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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query parents. Sort by date Show all posts

Helping Kids on the Spectrum to Understand Nuances and Subtexts of Language

"Is there a way to teach a child with high functioning autism to not take the things a parent says so literally? My daughter’s literal mind is completely baffled by sarcasm. She will try to dissect and understand common phrases and end up with some very bizarre ideas about the world. I try to keep my sarcasm to a minimum, but no matter how hard I try to account for her literalism, there are always things that I miss. I end up saying something that confuses the hell out of her, and when I try to explain, it just confuses her even more. As just one example, we were running late getting out the door and on to a doctor’s appointment a few days ago. She was stalling, so I barked, ‘Get those shoes on your feet right now!’ So, she literally picked up her shoes and placed them ON TOP of her feet (I had to laugh). Anyway… how can I help with this issue?"

All kids have a "blind spot" in understanding various concepts. For example, some students don't "get" multiplication or division, but can usually overcome this blind spot at some point with the help of a math tutor. But, for the child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger’s (AS), the blind spots are reading non-verbal cues and comprehending humor or sarcasm. This is a permanent autistic trait called “mind-blindness.” Difficulty reading social cues affects every aspect of the child’s social life – at home, school and in the community at large.

Certain properties make language very creative, engaging, fun to use, and interesting to listen to (e.g., figures of speech, sarcasm, body language, tone of voice, etc.). However, these properties are often huge roadblocks between the messages parents try to give their HFA or AS youngster and his ability to receive them. “Special needs” kids with language processing problems, developmental delays, and other challenging conditions have extreme difficulty understanding the nuances and subtexts of language.

Since it is impossible to teach the HFA or AS youngster every innuendo of speech and nonverbal cues and multiple meanings, he may compensate by (a) becoming precise in language, (b) seeking words that have a definite concrete meaning, (c) concentrating on subjects in which he can be well-informed, (d) developing any nonverbal talents he may have to the point where he can earn the social approval he craves, or (e) reading extensively for information rather than pleasure, preferring fact to fiction.

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

If the HFA or AS child reacts to something that parents said in a way that surprises them (e.g., misunderstanding, panicking, ignoring, overreacting, defying, etc.), then parents should consider the following dynamics:

1. The HFA or AS child can learn to avoid taking things literally, but he may not be able to let go of one meaning (he may need to store both). Therefore, parents should:
  • expose their child to as many “odd” as possible (e.g., “that opened up a can of worms” … “that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back” … “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” …etc.)
  • explain what each of these phrases mean
  • teach them early in order to save confusion and embarrassment later

2. If parents use an expression their youngster is unfamiliar with, or if she doesn't understand that words can be used in ways that have nothing to do with their literal meaning, then the parents’ statement may seem irritating and perplexing to the child.

3. If the parents’ message is anything other than simple and straightforward, they should attempt to simplify it and try again. They may be surprised at how much more cooperative their youngster is when he actually knows what they want.

4. If the youngster is unable to pick up cues from the parents’ tone of voice, she may take what they say at face value (the exact opposite of the intended meaning).

5. It's natural for parents to try to add more and more explanation when they feel that their child doesn't understand what they are saying. However, if language is the problem in the first place, adding more language isn't going to help.

6. Moms and dads should learn to say what they mean - and mean what they say (which is often easier said than done). To say something like, "If you don't do your chores - you're in deep trouble" may result in the child envisioning herself in a hole - or worse.

7. Just as parents wouldn't talk to a 5-year-old the same way they would talk to a 15-year-old and expect the same degree of comprehension, parents should not talk to their HFA or AS youngster who has delayed language, social or emotional skills in a way that would be appropriate for his chronological age. Remember, young people on the autism spectrum are “delayed” in their comprehension skills.

8. What seems friendly and harmless to parents may seem intimidating and perplexing to an HFA or AS youngster who does not understand that they don't really mean it – or even why they would say a thing they don't mean.

9. Without an awareness of the way tone of voice and body language can change the meaning of words, the youngster may misinterpret the parents’ intention or their level of urgency.

10. Parents may be inflating their statements for the purpose of humor or out of anger, but the youngster may think they really mean it. She may think her parents are being cruel. As a result, she may panic or overreact, or may not know what to make of what they have said, or may accuse them of overreacting.

It is crucial that parents think about how they word things to their literal HFA or AS youngster. Understand that your “special needs” child is not misinterpreting you purposefully. Be patient and try to learn to think how she thinks. Some of the best minds in the world are very literal. Looking at situations through the eyes of a child on the spectrum can give you a brand-new outlook on multiple aspects of life.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE HELP ==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Guidelines for Collaborating with Your Child’s School

“I’ve begged my son's school to test him for autism. I’ve had nine meetings with his principal, counselors, and teachers. They insist nothing is wrong with him except he needs more discipline, because he is ‘extremely intelligent’. Even though he has run away from school three times, they still don’t think anything is wrong. It's such a shame that these years of school are being wasted because the school doesn’t want to perform a test. How can I get them to change their mind about this?”

In short, you will need to be both a diplomat and an advocate. Being an advocate for a youngster with ASD Level 1, or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), can be tricky. Parents need exceptional communication and negotiation skills – and the confidence to support their youngster’s right to a proper education. Below are some very crucial tips to accomplish this goal in a tactful fashion:

1. Allow school officials to explain their opinions. If parents don’t understand what someone is saying, they should ask for clarification. For example, “What I hear you saying is…” can help ensure that both parties are on the same page.

2. Think in terms of “life success” rather than “school success.” Success in life (rather than just school success) depends not on academics, but on the willingness to ask for - and accept help, the determination to keep trying in spite of challenges, the ability to form healthy relationships with others, a healthy sense of self, and other qualities that are not as easy to quantify as grades and SAT scores. By focusing on these broad skills, parents can help give their youngster a huge leg-up in life.

