The Best Therapy for Sensory Sensitivities in Kids on the Spectrum

"What would be the best therapy for high functioning autistic children who are overly sensitive to bright lights, loud noises, strong odors, certain fabrics, and certain foods?"

Children with ASD level 1 or High-Functioning Autism often have a secondary diagnosis of sensory dysfunction. This may be found in the youngster who can't get enough sensory input, and needs to touch everything, jump on things, and simply craves input - or it may be the youngster that can't stand touch, doesn't like certain clothing because it irritates him or her, and can't handle sounds.

Most of us unconsciously learn to combine our senses (i.e., sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, body in space) in order to make sense of our environment. Kids on the autism spectrum have trouble learning to do this.

Sensory integration therapy (SIT) is a type of Occupational Therapy (OT) that places a youngster in a room specifically designed to stimulate and challenge all of the senses. During the session, the therapist works closely with the youngster to encourage movement within the room.

SIT is driven by four key principles:
  1. the youngster's preferences are used to initiate therapeutic experiences within the session
  2. the youngster will want to participate because the activities are fun
  3. the youngster must be able to successfully meet the challenges that are presented through playful activities
  4. the youngster adapts his behavior with new and useful strategies in response to the challenges presented

SIT is based on the assumption that the youngster is either over-stimulated or under-stimulated by the environment. Therefore, the aim of SIT is to improve the ability of the brain to process sensory information so that the youngster will function better in his daily activities.

A sensory integration room is designed to make the youngster want to run into it and play. During SIT, the youngster interacts one-on-one with the occupational therapist and performs an activity that combines sensory input with motion. Examples of such activities include:
  • balancing on a beam
  • crawling through tunnels
  • dancing to music
  • hitting swinging balls
  • playing in boxes filled with beans
  • spinning on a chair
  • swinging in a hammock

The youngster is guided through all of these activities in a way that is stimulating and challenging. The focus of SIT is helping kids with autism combine appropriate movements with input they get from the different senses.

The child's mother or father can integrate sensory integration into the home by providing many opportunities for the youngster to move in different ways and feel different things (e.g., a swing set can be a form of SIT, as can a ball pit or a lambskin rug).

Ever day, people experience events that simultaneously stimulate more than one sense. They use their multiple senses to take in this varied information, and combine this information to give them a clear understanding of the world around them. People learn during childhood how to do this. Thus, through childhood experiences, people gain the ability to use all of their senses together to plan a response to anything they notice in the environment. However, kids on the spectrum are less capable of this kind of synthesis, and therefore they may have trouble responding appropriately to differently stimuli.

Kids on the spectrum may also have a difficult time listening when they are preoccupied with looking at something else. This is an example of their difficulty in receiving information via more than one sense simultaneously. Doctors who treat kids on the spectrum believe that these difficulties are the result of differences between the brains of autistic kids and other "typical" kids.

The underlying concepts of SIT are based on research in the areas of neuroscience, developmental psychology, occupational therapy, and education. Research suggests that sensory information received from the environment is critical. Interactions between the youngster and the environment shape the brain and influence learning. Furthermore, research suggests that the brain can change in response to environmental input, and rich sensory experiences can stimulate change in the brain.

Sensory integration equipment is relatively low-tech, but can be moderately expensive. These include anything from large bins of rice that a youngster can climb into, to an indoor swing set.

Another sensory-related therapy is called Sensory Stories. Sensory Stories are similar to social stories in that they use individualized stories about sensory situations that an individual autistic boy or girl may encounter, and then provides instructions on appropriate behaviors for the youngster to use in response.

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

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


Selective Mutism in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Selective mutism (SM) is strongly associated with anxiety disorders, particularly social anxiety disorder. Some kids on the autism spectrum have SM, which is their way of avoiding anxious feelings elicited by expectations and social encounters.

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 

The Importance of Visual Schedules for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"My 4-year-old (high functioning autistic) son has trouble moving from task to task. How can I help him finish a particular activity (like putting his legos back in the boxes), and then get him to move on to the next thing (like getting ready for bed) without creating anxiety and the resultant meltdowns?"

Children with ASD level 1 or High-Functioning Autism thrive on routine and structure. As your son begins to recognize structure in his life, this may be the time to make a visual schedule to help him recognize when certain events are happening in his day.

A visual schedule works better than a written schedule for obvious reasons, as your child may not be able to read and thus may not get the benefit of the visual cue.

To make such a visual schedule, you can use a white board on which you put the hours of the day and a space at the top for the day of the week. Purchase strips of Velcro that have a sticky back and place a small square of Velcro in each time slot.

Using thick card, draw the different aspects of the day in visual form (e.g.,  draw pictures of food for the times of the day that you eat; draw a picture of a bed for the times your child sleeps).

Each day, pin up the pictorial representation of your day and put the day of the week at the top. When your child wakes up, bring him to the board and talk about when different things will happen. When it comes time for the various events in the day, have the child tear off the pictorial representation and talk about what it is you’re going to be doing. Put the pictorial representation in a nearby box for the next day.

This technique will help your son appreciate structure in his day. It leaves no question as to what will happen and it involves, in a way, the completion of tasks (something autistic children like to do).

By using Velcro squares, you can alter the schedule every day for things like shopping and doctor’s visits. Each day can look the way it’s supposed to on the board and will give your son a lesser degree of confusion about the things that he will be doing that day.


