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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How to Explain the Death of a Loved One to Your Child on the Autism Spectrum

“When should I begin to talk with my grandchild about his grandfather’s (papa’s) sickness that will result in death? How best to approach the subject? Thank you for your assistance.”

The answer to your question would be “the sooner the better.” Kids, even those on the autism spectrum, typically know more than their parents and grandparents think they do. You can gauge what your grandson knows through the questions he asks. If he asks, for example, "Is grandpa going to die?" …he may not want to hear, "Everyone is going to die someday." Instead, this can be a signal that he knows grandpa’s condition is life-threatening.



I recommend open and direct communication at all times. If you avoid your grandson’s questions, he may ask someone else or hold the questions in, which could result in unnecessary anxiety. Acknowledging rather than disregarding questions can build trust and show him that his concerns are important. This may increase the likelihood he will come to you with future questions.

So, be honest and concrete in discussions about death and dying. Avoid euphemisms. We use euphemisms to avoid uncomfortable subjects, but kids with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism (who think very literally) may not pick up on these cues. For example, if you tell your grandson (after his grandfather’s death) that “grandpa is sleeping,” he may expect grandpa to wake up. If you then say that “grandpa can’t wake up,” your grandson may fear going to sleep and not waking up (you get the point).

Though the words are difficult to say, use terms like "die," "dead," and "dying." Also, considering finding books on the subject of “death of a loved one” or create some social stories around grief.




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

How to Identify "Meltdown Triggers" in Your Child on the Autism Spectrum

"Is it possible to learn a child's 'triggers' that may cause meltdowns, and is there a way to intervene before the meltdowns happen?"

Kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) tend to “act out” their feelings. This is how they communicate. They show you how they feel with their whole bodies, not just their words. The message of a meltdown is: “I’m frustrated and upset, and I don’t know what lead up to it or what to do about it.” Our role as moms and dads is to read these hidden messages and help our “special needs” kids express their frustration and confusion in more appropriate ways.

If your AS or HFA youngster is prone to the periodic meltdown, know that it is very possible to find a way to understand his or her frustrations, but change the inappropriate expression of them!

Here are some important tips that will help you recognize your child’s “meltdown triggers” so you can prevent the meltdown from happening in the first place:

1. Dealing with anger: Since “meltdown triggers” and “angry feelings” are directly related, having discussions about anger (during those times when your child is calm) can help you establish a foundation to build on when identifying your youngster’s triggers. Ask her some important questions about emotions (e.g., what makes her angry, happy, sad, etc.). The purpose of this is to teach your child how to identify various feelings, to learn what it means to feel angry, happy, sad, disappointed, etc., but not to give her an excuse for acting-out behavior.  This also helps your child to communicate her feelings to you clearly so that you are in the best position to help her learn how to cope.

2. Delayed gratification: AS and HFA children tend to be very rigid. When they set their mind to something, they want it now, and if they don't get it, they may have a meltdown. As parents, we understand that “waiting” patiently for a reward or a desired activity can make it that much sweeter, but AS and HFA children don't have the coping skills to understand this concept of delayed gratification. Thus, it will be your job as a parent to teach your son or daughter to wait for the things that he or she wants. Practice this through role playing with your child, or create a social story around “waiting for something special.”

3. Identifying physical symptoms: Often there are physical symptoms that go along with impending meltdowns. The child’s nervous system kicks into high gear when a trigger is present and can cause several identifiable sensations (e.g., rapid heartbeat, flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, cold hands, muscle tension, etc.). Ask your youngster what she feels in her body when the trigger you are talking about is present. When your child is aware of the warning signs her body gives her, it can serve as a natural cue to put the new plan you came up with during your problem-solving discussions into action.

4. Teaching independence: In your child's mind, the entire world revolves around her. What she wants, she gets, and her mom and dad should always be at her beck and call. Of course, the world doesn't work that way, and a major meltdown trigger is watching someone else get the attention. This might occur if you have another youngster or a pet, or if you are visiting with friends. Teaching your AS or HFA child to be independent is an important part of parenting. At home, give her the opportunity to entertain herself quietly by playing with dolls, for example. This will often translate into entertaining herself when you're focusing on something else, which can help avoid meltdowns.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children on the Autism Spectrum

5. Internal frustration: Some AS and HFA children tend to be perfectionistic and obsessive. The inability to do something right after several attempts, or the lack of language skills to get her point across can get the “meltdown engine” revving. Observation is your best tool for identifying “low frustration-tolerance” in your child. Pay attention and be aware of the warning signs. Watch and listen, whether your youngster is playing a board game with friends, doing homework, or trying to tie her shoes. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times, and look for patterns and connections.

6. Over-stimulation: Although many AS and HFA children enjoy going out to eat, going to malls, attending birthday parties, etc., it can get quite overwhelming for them to the point they start reacting to these unfamiliar surroundings and faces. Many of these kids will exhibit frustration simply because “the unfamiliar” gets to them, especially if there are a lot of foreign noises and smells. Thus, if the environment seems too “sensory-unfriendly” for your child, you may simply want to “bail out” and return home for a time out.

7. Parents rushing around: AS and HFA kids don’t understand time as grown-ups do. They pick up on your anxiety around time constraints, but they are not always able to work quickly in order to meet your demands. If you’re always in a rush and your youngster is always having meltdowns, try to investigate whether there is a connection between the two. Of course there are times when you’re in a rush, and your youngster will need to hurry along. When this happens, state your expectations clearly and take action. For example, you may need to put his shoes on yourself, pick him up, strap him in the car seat, and leave. Try to do this automatically without shouting and resentment. And if you feel like you’re always rushing your “special needs” youngster, make a special effort to slow down where possible.

8. Parents talking on the phone: Sometimes when the parent is talking on the phone for extended periods of time, it can be a trigger for some AS and HFA kids. It’s either the loss of attention that they react to, or the desire to have control over you that gets them to meltdown when you are on the phone. A “call box” has helped many moms and dads get through lengthy phone conversations. Have a box ready with some things inside that your youngster can busy herself with while you spend time on the phone. Of course, you could always choose not to put yourself through the dilemma and make your calls at another time – or keep them as short as possible.

9. Reliance on routine: AS and HFA children tend to rely on routines to keep them comfortable and content. In fact, most of these kids are dependent on routines, because too much activity and change can overwhelm them. A change in routine is a major meltdown trigger that can easily set your youngster off. Thus, try sticking to daily routines as precisely as possible. If you do have to change the routine, make sure your child is well-rested and content. Let her bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal with her if you have to go somewhere. If you notice she is starting to exhibit signs of a meltdown, take her into a quiet place to calm down.

