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Single-Parenting Children With Aspergers/High-Functioning Autism

One of the most difficult roles a mother or father will ever assume is that of the single parent. It doesn't matter how you arrived at that point – divorced, widowed, or single by choice – it is a daily challenge. When a mother or father is a single parent and there is a youngster with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) to care for, the challenges can make life feel like a true test of endurance, but it can be done. It does take more effort and organization, however.

Although raising children always has challenges, single parenting a child with Aspergers or HFA can be extremely stressful – as well as rewarding. Finding solutions to most of the problems is the first step toward keeping the parent from feeling overwhelmed. Almost every problem has a solution. The real trick to success as a single parent is not losing yourself in the parenting process. There are some issues that every single parent needs to be aware. Working on the solutions before they become problems can greatly reduce parental stress.

Tips for single parents with Aspergers and HFA children:

1. Arm yourself with information. Read everything you can about your youngster’s disorder. Most libraries have a parenting section with books on raising kids with special needs. The Internet also offers a broad spectrum of information on nearly every type of disorder. Websites, chat rooms, and the like are tremendous sources of information about conditions, treatments, and medications that are up-to-the-minute. Also, many of the websites that focus on childhood disorders will mail information to parents for free or for a very nominal charge. Be sure to consult your youngster’s doctor regarding the information you find. Being informed is the best offense in managing the daily and long-term challenges of parenting a youngster with Aspergers. Know what you need and pursue it.

2. Avoid being competitive with your ex. It won’t get you anywhere. You may not be able to compete with taking the children to Disney World. But children don’t necessarily love the one who gives the bigger presents more.

3. Be your youngster’s best advocate. No one can - or will ever - care more about a youngster and his/her well-being than the parent(s). As such, it is squarely on the parents’ shoulders to fight for the best information, treatment, doctors, and options that exist. Familiarize yourself with the law. Every parent has to be his/her own researcher.

4. Consider a pet. If you don’t have one, think of getting one. It takes the focus away and puts it on something else. Animals spread love around.

5. Control your reactions. Your Aspergers youngster may push your buttons, but giving big reactions to bad behavior may send the wrong message. Showing that you can control your feelings and avoid meltdowns yourself models appropriate behavior for your Aspie, and leaves you feeling better, too.

6. Don’t block your feelings. Recognize that ALL your feelings are normal. Be sad. Be mad. It’s only natural.

7. Don’t play the blame game. Your youngster’s disorder is not your fault, nor is your spouse to blame. It does no good to look for someone to focus your anger on. Pointing your finger at your spouse or his medical or family history is not productive and can be extremely hurtful. You will need to lean on one another for support, and blame can only damage your relationship.

8. Everyone needs a social life, and a single parent of a youngster with Aspergers is no exception. In addition to caring for your son or daughter, you may be working full time, meeting the needs of your other kids, and taking care of the home, which leaves you little free time. You may have other obligations, too (e.g., school, church, community activities, etc.). Fatigue takes on a new meaning, and having social interaction outside the home is so far on the back-burner it is hard to remember what it was like to “have a life.” Nonetheless, it is important to carve-out some time in your schedule for fun social activities (e.g., hiking, biking, dancing, card games, movies, eating out, etc.). The key is having fun interaction with other adults. Grown-ups who do not spend time with their “buddies” begin to resent their schedule, their lives, and possibly their kids. It is normal to feel that way, and the best way to avoid the problem is to schedule time to socialize.

9. Find some kind of support group. If you can’t find it in your community, you can find one online. You have to make a concerted effort to start to build your new family based on reciprocity and support. It can also help to start building self-esteem. You realize you are not the only one.

10. Focus on personal growth. So much of being a parent takes an emotional and physical toll on you that you have to get out and do something for yourself on an ongoing basis. Try an activity that you never did or go back to something you gave up in your marriage (e.g., rediscovered the love of hiking, or learn how to play a musical instrument). Put yourself out there. Try anything creative.

11. Focus on stress management. When harried and stressed, single parents often find themselves less able to connect with their kids or focus at work, which may lead to acting-out behavior by the children, time-consuming mistakes at work, and other things that increase stress for the parent and his/her family. Therefore, taking a proactive stance on stress management is quite important. Having several quick stress relievers on hand (e.g., breathing exercises, reframing techniques, having different/positive ways of looking at a stressful situation, etc.), as well as long-term stress management strategies in place (e.g., regular exercise, meditation, a hobby, a supportive social circle, etc.) can relieve significant stress for single parents.

12. Hopefully you have been able to create a good working relationship with your ex for the benefit of your youngster. If not, and the sparks fly very time you see each other, it would be wise to consult a counselor. Even if the relationship with your ex has no chance in the world of being civil, there needs to be a peaceful environment for the youngster.

13. Kids with Aspergers may seem to be unaware of the environment around them, but they usually are much more in tune with the emotions of others than it appears. If the moms and dads are arguing or fighting, the youngster is apt to act-out with defiant behaviors. The grown-ups in the situation, by keeping their own tempers, can prevent this. Remember that although your relationship may be over, the relationship both of you have with your youngster is not.

14. Know that you are not alone. Having an Aspergers or HFA youngster can feel very isolating. It’s easy to stay home and think that you are the only one dealing with that situation. Seek out support groups. Form your own groups, if none exist.

15. Learn to enjoy your own company. It may have never occurred to you when you were married that you could actually enjoy your own company. You can do that. Don’t date too soon. You can fall in love too quickly. You can’t be a great parent unless you are a great person.

16. Minimize the tough times. Holidays are hard when you don’t have your special needs child because he or she is visiting the other parent, so make a plan. Know you will feel bad – and know it will end.

17. Move your bedroom to a different room in your house. Make the old one a study or kid’s play room. Redecorate to reflect your individual tastes and make the house more of your home.

18. One major advantage that married couples have is companionship. There’s nothing like being with a spouse who knows and understands the daily problems you encounter. Having someone you can vent your frustrations to keeps one mentally healthy. It is human nature to want to share. If you don't have anyone in your life that you can share your feelings with on a daily basis, work at developing friendships that are true give-and-take relationships. A local support group that includes single parents might be helpful. Some support groups have a network of parents who are on “phone duty” that you can call at any time when you need to talk or vent your emotions.

19. Sometimes, ex in-laws can become a problem for you. A direct approach to the grandparents may not be welcome. If you find yourself in this situation, begin by bringing the matter to the attention of your ex, who may be willing to intervene on your behalf. If your ex refuses to support you in this matter, limit your interaction with the grandparents as much as possible. While they have every right to see their grandchild, you can and should limit your own time with them for your own sanity.

