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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

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 🙁

Post your comment below…

The "Suicide Threat" in Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder

"Can teenagers with ASD Level 1 (high functioning autism) become so depressed that they become a risk for suicide?"

Unfortunately, the answer is ‘yes’. Research reveals a 50% demonstration of what we call “suicidal ideation” (i.e., talking about killing yourself) with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autistic teens.

When we look at the cases of teens on the autism spectrum who have attempted suicide or talk about committing suicide, the main issues usually revolve around self-esteem and social isolation. Thus, the parents and teachers should be as supportive as possible.

Here are 25 tips to show parents how to be supportive of a suicidal teenager:

1. A teenager who you feel is “high risk” for suicide should never be left alone, if even for a moment. Keep talking to that person, and stay with him or her.

2. Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.

3. Ask if they have a plan. If so, take them seriously and move quickly to get help. Remove anything that would help them carry out their plan – guns, drugs, alcohol, knives, etc.

4. Depression in one youngster can cause stress or anxiety in other family members, so make sure “healthy” kids are not ignored. Siblings may need special individual attention or professional help of their own to handle their feelings about the situation. 
 
5. Don’t act shocked.

6. Don’t ask “why.” This encourages defensiveness.

7. Don’t bait the suicidal. Don’t say, “I think you’re just bluffing. I don’t believe you.”

8. Don’t be afraid to talk with him about suicide. Talking about it does not make it worse, but better. Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.

9. Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Get support.

10. Don’t give up if your adolescent shuts you out at first. Talking about depression can be very tough for teens. Be respectful of your youngster’s comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.

11. Don’t tiptoe around the issue of teen depression in an attempt to “protect” the other kids. Kids know when something is wrong. When left in the dark, their imaginations will often jump to far worse conclusions. Be open about what is going on and invite your kids to ask questions and share their feelings.

12. Don’t try to talk teens out of their depression, even if their feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness they are feeling. If you don’t, they will feel like you don’t take their emotions seriously.

13. Encourage your adolescent to stay active. Exercise can go a long way toward relieving the symptoms of depression, so find ways to incorporate it into your adolescent’s day. Something as simple as walking the dog or going on a bike ride can be beneficial.

14. Get the emotional support you need. Reach out to friends, join a support group, or see a therapist of your own. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, helpless, or angry. The important thing is to talk about how your teen’s depression is affecting you, rather than bottling up your emotions.

15. In order to help a depressed teen, you need to stay healthy and positive yourself, so don’t ignore your own needs. The stress of the situation can affect your own moods and emotions, so cultivate your well–being by eating right, getting enough sleep, and making time for things you enjoy. 
 
16. Isolation only makes depression worse, so encourage your adolescent to see friends and praise efforts to socialize. Offer to take your teen out with friends or suggest social activities that might be of interest, such as sports, after-school clubs, or an art class.

17. It can be easy to blame yourself or another family member for your teen’s depression, but it only adds to an already stressful situation. Furthermore, depression is normally caused by a number of factors, so it’s unlikely—except in the case of abuse or neglect—that any loved one is “responsible”.

18. Just like you would if your youngster had a disease you knew very little about, read up on depression so that you can be your own “expert.” The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your depressed teen. Encourage your adolescent to learn more about depression as well. Reading up on their condition can help depressed teens realize that they’re not alone and give them a better understanding of what they’re going through.

19. Let depressed adolescents know that you’re there for them, fully and unconditionally. Hold back from asking a lot of questions (adolescents don’t like to feel patronized or crowded), but make it clear that you’re ready and willing to provide whatever support they need.

20. Living with a depressed adolescent can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation, or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, it’s important to remember that your youngster is not being difficult on purpose. Your teen is suffering, so do your best to be patient and understanding.

21. Make sure you take any threat of suicide seriously. Of all the people who have committed suicide, 80% have given some kind of warning.
 

22. Make sure your adolescent is following all treatment instructions and going to therapy. It’s especially important that your youngster takes any prescribed medication as instructed. Track changes in your teen’s condition, and call the doctor if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.

23. Offer hope that alternatives are available.

24. Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once your adolescent begins to talk. The important thing is that your youngster is communicating. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or ultimatums as well.

25. You could very well be that voice of hope to someone you love. Most times a suicidal person needs someone close to them to be a voice of hope. 
 
Because of the very real danger of suicide, Aspergers teens who are depressed should be watched closely for any signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior. The warning signs include:
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for good
  • Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out”
  • Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
  • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”)
  • Talking or joking about committing suicide
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide



Follow-up Question:

"My son Avi is 14 years old. He was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 9 and since then, has been attending a special ed class within a regular school. He’s generally happy in the class, he has a great teacher and a peer group with whom he can identify and feel comfortable. He is the middle of 7 children. Recently, his 16 year old brother, with whom Avi usually has a fairly good relationship, got frustrated with Avi and told him that if he didn’t change (stop talking incessantly about Pokemon, have better attitude to homework, etc) that he’d never get anywhere in life. Avi sometimes has extreme reactions, but this time his reaction had a new and scary aspect. He lay down on the floor, crawl up the stairs towards his bedroom, breathing heavily and growling “I’m no good, I’ll never amount to anything, I might as well be dead”, and then he climbed on his bed and tried to climb out of the window, as if to jump out. I managed to calm him down, it took about an hour, he took a bath, went to bed and never mentioned it again. I’m not sure if he would have jumped, or if he was “play-acting” the role of a suicidal person (he’s very imaginative) but it was very frightening. My question is: Avi is a fragile personality without resources to deal with a simple insult. How can I speak to him about suicide, when he’s calm, and give him the TOOLS he needs to deal with insults, as I’m sure this won't be the last time that someone insults or offends him?"