10. Shopping: Shopping is not an enjoyable leisure activity for most AS or HFA children. It can be an assault on your youngster’s senses that leaves her feeling overwhelmed. This is because the sights, sounds, touch and “busy-ness” of everything can cause sensory overload. But if your child survives the sensory assault, then the frustration of not getting everything she wants can lead to a meltdown. So in general, shopping with “special needs” kids is not desirable. But of course there will be times when shopping with your youngster is a necessity. If this is the case, then it would be helpful to keep it short. State your expectations clearly and stick to them. Make your child an active participant rather than a passive bystander. You can do this by giving her a job to do (e.g., help with putting the items into the trolley, unpacking them, choosing them, etc.). But bear in mind that it will be hard for your child to fill up the whole trolley and receive nothing for herself. This is a very high expectation to hold. If you take her shopping, you may want to allow her to get something of her own, but you can define what that is (e.g., her favorite cereal, snack, etc.), and then set the limit at that.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children on the Autism Spectrum

11. Signaling: Signaling is a common behavior modification strategy for children on the autism spectrum. Choose one specific trigger to work on, and then come up with a phrase or hand signal that will serve as an alert to your youngster that the trigger is present. This allows you to make your youngster aware of the trigger subtly in social situations. Once you have alerted her, she’ll have the chance to self-correct. However, if you signal your youngster, but she doesn’t use the response the two of you had planned on, have her take a break from whatever is going on to come speak to you in a quiet place (away from an audience). This is where you step in and help your youngster correct her behavior. Let her know that you gave her the “cue,” but she didn’t respond the way the two of you had discussed. Remind her of what you talked about, and let her know what the consequences will be if she doesn’t use the plan the next time you signal her (today).

12. Teaching “self-observation”: When your child is calm, let him know what you observe regarding the connection between his triggers and his meltdowns (e.g., “I’ve noticed that when you think something is unfair, you get upset and start throwing things”). By connecting the dots for your child, you are helping him learn his triggers. This technique should be part of a problem-solving discussion that includes you and your youngster coming up with a plan for what he will do differently the next time he is in this dilemma. 

13. The 3-step plan: If your child appears to be gearing-up for a meltdown, quickly implement this 3-step plan: (1) Acknowledge, (2) Reflect, (3) Insert the reality...
  • “acknowledge” your youngster’s feelings (e.g., “I can see you’re upset because you lost that game of checkers”)
  • “reflect” your youngster’s unfulfilled desire, wish or want (e.g., “You don’t like to lose at games”)
  • “insert the reality” by informing your child of the facts (e.g., “It’s impossible for people to win all the time – nobody’s perfect, so you can try to win the next time”)

This method provides emotional support because it helps your child feel understood. It helps him see that you understand his inner wishes and desires, but it also teaches him that this doesn’t mean “his wish is your command.”

14. Tiredness, hunger and sickness: When your AS or HFA child is tired, hungry or sick, he is running on lower emotional resources to cope with normal expectations, which is the case with ALL kids – but especially those on the spectrum. This means that if tired or hungry or sick, where your child would normally be happy to share, get a bath, get dressed, etc., he will be unhappy. Thus, do what you can to deal with the primary issue – feed your youngster, or get him ready for bed. Then think of how long it will be until he is sleeping. Try not to get hooked into the power struggle. Access your own emotional resourcefulness since your youngster will be running on empty.

15. Transitional experiences: When AS and HFA kids move from one experience to another (e.g., waking up, going to school, moving from “play time” to “homework time,” etc.), it’s a prime opportunity for a meltdown. Many transitional experiences can erupt into meltdowns, because AS and HFA kids don’t like change. They find the transition difficult. It may not be that they don’t want to get a bath or get dressed – it could be that they are protesting at having to change! Thus, give your youngster time to adjust when change occurs. Of course, this is easier said than done when we live in a rush. But, AS and HFA kids do need more time (e.g., in the morning, your youngster may need to stay in his pajamas for a little while before getting dressed). Also, “prepare” your youngster for transitions as often as possible (e.g., “We’re leaving to go to grandma’s house in a 15 minutes. You can start finishing your game”).



==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children on the Autism Spectrum

Tantrum-Free Transitions for Children on the Autism Spectrum

"How can I make transitions easier for my child (high functioning autistic) in order to avoid his transition-related meltdowns?"

Young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) usually live in the moment and have difficulty moving from one activity to the next. Stopping an activity in mid-drift interrupts their train of thought, which pushes them out of their comfort zone. As parents, we are often thinking of what we must do next, or even what happened in the recent past. While it may be easy for us to switch to the next activity, and while we know why a particular switch must occur, kids on the autism spectrum do not think this way. We, as parents, need to think like our “special needs” children.



Transitions happen every day in your youngster’s world. Waking up in the morning, going to school, coming to meals, leaving for an activity, saying goodbye to a friend, and getting ready for bed are all examples of transitions that can cause an AS or HFA youngster anxiety – or worse! And then there are those larger transitions: starting a new school or day care, moving to a new house, losing a loved one, etc. – all of which really take a toll on the youngster’s emotions.

Since each transition is different, and since they happen so frequently, it’s helpful to use a variety of strategies. Moms and dads who provide empathy and support, help their AS or HFA youngster gain a sense of control, create rituals that provide predictability, and teach their youngster ways to cope with change will find far greater success.

Listed below are some important techniques that will help make transitions easier for your youngster:

1. Allow your youngster enough time to transition. Whether you are preparing for a short-term transition from play-time to meal-time, or you have just told your child that the family is planning a trip to Disneyland next month, remember that AS and HFA children process change in their own time; they need time to “grow through” the change depending on how drastic that change is going to be. When planning activities, add in extra time for transitions that is proportionate to the degree of change. For example, if you are experiencing a major life change such as birth, death, divorce, or a move, plan to allow your youngster a few months or more to really adjust to this new experience.

2. Create a list of “house rules” and review them with your child periodically. The rules should include what to do during specific transitions (e.g., how to move from playing video games to getting dressed for Karate class). Post the rules where your child can see them. He or she will become accustomed to the rules, and understand what to do and what to expect throughout the day.

3. Develop a set of rituals, for example: (a) a “chit-chat” ritual at bedtime (e.g., ask your youngster about the happy, sad, scary and frustrating parts to his or her day; (b) a goodbye ritual (e.g., develop a secret handshake with your youngster that’s used only when he or she leaves you; (c) an after-school ritual (e.g., let your youngster have a snack and play outside for 30 minutes before starting homework); (d) an end-of-the-week ritual (e.g., have a “family night” every Saturday to reconnect and unwind after a busy week).

4. Give your child a notice when transitions are approaching. A simple, "In 10 minutes, we are sitting at the dinner table," is enough to give him a little warning. This lets your child know he should be finishing up what he is working on and allows him the chance to wash his hands, find his place at the table, and ease into a new state of mind.

5. Give your child something to look forward to before initiating a transition. For example, if you’re leaving the park to return home, talk about the fantastic things your child can do when he or she gets home.

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

6. Look for natural transitions or breaks that may make it easier to leave or move on. It’s better to end peacefully after 37 minutes than trying to end during a meltdown after 2 hours. Also, keep in mind that transitions, like any other step in your day, will be exacerbated by lack of sleep, hunger, or illness.

7. Picture schedules and cards can be helpful for AS and HFA kids who have a hard time following verbal directions. Pointing to the picture of the next activity, or handing your youngster the picture and letting her carry it to the next activity can be helpful in transitioning.