3. Before any and all meetings, parents should write down what they want to accomplish. They can decide what is most important, and what they are willing to negotiate.

4. Parents can do their own research and keep abreast of new developments in various programs, therapies, and educational techniques for kids on the autism spectrum. Parents may be tempted to look to others (e.g., teachers, therapists, doctors, etc.) for solutions, especially at first. But parents are the foremost expert on their HFA youngster. Thus, they can take charge when it comes to finding the tools their child needs in order to learn.

5. Moms and dads of kids on the spectrum sometimes make the mistake of investing all of their time and energy into the school as the primary solution for their youngster’s disorder. Parents need to recognize that the school situation will never be perfect. Limited funding and too many regulations mean that the accommodations the “special needs” student receives may not be exactly what parents envision for him or her. This, in turn, may cause frustration and stress in the parent. So, in a nutshell, don’t have unrealistic expectations up front.
==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

6. Parents have the advantage of not being “part of the system” and may have fresh ideas. They can do their research and find examples of what other schools have done. So, offer some solutions based on the success of other schools.

7. Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses. Your youngster is not defined by his or her disorder. Focus on his or her gifts and talents. Nurture the activities where he or she excels, and make plenty of time for them.

8. Remember that the school system is dealing with a large number of kids; however, you are only concerned with YOUR “special needs” youngster. Help the meeting stay focused on him or her. Mention your youngster’s name often, resist the urge to fight larger battles, and don’t drift into generalizations.

9. Parents can remind themselves that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to parents to teach their youngster how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Parents should not let the tests, endless paperwork, and school bureaucracy to distract them from what’s really important – giving their youngster plenty of emotional and moral support.

10. Remember that the school will be only one part of the solution for your youngster. So, leave some of the stress behind. Your attitude, support, encouragement, and optimism will have the most lasting impact on your youngster.
==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

11. Stay composed and positive during meetings. The parent should try to go into the meeting assuming that everyone wants to help. If the parent says something she regrets, she can simply apologize and try to get back on track. In other words, try to stay on the good side of school officials, because they can be a big help – or a big hindrance, depending on how they feel about the parent’s attitude. This is not fair, and it’s not right. But, unfortunately, it’s the reality in some school systems.

12. Remember that the parent’s influence outweighs all others. The HFA youngster will almost always follow his or her parent’s lead. If parents approach learning challenges with a sense of humor, optimism, and hard work, their youngster will embrace their perspective (or at least see the challenges as a speed bump rather than a roadblock). Parents need to focus their energy on learning what works for their youngster – and implementing it the best they can.

13. Identify how your HFA youngster learns best – and share this information with his or her teacher(s). Once parents have figured out how their child learns best, they can take steps to make sure that type of learning is reinforced in the classroom and with homework. Let’s look at how to determine what type of learner your youngster is:
  • If your youngster is an auditory learner, he or she: (a) may love music, languages, and being on stage; (b) learns best by listening; (c) does well in lecture-based learning environments and on oral reports and tests; and (d) benefits from classroom discussions, spoken directions, and study groups.
  • If your youngster is a visual learner, he or she: (a) benefits from written notes, directions, diagrams, charts, maps, and pictures; (b) does well when material is presented and tested visually, not verbally; (c) learns best by seeing or reading; (d) may love to draw, read, and write; and (e) is probably a good speller.
  • If your youngster is a kinesthetic learner, he or she: (a) benefits from hands-on activities, lab classes, props, skits, and field trips; (b) does well when he or she can move, touch, explore, and create in order to learn; (c) learns best by doing and moving; and (d) may love sports, drama, dance, martial arts, and arts and crafts.

14. Lastly, write a respectful, business-like letter to the school that describes the issues and your suggested remedy. Ask what the school plans to do for your youngster. If you don’t get an acceptable reply, consult with an attorney who has expertise in special education matters. CLICK HERE for attorneys in any state.

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

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

Do you want to start an IEP process? Do you need accommodations for your son? You can request a comprehensive eval in writing. Many parents I know have gone the private insurance route and done a full psych/educational evaluation and then scheduled a meeting for them to review the results. But of course you can ask the school to do the psych testing--it just is a longer process. However your child has legal rights to receive any accomodations needed to succeed in school. Send a formal email to the principal, teacher, and the ESE person for the school. 
The schools are not required to accept any outside evaluation. But it will signal a necessary start to meeting for disability testing. Everything should be in writing. Since a formal request, in writing, is required for the school district to evaluate your child to determine if they are a child with a disability in need of special education and related services. That starts the legal clock running. The diagnosis itself does not guarantee an IEP (although it may get you a 504 with accommodations.) You will need to show that special education required. 
Do not let the school limit their consideration of need to academics - as other needs are direct instruction in social communication skills, executive functioning/organizational skills, self-advocacy skills, etc. are all valid "special education" needs. Developing appropriate teacher-student relationships, peer-to-peer relationships, being able to participate fully in extracurricular activities, not being bullied or shunned, etc. are all legitimate areas of special education need. 
Also, depending on the state and county, there are services available for free advocacy help where these advocates attend all meetings with the parent and help to move things along by liaisoning with the district. I myself have had the help of an educational advocate. Call your county district school board and ask for a list of advocates you can get help with. Sometimes going over the school's head and speaking with the county makes in my county they actually have an autism unit...someone who comes into the schools and helps the parent navigate through. And of course, you can go to the superintendent. Hope this helps.

Teaching ASD Children to Self-Manage Their Behavior

 "I need some useful behavior management strategies for a very out of control 6 yo boy with autism (high functioning). Thanks in advance!"

