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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Coaching Group for Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Are you having relationship problems with your partner with ASD? Are you on the spectrum and struggle to meet your "neurotypical" partner's needs or expectations? Has separation or divorce crossed your mind several times? Then please consider joining our coaching group: 

Instructional Videos for Parents of Troubled Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum



What mom or dad doesn't watch their "tween" become a teenager without a twinge of anxiety? Factor autism into the equation, and you may well wonder how physical and hormonal changes will affect your son or daughter. 

What will it be like traversing the social minefield of high school for a young person who has a social disability? How will typical teenage rebellion look in someone who struggles with behavioral control?


Dealing with "Out-of-Control" Children on the Autism Spectrum

"I need some strategies for dealing with an out of control 7 y.o. boy with autism [high functioning]!"

Moms and dads often ask how to deal with and help the Aspergers or high functioning autistic (HFA) youngster that seems to be out of control. How do you control or manage the youngster that intimidates, hits, punches and seems to enjoy torturing their siblings? What do you do with the youngster that argues, is defiant, and refuses to participate or follow directions can be difficult to live with and can create disharmony within the household?

Some moms and dads are at a loss as to what to do and where to go for help. They watch as their family life falls apart around them. They feel helpless as the defiant youngster controls the household. Moms and dads argue with each other about what to do. Some moms and dads may be afraid to go for help. They might feel that poor parenting skills have caused the problems or that they have failed as parents. Often one parent will blame the other for being too easy and letting the youngster get away with poor behavior and the other parent will feel as if the other is too harsh. It is possible for moms and dads to take control of the situation and help their youngster and their family. But it is hard work and many times a long road.

Believe In Yourself. Moms and dads know their children better than anyone. They see their potential, they see their strengths and they see their weaknesses. A teacher sees your youngster every day, but only in a certain location. They do not share the same history as a parent and an Aspergers or HFA youngster. You may become frustrated watching your youngster misbehave, but you have also seen your youngster sit quietly next to you on the couch and read a book. You see both the good and the bad in your youngster, and sometimes it can be confusing. Believe in your assessment of the situation. If you see something wrong, and you feel as if there is some unknown cause behind the bad behavior, seek help. Believe in yourself as a parent.

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

Disengage Yourself From Power Struggles At Home. This is probably the most difficult to accomplish. With kids that are defiant, it is common for the youngster and parent to become involved in power struggles. Finding ways to eliminate this can help both of you to cope better with your family and home situation.

Find A Support Group. Most Aspergers and HFA kids can be a handful from time to time, however, raising a challenging youngster can make moms and dads feel isolated and alone. They may avoid social situations, not sure how their youngster will react. When friends get together and talk about their kids, and their successes, moms and dads raising a challenging youngster may feel out of place and alone. Not wanting to always have to report the terrible thing your youngster did yesterday, you might stop contacting family. There are other moms and dads going through the same situation. Support groups around the country and on the internet can provide an outlet for moms and dads to share experiences and talk with one another. They can create a group to help one another through the rough days and feel accepted. They can create a ring of moms and dads that can listen, understand and accept you and your youngster can do wonders in helping you to cope better at home.

Get A Complete and Accurate Diagnosis. Aspergers often comes along with co-existing conditions. To receive the best possible treatment, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis. Some of the common conditions would be: Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Learning Disabilities, Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. If your family physician diagnosed an autism spectrum disorder, ask for a referral to a mental health professional in your area that specializes in working with kids. You will want to have a complete evaluation done to determine an accurate diagnosis. Once this is completed, you can work with the doctors, or team of professionals, to create a specific treatment plan for your youngster. This may include counseling or therapy, medication, educational interventions and monitoring by a psychiatrist. Don’t stop until you are satisfied with the diagnosis.

Research the Diagnosis. After you are satisfied that you have received an accurate diagnosis, spend time researching and finding out as much as you can about the disorder. Use the support group you found to talk with other moms and dads. Talk to the psychologist/psychiatrist about treatment options. Don’t accept the advice of one practitioner or one other parent. Read everything you can find and determine what treatment would work best for your youngster and your family. Each youngster on the spectrum is unique in their display of symptoms and intensity of symptoms. Use this knowledge to work with the doctor to develop a treatment plan that is specific to your youngster’s needs.

Rule Out Physical Causes. Talk with your physician about exactly what is going on and have a complete physical for your youngster. Rule out any physical causes.

Seek A Tutor/Special Education/IEP or Section504. Aspergers and HFA kids with behavioral problems often struggle in school. Some may have specific learning disabilities. Even without a learning disability, school may be difficult because of other symptoms such as distractibility. Request an educational evaluation to determine accommodations or modifications your youngster may be eligible for. Work closely with teachers and other school personnel to help your youngster succeed in school.

Teaching self-control skills is one of the most important things that moms and dads can do for their youngsters because these are some of the most important skills for success later in life.

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

Helping HFA Youngsters Learn Self-Control—

By learning self-control, youngsters can make appropriate decisions and respond to stressful situations in ways that can yield positive outcomes.

For example, if you say that you're not serving ice cream until after dinner, your youngster may cry, plead, or even scream in the hopes that you will give in. But with self-control, your youngster can understand that a temper tantrum means you'll take away the ice cream for good and that it's wiser to wait patiently.

Here are a few suggestions on how to help youngsters learn to control their behavior:

Up to Age 2—

Aspergers infants and toddlers get frustrated by the large gap between the things they want to do and what they're able to do. They often respond with temper tantrums. Try to prevent outbursts by distracting your little one with toys or other activities. For youngsters reaching the 2-year-old mark, try a brief timeout in a designated area — like a kitchen chair or bottom stair — to show the consequences for outbursts and teach that it's better to take some time alone instead of throwing a tantrum.

Ages 3 to 5—

You can continue to use timeouts, but rather than enforcing a specific time limit, end timeouts once your HFA youngster has calmed down. This helps youngsters improve their sense of self-control. And praise your youngster for not losing control in frustrating or difficult situations.

Ages 6 to 9—

As Aspergers or HFA youngsters enter school, they're better able to understand the idea of consequences and that they can choose good or bad behavior. It may help your youngster to imagine a stop sign that must be obeyed and think about a situation before responding. Encourage your youngster to walk away from a frustrating situation for a few minutes to cool off instead of having an outburst.

Ages 10 to 12—

Older youngsters on the spectrum usually better understand their feelings. Encourage them to think about what's causing them to lose control and then analyze it. Explain that sometimes the situations that are upsetting at first don't end up being so awful. Urge youngsters to take time to think before responding to a situation.

Ages 13 to 17—

By now  teens on the spectrum should be able to control most of their actions. But remind teens to think about long-term consequences. Urge them to pause to evaluate upsetting situations before responding and talk through problems rather than losing control, slamming doors, or yelling. If necessary, discipline your teen by taking away certain privileges to reinforce the message that self-control is an important skill.

