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Resolving School Behavior Problems in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Question

"Mark, I have a daughter age 6 who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age two. She received intensive therapy, 40 hours plus, per week utilizing various techniques. She is now 6. She is extremely friendly to even strangers, her IQ is 133… she is great with the exception of some behavioral problems. She is in first grade and is getting in trouble and being punished regularly for things such a marking on things she should not mark on, refusing to write. I need help."

Answer

You need to have a functional behavior assessment performed. Consider the following scenarios: 
 
A child with ASD has a behavior meltdown, in the school hall way. He begins to scream and hit other child. A grown-up is able to redirect the child and thus eliminate the behavior. Afterward, the team meets to discuss behavioral approaches for the future and to try to find out what led to this behavioral incident. 
 
As the team discusses potential reasons for the behavior, they discover that the child has been the victim of intense bullying and teasing. In response, the team questions what they can do in the future to eliminate behavioral difficulties. The issue of dealing with the bullies is never discussed.

Another child has a history of behavioral challenges that were minimal during elementary school, but have intensified in middle school. The team realizes that middle school presents special challenges because of changing classes and working with multiple staff. 
 

Accommodations are discussed that may assist the child in making numerous transitions throughout the school day. Despite these efforts, behavior incidents continue to occur. The behaviors are most likely to occur in the cafeteria or in hallways, which are incredibly noisy. It is suggested that in the future, in-school suspension be considered when there is a behavioral challenge. 
 
This is the approach used with other child, and the school has a strong zero-tolerance policy. The child is warned repeatedly. Despite these warnings, behaviors continue and actually escalate, resulting in removal from the educational setting.

Responding to Problematic Behavior—

When a youngster with ASD engages in problematic behavior, a typical response includes trying to identify what is going on within the youngster that leads to this behavior crisis. Questions are asked, such as, “Why is he exhibiting this behavior?” “Why is she hitting others?” or “What will stop this behavior?” 
 
All too often, this last question keeps us focused on consequence procedures that are child specific. However, simply focusing on the child as the sole source of the behavior provides limited insight into potential solutions and problems. In these situations, there are multiple issues to consider.

First, the federal law guiding special education services, the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), requires special procedures and safeguards to be used when considering discipline for child with disabilities. These IDEIA provisions regarding discipline were designed to ensure that kids with disabilities maintain their ability to receive an appropriate education, even though the symptoms of their disability may include behaviors that require interventions. 
 
These provisions consider the amount of time a child may be removed from class or school due to behavior, and require the school team to analyze whether the behavior is related to the child’s disability. This process is called manifestation determination. If the behavior is determined to be due to the disability, the law requires that a functional behavior assessment be conducted that results in an individually designed behavior support plan. This plan should use positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports to address the behavior and teach alternative ways of responding.

When conducting a functional behavior assessment, professionals and family members examine setting events or triggers that may increase the probability of these behaviors. These setting events may not be readily apparent. For example, a child with ASD is ill, has had a difficult morning ride on the bus or has not slept. These conditions will increase the likelihood that a behavior incident will occur. For most of us, stresses in life, changes in morning routines or skipping our morning coffee may set us up to be moody and agitated. These are setting events. 
 
Setting events that we often do not consider are related to the culture of the school. Schools that struggle with bullying, high rates of suspension or expulsion, or even high staff turnover may be settings that promote problematic behaviors. If this is the case, then schools should take a systematic approach in creating a school culture that is responsive to child and staff.


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
  
 
Best Comment:

Well, I guess it’s time for me to tell our school administration about my son. I initially wanted to wait on this as I was trying to grasp what ASD was, make sure he really has this and really understand it. I feel I have the tools to do this now, two diagnoses from two professionals, a neurologist and a psychologist and after the two incidents that happened at school, I must say something.

First incident: I received a call from the school that my son was doubled over in pain in the office because he said his stomach hurt. I arrived at the school to pick him up in the office. The secretary said that he was in the bathroom (I told her to encourage him to go over the phone as he has had this problem/ his 8 yrs of life) Well, I waited and waited and waited...I told her he was taking too long. I then decided to knock on the bathroom door. He was not there. I walked over to his classroom and looked into the window and there he was! I went back into the office and told them that he was in his classroom. 
 
The office called him back so I could assess the situation. He now felt fine and wanted to stay at school. He loves school and could have easily pretended he was sick or just come home but that is not how he is. The office had no clue their student went m.i.a on him and if they had looked him in the eye and told him to make sure he came back and check on him after 3 min he would have been back. In his mind, he was ok and went back or just forgot and had his mind on one idea.

