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Oppositional Defiant Behavior in Children and Teens with Aspergers Syndrome

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM IV), defines oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months. Behaviors included in the definition include the following:

• actively defying requests
• arguing with adults
• being touchy, easily annoyed or angered, resentful, spiteful, or vindictive.
• blaming others for one's own mistakes or misbehavior
• deliberately annoying other people
• losing one's temper
• refusing to follow rules

OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER is usually diagnosed when an Aspergers youngster has a persistent or consistent pattern of disobedience and hostility toward parents, teachers, or other adults. The primary behavioral difficulty is the consistent pattern of refusing to follow commands or requests by adults. Aspergers kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are often easily annoyed; they repeatedly lose their temper, argue with adults, refuse to comply with rules and directions, and blame others for their mistakes. Stubbornness and testing limits are common, even in early childhood.

The criteria for OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are met only when the problem behaviors occur more frequently in the Aspergers youngster than in other Aspergers kids of the same age and developmental level. These behaviors cause significant difficulties with family and friends, and the oppositional behaviors are the same both at home and in school. Sometimes, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER may be a precursor of a conduct disorder. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER is not diagnosed if the problematic behaviors occur exclusively with a mood or psychotic disorder.

Prevalence and Comorbidity—

The base prevalence rates for oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) range from 1-16%, but most surveys estimate it to be 6-10% in surveys of nonclinical, non-referred samples of parents' reports. In more stringent population samples, rates are lower when impairment criteria are stricter and when the information is obtained from both parents and teachers, rather than from moms and dads only. Before puberty, the condition is more common in boys; after puberty, it is almost exclusively identified in boys, and whether the criteria are applicable to girls has been discussed. The disorder usually manifests by age 8 years. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and other conduct problems are the single greatest reasons for referrals to outpatient and inpatient mental health settings for kids, accounting for at least half of all referrals.

Diagnosis is complicated by relatively high rates of comorbid, disruptive, behavior disorders. Some symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder overlap. Researchers have postulated that, in some kids, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER may be the developmental precursor of conduct disorder. Comorbidity of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER with ADHD has been reported to occur in 50-65% of affected kids.

In some Aspergers kids, OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER commonly occurs in conjunction with anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. Cross-sectional surveys have revealed the comorbidity of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER with an affective disorder in about 35% of cases, with rates of comorbidity increasing with patient age. High rates of comorbidity are also found among ODDs, learning disorders, and academic difficulties. Given these findings, kids with significant oppositional and defiant behaviors often require multidisciplinary assessment and may need components of mental health care, case management, and educational intervention to improve.

Risk Factors and Etiology—

The best available data indicate that no single cause or main effect results in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Most experts believe that biological factors are important in OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and that familial clustering of certain disruptive disorders, including OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and ADHD, substance abuse, and mood disorders, occurs.

Studies of the genetics of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER have produced mixed results. Under-arousal to stimulation has been consistently found in persistently aggressive and delinquent youth and in those with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER. Exogenous factors such as prenatal exposure to toxins, alcohol, and poor nutrition all seem to have effects, but findings are inconsistent. Studies have implicated abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex; altered neurotransmitter function in the serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic systems; and low cortisol and elevated testosterone levels.

Clinical Course—

In Aspergers toddlers, temperamental factors, such as irritability, impulsivity, and intensity of reactions to negative stimuli, may contribute to the development of a pattern of oppositional and defiant behaviors in later childhood. Family instability, including economic stress, parental mental illness, harshly punitive behaviors, inconsistent parenting practices, multiple moves, and divorce, may also contribute to the development of oppositional and defiant behaviors.

The interactions of an Aspergers youngster who has a difficult temperament and irritable behavior with moms and dads who are harsh, punitive, and inconsistent usually lead to a coercive, negative cycle of behavior in the family. In this pattern, the youngster's defiant behavior tends to intensify the parents' harsh reactions. The moms and dads respond to misbehavior with threats of punishment that are inconsistently applied. When the parent punishes the youngster, the youngster learns to respond to threats. When the parent fails to punish the youngster, the youngster learns that he or she does not have to comply. Research indicates that these patterns are established early, in the youngster's preschool years; left untreated, pattern development accelerates, and patterns worsen.

Developmentally, the presenting problems change with the Aspergers youngster's age. For example, younger kids are more likely to engage in oppositional and defiant behavior, whereas older kids are more likely to engage in more covert behavior such as stealing.