20. You can never take a day off from being a parent, and you may not be able to take a day off from work whenever you like, but there are things you can give yourself a day off from. Next time you're feeling particularly stressed, messed up, tired out or done in, declare a day off from:
  • Being behavior cop
  • Being SuperMom or SuperDad
  • Caring what other people think
  • Doing research
  • Fighting battles
  • Filling out forms
  • Handling details
  • Holding it in
  • Knowing it all
  • Making appointments
  • Making phone calls
  • Multitasking
  • Planning ahead
  • Saying the right thing
  • Serving as case manager
  • Solving problems
  • Working out
  • Worrying

Special Offer for Single Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum


•    Anonymous said… Thanks for the reminders. So easy to forget to take time for yourself with everything going on and being the only parent holding things together.
•    Anonymous said… I wouldn't wish single parenthood on my worst enemy because it is so hard. However, I think it's far more important to be the most positive, most enthusiastic cheerleader and champion for my son to help him be the best that he can be. No role model is better in my mind than a bad role model. It's difficult enough being a parent, but having a child on the spectrum is an added challenge. I can't be a basket case because of being the mom my son needs and trying to juggle a relationship that doesn't support or promote my abilities as a mother for my children.
•    Anonymous said… I know what you mean. A child with asbergers requires so much attention because they aren't able to socialize Knowing that a parent is always there for them makes them feel more secure. I'm the same. I've been divorced for 12 years and haven't had a relationship since. Because I've made my son feel so secure growing up at 21 he is thriving in his 3rd year of universtiy away from home. He has his twin sister nearby for companionship, he speaks to me on the phone for an hour each day and he comes home every five to six weeks for a week. He hasn't made any friends at university because he's just not able to but he knows we are always there for him. It's extremely important for kids/adults with asbergers to know you've got their back 100%.
•    Anonymous said… I am the single parent to two children on the spectrum. I find being a single parent far easier than when I was married. I am utterly focused on the boys. There is no, and there will be no, relationship to try and juggle alongside. I'm mum. I'm not wife. Everything is about the boys. Our relationship is so much stronger and it's the three of us. I much prefer single parenthood.

Post your comment below…


Feeling Like a “Bad” Parent of a Child on the Autism Spectrum

“My son Noah age 10 has been diagnosed with autism (high functioning). He has always been difficult at home, and now I am getting repeated bad reports from his online teacher. Honestly, I feel like I’ve failed my son. I feel like I'm losing my mind at times just trying to make his life easier. Add my other kids too, and it is just pure chaos or eggshells to try to keep Noah from an episode. I’ve tried everything I know to do to help, but my son still remains a mystery at times. All I know to do is keep trying and try to be patient, calm, and strong. I would be curious to know if there are any other parents that feel like they ‘should have’ done a better job. Is it normal to feel like a ‘bad’ parent in this case?”

Discovering a youngster’s special needs is often a puzzling and agonizing process for parents. It’s no surprise that your son with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) often mystifies you. As with all children on the autism spectrum, your son has many skills – and deficits. Also, you may have great difficulty understanding how much of his behavior is the nature of the disorder versus how much is simple defiance.

Due to the fact that parenting “special needs” children can so confusing at times, it’s easy for parents to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate and discouraged (e.g., “My child has so many unresolved problems, therefore, I must be a bad parent”). Most parents raising “typical” children do not realize how difficult it is to be a mother or father of a child on the spectrum… until they become one of those parents. 
==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Since the symptoms of an autistic child who is “high-functioning” can be so subtle, multiple and difficult to pinpoint, it’s hard for a mother or father to know whether things are normal or not. For example: What are the indications of a child being off course in his or her ability to listen and follow directions? What is the difference between the youngster who is a little clumsy and one who is having significant motor skills problems? What is the difference between a healthy, very active child versus a hyperactive one with HFA? Are my expectations for my child unreasonable? It will take some time for the parent to recognize and articulate concerns about such a child.

Even after a diagnosis, the parent may face a multitude of feelings before she can grasp effectively with the glaring truth that her youngster has a developmental disorder. The parent may even move through a grief cycle that Kubler-Ross described: (a) denying there is a problem, as well as rationalizing why it’s not a problem; (b) dealing with the fear, anger and guilt of having a youngster who experiences many problems; (c) blaming others for the difficult situation; (d) bargaining (e.g., thinking that changing neighborhoods, schools, or physicians will make the situation better); (e) grieving for “what might have been”; and (f) finally coming to acceptance regarding the youngster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as trying to figure out an effective plan of action.

One of the biggest challenges caretakers may face is the big gap between what their youngster can do – and what he can’t do. Oftentimes, the HFA or AS child is very smart, can reason well, knows a great deal about his favorite subject, yet can’t read or write. Your child’s teacher – and even you, the parent – may be telling the child to “try harder.” But in many cases, the “special needs” child is trying his heart out. These kids often tend to work 10 times harder than their peers, but are still called lazy, spoiled, or “a brat” by some people (e.g., extended family members who have no clue how difficult the challenge is).

Another piece of the puzzle for the parent lies in how difficult it can be to differentiate between a youngster who “can’t” do something versus a youngster who “won’t “do something. For example: “How much parental control should I exert?”  … “How far should I ‘push’ my child?” … “How much should I reduce my expectations?” In this uncertainty, the parent may even ask herself “what is wrong with me?” –  instead of asking “what trials and tribulations is my youngster having to face?” Shifting this focus can be beneficial for both the parent and child.

The HFA youngster may seem to be having behavior problems when, in fact, she is simply struggling to accomplish a task. She may experience a meltdown or a shutdown when a task is too demanding. When the child says she hates something, it’s very difficult for the parent to know if she is being defiant – or simply finds the task to difficult or impossible to complete. For example, if the child hates math or reading, these are likely areas of difficulty. If she loves dance, music, or art – but hates drama – it could be that she has a speech or language problem. On the other hand, what she likes and wants to do usually serve as an indicator of her strengths.

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

While a formal diagnosis can help, the task of sorting-out these problems on a day-to-day basis is quite a challenge. On a planning level, uncertainty can occur because the child’s teacher, doctor, psychologist or social worker may disagree not only on the diagnosis – but on the optimal treatment strategies or programs for the “special needs” youngster.

This can be aggravating and stress-provoking for the mom or dad who has to pull all the information together and decide what to do – right or wrong. In addition, at home and elsewhere, the parent has to anticipate problems and sense when her child is frustrated, tired, or about to explode. The parent has to trust her gut as to how long her youngster can last at a party, be pleasant with visitors, or sit in a restaurant.

Moms and dads of kids on the spectrum are continually trying to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, what causes the youngster’s aggravation, and what brings the youngster enjoyment. The parent must (a) think carefully; (b) support the youngster’s development; (c) reflect on activities of each day; (d) problem-solve to recognize her youngster’s strengths, interests, and areas of difficulty; (e) come up with plans for managing the youngster’s behavior; and (f) analyze everything! All of this takes time and energy that can be draining at times.

Parenting strategies that include structure without rigidity, nurturing the youngster’s strengths and interests, constant approval of positive behavior, and clear/concise instructions will go a long way in overcoming the obstacles associated with parenting a child on the autism spectrum.