Second incident: My son was called into the office (he never gets called to the office!) because he spelled out loud an inappropriate word at school. The note said that he said the F word for which he does NOT know nor ever heard. I was in shock, tears, you know it! They said he heard this from a kid at camp over the summer. I asked him what he said. He said "mom, I spelled Sucker" When he went to the office, the administrator asked him to spell what he spelled out on the playground and the admin said he spelled it with a F. My son told me that spelling that with an F is NOT a word and does NOT make sense. I know in my heart that the admin heard it wrong. An F and an F sound alike when said out loud. What really bothered me was that the admin thought my son was lying or changing his stories in the office. 
 
When he said to the admin, I did not spell that, I spelled sucker. the admin said "you know what you spelled!" that is just wrong and then after being questioned my son started to get confused and cry and told the admin...uuhh I forget, which he does! It was not the admins fault. I blame myself. They need to know my so does not lie. He is a truth teller! I told my son that he has a detention for spelling sucker and that is not a good word. I’m hurt and angry because now he has been exposed to the F word because the admin. Thought that is what he said. It’s so unfair! I did not bring up ASD etc when I was in the office crying and trying to make sense of all this. I did not want to use that as an excuse. I called for the impromptu meeting in the office, they did not.

My son is also going through testing for an auditory processing disorder (on Wed) and other language issues. His speech is unclear at times, slurs words (may have been why the admin thought he used an F) and had a hard time expressing himself at times. The school does not know this. The only teachers that know of his diagnosis are his current teacher, teacher from last year and the music teacher. I will now be setting up an appointment with the administration.

My son told me that he did hear the word sucker from a kid at camp and that the boy did not get into trouble for it but he somehow knew it was bad. He said "Mom, it is a bad word to say and that is why I SPELLED it!" From the mind of a child with ASD. Thank you, God that he did not say the F word even though the guy in admin thought so. I know what he said...they can believe what they want.

I wrote a letter stating that for the record, my son did not spell what they thought he spelled, but I stand by the school 100% and YES, he should have a 20 min. detention for spelling the word SUCKER.I do not allow that word in our home and as a matter of fact the word Stupid is a bad word in our home. Stating the facts and supporting the school at the same time, shows the school I’m not a crazy parent without a brain.

My son attends a private school that we love! The admin who heard him wrong, is an amazing individual. I respect him but I think his "hearing aid" needed to be turned up that day! Ahhhh, I need to laugh.

Thanks for listening, my eyes are swollen! ( :
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens 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.

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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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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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Nonverbal Learning Disorder versus Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Is The Difference?

I can't tell you how happy I am to have found this site. I have a 9 year old son with ASD. He was diagnosed at 6 years old with a non verbal learning disorder, and attends a school for children with ADHD and/or autism. As his parent, I feel overwhelmed, scared, frustrated, and completely alone. I am hoping to find other parents who understand the issues we face daily, and who can share thoughts and ideas. I'm really hoping this site might be the life ring that keeps me from drowning!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) is a learning disorder that has many traits commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Like those with ASD, kids with NLD usually start to talk around 2 years of age (the age at which speech normally develops).
 
Youngsters with NLD are very verbal, and may not have academic problems until they get into the upper grades in school. Often their biggest problem is with social skills. NLD is very much like ASD level 1 (high-functioning autism). 
 
It may be that the diagnoses of ASD and NLD simply provide different perspectives on a heterogeneous, yet overlapping, group of individuals sharing at least some common aspects. ASD and NLD are generally thought to describe pretty much the same kind of disorder, but to differ in severity—with ASD describing more severe symptoms.

Signs of NLD—

• Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
• Attention to detail, but misses the big picture
• Concrete thinking; taking things very literally
• Difficulty with math, especially word problems
• Excellent memory skills
• Fear of new situations
• Great vocabulary and verbal expression
• May be very naïve and lack common sense
• May withdraw, becoming agoraphobic (abnormal fear of open spaces)
• Messy and laborious handwriting
• Physically awkward; poor coordination
• Poor abstract reasoning
• Poor social skills; difficulty making and keeping friends
• Trouble adjusting to changes
• Trouble understanding reading
• Trouble with nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expression and tone of voice

Parenting tips for youngsters with NLD—

• Be logical, organized, clear, concise and concrete. Avoid jargon, double meanings, sarcasm, nicknames, and teasing.

