Children on the Spectrum Who Talk Excessively: What Parents and Teachers Can Do


My 7-year-old and soon-to-be step son never (never) stops talking and says everything he thinks. It is SO bad - (as is his severe interrupting) - that it is seriously affecting me and my boyfriends 3 year relationship. When we met he only had bi-weekly visitations. Now he was given full custody as his biological mother and her new husband cannot handle it. I am exhausted and cannot get a word in edgewise. BF says he is "used to it" and I just need to be more patient. Does the one-sided verbiage get better or worse with age? How can we teach him? How can I get it through to BF that his son is only going to stand out even MORE as he gets older if this isn't worked on?


One of the hallmarks of High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's is the kid's tendency to be obsessed with a particular topic and to talk incessantly about it. The child may want to constantly talk about cartoon characters, insects, movies, race cars, video games, etc. It can be very frustrating for moms and dads to deal with a bright, articulate youngster who is somehow "stuck" in one particular frame of reference.

How can you break kids of these obsessive thoughts and ideas? The honest answer is: you may not be able to entirely eliminate them. Some kids will gradually leave one special interest behind, only to quickly fixate on a new one.

There are two ways to classify obsessions: "primary" and "secondary." Often it's difficult to tell which of the two you're dealing with.

Primary obsessions are bad enough that it is super difficult to get the HFA kid to think of anything else. The obsession monopolizes conversation and daily activities. It also interferes with schoolwork. The youngster is consumed by the obsession. Certain medications, like those prescribed for OCD, can be helpful. Check with your child's doctor.

Secondary obsessions are a challenge, but can be managed eventually. In addition, secondary interests can be used as motivators (i.e., they can help the youngster succeed in school or improve behavior).

Here are some ideas:

1. Give less of a response to random, meaningless comments about the obsession. If your HFA youngster mentions the topic-of-interest when it has nothing to do with what is currently going on, either do not respond at all, or act perplexed. Calmly say, "We're not playing that game right now," or "Why are you talking about that movie now?" If the youngster becomes angry, give a simple "um hum" with little eye contact, then ask a question that requires him to engage in the present activity or topic of conversation.

2. Reward the youngster for making conversation that is correctly related to what's going on at the moment. If you son looks at the sky and says, "I see some stars," that is a comment which is appropriate and in the moment. Immediately respond with acknowledgement and praise. "You're absolutely right! I see them too! Look, they are very far away. You've got really good eyesight."

3. Use the topic-of-interest to motivate good behavior. For example, buy a book, toy, or game associated with the obsession. Your child can play with it when homework is completed, or after sitting quietly.

4. Work with your kid's teachers to use the topic-of-interest to promote education. If, for example, your youngster likes snakes, apply them to math (e.g., "If there are 10 pythons in the backyard now, and 5 more show up later, how many snakes will there be all together?"). Use the topic-of-interest as a starting point, and then build on it, slowly expanding the youngster's areas of interest.


What other parents have had to say about this topic:

