we dare teach him to drive - it will HAVE to be in  car that has a brake in the passenger side.  They will use it A LOT.  At first he fought us tooth and nail over it.  But lately, he realizes how serious driving is and is now terrified by it.

I have a new friend who is married to an Aspie and has two Aspie sons.  She told me, "Karen, I love Caleb and really bonded to him.  He feels like family.  And, his issues scream to me 'Aspergers!' "  I came home and looked up Aspergers, took several online tests and he fits it EXTREMELY well.  Every time I think of why he might not be an Aspie, I tell my friend and she will say, "Actually, he DOES fit it because of xyz."  This is way over my head.  My "more patient than Job" husband is also burned out and at the end of his margin with this child.  We love him to death, but we are exhausted all the time trying to help him and nothing works.  He is the oldest of 4.  The youngest is 4 years old.  He has seen more nasty attitude/behavior/words (Caleb fixated on swear words when he went out to school and mumbles profanity under his breath so that his siblings hear but his parents do not).  My 4 year old has asked me, "Will Caleb hurt Daddy?"  It breaks my heart that a person I love so much is being such an awful influence to other people that I love so much.  I have threatened all the things you mention in your link, including - I will call the police if you don't simmer down NOW.  I am burned out and heart-broken.

He is failing every class in college - he is doing dual high school/college credit.  The college experience has put his anxiety over the top.  I took him to a family doc to see if they could help him with the anxiety - it's time for meds (I think).  In general, in front of them, he agrees he will do what they say but as soon as we are home, Caleb ditches all advice given to him by the professionals.  Of course none of them have dealt with him as an Aspie.  But even as we look into it and he himself thinks he fits the description, he uses that as a reason to keep on with his bad behavior and letting the rest of us know we just have to deal with it because that is how it is. 

The doc agreed with my observations but wants him to see a psychiatrist.  I have an appointment for him at our local mental health place at the local hospital, but they start with therapy and then move to psychiatry if they deem it necessary.  In some ways, it feels like we're back at square one - working at the counseling level before getting a psychiatrist eval.  But, he is cutting so often and so over the top with anxiety that he is willing to do that.  He told me that on a scale of 1-10 with anxiety, he is a 13.   If I want to go directly to a psychiatrist, there is a waiting list and Feb is the earliest I can get him in.  So, we have an appointment on Monday Dec 11th with the therapist/and eventual psychiatrist route. 

My husband and I are desperate for help.  I found your link via my friend with the Aspie husband.  Your little blurb about what a defiant aspie/HFA teen is had me almost sobbing.  My daughters listened in and looked at me in shock, "They're describing Caleb!"  You describe our life.  We have been to COUNTLESS doctors and mental health professionals and no one ever diagnosed him on the autism spectrum.  He must be very high functioning or something.  But your list of description is almost identical to my child.  He watched a movie about Temple Grandin and said that he identifies with how she sees pictures in her mind.  He connects best with kids on the spectrum - he knows one in his college class and he met two at a youth conference.  He is otherwise socially awkward and terribly annoying - it is painful to see him try to relate to other kids/teens.  HE does not take my or Kevin's advice on what to do so that he can make friends.  He is the way he is.  He does not go into a shell in social situations, he just acts out dreadfully inappropriately and annoyingly.  He is a bad influence on other kids too - we've had parents tell us they are sorry and they like Caleb but they have to protect their easily led kids from his bad influence.  Caleb is very manipulative, lies constantly, and blows up over small things.  He is also dramatic, loud, and outgoing (very friendly - he knows more people in town than any of the rest of us combined), which doesn't fit the autism thing but Erika explained to me that not all Aspies will speak in a monotone.

I'm desperately worried about him launching because he leaves stove burners on and I find it HOURS later.  He leaves water running... He's terribly scatterbrained, unfocused (except on what HE wants to focus on), etc.  But I'm worried about protecting him from my other kids.  He is NEVER alone with any of them for any length of time (except for me to run out to the mailbox or the bathroom).  He does not respect others' personal boundaries (he explores other people's stuff, rooms, etc).  He gets irritated with the 4 year old and hits him (as though he were 4 but he's a lot bigger and more dangerous).  So we have to supervise him at ALL times. 


 Dear Dr. Hutten,
How do I convince my son he has an addiction to smoking marijuana (and cigarettes) when he believes he does not have a problem and has no interest in stopping?  He is 24 years old and is currently enrolled a great trade school where he was doing great until recently.  He lives at home, and does not have a job.This decision was originally made for two reasons. The first one was so he wouldn’t get too stressed out and would be able to focus fully on school. The other reason was a reason of “fairness” on our sons part. Mikey (our son) reminded us that we allowed our daughter to go to college and did not require her to have a job. Anyway, when you look at Mikey, he looks like everyone else, and performs well at tasks he enjoys. He has great manners, and can have great eye-contact. Most people that meet him think he is just quirky, or “nerdy”. He is sensitive, friendly, nice and big-hearted. However, in addition to his smoking habits and self-medicating, he is unmotivated to help around the house, he can be very forgetful, irresponsible, has no sense of financial responsibility, hangs out w/irresponsible “friends”, and constantly lies. He does not think he has a problem w/smoking pot and thinks that it actually helps him. We are unfortunately watching how this drug is taking our son down in so many ways, it’s sad. We are overwhelmed, and have tried talking to him in every way we know how. He sees a psychiatrist (my son takes Risperdal, Trazadone, and Wellbutrin). He has been taking the first two since age 5, and to this day cannot remember to take his Risperdal three times a day. And his psychiatrist is aware of his habits and tells him that it cancels out his meds and that he is not giving his real meds a fighting chance to do their job. He disregards this advice, obviously. And on top of this, we live on one salary and my disability which does not offer anything leftover to save. His psychiatrist is covered under our insurance, (UHC), but all he really does is prescriptions. He always suggests a psychologist or therapist who can devote more time to help w/his problems. This would great if we could afford it, and offered us a way to listen in -just to make sure that they are getting the whole picture. Anyway, I could go on and on, but I know e-mails are supposed to be short! (Oops, this wasn’t exactly short!) If you have any suggestions, thoughts or advice, I would be forever grateful. Thank you, and Happy Holidays!

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