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

When Youngsters On the Spectrum Are Out of Control—

As difficult as it may be, resist the urge to yell when you're disciplining your youngsters. Instead, be firm and matter of fact. During a youngster's meltdown, stay calm and explain that yelling, throwing a tantrum, and slamming doors are unacceptable behaviors that have consequences — and say what those consequences are.

Your actions will show that tantrums won't get youngsters the upper hand. For example, if your youngster gets upset in the grocery store after you've explained why you won't buy candy, don't give in — thus demonstrating that the tantrum was both unacceptable and ineffective.

Also, consider speaking to your youngster's teachers about classroom settings and appropriate behavioral expectations. Ask if problem solving is taught or demonstrated in school.

And model good self-control yourself. If you're in an irritating situation and your youngsters are present, tell them why you're frustrated and then discuss the potential solutions to the problem. For example, if you've misplaced your keys, instead of getting upset, tell your youngsters the keys are missing and then search for them together. If they don't turn up, take the next constructive step (like retracing your steps when you last had the keys in-hand). Show that good emotional control and problem solving are the ways to deal with a difficult situation.

How do you handle your child's misbehavior? After all, we all go though times when we begin to wonder, "What's going on here? My youngsters seem to be totally out of control."

Often times, poor behavior can be our youngsters' way of telling us that something feels out of control for them; so the next time you're caught off guard by repeated misbehavior, take a few moments to ask yourself the following questions:

Am I Taking Care of Myself?

This is absolutely critical. When we're not taking care of ourselves, we unwittingly send a message to our youngsters that we're not worthy of their respect. In addition, there is a direct correlation between self-care and the amount of energy and patience we have at our disposal. As a result, when we don't take care of ourselves, we can easily become "snappy" with our youngsters, and this ends up being reflected back to us through their behaviors and choices.
  • After the youngsters are in bed, make yourself a cup of tea and do nothing for awhile.
  • Give yourself a break. Hire a babysitter and get out for a few hours.
  • Take a long walk.

Are the Youngsters Reacting to Any Recent Changes in Their Lives?

Of course you already know that your kids are incredibly perceptive. And as a single parent, you also realize that, unfortunately, the changes your youngsters have to go through - such as sudden changes in their visitation schedule with the other parent - aren't always within your control. However, it's important for you to be aware that creating a positive home environment is one of your most valuable assets in encouraging your youngsters' positive behavior and choices. Think about how you can be a consistent presence in your youngsters' lives, emotionally as well as physically.
  • Acknowledge that this is difficult for your youngsters and make an effort to be gentle with them.
  • Be extra generous with your hugs and affection.
  • Do what you can to create consistency in the areas you can control.


O.K. Let's take a moment for a reality check. As a single parent, you may not be able to dedicate one-on-one time with your child on a regular basis. However, when you find yourself dealing with repeated behavior issues, try to incorporate some creative ways to build in even small chunks of "Mommy Time" or "Daddy Time" with your youngster. You'd be surprised how much even older kids crave this! It definitely requires a sacrifice of your time and attention, but it can pay huge dividends in your youngster's sense of well-being and positive decision making.
  • Develop a bedtime routine that includes talking and reading together each night.
  • Play a board game and have some fun together.
  • Turn off the TV and spend some time talking and enjoying one another.

Am I Being Consistent in My Expectations and My Reactions?

As much as you can, try to be consistent with your child's schedules and routines. Simply knowing what to expect will help him behave well. In addition, try to be consistent in your reactions to your child's behaviors. When our reactions depend on our mood, we teach our youngsters that we're unpredictable. This can add stress to your youngster and make it more difficult to exhibit self-control. In addition, your effort to be consistent shows respect and honors your relationship.
  • Develop a consistent evening routine that includes time for completing and reviewing homework.
  • Develop consistent expectations regarding time with friends and extra-curricular activities.
  • Serve dinner at roughly the same time each night.

Am I Including the Child?

When you can, try to include your child in your decision-making. So much of his life is pre-determined, particularly for kids who are in school all day. When you can, try to give your kids opportunities to make their own choices. This might be regarding what clothes they wear, to the food they eat. Having this opportunity to make a choice - even one that might seem insignificant to us - empowers your youngster to make appropriate choices. With older kids, look for opportunities to compromise when you can, realizing that there will be some non-negotiable issues.
  • Ask your youngsters for ideas about what they'd like to do together when you have time for a special outing.
  • Give your youngsters choices whenever you can.
  • Let your youngsters participate in making decisions about meals by planning and preparing dinners together.

==> More parenting methods for dealing with oppositional, defiant behavior in kids on the autism spectrum...


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

Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum to Control Their Anger

"I'm in desperate need of some strategies to deal with my (high-functioning) son's anger. When he starts to stew about something, it's not long before all hell breaks loose. Any suggestions?!"

All of us exhibit some "signs" just as we begin to get angry. Identify the anger signs in your high-functioning autistic (HFA) or Asperger’s son. For example, you may detect a certain "look in the eye," the tone of voice or the tightness in the body. Help your youngster to observe these signs right at the onset of anger.

Once Young people on the autism spectrum can identify the early signs of their anger, they can also learn to diffuse it by such methods as walking away or taking full and vigorous breaths.

Train your youngster to respond to your "signal" like your hand motion to stay calm. Give that signal as soon as your youngster starts "stewing" about something.

If your youngster is too young for such self-control techniques, use distraction as soon as you notice the HFA child exhibiting an anger sign. A distraction, in order to be effective, has to be of interest to the kid. For example suggest to your youngster, "Let's ride a bike" or, "Let's play ball."

Teach your youngsters to talk about how they feel. Give them a language to express their feelings. For example, ask them how they feel. If they are too angry to talk or don't have the vocabulary to express their feelings, ask about the feelings relevant to the specific situation. Examples: "Do you feel embarrassed?" "Humiliated?" "Let down?" or, "Is your pride hurt?"

When your youngster expresses the feeling behind his or her anger, such as embarrassment or humiliation, suggest some other ways to look at the same event that might not be embarrassing or humiliating.

The thought, "It's not fair," is a big anger-arouser for many HFA kids. If that is the case, ask them, "Do you feel you are treated unfairly?" When your youngster answers the question, listen and don't rush to negate his or her feelings.


If the HFA child refuses to be distracted or engaged in dialoguing about his or her anger and starts yelling, stomping or breaking an object, impose appropriate consequences. It's better to have these consequences in place to serve as a guideline. That means that you have discussed them with your youngsters beforehand and written them out for future reference.

Armed with a list of consequences which preferably consist of withdrawing privileges or charging the HFA child a "penalty," moms and dads should encourage their Young people on the autism spectrum to choose such alternatives as doing something else, walking away, or talking about the anger rather than acting out of anger.