•    Anonymous said... Visuals with rewards for automated clearing up. Comments like I see Lego on the floor honey,,, rather than nagging works too
•    Anonymous said... Visual timers work well, telling him how long he has to do an activity and giving a 5 min warning before time is up. Sue Larkey has a clock that you have a red screen that goes over the minutes so very easy to see and these have worked well with both my boys from everyday tasks of eating breakfast, to computer time to they were using it at school so my eldest could see how long he had to complete a task.
•    Anonymous said... Visual schedules work great for our son
•    Anonymous said... Picture charts of what you are doing today, let him cross off the ones he's completed and go on to the next. They worked for me
•    Anonymous said... my son (5 yr old) & I went through PCIT (parent child interactive therapy) AND; it taught us both a great deal on matters such as this! Two things have worked well for us: 1) before he starts an activity, I tell him he has 10 min. for this activity, then we'll begin the next one (tell him what the next activity is, that's called "labled activity"). Also, before he begins, tell him before time is up, you'll start the countdown from 3 min.: 3 min., 2 min., then 1 min. (you will have to verbally call out "2 more min.", etc.) This lets him know that time is depleting & he will mentally prepare himself for the end of 1 task, and the beginning of another!! 2) Make sure you reassure him that he can participate in that task again (tomorrow, or whenever) so he doesn't get overwhelmed thinking he'll never get to do that activity again. Most Aspie's take things literally (as a matter of fact). If you tell him he can't play with that toy, he'll believe it's "never play with it, instead of can't play with it right now". Lastly, before beginning an activity, explain to him that "we have to put our activity away when we're finished". The explanation I give is "if we don't put our things/toys in their box/cubby, then the pieces willl get lost & we have to keep all the pieces together because they're a family unit!" This usually helps him understand! I hope this helps with your son!! Good luck.
•    Anonymous said... My son used check lists. Or popsicle sticks work really well... Color/picture coded for each task so when completed they are matched up with the 'to-do' list .
•    Anonymous said... Keep him on a strict schedule and reward him with praise when he completes his assigned task. At bedtime, have him pick out a favorite book and read it to him til he drifts off to sleep or have him listen to books read on CDs. Dramatic actors read volunteer to read these books through the reading for the blind. You can join for free and disabilities count. You only have to show some impairment. That's what I did with my son and it worked most of the time. Although he also slept with a security blankie :)
•    Anonymous said... I tell him at the beginning of the task what his reward will be. I come and sit there redirecting if its a challenge for him. If its a big mess or a lot of homework I split it up into 3 things. ex: First clean up legos, then books, then clothes. Then icecream!!!
•    Anonymous said... Repetition is key with anything in my experience ,I find out what works and don't change it until it doesn't work anymore :)
•    Anonymous said... AS kids love the same routine, get them into the habit and keep it going no matter what, and offer rewards for doing a good job. Consistency and praise... And who doesn't react well to that?! ;)
•    Anonymous said... At 8 we still have this problem.We use a schedule/check list at home and in school.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 11 and I still have a problem with transitions. I give him a count down warning. My son doesn't like to be overly praised so I don't make a big deal but I let him know I'm proud of him. My son also has OCD so when he does clean up they have to perfect or he has a melt down.

Post your comment below…


Help for Sensory Problems in Kids on the Autism Spectrum: Our Top 10 Picks

Here are our top 10 book picks that will assist your child in dealing with sensory sensitivities:


==> Calming Products for Kids on the Spectrum

Rewards and Discipline for Children on the Autism Spectrum

"I need help coming up with some effective ways to discipline a 5 year old with high functioning autism. What we are currently doing is obviously not working."

One of the most difficult challenges in dealing with ASD level 1 or High-Functioning Autism is determining how to reward the child when he has done a good job and how to discipline him when he exhibits an undesirable behavior. Some moms and dads of such children are often reluctant to use any form of discipline, and the usual reward systems don’t often work.

Many kids with ASD don’t respond as well to praise or hugs as other kids do. Instead, they might respond to things like a favorite treat, a favorite toy or preferred music as a way of showing them they’ve done something good.

While the natural parental response is to lavish their kids with praise, it may be over-stimulating to a youngster on the autism spectrum, and as a result, may not alter his or her behavior. It’s up to the parent to determine which things are preferred by the child so that those can be used in a sort of reward system.

The usual punishments also tend to be those that don’t work for "special needs" kids. Things like “time out” work well with children who thrive on contact with others, but don’t work on autistic children who don’t have the same drive to be with people - in fact, many prefer to be left alone to engage in their special interest.
==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

Taking away a preferred game or activity may be the best way to show your dissatisfaction with something your ASD son is doing. Explain to your son what the preferred behavior is so that he can begin to shape his behavior toward what is expected of him.

It probably goes without saying that corporal punishment (e.g., spanking) tends NOT to be very effective with these young people. They operate on a skewed perception of sensation and may have an exaggerated response to corporal punishment - or they may not respond at all, which only serves to upset the child without giving him or her an idea of what behavior is expected.

Discipline and reward systems are a part of raising children, autistic or not. With kids on the spectrum, the discipline and rewards have to be geared toward the developmental stage the child is in, and to which things are preferred or not preferred. While this takes some trial and error, finding the right way to show appreciation or dissatisfaction are worth the effort and will go a long way toward getting your son to behave in a positive way.