•    Anonymous said… A small amount of mood stabilizer helped my daughter. She would become very manic about subjects and than OCD. We had to listen or she would become very angry. Now she can hear our concerns for the subject going on too long as she at times follows us around like a puppy dog and input to her obsession.
•    Anonymous said… attend therapy with him. you will gain a better understanding; appreciate his mindset and learn how to handle meltdowns.
•    Anonymous said… best thing to do is keep your voice lowered they will lower theirs and stop sooner.
•    Anonymous said… Dont worry It will get better as he matures. You could try some magnetic balls, therabrushing or a exercise ball to channel the energies. I know this is hard but try not to react too much. I was in the same situation as you a few years ago.
•    Anonymous said… Get the books "Autism Discussion Page" from Amazon. Find out what you are dealing with and get help. This child can be helped. First, he needs unconditional love and acceptance. Get to know him on his terms. Then you have a God given instinct as to what help will work for him. As with most situations concerning ALL children......the parents must be trained first! Invest in this child!
•    Anonymous said… He's a 7 year old autistic child with a broken family (trauma). I'm sorry but the very last thing he needs is intolerance and adults looking for ways to make him more socially acceptable to them. If you are serious about marrying his father than start by talking to grown autistics in the neuro divergent movement how they feel about your perception of this child. Next step would be to get yourself into counseling and autistic awareness training. This child needs love and acceptance like he gets from his dad. He does not need another adult wedging between the only good relationship he has.
•    Anonymous said… Honestly, it is a hard journey. I suggest you educate yourself on by reading and researching. Each child is different. They change but you will if you want to continue because it is a lot of patience, monitoring, and understanding on a daily basis. My son was silent but super busy to the point that the teachers almost had a nervous breakdown, not one but three of them. Don't judge him yet. You will know what you can handle. Prayers!!!!
•    Anonymous said… I think that the over talking stems from anxiety that stems from a constant need to feel loved and accepted and then it feels like he needs to be the center of attention in order to attain that. At least that's what I gather from my interactions with my own stepson. My son has ADHD and he's just a motor-mouth, and we really just have to remind him to slow down and think. His poor brain just moves so fast.
•    Anonymous said… I think when you get to know him properly you will get to love this side of him always full of wonder about the topics they obese over . He is a child and with lots of love and attention it will die down a bit once he has made a home there and has other activities to keep him busy. Also a child Phycologist will help your child learn coping mechanisms for learning to take turns in talking etc.. PS I know plenty of people that like to talk one sided and are not on the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said… If you can't accept him the way he is, you might need to have a think about walking away. Sorry.
•    Anonymous said… If you want to form a good bond with him I suggest taking the time to talk to him about something he is passionate about. Our kids here 'shut up' from a lot of people in their lives. Try and find something that quiets his mind. For my teenage step daughter it is games on her phone and searching for and making new recipes.
•    Anonymous said… It is all about retraining the brain with positive, consistent reinforcement - I would suggest looking into a Social Skills therapy group with other peers his age....
•    Anonymous said… Look for the good in him and build on that! Love and a calm approach goes a long way. You will not change him, but by educating yourself and learning strategies you will learn to adjust and it will help your life run much smoother.... They are beautiful kids!
•    Anonymous said… Maybe I'm just way off, but as a prospective "step" parent, yours is a support role. If dad doesn't take the lead, your taking the lead will only cause your resentment to grow toward the child. It is possible NONE of this will ever change. Will you be okay with that?
•    Anonymous said… My Grandson was 7 when diagnosed he is now 22 and still talks excessively and still interrupts. We had a fantastic Pediatrician. He tolds to get Tony Attwood's book, it helped amazingly. It not something they grow out of it. My Grandson has no friends because he talks too much. I understand how you feel but it's worse for them. They found out my Grandson was visual, so I went on computer and got pictures for his morning routine before school put it on a chart on his door he learnt that straight away and then memorised it. I had pictures up everywhere. You need to do your research and things you can do to help support, once you've done that you need to look at the bigger picture can you do this. School is worse because these kids are targeted and bullied and it triggers off a reaction in them and there the one's who get suspended. I only ever had one school where the principal believed in the child bullying who got them to snap got into trouble the same as him reacting. :) Like I said this is how it goes. So routine is good for them.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 13. Omg! I took my three kids to a labyrinth (it's a prayer thing you walk through) I said the only rule is you can't talk. That kid couldn't even make it 30 secs!!! (The 5 and 8 year old did fine!). Dinner convos are all about him. Me and my husband can never talk when he's around. But on the other hand I know he won't hide anything from me. He's very very open about everything so, you could look at it with a different view. It's very exhausting but at the same time I know a lot of moms would love for their children to open up. (And if he isn't talking he is making a noise of some sort. Stomping though the house, bouncing a ball, knocking things over. It gets to be sensory overload for me sometimes)
•    Anonymous said… My son is 15 and has been on respiridone since he was about 7. He went off it for a period of time at age 11 and it was hell when he was off it and asked to be put back on it. I works great for him.
•    Anonymous said… Our Aspergers son is getting worse with his talking but it gets better when we take away electronics and he is participating in more real-life stuff. We have a house rule of no electronics during the school week. We also listen politely to what he wants to say, then I stop him and ask him a question about it and he asks me a question back. This is direct instruction of socks skills. There are other methods. Looks like there's a lot of good resources posted.
•    Anonymous said… Take the time to listen and engage, build a trusting relationship and then together you and your partner can come up with some gentle strategies for teaching your stepson about taking it in turns to talk. Perhaps have some family discussion time where you all sit at the table and talk, ask one another questions and whoever is holding a chosen object gets to talk (he will be busting to talk so to begin with, direct your question to him) then hand over the object so he can answer. No talking unless you are holding the Object, this ensures everyone is heard, just go easy on him to start with. Then he can ask a question and hand the object over to the next person. It will teach him about both giving and receiving and conversation in a gentle way. My son who is 14 gets very tense when he cannot say what he needs to, he explained to me that it causes physical discomfort, so keep this in mind and just go forth step at s time! Most importantly, this journey isn't the easiest, but if you do it with a heart filled with love, you will learn the patience (and you will need it!) good luck!
•    Anonymous said… The more anxious the more he will continue to talk non stop. He needs an enviorement where he finds love and acceptance.
•    Anonymous said… those of us who found ourselves with a child with added extras simply had to learn to deal with it, yes it's exhausting, but we deal with it out of love, just as we would if we had a disabled child. It's you who needs to learn coping mechanisms, because trying to force him to change will break him, and you'll end up with a depressed child. As time goes on and as you get closer to him, you'll find ways to tell him that you need some quiet time and he'll learn to accept that. But you have a choice, take on the hard work for the sake of love, or leave the situation
•    Anonymous said… U can't change who someone is to conform to your needs & wants. Yes it's extremely difficult at times having a child on the spectrum. My Son drives me bonkers on a daily basis with his talking that never stops, but that's who he is.
•    Anonymous said… Use Michelle Winners social thinking curriculum. Specifically Superflex takes on the Unthinkables. There is one Unthinkable called one-sided-Sid that captures this behavior.
•    Anonymous said… We have found a solution to this that works wonders for my kids. I have a 10, 7 yr (HF aspergers and poss adhd) and a 15mth toddler. We introduced this... When mummy or daddy are talking and you need to spk to us, don't say anything just place your hand on us and we will place our hand on top, then you know we know you want to spk to us. When mummy and daddy have finished talking we will say thank you for waiting... What can I help you with? We created it as a rule and explained it to the kids and I was so amazed when they started doing it. If they forget, I just say what's our rule? Hope it works for you too. If you have any more questions about it, feel free to message me. Good luck xx
•    Anonymous said… You better do some serious researching. The thing is, they are all different. No way to really know if that will stop but so much changes through puberty. Mine is 15 and doesn't say much at all anymore. He stays shutdown a lot of the time. I wish I could hear some of that enthusiastic chatter again. Working on getting him out of defense mode. It can be rough so if you think you can't handle it, get out before that child gets too invested in you.
•    Anonymous said… You need to decide if you can accept him the way he is or not. He won't change. There are small things u can learn to better handle it... But at the same time, maybe try to see the beauty in it. I bet he's like a walking encyclopaedia. U can learn from his knowledge. We have a hfa son and decided to adjust our lives to meet his needs. We function different than a typical family, my husband and I aren't able to have a quiet conversation at dinner, but we celebrate that we have a very very unique son.... It is what it is.

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