How about your own anger in response to your youngster's anger? You can set an example of anger control for your youngster. No teaching technique is as effective as a parent "modeling" for the HFA kid with his or her own example.

One thing that makes many moms and dads angry is to see their own child challenging their authority and defying them. Sometimes, it may appear so, but that may not be the intention of the HFA kid. For example, an HFA kid may be too unhappy to be told "No.' because he or she wants it so badly. Of course, you shouldn't give in to the wishes of the kid, but try to understand what might really be the intention of your youngster.

Some Young people on the autism spectrum get upset when they know they made a mistake. Instead of admitting their mistake, they act out in anger to deflect the attention off of them. If you realize that that might be the case, it's helpful to say to your youngster, "Everyone makes mistakes. I am okay with it. Don't feel so bad about it."

Young people on the autism spectrum, who in anger lash out at others, should be often reminded of such consequences as going to the Principal's office, being detained and losing privileges at home.

If the anger outbursts occur in relation to the siblings and you didn't observe the whole interaction from the very beginning, it's better to impose penalty on both siblings.

Some Young people on the autism spectrum get angry because they don't have appropriate peer-interaction skills. For example, some HFA youngsters don't know how to join in a conversation or a game. They abruptly try to get in. When resisted or rejected by peers, they explode. Teaching appropriate social skills can go a long way to avoid such negative encounters.

We can establish a culture that reduces anger and teaches tolerance. For example, we can set a personal example for HFA kids that "big individuals" do apologize and it's graceful to loose and try again.

Anger is like the mercury in a thermometer. When left unchecked the intensity of the emotion increases from frustration to anger and then to other things like rage and bitterness. As the intensity builds, individuals shut themselves off from others and relationships close down. Having a plan to deal with anger can limit the intensity and prevent much of the destruction anger tends to cause.

Most families don’t have a plan for anger. They somehow just continue on, hoping things will get better. Many families don’t resolve their anger, but just keep trying to start over. Starting over may be helpful at times, but it tends to ignore the problem rather than address it.

Here are some ideas for dealing with anger in your family:

1. Anger is good for identifying problems but not good for solving them. One of the problems individuals face is the guilt they feel after they’ve gotten angry. This further complicates the situation. God created us as emotional beings and emotions are helpful for giving us cues about our environment. Anger, in particular, points out problems. It reveals things that are wrong. Some of those things are inside of us and require adjustments to expectations or demands. Other problems are outside of us and need to be addressed in a constructive way. Helping Young people on the autism spectrum understand that anger is good for identifying problems but not good for solving them is the first step toward a healthy anger management plan.

2. Identify the early warning signs of anger. Young people on the autism spectrum often don’t recognize anger. In fact, many times they act out before they realize what happened. Identifying early warning signs helps HFA youngsters become more aware of their feelings, which in turn gives them more opportunity to control their responses to these feelings. How can you tell when you’re getting frustrated? How can your youngsters identify frustration before it gets out of control?

Here are some common cues in Young people on the autism spectrum which indicate that they are becoming angry and may be about to lose control:
•    clenched teeth
•    increased intensity of speech or behavior
•    noises with the mouth like growls or deep breathing
•    pouting
•    restlessness, withdrawal, unresponsiveness, or being easily provoked
•    squinting, rolling the eyes, or other facial expressions
•    tensed body
•    unkind words or the tone of voice changes to whining or yelling

Learn to recognize the cues that your youngster is beginning to get frustrated. Look for signs that come before the eruption. Once you know the cues, begin to point them out to your youngster. Make observations and teach your youngster to recognize those signs. Eventually HFA kids will be able to see their own frustration and anger and choose appropriate responses before it’s too late. They’ll be able to move from the emotion to the right actions, but first they must be able to recognize the cues that anger is intensifying.

3. Step Back. Teach your youngster to take a break from the difficult situation and to get alone for a few minutes. One of the healthiest responses to anger at any of its stages is to step back. During that time the HFA youngster can rethink the situation, calm down and determine what to do next. Frustrations can easily build, rage can be destructive, and bitterness is always damaging to the one who is angry. Stepping back can help the HFA youngster stop the progression and determine to respond differently.

The size of the break is determined by the intensity of the emotion. An HFA youngster who is simply frustrated may just take a deep breath. The kid who is enraged probably needs to leave the room and settle down.

4. Choose a better response. After the HFA kid has stepped back and settled down, then it’s time to decide on a more appropriate response to the situation. But what should they do? Moms and dads who address anger in their HFA youngsters often respond negatively, pointing out the wrong without suggesting alternatives.

There are three positive choices: talk about it, get help, or slow down and persevere. Simplifying the choices makes the decision process easier. Even young HFA kids can learn to respond constructively to frustration when they know there are three choices. These choices are actually skills to be learned. Young people on the autism spectrum often misuse them or overly rely on just one. Take time to teach your youngsters these skills and practice them as responses to angry feelings.

5. Never try to reason with an HFA youngster who is enraged. Sometimes Young people on the autism spectrum become enraged. The primary way to tell when kids are enraged is that they can no longer think rationally and their anger is now controlling them. Unfortunately, many moms and dads try to talk their Young people on the autism spectrum out of anger, often leading to more intensity. The HFA youngster who is enraged has lost control. You may see clenched fists, squinting eyes or a host of venting behaviors. Anger is one of those emotions that can grab you before you know what’s happening. The intensity can build from frustration to anger to rage before anyone realizes it.


Whether it’s the two-year-old temper tantrum or the 14 year-old ranting and raving, don’t get sucked into dialog. It only escalates the problem. Talking about it is important but wait until after the HFA kid has settled down.

6. When emotions get out of control, take a break from the dialog. Sometimes moms and dads and Young people on the autism spectrum are having a discussion about something and tempers flare. Mean words often push buttons which motivate more mean words and anger escalates. Stop the process, take a break and resume the dialog after individuals have settled down.

7. Be proactive in teaching HFA kids about frustration-management, anger-control, rage-reduction and releasing bitterness. Model, discuss, read and teach your youngsters about anger. There are several good books on this subject available, which are written for youngsters at various age levels. Talk about examples of frustration and anger seen in kid’s videos. Talk about appropriate responses. Work together as a family to identify anger and choose constructive solutions.

8. When anger problems seem out of control or you just don’t know what to do, get help. Sometimes a third party can provide the helpful suggestions and guidelines to motivate your family to deal with anger in a more helpful way. Young people on the autism spectrum can begin to develop bitterness and resentment in their lives and may need help to deal with it. Unresolved anger can create problems in relationships later on. HFA kids do not grow out of bitterness, they grow into it. Professional help may be needed.

Creating an Anger Control Plan—

The basic idea in developing an anger control plan for an HFA youngster is to try many different strategies and find the anger control techniques that work best for them.. This is an ongoing process. As working strategies are identified, they can be added to the anger control plans and used the HFA kid starts to feel angry. Some individuals refer to their anger control plans as their toolbox and the specific strategies they use to control their anger as their tools. 