8. Sing “transition songs” prior to or during transitions. You can find these songs in many children’s book stores, and there are songs for almost any transition (e.g., “Wash Our Hands,” “Going Shopping,” “Time for Bed”). Alternatively, you can make up your own songs (e.g., use a familiar tune like “Row Row Row Your Boat,” and then add your own lyrics).

9. Take one of your child’s special items (e.g., a doll) with you to help make the transition easier for her – anything that makes her feel safe so that it’s easier to shift the focus away from anxiety to something she loves to think about.

10. Talk to your youngster about transitions, and be willing to listen and observe. A good way to start a discussion about transitions, in general, is through social stories. Consider creating a story around “how to calmly move from one task to the next.”





11. Transitions offer families an opportunity to grow together through difficulty or challenge by finding new ways to cope and manage life. Allow some time to brainstorm alternatives if, for example, a switch from the car to the church doesn’t go well, or a move to a new school is failing miserably. Be open to alternatives you haven’t thought of before.

12. Try to avoid giving sudden orders and directions. Before wanting your child to transition, go into his “safe zone” (i.e., whatever he is doing at the moment) and connect with him mentally, emotionally and physically. Talk to your child about what he is doing or something he truly loves. Then, keep that connection going and take it with you while you both move to the next activity.

13. When attempting a transition, keep the focus on the fun your child had with her activity and ask questions while you move on to the next activity. It helps her shift from being upset about leaving the current activity to keeping the good feeling with her longer (it’s like saying, “Don’t be upset that the activity is over …be happy that it happened”).

14. Young people with AS and HFA handle change differently. Some can sail from one activity to another, while others have a hard time and fight even a little change. Talk with an autism specialist who can assist you and make the journey more pleasant for the whole family.

15. Remember, even though your youngster may put up a fight, you are the one setting the rules and limits. For example, if it’s time to leave the playground, it’s time to leave the playground. And luckily (at least for a little while) you are bigger than your child is and can scoop him up under your arms when all else fails!

Transitions will always be difficult for kids on the autism spectrum. Developmentally, they're simply not well-equipped to leave an activity they're enjoying and move to a potentially less desirable one. But thankfully, there are many ways parents can help their kids through these transitions.




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

Recent Comments & Questions

COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS

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


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My AS son just turned 26 and is in the undergraduate mechanical engineering program at Portland State University.  He moved back home this January after living five years as a roommate elsewhere while I financially supported him while he went to school. He was sub optimally getting by. His sleeping and eatingwere irregularly. He was smelly and messy. He was staying up all night with his computer games and procrastinating studying.  He has all the usual problems. I brought him back home so I could observe him and begin raising the bar by having expectations. I finally woke up to the fact that my parenting style has been detrimental to his growth. I am committed to change. I saw in a flash that he was manipulating me to shirk responsibility and it was I who taught him this behavior starting when he was young. I realize now I was afraid of his anger.

Do you do consulting? I am looking for help implementing a new structure that addresses his situation. I have started a bit to assert myself and have had several staring down sessions where for the first time I have held my own. And like the parents you describe I have many emotional buttons that get pushed and I can be triggered by my fear.

Let me know if you or who can help me find my parenting path. I am retired (I am 67) and need him to be able to function at a higher level.

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Hi, I need help with dealing with my husband and balancing life with my kids.
I almost feel like it is impossible to live with him and that we get along a lot better living apart as friends. Everything a Asperger wife goes through that is me , how w do I fight being emotionally stressed, and create a life of my own. Why do I feel so weighed down and can’t enjoy life when he is around but supper happy when he is not around. I don’t understand because he literally sits on the games and phone, doesn’t bother me, I can do and go where I want. He is a okay dad beside being attracted to his obsessions. He tells me I just can’t be happy. If I leave he try’s to take everything from me and the kids to force me to come back. He is very immature and lies a lot and he s responses always change depending on what mood he is in. I need help processing all this, I have put up a wall and taught myself not to care about (I’m so it won’t hurt me but now I’m stuck because kids want us to be a family and I do not know how. I feel like secretly contactiNg a old friend of mine just to have conversation here and there with opposite sex and be able to laugh sometimes. I do pray a lot as well. Help please.

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My son had a very difficult traumatic experience in a small private school in kindergarten. We pulled him out in Feb of his Kindergarten year and started homeschooling.

We got several Dx from several doctors stating profoundly gifted/Quirky.....our last Dx was Twice Exceptional. (Profoundly gifted-with learning differences in dyslexia dysgraphia and executive functions...it might of stated processing delay, I can’t fully recall.

Everything that describes HFA he does...to some degree...I really don’t see much difference between 2e and HFA.

He is now 14 and starting to show signs of depression, isolation, lack of motivation.

We have decided to enroll him in public high school for the fall.

He says he is very nervous but also excited at the possibility of making new friends.

I have been his teacher for the past 9 years. He will need some accommodations in the areas of timed testing (causes anxiety and blank mind) He will also need organizational / executive functioning skill help, ideally very little to no homework would  be nice, as the whole high school day might be stimulating enough and honestly candidly we are more concerned with integrating over academics at this point.

Can you please help me plan out what accommodations I ought to ask for to set him up for success in high school?

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So here’s my story. My fianc├ę and I met September 2018. Everything was so great I knew he has aspbergers but that didn’t bother me. He also has 2 children , didn’t bother me. We got engaged in December and I moved in fully in January 2019. Everything from there is when i have been noticing his asperger traits coming out. He puts me down jokingly it doesn’t bother me anymore.. he has outbreaks of anger when he’s overwhelmed (not toward me unless I hound or confront him) and I haven’t been the best I can be for him. I get mad and yell at him when he can’t understand me, I get depressed emotional and I just don’t know how to react I’m still learning. Beginning of March I caught him txting a girl (some random girl he had a thing with nothin serious) I didn’t get to read or explore I just didn’t want to know anything . After he asked me to come back he explained that his sister knows her and the girl has just been talking about him and kept trying to reach out so he did. He said it didn’t feel right and that he would never do it again and that he knows they will never work out. He was just curious as to why she would keep saying things and wanting to talk to him. so I am absolutely terrified. He’s explained to me he wouldn’t ever cheat and it’s not his intention.He always always shows me affection and we have a sex life he isn’t really distant other than not txting me as much during work (as I say he is comfortable enough he doesn’t need to blow me up anymore ) but me being me I keep constantly bringing this girl up because of what happened I never got a full answer and as I know now he can’t really explain or express anything . He doesn’t know why he did it he says. ­čś×since then he has unblocked her on fb once but (she has him blocked from messaging her) and he knows I always check to see if it’s unblocked and he stated he did it to piss me off because I started screaming at him so I am trying to stop getting mad at him and stop fighting over stupid things ... I really want to believe this isn’t going to happen again. He hasn’t talked to her or unblocked her he did open up and tell me he was just upset and thought I was done.. I know my best friends husband has aspbergers and she keeps telling me I need to lay off just let it go and let it be or I will push him away. He has never once told me to leave him he is always always affectionate there hasn’t been anything weird or distant other than when we have disagreements. She feels I am pushing him away by not letting the little things go ­čś×and I want to learn to be his PEACE but I also don’t want him to want someone else. He has not ever once said he didn’t want me he never once has not spent a day with me since September we have gotten through so many obstacles AS A COUPLE and he knows it he always says I love you. I just need some advice on what to do. What to say what not to say and to see how to go about going forward.