It will take time for both the parent and child to embrace the idea that “being different” does not mean “being inferior” – and in fact, can be a good thing. The parent needs to be nurtured and praised too in order to help her nurture and praise her HFA youngster. You may find that you have used almost every resource you have to help your youngster succeed, but still worry that you are not doing a “good enough” job. But you are! You’re doing the best you know how given the circumstances. 

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

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


•    Anonymous said… Hang in there. A good school to support you really helps. Every child is wired differently. I have had people yell at me and even was escorted from a mall. I love my son with all my heart. I forgive those people. There is hope. My son is 17 now and he has learned some coping skills. We don’t get out much but that’s ok. He gets out sometimes. God is our strength and our hope. I will pray for you.
•    Anonymous said… he is now at a small private school specifically for kids who just don't do well in the public school system. In Florida, there is a scholarship called the McKay Scholarship for kids which basically gives you the money that the public school system would have used on your child and lets you use that money for private school, so it is free.
•    Anonymous said… I can totally relate to this parent. My son is seven with aspergers. The last two terms has been so bad that the school even calls us to say he need not attend today or call us to come and fetch him. We also have a baby that's also demanding and trust me some days you feel like your only options are to either climb in your car and drife away from the mad house or collapse into a shivering bundle on the floor in a fetal position. As he gets older it feels like the meltdowns and struggles become worse. Where we had 2 bad days in a week or two now we have 2 or 3 good days in a week. We both feel on a daily basis that we are failing our son but you must just pull yourself together and try again the next day. Feeling like a bad parent comes naturally to any parent even ones with children without conditions. Dont beat yourself up.
•    Anonymous said… I do know how you feel. My son is ten and has been diagnosed with ODD and ADHD but was first thought to have Aspergers which I still as his mom, ( living in East tx. There are maybe ten or less specialist, 3 take this disability insurance) think he has the violent form of absorbers I've often read about! Maybe it's ODD/absorbers combined?!! Patience, lots of it and do NOT forget the struggles of the siblings. It's very hard on them too. Mine cry often and have separate therapy bc We want to help but our hands are tied! Demand the school adjust or you sue!! Many lawyers are dying to take a discrimination case!! Bc they have to have a program to fit your child's needs. Mine made one and low and behold filled it with 5 other kids a similar issues, poor kids!! Stay strong and always know you aren't alone. My son gets restrained before school quite often n complete strangers come up to me n hug me. Others do care !
•    Anonymous said… I felt that way all the time throughout my son's elementary school years. However, since starting middle school and removing him from public school (which I realized was causing a lot of his problems) he has made soooo much progress. It definitely get easier as they get older and can explain how they feel and what bothers them, etc. I think when my son was younger not only did I not understand a lot of his behavior, he didn't even understand what he was feeling and doing half the time. He's got a much better grip on things now, and we have a great understanding between us now. So, there is hope! Those first few years of school were the absolute hardest for us. Just be there for him and listen to him.  ❤️
•    Anonymous said… I just exhaled, thank you all. I try to ignore this nagging feeling odor doing right by my son. He is fourteen and I have been homeschooling him for two years. I couldn't take the morning meltdowns every day and withdrew him from public school. The meltdowns are better but now I never get a break and miss those few hours at home alone when he was in school. Then I wonder how effective I am at homeschooling and whether I'm doing the right thing. Sometimes I get mad at him and wish he could just be normal then I get mad at myself for even thinking this.
•    Anonymous said… I think we all have moments where we worry that we are failing our child or should be doing something differently. I think that is normal to be honest. There are emotional days (for us and him), but also days of fun and laughter and silliness. You have to take the good with the bad I guess? Hugs to all of you going through this. Sometimes it feels so lonely
•    Anonymous said… I wish I could talk to this person directly. I am going thru the same thing.
•    Anonymous said… I'm at a loss and don't know what to do anymore. My son disobeys me and now tells me things that hurt so much. How did it become this bad?? Am I such a shitty parent that he now tells me he hopes I die?? Ugh..  😭 😭 😭
•    Anonymous said… I'm so grateful to hear others struggle this way too. It is exhausting and hard for the whole family. Watching our child have meltdowns, and watching what it does to our other children, I've started to feel hopeless and like a failure.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter got diagnosed at age 3, she has great support at school and also at home, it takes time to get the right help but there is hope, also a lot prayer helps.
•    Anonymous said… My son didn’t get diagnosed until he was 17 even though I got him referred to CAHMS 4 times the forth time he was so poorly that they believed there was a problem don’t beat yourself up you try everyday and that’s all that matters My sons now 20 and he has very little help and support from professionals it’s just me my son is having fun enjoying his interests that’s fine with me whatever makes him happy
•    Anonymous said… Regularly beat myself up for 'bad' parenting and then beat myself up for being so hard on myself.... all you can do is make the best decisions at that time...sometimes it blows up in your face....take a breath, read some more, get some help, celebrate the positives and hang in there
•    Anonymous said… Trust me, you are NOT a failure. I don't wish others to experience hard times but it is nice to know I am not alone in this struggle. There are good days and not so good days. And times when the older children accuse us of always giving in to Austin because he's a brat. I try to explain how he sees things different, experiences differently and responds differently. Keep your head up, you are not alone.
•    Anonymous said… Very normal to feel this way & don't give up. We do the best we can with the tools were given. There will be days we are at our best & days we are not & it's ok, part of the journey. Parenting a child with Aspergers takes a special kind of love & it sounds as though you have it. Most important thing I can share is self care. The healthier we are as parents the better our children will be. Build a support network & allow yourself to ask for breaks/help , it's the best gift you can give yourself & your family.
•    Anonymous said… wow, that is amazing. We have an incredible school near us, that people from all over the world come to. It is for higher functioning special needs, but it's incredibley expensive ($40K a year!). I keep thinking if he needs it eventually for high school, it is an option (with scholarships, because who can afford that much!).
•    Anonymous said… You are not a bad parent! You only know what you know at the time. Now you know he's on the autism spectrum and you take that information and learn how to parent an autistic child. Stay strong but everyone needs to break down once in awhile and take care of herself first so that you have enough to give to your children. You are not a bad parent and your son is not a bad child you are both just incredibly overwhelmed.

Post your comment below…


Aspergers Syndrome and Oppositional Defiant Disorder [ODD] Combination

Even the best-behaved Aspergers children can be difficult and challenging at times. Aspergers adolescents are often moody and argumentative. But if your Aspergers child or adolescent has a persistent pattern of tantrums, arguing, and angry or disruptive behaviors toward you and other authority figures, he or she may have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). As many as one in 10 Aspergers children may have ODD in a lifetime.

Treatment of ODD involves therapy and possibly medications to treat related mental health conditions. As a parent, you don't have to go it alone in trying to manage an Aspergers child with ODD. Doctors, counselors and child development experts can help you learn specific strategies to address ODD.