This analogy may be very helpful. You can take this even further by creating a physical box for the youngster to put the strategies in (written on pieces of paper). You could be really creative and have the pieces of paper shaped like various tools. Again, it is important to identify the specific anger control strategies that work best for the youngster.

These strategies should be put down in a formal anger control plan for referral when the child encounters an anger-provoking event. It is also important to explore how different techniques may be used at different times. Referring back to the toolbox, I point out how a screwdriver can be very useful, but not for pounding in nails. Application- An HFA child may feel better after running around in the yard, but this may not be possible when he or she is getting angry at something in the classroom. Strategies need to be in place to handle the different situations that may arise.

An effective strategy that many Young people on the autism spectrum use, for example, is to talk about their feelings with someone that they can trust, such as a parent or caretaker. By discussing anger, they can begin to identify the primary emotions that underlie it and determine whether the thinking and expectations in response to the anger-provoking event are rational. Often an outsider can see the event from a different point of view, and offer some guiding words of wisdom. HFA kids can sometimes view an event as un-winable, or un-escapable, when there is a very simple solution which can be reached.

The long-term objective of the anger management treatment is to develop a set of strategies that can be used appropriately for specific anger-provoking events.

Timeouts—

The concept of a timeout is especially important to anger-management. It is the basic anger management strategy recommended for inclusion in every kid's anger control plan. Informally, a timeout is defined as leaving the situation that is causing the escalation of anger or simply stopping the discussion that is provoking it.

Formally, a timeout involves relationships with other individuals: it involves an agreement or a prearranged plan. These relationships may involve family members, friends, teachers, and schoolmates.. Any of the parties involved may call a timeout in accordance with rules that have been agreed on by everyone in advance. The person calling the timeout can leave the situation, if necessary. It is agreed, however, that he or she will return to either finish the discussion or postpone it, depending on whether all those involved feel they can successfully resolve the issue.

Timeouts are important because they can be effective in the heat of the moment. Even if your anger is escalating quickly on the anger meter, you can prevent reaching 10 by taking a time out and leaving the situation.

Timeouts are also effective when they are used with other strategies. For example, you can take a timeout and go for a walk. You can also take a timeout and call a trusted friend or family member or write in your journal. These other strategies should help you calm down during the timeout period.

It is important to make sure that everyone understands exactly what a time out means. For example, say an HFA child is asked to clean his room. He gets angry with his moms and dads and asks for a timeout. The kid then goes outside and begins shooting baskets to "calm down". This could be used by the kid to manipulate the situation, he or she doesn't want to clean the room, so he or she just asks for a time out. It is important to ensure that time-outs are used effectively, and with a general set of rules in place. Used effectively and appropriately, timeouts can do wonders!

Relaxation Through Breathing—

Another technique which may be used to help reduce child-anger is relaxation through breathing.

An interesting aspect of the nervous system is that everyone has a relaxation response that counteracts the stress response. It is physically impossible to be both agitated and relaxed at the same time. If you can relax successfully, you can counteract the stress or anger response.

Model for your child how breathing can be used to relax. Read them the following (or feel free to put it in your own words).

Take a few moments to settle yourself. Try to clear your mind of all thoughts. If you feel Try and relax every single one of your muscles. Lets relax your body piece by piece. Starting with your feet, relax your toes. Now let's relax your foot, (move up as you instruct them slowly to relax each part of his or her body.)

Now, make yourself aware of your breathing. Pay attention to your breath as it enters and leaves your body. This can be very relaxing.

Let’s all take a deep breath together. Notice your lungs and chest expanding. Now slowly let air out through your nose. Again, take a deep breath. Fill your lungs and chest. Notice how much air you can take in. Hold it for a second. Now release it and slowly exhale. One more time, inhale slowly and fully. Hold it for a second, and release.

Now on your own, continue breathing in this way for another couple of minutes. Continue to focus on your breathing. With each inhalation and exhalation, feel your body becoming more and more relaxed. Use your breathing to wash away any remaining stress.

(Have your child do this for a few moments.)

Now let’s take another deep breath. Inhale fully, hold it for a second, and release. Inhale again, hold, and release. Continue to be aware of your breath as it fills your lungs. Once more, inhale fully, hold it for a second, and release.

When you feel ready, open your eyes.

After the exercise, talk with the child about how it felt.

This breathing exercise can be shortened to just three deep inhalations and exhalations. Even that much can be effective in helping you relax when your anger is escalating. You can practice this at home, at work, on the bus, while waiting for an appointment, or even while walking. The key to making deep-breathing an effective relaxation technique is to practice it frequently and to apply it in a variety of situations.

This technique may sound dumb to HFA kids, but it really does work. The more they do it, the higher of a chance there is they will use it in a time of crisis.


The Aggression Cycle—

From an anger management perspective, an episode of anger can be viewed as consisting of three phases: escalation, explosion, and post-explosion. Together, they make up the aggression cycle. In this process, the escalation phase is characterized by cues that indicate anger is building. As stated earlier, these cues can be physical, behavioral, emotional, or cognitive (thoughts). As you may recall, cues are warning signs, or responses, to anger-provoking events.

Events, on the other hand, are situations that occur every day that may lead to escalations of anger if effective anger management strategies are not used. Red-flag events are types of situations that are unique to you and that you are especially sensitive to because of past events. These events can involve internal processes (e.g., thinking about situations that were anger provoking in the past) or external processes (e.g., experiencing real-life, anger-provoking situations in the here and now).

If the escalation phase is allowed to continue, the explosion phase will follow. The explosion phase is marked by an uncontrollable discharge of anger displayed as verbal or physical aggression. This discharge, in turn, leads to negative consequences; it is synonymous with the number 10 on the anger meter.

The final stage of the aggression cycle is the post-explosion phase. It is characterized by negative consequences resulting from the verbal or physical aggression displayed during the explosion phase. These consequences may include going to jail, making restitution, being terminated from a job or discharged from a drug treatment or social service program, losing family and loved ones, or feelings of guilt, shame, and regret.

The intensity, frequency, and duration of anger in the aggression cycle varies among individuals. For example, one HFA kid’s anger may escalate rapidly after a provocative event and, within just a few minutes, reach the explosion phase. Another kid’s anger may escalate slowly but steadily over several hours before reaching the explosion phase. Similarly, one child may experience more episodes of anger and progress through the aggression cycle more often than the other. However, both kids, despite differences in how quickly their anger escalates and how frequently they experience anger, will undergo all three phases of the aggression cycle.

The intensity of these HFA kid’s anger also may differ. One person may engage in more violent behavior than the other in the explosion phase. For example, he or she may use weapons or assault someone. The other person may express his or her anger during the explosion phase by shouting at or threatening other individuals. Regardless of these individual differences, the explosion phase is synonymous with losing control and becoming verbally or physically aggressive.