• Be very specific about cause and effect relationships.

• Get your son into the therapies he needs, such as: occupational and physical therapy, psychological, or speech and language (to address social issues).

• Have your son use the computer at school and at home for schoolwork.

• Help your son learn coping skills for dealing with anxiety and sensory difficulties.

• Help your son learn organizational and time management skills.

• Help him out in group activities.

• Keep the environment predictable and familiar.

• Learn about social competence and how to teach it.

• Make use of your son's verbal skills to help with social interactions and non-verbal experiences. For example, giving a verbal explanation of visual material.

• Pay attention to sensory input from the environment, like noise, temperature, smells, many people around, etc.

• Prepare your son for changes, giving logical explanations.

• Provide structure and routine.

• State your expectations clearly.

• Teach him about non-verbal communication (facial expressions, gestures, etc.). Help him learn how to tell from others’ reactions whether they are communicating well.

• Work with his school to modify homework assignments, testing (time and content), grading, art and physical education.

• Bullying is unacceptable. Your son's school must make every effort to prevent it. If talking to your son's teachers and principal does not put an end to the victimization, ask his doctor to write a letter to the school, and pursue the issue up to higher channels in the school district if necessary.

• Encourage your son to develop interests that will build self-esteem and help him relate to other youngsters. For example, if he is interested in Pokémon, pursuing this interest may open social doors for them with schoolmates.

• Reassure your son that you value him for who he is. It's a little tricky to help your son  improve social skills, and at the same time nurture his confidence to hold on to his unique individuality.

• See if you can find a small-group social skills training program in your school system, medical system, or community. This kind of program will probably not be available in smaller communities.

• Steer your son toward a playmate he has something in common with and set up a play date. This is a way to get some social skills experience in a small, controlled, less-threatening way.

• Talk to your son in private after you have gone with him to a group activity. You can discuss with him how he could improve the way he interacts with other youngsters. For example, you might point out that other youngsters don't feel comfortable when your son stands so close to them. Help him practice the social skills you explain to him through role-playing.

• These youngsters need as few handicaps as possible, so make sure your son is getting the counseling, therapies, and/or medication he needs to treat any other problems or medical conditions he might have.

Can my son with ASD truly understand love?

"My son is 8 yrs old. He is fairly high functioning. Here's the problem. I don't feel like he loves me. Can he truly understand love at all. He does not hug, kiss or cuddle. He never has. He likes to have his back scratched at night, but that's it. He struggles emotionally at school- a lot of anger. But at home you would notice anything out of the ordinary, until supper. Same meal every single night. He has no problems sharing emotions every once in a while with his father (who lives outside of the home). How can I help him to open up to me?!"

 
Many emotional concepts are difficult for kids with ASD. Love is probably one of the most complicated emotions of all. The lack of empathy and inflexibility that many kids on the spectrum live with will definitely make understanding the concept of love difficult – difficult, but not impossible.

It is sometimes hard to separate the idea of a person with autism loving someone from the true source of difficulty, which is the concept of theory of mind. People with autism feel a full range of emotions: anger, sadness, joy, and yes, love. 
 
However, the problem lies in connecting these feelings to the feelings of others. Theory of mind is understanding that another person's thoughts and feelings are their own and how they can coincide with ours, even though they are not reliant on what we are feeling.

The possibilities are there for your son with high-functioning autism. Love is an emotion that he can come to understand. Here are some things you can do to make sure that happens:
  1. Behavioral therapists can use play therapy to enhance your son's theory of mind. Pretend play can be difficult for kids with ASD due to the close connection with understanding other's feelings. Play skills are important for developing relationships on many levels.
  2. Social skills therapy can help him work on social cues, facial expressions, and basic communication, which in turn, will enhance his theory of mind abilities.
  3. Practice facial expression and recognition with pictures in books or family photographs. Explain the emotion and the cause. Using the ‘say, see, hear' approach to enhance his understanding.
  4. Social stories and comic strips can also be used to show situations that cause different emotional responses. Use these to explain why other people may react in various situations.

The process of developing theory of mind is ongoing in kids on the autism spectrum. Love is only a small part of this very complex equation. While love may be a tricky emotional concept for kids with ASD, the basic idea of love is very real. 
 
Balancing the feelings of love within a relationship is what will bring on a variety of experiences, both positive and negative. With straight forward discussion about feelings and emotions, your son should be able to understand love, and be successful at it. 
 