By the time they are school aged, Aspergers kids with patterns of oppositional behavior tend to express their defiance with teachers and other adults and exhibit aggression toward their peers. As kids with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) progress in school, they experience increasing peer rejection due to their poor social skills and aggression. These kids may be more likely to misinterpret their peers' behavior as hostile, and they lack the skills to solve social conflicts. In problem situations, kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are more likely to resort to aggressive physical actions rather than verbal responses. Kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER and poor social skills often do not recognize their role in peer conflicts; they blame their peers (e.g., "He made me hit him.") and usually fail to take responsibility for their own actions.

The following 3 classes of behavior are hallmarks of both oppositional and conduct problems:

1. emotional overreaction to life events, no matter how small
2. failure to take responsibility for one's own actions
3. noncompliance with commands

When behavioral difficulties are present beginning in the preschool period, teachers and families may overlook significant deficiencies in the youngster's learning and academic performance. When many Aspergers kids with behavioral problems and academic problems are placed in the same classroom, the risk for continued behavioral and academic problems increases. OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER behavior may escalate and result in serious antisocial actions that, when sufficiently frequent and severe, become criteria to change the diagnosis to conduct disorder. Milder forms of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER in some kids spontaneously remit over time. More severe forms of OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, in which many symptoms are present in the toddler years and continually worsen after the youngster is aged 5 years, may evolve into conduct disorder in older kids and adolescents.


Given the high probability that oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) occurs alongside attention disorders, learning disorders, and conduct disturbances, an evaluation for these disorders is indicated for comprehensive treatment. Pharmacologic treatment (e.g., stimulant medication) for ADHD may be beneficial once this is diagnosed. Aspergers kids with oppositional behavior in the school setting should undergo necessary screening testing in school to evaluate for possible learning disabilities. With the multifaceted nature of associated problems in OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, comprehensive treatment may include medication, parenting and family therapy, and consultation with the school staff. If kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER are found to have ADHD as well, appropriate treatment of ADHD may help them to restore their focus and attention and decrease their impulsivity; such treatment may enable their social and behavioral interventions to be more effective.

Parent management training (PMT) is recommended for families of Aspergers kids with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER because it has been demonstrated to affect negative interactions that repeatedly occur between the kids and their moms and dads. PMT consists of procedures in which parents are trained to change their own behaviors and thereby alter their youngster's problem behavior in the home. PMT is based on 35 years of well-developed research showing that oppositional and defiant patterns arise from maladaptive parent-child interactions that start in early childhood.

These patterns develop when moms and dads inadvertently reinforce disruptive and deviant behaviors in a youngster by giving those behaviors a significant amount of negative attention. At the same time, the parents, who are often exhausted by the struggle to obtain compliance with simple requests, usually fail to provide positive attention; often, the moms and dads have infrequent positive interactions with their kids. The pattern of negative interactions evolves quickly as the result of repeated, ineffective, emotionally expressed commands and comments; ineffective harsh punishments; and insufficient attention and modeling of appropriate behaviors.

PMT alters the pattern by encouraging the parent to pay attention to prosocial behavior and to use effective, brief, non-aversive punishments. Treatment is conducted primarily with the moms and dads; the therapist demonstrates specific procedures to modify parental interactions with their youngster. Moms and dads are first trained to simply have periods of positive play interaction with their youngster. They then receive further training to identify the youngster's positive behaviors and to reinforce these behaviors. At that point, parents are trained in the use of brief negative consequences for misbehavior. Treatment sessions provide the moms and dads with opportunities to practice and refine the techniques.

Follow-up studies of operational PMT techniques in which moms and dads successfully modified their behavior showed continued improvements for years after the treatment was finished. Treatment effects have been stronger with younger kids, especially in those with less severe problems. Recent research suggests that less severe problems, rather than a younger patient age, is predictive of treatment success. Approximately 65% of families show significant clinical benefit from well-designed parent management programs.

Regardless of the Aspergers youngster's age, intervention early in the developing pattern of oppositional behavior is likely to be more effective than waiting for the youngster to grow out of it. These kids can benefit from group treatment. The process of modeling behaviors and reactions within group settings creates a real-life adaptation process. In younger kids, combined treatment in which moms and dads attend a PMT group while the kids go to a social skills group has consistently resulted in the best outcome. The efficacy of group treatment of adolescents with oppositional behaviors has been debated. Group therapy for adolescents with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER is most beneficial when it is structured and focused on developing the skills of listening, empathy, and effective problem solving.