Notice that the escalation and explosion phases of the aggression cycle correspond to the levels on the anger meter. The points below 10 on the anger meter represent the escalation phase, the building up of anger. The explosion phase, on the other hand, corresponds to 10 on the anger meter. Again 10 on the anger meter is the point at which one loses control and expresses anger through verbal or physical aggression that leads to negative consequences.

One of the primary objectives of anger management treatment is to keep from reaching the explosion phase. This is accomplished by using the anger meter to monitor changes in your anger, attending to the cues or warning signs that indicate anger is building, and employing the appropriate strategies from your anger control plans to stop the escalation of anger.

If the explosion phase is prevented from occurring, the post-explosion phase will not occur, and the aggression cycle will be broken. If you use your anger control plans effectively, your anger should ideally reach between a 1 and a 9 on the anger meter. This is a reasonable goal to aim for. By preventing the explosion phase (10), you will not experience the negative consequences of the post-explosion phase, and you will break the cycle of aggression.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise—

This is an exercise that I use sometimes in therapy to help HFA kids calm down. Modeling it for them and encouraging them to practice it will raise the likelihood that they will do this when feeling upset.

(Use this script or put this in your own words.)

Last week you practiced deep-breathing as a relaxation technique. Today I will introduce progressive muscle relaxation. Start by getting comfortable in your chairs. Close your eyes if you like. Take a moment to really settle in. Now, as you did last week, begin to focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath. Hold it for a second. Now exhale fully and completely. Again, take a deep breath. Fill your lungs and chest. Now release and exhale slowly. Again, one more time, inhale slowly, hold, and release.

Now, while you continue to breathe deeply and fully, bring your awareness to your hands. Clench your fists very tightly. Hold that tension. Now relax your fists, letting your fingers unfold and letting your hands completely relax. Again, clench your fists tightly. Hold and release the tension. Imagine all the tension being released from your hands down to your fingertips. Notice the difference between the tension and complete relaxation.

Now bring your awareness to your arms. Curl your arms as if you are doing a bicep curl. Tense your fists, forearms, and biceps. Hold the tension and release it. Let the tension in your arms unfold and your hands float back to your thighs. Feel the tension drain out of your arms. Again, curl your arms to tighten your biceps. Notice the tension, hold, and release. Let the tension flow out of your arms. Replace it with deep muscle relaxation.

Now raise your shoulders toward your ears. Really tense your shoulders. Hold them up for a second. Gently drop your shoulders, and release all the tension. Again, lift your shoulders, hold the tension, and release. Let the tension flow from your shoulders all the way down your arms to your fingers. Notice how different your muscles feel when they are relaxed.

Now bring your awareness to your neck and face. Tense all those muscles by making a face. Tense your neck, jaw, and forehead. Hold the tension, and release. Let the muscles of your neck and jaw relax. Relax all the lines in your forehead. One final time, tense all the muscles in your neck and face, hold, and release. Be aware of your muscles relaxing at the top of your head and around your eyes. Let your eyes relax in their sockets, almost as if they were sinking into the back of your head. Relax your jaw and your throat. Relax all the muscles around your ears. Feel all the tension in your neck muscles release.

Now just sit for a few moments. Scan your body for any tension and release it. Notice how your body feels when your muscles are completely relaxed.

When you are ready, open your eyes. How was that? Did you notice any new sensations? How does your body feel now? How about your state of mind? Do you notice any difference now from when we started?

The A-B-C-D Model—

Albert Ellis developed a model that is consistent with the way we conceptualize anger management treatment. He calls his model the A-B-C-D or rational-emotive model. In this model, “A” stands for an activating event, what we have been calling the red-flag event. “B” represents the beliefs individuals have about the activating event. Ellis claims that it is not the events themselves that produce feelings such as anger, but our interpretations of and beliefs about the events. “C” stands for the emotional consequences of events. In other words, these are the feelings individuals experience as a result of their interpretations of and beliefs concerning the event.

According to Ellis and other cognitive behavioral theorists, as individuals become angry, they engage in an internal dialog, called “self-talk.” For example, suppose you were waiting for a bus to arrive. As it approaches, several individuals push in front of you to board. In this situation, you may start to get angry.

You may be thinking, “How can individuals be so inconsiderate! They just push me aside to get on the bus. They obviously don’t care about me or other individuals.” Examples of the irrational self-talk that can produce anger escalation are reflected in statements such as “Individuals should be more considerate of my feelings,” “How dare they be so inconsiderate and disrespectful,” and “They obviously don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

Ellis says that individuals do not have to get angry when they encounter such an event. The event itself does not get them upset and angry; rather, it is individual’s interpretations of and beliefs concerning the event that cause the anger. Beliefs underlying anger often take the form of “should” and “must.” Most of us may agree, for example, that respecting others is an admirable quality. Our belief might be, “Individuals should always respect others.”

In reality, however, individuals often do not respect each other in everyday encounters. You can choose to view the situation more realistically as an unfortunate defect of human beings, or you can let your anger escalate every time you witness, or are the recipient of, another person’s disrespect. Unfortunately, your perceived disrespect will keep you angry and push you toward the explosion phase. Ironically, it may even lead you to show disrespect to others, which would violate your own fundamental belief about how individuals should be treated.

Ellis’ approach consists of identifying irrational beliefs and disputing them with more rational or realistic perspectives (in Ellis’ model, “D” stands for dispute). You may get angry, for example, when you start thinking, “I must always be in control. I must control every situation.” It is not possible or appropriate, however, to control every situation. Rather than continue with these beliefs, you can try to dispute them. You might tell yourself, “I have no power over things I cannot control,” or “I have to accept what I cannot change.” These are examples of ways to dispute beliefs that you may have already encountered in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

Individuals may have many other irrational beliefs that may lead to anger. Consider an example where a friend of yours disagrees with you. You may start to think, “Everyone must like me and give me approval.” If you hold such a belief, you are likely to get upset and angry when you face rejection. However, if you dispute this irrational belief by saying, “I can’t please everyone; some individuals are not going to approve of everything I do,” you will most likely start to calm down and be able to control your anger more easily.

Another common irrational belief is, “I must be respected and treated fairly by everyone.” This also is likely to lead to frustration and anger. Most folks, for example, live in an urban society where they may, at times, not be given the common courtesy they expect. This is unfortunate, but from an anger management perspective, it is better to accept the unfairness and lack of interpersonal connectedness that can result from living in an urban society. Thus, to dispute this belief, it is helpful to tell yourself, “I can’t be expected to be treated fairly by everyone.”

Other beliefs that may lead to anger include “Everyone should follow the rules,” or “Life should be fair,” or “Good should prevail over evil,” or “Individuals should always do the right thing.” These are beliefs that are not always followed by everyone in society, and, usually, there is little you can do to change that. How might you dispute these beliefs? In other words, what thoughts that are more rational and adaptive and will not lead to anger can be substituted for such beliefs?