It may be tough at times to recognize the difference between a strong-willed or emotional child and one with ODD. Certainly there's a range between the normal independence-seeking behavior of Aspergers kids and ODD. It's normal to exhibit oppositional behaviors at certain stages of a youngster's development.

However, your Aspergers child's issue may be ODD if your youngster's oppositional behaviors:
  • Are clearly disruptive to the family and home or school environment
  • Are persistent
  • Have lasted at least six months

The following are behaviors associated with ODD:
  • Defiance
  • Disobedience
  • Hostility directed toward authority figures
  • Negativity

These behaviors might cause your Aspergers child to regularly and consistently show these symptoms:
  • Academic problems
  • Acting touchy and easily annoyed
  • Aggressiveness toward peers
  • Anger and resentment
  • Argumentativeness with adults
  • Blaming others for mistakes or misbehavior
  • Deliberate annoyance of other people
  • Difficulty maintaining friendships
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Refusal to comply with adult requests or rules
  • Spiteful or vindictive behavior

Related mental health issues—

ODD often occurs along with other behavioral or mental health problems such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety or depression. The symptoms of ODD may be difficult to distinguish from those of other behavioral or mental health problems.

It's important to diagnose and treat any co-occurring illnesses because they can create or worsen irritability and defiance if left untreated. Additionally, it's important to identify and treat any related substance abuse and dependence. Substance abuse and dependence in Aspergers kids or adolescents is often associated with irritability and changes in the Aspergers child or adolescent's usual personality.


There's no clear cause underpinning ODD. Contributing causes may include:
  • A biochemical or neurological factor
  • A genetic component that when coupled with certain environmental conditions — such as lack of supervision, poor quality child care or family instability — increases the risk of ODD
  • The Aspergers child's inherent temperament
  • The Aspergers child's perception that he or she isn't getting enough of the parent's time and attention
  • The family's response to the youngster's style

Risk factors—

A number of factors play a role in the development of ODD. ODD is a complex problem involving a variety of influences, circumstances and genetic components. No single factor causes ODD. Possible risk factors include:
  • Being abused or neglected
  • Exposure to violence
  • Family instability such as occurs with divorce, multiple moves, or changing schools or child care providers frequently
  • Financial problems in the family
  • Harsh or inconsistent discipline
  • Having a parent with a mood or substance abuse disorder
  • Lack of supervision
  • Moms and dads with a history of ADHD, ODD or conduct problems
  • Poor relationship with one or both moms and dads
  • Substance abuse in the Aspergers child or adolescent

When to seek medical advice—

If you're concerned about your Aspergers child's behavior or your own ability to parent a challenging youngster, seek help from your doctor, a child psychologist or child behavioral expert. Your primary care doctor or your youngster's pediatrician can refer you to someone.

The earlier this disorder can be managed, the better the chances of reversing its effects on your Aspergers child and your family. Treatment can help restore your youngster's self-esteem and rebuild a positive relationship between you and your Aspergers child.

Tests and diagnosis—

Behavioral and mental health conditions are difficult to diagnose definitively. There's no blood test or imaging technique that can pinpoint an exact cause of behavioral symptoms, though these tests are sometimes used to rule out certain conditions. Physicians and other health professionals rely on:
  • Information gained from interviewing the Aspergers child
  • Information gathered from moms and dads and teachers, who may fill out questionnaires
  • Their clinical judgment and experience

Normal child and adolescent behavior and development can be challenging in their own right, but ODD is distinct due to the frequent and significant disruptions that are caused in the youngster's life at home, school, or in a job where authority figures have clear limits and expectations for behavior.

It can be difficult for doctors to sort and exclude other associated disorders — for example, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder versus ODD. These two disorders are commonly diagnosed together.


Many Aspergers kids with ODD have other treatable conditions, such as:
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression

If these conditions are left untreated, managing ODD can be very difficult for the moms and dads, and frustrating for the affected Aspergers child. Kids with ODD may have trouble in school with teachers and other authority figures and may struggle to make and keep friends.

ODD may be a precursor to other, more severe behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder, but this is controversial.

Treatments and drugs—

Ideally, treatment for ODD involves your primary care doctor and a qualified mental health professional or child development professional. It may also help to seek the services of a psychologist specializing in family therapy.

These health professionals can screen for and treat other mental health problems that may be interfering with ODD, such as ADHD, anxiety or depression. Successful treatment of the often-coexisting conditions will improve the effectiveness of treatment for ODD. In some cases, the symptoms of ODD disappear entirely.

Successful treatment of ODD requires commitment and follow-through by you as a parent and by others involved in your youngster's care. Most important in treatment is for you to show consistent, unconditional love and acceptance of your Aspergers child — even during difficult and disruptive situations. Doing so can be tough for even the most patient moms and dads.

Learning or improving parental skills—

A mental health professional can help you learn or strengthen specific skills and parenting techniques to help improve your Aspergers child's behavior and strengthen your relationship with him or her. For example, you can learn how to:
  • Avoid power struggles
  • Establish a schedule for the family that includes specific meals that will be eaten at home together, and specific activities one or both moms and dads will do with the Aspergers child
  • Give effective timeouts
  • Limit consequences to those that can be consistently reinforced and if possible, last for a limited amount of time
  • Offer acceptable choices to your Aspergers child, giving him or her a certain amount of control
  • Recognize and praise your Aspergers child's good behaviors and positive characteristics
  • Remain calm and unemotional in the face of opposition

Success requires perseverance, hard work—

Although some parent management techniques may seem like common sense, learning to use them in the face of opposition isn't easy, especially if there are other stressors at home. Learning these skills may require counseling, parenting classes or other forms of education, and consistent practice and patience.

At first, your Aspergers child is not likely to be cooperative or to appreciate your changed response to his or her behavior. Expect that you'll have setbacks and relapses, and be prepared with a plan to manage those times. In fact, behavior often temporarily worsens when new limits and expectations are set. However, with perseverance and consistency, the initial hard work often pays off with improved behavior and relationships.

Individual and family counseling—

Individual counseling for your Aspergers child may help him or her learn to manage anger. Family counseling may help improve communication and relationships and help family members learn how to work together.

Lifestyle and home remedies—

At home, you can begin chipping away at problem behaviors by practicing the following:
  • Assign your Aspergers child a household chore that's essential and that won't get done unless the youngster does it. Initially, it's important to set your youngster up for success with tasks that are relatively easy to achieve and gradually blend in more important and challenging expectations.
  • Build in time together. Develop a consistent weekly schedule that involves moms and dads and youngster being together.
  • Model the behavior you want your Aspergers child to have.
  • Pick your battles. Avoid power struggles.
  • Recognize and praise your Aspergers child's positive behaviors.
  • Set limits and enforce consistent reasonable consequences.
  • Set up a routine. Develop a consistent daily schedule for your Aspergers child.
  • Work with your spouse or others in your household to assure consistent and appropriate discipline procedures.