Obstacles to Treatment—

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and other conduct problems, can be intractable. Despite advances in treatment, many Aspergers kids continue to have long-term negative sequelae. PMT requires parental cooperation and effort for success. Existing psychiatric conditions in the moms and dads can be a major obstacle to effective treatment. Depression in a parent, particularly the mother, can prevent successful intervention with the youngster and become worse if the youngster's behavior is out of control. Substance abuse and other more severe psychiatric conditions can adversely affect parenting skills, and these conditions are particularly problematic for the moms and dads of a youngster with OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER.

In situations in which the moms and dads lack the resources to effectively manage their Aspergers youngster, services can be obtained through schools or county mental health agencies. Many states have effective "wrap around" services, which include a full-day school program and home-based therapy services to maintain progress in the home setting. Thus, effective treatment can include resources from several agencies, and coordination is critical. If county mental health or school special education services are involved, one person is usually designated to coordinate services in those systems.

My Aspergers Child: Parent Management Training (PMT) for Parents with Defiant Aspergers Children

• Aspergers and ADHD
• Aspergers and antisocial actions
• Aspergers and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
• Aspergers and conduct disorder
• Aspergers and defiant behavior
• Aspergers and defiant disorder
• Aspergers and disruptive behavior
• Aspergers and harshly punitive behaviors
• Aspergers and hostile behavior
• Aspergers and impulsivity
• Aspergers and irritability
• Aspergers and learning disorders
• Aspergers and maladaptive parent-child interactions
• Aspergers and noncompliance with commands
• Aspergers and ODD
• Aspergers and oppositional defiant disorder
• Aspergers and overreaction to life events
• Aspergers and parent management training
• Aspergers and peer rejection
• Aspergers and stubbornness
• Aspergers defiant disorder
• Aspergers negativistic behavior

Abnormal Grieving in Children on the Autism Spectrum

“I have a 10-year old son Michael who has high functioning autism. His father passed away a couple months ago. Michael coped with this remarkably well initially. He didn’t seem terribly upset, and didn’t even cry at the memorial service. But about 3 weeks ago, we went together as a family to put some additional flowers on his father’s grave.  Later that day, I found him sobbing intensely in the closet in his bedroom. Currently, he is having a lot of behavior problems at school and is risking suspension. The school is considering transferring him to a special education class for students with various disabilities. Today, he refused to go to school. He hardly leaves the house. He prefers to stay in his room playing video games, and will not even eat meals with us. I told him that I would like for us to see a counselor for therapy, but he says he will not go! So my question is how do I get Michael to cope with the loss of his father?”

Children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s have difficulty with empathy. This is largely due to the fact that the connection between their rational brain and their emotional brain is not fluid. They tend to get stuck on one side or the other. In other words, they are "Spock-like" (Star Trek reference) or excessively emotional. They have a huge disconnect between thinking and feeling, or cognitive empathy and emotional empathy.

The cause is poorly working circuits in the brain. Your son's brain has limited neurological mechanisms in place to understand or empathize. Perhaps this is why he could be stoic for a time. True empathy is the ability to be aware of one’s own feelings and thoughts -- at the same time. And it means having the wherewithal to speak about this awareness.

My best guess is that after his father's death, he was very much in his rational brain. Evidently the visit to the grave site was the trigger that linked his rational side to his emotional side. Your son is likely to be stuck in the emotional side of his brain longer than a "typical" child might be. Thus, he may take longer than expected to progress through the grief cycle.

The phases of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And it’s not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum to remain stuck in one of these phases for an extended period of time. After all, they do suffer from a “developmental disorder,” which means that they are emotionally and socially immature compared to their same-age peers. Mind-blindness and Alexithymia also play a role in the disruption of the grief cycle.

Some of these children display little emotion at the time of the parent’s death, almost to the point of appearing indifferent. They may fantasize that the parent is still alive, or believe that the parent will come back to life someday. However, they eventually become distraught (perhaps months later) once they have passed through the denial phase.

Others accept the fact that the parent is deceased – knowing full well what death means – but begin to display anger-management problems almost immediately. These children “act-out” behaviorally in a variety of ways, both at home and school. They have an acute reaction to the parent’s death, and may experience frequent and lengthy meltdowns for weeks – and even months – after the death.

