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Teenage Son with ASD has Stopped Going to School

Question

We are desperately trying to motivate our teenager [with autism spectrum disorder] to graduate from high school. He is a senior who needs 20 more credits to graduate. He has stopped going to school. Any advice? HELP!!!

Answer 

Every teen with ASD is unique, but when you face a challenge like teenage dropouts, you are never alone. Countless individuals have faced the exact same situation and have survived and thrived. Teenage dropouts are all too common - and occur for a variety of reasons, including over-indulgent and over-protective parenting, mental illness, gangs, drugs, indifferent teachers, and just generally bad choices. 
 
Dropping out of school seems like a good option for teens on the spectrum who are bored in school and feel rejected by their peer group. But they often have a rude awakening once they drop out and have no place to turn.

How you can help:
  • Make the curriculum more interesting.
  • Offer advice on other teenage dropouts.

What to say:
  • Tell them how much you care about them.
  • "What’s your plan?”
  • "How can I help?”

What not to say:
  • "Yeah, that’s a good idea."
  • "Don't do it."
  • "Don’t worry."

In many states, once a teen turns sixteen years old, he or she can drop out of school. Some school systems are now reporting an alarming increase in the amount of drop outs that occur yearly. What can moms and dads and educators do to keep these teens in school? 

By the time a teen reaches the age of sixteen, half of the battle may already be lost. Moms and dads need to instill a love of learning when their kids are small. Moms and dads should begin reading to their kids when they are babies. As kids grow, moms and dads should encourage their kids to excel in school. High expectations should become evident even when kids are in preschool.

As kids move from elementary school into middle school, many kids are left behind academically. If a youngster falls behind in one subject, a parent should take action immediately. Both moms and dads and teachers should communicate in order to plan a successful course of action. A youngster may need extra tutoring, or if there are problems at home, counseling may be in order. 
 
If a parent questions their youngster’s ability, testing may need to be conducted to determine if that youngster has a learning disability. A learning disability, such as dyslexia, can inhibit a youngster’s progress in school, and this will leave the youngster feeling discouraged and inept, prompting even poorer academic performance.

It is also important to encourage your son with ASD to be involved in school related activities as much as possible. The more active your youngster becomes, the less time he’ll have to think about failure. Encourage him to go out for sports and academic teams, band or chorus, and drama. 
 
If he is not really the academic type, help him to find a niche that he really loves, such as welding, auto mechanics, carpentry, drafting, and graphic arts. The key to instilling a need and desire for success in your youngster is to help him find what he is successful at doing. 
 

Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances which can lead to a drop in a youngster’s grades. These circumstances may include a youngster’s illness, a recent move, problems at home, such as a divorce or death, or unexplained emotional problems. It is extremely important that these problems be addressed promptly. If left unattended, the problems could escalate, and when a teen reaches the age that he can legally withdraw from school, he may simply give up.

If you are struggling with a teen that seems apathetic to his academic career, you need to discern what the root problem might be. If the youngster is struggling with a particular subject or subjects, he may need extra tutoring. As a parent, you can encourage your youngster by spending time working with him in the evening. If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to tutor your youngster, you can arrange for help from someone else.

Many schools now have afternoon tutoring available to help students who are falling behind. Some schools also have “last chance” programs. These programs are typically given at night or on the weekends. They offer students a chance to take a subject or subjects that they have failed, so that they might still be able to graduate on time.

As a parent, you should realize that there may be more serious causes behind your teen’s lack of ambition. Drug abuse is a real problem among teens in today’s society. If you feel that your youngster is exhibiting signs of drug abuse, you should have him tested immediately. If he tests positive, you will need to decide on a direct course of action. 
 
It is also important to remember that even if you succeed in helping your youngster get off drugs, he will still be inundated with temptation if he is hanging with his same crowd of friends. You and your youngster may need to make some serious decisions regarding his every day environment.

Finally, never give up on your son. There may be times when both he and you are discouraged about his academic success. Try to hide your discouragement as much as possible, and, instead, let him see that you believe in him and have high expectations that he will succeed.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… A senior who still has 20 credits to earn (half of the required number to graduate with a diploma, not a certificate) isn't interested in graduating high school. Home schooling won't change this. Alternate schooling won't change this. Only the Aspie's mindset will change this. If he cannot be motivated and he cannot motivate himself to buckle down to business and earn the outstanding credits, he will not graduate high school in the time allotted by the department or ministry of education in his state or province.
•    Anonymous said… Can't you look at things another way? What are his hopes and aspirations for his future. What work does he want to do? If it's something he needs exams and qualifications for (sorry, english so don't get your system) then point out that these boring credits he must earn are a step he must take to get there. If otherwise, investigate work experience and apprenticeships, things to look good on a CV and give hands on experience of employment. Ultimately we want our children supporting themselves independantly, and conventional routes may not always work, so find others. Good luck!
•    Anonymous said… Homeschool instead! Either with an online program through the school system or with something completely different of your/his choosing.
•    Anonymous said… I would love to homeschool my daughter but I am afraid she will use that online time for computer games or unrelated school things.
•    Anonymous said… No it's not. It's just a different way that they see the world. All they may hear is 'you're a failure' rather than 'you need to do xy and z to succeed' and that will just push them in a downward spiral.
•    Anonymous said… Same boat. My son is very close to high school exam and he does not have motivation to study. I am thinking of a new environment for him however Vietnam does not yet have homeschooling or online learning for high school. I dont know what to do. Pls advise! Thanks.
•    Anonymous said… Sometimes it's a matter of giving him the environment he needs. Does your state have online school? If he can do his studies in the comfort of his own home where you can easily review his progress , that might be a better way.
•    Anonymous said… That's justification for poor choices on the part of the Aspie.