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Our 13 year old son has just been diagnosed as an Asperger’s teen after having a psychological exam (WISC-V). His school recommended he get tested after several behavioral issues at school. The examined revealed he is “twice exceptional.” We always knew our son was quite intelligent, but had not noticed anything unusual in his earlier years. It was not until middle-school his behavioral issues surfaced.

I am looking for suggestions on how we tell our son about his condition. The psychologist apparently did not explain anything to him. I asked my son if the psychologist explained or told him anything about Asperger’s, to which he replied “no.”

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Hi Mr. Hutton,

I'm intrigued and interested in your work and ebook, as we have a 19 year old still at home that we've been trying to motivate to move forward in life.

Our challenge might be a little different though, and so I'm checking in to see if your methods are the right fit.

We've been facing some pretty intense challenges around his being targeted by an online cult, and the experts on this tell us that as long as he is still with us and hasn't gone to
be with the cult, we still have a chance to undo the brainwashing they've done to him.

It has been a terrifying two years, and we're treading very carefully.  We've helped him get a car so that he will begin looking for a job, and he has verrrry slowly applied to two at this point.  He has one interview with a crime scene clean up company...which in and of itself is something we cannot imagine him doing, but he's dead set on it.

So, while we want to encourage the life skills and the independence, we don't want to alienate him so that he moves towards this dangerous cult and leaves to be more enmeshed with them.

My question to you is, have you encountered anything like this before, and also, do you think your ebook can still help us without alienating him and potentially risking him getting more deeply enmeshed in this potentially life-threatening group?

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My HFA child is seven. For the past few years, we have had fun encouraging his obsessions or special interest due to the positive nature and results it brings. When he wanted to know everything in the world about dinosaurs, it was fun to read tons of books from the library and watch him impress people with his knowledge of different species.
Recently, however, he has started to obsess over violence. He is constantly asking me questions about movies he isn't allowed to watch, like Deadpool, Venom, or Chucky, and drawing pictures of villains. At first, I would answer him by saying things like, "Deadpool curses and we don't want you hearing those words." or "Chucky hurts people and seeing that doesn't make me feel good." But I notice he is asking me how Chucky hurts people or if Deadpool shoots people. He wants specific details. I don't want to lie and I want to help him face these fears, but I am reluctant to answer many of these questions.
I know he has heard of these sorts of characters at school and I suspect he is obsessing because he is anxious about their actions and/or wants to be able to talk to his peers about them when they bring it up as a way of socializing. He has never seen Deadpool or Venom or Chucky, and yet I notice him asking kids he has never met in the grocery store or other social situations if they have seen it. When they answer yes, he starts drilling them to find out all the details of the movie. If they answer no, he immediately tells them that Deadpool kills people or venom eats people. He doesn't see that this scares them or why it's bad to get a scared response.
As I said, in the past, we have dealt with his special interest by finding a way to use it to socialize or make it positive. How can I do that here? How can I relieve his anxiety and answer his questions without making him seem violent to others or encouraging him to focus on violence?
I don't want to give him the gory details of our violent culture but I don't want to leave him in the dark to deal on his own. How do I talk to him about this?
Your website and videos have been so helpful in the past and I have scoured the internet looking for the answers but this time I can't find it. Please help me by answer this for myself and other parents in the same situation.

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Hello Mark,

Our son graduated high school last spring with an over all GPA of 3.7.  He was MVP of the year in soccer his junior year. From anyone looking in from the outside, no one would ever know he had once been diagnosed with ASD. He was ‘recovered’ with intense biomedical intervention by age 8. But still had problems making friends. He is the youngest of 4 sons.  He got very sick last year and was unable to start college. We got that figured out finally, but as he started getting well, this spring, getting ready to sign up for college, he suddenly became super depressed, stopped taking the supplements that were helping him, etc I think you get the picture. This is not the first time that change caused him to hit a brick wall, but we forced him to do it and he got through it, but it was aweful. His first major brick wall was going to a new school in 9th grade (his brothers were there). Then me forcing him to go to soccer camp for a week the summer before his junior year because I felt he needed that experience away in that type of situation. Our other sons had all done 4 h camps, traveled with other various groups like kids and teenagers do, but Zack had always flat our refused to do anything like that, and I felt that in the end, it would help him. We thought he was over that, but now seeing what we are, I finally have understood that he is sabotaging his ability to get well because his once again, terrified of the change of going to college where he does not know anyone and it is the ‘new’ situation.  He does not live with us, we have a house near campus we bought that our others sons have all lived in. 2 still live there, but one just graduated college and will be out soon. The other son still there will probably be out by the end of summer.  Zack wants to come home, we don’t live that far, 10 miles. But part of what made him sick is a mold problem we have in our home and we don’t want him back in here in the mold and  as of right now, we don’t have the money to remediate, we are hoping to by the fall, have the money that is. But we still don’t want him to live with us, we want him to be in college, getting on with his life.  We need someone to help him find a way to make this transition. I don’t know that it is us that can.

I know you don’t know us, or our son, but we are at a loss and broke.  Our son has an appointment with a counselor tomorrow, but now I am not so sure I have pick the right counselor for him to see. I think the most important part as of this moment is for our son to even admit that it is his fear of the ‘new’ that is the problem, not this new imagined thing he has that has stopped him in his tracks and he has said he can’t go forward in life.

Any advice you can give us at this point is greatly appreciated.

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Mark,

I’ve have learned a lot from the sharing of your insights and clips of seminars. 

My husband, Scott, and I have been married 21 years, and all the pieces came together recently that I believe he is HFA.  He joked about taking a test at the end of last year that scored him on the spectrum.  After a series of signs, I finally began investing if he may be.  When I finally did, I couldn’t believe ther the wife’s experiences I read could have easily been written by me.  Best way to explain it is “grief-relief.”

I shared my belief about him possibly having HFA, and gratefully he was receptive and agreed.  It has been a bittersweet journey and am proud to say we’ve survived prior to putting a name on it. 

We met when we were both around 26 and married around 30.  God blessed us with an amazing daughter...now 14...that reminds me of why we are together and will continue to be. 

What are the next steps to beginning counseling?   You reference $49.00 to be paid at some point.  Is this the fee per 30 minute session?   Just want to know so can budget.