Then there are those who turn their anger inward in the form of depression. They may refuse to attend school, refuse to eat meals with the rest of the family, and generally hibernate in their bedrooms. They are extremely hard to console, and tend to grieve longer than is typical.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

As mentioned earlier, acceptance is the last phase of grief. Your son will get to that acceptance phase on his own time, which means the link from the emotional side to the rational side has had a connection. I believe that your son is stuck in the depression phase currently. And it wouldn't be surprising to see him bounce back and forth between depression and anger.

So, the emotional and behavioral issues that you are witnessing are, in my opinion, depression driven. Thus, it would be good to see the doctor and have your son assessed. He may need to be on an antidepressant for a short period of time.

Here are some additional things to consider:

After a death, many kids benefit from sharing their story. Telling their story is a healing experience. Therefore, one of the best ways you can help your son is to encourage him to talk about the experience and listen to his story. He could even write his story rather than speak it (e.g., he may want to tell what happened, where he was when he was told about the death, what it was like for him, etc.).

Especially now, your son needs continuity (i.e., normal activities at home and school), care (e.g., plenty of hugs and cuddles), and connection (i.e., to still feel connected to his father and you).

Talk to your son's teacher and other school staff about what has happened so that they are able to provide extra support.

Grief is a very lonely experience for all kids, but especially for those with an autism spectrum disorder. It’s important that your son continues to feel looked after and cared for. Ask other family members and friends to help you with this -- especially when your own grief is overwhelming!

When a parent dies, the entire family feels fractured and incomplete. It’s quite natural for your son to withdraw for a while. Give him time and space to grieve rather than insisting that he eat dinner with you.

Know that your son needs to have his fears and anxieties addressed. He needs to have respect for his own way of coping, reassurance that he is not to blame, and opportunities to remember his father. He also needs inclusion in rituals and anniversaries, adequate information about the death, and acknowledgement and acceptance of his feelings.

In addition, try some of the following strategies:
  • Talk about his dad (mention his name frequently).
  • Create an album of photographs and stories.
  • Create special rituals or remembrance activities.
  • Keep a journal of memories.
  • Link objects and special things (e.g., it's important that your son have some of the special objects that belonged to his father, such as items of clothing, jewelry, etc.).
  • Make a memory box and use this to store precious things that offer memories of his father.
  • Put together questions that build a portrait of his father (e.g., what was his favorite food, what was his favorite place, what was his favorite TV program, etc.). These questions can be asked and answered together as a family whenever the time seems right (i.e., when your son is actually in the mood to talk about his father).

Lastly, kids who are experiencing emotional problems due to the loss of a parent can really benefit from grief counseling. Below are some signs that your son may need professional help. Many of these signs are normal following the death of a mother or father, but indicate a problem if they are prolonged:
  • aggressive behavior and anger
  • eating disturbance (e.g., eating excessively or having no appetite)
  • marked social withdrawal (e.g., not wanting to socialize with family or friends)
  • persistent blame or guilt
  • persistent difficulty talking about the deceased parent
  • school difficulties (e.g., academic reversal, school refusal, inability to concentrate, behavioral problems)
  • self-destructive behavior (e.g., suicidal thoughts, talking about wanting to hurt themselves)
  • sleep difficulties
  • unexplained physical symptoms and discomfort (e.g., stomach aches, headaches)

Grief counseling provides kids the opportunity to talk about very difficult things in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. If all else fails, the seeking the assistance of a qualified grief counselor is highly recommended (preferably one who specializes in working with children on the autism spectrum).