Coping and support—

For yourself, counseling can provide an outlet for your own mental health concerns that could interfere with the successful treatment of your Aspergers child's symptoms. If you're depressed or anxious, that could lead to disengagement from your Aspergers child — and that can trigger or worsen oppositional behaviors. Here are some tips:
  • Be forgiving. Let go of things that you or your Aspergers child did in the past. Start each day with a fresh outlook and a clean slate.
  • Learn ways to calm yourself. Keeping your own cool models the behavior you want from your Aspergers child.
  • Take time for yourself. Develop outside interests, get some exercise and spend some time away from your Aspergers child to restore your energy.


Mother "Hates" Her Autistic Daughter

Have you, as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, ever felt this way at some level? We would love your thoughts...


•    Anonymous said... All I hear from this mother is " ME ME ME its all about ME " NEVER EVER does a parent have a right to do what this woman is doing. I am beyond disgusted with her, it takes just a few seconds to google autism, to reach out to people to learn about it and to understand it. She hasn't that much is obvious. "she doesn't act normal" that is because SHE'S NOT !!! I have an autistic 90% non verbal little girl, she is almost 7 years old. NEVER EVER in a million years would I ever think to treat her this way EVER !!! Yes is hard work, yes they can be challenging but as the adult in this relationship I believe in finding out as much information as I can so I can help my child. It is NEVER okay to belittle a child, to threaten a child regardless of the circumstances. This woman (and I am very reluctant to call her a mother) is a poor excuse for a human being I am beyond disgust!
•    Anonymous said... As adults, regardless of our past history, it is our job as parents to step up to the plate and find the tools that we need to have as parents. If we don't have the asnwers, how can we expect or children to? It wasn't a child's choice to be here, parents made that choice when they had their child. Being a "victim", & playing the victim role doesn't justify abuse. I understand that parenting an autistic child is difficult and very draining. But as a parent, and an adult, we can not use our lack of support, lack of skills, lack of understanding, & past history as excuses towards abuse. Its not except able, nor is it ever ok. It makes me sad that things like this happen, but I can understand why they do (I still find it unexceptable). I wish more people would reach out sooner before things get so out of hand.
•    Anonymous said... Hate Feel like I've been stretched and snapped like an elastic band mentally ....yes! It's HARD....and there is NO support emotionally for families. The only people that get it are the families that go through it!
•    Anonymous said... Having been abused as a child, I can relate to the story. Some of the things said were just the same. It was quite painful to hear those things from my mother. I'd say the best thing this woman can do for her daughter is to have her placed in foster care. Did this woman understand that the reason her daughter is acting out is that she's sowing what she's reaped?
•    Anonymous said... I am sorry, but hating your child is way out there as opposed to being stressed by their actions. I love my son. Yes, his ways due to Asperger's can drive me crazy. Especially as a single mom and also having his younger brother I feel that tension of say, him having a meltdown and arguing a thousand ways why he is right/shouldn't have to go to bed/whatever. I can get very angry when he doesn't listen, choosing to keep at whatever he is fixated upon. However, hate *him?* Never!
•    Anonymous said... I don't hate my daughter, but being a single mum, who doesn't get a break ever, and yeh I sometimes hate the autism But I don't blame my daughter But frustration can sometimes comes out especially when my daughter keeps repeating something a hundred times lol But I don't understand how someone can disgusted by there own daughter/son Especially when your child didn't ask to be in this world
•    Anonymous said... I feel bad for her and her daughter. I don't think anyone has the right to judge her. She clearly does not have the tools to know how to deal with a child like this. We all know how hard it can be. I think reaching out to Dr Phil was her way of asking for help. Good for her. I hope they get the help they need
•    Anonymous said... I know how she feels... I felt like that until my son was put onto correct medication... He is now so much easier to cope with. I feel sorry for her.
•    Anonymous said... I love and adore my son. I cannot understand hating a child for a diagnosis they didnt ask for.
•    Anonymous said... I love Megan, no way do I feel like that. Burnt out, tired maybe.
•    Anonymous said... I think we hate the behaviors and not the actual child. It's so very frustrating at times!!
•    Anonymous said... I would say from my own experience I have felt a sense of loss and frustration. I have felt angry at times... but not at my daughter but with the disorder itself. For all the bruises and marks I have gotten and all the insults and things thrown and broken.... I could never say I hate my daughter. I can see what a beautiful soul she has and am angry that she struggles so much and that I can't help her more. I can't imagine a mother saying she hates her daughter as this mom did. She needs to get help before it is too late for both her and her daughter.
•    Anonymous said... If her child had no legs, would she scream at her to walk? Disgusting.
•    Anonymous said... I'm sorry but at no time is violence towards a child acceptable. This is utterly depressing!!!
•    Anonymous said... It is very easy to see the failings of others and 'prescribe' the solution: while missing our own shortcomings.This woman is obviously broken.She hasn't dealt with her own childhood traumas and is projecting them onto her daughter. I do fear for them both, and if she is unwilling or unable to acknowledge and accept responsibility for her own behaviors , then her daughter should not be entrusted into her care. If left as is,Her daughter will continue this legacy, if she doesn't end up taking even more drastic/ tragic actions such as suicide. I am a mother of a 14 year old who was diagnosed with Aspergers this year.I know I don't always get it right: I get frustrated with the daily grind , the loss of my expectations for my boy: But I am so grateful to of been blessed with such a gorgeous,unique, smart and quirky child.This is what I tell him and myself during 'those' moments when you want to weep with frustration!  I hope this mother can heal herself and her relationship with her daughter- it takes only a moment to tear someone down, but it takes years of perseverance and hard work to build someone up- they need intervention and support- I pray that they will get the help they need and create a new legacy for the next generation.
•    Anonymous said... My 9 year old child has ASD and has physically hurt me on a daily basis since he was 3 years old... that is no excuse to repeat the behaviour towards your child. I understand as a parent of a child in the same situation that we do get burned out and we have hardly any support, but to say that YOU hate your child because YOU DONT DESERVE IT....well its disgusting. Since when has her daughter or any other child with ASD deserved to have the condition!!!!!It isn't something that is forced on someone because they are a bad person or done bad things. That poor young girl has a right to be brought up without being judged by the very person who is supposed to love her isn't her fault that the world is different from her perspective, that she finds it hard to communicate what she wants, that she is unable to understand what is happening or what she has to do, that the smallest of sensory stimuli could be impacting on her etc etc etc That WOMAN cause she doesn't deserve to be called MUM should seriously speak to other parents to realise that every single parent with a child who have ASD goes through the same thing day in, day out she isn't the only one and instead of physically and emotionally abusing her daughter (which is highly likely impacting on the issues ) she should get help, advice and find ways of turning the situation round before its too late!!! To be honest the way that women is and without a major overhaul of change on her part, her daughter will only become worse.....her daughter doesn't deserve a parent like that and would be better off without her.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter not being diagnosed until age 11 made it difficult on all of us. Years of not understanding her led to some very frustrating and confusing feelings, which were hard to not direct toward her as we thought she was just being difficult. Now, knowing her diagnosis, and being a clinical social worker, I'm ashamed at how I felt and treated her at times. It shaped her view of the world, herself and others. Early diagnosis, education and support for family members is so important.