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Crucial Strategies for Parents of Challenging Kids on the Autism Spectrum

 
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.

Click here for the full article...

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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.

Click here to read the full article…

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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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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...

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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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More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

Sleep Problems in Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Question

I'm a single mother and don't know how to deal with my 13 yr old anymore. He doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything which is hard when you have to, and I am now homeschooling him due to trouble going to school. A big problem right now is sleep issues… he is so active at night and tired during the day. At the moment he is not falling asleep till about 1 or 2 am, and I've tried waking him up earlier to reset his body clock but I can't get him out of bed. I don't know how to get him back into a healthy sleep routine.

Answer

Studies find that approximately 73% of kids with ASD level 1 (high-functioning autism) experience sleep problems, and these problems tend to last longer in this group than they do for kids without ASD. For example, kids on the spectrum are more likely to be sluggish and disoriented after waking. Laboratory research has begun to describe the unique physiological presentation associated with sleep problems in kids with ASD, including disruptions in the sleep stage most associated with cognitive functioning (i.e., REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep). In addition to physiological differences, some of the sleep difficulties in this population may be related to anxiety.

The impact of poor sleep is unequivocal. Poor sleep negatively impacts mood and exacerbates selective attention problems commonly found in kids with ASD, as well as impairing other aspects of cognitive function.
 

There is no one panacea to manage sleep problems in autistic kids. However, there are many interventions that are likely to be helpful. In general, moms and dads need to understand and be prepared for resistance to change that these kids often show. Moms and dads should also be prepared for problems to get worse before they get better as kids often initially challenge but then gradually become accustomed to new routines.

A good place to start an intervention targeted at improving sleep is changing lifestyle behaviors and environmental conditions that can influence sleep/wake patterns. These include exercise, napping, diet, and aspects of the bedroom and sleep routine.

Exercise & Activity—

The goal is decreasing arousal as bedtime approaches. To achieve this it may be useful to have a scheduled period before bedtime (approximately 30-45 minutes) in which the aim is calmness and relaxation. During that period, media such as television, computers, electronic games, and music should be limited as they can stimulate the youngster through activity, sound, and light. 
 
The availability of VCR and DVR technology makes it easier to control when kids can watch particular shows, thereby avoiding conflict over missing favorite programs that are shown in the late evening. The presence of televisions in kid’s bedrooms has been consistently associated with sleep problems and should be avoided at all costs. Likewise, computer access in a youngster’s bedroom is discouraged for sleep as well as for safety reasons.

In general, exercise during the day is associated with better sleep. However, exercise within 2-4 hours of bedtime can lead to difficulties in falling asleep, as it can disrupt the natural cooling process of the body that leads to rest at night. Having the youngster soak their body, particularly their head, in a calm bath that is as warm as can be tolerated 90 minutes before bedtime may be useful too. 
 
When the youngster gets out of the bath, core body temperature will drop rapidly; this is believed to help them to fall asleep faster. Using a waterproof pillow and avoiding the pulsation associated with showers is recommended. The use of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing and imagery exercises is the most widely researched treatment for insomnia in kids and may be useful for kids with autism as well.

Napping—

Controlled and limited (e.g., 20-30 minutes) napping is generally positive. However, longer daytime sleeping can be negative in that it makes it more difficult for the youngster to fall asleep at the ideal time in the evening. If the youngster’s sleep problems are associated with falling asleep, which is common for kids on the spectrum, it is advisable to avoid daytime napping.

Diet—

It is recommended that kids with sleep problems avoid all caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, high fat food, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). In contrast, food rich in protein may promote better sleep. Large meals within 2-3 hours of bedtime should also be avoided. A small carbohydrate/protein snack, such as whole wheat bread and low-fat cheese or milk before bedtime can be helpful to minimize nighttime hunger and stimulate the release of neuro-chemicals associated with falling asleep. For kids who often wake during the night to use the bathroom, and then have trouble falling back asleep, limited fluid intake in the 2 hours prior to bedtime is also recommended.

Melatonin is a natural brain hormone associated with sleep onset. There is some evidence that natural production of melatonin may be reduced in these young people on the spectrum. While melatonin supplements may be useful, a common side effect may be increased sluggishness in the morning. As discussed above, this is already a common problem for kids with autism. Use of melatonin and other alternative remedies should be discussed with a physician.
 