Answer:

First of all, I’m very sure he was play-acting and has no intention of committing suicide.

Secondly, he obviously looks up to his older brother and values his opinion (otherwise, he wouldn’t have over-reacted like this). So you may want to have a conversation with your older son that he needs to be careful what he says to his younger brother.

Thirdly, what we are dealing with here is a child with very low self-esteem. I think this is the core issue. Children with Aspergers and HFA have a much harder time with their self-esteem. Here are just a few reasons why:

1. Expressive and comprehensive communication has a direct impact on a child’s self-esteem. These are areas that do not come easily to children on the autism spectrum.
2. The expectations of siblings and the all-too-frequent bullying interactions from many peers can leave an Aspergers or HFA child feeling devastated.
3. The visits to doctors, or speech therapists, or OTs, the testing, and the stream of interventions that we try with them can easily leave them feeling like they're under the microscope, a specimen that warrants investigation, a person who needs fixing.
4. They often perceive the constant correction of their behaviors and their social interactions as criticism
5. Understanding subtle jokes and participating in human interplay, actions natural to their neurotypical peers, further increase their feelings of 'not fitting in' and erode their self-esteem.

Here's how you can play an important role in promoting healthy self-esteem in your son:

1. As parents, we must believe in our children’s value ourselves before we can ever change their minds. These children know when we're faking our compliments or arbitrarily handing out encouragement because the therapy book says we should give 5 positive comments to each correction. 

2. Be a positive role model. If you're excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your son may eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem, and your son will have a great role model.

3. Be spontaneous and affectionate. Your love will go a long way to boost your son's self-esteem. Give hugs and tell him you're proud of them. Pop a note in your son's lunchbox that reads, "I think you're terrific!" Give praise frequently and honestly, without overdoing it. Children can tell whether something comes from the heart.
 
==> Launching Adult Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

4. Believing in your son involves empathy, walking in their shoes, rather than sympathy; no one wants to be felt sorry for. Each child is a gift, with his own special qualities. We just need to look for these special gifts, tune into the child with our hearts, and bring their essence out.

5. Create a safe, loving home environment. Children who don't feel safe or are abused at home will suffer immensely from low self-esteem.

6. Empower your son to be himself, perfectly okay with who and how he is. Do this by loving him for who he is now, today, not who you think he should become someday. 

7. Encourage your son to share his thoughts and feelings; this is so important and often sheds new light on existing situations. 

8. Explain the disorder to your son when he is able to understand his disorder. Who are we really kidding, other than ourselves, when we pretend a child does not have the autism label, or we try to camouflage it? Who are we hurting? It's the child who is hurt in the long run.

9. Give positive, accurate feedback. Statements like, "You were really mad at your brother. But I appreciate that you didn't yell at him or hit him" acknowledges a child’s feelings, rewards the choice made, and encourages him to make the right choice again next time.

10. Go to conferences, read books, research and share information that takes into consideration the many sensory, social, behavioral and communication challenges faced by your child. Armed with this understanding of how the disability affects him, you and others can better find ways to help him fit in. 

11. Help your son become involved in constructive experiences. Activities that encourage cooperation rather than competition are especially helpful in fostering self-esteem. For example, mentoring programs in which an older child helps a younger one learn to read can do wonders for both children.

12. Identify and redirect your son's inaccurate beliefs. It's important for you to identify your son’s irrational beliefs about himself, whether they're about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or anything else. Helping children set more accurate standards and be more realistic in evaluating themselves will help them have a healthy self-concept. Inaccurate perceptions of self can take root and become reality to children.

13. Keep your son’s life manageable, refraining from overwhelming him with so many activities that he becomes too challenged physically and mentally to succeed at anything. Like most people, children with Aspergers and HFA feel better about themselves when they're balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 
 
==> Launching Adult Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

14. Provide choices to your son frequently so he understands that he has a say in his own life -- and even let him be in charge sometimes. 

15. Since children on the spectrum are often very picky eaters and gravitate towards junk food, it's important to try supplementing their diet. Also, provide regular physical activity, when possible, to relieve stress and clear his mind. 

16. Watch for signs of abuse by others, problems in school, trouble with peers, and other factors that may affect your son’s self-esteem. Deal with these issues sensitively - but swiftly. 

17. Watch what you say. Kids on the spectrum are very sensitive to their parent’s words. Remember to praise your son not only for a job well done, but also for effort. But be truthful. For example, if your son doesn't make the soccer team, avoid saying something like, "Well, next time you'll work harder and make it." Instead, try "Well, you didn't make the team, but I'm really proud of the effort you put into it." Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.