•    Anonymous said... no wonder her child is acting out. Look at the exapmle she had in her mother. the poor child is living in an unstable and unsafe enviroment. no wonder the child is acting out.
•    Anonymous said... OMG! I am horrified. She can always place her child up for adoption if she doesn't want her! I am daily frustrated by my Autistic child, however I accept her for who she is and I accept her limitations and try to understand her challenges. She is trying to make her child normal instead of accepting her child for who she is!
•    Anonymous said... She clearly doesn't WANT to hate her child, else she would have left and wouldn't be seeking help.... I'm so sad for her and her child...where is the father?? This is a mother hitting rock bottom and I hope she and her daughter received the help they deserved.
•    Anonymous said... She needs help. And I don't mean that in a mean way. I mean she needs counseling as well as help in the home. I honestly don't think she's a bad person, she clearly sees she has a problem. I also think she has not bothered to accept that her daughter has developmental handicaps - she needs someone to help her learn what that means, and how to handle it. All parents get frustrated - whether their child is developmentally "normal" or not. We all get tired, and angry and feel like we're being put upon by unappreciative people. However a lot of us also know, and accept, that it will either pass or that we have the means and knowledge to handle the situation. She does not seem to know or accept that. And truthfully, not all women are meant to be mothers, in the end. Not all men are meant to be fathers, either. So there's that.
•    Anonymous said... She needs love and support. My heart goes out to her and her daughter.
•    Anonymous said... She needs some serious therapy! As does her daughter. She says she doesn't deserve a child like that - well her daughter deserves a better mother!! I sure hope Dr. Phil hooked them up with someone who can help them both.
•    Anonymous said... Thats a mom way past rock bottom.... frankly there is just not enough support at all for parents and kids ( any support can get its a battle to get) and its going to get less with cuts......
•    Anonymous said... Thats how i feel with my 19year old son i get so frustrated even more when i get no help ..i find it hard to cope with work and home life too x
•    Anonymous said... The best thing she could do for her daughter is to put in her foster care. At least the girl would have a few good years without being screamed at, insulted, and abused. Having been at the receiving end of that type of behavior, I honestly wish my mom would have given me up..
•    Anonymous said... This Is really sad.....this woman needs help and she obviously does care abt her daughter Bcos she I'd reaching out for help. She hasn't accepted that her daughter is autistic and for me that was a hard thing to do....I have a 14 year old aspie and was diagnosed at 10 . He is amazing and fascinates me bt it took along to.accept that he had s condition. And would I.have it different ,do I wish he wasn't an aspie.....sometimes yes ....Bcos of what he has been faced with and is going to be faced with.... Teenage years are challenging for kids.....and for parents .....teenagers with Aspergers.....even harder. But with support and understanding ......we will all get through it .
•    Anonymous said... This is why parents with children on the spectrum MUST take care of their mental and physical health. If we don't, we burn out like this!
•    Anonymous said... Um. I'm not pleased with the trend to dehumanize autistic kiddos. If she really feels that way then she should seek help privately and ensure her daughter is entrusted to the care of someone capable of loving her. Media hype has been bananas lately with demonizing autistic people and validating irrational fears. I am concerned that this trend is causing our children and our community great harm by setting the standard for a stereotype of autistic people that is entirely unfounded. We're this woman a good mother struggling with tragic emotions she could have found thousands of other ways to get help for herself and her daughter. The woman is cleArly a media whore, unconcerned with the impact of her tv interview on the autistic community, our image in society, and the self esteem of autistic kiddos growing up and seeing this garbage on TV. I am certainly not represented by this woman and I find her lack of judgement despicable. I believe she deserves the same lack of compassion afforded to her child and her child deserves a parent capable of love.
•    Anonymous said... We all make mistakes as parents. It does get frustrating at times, but that in no way makes violence acceptable. I ask has she gotten therapy? Educated herself? When we were first diagnosed, I read everything I could and we found a good therapist to help us. I know I am judging by a small snippet here, but it doesn't seem like she has taken the time to learn.
•    Anonymous said... We dont get ANY support!! We are majorly burned out. Our family wont even help to give us a break:(
•    Anonymous said... We have always advocates therapy for the family as well as the ASD family member. It is very hard and you burn out. His siblings have tough times too. You don't hate your child/ family member but sometimes you hate what autism does to your life at times or to the persons life. Support groups are also necessary.
•    Anonymous said... What a horrible excuse for a mother. A mother doesn't hate her child....but this one does. My son is aspergers. He has hit me, he has bit me, he cries, etc. But I have never ever hated him for it. He is who he is and a real parent would understand that. We don't sign on to be parents of autistic kids. They are who they are. For this mom to say she hates her child is disgusting.
•    Anonymous said... While I think it's terrible that this woman feels this way I can also see that she needs help. It's easy for someone to say foster care or adoption is a good solution but they are not always options. In many states a child cannot go into foster care unless cps has gotten involved (my friend is a social worker and a foster mother) and the likelihood of a 14 year old special needs child getting adopted is very slim and group homes are not good places to be and the workers aren't usually trained in ABA or the like. I wonder if Dr. Phil did anything to help this poor family besides point out her shortcomings and leave her feeling worse?
•    Anonymous said... Wow she hates her child, how disgusting. Coming from a mommy of 6 and my oldest has autism I WOULD NEVER say I hate my child...shame on her
•    Anonymous said... Wow! They both need help. The autism isn't the only issue going on there. I get the frustration and anger, and I totally get hating the impact that autism has on my daughter and out whole family at times the child,
•    Anonymous said... wow.. dont even know how to feel about this
•    Anonymous said... Yes at times i think to myself I hate autism but never my son but I do understand that everyone is different and we shouldn't judge and support is what people need.
•    Anonymous said... Yes we all do need support and that's what keeps us from burning out but this woman from what I've seen here takes no responsibility for herself. She admits she doesn't understand Autism. Her daughter is 14. When was she diagnosed? Did she take any steps to learn? Has she gotten any help for her daughter? Did she get therapy to address her own childhood abuse issues? No. She seeks out Dr Phil. She blames her child and passes on the same abuse she suffered. Everything is wrapped in her disappointed, embarrassment and resentment. I can't imagine what damage this has done to her girl. No one is a perfect parent. We've all made mistakes and disappointed ourselves. No one's life is easy but this woman's issues aren't that her daughter has Autism. She hasn't addressed her own issues and wasn't ready to be a parent. Once you have a child, THEY come first. It's not your child's responsibility to fill in the emotional deficits you have.