The Bedroom—

It is important that the bed and the bedroom are associated with sleep and are not associated with activity. When kids have sleep problems, it is highly recommended that their bed and bedroom activity be limited to sleep only. It is important to make sure that extreme changes in temperature are avoided during the night. 
 
Increasing light is associated with decreases in the release of the neuro-chemical melatonin which triggers sleep onset. Thus, it is important to get the sunlight flowing in the youngster’s room as soon as possible in the morning. Conversely, darkening the room at night is critical. When a youngster’s fear of the dark is an issue, behavioral psychotherapy may be necessary. We also recommend moving the clock so that the youngster is not watching the time while lying in bed.

Sleep Routine—

Setting and maintaining a regular time to sleep and wake may be critical. Moms and dads often make the mistake of allowing their kids to sleep much later on non-school days to “make up” for sleep. While this may be useful to a certain extent, allowing the youngster to sleep late in the day makes it difficult for them to fall asleep at an ideal time later in the evening. It is easier to wake a sleeping youngster then to force an alert youngster to go to sleep. Thus, we recommend that you keep your youngster on a regular schedule on non-school days and avoid drastic changes in the time that the youngster wakes. 
 
Likewise, having your kids go to bed when they are not tired conditions them to be awake in bed. It is recommended that you let your kids stay up until they are tired while maintaining their waking time in the morning. Then once they begin falling asleep within 10 minutes of going to bed, begin to move bed time earlier by 15 minutes at a time.

With carefully monitoring and patience, many moms and dads can make changes in a youngster’s life that promote better sleep. Improved sleep supports better mood, sustained attention and general health. However, for many families professional consultation is often necessary to design or maintain the appropriate intervention. When you need help, speak with other moms and dads of special needs kids about their experiences and ask your primary care doctor for referrals to a sleep expert.
 