18. Lastly, when we say, "You are great!" to your son often enough, he, too, will believe it and feel valued for who he truly is.
 
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
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.

Click here to read the full article…

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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."

Click here to read the full article…

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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.

Click here
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.

Click here for the full article...
 
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A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

10 Healthy Supplements to Consider for Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or simply autism is a condition that affects the way a person’s brain functions. It also impacts the social interaction, language, and basic communication of the affected person. Children with autism may involve repetitive behaviors. 


Although there is no curable remedy for autism, the treatment is based on the individual that may involve helping the patient through their symptoms with education, self-help, skill development and socialization. Children and adults who are affected with autism may develop limited food intake or choices. Since their bodies may break down fat differently it is possible that their bodies may lack certain nutrients. This is related to selective eating, decreased gut absorption, or depletion of nutrients from chronic stress. Hence, diet changes and supplementation have proved to be very helpful methods of aiding children with autism. With enhanced food choices, you can help your autistic child better manage the daily struggles.

Following are the ten broad dietary supplements that you can consider for helping autistic people:


Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for the development of the brain and eyes in the body. Many children with autism also suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) where the brain has trouble receiving and responding to the signals that are sent by the senses. Omega 3s have been found to be in lower levels among people with autism and therefore it becomes an important supplement to include in your child’s diet. Foods that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids are fish oil, plant oil and nuts and seeds. Omega 3s also help fight joint pain and inflammation. Here’s an honest review on Omega XL which is a dietary supplement containing benefits of 30 different fatty acids. However, more research is needed into how Omega 3s can really help autistic individuals therefore its best to take your doctor’s advice on it.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps assist the brain in creating new connections and bettering already prevailing connections. It is said to affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies have shown that children with autism develop vitamin D deficiency. A daily dose of its supplement can help reduce the ASD symptoms affecting the child’s social interaction, communication and engaging in repetitive behaviors. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, fortified foods, egg yolks, milk and mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D.

Oxytocin

The chemical oxytocin is created naturally in the brain and has an effect in forming social interaction and bonding in an individual. When it comes to ASD symptoms, some children are found to have reduced oxytocin levels in their bodies and some do not. Hence, more clinical research is needed on how oxytocin can benefit kids with autism.

Melatonin

Melatonin helps regulate the sleep cycle in the body. This hormone helps in treating insomnia and those who are affected with sleeping disorders. It has been found that reduced levels of melatonin is correlated to severe ASD symptoms among kids. Effective melatonin supplementation has positive impact on autistic individuals with better sleep cycles and daytime behavior. Ask your doctor for the right dosage before starting its medicinal course. Nuts, seeds, grains like rice and barley, asparagus, tomato, olive, pomegranate, grapes and broccoli are foods that help increase levels of melatonin in the system.

Sulforaphane

Clinical trials have shown that supplements having sulforaphane (SF) have helped reduce the behavioral symptoms of people with ASD. Sulforaphane is found in broccoli sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale and mustard greens. Taking sulforaphane as a supplement can have an improved effect on social interaction, communication, and a reduction in aggressive behavior.

Methyl B 12

Methyl B12 comes from the vitamin family that plays an important role in the functioning of the body’s nervous system and it intermingles with folic acid to produce cells in the body. Children with reduced developmental capacity have an impairment in processing the body’s methyl B 12. Early lab research suggests that kids with autism showed improvement in few metabolic and cellular processes when given methyl B 12 supplements.


Vitamin C

Children with autism can find it hard to fight free radicals in the body, which can cause an imbalance in their system. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps protect the body from free radicals. A study with a small group showed that children with ASD symptoms showed reduction in typical autistic activities like flapping hands, pacing and rocking. However, more research is needed in this domain to find clinical evidence of benefits of vitamin C supplementation for autism. Red and green peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip, leafy greens, winter squash, citrus fruits and tomatoes are rich sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin B-6 and Magnesium

Another great multivitamin is B-6 that has loads of health benefits. Magnesium ensures proper functioning of the brain and muscle cells and is found in many foods like whole grains, nuts and seeds and leafy greens. Vitamin B6 and magnesium are typically used together as supplements, as B6 can sometimes cause an upset stomach, and magnesium appears to counter that. Some studies have shown that children with autism may have a magnesium deficiency. Research on supplementing B-6 and magnesium is still in an early stage when it comes to ASD.

Calcium

Calcium helps you develop strong teeth and bones. Low calcium intake may lead to a high rate of bone fractures seen in children with autism. Rickets and eye-poking is often associated with calcium deficiency. Not only is calcium found in dairy products but in green leafy vegetables as well. Many calcium supplements come in the form of chewable pills, liquid and powders. It is advisable to take your doctor’s opinion for catering to autistic patients.

Zinc

Zinc plays a vital role in enzyme function, nucleic acid metabolism, growth, and cellular repair. It is a major factor in the etiology of behavioral and mood disturbances in humans and its deficiency is high in children diagnosed with ASD. Meat foods, nuts and seeds, seafood and legumes are rich in zinc.

Articles in Alphabetical Order: 2019


Articles in Alphabetical Order: 2019

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