Please post your comment below…


The Damage Done: Over-Indulging the Aspergers Child


Our son is a 34-year-old with Asperger's who is living in supported housing. He went into his first apartment 2 years ago. It was very difficult as he was so angry and upset and even took revenge on us by smashing a television. He has had a lot to deal with. He has Crohn's Disease although it is in remission, with two operations at 17 and 19. He is defiant at times, super communicative, although of course it’s very much like verbal diarrhea. We haven't been too effective with parenting him, I think because of feeling sorry for him. This is coming back to bite us.

He sees a psychiatrist through the community mental health services (about once a month) and also a caseworker more frequently. About a month ago, he hit his psychiatrist (glancing blow on the shoulder), however the doctor has now charged him with assault. We are at our wits end. His MD says because it's a first offense, he will not go to jail but probably get a warning, maybe probation. His psychiatrist, a young fellow, told us a couple of years ago that he really doesn't know much about Asperger's as our son is his only AS client.

We know we have to change our communication with him, but my husband is feeling very sorry for him and not drawing a line in the sand very much. Our son is rude often, and often escalates into anger. Other times he is loving and almost normal. Can you offer any immediate suggestion?


Parents with an Aspergers (high-functioning autism) child often have trouble knowing how much to help out their “suffering” child at certain times in his life. But, is it really bad to “cushion” him or to “feel sorry” for him? Unfortunately, the answer is a profound YES!

Let me be very clear about this: If the Aspergers child hasn’t had to work for most of his materials things and privileges over the years …and if parents have “stepped-in” time and time again to over-protect and over-assist the child …it WILL cause serious problems for that child later in life. Parents are not doing their Aspergers child any favors by over-indulging and over-assisting, in fact, quite the opposite – THEY ARE HURTING THEIR CHILD!

We’re talking about over-indulgent parenting here. Over-indulged children have too much stuff, too much assistance, and soft structure (i.e., lax rules, few chores, aimless). As a result, this child grows up with very little “self-reliance” (a critical skill to have to “make it” in the real world as an adult).

Over-indulgent parents often view themselves as loving their child unconditionally by permitting most requests and offering their child free reign with few restrictions. They also believe that being good parents entails supplying the child with most of his wishes – and assisting at the first sign that the child is struggling.

Being “taken care of” all of your life has grave consequences. Children who are over-indulged have great goals, but because they are so accustomed to being catered to, they do not have the skills or drive for achieving their ambitions. Impulsivity, refusing to take responsibility, abusing drugs, continuing to live at home as an adult-child, spoiled behavior, and so on, all stem from needing control – but having no ability to appropriately exercise it.

The “easier life” makes for children who feel “privileged” and who actually miss out on some important social skills (e.g., how to make friends, work with others, achieve self-sufficiency, etc.). Doing well in college, finding and keeping a job, and raising a family takes individual hard work, but if the child is used to not having to work for his money or interact with people in order to do well, his lack of determination will be the catalyst for his downfall.

Over-indulged children don’t know the difference between “needs and wants.” Ultimately, knowing what you “want” versus what you actually “need” is something that comes with maturity, but when a child is so privileged that he gets most of what he wants, it’s hard to know the difference. In general, children that are used to being the center of attention and not having to work for their share at life are disadvantaged as adults.

Parents are supposed to set a good example and give their child a strong background in the “real world” so that he can succeed on his own someday. If children don’t learn early on that making a living doesn’t come easy, their lives won’t be as fulfilled because they’ll have a strong sense “entitlement” (e.g., “You owe me …I shouldn’t have to work for anything”).

Directives for Over-Indulgent Parents—
  1. Allow your child to experience the negative consequences and painful emotions of poor choices.
  2. Differentiate between your child’s wants and his needs.
  3. Discipline rather than nag.
  4. Discipline without later reducing or negating the discipline.
  5. If you have tried to correct your parent’s mistakes by attempting to be a “better” parent, know that (a) you turned out all right, and (b) you may be erring on the other end of the extreme.
  6. Keep an eye out for your child’s guilt-trips.
  7. Know that your child does not always have to be happy in order to have high self-esteem.
  8. Know when to be your child’s parent and when to be his buddy.
  9. Learn to say, and stick with, “no”.
  10. Make sure you and your child’s other parent are united and bonded on most issues.
  11. Pay attention to your feelings of guilt about how you have parented, and know it is a sign that you are – once again – beating up on yourself.
  12. Think in terms of “everyone has a responsibility to the solution” rather than attributing blame.
  13. When you catch yourself feeling sorry for your child, know it is a sign that you are – once again – taking on too much responsibility.
  14. When your child needs to be comforted/cheered-up, do so with active listening, empathy, paraphrasing, validation, hugs, etc. rather than giving him things (e.g., unearned privileges, food, gifts, fun activities).
  15. Your child is a priority, but allow your marriage to come first (it’s the foundation for the entire family).

In Summary—

Overindulgent parenting (i.e., parenting from parents who fail to enforce age-appropriate limits) is associated with children who:
  • are ill-tempered
  • are manipulative
  • are overly dependent on parents
  • are self-centered
  • are verbally/physically aggressive
  • have less concern for others
  • lack assertive skills
  • lack motivation

The methods of indulgence are:
  • over-nurturing
  • soft structure
  • too much freedom
  • too much stuff

The reasons parents over-indulge their children:
  • correct their own parent’s mistakes/repair their own childhood issues
  • don’t have much money (so give too much freedom)
  • feel guilty
  • feel sorry for the kid
  • parent fears confrontation/lacks assertiveness
  • response to a major life event
  • the parent was overindulged as a child

…as a result, they parent their child based on what THEY want for him rather than on what he actually needs …or they parent their child the way THEY wanted to be parented by their parents.

The results of overindulgence:
  • child believes the rules do not apply to him
  • child depends on the parent to give him what he wants, but at the same time, resents being dependent …and this resentment comes out as anger and ungratefulness and a strong desire for more and more and more
  • child does not get along well with authority figures
  • child feels entitled to privileges but not responsible for his actions
  • child has adjusted so completely to (a) being catered and/or (b) not having to be responsible for anything that he cannot function on his own
  • the child is in charge rather than the parent (tail is wagging the dog)

Parents who overindulge have trouble:
  • believing the fact that they are overindulging their child
  • defining the difference between nurturing behavior and overindulgence
  • enforcing discipline and setting limits
  • knowing when to be the child’s “buddy” and when to be his parent
  • saying -- and sticking with -- “no”

Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance


Raising Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum: Dealing with Parental Stress

Of course, not all moms and dads of children with ASD level 1, or high functioning autism (HFA), are under stress, but many are. 
As one mother states, “You learn to live with a significant amount of stress and you throw yourself into your everyday job as a parent when you have a youngster with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you work outside the home, you work even harder - and you don't think much about taking care of yourself.