For individuals with anger control problems, these irrational beliefs can lead to the explosion phase (10 on the anger meter) and to the negative consequences of the postexplosion phase. It is often better to change your outlook by disputing your beliefs and creating an internal dialog or self-talk that is more rational and adaptive.

The A-B-C-D Model—

A = Activating Situation or Event

B = Belief System
•    What you tell yourself about the event (your self-talk)
•    Your beliefs and expectations of others

C = Consequence
•    How you feel about the event based on your self-talk

D = Dispute
•    Examine your beliefs and expectations
•    Are they unrealistic or irrational?

Thought Stopping—

A second approach to controlling anger is called thought stopping. It provides an immediate and direct alternative to the A-B-C-D Model. In this approach, you simply tell yourself (through a series of self-commands) to stop thinking the thoughts that are getting you angry. For example, you might tell yourself, “I need to stop thinking these thoughts. I will only get into trouble if I keep thinking this way,” or “Don’t buy into this situation,” or “Don’t go there.” In other words, instead of trying to dispute your thoughts and beliefs as outlined in the A-B-C-D Model described above, the goal is to stop your current pattern of angry thoughts before they lead to an escalation of anger and loss of control.

Assertiveness Training—

Even if Young people on the autism spectrum are able to contain their anger, they will still be exposed to situations every day where individuals are acting aggressively towards them. This behavior can include verbal abuse, threats, or violent acts. Often, when another person has violated your rights, your first reaction is to fight back or retaliate. The basic message of aggression is that my feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are important and that your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are unimportant and inconsequential.

One alternative to using aggressive behavior is to act passively or in a nonassertive manner. Acting in a passive or nonassertive way is undesirable because you allow your rights to be violated. You may resent the person who violated your rights, and you may also be angry with yourself for not standing up for your rights. In addition, it is likely that you will become even more angry the next time you encounter this person. The basic message of passivity is that your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are important, but my feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are unimportant and inconsequential. Acting in a passive or nonassertive way may help you avoid the negative consequences associated with aggression, but it may also ultimately lead to negative personal consequences, such as diminished self-esteem, and prevent you from having your needs satisfied.

From an anger management perspective, the best way to deal with a person who has violated your rights is to act assertively. Acting assertively involves standing up for your rights in a way that is respectful of other individuals. The basic message of assertiveness is that my feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are important, and that your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are equally important. By acting assertively, you can express your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs to the person who violated your rights without suffering the negative consequences associated with aggression or the devaluation of your feelings, which is associated with passivity or non-assertion.

It is important to emphasize that assertive, aggressive, and passive responses are learned behaviors; they are not innate, unchangeable traits. Using the Conflict Resolution Model, you can learn to develop assertive responses that allow you to manage interpersonal conflicts in a more effective way.

In summary, aggression involves expressing feelings, thoughts, and beliefs in a harmful and disrespectful way. Passivity or non-assertiveness involves failing to express feelings, thoughts, and beliefs or expressing them in an apologetic manner that others can easily disregard. Assertiveness involves standing up for your rights and expressing feelings, thoughts, and beliefs in direct, honest, and appropriate ways that do not violate the rights of others or show disrespect.

The concept of assertiveness can be a difficult one for HFA kids to understand and it is recommended that you focus on controlling the anger first!

Conflict Resolution Model—

One method of acting assertively is to use the Conflict Resolution Model, which involves five steps that can easily be memorized.

The first step involves identifying the problem that is causing the conflict. It is important to be specific when identifying the problem. In this example, the problem causing the conflict is that your friend is late.

The second step involves identifying the feelings associated with the conflict. In this example, you may feel annoyance, frustration, or taken for granted.

The third step involves identifying the specific impact of the problem that is causing the conflict. In this example, the impact or outcome is that you are late for the meeting.

The fourth step involves deciding whether to resolve the conflict or let it go. This may best be phrased by the questions, “Is the conflict important enough to bring up? If I do not try to resolve this issue, will it lead to feelings of anger and resentment?”

If you decide that the conflict is important enough, then the fifth step is necessary. The fifth step is to address and resolve the conflict. This involves checking out the schedule of the other person. The schedule is important because you might bring up the conflict when the other person does not have the time to address it or when he or she may be preoccupied with another issue. Once you have agreed on a time with the person, you can describe the conflict, your feelings, and the impact of the conflict and ask for a resolution.

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 Prepare Your Autistic Teenager for Adulthood

"How can I prepare my son with HFA for adulthood? He seems so immature for his age and we worry about how he's going to cope with life being out of the 'nest'."

Very few young adults with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are ready for “full independent” living. They need ongoing support, social skills training, and encouragement from parents as they learn to negotiate the “adult world.”

Adolescents with Aspergers and HFA need extra time to gradually learn and practice adult life skills (e.g., finding a job, managing finances, doing laundry, preparing meals, driving a car, arranging medical appointments, etc.). Many of these individuals may not be ready for adult responsibilities at the same age as their neurotypical peers.

They may choose to live at home and attend a local community college rather than go to a university where they would need to live on campus. Many have even experienced sudden drops in their grades as graduation approached, due to fears about having to leave home before they feel ready. Some may need to experiment with alternatives and adjustments for skills (e.g., driving a car) that are not within their reach.

With some special challenges in mind, here are a few parenting tips for promoting self-reliance in your older teens with Aspergers and HFA:

1. Base your support and expectations on your teenager's abilities, level of emotional security, and history—and not on his chronological age or what his peers are doing.

2. By the time your adolescent is working and making an income, he should assume responsibility for all cell phone charges. This cuts down on extravagant cell phone use, because most adolescents are more prudent about usage when they have to pay the bill.



3. By the time kids on the spectrum are in the 8th grade, they should be taking responsibility for their own schoolwork. Moms and dads should not hound their child to complete work. Obviously, instilling a good work ethic regarding schoolwork starts much earlier than middle school. But by the 8th grade, young people should “own” the quality and timeliness of their work so they understand cause and effect before they enter high school, where a poor grade can affect college prospects.

4. Check with your adolescent's school about any transition services the district may provide.

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

5. Consider finding a job coach for your teen. The benefits of having a job coach include the following:
  • A job coach can identify specific strategies and techniques that can help your teen learn new tasks or adapt to new schedules.
  • A job coach can serve as a “liaison” between the employer and the employee.   This can help ensure that the employer’s needs are met while advocating for the employee by addressing any concerns of the employee in a manner that is pro-active.
  • Assessing the need for “on the job” accommodations is a fundamental responsibility of a job coach.  In most instances, the job coach can provide information on the procurement of the accommodation as well.
  • Coping skills can be developed or enhanced with the assistance of a job coach.  The job coach’s knowledge of your teen’s strengths and preferences can prove invaluable in determining how specific skills (e.g., relaxation techniques, journaling, role-playing of solutions and responses geared toward specific situations and scenarios, etc.) can be enhanced.