More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
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COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  She said she was a single mom I assume she has to work to provide... so she may not be able to adjust her schedule... I am single mom of HFA 11yr old with simular issues... and I am debating homeschooling but I am only one person !!!!
•    Anonymous said… Exactly my thought. We have a 6pm rule. No electronics after that time. Increased his exercise, and it works for us. No drugs needed. X
•    Anonymous said… Exercise, no electronics on in the house after 6 (a bored brain is a tired one), wake up same time every time with daylight, and same basic diet. We do a fruit/veg/chia smoothie to start the day. My son loves to seek electronics at night (all electronics blocked during certain hrs and collect xbox and remotes every night)
•    Anonymous said… Go to your GP and try him on Melatonin, a natural hormone that helps us to sleep. We produce it in our bodies but some have less than others hence the difficulty sleeping. It may take a little while to find the right dosage that is agreeable to his body. My son is 13 and is on it. He was like a new born with sleep patterns until he was 6 yrs old. By 11 I was going nuts. He is much better now thank goodness and gets the rest that his body and mind needs to grow and function properly. You may have to restrict the internet/pc use at night and reward him with it during the day only so as to encourage him to sleep at night. The 'blue light' projected from the pc/laptop suppresses the normal secretion of melatonin and doesn't really help ones circadian rhythms. Getting off any electronic devices atleast an hour or two before regular bedtime allows the brain to begin the whole process of slowing down and releasing that melatonin. Look, I for one know that all of this information works but unless we as the parents/carers put it into practise, our kids will never do it. I'm not perfect, some days I forget to give my son his dose at the right time and then he's struggling to wake up at the right time the next morning and so I pay the price with his bad mood and getting to school on time etc. But we all have to start somewhere right? He was doing the school refusal thing last year and not wanting to leave the house or socialise at all. We enlisted the help of a psychologist who specialised in ASD and the school and recommitted to being the driving force behind implementing new routines. Baby steps was and is what it takes at the moment for my son and I. Its so tough for him especially I know, as I'm sure it is for your son but we have to push them out of their comfort zones for them to face challenges and grow from them. How else will they grow and learn? They wont! Plain and simple. Unfortunately its up to us. We become their "Executive Secretaries" as stated in the book "The Complete Guide to Aspergers Syndrome" by Tony Attwood.
I think I have gone on too much already but I hope you will find what your son needs to help him sleep and learn and grow. Wishing nothing but joy and success for our special Aspies!!!
•    Anonymous said… i also have a 12 yrs old with similar tendancies. Our Pead told us to avoid any Blue lights (whether that be in ceiling light or of electronics) after 4pm as it over stimulates their brain. I am now also trying reading before bed. I feel your pain
•    Anonymous said… I could have written this about my (undiagnosed) 11 year old. She also is now totally not Going to school (it's always been an issue but is much worse lately), she doesn't sleep and basically stays up all night every night (sometimes until 5-6am). She gets into bed ok at around11-12 but won't/can't sleep. She is very aggressive verbally and physically towards me almost all of the time and is very anxious. She doesn't go out with her friends or actually talk to them at all anymore. (She's never had tons of friends but now doesn't talk to the ones she did have) I'm also a single mum and have w younger daughter who is really effected by all this. It's so hard! I can't really offer any advice I'm waiting on things happening from the countless referrals that have gone in to community peads, cahms, child psychologist, education physcholigist etc xx
•    Anonymous said… I guess it doesnt work for everyone. If there is a physical activity or sport that he likes to do then try to do it everyday as it will help use up that 'boy' energy during the day. A bath or warm shower at night, a warm drink, reading some stories, di...See More
•    Anonymous said… If you're homeschooling anyway flip your schedule to match his. Do schoolin the afternoon. Theres a whole raft of studies about teen boys needing to sleep later. Make wake up time 10am and shift things. If the way everyone else does things isnt working for you and him create your own path.
•    Anonymous said… I'm not a Dr but have Aspergers girls and their consultants prescribed "Melatonin" it worked a treat to get their bodies back in a sleep routine and we only use it now if required. Hope this helps xx
•    Anonymous said… I've had similar issues, and since I've started to listen to his feelings, I work around him more now allowing him to sleep in as many days as possible, he is amuck happier boy all round for it 🏻
•    Anonymous said… Melatonin did nothing for our grand son any thing else
•    Anonymous said… My 8yr old grandson exactly the same.Wont go to school awake all night and his mum and dad cant get help for him in newzealand its shocking I feel sad for you.
•    Anonymous said… My Aspie son has just turned 17 and his sleeping patterns starting changing at about 13yrs old. I know how you feel and it's really hard. I'm now told by UK Social that my son is neglected and we can't parent him because we don't enforce his sleeping pattern and he lives for the Internet (it's the only form of Social life the poor boy has!). Can you flipping believe it! I don't know what to suggest tbh, because as you know it's not like parenting our sons when they were little boys where they knew bed time was bed time. It gets so much more challenging.
Maybe go onto "The National Autistic Society" website and go onto the Members Forum (you can browse as a "Guest"). There are so many parents in the same boat trying to manage their Teens through to Adulthood.
•    Anonymous said… my daughter doesnt go to bed till 1 or 2 am every day.....Melatonin diesnt wirk for her she needed stronger stuff but ended up ODing on perscription stuff....now we just let her stay up and I wake her at 7:45 for school every day
•    Anonymous said… My daughter had similar sleep pattern issues thru the early teens (although she did lots of drama classes in the evenings so socializing wasn't an issue). All teenagers naturally will stay awake later and sleep in. The beauty of home ed is we can accomodate their changed natural bio rhythms. I treasured my mornings to myself and we did educational stuff in the afternoons/evenings. Is there anything he would like enough to entice him out of the house? Other than saying don't worry, it will pass (it did with my daughter and I miss those precious me time mornings!) I don't know what to advise. But try not to worry too much about the sleep, it is normal and entirely natural during puberty, as is needing more sleep, instead explore ways to get him outside.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter takes melatonin a half hour before bedtime I give her 4mg in apple juice and she takes it other wise she would be up all night long. She's 12 and has been taking it since she was 2. No more sleep issues ever
•    Anonymous said… My Dr put my son on Clonidine 0.1mg to help him sleep at night otherwise he would be up all night
•    Anonymous said… My son is 11 and has a similar pattern. He has been on increasing doses of melatonin for 3 yrs. The problem is it us meant to only be given for a month then nothing then for another month, in an attempt to train the body. The breaks just send my son back into vampire mode within days. He was quite sick for a few day so Dr prescribed phenegan for anti nausea. This knocked him out.... you can buy over the counter from Boots, alot if chemists won't sell it to you though. But I found that boots did when I explained my son was aspie and it calmed him down. Understand this is only used when the melatonin is wearing off and body is used to it. I use it maybe once a month just so he gets a decent nights sleep @weekend.
Maybe worth a try as I know many Dr's don't like to prescribe melatonin unless forced. We get all his meds through Camhs xx
•    Anonymous said… Should talk to you'r doctor about what you can give him to help him sleep.May be you should look into a therapist to go to for help with your son. Has help with me.
•    Anonymous said… Society imposes routines that aren't fit for all, if he's feeling ok and is willing to take responsibility for himself and things that need to be done then maybe you could be more flexible. I say this because my 13yo son is in a similar position, I worry that he doesn't have a social life but he's much calmer out of school and no longer being bullied. I'm a single parent too and have to leave him home alone while I go to work, but he's safer there than he ever was in school.
•    Anonymous said… This sounds similar to what we experienced through the middle school years. Puberty is challenging for anyone, seems even more so for young people on the spectrum for some reason. Maybe because there was no go to rule book to reference since most info out there refers to neurotypical teens. It could be depression as well. Hang in there.
•    Anonymous said… Turn electronics OFF
•    Anonymous said… Unless you were/are an Aspie teenage with sleep problems, you dont have a clue what its like, it is not their fault REMEBER that! you can feed them all the tablets and chemicals you want but at the end of the day it only masks one of the many issue that we have to deal with, they are not the instigator they are the victim of their own biology.
•    Anonymous said… we do 3 mgs of Melatonin at night. I was amazed at how much it helped my 7 year old. You can take breaks on weekends and holidays if you want but during the week we use it each night. He even said, "mom! I actually slept last night!!!"
•    Anonymous said… We use 2 mg Clonidine and 3mg Melatonin for years. It was a life saver!
•    Anonymous said… We use melatonin 20 minutes before bed with a warning that the tv,electrinics/internet,will be off soon. After 20 minutes we remove tv remotes,game paddles,etc and turn off the lights. Works for us.
•    Anonymous said… Yes!! This can be a problem. Our teenager must have a sleep aid.
•    Anonymous said… Yes, melatonin does nothing for my sleepless son also 🙁