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

•    Anonymous said…  Do not be afraid of special education classes...Most are so smart and the teacher is well equipped to assist with these things! Best thing I ever did for my son.
•    Anonymous said… Get him a kitten or puppy....he needs to worked well with my mom passing and my noeces were in serious grief (ages 5 and 6) at that time. It was quite the healer ....
•    Anonymous said… Here in NY , My aspie hasnt found an ounce of understanding in any of the 3 schools he has been in ...the damage they have done is unreal ...all i can say is ... be your childs advocate or get one and be LOUD and take no crud ! If i had it to do all over again ... things would be so different ...the school system would be asking ME how high should we jump !
•    Anonymous said… I have been through this with my two surviving children when their brother passed away suddenly in a car accident. My first advice is to protect your child at school. Make sure your gets a functional behavioral assessment to ensure he is protected. Put the request in writing and ask for a response within three days. Send the request by email or preferably certified mail. Moving classrooms sounds like school/administrativly focused rather than child focused. Everything I know about autism and grief in teens/children says maintain consistency. Is this school focused on your child's needs or on what is best for them from an administrative standpoint? My daughter became increasingly withdrawn to the point of refusing to go to school. Unfortunately for us, it became a very negative situation where the teachers and administrators just wanted a quick fix, such as medication - which she was already on. It was obvious they just "didn't want to deal with it". We wound up homeschooling this year and she is sooooo much happier. I feel in hindsight she needed that time to "heal" and to be in a protective, loving environment where stress is minimized. I know it might seem impossible if you are working and/or a single parent, but look into online programs, local home-school co-ops, etc. Seek out therapy together and tell him it's for "the family," that way he doesn't feel singled out. Have him earn video game time or maybe a new game or add-on for going. Big  🤗
•    Anonymous said… I'd watch his behaviour carefully. The massive cry may have helped, but if you're still seeing signs of stress in his play, it might be worth seeing a psych.
•    Anonymous said… My asd daughter was 5 when he first dad died she never spoke about him since. Went to grave few times and now older she tells me if she wants to go. I gave her photos and some of his things to keep. She is 16 now. I think she has just accepted it I remarried x hope you find the answer for your son sorry for ur loss
•    Anonymous said… There are grief counselors who can come to the home. Not sure if trained for special needs, but I will look for the link. I know also that play or art therapy with counseling if you can him there eventually can help.
•    Anonymous said… This explains so much! When our daughter passed (his little sister) my husband and I had to sit our son down and tell him. His exact words were "Meh, i wanted a brother anyway." Now this was prior to him being diagnosed and I was taken aback but did not for a second think he meant it ill intentioned just because I know my son. Now that he is diagnosed, my whole life is now filling in the missing pieces of the last 10 years. It's all coming together.
•    Anonymous said… When my mother died of cancer this past August, my son didn't cry or talk about it at all. Several months later, my daughter pointed out that he has been "meaner since Granny died". I started to talking to him about it and he just fell apart, crying hysterically! He has not cried or spoken about it since. Should I bring this up with him and make him talk about it?

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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…

Clingy Behavior in Children with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]

"Any advice on how to deal with separation anxiety in a child with high functioning autism? Dropping him off at school is a nightmare!"

You used to leave your high-functioning autistic (HFA) child with loved ones or drop him off at school with a kiss on the cheek and a quick wave goodbye. Clingy behavior seemed to be a problem only for other children. But, now your goodbyes trigger tears or tantrums – or both.

If your youngster's clingy behavior seems intense or prolonged (especially if it interferes with school or other daily activities), you will want to address this situation sooner than later, because the longer it goes on, the worse it gets and the tougher it is to treat.

Each youngster handles stress differently, so the causes of clingy behavior will be different for each boy or girl. A parent's job is to play detective and figure out what's causing clingy behavior. Sometimes clinginess may be triggered by situations such as:
  • bullying
  • family stress 
  • new child care situation
  • new home
  • new school
  • new sibling

Keep in mind that the goal here is for your child to learn to cope with life without you, however long it takes. 

Here are a few parenting tips that help make goodbyes less stressful:

1. Ask your child if there is anything worrying him (e.g., bullying, illness, bereavement, etc.). Try to identify what might be causing the clinginess and describe his feelings so he begins to understand it. By describing his feelings and expressing your own feelings of wanting to be there for him, he will feel understood and be less likely to need your physical presence as reassurance.

2. Teach how to "talk to the fear." Help your youngster name the feeling (e.g., "I'm afraid"). Then, teach him how to talk back to the fear so he is in charge of the fear and not the other way around. The trick is to have him practice telling himself he'll be okay to build confidence (e.g., "Go away fear, leave me alone. Mom will come back.").

3. Kids on the autism spectrum (as with all kids) build self-confidence through mastering new tasks and contributing to their environment in a helpful way. Create tasks that your youngster can help you with at home (e.g., setting the table, cooking, cleaning up, etc.). The more confident a youngster feels in her abilities, the more secure she will feel in ANY environment.

4. When kids exhibit clingy behavior, it is generally viewed as a positive sign that they feel close and secure in the parent’s care and go to the parent for comfort when they are feeling distress. Responding to clingy behavior by ignoring or punishing it may make your youngster less likely to come to you when he is feeling afraid or vulnerable.

5. Some moms and dads find it easier to sneak out when their son or daughter has a hard time or throws a tantrum each time they leave. But, this will only increase your youngster’s anxiety and clinginess, because she will be afraid to engage in any activity too long for fear that you may sneak out and disappear at any moment.