Here are a few more tips to help with disciplining your son:

•    Your son’s need to feel in control should not be taken to extremes. Moms and dads must set limits and expectations for all kids. Having ASD does not give one free rein to be out of control, and that should not be endorsed or indulged by you, the parent.

•    Your son’s diagnosis is a label that describes a small piece of who he is as a human being. He is many other things. His diagnosis does not exclusively define him.

•    Your son may take personally criticisms you think mild or trivial. If you are a parent short on patience and prone to critical or sarcastic comments, be prepared for your son to withdraw from you more and more until you are shut out completely.

•    Your approach to discipline should mostly be one of prevention – not intervention.

•    You have the responsibility to be fair in how you communicate rules and expectations. Because your son will be most open to receiving this information in ways that are literal and concrete, this means making it tangible (e.g., put it in writing as a simple, bullet-point list).

•    Understand that your son (a) needs to feel safe, comfortable and in control, (b) will become unhinged by anything significantly unpredictable, (c) is doing the very best he knows how to in the moment with what he's got available to him, and (d) has good reasons for doing what he's doing.

•    Some moms and dads can become over-protective of their “special needs” child (i.e., the youngster gains more and more control while being protected in a sheltered environment with little to no discipline). They may make frequent excuses for their youngster's words or actions, and they may not discipline where most others agree it to be warranted. Don’t make this mistake!

•    Never assume your son will automatically transfer and apply information previously learned in one environment to a new situation that, in your mind, is remarkably similar. For the child on the spectrum, a new situation is a new situation.
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

•    Look for small opportunities to deliberately allow your son to make mistakes for which you can set aside “discipline-teaching” time. It will be a learning process for you and your son.

•    Don’t assume your son will understand appropriate social behavior under a wide variety of specific circumstances and, when that doesn't occur, discipline in the moment.

•    Disciplining your son should be a teaching and learning opportunity about making choices and decisions. When your son makes mistakes, assure him that he is still loved and valued.

•    Before you discipline, be mindful that your son's logic will not necessarily reflect your idea of common sense.

•    Because your son is inherently gentle and sensitive, he may be particularly prone to being vulnerable (i.e., he may be more susceptible than “neurotypical” children to experiencing problems in communication and social interaction).

•    Be cautious about going to extremes. You have every reason to be a strong advocate on behalf of your son and in protection of his rights, but this does not exempt him from being disciplined by you, the parent.

•    Lastly, a list of rules should become your son's property and, depending upon the situation, should be kept in his pocket for ready reference.

In order to effectively discipline the child on the autism spectrum, parents will need to comprehend each of the factors above and fully place them in the proper context of any given situation. This knowledge will aid parents in laying a foundation for “prevention” (rather than having to switch to “intervention”).

==> Are you experiencing a lot of behavior problems with your child on the autism spectrum? Get more solutions right here...