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Parent's Concrete Plan to Avert Meltdowns in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Question

Our son Nathan is four, turning five next month and has ASD. We have placed him in a mainstream school, grade RR and it has been a hectic week for him, us, his teachers at school. He is having meltdown after meltdown and is lashing out at the other kids by punching them, scratching them, or biting them severely. The parents are not happy and neither are the teachers. Please give us advice on how to deal with these abusive and often violent meltdowns as he refuses to go to timeout and threatens to punch the teachers. They don't know what to do or where to start to assist him.

Answer

Here are some important tips regarding meltdowns in children with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]:

• Help your youngster find more appropriate outlets for aggressive feelings and frustration, and encourage him to develop self control.

• Insist on an apology, directly to the person your youngster has bitten, and (if your youngster has bitten a baby or toddler) to the other youngster's parent.

• Pinpoint the cause. Is your youngster under a lot of stress? Does he have a new playmate from whom he may be picking up this behavior? Once you determine why your youngster is biting, you are well on the way to solving the problem.

• React immediately, with consequences that are connected to the act of biting. If your  youngster bites another youngster in a quarrel over a toy, remove the toy and don't let him play with it for a while. If he bites you because you will not give him a candy bar, make it clear that there will be no more candy bars until the biting behavior stops.
 

• REDIRECT any behavior that could lead to physical bopping or hitting. In many cases, what starts as fun and games ends with someone getting hurt. Don't be afraid to remove something that can cause harm or distress. Even an inflatable toy that doesn't hurt a youngster per se can reinforce negative behaviors of hitting one another, and should simply be discouraged.

• REFUSE to let your youngster play unattended with another youngster who consistently demonstrates hitting behaviors. It is your job to protect your youngster and to instill proper behaviors. You know what to do if your youngster is the one hitting, but don't hesitate stepping in if it is your youngster who is the one being hit (accidentally or not). You don't want your youngster to begin to think that he should also hit or hit back (or begin other bad behaviors, such as biting) in self-defense. You may need to speak up and even discipline another person's youngster to stop the inappropriate actions if the parent isn't acknowledging there is a problem. If you're comfortable, have a frank conversation with the parent of the youngster who is hitting. Consider choosing your words carefully to avoid anyone from becoming overly-defensive, and potentially ending a friendship. After all, next time it could be your own youngster with the behavioral issue.

• REMAIN calm and don't let your child see you get upset. You need to show a calm yet firm face so that your youngster knows that while you love him, you will not condone his actions and that it isn't ever okay to hit. Avoid over-reacting too. Use the redirection and firm "no hitting" words while removing the offender from the play area may be all that is needed.
 

• REMOVE the child on the spectrum from any situation in which he is deliberately hitting another youngster. If a youngster is a toddler and has begun socializing, consider ending the play-date and leave, howling and all. You need to teach your youngster that hitting another youngster ruins the activity for everyone. Of course, there are situations where you truly can't walk away. In this case a youngster must be removed from the others and not allowed to play with them. After a reasonable amount of time and after everyone has calmed down, you can talk with your youngster about the incident and then re-introduce the social play, but be sure to keep a very close eye on your youngster's actions. Nobody likes their youngster to be hit, and while some of the behavior is normal, it should be closely monitored and stopped. Plus, you don't want your own tot becoming known as a bully, or at the very least a youngster no one wants to be around.

• SUPERVISE your youngster and be prepared to react quickly. Too often, parents aren't attentive enough to young kids playing together because they are so busy having an adult conversation that they don't see warning signs of potentially-hurtful behavior starting. Don't rely on someone else to watch your youngster. Your youngster and his behavior is always your responsibility. At the same time, don't do the helicopter hover either.

• TALK with your youngster before he joins others in a playgroup about appropriate ways to act. Tell your youngster what you expect in easy-to-understand language. Once your youngster is old enough to really understand what you are saying, he is old enough to begin learning right from wrong.

Remember that having an youngster who hits, bites, scratches, etc., doesn't mean that they will grow up to be bad or become a bully. It's just your job to stop the action and properly discipline your youngster through loving guidance and age-appropriate communications.
 
More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.