6. Do not rescue your teenager by paying off her debts or by making excuses to her teacher for a failing grade. Let her feel the consequences, and the lesson will be long lasting.

7. Explain in great detail how you will help your adolescent move into adult life. He needs to know how long he can live at home and whether or not you will help him with his first apartment rental, pay college tuition, keep him on the family health insurance, and so on.

8. Explore substitutes or assistance for skills that are not manageable. Your family is the best judge of when your adolescent is ready to partially or fully manage adult tasks.

9. Let your teen make mistakes. Moms and dads naturally want to rescue their special needs children. Avoid doing that unless it’s a matter of your adolescent’s health or safety. Otherwise, simply say, “Okay, you made a mistake. It happens to everyone. What can you do to fix it?”

10. Let your teenager make decisions. At this age, she should have some say in nearly everything that affects her. Trust her in this way. She will be more likely to bend your way when you make clear that an issue is very important to you.

11. Provide ongoing emotional and tangible support even after your young Aspergers or HFA adult moves out of your home. Moms and dads who visit frequently, assist with household management, help to fill out tax forms, etc., help these youth not feel too overwhelmed as they adjust to life away from the family.

12. Purchasing a car can be the single most rewarding effort an adolescent makes other than good grades and a decent job. The sense of accomplishment an adolescent feels when she saves money for a vehicle is only trumped by the first purchase of a house. Moms and dads should not deprive their teenager of this milestone by buying a car for her. Saving for a car (preferably the entire time she has her permit) will teach her the value of setting a goal and achieving it by herself and give her a shot of confidence. These young people should also pay for their own insurance – either their own policy or as a rider on their parents' policy.

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

13. Remember that teens with Aspergers and HFA take longer to mature than their neurotypical peers. During those 16-18 years, moms and dads are responsible for teaching their teens how to survive in the adult world. Developing good money habits and taking responsibility for their own financial well-being is best achieved by these adolescents before they truly have to manage on their own so that their transition to adulthood has fewer speed bumps and considerably less heartache.

14. Skip the power struggles. Instead of trying to control your special needs adolescent (e.g., “Get upstairs and do that homework now”), place the control on yourself (e.g., “I’ll be happy to drive you to the mall after you do your homework”).

15. Teach your teenager how to balance a checkbook and budget her money. It's important that she learns by trial and error before she turns 18 and starts making choices as a grown-up. In an era of easy credit and payment plans, the temptation to spend more than they earn hits younger target markets every year, and it is never too early to teach adolescents how to resist those offers. Your adolescent should open a checking account as soon as she starts working (even if she is only babysitting) and should be saving 10% of her earnings. Also, you might want to assist your teen with choosing a checking account.

16. Teens with Aspergers and HFA should begin to think about viable employment by at least the 10th grade. Experience working with others and handling workplace conflicts is critical to developing the work ethic and job skills they need when they enter the adult workplace. Many part-time jobs can be secured by working as an unpaid intern first. Summer camp programs, park and recreation departments, landscaping companies, and recreation businesses will often use free labor, and volunteering opens the door to an eventual paid position. By the time these teens are 15, they should be working part-time in preparation for life beyond school, when they will have to juggle work and family responsibilities. Colleges like to see regular student employment on their applications because it shows dedication, responsibility, and maturity!




17. The next time you talk to your adolescent about an issue, help her to reason on how her choices reflect on her. For example, instead of criticizing her friends, say: “What if your friend got arrested for breaking the law? How would that make you look?” Help your adolescent to see how her choices either enhance her reputation or tarnish it.

18. Under Federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), by the time a “special education” child reaches age 16, the school is to provide a plan that may include help obtaining further education, getting a job, or living independently. Moms and dads need to advocate for these services. Communicate respectfully, clearly, and often with your school's "transition coordinator" about your teenager's transition plan.

19. When an issue arises, try reversing roles. Ask your adolescent what advice she would give you if you were her teenager. Have her do research to come up with reasons to support—or challenge—her thinking. Discuss the matter again within a week.

20. Write down one or two areas in which you could extend a little more freedom to your  adolescent. Explain to her that you are extending this freedom on a trial basis. If she handles it responsibly, in time she can be granted more. If she does not do so, the freedoms she has been granted will be curtailed.

Launching young men and women with special needs from the family home brings some unique challenges. "Interdependence" rather than "independence" is a more fitting goal for these youth as they venture into the adult world.


==> Click here for more information on how to help your young adult on the autism spectrum to cope with life...


More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

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

How to Change Unwanted Behavior in Young People on the Autism Spectrum

“It is very frustrating not being able to change or modify the rigid behaviors that my son exhibits, for example, picky eating, rudeness to others, lack of motivation …just to name a few. Is there anything that can be done to help him be more open to change and flexibility?”

Most kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet, which can cause any of these issues:
  • behavioral problems
  • communication problems
  • desire for isolation
  • lack of incentive
  • sensory issues 
  • social problems
  • dropping into a state of depression, thus making the original problems that much worse

Social skills and living skills therapy may be the most popular areas of concentration when treating kids and teens (and even adults) with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism. These therapies are widely available and do bring about effective progress in most cases.

Providing incentive is the key to improving your youngster’s circumstances. Actually, incentive is a factor anytime you are seeking to modify anyone’s unwanted behaviors. Incentive in itself is definitely an old concept, but using incentive in a new way will create the wanted result for your “special needs” son.

Old Incentive—

As moms and dads, we often use “set motivators” to achieve the behavior we feel is appropriate. The concentration has been placed on the behavior, which sets a negative tone to the process of change. You can’t blame a youngster for reacting negatively to a negative tone.
  • Punishment: “If you don’t do ______, then you will get ______!” We have all used this at one time or another, and over the course of time, it has proven to be an ineffective motivator.
  • Rewards or bribery: “If you do ______ today, I’ll buy you a ______.” We’re guilty of this one too. This probably creates more confusion and greed than incentive over time.

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

New Incentive—

Motivators should be positive. It feels good to see your youngster happily learning or cooperating in desired behaviors. Motivators that appeal to the individual boy or girl should be used for maximum results. Incentive is definitely personal. What motivates one youngster will not work for every youngster.
  • Positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is “catching” a child doing something you want them to do and rewarding it. The youngster gets attention and reward as positive reinforcement for doing the right thing and will focus on repeating that behavior. Positive reinforcement works because it gives kids positive goals to work towards instead of only focusing on negative consequences to avoid. Positive reinforcement fulfills strong basic psychological needs of every boy and girl, as well as setting a more positive and healthy tone for the parent-child relationship.
  • Routines: Keeping your youngster’s routines constant will improve his outlook. He’ll know what to expect at any given time, lessening the stress he feels.
  • Special Interests: Using your youngster’s special interests both at home and at school can generate positive responses in all situations. For example, your youngster’s love of trains can be used to encourage eating at home. Train themed dinnerware or even themed foods may be used to entice the reluctant eater.



