HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Helping Your Irrational Child on the Autism Spectrum to Be More Rational

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Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s are known to misinterpret other people’s feelings, motives, behaviors, etc. “Cognitive restructuring” is a fancy term that simply means helping these young people to correct their distorted conceptualizations and dysfunctional beliefs. The process, which parents can implement, involves challenging their current thinking with logical evidence and ensuring the rationalization and cognitive control of their emotions.

The first stage is to establish the evidence for a particular belief. Kids on the autism spectrum can make false assumptions of their circumstances and the intentions of others. They have a tendency to make a literal interpretation (e.g., a casual comment may be taken out of context or may be taken to the extreme).

For instance, a teenage male with HFA was once told his voice was “breaking.” He became extremely anxious that his voice was becoming faulty and decided to consciously alter the pitch of his voice to repair it. The result was an artificial falsetto voice that was incongruous in a young man.

In another case, an adolescent female with Asperger’s overheard a conversation at school that implied that girls MUST BE slim to be popular. She then achieved a dramatic weight loss in an attempt to be accepted by her peers.

We’re all vulnerable to distorted thoughts and beliefs, but children with HFA and Asperger’s are less able to put things in perspective, seek clarification, and consider alternative explanations or responses. Thus, it’s important for parents to encourage their child to be more flexible in his or her thinking and to seek clarification using questions or comments (e.g., “Are you kidding?” or “I'm puzzled about what you just said.”).

Such comments also can be used when misinterpreting someone's intentions (e.g., “Did you mean to do that?”) and to rescue the situation after the child has made an inappropriate response with a comment such as, “I'm sorry. I didn’t mean to offended you,” or “My mistake. What should I have done?”

To explain a new perspective or to correct errors or assumptions, comic strip conversations can help the HFA or Asperger’s child to determine the thoughts, beliefs, and intentions of the other person(s) in a given situation. This technique involves drawing an event or sequence of events in storyboard form with stick figures to represent each participant, and speech and thought bubbles to represent their words and thoughts.

You and your child can use an assortment of fibro-tipped colored pens, with each color representing an emotion. As you write in the speech or thought bubbles, the child’s choice of color indicates his or her perception of the emotion conveyed or intended. This can clarify the child’s interpretation of events and the rationale for his or her thoughts and response, and can also help to identify and correct any misperception and determine how alternative responses might affect others’ thoughts and feelings.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

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

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

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

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

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

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

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

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

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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

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

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content