 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Being only 4 could probably be part of the problem
•    Anonymous said… I am a friend of Marisa and I agree with her. Her son was so unhappy at our school and I have seen him grow so much since he has been at this new school. He is like a different child. Take him to a place where he can be content.
•    Anonymous said… I am a mom of a 10 year old boy with Aspergers. He did grade 1 and 2 so unhappy in a remedial school. It was traumatic for him, and really bad for his self-confidence and his trust in us. By the time I was able to move him to a a school that deals purely with children on the spectrum, we had so much damage and hurt to undo. Your son is acting out because it is the only way he knows how to express himself. He is showing you that the situation is not a good one for him, as he is not capable of putting into words his emotions. As another mom, I would recommend that you move him to a place where they teach him social skills as well as an academic program, so that he doesn't grow into a teenager that still cannot understand 'neurotypical language'.
•    Anonymous said… I can only go by what i just read it doesnt sound like hes getting much support! Time out and punishment wont help......a safe place for him to regroup and calm could. Trying to deal with the blow out of too much stress after the fact wont help but trying to manage expectations transitions etc beforehand might. Does the teaching staff understand him and aspergers as a condition? Ita with kelly above......my son went into a new school they did not understand him they disciplined him and did not manage him properly at all..not their fault they did not understand him.....it took us an entire year to get things going somewhat smoothly and his confidence and esteem took a big knock. If i could go back i would have started out with a very definitive plan on how my son would be managed (iep) and how certain situations would be dealt with. I would have been a stronger advocate for my son.....i was struggling with the embarrassment of what he was behaving like and didnt focus enough on supporting him and his needs (not saying thats the case with anyone else that was just me) good luck i feel your pain its a difficult situation
•    Anonymous said… I know the feeling all too well ! he's just overwhelmed ... your son is not a bad child !!!! I use the positive re- enforcement you're a good boy ,you can do this, think how proud you're going to feel... good luck mama
•    Anonymous said… If at all possible, move to a different class or school where teacher/aide ratio is no more than 4 kids per adult. He needs lots of positive input and reinforcement that a mainstream teacher is not going to be able to provide - even with an IEP. Our son had a similar experience, and it took 2 years to undo the damage that was done to his development and self esteem. To this day, the parents of the kids in that class will avoid him and me. If you can't change schools, insist on an aide because of the high level of support he will need.
•    Anonymous said… In my opinion the school are not doing enough to recognise the signs before meltdown,of you have mastered it they need to to,,if they wont work with you and figure out the causes of his meltdowns and adjust things to make it easier on him,which he is entitled to be happy at school too,I would consider looking else where with a good reputation,there are lots schools are doing to make it less over whelming for all children ...less work on walls hanging up ect different lighting,things like coloured sheets to go over pages of books as it can be to much the white and black and all those words,,all triggers of a meltdown.... Maybe ask to sit in and see what's going on see if you can see his triggers smile emoticon hope I have not waffled to much.
•    Anonymous said… Make sure the school realises he is in a threatening environment for him. He is at meltdown point because no intervention has been given prior to him getting to that point. Once at meltdown he no longer can hear or think and will/can lash out. A meltdown can take up to 4 hours to recover from as the brain hormones released at this time leave the body, he needs time to recover from a meltdown not put in another situation that will cause further problems for him. He needs adults around him who take the time to get to KNOW him and his warning signs and take action to help him calm before meltdown. Time out at that point won't work, he can no longer think, but a relaxation break, (a lie down somewhere quiet, music, colouring in, whatever he likes to do quietly) or an active (climbing, running, jumping, rolling) break might help. Quick rewards of high interest given at the right time will help, a first then next timetable so he knows what the day looks like. All these things and many other strategies will help if his teacher and aid are willing.
•    Anonymous said… My HFA son is in Sr. Kindergarten. Last year when we transitioned him from Daycare to Jr. Kindergarten it was challenging. He too has aggressive tendencies (biting, kicking, scratching, throwing objects). We knew JK would be a challenge, so we gathered a team including the daycare, school, therapists etc and started planning early. The first few months were not easy - he was at 60% serious aggression level (60% of the days had a serious incident) and had many potty accidents. However, we persevered, had alot of communications and statistics and with the dedication of all involved, he finished the year at about 20% incident levels (and not as severe). This year, there has been virtually no problems - but keep in mind, same teacher and schedule for the second year. My fear is that the administrators don't realize how much support he needs to maintain this level. I am very happy we had a plan and are able to keep him totally integrated.I would suggest, professional observation of him in the clase, ABC analysis, statistical analysis, open communications and a good sense of humour.
•    Anonymous said… Take him out. There are other places. Not worth putting him through this trauma.
•    Anonymous said… We dealt with this at age 6. Started anxiety med and eventually placed in a Emotionally Disabled classroom. Sounds scary, but they have tools to build child back up. Small class size and aides. It did get worse for a few weeks...then we had a kid back. He was his old self. That tornado inside of him calmed down. He still has bad days, but once every few weeks, not everyday. Keep at it! Know you are not alone. You are a good mom, your son is lucky to have you.