6. Find people your child trusts (e.g., neighbor, relative, friend, etc.) who know your youngster's quirks, routines, likes and dislikes. Gradually stretch separation times, and slowly broaden your youngster's "inner security circle."

7. If you're leaving your youngster at home or in another familiar environment, give him a gentle goodbye – then go! Encourage your youngster's caregiver to distract him or engage him in a new activity right away. If you're leaving your youngster in a new environment, you might play with him for a few minutes to ease the transition. When you leave, remind him that you'll be back. Be specific about when you'll return (e.g., "after school").

8. Give your youngster something to look forward to. Discuss something fun that will happen while you're gone.

9. Make things more predictable for your youngster by making the schedule or routine as concrete as possible. Although you know your youngster’s schedule, she may not. HFA kids don’t have a clear sense of time, live mostly in the here and now, and have shorter memory spans. Using pictures to depict their weekly schedule (especially when it changes every 2 to 3 days), telling them what to expect next, and reminding them when you will be available to spend time with them (e.g., "Remember, our special snack time is after school") will help reduce anxiety by bringing a sense of orderliness and structure to their day.

10. Socializing with kids the same age can help these young people develop attachments to their peers and can build social skills necessary for interacting with people outside of the immediate family. Set up regular play dates with a friend of your youngster’s choice from school, or schedule a class or weekly trips to the park.

11. Keep the crying and tantrums in perspective. Your youngster's tears and anger are an attempt to keep you from leaving. When you're gone, the tears and anger aren't likely to last long (especially once your youngster is engaged in a new activity).

12. Studies reveal that kids whose mom or dad prepared them for a separation were able to leave the parent far easier and protested far less than those not prepared. So, for example, drive by the birthday party in advance, go meet the new teacher before the first school day, take an online tour of the school before the move, and so on.

13. Leave a special reminder. Offer a blanket, stuffed animal or other comforting object for your youngster to hold while you're gone.

14. Practice saying goodbye. Do some role-playing. Eventually your youngster will learn that he can count on you to return, just as you did in the role-play.

15. Create "goodbye" rituals. Create a special kiss, or provide a special pebble or key chain to put in his pants pocket, then explain that when he touches the item, it means you're thinking of him.

16. Praise your youngster for tasks or activities that she is able to do independently (e.g., household chores, playing nicely on her own or with friends, etc.). Praising your youngster for doing things independently sends the message that she is capable of doing things for herself and should feel confident without your close supervision and guidance.

17. Some kids on the spectrum feel a constant need for affection because they are not sure when or if the attention will be available. Schedule 5 to 10 minutes every day when you can provide your youngster with undivided attention (i.e., no computer, T.V., cell phones, etc.).

18. Use a consistent phrase when saying goodbye (e.g., “I’ll see you again shortly”). Be brief, don’t linger, and don’t overreact if your youngster gets upset after saying goodbye. Overreacting will only feed into his anxiety and make it worse, while lingering will increase the likelihood that he will continue to sulk or seek your attention to prolong your stay each time.

19. Occasionally, you may need to stay with your youngster during social activities. Play with her and her peers until she is comfortable playing on her own. Be available during play dates to teach and model social skills, respond to conflict, and monitor situations that may cause stress or anxiety.

20. Use social stories, drawings, and other creative approaches appropriate to your youngster’s age to explain what he is thinking and feeling when you leave him somewhere.

21. Parental anxiety feeds into your youngster’s anxiety, so curb your anxiety and watch how you react. Kids can catch our fears.

22. Time your departure carefully. Your youngster may be more likely to have a tantrum when you leave if she is tired, hungry or restless. When possible, leave when your youngster is fed and rested.

23. Recruit one of your child’s peers to support him (e.g., peer comes to your house and walks with your child to school).

24. Develop a plan for gradual separation whereby you gradually shorten the period of time you spend saying goodbye – and increase the amount of time apart.

25. Avoid over-protection and too much reassurance. Always rescuing or being overprotective robs your youngster of confidence. The key is to find the balance between pushing and protecting. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helping HFA Youngsters Learn Self-Control—

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

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

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

Up to Age 2—

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

Ages 3 to 5—

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

Ages 6 to 9—

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

Ages 10 to 12—

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

Ages 13 to 17—

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

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

When Youngsters On the Spectrum Are Out of Control—

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am I Taking Care of Myself?

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

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

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

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

Am I Being Consistent in My Expectations and My Reactions?

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

Am I Including the Child?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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