 

When Your Child with ASD Does Not "Bond" Well with You: Tips for Moms

Question

How do I bond with my 6yr old son that has ASD? It's very hard for me …I need help.

Answer

Just like with any relationship, building a positive relationship between the parent and the high-functioning autistic child is one that requires work and effort to make it strong and successful. Parenting a child on the autism spectrum is a tough job, and maintaining close relationships and open communications helps to ensure parents and their children stay connected through all ages of their upbringing.

Here are 10 simple tips for enhancing the bond between parent and the autistic youngster:

1. Develop and Maintain a Special Bedtime Ritual—For younger kids on the spectrum, reading a favorite bedtime book or telling stories is a ritual that will be remembered most likely throughout their life. Older kids should not be neglected either. Once kids start reading, have them read a page, chapter, or short book to you. Even most teenagers still enjoy the ritual of being told goodnight in a special way by a parent--even if they don't act like it!

2. Eat Meals as a Family—You've heard this before, and it really is important! Eating together sets the stage for conversation and sharing. Turn the TV off, and don't rush through a meal. When schedules permit, really talk and enjoy one another. It can become a quality time most remembered by young and old alike.

3. Establish a Special Name or Code Word—Create a special name for your special needs youngster that is positive and special or a secret code word that you can use between each other. Use the name as a simple reinforcement of your love. The code word can be established to have special meaning between your son and you that only you two understand. This code word can even be used to extract a child from an uncomfortable situation (such as a sleepover that is not going well) without causing undue embarrassment to the child.
 

4. Let Your Kids Help You—Moms and dads sometimes inadvertently miss out on opportunities to forge closer relationships by not allowing their ASD youngster to help them with various tasks and chores. Unloading groceries after going to the store is a good example of something that kids of most ages can and should assist with. Choosing which shoes look better with your dress lets a child know you value her opinion. Of course, if you ask, be prepared to accept and live with the choice made!

5. Make Them a Priority in Your Life—Your special needs kids need to know that you believe they are a priority in your life. Kids can observe excessive stress and notice when they feel you are not paying them attention. Sometimes, part of being a parent is not worrying about the small stuff and enjoying your kids. They grow up so fast, and every day is special. Take advantage of your precious time together while you have it!

6. Play With Your Children—The key is to really play with your kids. Play with dolls, ball, make believe, checkers, sing songs, or whatever is fun and interesting. It doesn't matter what you play, just enjoy each other! Let kids see your silly side. Older kids enjoy cards, chess, computer games, while younger ones will have fun playing about anything...as long as it involves you!

7. Respect Their Choices—You don't have to like their mismatched shirt and shorts or love how a child has placed pictures in his room. However, it is important to respect those choices. Kids reach out for independence at a young age, and moms and dads can help to foster those decision-making skills by being supportive and even looking the other way on occasion. After all, it really is okay if a child goes to daycare with a striped green shirt and pink shorts.
 

8. Say I Love You—Tell your ASD son you love him every day -- no matter his age. Even on trying days or after a parent-child disagreement, when you don't exactly "like your child" at that moment, it is more important than ever to express your love. A simple "I love you" goes a long way toward developing and then strengthening a relationship.

9. Seek Out One-On-One Opportunities Often—Some moms and dads have special nights or "standing dates" with their kids to create that one-on-one opportunity. Whether it is a walk around the neighborhood, a special trip to a playground, or just a movie night with just the two of you, it is important to celebrate each child individually. Although it is more of a challenge the more kids in a family, it is really achievable! Think creatively and the opportunities created will be ones that you remember in the future.

10. Teach Your Faith—Teach your special needs son about your faith and beliefs. Tell him what you believe and why. Allow time for him to ask questions and answer them honestly. Reinforce those teachings often.
 

Should You "Push" Your Adult Child with ASD to Be More Independent?

Question

"My brother has ASD and dyspraxia. I can’t help but feeling that my Dad is halting his independence. My brother has traveled to London with my dad on average every month to spend the weekend with our mum since he was 6 my mum met them in London as the half way point and took him to her home on the Isle of Wight. Since my brother was fifteen he has traveled to the Isle of Wight from London alone (thanks to my mum encouraging his independence) this involves a coach and then getting onto a cat across to the island. He is now 20 and my dad still say's that he is not ready to travel to London alone (1 train, no changes, no underground) "London is a scary place" he said. I think my brother is capable of doing this alone easily. I asked my dad when was the last time he asked my brother if he thought he could do it alone and he replied the last time they went my brother said he preferred to have dad with him. My dad said he doesn't want to push him to do something that he's not comfortable with. I replied that sometimes everyone needs to be pushed a little, he replied "EVERYONE DOESN'T HAVE AUTISM". My brother was pushed slightly to do the second part of the journey alone and is fine with it. Is it true that you shouldn't push someone who has ASD to be more independent?"