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Learning to Parent a Child with a Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder [Level 1]

“Our son now 6 went for assessment last Friday after a lot of form filling on his history etc. and doing tests with him, they - like me - have come to conclusion he has all the signs of a child with Autism (high functioning). Now that I finally have medical proof of what I have suspected for years, where do I go from here? How can I make his day easier? Basic tasks are major hurdles.”


When moms and dads seek help for their youngster, they encounter varied opinions – he'll outgrow it, leave him alone, it is no big deal, he just wants attention, and so on. Many professionals try to work with the high-functioning autistic youngster as if his disorder is like other disorders, but it is quite different. In most cases, there is a great misunderstanding by many people of the needs of these special individuals.

Diagnosis can be difficult. For the inexperienced, recognizing the defining characteristics of Autism can be difficult, and misdiagnoses are quite common. This is further complicated by the fact that an Autistic youngster or teen has many of the same characteristics found in other disorders. These various characteristics are often misinterpreted, overlooked, under-emphasized, or overemphasized. As a result, a youngster may receive many different diagnoses over time or from different professionals.

For example, if a youngster with Autism demonstrates a high degree of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - that might be the only diagnosis he receives. However, this is a common characteristic of Autistic kids. The same holds true if obsessive or compulsive behaviors are displayed – the youngster gets labeled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) instead of Autism.

The following traits are also commonly seen in those with Autism in varying degrees. However, just because these traits are there, it doesn't mean that the youngster should be diagnosed differently; these traits should be noted as significant features of ASD [level 1]:


•    Anxiety
•    Difficulty with pragmatic language skills
•    Hyperlexia (advanced word recognition skills)
•    Motor deficits
•    Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
•    Sensory difficulties
•    Social skills deficits

Professionals who do not have much experience with Autism have a hard time identifying the defining characteristics. For example, social skill deficits may be noted by a professional, but then they are often downplayed because the youngster or adolescent appears to be having appropriate conversations with others or seems to be interested in other people. But with an Autistic youngster, the conversations are not generally reciprocal, so the youngster must be carefully observed to see whether or not there is true back-and-forth interaction. Also, many Autistic kids have an interest in others, but you need to clarify if the objects of their interest are age appropriate. Do they interact with peers in an age-appropriate fashion? Can they maintain friendships over a period of time or do they end as the novelty wears off? These are the types of observations and questions that must be asked in order to ensure a proper diagnosis.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Another example of an overlooked area is the narrow routines or rituals that are supposed to be present. This does not always manifest as obsessive-compulsive behavior in the typical sense, such as repeated hand washing or neatness, but rather in the insistence on the need for rules about many issues and situations. These kids may not throw tantrums over their need for rules, but may require them just as much as the person who has a meltdown when a rule is violated. In essence, there is no single profile of the typical Autistic individual. They are not all the same.

Because of these subtleties and nuances, the single most important consideration in diagnosis is that the person making the initial diagnosis be familiar with autistic spectrum disorders. They should have previously diagnosed numerous kids. To make a proper, initial diagnosis requires the following:

1. An evaluation by an occupational therapist familiar with sensory integration difficulties may provide additional and valuable information.

2. It is important to include a speech and language evaluation, as those with Autism will display impairments in the pragmatics and semantics of language, despite having adequate receptive and expressive language. This will also serve to make moms and dads aware of any unusual language patterns the youngster displays that will interfere in later social situations. Again, these oddities may not be recognized if the evaluator is not familiar with Autism.

3. The youngster should see a neurologist or developmental pediatrician (again, someone familiar with autistic spectrum disorders) for a thorough neurological exam to rule out other medical conditions and to assess the need for medication. The physician may suggest additional medical testing (blood, urine, fragile X, hearing).

4. You (both moms and dads) and your youngster should have sessions with a psychologist where your youngster is carefully observed to see how he responds in various situations. This is done through play or talk sessions in the psychologist's office and by discussions with both moms and dads. The psychologist may ask you to complete checklists or questionnaires to gain a better understanding of the youngster's behaviors at home and/or school. If the youngster is in school, the psychologist may call the youngster's teacher or ask her to complete additional checklists. The checklists or questionnaires used should be ones that are appropriate for individuals with Autism. It is important to determine the IQ level of your youngster as well. An average or above-average IQ is necessary for a diagnosis of Autism.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

O.K. My youngster has been diagnosed with ASD – so now what?

Parenting kids displaying Autism characteristic behavior will often require an approach which is somewhat unique to that of other kids. Finding the balance between understanding the needs of a youngster with Autism and discipline which is age appropriate and situationally necessary is achievable when applying some simple but effective strategies. These strategies can be implemented both at home and in more public settings.

General Behavior Problems—

Traditional discipline may fail to produce the desired results for kids with Autism, primarily because they are unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Consequently, punitive measures are apt to exacerbate the type of behavior the punishment is intended to reduce, whilst at the same time giving rise to distress in both the youngster and parent.

At all times the emotional and physical well-being of your youngster should take priority. Often this will necessitate removing your youngster from a potentially distressing situation as soon as possible. Consider maintaining a diary of your youngster's behavior with a view to ascertaining patterns or triggers. Recurring behavior may be indicative of a youngster taking some satisfaction in receiving a desired response from peers, moms and dads or teachers.