By practicing positive reinforcement, establishing solid and consistent routines, and identifying special interests, you should be able to implement a social skills and living skills “parenting-plan” that will get the results that so desperately desire.

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


More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

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

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

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

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

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


COMMENTS:

Anonymous said... Another thing to keep in mind is patience Rome was not built in a day : ) . It might take 21 days to eat that piece of brocoli or 2 years to master those social skills. Hang on to the picture in your mind of the finish line not the starting spot : )

Anonymous said... My 9 year old son has just been diagnosed with Aspergers is diet associated with it? That would explain why its so hard to get him to eat what is good for him

Anonymous said... I think it's the food texture or something that they seem to only prefer certain foods, which in my case, it's not very much. The older he gets though the more he tries and actually likes. He is 12.

Anonymous said... My son, who is 10, just tried a hamburger for the first time a few weeks ago. He had three bites before he decided he was done. I was so thrilled. It was such a major accomplishment for him! I know he probably wont touch another one for a very long time. But thats ok because he tried something new!!! Just keep showing him all of the good things you enjoy and he will decide when he is ready to try it.

Anonymous said... Couldn't agree anymore. I also literally "laughed out loud" when you said how thrilled you got, one of those "been there done that!!" I love those moments!!! :)

Anonymous said... I wanted to do the happy dance!! Every day is a struggle with food around here. I almost whooped out loud when he ate that burger! =)

Anonymous said… You will be able to work with it as they get older. Once they are old enough to understand that we all have certain norms to conform to, my son at least, has started to see the value in modifying his behavior. It's not perfect but who is! I love my son and he's found others who feel the same way along his path.

Anonymous said… Yes Bianca... very familiar. i've just read the article . very good read. and i think for us, we have to set a common strict routine he follows at both houses. i feel he needs that stability n consistency. he's a good, very intelligent kids, but unfortunately with bad habits we need to change. we have to work closely together for his sake.

Anonymous said… We deal with the exact same thing!

Anonymous said… Oh I hear you load and clear... My son is almost 15 and we deal with it every day!!!

Anonymous said… My son is going on 13. Only recently has the word Aspergers been mentioned regarding his 'issues'. All in all though, he is not an extreme case. So it's hard to actually "diagnose". But what I want to share it that all through the years of speech therapy for Apraxia, we never treated him any different than we would any other child. He had the same responsibilities, demands, chores, and punishments as his brother. The biggest difference was how we presented it to him. He needed to understand the logic of why he was being asked. And the logic behind the punishments - letting him know upfront what his punishment would be if he did not do something. This goes with behaviour of all sorts. From what I understand, these children have to be taught to think and feel like we do. "taught" is the key word here. They will not 'feel' it like we do, but they can be taught. Reinforce everything you ask them to do and follow through. It takes a lot of time, but time will reward you. I sometimes have to ask him, was that the correct way to behave, speak, act? He'll hang his head and say no... So than I ask, what was the better way. He'll answer, I'll confirm, and we'll practice it the proper way. I hope this little bit helps.

Anonymous said… My son is 3 and a half and everything is no these day's, putting our foot down is met with a violent outburst that doesn't stop until something distracts him if we get angry it only makes him worse. He is still young and our first so we're still getting to grips with parenting let alone parenting an aspergers child but sometimes (we'll most times) he's hitting, kicking us we don't know what to do, he won't stop and will chase us down if we try to get away, will not stay in his room, couldn't care less about taking things away he just keeps going and we're at a total loss on how to deal with it.

Anonymous said… I knew we were making progress using the Masgutova Method when once I had to change what we were doing and he let out a huge sigh, thought about it and then said ok.

Anonymous said… i feel very much the same way. I too have more than 1 under the same roof. Definitely 3 maybe 4. My 10 yr old sounds very much like your daughter with the mood swings and the foul mouth. She too used to be so quiet and easy going ( maybe that was a sign) but she's undergoing many tests at the moment because she has many difficulties dealing with everyday routines and socially. My question is; how do we manage a home with so many different needs. How do we make sure all their needs are being met and nobody is left behind. I feel like I'm not doing a good job at this anymore!

Anonymous said… Familiar?

Anonymous said…  hmm sounds like my 15 yr daughter not flexible at all, very rude to others, picking eating seems to eat the same thing all the time, lack of motivation. I have a 18 yr son who also has it but he actually got better with age but my daughter it has been a total nightmare. The rigid behaviors, the complusive behaviors the other morning instead of getting dress for school she emptys her dresser drawers and starts to refold each one in a certain way and piles it on her bed. But she never finish because I told her she had to stop go get dress if she has time before the bus comes she can finish but this is something she can do on the weekends or no school day. So frustrating and the she takes 3 outfits to the bathroom to get dressed and leaves them all the bathroom floor and her room was a big mess. So she thinks she is doing something good like organizing but instead she made things worst a bigger mess. Then you add bipolar into the mix you got one moody child like walking on egg shells or riding a roller coaster ride. I dread after school time as it is the worst time for her. She will walk in good mood then boom 5 min later better watch out. The mouth on her and the swearing, rude and disrespectful. She use to be this sweet little girl now you don't know who she going to be next. She is in the hate my mom and dad. She tells me I am kick the F out tells me I am dead, etc She has in home therapist and crisis worker too. If it wasn't for working out the gym I don't know how I would deal with my daily stress. 3 bipolars under one roof, daughter, son and husband. Then add both of them with PDD-nos, anxiety, adhd. I didn't think I would have to go thru this with her. I went thru this with my son for many years but as he got older he got better he was very aggressive when he was younger. Been inpatient 11 times from ages 7 to 11 half. My daughter had 2 inpatients this year never been in the hospital before that. But they seem to hold together there and would never show there behaviors there. They know how to play them and how to get out of there if they behave they can go home. These kids are not dumb they are smart in so many other ways.


Anonymous said... You have to put your foot down. Yes they have certain issues but you have to make it clear that certain behavior will not be tolerated. They good things is many times they are so rule orentied that my son now all I have to do is talk sternly or give him a very stern NO. But we have been very strick with him for 2-3 years now. He is 8. Just because they have "issues" don't mean you excuse disrespect. As far as the food with my son if he doesn't way what we serve him he doesn't eat. It sounds harsh but he eats his dinner. It's not going to kill him

Anonymous said... Some things we should insist upon, but I believe it's important to pick our battles. After all many of our kids have issues with self esteem so punishing them all day long can cause even more damage. Disrespectful behavior and behavior that is self harming or harming to others of course should not be tolerated. Positive reinforcement can work wonders.

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.

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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.

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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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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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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