Answer

To your dad:

The balance between holding-on and letting-go is one of the most difficult things that moms and dads have to face with their ASD (high-functioning autistic) older teens and adult children. At this time in your son's life, it may be appropriate to take more of a back seat in many instances.  While others may want you to back away, you can still keep the lines of communication open with your son and help him do what it is he is trying to do.

For all young adults, we are expected to be in their lives and out of their faces at the same time. Your ASD son may have many good opportunities to reach out to peers if he is interested. If he doesn’t know how to, while it is now inappropriate for you to set up ‘play dates’ or constantly organize his social groups, you can offer occasional suggestions and coach him from the sidelines. 
 

Keep in mind that some older ASD adolescents do not want more interaction even though their moms and dads may feel it is important for them to have it. It is important to be sure that the social goals you set up for your son include what he wants now and not just what you think he should have or be doing. 
 
He may never be the life of the party and may always be a little on the periphery, but for him this could be a comfortable place - and one that he is used to. It could provide social interaction and friendships, and yet offer a comfortable distance and not a lot of pressure. If he wants more, you can help him learn to move in and reach out for more at his own pace.

When to hold on, when to let go, when to push, and when to pull ...these are some of the themes that every parent struggles with (both with “typical” and “special” children). The outcomes for kids and adolescents are best when moms and dads and professionals work as partners with mutual respect and shared decision-making power. 
 
Moms and dads, by virtue of their bond with their youngster, are true authorities in their own right, with information to contribute that no one else has access to. Professionals, on the other hand, through training and experience, can offer expertise and a broad perspective that moms and dads alone don’t have. Each has only partial knowledge, with complete expertise possible through team work (often with some trial and error however). 
 

Letting go may sound too drastic, and perhaps so. Maybe a more realistic way to look at this dilemma is to just loosen your grip and see what happens. If your ASD son seems to slip backwards, this may convince others that he needs more support than they thought. If he is somehow able to meet that challenge, you may be pleasantly surprised. There are inevitable and unavoidable road bumps and pot holes in this process. We cannot control that, but we can control how we respond to them.

Your adult son will need continuing support and guidance, some of it from experienced professionals to continue his social development. While this may pose a financial strain, the long term benefits usually outweigh the cost of not getting him this support.

It’s a long and winding road to launch an autistic child out into the real world. It’s hard to know at any given moment what to accept and what to work on. A parent’s job never ends—it just changes. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for getting this far. Take good care of yourself as well. 
 

How to Help Your Adult Child to Find Employment

Question

"I want to help my son with ASD [level 1] to get employment in the field that he does well at, but there is no one out there who will give him a chance-Help!"

Answer

The job market can seem like a cold, cruel place. So many people are competing for a hand full of jobs, hoping to break into their field of interest. It truly is a rat race. There are things you can do to help your son find his place in the battlefield of employment.

You’ve already given him a good start by encouraging him to find a career that is focused on one of his interests. People with ASD Level 1  (high-functioning autism) can have very strong obsessions. The amount of attention your son places on his obsessions guarantee that he will be extremely knowledgeable in that area. Not only that, the personal involvement makes him intensely happy.
 
An internship is a good way to get a foot in the door of a possible employer. Many companies that are under hiring freeze still have work that another person could be doing. By offering time as an intern, your son could receive valuable on-the-job training in his field of interest. It’s true that he wouldn’t be a paid employee, but once that hiring freeze is lifted, he’ll be first in line for the job.

Volunteering is another option. Although not as structured, volunteering is similar to an internship, meaning no pay. Volunteer opportunities can be found in every community. They may not be directly related to his field of interest, but he could learn how to be a good employee in many different situations. Not to mention, the volunteer hours will look really good on his resume.

Do not discredit the idea of your son accepting a job unrelated to his area of interest. Sometimes you have to work up a little bit to that preferred position. A company that does business in his area of interest may have openings in another department. Lateral moves happen all the time. And if it doesn’t, he will have solid work experience to add to his resume when he’s ready to make the jump into his desired field.
 