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Dear Mark,
I am a psychotherapist and I specialise in NT/Aspergers relationships, breakdowns and high conflict divorce as part of my work.
I have found your work very useful over the years when assisting clients. I would like to professionally chat to you at some point to share experiences of dealing with NT spouses and the fall out after divorce and separation on both parties. Your insight as to the empathy we have to have with aspergers adults and NT adults alike is so true and this compassionate stance is one that I also adopt. It is healing for all.
Apart from the professional growth that we both might benefit from, it would be useful to have a link in America and Australia where clients bight be referred to. Apart from getting help from someone closer to home, the international time barrier is an issue for me as I work in the UK.
I would also like very much to site, in full, a reference to an article that you have written, about the intricacies of parenting with an aspergers adult found on the Neurotypical site.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,
Sarah Morris

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Mr. Hutten,
My son is 13 and  he was diagnosed with Asperger at age 6 by specialists.  His school however re-evaluated him and admitted him to to their  special ed as “emotionally disturbed”. For 6 years I believed that he was just that. Last year though, Sam, my son, showed me what he had just researched online, and read aloud all Asperger symptoms to me. Then he said “check” after almost every single one he had read. From then on, it  all started making sense. Now, the school wants him to go to a Neuro-Psychologist for another evaluation, because they can not correct their own diagnosis from  7 years ago. I am really disappointed because, based on what my son tells me, they are just clueless as to how to help him.
They make him feel like he was under an ongoing investigation, keep track of  his meltdowns and “alarming” behaviors. Blow things out of proportion to the point that my son feels like a “suspect” at the  school. They often  call him out of a  class in front of other kids to go to the Counseling.  In counseling he doesn’t feel comfortable because all they do is pick on his wrong doing or disturbing dreams or the violent drawings he makes. He started drawing pictures on his assignments papers that teachers found disturbing. Now they are calling on another PPT meeting. They have those goals and plans and schedules that don’t help. Sam feels isolated  and misunderstood. All he  wants is to avoid the  noise and chaos and be understood.
His father refuses to have him go thru another of those evaluations, he just wants the kid to be left alone, and give him room to just grow and mature. He doesn’t want to believe that his son is autistic. I just want to help my son but don’t know how and where to go for advise. I am surprised that I can’t find anyone who can relate to our situation and help. That’s why when i found your website it was like a god sent. I hope you will get this email and be able to let me know what do you think I should do to help Sam.

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I'm mother of four. The eldest is 21, Asperger's, adhd, dyspraxia and tourettes -some verbal, some motor tics. Jack is "complex" he's come out as bisexual and is now dressing as a male with fake boobs and girlie clothes. Shaving plucking preening is his daily task. Now we are pretty open minded parents bit our Jack is still very vunerable but doesn't seem to understand how as he is very nieve. How much do we allow him to preen and prime himself for his "night out". And at what point do we intervene? It's a confusing time for us. As although Jack is 21, he's much younger when it comes to the real world. Is this something u could help us with??

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I’ve been in the FB group for women with ASD men for a few months. I feel like I have a very solid understanding of ASD, my husband, and my situation. However, this evening I decided it might be worthwhile to get a “second opinion” (my opinion being the first. There’s a lot that makes sense to include, and a lot that’s relevant, but I don’t want to be up all night, and I assume you want to have a life, so I’ll try to distill it to what’s really key, then we can communicate further as needed.

In a nutshell, the question to consider is whether my husband can be persuaded to re-engage with me (and ideally a therapist) regarding the relationship.

I’ll start with the basic data:

My husband (Pushkar): 43, born and raised in India, moved to Germany, then the US. Recently naturalized. Software engineer turned MBA. Undiagnosed ASD. He’s very good at masking in most situations, to the point where even he isn’t aware that he’s doing it. To me, it’s absolutely undeniable.

Me (Jennifer): 40, born and raised in Dallas, went east for college, west for grad school, then parked it in California for many years working as an environmental geologist. Previously married, but no kids with my first husband. Potentially relevant is that I have a hx of treatment-resistant MDD, and I have chronic migraines. My last bout with MDD occurred in 2017, and was largely triggered by long-term stress of being the sole caretaker of the girls, the older of whom is autistic. Pushkar is largely checked out.

Child 1 (Rita): 7, ASD, VERY VERY ADHD, GAD, starting 2nd grade in a few weeks. Mainstreamed in public school, very bright, but has significant self-care deficits (not toilet trained, can’t eat — tube fed), and almost nil executive function. Restrictive/repetitive behavior and speech is pronounced, particularly perseverative speech. Of course, social skills are lacking. Meds are on board but nowhere near adequate. It’s a work in progress.

Child 2 (Leela): 4.5, NT, significant anxiety but no diagnosis, will be starting preK in a few weeks.

Pushkar and I met in late 2010, started dating 1/1/2011, got married 11/10/11, Rita was born 3/20/12, and Leela was born 10/24/14. You could say the relationship moved very quickly.

There was a time when I told Pushkar I was moving out with the girls. He said the one thing that could change my mind: he wanted to try counseling. He had previously declared he would not go to a therapist under any circumstances. I had asked him to go to therapy only weeks before, and he declined. When he realized he was losing his family, he changed his tune.

Therapy wasn’t that helpful. However, a month or two in, Pushkar finally started to get his head around Rita’s ASD diagnosis (one year later). He asked me how autism is defined, so I showed him the DSM-5 criteria for ASD. He read them, looked up, and said, “this is me.” No kidding. That’s what saved the marriage. From that point onward, we could explicitly address our different neurologies and work on issues in those terms. Since our daughter’s diagnosis, I’ve been doing my best to educate myself on all things autism, relying heavily on perspective taking (ironic, I know). I’ve read quite a few books by people with ASD to help me understand the experience. I also spent time working with and being trained by therapists and reading books about teaching relevant skills. I was able to apply the lessons I learned for Rita to Pushkar.

After making some phone calls, I found that having him formally evaluated wasn’t worthwhile. However, he did start working on social with Michelle Garcia-Winner.

I hit my rough patch. It was a tough time. Couples therapy and social therapy for Pushkar stopped. We moved from California to Dallas, where my family is. We didn’t have a support network in CA. Eventually I got back to a good place mentally, and stayed there.

At one point I asked Pushkar to return to counseling together, and to arrange to continue working with Michelle. I don’t recall what exactly prompted me to make that request.

Well, counseling wasn’t helpful, and after one meeting with Michelle he decided he didn’t see the point in social. He told me that he was not autistic after all. He had been mistaken. There are no problems in the relationship. The only problems exist in my perception. He would do no further work on the relationship, and he would not do anything more with therapists.

To me, that was the end of the relationship. He told me he wouldn’t put any further effort into it. If one person refuses to participate in a relationship, it isn’t a relationship. I realize he doesn’t understand it that way.

As it stands, I’m stuck in a holding pattern. I have a roommate, not a husband. I can’t leave and take care of Rita as she needs. Mostly, it’s tolerable, but it’s just trying to coexist, mostly. He isn’t a bad person, just uninvolved.

I’m quite certain that he meant it when he said no more effort, not autistic, no more therapy. One of my first efforts after that was to try to be clear that autistic means different, but not lesser or flawed. If an autistic person is lesser than a NT person, Rita would be lesser than Leela. That isn’t the case. Both kids are equally wonderful. They’re just each wonderful in her own way. It didn’t help.

I’ve basically given up at this point. At the same time, I still live with him, and it’s the only semblance of a relationship I can have, with our being married. Maybe it would be worth trying if I could convince him to come to the table. I don’t see a way to do that.