Teaching kids with ASD or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) to manage their own behavior allows parents to spend less time dealing with challenging behaviors at home. Managing your own behavior is called self-control. Self-control skills are used to help HFA children to pay attention to their own behavior. These young people can learn to monitor their own behavior and control their own actions through using self-control techniques. 

In order to help a child on the autism spectrum learn to monitor his own behavior, parents should ask themselves the following questions:
  • Are there any factors or challenges that my youngster faces that need to be considered before implementing a self-control plan?
  • Is my youngster able to make an accurate self-assessment of his behavior?
  • What goals do I have for my youngster in using a self-control plan?
  • What is it that interests or engages my youngster that may be used to begin a self-control program?
  • What is my youngster’s current level of self-control?

How to teach HFA children to manage their own behavior:

1. Parents should assess their youngster’s current level of self-control to accurately report on her behavior. For instance, the parent may ask the youngster as she sits watching television, “Did you pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket?” If the parent has just seen that the dirty clothes have not been put in the basket, yet the child responds that she did put them in the basket, the parent will know that her youngster currently does not accurately “assess” her behavior.

It’s easier to have a child assess behaviors around activities in which she is currently engaged. Some kids may not be able to accurately assess their own behaviors and may need to be taught how to self-assess prior to using a self-control program. Parents may need to teach their child to correctly report if she did or didn’t perform a task that the parent asked about (e.g., doing chores, completing homework, etc.).

2. Parents can identify what observable behaviors they want their youngster to learn to self-manage. Each step needs to clearly describe what the youngster should do. For instance, your son may be taught that when told to “get ready for dinner,” he should stop playing computer games, wash his hands, and take a seat at the dinner table.

3.  Once the behaviors have been identified, they are visually displayed for the youngster using photographs or drawings on a poster. The youngster is given a way to monitor her behaviors using a checklist or chart that shows the activity with a place to indicate whether she performed the step correctly (using a check mark, smiley face, sticker, thumbs up/thumbs down, etc.). Parents can laminate the chart or checklist and use a wipe-off marker so that it is reusable.

The goal of the chart or checklist is to teach the youngster how to independently engage in appropriate behavior – not to punish or withhold activities. It can be used to chart special activities that the youngster earns. Oftentimes, kids on the autism spectrum respond well to the use of an earned “special” activity if they complete the chart (e.g., having time on the computer). If the self-control chart includes a special activity, the youngster can choose the special activity. A visual representation (e.g., a photo or picture cut out from a catalog or magazine) of the special activity can then be placed on the chart as a reminder of what the youngster can earn when the chart is complete.

4.  The youngster is taught to engage in the desired behaviors and then to monitor his performance. Once the chart is prepared, the parent should review the chart with the youngster after the activity has occurred. The parent can review the steps that are listed on the chart and explain how the youngster’s performance will be marked (e.g., “The first picture shows ‘I put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket’. If you put your clothes in the basket, we are going to place a smiley face on the chart. If you did not put your clothes in the basket, we will not place a smiley face on the chart. Let’s see what happened. Did you put your clothes in the basket? Yes, you did. We can put a smiley face on the chart.”).

Once parents have reviewed the system with the youngster and they believe the youngster understands it, they should try it out the next time the activity occurs. During the activity, parents can remind their youngster of the behaviors on the chart. When the activity is over, they can help him mark the chart.

5.  Parents should provide positive attention or feedback to their youngster while she is learning self-control. When parents give their youngster feedback for using the chart, they should praise her for engaging in the behavior and the accuracy of her ability to self-manage. Over time, parents can gradually provide less assistance for using the chart. The goal will be to get the youngster to use the chart independently until she does the behavior easily and no longer needs the self-control system.

Self-control skills are designed to teach autistic kids how to engage in appropriate behavior, independently. Over time, parents should decrease their assistance and support their child to use self-control skills independently. If the youngster misses a step or does not complete the chart, parents can gently redirect him to complete the step and encourage him to try harder the following day or during the next activity.

When methods to teach self-control skills are carefully implemented, positive changes in behavior can be expected. Self-control skills are most effective when parents implement the self-control program systematically and monitor their youngster’s progress. When an autistic youngster has difficulty with the process or is not making progress, the self-control system should be reviewed, and additional instruction or new procedures should be implemented.

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

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

Adjusting the Physical Environment to Decrease Anxiety and Increase Compliance in Kids on the Spectrum

To make interventions that will decrease anxiety and increase compliance in children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s, parents need to create an environment in which their youngster feels comfortable and has an understanding of the events taking place around him or her. 

The environment needs to provide:
  • Structure
  • Routine
  • Predictability
  • Organization
  • Consistency
  • Logically explained rules
  • Clear rewards and consequences in response to these rules

When this is in place, the “special needs” youngster will begin to feel competent.

Here are the 4 steps to creating an optimal environment for young people on the autism spectrum:

1. Reinforcers (i.e., things that increase desired behavior) will need to be very individualized, because kids and teens with HFA and Asperger’s often don’t respond to typical reinforcers. Parents must be well aware of what their youngster views as a reward. Points to consider:
  • Reinforcers can cause difficulties if they are used too frequently. Not only will they lose their potency, but problems will arise over the giving - or not giving - of the reward.
  • Parents need to make sure their youngster is aware of how the reward/consequence system works. 
  • Natural consequences can be highly effective and will remove the "giving" or "denying" of the reward from parents (e.g., "If you finish your morning routine within 10 minutes, you will have time to play your favorite video game before school. If you take too long, you will not be able to play"). 
  • Incorporating the child’s obsessions into a reinforcement system is an appropriate way of offering a strong reinforcer and of also controlling access to the obsession. 
  • Favored activities should follow less favored or challenging activities.
2. At home and school, develop a daily routine so that the HFA or Asperger’s youngster knows what he or she is doing - and when. Points to consider:
  • Posting a schedule and reviewing it when the youngster becomes "stuck" can provide the necessary prompt to move on.
  • As parents review the schedule, they not only lessen anxiety, but also provide an opportunity to discuss appropriate responding. 
  • Compliance is not a struggle between the parent and child, but rather simply a matter of following the schedule. 
  • For teenagers, rather than using a written schedule, parents could use a desk calendar or day planner, which accomplishes the goal of providing a visual guide.
  • Parents should establish a routine for only a small portion of the day if they feel a day-long schedule would be too great a change for their youngster (e.g., create a schedule for an activity, such as going to the store, as an easier place to start). 
  • The child should view the schedule as a “guide.” A guide will serve to decrease anxiety, which in turn decreases behavior issues. 
  • When developing a schedule, number the items on it (e.g., 1, 2, 3 and so on), but avoid assigning times to each event or activity. It’s difficult to do things to the minute, and failure to do so can lead to further distress for the youngster.