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

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


•    Anonymous said... With my son, it is about explaining things in a very straightforward way.
•    Anonymous said... We tried 123 magic when my son was 5 he laughed at me lol so I think it depends on the child.
•    Anonymous said... We remove to our son 7 year old his favorite Toys ( legos ) ,,he has a Tamtrun with hinself because he Know that his Behavior not was okey .After we explain to hin cause and consecuence and then we put a Tag with number 10 on the lego box and that is the points that he have to win during the week to get the legos back just with good choice and behave we give 2 point per each day with happy face ! He really work hard to control hinself and this reward point token work better then spank or time out Also he Know how depp breathe ,blow air in Yoga class very recomend ,when he see how Many points he colect he is so happy that soon he Will get his favorite Toy back and Also learn a lesson that not everything have to be in his way !!!
•    Anonymous said... We need to explain things to our son but at the same time if we need to we take Lego away from him for a certain time.
•    Anonymous said... We have accountable kids, it's a chart with a ticket reward system and cards with daily routine stuff like get up, brush your teeth, get dressed, etc. when the child finishes each grouping of chores (morning, mid day and evening) he gets a ticket used for a privilege of their choice (watching tv or playing video games etc). If the child misbehaves or breaks a house rule a ticket is taken and they don't have the tickets to pay for their privilege. Yes we had some meltdowns before the system became routine but now he lives for it because it has turned his daily routine into a visual. They have a website accountable kids.com
•    Anonymous said... Punishments and rewards do not work with my aspie teen. Never have. I've had to really consider my parenting so that I am very clear and simple (black and white in fact) about expectations and the "fall out" should we deviate. And I've had to be consistent. If I attempt to impose a punishment/non related consequence or attempt to bribe him with rewards, he becomes very confused as that doesn't jive with his logical understanding of the world. If he deviates from the plan (won't put his jeans in the dryer as previously planned, for example) and they r not dry by the time I would need to drive him to make it to his class on time, then the fallout is he wears wet jeans or misses class. When he was younger we used to chart these things and he'd follow the "choices" to their logical endings. Now he can think it through on his own. Of course not without ur teen mouthing off and such. So I've introduced the fall out for how we treat each other. If u mouth someone off, they become angry or scared of u and do not feel willing or safe to drive u to class. He is really struggling with this and I wish I'd done it from the get go. As he points out, people and their emotions r not logical. it's labour intensive and is pretty much a full time job, which is crazy because I'm a single lady running daycare for 12 hours a day out of my home as well as sole mothering and homeschooling my aspie teen. But I've noticed mothering my aspie teen is very much what works for toddlers. Simple, clear, black and white expectations, and loving, supportive comfort when the result of their actions is not their preferred one, along with a "I know it will b better next time" pep talk. And, just like toddlers, my aspie teen forgets the next time and I need to remind him what happened last time. And, like toddlers, he becomes hurt, confused, and our relationship requires repair if I impose punishments or bribe with rewards. It's tough. And every family works differently. I've had to alter me and my thinking and behaving, not his. But I can tell u our relationship requires repair far less often because we have conflict far less often. He is trusting me more. And we r enjoying each other's company more. And I think he has a better chance at independence this way.
•    Anonymous said... Maybe instead of operating on a system of punishment, love and understanding would be better.
•    Anonymous said... Just be patient and stick with your rules. If takes time for any kid to get it but they will. My 8 yo aspire girl is doing much better at taking her time outs and punishments than at 5 best of luck!
•    Anonymous said... Definitely a struggle....and we have a master at acting like "nothing matters" so it's hard to know what is actually working. However, though I really don't think "time outs" really work because one can't "reason" even after the fact...going to his bedroom to sit on his bed does give us all a break from the "funk" he is in at that moment. Something from my special education training that has stuck with me over the years here at home is consistency....choose one way to discipline for a specific behavior and stick with it until something better comes along. Sometimes it doesn't seem to be working but consistency in itself benefit.
•    Anonymous said... Disciplining my 16 year old son is so tiring and taking his privileges away is not working anymore .
•    Anonymous said... Give him a hug.
•    Anonymous said... I prefer the word 'discipline' (correct with love) than 'punish' but that's just semantics. Each child is different and it's hard. Some days you succeed and some you don't. Biggest lesson I've learnt is your not perfect, no one is. Don't be too hard on yourself and try to think and speak 'logically'. My son understands the logic not the emotion. I have to wait for the emotions (both his and mine) to pass to have any success.
•    Anonymous said... I tell my son of he continues his negative behavior I'll have to take a privilege away. Something that's important to him like computer time. We set boundaries and it works. It took awhile but he is very well behaved at home, probably because it's a quite environment. He still has moments at school but he's learning to recognize his anxiety triggers and ask his teachers for a break in the calming room at school before he "loses it".
•    Anonymous said... in hindsight I would say you should never 'punish' a child with aspergers, they will not be controlled, you need to explain repeatedly and find another way to deal with your own frustrations and everybody elses expectations of your unique child
•    Anonymous said... My son is 9 now. At 5 I made a gift box full of dollar store toys wrapped up and rewarded him for good behavior. At 5 discipline didn't work and when we figured that out life got easier. They can't control the emotions that young it takes time. When I let go of that notion it was freeing. Don't listen to people with children who don't have aspergers it's a totally different ball game. Patients and give him words to express what he's feeling., talk in small direct sentences
•    Anonymous said... Taking away Tv time or device time.. Using those as a punishment / reward. If you send them to their room you are just punishing yourself for later when they have so much energy!
•    Anonymous said... Temple Grandin herself said that what was really effective for her was taking away something that she really really loved. In her case it was horseback riding. With my HFAs its really tough for us because their objection is pretty dramatic. I want to give in at once to relieve the stress on everybody. But we do what we have to do and explain/talk about it over and over. And it does make a difference. But i think it needs to be a case by case decision.
•    Anonymous said... Try natural consequences. It is more effective than enforced punishment. Punishment only teaches children not to get caught.
•    Anonymous said... Very hard, we usually take away electronics & he earns time on them when he shows appropriate behavior. But not always effective when electronics are needed for school or homework.
•    Anonymous said… Don't punish. Be positive set reasonable limits you can reinforce
•    Anonymous said… I found that it helped if I included my kids in the discussion about house rules and asked them what consequences they thought they should have for certain behaviors. It wasn't always perfect but when I included them there was less of a struggle. I know other parents who say I give my kids too much power but they're 11 and 14 now and they're on the honor roll (mostly) and they don't get in trouble at school. They're happy and healthy and they know that they can come to me and Dad and talk about it if they've done something and that we will be fair about it.
•    Anonymous said… maybe have him help write the house rules too . they love to have some control  ❤
•    Anonymous said… My son and I invented a points system. You get 3 points to win swapping cards ( not money) and 9 points for a lego man. Write a list of things to gain points for and a list of loose points as a guide. Never go into to negative points, always reward abundantly for good behaviours when having hard times to avoid negative points. Then you have a tool.
•    Anonymous said… None of the standard punishments worked on my ASD daughter until I realised we read 5 books to her every night. We removed 1 book each time she misbehaved, one night she had none left so it worked as a 'threat'...
•    Anonymous said… Remind me of the time my two children were fighting and my AS boy had pinned his sister to the floor and was pushing his fingers into her eyes. I sort of side swiped him to stop him - it didn't hurt but he was offended and ran off. A short while later I was sitting watching TV when he returned and as he went past me he hit me across the head. I jumped up an asked him what he was doing - pointing out that "you DO NOT HIT people" He was completely flumoxed and said to me "but you hit me". I saw his point, immediately apologised and admitted I was wrong, explaining that I was scared he was going to hurt his sister. I felt this was important. He struggles to know the right thing to do and gets by by copying other people's behaviour.
•    Anonymous said… That word punishing is unsettling. Maybe correct them and encourage making better choices. Reward and praise for good behavior.
•    Anonymous said… What if your aspie child does not like to be touched? I have this problem with my 13 year old; I even have to ask his permission to check his touch his forehead to see if he has a fever when he is sick. He hates taking pills, and having his temp checked.His sensory issues are worse right now, espcially his sensitivity to sound, which makes him not want to go to school. Also, discipling him has become such a fight. When we do take away his technology for behaviors, he acts out even more, and starts kicking his walls, and will be rough with his younger sister, to try and get back his phone and computer, thinking we will give in. Lets just say it is exhausting!
•    Anonymous said… Write down the rules of the house and place it on the wall .go over each one and ask him what it means .have him explain the house rules to you . hope it helps.