Thoughts?

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Good Evening Mr.Hutten,
My name is Angela. I saw your website and wanted to contact you.  I am a mom to two boys.  My one son is a 17 year old boy starting college in three weeks.  We have never had difficulty with him.  My younger son, however, has been difficult since he was two years old.  He is 14 years old, and has been very disrespectful to us as well some teachers at school.. He has been seeing a counselor since he was 10.   He is a very social young man with many friends.  We have had an ongoing (2 year) argument over the issue of a curfew.  We have a set curfew for him, during the school year week days he must be home by 9, and 10 on the weekends.  In the summer, we gave him a curfew of 10 on weekdays and 11:30 on weekends.  This however, is not good enough.  He has now begun to sneak out of the house.  He has been caught twice; once he was brought home by the police at 3:30 (he a his friends were riding their bikes on a main road), the other time he was caught coming in at 3.  We have grounded him, taken away his phone and video games.  He was complaint the first time he got caught and we thought this would not be an ongoing issue.  We were, of course, wrong.  I know it sounds like a clich├ę but we are at our wits end!!  We just don't know what to do.  We have resulted to adding door alarms and motion detectors in our home to keep him home.  Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Dear Mr. Hutten:

I'm a 71 year old man who was diagnosed with Aspergers just 5 years ago.  After 15 years of counseling (with many psychologist/therapists) and many drugs for social anxiety, stress, depression, etc... I finally know why I am the way I am and why the therapies and drugs didn't work.

This condition explains why I've lost multiple jobs and have been rejected by so many people (including "so called" friends)  My wife of 31 years finally gave up on me and divorced me in 2007 after our children grew up and left the house.  My 3 adult children abandoned me as well.

After being able to keep my last job for 11 years I was "retired" last year.  Although I hated the social aspects of the job (I was in marketing!!!), I was able to keep going emotionally by staying busy and having a good income.  Now I can't get a new job and just sit around getting more depressed with each day.  Suicide is looking like more of a solution every day.

My two younger children finally contacted me several months ago and wanted a "positive" re-connection.  I wanted them to know about my diagnosis and how Aspergers made me a lousy husband and father.  I sent many of your (and other therapists you tube videos) to them hoping they would help understand and accept me as I am.  It hasn't worked as I hoped.  I doubt that they even viewed them or don't understand that Aspergers applies to me. They still avoid me.

Right now I'm trying to find a local therapist who understands Aspergers in adults and can help me strongly get a real relationship with my children.  Most of the ones I've contacted only deal with children and very young adults.

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My granddaughter "C15" came to live with me when her mother's boyfriend became physically abusive a year ago. CPS opened a case, but determined that the family could handle it. No, we can't. C15 has had counseling and professional help, but this has only made her more like an OCC kid. She seems stuck in her pain.Yesterday violent language became destructive acts, things were broken, she injured her hand striking the door. We called the cops, and I took her to the ER. How do we defuse this? It seems we may need to file something like a PIN, and her mother wants her to be placed in a group home. C15 has expanded her opposition to everyone in our "toxic" family, and became violent when I told her she could not live with her new boyfriend and his roommates. She wants us to just not report her as runaway, because the legalities and parental responsibilities are only a problem for us. She can handle this herself. After all, we don't really want her a t home a nyway.

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My son is 16, a high school junior, super bright, loved by teachers and all adults, and liked by his peers though he stopped really socializing in middle school (except a little through Minecraft and Pokemon Go). Though he is not athletic and is 99% focused on computers (developing games more than playing them), he is a Boy Scout and looks forward to a weeklong summer camp every year. That, and campouts during the year, is really his only outdoor activity, and we are so grateful for it. He had a very difficult time in middle school, driven mostly by his sensitivity to the structure and his own restrictions about how things should be, for example insisting that he had to get 100% on everything or be 2 minutes early for class – anything else was a failure. He developed a lot of OCD traits in an effort to be able to control something. It was one of those situations where he held it all together in class and was highly regarded, but lost it at home. It eventually led to a psychological evaluation and placement in a new alternative high school program that offers high level academics in a less overwhelming setting. He takes medication for anxiety and depression which I would love to get him off of.

He has been diagnosed with Aspergers by some professionals, though he is not a clear case (is anyone?). His main traits are discomfort with his physical self, rigid thinking, and hyperfocus on his interest. He is not especially socially awkward, though he is shy. He is empathetic, understands social cues for the most part, behaves appropriately in social situations, makes eye contact, etc. In our initial psychological evaluation the Dr said he did not have Aspergers but he was on a superior intelligence scale that created some behaviors that mimicked Aspergers.  We haven’t shared this diagnosis with him explicitly because we don’t want him to grab on to a label, and many of the traits do not describe him.

Anyway, the issue is that he is brilliant but has no desire to go to college, work, or plan for an independent future. He is gifted at computer programming and game development, as well as other skills like teaching and analysis, but he does not see any reason he should ever have a job. He believes wholeheartedly that his current “hobby” (my word, not his) developing games for a small online community that shares games made using pieces of other trademarked games (which therefore cannot be sold) is his sole purpose in life.  We have talked ad nauseum about many educational opportunities beyond a 4-year college and have no issues with him pursuing a degree online, commuting to a local private or community college, going to a trade school etc. We also emphasize that opportunities abound for jobs beyond a traditional 9 to 5 desk job. We talk about the benefits of independence and supporting himself, etc. He has no desire to leave our house and has been resistant of any moves towards independence including driving, puberty/relationships, or showing any competence through chores.

I’m sure we have indulged him too much, not requiring much of him beyond going to school, but he’s 16 so it’s hard to push him to work etc . We have seen some changes come over time, very slow maturing, but it does happen. Punishments are difficult – he doesn’t have much he wants/needs and if we cut out electronics, it turns into a pointless war, and frankly, that is where he finds his talents, identity, and some online friends. We just try to provide some alternate experiences but there isn’t much he likes to do. When we talk about supporting himself someday, he goes right to the worst case worried that we will throw him out to a point that the conversation becomes fruitless.  We lean on outside forces for encouragement as much as possible as he is more likely to act on another’s request than ours, but his response to others is starting to dwindle too. 

While a lot sounds like an average spoiled entitled teen, I really don’t believe that is his intent. With his rigid thinking, he just sees something as he sees it and cannot consider an alternative. Our discussions are so frustrating because they don’t move him at all, and even when he is anxious about something and is able to get through a situation without that anxiety coming to fruition, he doesn’t learn from it, just holds the same anxious thoughts. His therapist is having difficulty seeing much significant change as well.

Do you have any thoughts on how to spur some motivation in him, or help him at least envision a future? The worst part is he really doesn’t see much of a purpose in life, not in a depressed way, but just blind to it. Part of me thinks he’s just behind emotionally and will eventually mature into it, but the other part does not want to be a hands-on mom forever. (He has a younger sister that is influenced by this as well).