3. The parent-child relationship with the HFA or Asperger’s youngster must be consistent in both word and action. Points to consider:
  • Interactions must be stable, allowing the youngster to anticipate how he or she will respond.
  • Make requests and follow through. Don't make second requests, and don't plead.
  • Make the rules and stick to them! Going "easy" on the child or giving him or her a "break" from the rules periodically will hinder the parent’s effectiveness.
  • Parents must be highly organized and pay attention to details as they create a structured environment for their youngster; however, they must also be able to remain flexible within this structure. By doing so, they will provide the structure their youngster needs to learn to be flexible as well.
  • The child must see the parent as a predictable person – a person in control, who is calm, and who keeps his/her word. 
  • The child must also see the parent as someone who can help him/her understand the world around him/her. 
  • And the child must view the parent as his or her helper or problem-solver. If the parent is only seen as a problem-causer, his or her effectiveness will be minimal.

4. The physical environment must be consistent. Points to consider:
  • Use the letters of the youngster's name placed on a chart to keep track of consequences. Throughout the day, if letters have been received, they can slowly be erased for positive responding. This provides a good visual response for appropriate behaviors, and parents can deliver this feedback (depending on the youngster's needs) every ten minutes, fifteen minutes, two hours, or whatever the parent thinks will work best.
  • Use charts with stickers to keep track of reward systems. 
  • Use consistent materials that are clearly marked and accessible (e.g., toys that are within easy reach and stored in or near the area they will be used).
  • Parents need to identify clear physical boundaries (e.g., a planned seating arrangement in school or a planned play area at home). 
  • In all locations, parents need to identify consistent areas where specific activities are completed (e.g., homework is always completed at the desk or kitchen table).
  • Expectations, rules, rewards, and consequences should be visually available – and must be clearly described to the youngster.
  • Certain designated areas/activities should have consistent behavioral expectations, which are explained to the youngster (e.g., "At my desk I do calm sitting; calm sitting is modeled and practiced”).

The creation of an effective environment will take time and will require parents to examine more details than they knew existed. The reward, however, will be the relief of watching the HFA or Asperger’s youngster leave his or her anxieties and problematic behaviors behind. Parents will see the child begin to really trust them and take chances he never thought he could. Parents will witness their child’s gradual and steady steps into a larger world. 

A Child on the Autism Spectrum Interviews His Parents

Hi everybody, my name is Matt. After reading questions and answers to Mark Hutten, I was so sad to hear all the problems parents are having. I know I’m only 10 but I decided to interview my parents what they thought about my autism and how they helped me so that I could share with you:

Me: When did you first think I was different?

My parents: We noticed when you were about 3 years old, when you decided to stop eating.

Me: What did you do?

My parents: Well we went to the pediatrician who told us this was normal, and not to force you to eat, that you would eat when you decided to. Well that was a mistake still to this day you won’t touch a lot of foods.

Me: What did you think when the psychologist told you I had autism?

My parents: We were torn. We were happy in a way that we finally found out why you were acting differently, but sad thinking how can we help you?

Me: I don’t understand?

My parents: Every parent’s first impulse is thinking “what did I do wrong?” When we found out it was autism, and it was not our fault, this made us feel a little better. But now knowing that you have an autism spectrum condition,  it made us feel helpless thinking how can we help you. Matthew, every parent wants to help his or her child live a happy life.

Me: Is there anything you think helped me get this far?

My parents: Yes. I made sure ever since you started school I asked you four simple questions. Tell me something good, something bad, something happy something sad. This made you talk about your day and we could elaborate on a specific topic, which was most important to you. Now every day we talk about all different topics.

Me: Yes we still do it today, but I call it debriefing now.

Me: How did you get me to try new things?

My parents: The one that best works for you is reward and consequence. Do you remember when you would not ride your bike for the whole summer?

Me: Yes

My parents: Well it was not until I purchased a computer game and told you, that you could not play it until you rode your bike. You learned to ride a bike in 2 hours.

Me: Is there anything else you think that helps me?

My parents: Matthew it’s all trial and error. There have been times a strategy may work but the next day fails completely. We find its one step forward and 2 steps back. I get told a lot of the time that I’m a pessimist.

Me: What does that mean?

My parents: It means I look for the worst things in life. I do this to try to look ahead on what problems could arise for you. Everything I try to teach you now is not to learn for today but 2 years from now. I have always tried to teach you some problem solving of situations that may arise as you get older. Hopefully with constant repetition when this time comes, it would have sunk in and you would be ready.

Me: Are you tired of having a son with autism?

My parents: If you mean tired as exhausted, there are times, but I get the same exhaustion from telling your brother to pick up his clothes. Matt I’m a mom. I’m tired all the time. It goes with the territory. If you mean am I tired of you… NEVER. I wanted two boys and I was blessed with two wonderful boys, so to that answer - no!!!! You are a wonderful son with so many gifts to offer and I love you and will always love you.