For example, a youngster with Autism may come to understand that hurting another youngster in class will result in his being removed from class, notwithstanding the associated consequence to his peer. The solution may not be most effectively rooted in punishing the youngster for the behavior, or even attempting to explain the situation from the perspective of their injured peer, but by treating the root cause behind the motivation for the misbehavior...for example, can the youngster be made more comfortable in class so that they will not want to leave it?

==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

One of the means to achieve this may be to focus on the positive. Praise for good behavior, and reinforcement by way of something like a Reward Book, can assist. The use of encouraging verbal cues delivered in a calm tone are likely to elicit more beneficial responses than the harsher verbal warnings which might be effective on kids who are not displaying some sort of Autistic characteristic. If necessary, when giving directions to cease a type of misbehavior, these should also be couched as positives rather than negatives. For example, rather than telling a youngster to stop hitting his brother with the ruler, the youngster should be directed to put the ruler down.

Obsessive or Fixated Behavior—

Almost all kids go through periods of development where they become engrossed in one subject matter or another, but kids with Autism often display obsessive and repetitive characteristics, which can have significant implications for behavior.

For example, if an Autistic youngster becomes fixated upon reading a particular story each night, theymay become distressed if this regime is not adhered to, or if the story is interrupted. Again, the use of a behavior diary can assist in identifying fixations for your youngster. Once a fixation is identified, it is important to set appropriate boundaries for your youngster. Providing a structure within which your youngster can explore the obsession can assist in then keeping the obsession within reasonable limits, without the associated angst which might otherwise arise through such limitations. For example, tell your youngster that they may watch their favorite cartoon for half an hour after dinner, and make clear time for that in their routine.

It is appropriate to utilize the obsession to motivate and reward your youngster for good behavior. Always ensure any reward associated with positive behavior is granted immediately to assist the youngster recognizing the nexus between the two.

A particularly useful technique to try to develop social reciprocity is to have your youngster talk for five minutes about a particularly favored topic after they have listened to you talk about an unrelated topic. This serves to help your youngster understand that not everyone shares their enthusiasm for their subject matter.

==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Bridging the Gap Between ASD and Discipline and Other Siblings—

For siblings without the disorder, the differential and what at times no doubt appears to be preferential treatment received by an Autistic sibling can give rise to feelings of confusion and frustration. Often, they will fail to understand why their brother or sister apparently seems free to behave as they please without the normal constraints placed upon them.

It is important to explain to siblings or peers of Autistic kids and encourage open discussion about the disorder itself. Encouragement should extend to the things siblings can do to assist the Autism youngster, and this should be positively reinforced through acknowledgement when it occurs.

Sleep Difficulties—

Autistic kids are known to experience sleep problems. Kids on the spectrum may have lesser sleep requirements, and as such are more likely to become anxious about sleeping, or may find they become anxious when waking during the night or early in the morning.

Combat your youngster's anxiety by making their bedrooms a place of safety and comfort. Remove or store items which might be prone to injure your youngster if they decide to wander at night. Include in the behavioral diary a record of your youngster's sleep patterns. It may assist your youngster if you keep a list of their routine, including dinner, bath time, story and bed, in order to provide structure. Include an image or symbol of them waking in the morning to provide assurance as to what will happen. Social stories have proven to be a particularly successful tactic in decreasing a youngster's anxiety by providing clear instructions on how part of their day is likely to play out.

==> Unraveling the Mystery Behind High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

At School—


Another Autistic characteristic is that kids will often experience difficulty during parts of the school day which lack structure. If left to their own devices their difficulties with social interaction and self-management can result in anxiety. The use of a buddy system can assist in providing direction, as can the creation of a timetable for recess and lunch times. These should be raised with class teachers and implemented with their assistance.

Explain the concept of free time to your youngster, or consider providing a separate purpose or goal for your youngster during such time, such as reading a book, or helping to set up paint and brushes for the afternoon tasks.

In Public—

Kids with Autism can become overwhelmed to the point of distress by even a short sojourn in public. The result is that many moms and dads with Autism simply seek to avoid as much as possible situations where their youngster is exposed to the public. While expedient, it may not offer the best long-term solution to your youngster, and there are strategies to assist with outings.

Consider providing your youngster with an iPad, or have the radio on in the car to block out other sounds and stimuli. Prepare a social story or list explaining to the youngster a trip to the shops, or doctor. Be sure to include on the list your return home. Consider giving your youngster a task to complete during the trip, or having them assist you. At all times, maintaining consistency when dealing with Autism and discipline is key. It pays to ensure that others involved in your youngster's care are familiar with your strategies and techniques, such as those outlined above, and are able to apply them.

Most importantly, don't hesitate to seek support networks for other moms and dads, and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge those who have dealt with the disorder before you. The assistance you can gain from these and other resources can assist you in developing important strategies to deal with problems with ASD [level 1] in a manner most beneficial to your youngster.

 

More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content