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we are experiencing a family crisis situation with my 15 year old son, Ben, who was asked to leave our home and stay with his grandparents for a few nights after being verbally abusive - but refuses to come back home after 10 days. I'm sorry if you have covered this situation in your materials, but I did a search on your site and was unable to find advice about teens that won't return home. It makes it very difficult to implement your strategies
A little background:
We had just received feedback on a psychological assessment done on Ben, and he had not been diagnosed with ODD, but rather GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) which presents itself with irritability and acting out behaviours at home. But your descriptions seemed to fit Ben perfectly, so I decided to purchase your resource in the hopes it can change our family dynamic.
I am the stricter parent who sets lots of limits (without the poker face), and my husband is more of a conflict avoider - but we try to work together within a family contract  to set guidelines for Ben. Ben resents me and hate restrictions, and has always been more bonded to my husband. To be fair, I probably am too critical.
In the last month, Ben has destroyed some property (a lock box, smashed with hammer) and last week was very verbally abusive to me when I suggested he take a break from his screens (after 5 hours in a row) and come and eat and tidy up his mess. This type of behaviour had been building over time, and I was fed up with his emotional explosions. I asked Ben to leave the house and stay with his grandparents (they live next door and he gets along with them well) for a few nights. Typically in the past, Ben will take a while and then apologize and we can move on. But this is the first time that I have asked him to leave the house, and he initially refused as he didn't want me to 'win'. But now Ben has been staying at his grandparents, mostly just sleeping overnight, for 10 days, and refuses to talk to me or come home to live with us. He will come home and visit with my husband during the day (my husband is a farmer) when I am at work, and has been enjoying a hassle free time at his grandparents, and he also works part time - but he is stubbornly refusing to come home to live. My husband gives him rides to and from work, and he has been eating here during the day and picking up more clothes when I'm gone to work.
Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this situation? I feel awful that my family is fractured, and would really like to try your suggestions, but I'm not sure whether we should be pressuring Ben to come home so we can try to work on our family relationships. 

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Hello,
By Grace, I found your video on Youtube.  My name is Naomi and I suspect my partner is on the Autism spectrum, possibly affected mildly by Asperger's.  Since being together there has always been something not quite right, though I cannot put my finger on what exactly the issue is. We have been through many counselors, but not much has changed pertaining to our ongoing issues. He seems to not be able to understand my needs and may be unable to meet them. He is very easily overwhelmed, and he continually tells me “you are stressing me out”.  I cannot talk to him about important or significant things. It seems to rarely be a good time on his part for us to talk, and he seems to bail out of the conservation or become enraged. One previous counselor stated that my partner has a “personality disorder” and recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  However, my husband does not see an issue with himself and did not follow through with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, he agreed at first, then declined after we left the counselor’s office.  He tells me “I’m different” , “I’m sensitive” , “ don’t try to change me”.  I have been emotionally scared and emotionally separated from my partner for years. We are now separated, yet we talk to each other mostly every day. If our issues could become better, I would rather stay with him than to start over with someone else.  We have been in each other’s lives for close to 16 years.  Throughout all this time, I have been praying and hoping that we can communicate better and that our relationship would be better. I have been the one to seek help through all the different counselors but now, I am financially and emotionally drained. I am beginning to let go. I don’t really want to let go, but I need to have a safe and emotionally stable relationship - a good environment for myself and  future children. I would have liked to have already started a family instead of holding out waiting for so many years  for things to get better with us.  Now after close to 16 years, I don’t want to wait in vain any longer. I am thinking with my head now instead of my emotions.  I may be running out of time for things to be better between us. However, seeing your video gave me some hope and interest to reach out to you.  Can you please tell me about how your sessions work, cost etc…

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Hi Mark,
I am an NT wife married to a man who I just realized is on the spectrum...I was about to leave him and move out. I had consulted with an attorney about divorce. Yesterday I  bought your book (which I have not even read yet!) and I listened to your audios..and I feel like my eyes have been opened! I thought my husband was ignoring me on purpose and just being a jerk on purpose...and now I see that he truly is mind blind and is not doing this to hurt me! I had him take a quiz on line (Online Alexithymia test) about mind blindness and was blown away by his answers to the questions and the results.  I told him last night that I am not going to move out after all, and want to stay and work on my resentment and try to be more understanding.

I have a question...your page said that parts 1-3 are excerpts of a 4 hour presentation.  Is the rest of the presentation available also?  I have learned so much from parts 1-3 and want to learn even more.

Thank you so much for what you do!

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I have a question about my 16 hear old son. I'm at the end of the 2nd week of assignments. I know I'm supposed to wait till I've read the whole book but I need to know how to handle a certain situation.
Last night I gave my son a whole list of possible chores and told him to choose 5 for the week. (He doesn't presently do any) He refused and we had a huge fight. I kept very calm and didn't rise to his provocations.
He threatened to move in with one of his married sisters and I said that's fine, but no one's kicking you out. It's your choice.
In the end, he backed off of moving out.
My question is this, he has a couple thousand dollars in cash in my safe. He insisted that I take it out and give it to him, because the consequence of not doing any chores is that he won't get his allowance anymore. So he wants that savings money for his expenses. (I didn't take it out, I said I would do it today)
My husband thinks it's a huge mistake to give it to him. He feels that if my son ever gets mad enough to break something, we'll have his money to cover the cost. In the other hand, WWII is likely to break out if I don't give him his money that he worked for.
What should I do?

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Hi Mark, I am a member of your team, who got waylaid and disconnected from you for a while. I used your "out-of-control-teen" program at the time. My son is now a good and talented young man, who is writing and recording his own music. That said, he is having difficulty "launching". It seems to me he lacks confidence. I do have problems not worrying about his language processing difficulties, and learning disabilities. We are older retired parents, and need some coaching. I also believe my son needs a mentor in his music and career goals. Thanks for all you do.

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Hi Mark,

I have recently been told by a PSYD that I am on the autism spectrum.  I am waiting for her report and, of course, doing a deep dive into Aspergers/HFA.  What I have learned so far deeply resonates with my life experience. 

I'm 55 and have been married for almost 32 years.  I have damaged my marraige severely and want to save it.  My wife is willing to do Skype counseling with you and me if possible.  Now that I understand what I have I can deal with it as a whole and also get some understanding from my spouse.

I have a nephew with autism and possibly a second nephew.  My siblings and I suspect my father had Asberger's.  I have similar characteristics to him.  I am even wondering if my mother had it, too.

People have been upset with or vindictive to me in work situations and I don't know why because I purposely try not to offend people.  The latest blow to my being was being laid off a week after my award winning plant-based drinkable yogurts were debutted.  It send me into a deep depression which I am slowly climbing out of.

Please let me know if you can help our marraige.

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Hello Mark,

I am the wife of an undiagnosed HFA husband.
The key is undiagnosed. I don't even know how to bring it up, as the three times I've dared say anything related to Aspergers, it has been a huge fight. He gets very defensive and then starts saying hurtful things to me.

I am at my wits end and our marriage is hanging by a thread. He finally agreed to counseling, which is great. I'm having a very challenging time finding a counselor who is well-versed with ASD/HFA because the other four counselors' (three of which I saw solo) advice has made things worse. I really need someone who can give appropriate advice, as I am trying to save this marriage (just three years). And also someone who can find his motivation for change, as he will agree to things in theory but not apply it (we had counseling prior to getting married and he did go but really didn’t apply anything).