Matt: "I hope that this may help parents. As my mom and dad said, 'it is all trial and error' and if these worked for me maybe they may be able to help your kids with autism."


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

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Anonymous said...Made my eyes my eyes a little moist. My daughter and I have similar conversations and I don't always know what to say but try to be insightful and honest. My daughter believes fully that I am her hero in life and that's so much to live up to when I feel at a loss so often. I feel so alone sometimes. Reading this conversation between parent and child really really helps to feel not so alone. So thank you!
  at 7:46 AM  

Anonymous said... I loved this article. Your mom gave some insight into how to get my 6 year old to share his day w/ me. I hope to have conversations like yours with him someday. I love him very much!!
   at 1:57 PM

List of the Most Popular Books on Autism Spectrum Disorders

General Reference—

• ATTWOOD, T., Asperger's Syndrome - A Guide for Parents & Professionals, Jessica Kingsley, UK, 1998. This paperback is essential reading for those living or working with a child or adult with Asperger Syndrome. It is written in a clear and concise manner, with plenty of examples, practical suggestions and resource lists.
• BARNHILL, G., Right address...wrong planet: Children with Asperger Syndrome becoming Adults, Autism Asperger Publishing Company, 2002. Written by an autism consultant, who has an adult son with Asperger Syndrome, this paperback covers a much needed area - that of adolescence and adulthood. Ms. Barnhill offers both her family perspective and practical advice for those living with/caring for an adult with Asperger Syndrome.
• BASHE, P.R. & KIRBY, B.L. The OASIS Guide to Asperger Syndrome, Crown Publishers, 2002. Written by two parents, this paperback deals with the social, emotional and cognitive challenges faced by those with Asperger Syndrome, and their parents. It also provides an overview of treatment strategies and options.
• HOWLIN, P., Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, John Wiley & Sons, 1998. Pat Howlin is one of the most highly regarded clinicians in the field of autism. This paperback describes the full range of presentations along the autistic spectrum, and explains what is currently known about causes, assessment and treatment. Pat deals in an unbiased way with the vast range of treatments and therapies for autistic disorders. This is a detailed reference for practitioners and caretakers.
• NEWPORT, J. & M. Autism-Aspergers and Sexuality, Future Horizons, 2002. This paperback is written by a married couple, both of whom have Asperger Syndrome. It is a valuable insight into the social and sexual challenges faced by those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and provides advice for these individuals and their parents. Some parts of this paperback are quite explicit.
• SHAW, W., Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, The Great Plains Laboratory, US, 1998. This paperback will be of interest to parents and others who are researching the alternatives to conventional treatment and management of Autism Spectrum Disorders. It specifically focuses on biological treatments, including antifungal and antibacterial treatments, gluten and casein restriction, vitamin therapy, food allergies - to name a few. This publication is not considered to be part of the mainstream literature on Autism Spectrum Disorders, but will meet the need of some families.
• WING, L., The Autistic Spectrum - A Guide for Parents and Professionals, Constable, London, 1996. On its publication in 1971, Lorna Wing's paperback Autistic Children was acclaimed as the definitive guide on autism. In this update, Lorna describes what autism is, how to help those with the condition, and the service types of value. This guide is easy to read and invaluable for parents and anyone working with people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Training Programs and Approaches—

• ADAMS, J., Autism - PDD: Introductory Strategies for Parents & Professionals; Creative Ideas During the School Years; and More Creative Ideas from Age Eight to Adulthood, Adams Publications, Ontario, 1995 & 1997 (distributed by Future Horizons). A mother in Canada has compiled these parent resource paperbacks. They are packed with useful ideas, checklists, strategies, sample charts, teaching aids and suggestions gleaned from her son's teachers and therapists.
• CUMINE, V., LEACH, J. & STEVENSON, G., Asperger Syndrome A Practical Guide for Teachers, David Fulton Publishers, UK, 1998. This is an essential resource paperback for teachers and parents. It provides a clear, non-technical explanation of the autistic spectrum, Asperger Syndrome, diagnostic issues and the educational implications of current theories. The bulk of the paperback provides information about educational and behavioural interventions in a school setting, in an accessible dot point format.
• GRAY, C., The Original Social Story Paperback; The New Social Story Paperback and the New Social Story Paperback Illustrated Edition, Future Horizons, (1993, 1994 & 2000). Social Stories provide individuals with autism with accurate information regarding situations they encounter. For many students with Asperger Syndrome, this type of written information appears to have a positive impact on their responses to social situations. Social stories have also been used successfully to teach academic skills. These paperbacks are collections of sample social stories compiled by Carol Gray, who developed the Social Stories approach.
• HOGDGON, L., Visual Strategies for Improving Communication, Quirk Roberts, 2001. A very practical paperback that provides easy to follow strategies for using visual aids to assist those with autism, Asperger Syndrome and PDD-NOS. Strategies are suggested for school and home.
• JORDAN, R. & POWELL, S., Understanding and Teaching Children with Autism, John Wiley & Sons, England, 1996. An excellent paperback for all teachers of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The authors provide a basis for understanding the developmental processes and problems of these students, and also the implications of these for social and educational learning.
• MCAFFEE, J., Navigating The Social World, Future Horizons, 2002. This manual provides a thorough curriculum for teaching social skills to individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. The program includes forms, exercises and guides for the student, and educational guidance to teachers and parents.
• MOYES, R.A., Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom, Jessica Kingsley, 2001. This paperback is divided into two sections - the first gives a thorough overview of the characteristics of Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism; the second half provides a guide to assessing areas of social deficit and implementing appropriate strategies. Very useful for parents and teachers.
• MYLES, B. S. & SOUTHWICK, J., Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments, Autism Asperger Publishing, KS, 1999. This paperback specifically examines the rage and anger exhibited by persons with Asperger Syndrome. Chapter headings include "An overview of the characteristics of Asperger Syndrome that may impact on behavior"; "The rage cycle and functional assessment of behaviors in the cycle"; "Strategies that promote self-awareness, self-calming and self-management"; and "Specifically for Parents". It is practical and easy to use and especially recommended for parents, caretakers, and teachers.
• SMITH MYLES, B & ADREON, D., Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence: Practical solutions for school success, Autism Asperger Publishing Co, 2002. An excellent overview of the challenges faced by teenagers with Asperger Syndrome at school. The paperback provides teachers and parents with practical solutions to assist in the transition to, and survival in, secondary school.
• WILLEY, L.H. (ed.), Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence: living with the ups, downs and things in between, Jessica Kingsley, 2003. This paperback tackles issues pertinent to all teenagers with Asperger Syndrome, including friendship, depression and sexuality. A different author, including Tony Attwood, Liane Holliday Willey and Rebecca Moyes, has written each chapter.
• WINTER, M., Asperger Syndrome: what teachers need to know, Jessica Kingsley, 2003. Written by a teacher, this paperback is very easy to read and full of strategies that will assist teachers, both in understanding Asperger Syndrome and also in providing a positive classroom experience for students.