Some moms and dads worry that they could have done something to prevent their youngster's problems. They also agonize over whether they could do more now. Some stress is to be expected. As long as you're sleeping and eating well, enjoying much of your day-to-day life, and finding support where you need it, your stress is probably not too overwhelming.

Are you too stressed? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Are symptoms of stress impeding your functioning?
  • Are you finding it hard to get through the day's activities?
  • Are you having a hard time eating, sleeping, or getting up in the morning?

If you're exhausted and overwhelmed on a regular basis, you're more susceptible to physical and mental disorders. You may need time and help to recharge your batteries and find coping mechanisms. And it's important to take action now for the future. After all, when you're the mother or father of a "special needs" youngster, you're in it for the long term.

An experienced professional can help give you concrete ideas for finding time and space for yourself. He/she can also work with you to develop specific coping strategies. Changes in attitude can make a big difference, and there are many ways to work on your own feelings. It may also be helpful to have an appropriate time and place to let out pent-up frustration that's so often a part of coping with a youngster with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It's important to find a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker who has specific experience in working with families affected by autism spectrum disorder. To find such a person, get in touch with local support groups and ask for advice. Check out online databases. Ask your family doctor for suggestions, too. Some states offer a service called "mobile therapy." This program brings therapists into your home to work with you and your whole family.

The main thing parents with an HFA youngster need to know is that they are not alone. There is help out there! Even if you are a single mom raising kids alone, there is help. It's up to the parent, however, to realize that it's not a sign of failure as a parent to need and accept help in caring for your child.

Discipline for a child on the autism spectrum is often very different than the way you would discipline a neurotypical child. So a parent is often left feeling helpless and not knowing what to do, and feeling they have nowhere to turn in getting a break from parenting. In fact, a lot of moms and dads actually feel guilty for even wanting a break, let alone taking one. 
The idea of a few hours away from their youngster makes them feel as though they are failing him or her as a parent. For some reason, some parents feel that to parent their youngster, that means being around them and caring for them 24/7 without any outside help.

Moms and dads need to take a break! Hire a competent babysitter, even a nurse if needed, get family to help, ask a friend for help! The point is this: get out of the house alone or with your spouse for a few hours and enjoy yourself. You can’t change any of the issues your youngster may have, but you can get a break. You can get out a few hours a week alone to unwind and you can get help to allow you to get that much needed break.

There are no easy answers on how to raise a son or daughter on the spectrum. Every child is different, as is every parent in their parenting methods. But the stress level is invariably there. Handling the stress is necessary in order to provide good care not only for your youngster, but for yourself and the rest of the family as well.

Many parents go through a difficult time when their youngster is first diagnosed. But after a year or two, most do learn to cope, enjoy their youngster's achievements and their own lives, and have fun.

These "special needs" children are special indeed – and we love our children very much. But we as moms and dads need to be able to unwind and relieve the stress so that we are better able to parent. Never feel guilty for needing to ask for help!

Bottom line: If you're not the person you normally are, then that's a reason to get help, or at least consider that possibility.


Caring For Your Aspergers Child Throughout The Lifespan

"I’m feeling very weighed down right now because my son was just diagnosed with Asperger’s, and I’m a single mom with two other children. What can I do to help my son now – and as he grows older?"

After a youngster is diagnosed with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, the parent may feel unprepared or unable to provide the youngster with the necessary care and education. Know that there are many treatment options, social services and programs, and other resources that can help.

Some tips that can help you and your son are:
  • Contact your local health department or autism advocacy groups to learn about the special programs available in your state and local community.
  • Keep a record of conversations, meetings with health care providers and educators, and other sources of information. This will help you remember the different treatment options and decide which would help your youngster most.
  • Keep a record of the doctors' reports and your youngster's evaluation. This information may help your youngster qualify for special programs.
  • Talk with your youngster's doctor, school system, or autism support groups to find an autism expert in your area who can help you develop an intervention plan and find other local resources.

Understanding Adolescents with Aspergers—

The adolescent years can be a time of stress and confusion for any growing youngster, including adolescents with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism.

During the adolescent years, young people become more aware of others and their relationships with them. While most adolescents are concerned with acne, popularity, grades, and dates, adolescents with Aspergers may become painfully aware that they are different from their friends. For some, this awareness may encourage them to learn new behaviors and try to improve their social skills. For others, hurt feelings and problems connecting with others may lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders.

One way that some adolescents with Aspergers may express the tension and confusion that can occur during adolescence is through increased autistic or aggressive behavior. Teenagers with Aspergers will also need support to help them understand the physical changes and sexual maturation they experience during adolescence.

If your adolescent seems to have trouble coping, talk with his doctor about possible co-occurring mental disorders and what you can do. Behavioral therapies and medications often help.

Preparing for Transition to Adulthood—

The public schools' responsibility for providing services ends when a youngster with Aspergers reaches the age of 22. At that time, some families may struggle to find jobs to match their adult son’s or daughter’s needs. If your family cannot continue caring for an adult child at home, you may need to look for other living arrangements.

Long before your youngster finishes school, you should search for the best programs and facilities for young people with Aspergers. If you know other moms and dads of adults with Aspergers, ask them about the services available in your community. Local support and advocacy groups may be able to help you find programs and services that your youngster is eligible to receive as an adult.

Another important part of this transition is teaching young people with Aspergers to self-advocate (i.e., that they start to take on more responsibility for their education, employment, health care, and living arrangements). Grown-ups with Aspergers must self-advocate for their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act at work, in higher education, in the community, and elsewhere.

Living Arrangements for Aspergers Adults—

There are many options for grown-ups living with Aspergers. Helping your son or daughter choose the right one will largely depend on what is available in your state and local community, as well as his/her skills and symptoms. Below are some examples of living arrangements you may want to consider:

1. Some individuals with special needs may choose to live in group homes or apartments staffed by professionals who help with basic needs. These needs often include meal preparation, housekeeping, and personal care. Individuals who are more independent may be able to live in a home or apartment where staff only visits a few times a week. Such residents generally prepare their own meals, go to work, and conduct other daily activities on their own.

2. Some families open their homes to provide long-term care to grown-ups with special needs who are not related to them. If the home teaches self-care and housekeeping skills and arranges leisure activities, it is called a "skill-development" home.

3. Long-term care facilities are available for those with low-functioning Autism who need intensive, constant supervision.

4. Government funds are available for families who choose to have their son or daughter with Aspergers live at home. These programs include Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Medicaid waivers. Information about these programs and others is available from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Make an appointment with your local SSA office to find out which programs would be right for your “Aspie.”

5. Most grown-ups with Aspergers are able to live on their own. Others can live in their own home or apartment if they get help dealing with major issues (e.g., managing personal finances, obtaining necessary health care, interacting with government or social service agencies, etc.). Family members, professional agencies, or other types of providers can offer this assistance.

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...