Here are 8 types of occupations that may be a good fit for your son:

•    Accounting
•    Animal science
•    Art and design
•    Engineering
•    Information technology
•    Manufacturing
•    Researcher
•    Shipping and logistics

Finding employment based on your son’s interest will assure a successful and enjoyable career. These tips and suggestions should get you started building your son’s resume and enabling him to secure the job of his dreams. 
 

Motivating Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum

Question

I need to put drive in my 15 yr old son with ASD. When I discipline him with taking things away ... nothing seems to work unless I TOTALLY get frustrated ... then he reacts. I would like him to CARE.

Answer

Most teens with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet. The causes of these struggles (e.g., social, communication and behavioral problems, sensory issues, etc.) can create the desire for isolation and a lack of motivation. Teens with ASD easily drop into a lonely state of depression, making the original problems that much worse.

Behavior modification is the most popular area of concentration when treating teens on the spectrum. Social skills therapy and living skills therapy are widely available and do bring about effective progress in most cases. However, you are looking for something new to try.

Motivation is the key to improving your teenager’s circumstances. Actually, motivation is a factor anytime you are seeking to modify any teenager’s unwanted behaviors. Now motivation in itself is definitely an old concept, but using motivation in a new way will create the wanted result for your teenager.

Old Motivation—

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 teenager for reacting negatively to a negative tone.

• 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 motivation over time.

• Punishment- “If you don’t do ______, then you will get ______!” We all use this at one time or another and over the course of time, it has proven to be an ineffective motivator.

New Motivation—

Motivators should be positive. It feels good to see your teenager happily learning or cooperating in desired behaviors. Motivators that appeal to the individual teenager should be used for maximum results. Motivation is definitely personal. What motivates one teenager will not work for every teenager.

• Routines- Keeping your teenager’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 teenager’s special interests both at home and at school can generate positive responses in all situations. For example, your 13-year-old'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.

==> More Strategies for DEFIANT ASD TEENS

Parent: "The schools do not understand the characteristics of ASD..."

"My 8-year-old son has ASD and ADHD. The schools do not understand the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder, let alone recognize it. What do parents do to get the schools to help these kids; they do have rights!"


You, the parent, need to educate your child's teacher. Use the following information as a start:

Tips for teachers re: "understanding ASD characteristics":

Teaching a youngster with ASD (high-functioning autism) can seem daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the disorder. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are about to teach a student with ASD, understanding the syndrome is your best preparation.

Kids on the spectrum tend to have normal or above-normal intelligence and high verbal skills, though they may have a hard time expressing their thoughts. As younger kids, they may show the ability to focus on one task for a long period of time, but they typically do not understand sarcasm, innuendo, or double meaning and have a hard time reading body language and social clues. Teachers are more likely to see boys rather than girls with the disorder.

Kids with autism may have a very specific and even obsessive interest, such as baseball statistics, trains, or dinosaurs. If a youngster in your class is interested in a particular subject, incorporating it into your teaching, when appropriate, can help keep him focused on the lesson.
 

Following the "Rules"—

Because many kids with ASD have difficulty with social interaction, they sometimes appear to be misbehaving when they don’t mean to be. Some kids do not realize that classroom rules apply to them. They may develop their own ‘rules’ and have a high demand to be perfect.

While some students with ASD can focus on one subject, you might find they have trouble concentrating in other areas. A visual cue, such as a yellow warning card placed on the desk for distracting behavior or personalized instructions for what to do during downtime can help keep a youngster focused.

As students grow older and school routines change, different tactics might help. One school used a peer educator to help the student with ASD. The peer educator would meet him at his locker in the morning, because he wouldn’t remember which book to bring. It helped cue him about what he needed to get together. Sitting the student next to compassionate students or kids with similar interests, such as baseball, improved the atmosphere.

Enlisting Peers—

Teaching your students about autism can help them handle with maturity and compassion the challenges classmates with the disorder can present. While many students may not grasp the concept of the autistic spectrum, they can understand that certain kids are more sensitive and need a bit of extra help. Some parents may choose to come have a discussion about ASD, while others may leave talking about people’s individual differences to the teachers. One class had a discussion about differences and bullying, led by student council leaders, that helped include his student with ASD.

Kids at that age don’t understand disabilities unless they’re explained. It isn’t that he’s trying to be this way, it’s just the way he was born. They can relate in that way. I’m not even sure I used the word autism.