Parents and Families—

• BOYD, B. Parenting a child with Asperger Syndrome, Jessica Kingsley, 2003. Written by the mother of Kenneth Hall (author of Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything) this paperback is a handy guide for parents and teaching staff. The format makes it very easy to use - it covers the range of issues that affect a person with Asperger Syndrome, and a host of tips and strategies to address these issues. Highly recommended for parents and teachers.
• HARRIS, S.L., Siblings of Children with Autism, Woodbine House, USA, 1994. This paperback will help parents understand a little more about sibling relationships and how Autism Spectrum Disorder can affect these relationships. It is a practical paperback, with suggestions and strategies for dealing with specific issues that are often of concern to siblings.
• JACKSON, J. Multicolored Mayhem, Jessica Kingsley, 2003. Jacqui Jackson is the mother of seven children. Her four boys are affected by a mixture of autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Jacqui is also the mother of Luke, who authored the very popular paperback Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome. In Multicoloured Mayhem Jacqui gives the reader an amazing insight into her parenting strategies and the skills she has developed that enable her to parent these children on her own!
• WAITES, J. & SWINBOURNE, H., Smiling at Shadows, Harper Collins, 2001. This is the story of Junee and Rod Waites and their son Dane. Dane was born in Melbourne in 1974. He was diagnosed with classic autism when he was about four. Junee and Rod have endured much to bring Dane into their world, from infancy through childhood and adolescence to the talented and caring adult that he now is, with a valued place in his community. A remarkable family account.

Children's Paperbacks—

• DAVIES, J., Able Autistic Children - Children with Asperger Syndrome, University of Nottingham,1993/94. Designed specifically for brothers and sisters of children with Asperger Syndrome from the age of seven years, this useful paperback explains what Asperger Syndrome is and explores some of the difficulties that siblings may experience.
• HADDON, M., The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Random House, 2003. Christopher is 15 and has Asperger Syndrome. He finds his neighbor's dog dead one night and decides to 'do some detecting' to solve the crime. His efforts lead to an eventful sequence of events for Christopher and his parents. The story is written in the first person, from Christopher's perspective, and provides an amazing insight into how people with Asperger Syndrome and Autism think. It is funny, sad, exhausting and ultimately very satisfying to read. Whilst noted as a children's paperback, we would recommend it for teenagers and adults - it is a little gruesome and the language is colorful!
• HOOPMAN, K., Blue Bottle Mystery; Of Mice and Aliens; Lisa and the Lacemaker; Haze, Jessica Kingsley, 2001, 2002, 2003. Kathy Hoopman is an Australian parent who has written a series of adventure stories in which the central character has Asperger Syndrome. These paperbacks are a delightful read for siblings, peers and young people with Asperger Syndrome. Suitable for children aged eight years onwards.
• IVES, M., What is Asperger Syndrome and how will it affect me?, National Autistic Society, 1999. This is a useful guide specifically for the teenager and young adult seeking explanations about themselves. It contains simple coping strategies and answers to some frequently asked questions.
• MURRELL, D., Tobin Learns to Make Friends, Future Horizons, 2001. A delightful story about a train carriage that has characteristics of Asperger Syndrome, and therefore has difficulty making friends. Highly recommended for siblings, peers and children with Asperger Syndrome, between the ages of 6 - 14.
• OGAZ, N., Wishing on the Midnight Star, Jessica Kingsley, 2004. Told from the point of view of Alex, a 13-year-old boy whose older brother has Asperger's, this adventure story is about two brothers, their relationship, their friends and some interesting dilemma's they get themselves into. A highly enjoyable read for those aged between 8-15. This paperback is by the author of another Asperger adventure, Buster and the Amazing Daisy.
• SCHNURR, R, G., Asperger's Huh? - A Child's Perspective, Anisor Publishing, 1999. An excellent paperback on Asperger Syndrome for children, peers, teachers or parents. Written from the point of view of a 10-year-old child with Asperger Syndrome, it gives a good overview of the common difficulties faced by those with Asperger Syndrome.
• WELTON, J., Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome? - A guide for friends and family, Jessica Kingsley, 2004. This paperback is about Adam, an 11-year-old boy with Aspergers Syndrome. Adam's story is about the challenges of AS, his talents and his needs. This paperback is designed to assist children's understanding of AS, and is suitable for those aged between 7 and 15.