Please post your comment below…


Marriage Difficulties and Raising Children on the Autism Spectrum

"Is it common for parents of children with autism (high functioning) to have difficulty in their own relationships? My husband and I differ greatly on how to parent our 5-year-old son, and this is causing problems in our marriage. He thinks I'm too soft and over-protective ...I think he's too harsh at times. I am feeling so stressed on multiple levels right now. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated."

Having a child with ASD [level 1] or High-Functioning Autism definitely has the potential to place a great deal of strain on a family, and particularly on a couple. Some couples may struggle with issues of blame, how the child should be disciplined, guilt, etc.

Daily routines are a constant challenge. A special needs child often comes with additional financial costs to the family. Dealing with the school can seem like a full-time job. The time that it takes to care for a special needs child can leave other family relationships with no attention. All of this can add up to a number of problems that need to be looked at.

One recent study reported that mothers with children on the autism spectrum have stress levels similar to combat soldiers. Another study showed that 39% of mothers parenting children with challenging behavior are stressed at the clinically significant level, and that this stress negatively impacts a child's outcome.

Many parents of children on the spectrum are aware of this stress and isolation, but they don't know how to combat it, or they put their children's mental health ahead of our own. It is easy to identify the problem, but so much harder to find a solution.

In order to cope with the stress that comes with a child with special needs, it will be necessary to be willing to talk about your feelings with your spouse. Seek the assistance of a therapist if you have the ability and resources to do so. There are also good books out there to help you understand more about supporting one another. Also. try to locate a local support group.

Learn as much as you can about the diagnosis and options that are available to you and your child. Try to maintain a consistent routine within the home to reduce additional stressors in the family.

Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, know that you are not alone. There's nothing "wrong" with your marriage. Many parents of kids on the spectrum are experiencing the same challenges. Below is some very valuable feedback from other parents who are in the same boat:
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

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

• Anonymous said... Absolutely. It's typical for people to change their minds too.

• Anonymous said... Being aspie I think you will discover over the years that it's here to teach parents to approach their kids, leaning in with their ear first not the rod.  Aggressive behaviour towards people living with ASD only compounds sensory issues. Behaviour that NTs think is behavioural is actually neurological and corrections should not be approached with behavioural techniques.  Over stimulating children at a early age in an aggressive manners will only lead to them shutting down and by shutting Down I mean shutting out the aggressor.  As we don't need the quality and depth of relationships that NTs do its very easy for us to turn our backs on everyone including our family.  So ask your husband what kind of relationship he wants with his child in the future and perhaps he could adapt his technique accordingly.  I hope this helps.

• Anonymous said... I hear you! I have to walk away when husband disciplines. For some reason mommy instinct kicks in. He loves our son and wants him to listen. men just sound different then women when they yell or talk. Funny thing is our son listens better to him then me. Hang in there and try to find a therapist that will teach you how to work together. It worked for us!.

• Anonymous said... I think as mothers sometimes that protective lioness comes out. I am the one who went through life probably undiagnosed so I know it must be stressful on my husband to have two of us like it in the house.

• Anonymous said... It's very tough!!!! Read about it together - maybe that might help!!!

• Anonymous said... Me and hubby pretty quickly got on the same page re our son's condition and decided to use RDI to help our son become more flexible. We agreed in principle but struggled and disagreed sometimes with putting the theory into practice. We have acknowledged the strain this has put on our relationship and have worked hard to be mindful of the other's feelings, concerns and ideas when discussing anything to do with management of our son's condition. I think you have to find common ground and work from there.....be prepared to meet in the middle. We were lucky in that we agreed in principle with the theory of how best to manage the condition. Perhaps that is the place to start? Plus to explore some of the underlying assumptions you may both be making about why he behaves in a particular way and how best to manage this. Perhaps you need a mediator to help you work on this? It can be hard to work it out when you're so emotionally enmeshed in it.

• Anonymous said... My AS son is now 19 and I am married 31 years to an AS husband. It has not been easy and I learned a great deal about being patient. I too struggled greatly in the discipline area because it is so difficult to know where to draw the line with AS kids... Having an AS hubby makes it even more complicated because of the 'police' aspect of Aspergers. My strength to deal with all of this comes from the LORD. I am thankful to have Christ in my life... or I don't think I would have made it this far.

• Anonymous said... My son has Aspergers too. He is now 11 and my husband and I argue when disciplining him. My husband has to accept our son see"s things differently. He is going to the same destination we are ' he just takes a different route:-) My husband has been in denial and is slowly been coming around. Our son was diagnosed when he was 4 and we have experienced a lot of amazing moments. Our son is amazing and I am sure yours is too:-) Enjoy the journey with your son...I know your husband will come around too

• Anonymous said... sometimes you gotta let things go!what has worked for me is to discuss about the kids when they are sleeping or not in the room. communication is KEY! find out what he expects or wants for your child and tell him the same.you need to find a middle ground for you both. its vital for your childs future. and do what i do...take a break every know and then, take turns doing it! go for a car drive, meet up with friends or go for a walk, think of something to do alone. otherwise you will burn out!