We are not at the same location for the time being. It's not relationship-based; just good timing for me to help out family and such.

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Hi Mark,
My son and I got into it about him needing to wash his dirty dishes before I took him to the mall yesterday. He refused. I stayed calm and poker faced and let him vent, but I stood my ground on the consequence, which was not being able to go shopping.
I went out for a few hours and when I came back I realized he was gone. I called around and found he had taken a taxi to his married sister. He slept there last night and went to school from there. I texted him that I love him and that I'm glad he has a safe place to cool off, but that he nerds to let me know where he's going. No answer.
He went back to her from school tonight. My daughter thinks I should go over and talk to him, but I feel it's just going to give him the impression that he's in control again. I asked her to let him know that, although he's welcome to visit now and again, he really needs to go home and work things out.
What should I do? Was I right or wrong in how I handled it? What's my next step?


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Dear Mark,

My sister, who is nurse, and passed along a link to your website in hopes that I may be able to read some of your E-books; she feels that my 19-year-old daughter may possibly be in the ASD/HFA spectrum.

Are you still selling the E-Books? Since there aren't dates on your website, I wasn't certain, so I wanted to reach out to make sure before I give out any credit card number to anyone or company.

Would your E-Book, Parenting Children & Teens with HFA help me to identify if my 19 yr old daughter is in the HFA category? Diagnosed with ADHD/Inattentive/ Mild Dyslexia (from comprehension and phonemic perspective),and Anxiety, she's always had difficulties in school since 3rd grade. Reading Comprehension, Remembering and Testing was always very hard for her, as was Social Cues/ Interaction with children her own age. She was bullied a lot (unbeknownst to me for a long time--so much for the kindness in Catholic grade school!) which she confided to me years later and is likely why her self esteem is so low. She tends to withdraw rather than deal with what she may feel is a chance of rejection as she is super sensitive. ( I was told this may be a "Rejection Senstivity Dysphoria" by one psychologist; however, it seems to be a common trait for both ADHD and ASD kids?)

What I didn't realize until perusing your website (a lightbulb went off in my mind) was how her much her sensory functions were affected and how this is also common in those teens with ASD...lights are too bright, sounds are too loud, doesn't like showers they bother her, etc ...I'm wondering if her ADHD really is ADHD, or if perhaps it's Aspergers or a combo of both? Does one need to be tested per say to get this diagnosis? (The Aspie is all new to me but she has several traits that overlap.) 

Along those same lines, she doesn't seem to have many interests and does not connect with the few close friends she has. She doesn't act depressed as her spirits are actually decent (she's on antidepressants as well as Vyvanse for the ADHD), but just doesn't seem to care or is apathetic if she interacts with anyone at all (including my husband and I.) She seems to be using an "avoidance" as a mechanism for everyone and everything as she doesn't want to hear about her issues (we annoy her it seems) and I'm wondering if this too, is common with ASD, and if so, is this discussed in your book? Or in your Teaching Social Skills/Emotional Management Ebook?

What complicates things is that she has dealt with a chronic medical condition (IBS-C & chronic anemia) but was able to function with that and school in the past. She did graduate from high school. But this year, sophomore year at our local community college, she just dropped out because she said she just "can't do school" it anymore, is exhausted/tired all the time (even with the iron meds)and was very very anxious. My husband and I will be bringing her to a few new doctors to see if we can better assess what's really going on with her, from a physical and mental health perspective. However, I can't help but wonder if the college aversion and /or avoidance is common on the ASD spectrum? While her medical condition is a factor, is it possible that this avoidance/aversion to school and people is also due to ASD/HFA? Is this commonplace?

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Hello, I am stuck here and am having trouble with process this. My husband has a hard time accepting constructive Critism. He will make excuses and blame anyone and everyone instead of taking responsibility. I could record him or even show photographic proof of a habit he has that is unproductive and hurting his family or something I’d like and have proof he will still find a reason to blame anyone but himself. Is this a aspergers struggle or is he using manipualtion?

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I found your information regarding Neurodiverse couples online. My husband is 50 years old and Was informally diagnosed with HFA in July of this year.  He readily accepts the diagnosis and was somewhat relieved to know that his behaviors/experiences has a name but we are having issues as a couple and he is t really doing anything to learn more about the problem.  Do you do online counseling or is it more of a coaching strategy? We need practical help as HFA has wreaked havoc on our relationship as well as therapeutic intervention as I believe I am resisting the work it takes to make this relationship succeed (eg I am falling into old communication patterns).
Any direction is appreciated.

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Dear Mr. Hutten, I have bought several of your books and read your articles on the computer. In fact I have been following you for years and appreciate your expertise. My daughter and her husband adopted two babies from Kazhastan who are now 13 and 16. The 16 year old is doing fine and the 13 year old has aspergers. My daughter and her husband are both teachers and keep up the best they can with any new information that would help their 13 year old son who is the love or their life ( along with his brother) and also greatly loved by his grandparents.

I am thinking they may need some help from you in the near future and I wonder if you would mind telling me how much your Skype sessions cost. I'm thinking they would need probably at least 6. I may be able to help with the cost of the sessions if I set money aside and made it available to them.  Thanks for any information you can provide.

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I have been in a relationship with an aspie man for almost three years now. He knows he’s different but not that he has aspergers.

I have read almost 30 books on this and watched/listened to countless videos, podcasts etc and even had a few visits to a specialist autistic psych. This was all in order to learn about the condition and how to better our relationship and communications.

Over time he has made so many conditional rules about our relationship I now wonder if he even loves me or wants to be with me at all.

I am not allowed to see him Monday to Thursday because these are ‘work days’. We used to see each other on weekends but about 18 mths ago he said he needed to get chores done and couldn’t see me on Friday nights or Saturday. Then in feb this year, his 16 year old daughter and her 21 year old boyfriend moved in with him full time and when this happened he said he wanted them to settle in so I couldn’t come to the house.

I have seen him about 6-8 times in 12 mths.  He also doesn’t like talking on the phone and hardly texts me (his preferred method of communicating) compared to what he used to.

I asked him about a month ago what I was to him and he said - well, someone I want to be with for the rest of my life. But, his actions don’t match those words at all. I am a very independent woman and definitely not needy but I do need some connection.

I seem to be someone he contacts when he needs advice or help and that’s about it. His kids ask why I don’t come to the house anymore.

I realise he has a lot of priorities but I never seem to be one of those even for some of the time. I feel like I am on a different planet to him and he is not letting me into his world.

We have never talked about getting married. We don’t live together. We haven’t even spent a weekend away because he always has an excuse.

I love him dearly but I feel like I am just having a relationship with myself and I am completely invisible to him.

Is there anything you could recommend I do to help us communicate and for him to actually realise I am alive and a person who occasionally needs a chat and a hug?

Would appreciate any guideance you may have. I have read your book Living with and aspergers partner and watched your YouTube videos.

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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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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to read the full article...

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