Autobiographical Accounts—

• FLEISHER, M., Making Sense of the Unfeasible, Jessica Kingsley, 2003. Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 11 years old, Marc has gone on to complete degrees in mathematics. This paperback is an enjoyable account of his life and his strategies for success, complete with appendices on astronomy, parallel universes and the mathematics of unfeasibly large numbers!
• HALL, K., Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything, Jessica Kingsley, 2002. A wonderful paperback written by an 11-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome. This paperback gives a fantastic insight into his world, and provides an understanding of life with Asperger Syndrome. Highly recommended for siblings, parents, teachers and young people with Asperger Syndrome.
• JACKSON, L., Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome, Jessica Kingsley, 2002. Written by a 13 year old boy with Asperger Syndrome, this paperback is highly recommended for parents, teachers, and young adults with Asperger Syndrome. It is funny, sad, insightful and full of great tips for parents and teachers.
• LAWSON, W., Life Behind Glass (1998); Understanding and Working with the Spectrum of Autism (2001); Build Your Own Life (2003), Jessica Kingsley. For 25 years Wendy was incorrectly diagnosed with schizophrenia. When in her 40's, her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and she realized that this condition explained her own difficulties. With this unique insight, Life Behind Glassis a readable and very moving personal account. Her more recent paperbacks provide practical day-day strategies for living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Wendy is an acclaimed speaker and consultant and lives in Victoria.


• Ask Me about Asperger Syndrome, Michael Thomson Productions, 2000. A fantastic, 30 minute video targeting teaching staff. This video is very comprehensive and will give teachers a thorough introduction to Aspergers Syndrome and several classroom strategies that will assist students and teachers. Would also be helpful for parents.
• ATTWOOD, T., Asperger Syndrome: a video guide for parents and professionals, Future Horizons 1999. A three hour presentation by Tony Attwood covering the major characteristics of Asperger Syndrome, the diagnostic process and management strategies. It is a very helpful introduction for anyone interested in learning about Asperger Syndrome. Tony has an informative and unique presentation style and is in demand as a speaker around the world.
• GRANDIN, T. Sensory Challenges and Answers and Visual Thinking of a Person with Autism, Future Horizons, 2002. These videos are interviews with Temple Grandin and provide a useful insight into the sensory challenges faced by people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the process of 'thinking in pictures' and strategies to overcome these. Each video is approximately 30 minutes long.
• PRIOR, M. et al, Understanding Asperger Syndrome, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, 2000. This 28 minute video explains the nature of Asperger Syndrome, how it impacts on the affected child and their families, and gives practical advice for teachers. Available to buy from Autism Victoria.


• Autism Research Review International (USA)
• Autism/Asperger Syndrome Digest (Future Horizons)
• Communication (National Autistic Society - UK)
• NoticeBoard (Association for Children with a Disability, Victoria)
• The Advocate (Autism Society of America)

Taste Aversions in Children on the Autism Spectrum

“Why does my HFA daughter adamantly refuse to eat any new foods? Her diet is severely limited and she literally becomes ill (or does a great job a faking it) if I force her to eat something not on her VERY small list of favorites.”

“Taste aversions” can occur both consciously and unconsciously. In many cases, children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) may be completely unaware of the underlying reasons for their dislike of a type of food.

Taste aversions are a great example of some of the fundamental mechanics of classical conditioning. The previously neutral stimulus (e.g., green beans) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (e.g., dislike of the color green), which leads to an unconditioned response (feeling ill). After this one-time pairing, the previously neutral stimulus (in this example, green beans) is now a conditioned stimulus that elicits a conditioned response (avoiding green beans as well as any other green colored food).

Because of their sensitivity to smell, temperature, taste and texture, kids with Aspergers and HFA are often "picky" eaters. Some even develop strong fetishes, for example:
  • they like to suck on pens, pencils or clothing
  • they only like beige-colored foods
  • they only like foods with creamy textures
  • they only like foods with a very sour or very spicy taste

Aspergers and HFA kids also sometimes have issues with developing gastric problems (e.g., acid reflux, hiccups, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation). They are susceptible to celiac disease, which is caused by poor absorption of certain nutrients. The danger is that celiac disease damages the digestive system. These young people often suffer from Dermatitis herpetiformis, which causes skin rashes and tissue damage in the intestine. It has also been shown that gluten can aggravate behavioral symptoms in those kids who are sensitive to these foods.

It becomes a real challenge for moms and dads to make sure their “special needs” child gets proper nutrition. One trick that has worked for some parents is to change the texture of a despised food. If your youngster will not eat peas, try serving pea soup. If she refuses orange juice, try orange slices. Most therapists believe that the less you indulge food fetishes, the less entrenched they become. If a youngster creates a rule that "no foods can touch on my plate," it can easily become a lifelong rule if mom or dad fail to intervene.

One promising food therapy is the "Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet" or GFCF diet. The theory behind it is that a youngster with Aspergers or HFA can’t digest casein (found in dairy) or gluten (found in grains). It is true that undigested molecules of these substances frequently show up in their urine samples. These amino acid chains (called peptides) affect neurological function and can worsen a youngster's symptoms. Peptides may have an opiate effect on some kids.

Parents can begin the diet by first eliminating either the casein or the gluten food group. No gluten means avoiding the following (just to name a few):
  • all kinds of flour
  • barley
  • biscuits
  • bread
  • cakes
  • cereals
  • croutons
  • donuts
  • food starch
  • oats
  • pasta
  • pie
  • pizza
  • pretzels
  • rye

Parents can substitute gluten-free products. Next, eliminate all dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, goat's milk, goat cheese, ice cream, yogurt, most margarines, puddings, etc.). If parents eliminate the dairy group, they may have to give their youngster calcium supplements. They also need to cut out "trigger foods" (e.g., chocolate, food colorings, caffeine, or peanut butter).