• Anonymous said... We did for a little while until he started coming to therapy sessions. We also spend sometime reading together at night about aspergers. It's very helpful and now he understands a lot more. We have agreed on more things now and if we don't we discuss it before anyone hands out a time out Good luck!

• Anonymous said... When partner is disciplining walk out of earshot. If you confront them at the time they get worse. Harder on the child rather than easier. Have a chat while child is not around.

• Anonymous said... Yes, yes and yes! Daily here! My daughter is an Aspie (so am I for the record) and I know her and I both "Live in the moment" a lot. When my daughter was younger, she would meltdown so bad that I would have to hold her til she was calm so she wouldn't hurt herself. Now that she is older, she doesn't tantrum as bad, but I also know that what comes out of her mouth in the midst of being at a 10 on the emotional scale is not what she thinks overall. Aspies can be at a 10 emotionally and then a bit later be at a 2 acting as if nothing happened. My husband will then want punishments and some kind of closure to his feelings on the issue and his outrage at what happened a bit ago, and he wants something done to show that it wasn't okay for her to act out. The thing is.. I understand that she acted out because of frustration, being at a 10 emotionally and was having a meltdown (I still have them to this day sometimes myself), and if I punish her for those meltdowns, it's either going to key her up again or make her feel worse. I know she didn't mean to do those things but those emotions have to run their course because she will think clearly again. My husband just doesn't get it but I remind him over and over again "It's an Aspie thing" trust me on this.. please? She will be okay." That doesn't mean she gets away with the typical kid back talking and misbehaving, but when its emotions and frustration boiling over.. in our house, she should feel it is safe to let those out as long as she doesn't hurt anyone else or herself.

• Anonymous said... yes. you have to agree and balance the rules. Stick to them no matter what. Its the only way. Aspergers alone is confusing. makes it worse when you get two people one telling you one thing the other something else. Its not thinking of the child, forget about how you feel, the kids always go first. That is the beginning of figuring it out. Good luck.

•    Anonymous said... Absolutely...we were exactly the same way. We had to learn to compromise ...listen to each others valid points and make a plan. Its actually made our marriage stronger because we learned the reason why we felt the way we did had to do with our own upbringing. Having a common goal..helping our child..was important.

•    Anonymous said... My husband and I have a son that is now 25 - he has Aspbergers and other special needs. We had the exact same issue. To this day, we still struggle at times. So here are the two great pieces of advice that were shared through the years - and became more and more important and valuable: 1) Be the very best parent you can be at that moment. NEVER look back! Just know you did your best. Otherwise you will drive yourself insane with the 20/20 hindsight and guilt. 2) Never stop challenging your child to be all he/she can be. But!!! Be prepared to accept it when you know in your heart you've uncovered another limit in his/her life -don't try to force something that just isn't going to happen. You will only frustrate both of you and lose some of his/her trust in your safety...and you will regret it forever (I say that from experience. ) And just advice from our experience: Aspbergers was not a thing 20 years ago. GET HELP...YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS ALONE NOW. It doesn't get easier...you have to work as a couple...just go get help together...even if it's just a support group. Don't forget to give your other children time to talk about their feelings and frustrations -they may need help dealing with things sometimes...don't get so busy with your 5 - yr - old that you forget to make time for the others.  Last of all...remember that your husband knows exactly how little boys feel. Some things kids with Aspbergers do are not because of their exceptionality, but because he/she is just being a kid. They start figuring out how to work you and use their unique siuation. Listen and respect each other as a couple. You will be ok! If you all can learn to look at your child's situation as he/she lived in an exceptional world. He/she will never completely adjust to your world...you can learn to adjust to theirs. You will be shocked at how your child reacts and what you really begin to learn.

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The Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"How can I teach my son to be more self sufficient with daily activities like brushing his teeth, lacing his shoes, taking a bath and so on? He is 5 years old and is high functioning."

One of the best resources for younger children with ASD level 1 or High-Functioning Autism is occupational therapy. Of the different types of therapy, occupational therapy is one of the more practical and easy to understand therapies a youngster can benefit from.

Some autistic children lack basic skills, such as self-care, dressing themselves, eating skills and other life skills that occupational therapy can address. Often, occupational therapy uses play therapy and other kinds of skills to address areas involving fine motor and gross motor skills.
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Parents' Comprehensive Handbook

One of the advantages of occupational therapy is that it is very practical and can be tailored directly to your son's specific needs. The therapist will initially do an assessment on him and decide what areas of self-care and activities of daily living need to be addressed.

A treatment plan is made up and, through play and practice, your son can learn skills like brushing teeth, combing hair, and getting dressed. These things have a direct impact on his life-skills.

Unlike physical therapy, occupational therapy has goals that directly affect activities the youngster might do during a given day. It can make a big difference in what you have to do for your son when he can learn to do those things for himself.

Occupational therapy can be done in specific outpatient clinics. You’ll want to choose a therapist that has experience with ASD children in particular. Also, you’ll want to make sure the environment is relatively quiet with few distractions so that the therapist can work directly with your son in an environment that is not over-stimulating.