Helping your students understand ASD, or at least recognize some of its traits, will help them cope when they experience a meltdown. One teacher would often ask her student’s peer educator to help him calm down by walking with him. He just needed time to have a quieter environment where he could settle down and talk about what he’s upset about. It wasn’t easy for him to brush things off, but he could get control, come back, and be part of the group again.
 

Giving a youngster time to recompose—by sitting in a special “study desk” or talking to a counselor or teacher in the hall—can help get things back to normal. Ask what caused the meltdown: for a younger kid, it might be the texture of a pencil; an older kid may have felt flustered when the room got too chaotic. But be warned: Sometimes they may not be able to express what happened without a little digging on your part.

A tiny shift in environment can make a huge difference for kids with ASD. If you’re not sure just what tiny shift your environment needs, experts recommend talking to the parents, who will most likely know their youngster better than anyone else.

Keeping Good Communication—

Meeting with parents and kids separately before school starts, if possible, is one good way to transition into a new year. One teacher also shows the kids their desks, lockers, and the restroom. Expect that things might be a bit rough for a few weeks. Just like you’re getting to know your new students, they are trying to figure you out, too—while adjusting to a new schedule and new surroundings as well. Woods says that a positive change in the demeanor of a youngster with ASD typically happens after a few weeks, once they feel more comfortable in their setting.

Keeping the line of communication with parents open, be it through e-mail or notes sent home, can help them work together to provide a positive learning environment. The goal is to help kids with autism learn and be able to adapt socially, and teachers need to consider every way of reaching them.

Think outside the box and try different things. Find out what makes them tick.

 

Best Comment:

I feel like the worse parent in the world,  I have a 14 year old who was just recently diagnosed with ASD's. I have just started reading your blogs and I find them very informative.   I knew all along that it was Autism but every professional I went to just added another label.  It started with ADHD and sensory in kindergarten, then OCD, ODD (grade 1), Tourettes(grade 3), over anxious disorder, non verbal learning disorder, executive dysfunction Grade 7, and finally ASD in Grade 9.

Anyways a big problem for my son is anxiety.  I recognized this at a very early age, my son was a bed wetter up until the age of 8 and he would hide it from his father for fear that his father would be mad.  In Kindergarten and Grade 1 if my son had a bad day at school he was punished at home.  His father would take everything away.  A problem arose at school where my son would freak out afraid that the staff would tell his father.  The anxiety over getting in trouble was bigger than the actual behaviors.

When his father became physically abusive in Grade 3 I left.  I have been doing it on my own ever since.  I have lost my career as a teacher because I have had to miss so much time to attend to my son.  He always had a severe dislike of school.  In Grade 1 he would either run or fight.  If a staff member cornered him when he was upset he would physically lash out.  My son was restrained, locked in rubber rooms and more often sent home.

I would physically have to carry my son to school on several occasions but he quickly became too big.  The last time I forced him to go to school 3 years ago he jumped out of a moving car.  Now my days exist of pleading, bribing, reasoning, begging etc just to get him to school.  Some days he out right refuses to go , other days I get him to the parking lot and he cries hysterically.

On the days I get him to school he quite often is sent home, for refusing to do his work or for crying.  Other days he says he simply cannot handle it and leaves.

I have been fighting the school to get supports for my son.  Currently he is in a segregated classroom for 2 1/2 hours a day.  I don't think the lack of structure in this classroom is working,  there are always different people in and out.  I want an aid for my son to accompany him to the regular classroom. 
 

I have wrote a letter of appeal to the School board and the department of education as follows:

MORE COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Evan gives me a hard time about going to school but once we're out of the house he seems fine. He's only been to one party this year and it was for one of Sam's friends. Good luck with the party! I hope he has a good time smile emoticon
•    Anonymous said… Get an advocate........I volunteer as one where I live......schools give parents a rough time.....when they bring in someone who knows special ed law for the state......there's a whole different attitude......advocates are volunteers so there's no cost.......in an advocate and when my sons had meetings.....I took my own advocate..
•    Anonymous said… He actually does best with adults which is was one of the first red flags for his teacher. He for the most part is content to sit quietly by himself. His grades are excellent and he works ahead of most of his class. Anonymous said… I am another parent who eventually gave up on our public schools in 4th grade. We have a virtual charter school program, which is public, but all online at home. Now in 10th grade, headed to early college classes to finish high school. Brilliant techie! He will always be quirky, but not disabled in the way the schools tried to define him. Play to their strengths-- and always, always be on your child's side, you know them best
•    Anonymous said… I am reading some amazing books. A friend of mine also has me started with using essential oil blends, they do help. I just found a couple of these groups recently. But, knowing what I know now makes it a lot easier in communicating more effectively with him. I will definitely let you know if I find one locally.
•    Anonymous said… I am still all new to this thinking my son was only ADHD. I am awaiting confirmation from the doctor. But, everything I have read are characteristics of my sons behaviors. Still trying to find a support group.
•    Anonymous said… I am trying to find this puffy that you can make at home with Evan. I am going to try it tonight. It is supposed to be very good for sensory issues. But, it is something for everyone.
•    Anonymous said… I don't know how or what laws are in place in different states,but my son was in a charter school since kindergarten until the beginning of 4th grade I knew he had Aspergers very early but he didn't get fully diagnosed until last year .Then he finally received an IEP plan .The charter school wasn't equipped with people that were empathetic to my sons learning issues and it was too much of a lax environment.I moved to a different county and home schooled for a few months but he hated it,it wasn't structured enough for him.So his first time in public school was a few months ago and lucky he got into a school that deals with IEP's regularly so he loves school. You have to definitely advocate for your kid/s to get an IEP or 504 plan by law in CA the schools have to abide by it or find a school that will and provide transportation as well to and from the school willing to work with your child.It's a process but it's worth it in the end.It's ridiculous that there are teachers that treat kids like ours like they are bad or not willing to listen.SMH why teach? My son had an evil fourth grade teacher that would laugh at his nervous movements.I reported her but the charter school did nothing.Now his teacher is a straight gift from the teacher god's! Lol I just wish schools would be more empathetic towards our kids.
•    Anonymous said… I know exactly how you feel. No problem!
•    Anonymous said… I pulled my son out of public school. He was being bullied by the kids and the teachers. He is homeschooled now, and he loves it.
•    Anonymous said… It's been frustrating because we've been saying for 2 years that we thought Ev had Aspergers and no one would listen. His kindergarten teacher is AMAZING and she mentioned it to me after doing research on her own. She helped us get the ball rolling.
•    Anonymous said… I've been looking at psychologists for Ev to maybe get him help with socializing at school. That's where he has the most trouble
•    Anonymous said… Let me know how it turns out. I need to find stuff to keep them occupied next week. We're gonna take them to the Museum next week. They have a Lego exhibit and all 3 of them enjoy Legos
•    Anonymous said… My 10 year old sons school ( bardfield primary) didn't understand my sons needs and didn't want him there, wanted me to change he's school so took him out of school all together an home tutoring him now, best move I made
•    Anonymous said… oh dear my two boys have asd and i see its so common that some.of our kids dont manage to finish school frown emoticon xx
•    Anonymous said… Oh, I know... And the sooner it is caught the sooner intervention can start. Let me guess he gets along with kids either younger or older. But, just doesn't mesh with his peers. Easily frustrated switching tasks.
•    Anonymous said… Reading all these problems gob smack me .Its the same as our grandson .He told us that he lives in a different world to other people and if he could write it all down everything would be just fine .He likes one on one no interferance from any one .He wont go to school either and in NZ only one doctor who can access the mind of children with asperges and she has gone private .So the people who dont have the money get shoved at the back of the line.
•    Anonymous said… Same here we now home educated all four kids. My two boys with autism were 5 and 7 and I couldn't allow school to fail them further. I'd tried two schools with my 7 year old the first was appalling the second better but just not equipped to manage and I noticed they started to belittle them. I now have different boys they are so much happier. To be honest my 9 year old is much happier too and my youngest will never experience school. I wish I'd never but them in school.
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like Evan. Breaks my heart daily. I'll look them up. Thank you!
•    Anonymous said… They never understood mine? Don't believe me? Ask LISD from the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. Social Media had came back to haunt them in NTX area.
•    Anonymous said… Unfortunately the reason the schools are not recognising these conditions. Is that there is very little training for the teachers around this. Keep pushing the schools. I take information about Autism and Adhd and give it to the teacher's.
•    Anonymous said… Yep. Hopefully, you can get some things in place during the summer. The girls like my son but the boys tease him a lot. I am letting him go to a birthday party next Friday. I think he is excited because it is Jaks Warehouse.
•    Anonymous said… Yep. There is a new one at St. Margarets Dyer. Her name is Ashlyn and she is great!!! She is actually the only person that connected the dots for Riese. Just waiting for clinical diagnosis.

Post your comment below…

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.

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


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.

Post your comment below…

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.

Click here
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