Many mothers and fathers believe that the GFCF diet really helps their kids. In one survey of over 2000 parents who tried it, most saw significant improvement – and five reported "miracles."

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

Research into diet and vitamin therapy for kids with Aspergers and HFA is very sketchy at this point. Nevertheless, many parents try them. One scientific study of alternative therapies found that over half of all parents of Aspergers kids have tried diets, herbs or vitamin therapy – and 72% felt they were worthwhile. Many mothers and fathers swear by the GFCF diet. Other parents prefer the Feingold diet or megavitamin therapy.

Parents can buy supplements of herbs and vitamins specifically made for young people on the spectrum. Such supplements often include calcium, fish oil, omega -3 -6 or -9, vitamin B-6, HNI enzymes and DMG or dimethylglycine. If parents use these diets and therapies, they should keep written records of how often their youngster experiences temper tantrums or exhibits other behaviors. In this way, parents can tell if the therapy is working.

There have been a few scientific studies of the GFCF diet. In a study of 15 ASD kids (2 – 15 years of age), there was no difference between the kids who followed the diet and those who did not. However, researchers at the Loma Linda Medical Institute in California concluded that the diet was mostly helpful and improved nonverbal cognition, but that more double blind studies are needed.

Many moms and dads have tried the GFCF or Feingold diets and found that they were not worth the effort. These diets make it extremely hard to buy regular groceries or to eat in restaurants. If there are siblings involved, parents end up cooking different meals for them. Also, trying to stick to the diets may cause parental burnout, which then causes the disadvantages to outweigh the advantages.

 ==> Is your child a picky eater? Click here for more ideas...

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


•    Anonymous said... For my kiddo, it's a sensory thing..... Mashed potatoes, peas, peanut butter etc. all have a thick, somewhat sticky texture that makes her wretch. Having that history makes her reluctant to even taste things like pudding, custard or soups with a thicker texture..... If it LOOKS like it might have the wrong texture, it's not gonna happen.
•    Anonymous said... Forcing is counterproductive .... Sometimes " planting the seed" and wording or demonstrating the benefits are a slower but more lasting lesson at home we have the rule of at least touching or smelling the food and if I feel there is a strong possibility he will like it, I ask that he just lick or put some on his tongue - always with the promise that a genuine dislike will be accepted that time. There are definite things he will still not and probably never eat but this approach has increased his diet greatly.
•    Anonymous said... Give him time, and don't force the issue if he truly dislikes something. I learned that the hard way and cleaned up alot of messes because of it. My son was the same way for most of his childhood but in the last year (he's about to turn 13) he has grown out of alot of it. He still refuses to eat certain things (bananas being at the top of the list) but he will now at least try to eat a cooked potato or carrot in very small quantities where before they would trigger immediate gag reflexes and he is also finally eating at a healthy level.
•    Anonymous said... Hang in there. Texture smell & taste can be overwhelming 2aspie kids. I have always introduced different food 2my daughter w/the attitude 'try 1bite, the worst that will happen is u dont like it!'
•    Anonymous said... How True!
•    Anonymous said... I have come to understand that this is the ONE thing my child feels he is in control of. If you try to change it he gets very upset. He will sometimes eat other foods, but when it comes right down to it, this is the way he wants it (same foods, limited menu), because he is in control of it. We will work on change in that area once we are comfortable with the progress we're making in other areas. One step at a time.
•    Anonymous said... My 5 year old is the same way. I've gotten him to try maybe 2 things since he was diagnosed a year ago. I think my son will eat maybe 5 things that is it! So I do a lot of vitamins to give him what he needs
•    Anonymous said... My son is the same way! I have tried to introduce new things to him, but he refuses to go out of his comfort zone of having only 10 things that he will actually eat. He always has to smell everything too. I have noticed, that he will find something he really likes, such as a plain ketchup sandwich, and eat it for weeks, then he goes to something else. I have to make him a separate meal every night, because he refuses to eat anything we are having.
•    Anonymous said... Same problem here.
•    Anonymous said... sometimes she will try it sometimes she wont. When she does like it i usually have 2remind her she liked it last time & 2try it again. I let her decide 2try it, but i keep presenting different things all the time. Slowly we have expanded her diet! Just keep encouraging her 2try!
•    Anonymous said... That is one battle I don't fight.
•    Anonymous said... The food thing is the one immovable object with my son. He does everything else I ask. If he could do it (eat more foods) I know he would as he loves to make me happy.
•    Anonymous said... We have been SO lucky with our son, he loves his veggies... but only raw. He really hates cooked veg. My hunch is that this is two fold. We have a garden that we let the boys just run free and munch whatever they want from there, so it gets to be "their idea". That has seemed to help the older one relate to what is on his plate a little better. Also, we tend to do food in courses. It's just easier to get the boys to sit down and plop a few bowls of cut carrots, celery, broccoli etc. and dip and let them graze on that first (again, their choice as to what they eat), then we tend to serve the meat/protein next and the starches last.
•    Anonymous said... We start oral ot this week, i wonder how its going to go for my 6 yod who has spd. Has anyone here done the oral ot?
•    Anonymous said... Why? Sensory issues, smell, texture and the way it feels in the mouth or hands, taste, the way it looks, there's a lot going on with sensory and food and why and what we eat.
•    Anonymous said... Wow! I'm so glad I'm not the only one! My son is 8 and JUST decided he would take 1 no thank you bite, of what we are eating as a family, but he has to try it... He smells everything, and most things he tries will instantly make him gag. He puts ranch on EVERYTHING. He does willingly try it because he knows we expect him to and its ok if he gags, just drink it down quick with water.

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Articles in Alphabetical Order: 2019

Articles in Alphabetical Order: 2019

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