Any time a child on the spectrum is lacking in basic life skills, consider enrolling him or her in a course of occupational therapy. Results are usually seen in just a few short weeks - and can last a lifetime.

In addition to occupational therapy, parents can use the following technique to accomplish many of the goals achieved through formal therapy:  Backward Chaining: A Cure for Task-Frustration.

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

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


•    Anonymous said... build on their skills and resist the urge to do it for them. And, let go of the result being perfect or even half way perfect.

•    Anonymous said... for the bath- if your child's skin isnt sensative to them- you can try bath crayons! Draw or write each step the child needs to take to be clean on the shower/tub wall. (Making sure they understand and know how to do each step properly, of couse.) Then as they do each thing, they can wash it off the list. (Finish with drawing time in the tub as a reward!)as for brushing teeth, pediatric dentists say children don't have the fine motor skills to properly brush alone until they can successfully tie shoes. Granted, not all kids learn to tie their shoes, so parental discretion for that rule is advised. But be prepared to at least do check ups yourself after each brushing for a while- it takes each kid a different amount of time to master those skills. Thats why there's no set age to learn them by (only an age that its usually done by- and theres nothing wrong with unusual :D)

•    Anonymous said... I just want to comment on the shoelace issue. My son, who has Asperger's, ADD inattentive, dysgraphia, and motor skills challenges, but high-functioning too, struggled with tying shoelaces all the way till 3rd or 4th grade. We kept 'teaching' him, assigning time to practice, but the poor soul just could not get to doing it, and struggled in school every time they got undone. Until one of his support teachers at school told me that her son, who was then in his twenties, still could not do so. She said that's why Velcro was invented Well she was right! Since then we have discovered the self-tying coil shoelaces as he got too big to find Velcro strap shoes, and we could move onto other things. This made me realize then what I have always conceptually believed: focus on strengths and not try to force activities or behaviors that are clearly going to cause greater frustration, lack of confidence, and keep them from engaging in other more rewarding activities, whenever possible. Beside that, I agree with everyone, repetition and routine is king. Little steps, constant reminders, etc. An autism school principal told me once that large wall calendars in clear display, help kids in identifying what they have to do next and follow schedules. What works for us is the practice of doing the same activates like clockwork. But other things, I follow his cue. He is 16 now and an awesome kid

•    Anonymous said... I wish I knew. My aspie is 10...

•    Anonymous said... My nine year old still uses Velcro shoes even though they have worked on shoe tying in occupational therapy.

•    Anonymous said... My son is 6 and high functioning but chews his toothbrush so hard and still needs me to bathe him. I think I am going to do a mini schedule for each task like that to break it down. He likes having a schedule w pictures for things.

•    Anonymous said... Repetition and routine. Model the behaviors. Expect to do this always.

•    Anonymous said... Schedules..written on white board or visual aids. Even though it's at home this helps with their executive functioning and will help will life skills.

•    Anonymous said... Social stories, routine and daily diligence . My Aspie daughter is 9 and always does things in order but I taught her the routine.

•    Anonymous said...  Still prompting my son who is almost 21! He is getting more independent with initiating bathroom routines..but some days need a nudge! (Only diagnosed 6mths ago...all this makes sense now.)

•    Anonymous said... I think these are typical aspergers struggles! Believe me you aren't alone. My 12 year old dreads doing all of these things too!

•    Anonymous said... I'm relieved because I really thought I wasn't teaching well enough. This is such a great help.

•    Anonymous said... Make it like a clue game,  Clue #1 go potty Clue#2 brush your teeth (put pictures of him brushing or someone else), Same with dressing, bathing and so on.
My grandson is 15 and he still needs prompts and he to is high functioning. Or put them on cards and let him draw a card out of a box what ti do next, if he completes it he gets a prize

•    Anonymous said... So great to hear we are not alone too. Have a 10 year old hates all things of this nature too! x

•    Anonymous said... We have checklists but it still requires reminders. Mine is 16 and was diagnosed at 8.

•    Anonymous said… My son is 9 and just started a 6 month physical therapy program, after which he will do occupational therapy. The PT will help build up strength and loosen muscles (he has hypotonia), which will better prepare him for the OT. We told his developmental pediatrician that he can't tie his shoes, ride a bike, etc. and this was her recommendation. Oddly enough, he's fantastic at martial arts (Muay Thai) but that will only improve with his PT and OT!! And as, others have posted, we keep his sneakers tied so he can just slip them on and off and his bathroom habits constantly change. He now constantly forgets to brush his teeth or use shampoo or a washcloth in the shower, etc.

•    Anonymous said… Is it possible that he doesn't want to try simply because he's tried and failed in the past? My son is like that - he HAS to be perfect and if he fails at his first attempt at ANYTHING he wants to give up. Of course, we make him try again and once he tastes success, his whole attitude changes (for awhile, anyway). Naturally, this makes him a bit more willing to try harder at other things.

•    Anonymous said… My 5 year old son has been dressing himself (without supervision) for 1 year. Lots of prompting with sequencing (what to do next) since he was 3 has paid off. We don't give him physical help with his daily grooming because I found he would give up too easily and wanted mom/dad to do it all for him. It wasn't an easy thing to do. A lot of screaming/melt downs but it has been so worth it. Because they have issues with sequencing and sensory perception our little ones will have days that seem more difficult than others. I try to remember that when I am teaching him new things. Best wishes!

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Music Therapy for Kids on the Autism Spectrum: A Good Idea?

"My 8-year-old son with high functioning autism loves to sing and wants to join the boys choir at his school. Would this be a good idea? From past experience, he seems to do poorly in group participation activities."

I think this will be great therapy for your son!  In fact, music therapy is how I got started working with autistic children way back in the mid 1980's (before we even knew about Asperger's). Music therapy has been used in conjunction with other therapies for many disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Plus, singing in a group will help with social skills.

As it turns out, music therapy is a great fit for ASD children because it's non-verbal (and non-threatening). It improves the youngster’s ability to be successful at things that are more social, such as tossing a ball to music or using sticks or cymbals to help the child modulate his or her interpretation of sound. Also, therapists can use the child’s preferred music as a reward or as a way to soothe him or her.

Music therapy helps kids with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's to speak better as well. They tend to be able to learn words and to hold onto those words longer when music is associated with the learning of the words. 
Also, when taught to both autistic children and non-autistic (i.e., neurotypical) children at the same time, music therapy is a great way to integrate ASD children into the social aspect of being around other kids. Few adjustments need to be made to the music class, and the autistic kids can mimic the behavior of neurotypical ones.

Interestingly, in many situations, it’s been found that young people on the spectrum can exhibit great musical ability. Some have perfect pitch while others learn to play musical instruments and can be competitive with other children in their musical abilities. 
This is probably one of the best reasons that moms and dads should have their ASD child in music class. They may have abilities beyond that which a parent can know that can improve the youngster’s self-esteem greatly.

In addition, some children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's are fairly quiet, non-talkative individuals - but can communicate very well through their singing voice. This can be a great help to the child who needs to communicate somehow with parents and teachers. Kids on the autism spectrum can learn meaningful responses when incorporated into a song.

Music therapy is one of the most advantageous types of therapy a child on the spectrum can have. From improved communication to improved socialization, many aspects of the child’s life can be maximized.

For help with social skills development that will assist your son in group situations, click on this link: Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said... Encourage anything he's interested in! Music was my lifeline when I was diagnosed. Because I loved it, it didn't matter if it was a group thing or if it was one on one. It was my coping strategy. If it helps with group settings with your son, even better!

•    Anonymous said... Go for it, he can always stop if he does not enjoy it. I think it's great he is showing an interest and as he is the one suggesting it there is more chance of it being a success! I tend to follow my son's lead in choosing after school activities and so far it's worked well. Granted some of his choices would not be my first option lol I hope he has an awesome time.

•    Anonymous said... i have a family member with a/s who sings in a choir,they have even traveled abroad ,she adores it.

•    Anonymous said... Let him, my youngest can't handle group activities and he joined the Kupa Huka group at school as loves performing and he loved it, and did well at it must admit also improved his co-ordination and confidence.

•    Anonymous said... let them try new experiences don't hold them back just in case give them tools and permission to go to a neutral zone if anxious and make sure all adults are aware jp has been doing the science fair where it is quite loud and busy and he has really surprised me. I am so proud of him.

•    Anonymous said... My Aspie son LOVES music and singing and really enjoys the choir. Although it's a group thing, he doesn't have to interact with them as such, just sing along with them

•    Anonymous said... My Aspie son loves music... has played violin for years, didn't do so well Suzuki style but did fine with group Orchestra. Did choir last year, the only boy in a dozen... did great! Granted, part of this was because he didn't have to deal with the other boys in his class, who can be a bit pushy!

•    Anonymous said... My son started choir around that age and flourished. Made friends in the choir room at school. When he gets stressed he goes there to de-stress. At 15 he still loves choir and wants to continue with music. I highly encourage it.

•    Anonymous said... Yes! Its an excellent idea, especially if he has a good voice and loves music! My son loves music and he plays the cello. He likes most string instruments and loves to sing! Music has made a huge difference in his mood and life! I recommend highly!!

•    Anonymous said… Follow whatever they are passionate about... that has been our experience with LB and it seems to work out. Good luck!

•    Anonymous said… Go for it! Just make sure you have good communication with the chorus teacher. My Aspie struggled with some of the social aspects and her perfectionism was a challenge, too. Thankfully, with understanding teachers it continues to be a worthwhile endeavor. My daughter has learned she has a knack for band, chorus and acting as well.

•    Anonymous said… My son was part of the Chorus from staten island that sang at the 2011 academy awards and he's an aspie! I also had my doubts but let him be and try and he did fantastic! He became desensitized to noise and overstimulation and being part of something so special helped his self esteem! He also started giving better eye contact and his grades improved. My advice is let him try he might surprise you like my son did.

•    Anonymous said… The nice thing about choir is it is a social activity with a high degree of structure. I am not a music therapist, but am a music teacher. It has been my experience that children may do very poorly in many group and social settings, yet have a high degree of success in choir if they enjoy singing. I have seen this success pleasantly surprise both the child and the child's peers. It can be a very good thing, or it might not work out, but you won't ever know if you don't let him try.

•    Anonymous said… YES!!!! Our kids tend to be gifted with perfect pitch and often find their tribe in music! My son loves band! what with all the sensory issue possibilities and the sheer size of the band I had my doubts - now after junior high and HS I am so grateful! he will be marching with his favorite college band this Fall and he got a music scholarship! Do it!!!! if he's asking - so much the better!

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Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...