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The Misdiagnosis of Children on the Autism Spectrum

Some "Aspergers" and "high-functioning autistic" (HFA) children do not have the disorder at all, they are simply "gifted." Has your child been misdiagnosed?

No one knows exactly how many gifted kids are misdiagnosed by clinicians and pediatricians who are not trained in the unique emotional difficulties of the gifted youngster. A common belief is that gifted kids do not have any particular social or emotional problems. Yet, research indicates that up to 20 % of high school dropouts test in the gifted range.

Some gifted kids may not seem different than other “behaviorally-difficult” children in their behavior and emotions, but the underlying causes are different. Any youngster can become withdrawn, aggressive, depressed, anxious, or sad – or exhibit any number of other problem behaviors given the right circumstances. However, there are a many aspects of giftedness that create unique challenges.

Gifted kids, many of whom are “asynchronous” (i.e., developing at different rates in different areas), encounter difficulties conforming to expectations, have behavior problems due to boredom, or otherwise struggle in a school setting.

Because of their finely tuned awareness, gifted kids tend to experience life differently and more intensely than others. Unfortunately, peers and adults at school or home often do not understand these differences. Gifted kids may experience the following problems:
  • Boredom and impatience
  • Difficulty observing boundaries and channeling their intense energy
  • Disregard for, or open questioning of, rules and traditions
  • Frustration and disappointment when ideals are not reached
  • Not "fitting in" with their peers
  • Preoccupation with deep human concerns, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression

In a clinical situation, the youngster's intense personal traits and difficulties may be viewed as symptoms of a mental or emotional disorder. Misguided therapy or medication may follow, as the clinician attempts to suppress or "cure" the symptoms of giftedness.

Common misdiagnoses of gifted kids include:

1. Aspergers or HFA— Highly gifted kids often have different ways of interacting socially. Their unusual comments and jokes may be misinterpreted as signs of autism. Children with on the spectrum may be gifted—especially in certain specific skills—but they do not respond as well as neurotypical kids to ordinary social or emotional cues. They may not make friends readily and often prefer to keep to themselves. Gifted kids, on the other hand, often show a great deal of concern for others and are highly sociable. If your gifted youngster gets along well with both grown-ups and peers, then a diagnosis of Aspergers or HFA is very unlikely. If you are concerned about your youngster’s socializing skills, then you may want to consult with a psychologist who specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder— Traits such as intensity, impatience, sensitivity, and high energy are common in kids with ADHD , as well as in gifted kids. Some gifted kids do have ADHD, but many do not. They are at a different developmental level than other kids. As a result, they may be inattentive and impulsive in certain situations.

3. Mood Disorders— Gifted kids may have intense mood swings. They notice inconsistencies and absurdities in society and in the people around them. They can feel different and alienated from others. These traits are often found in kids with depression, especially those with bipolar disorder. A gifted child who has mood swings, irritability, difficulties with anger control, etc., may not suffer from a mood disorder, but should be seen by a psychologist for proper diagnosis.

4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder— Gifted kids like to organize things into complex structures. They tend to be perfectionists and idealists. They can get upset when others do not go along with their ideas, appearing intolerant and "bossy." This behavior may be mistaken for obsessive-compulsive disorder or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. If obsessive tendencies seem to be getting in the way of a youngster’s success or happiness, then a psychiatric consultation is suggested.

5. Oppositional Defiant Disorder— Like kids with oppositional defiant disorder , gifted kids frequently appear "strong-willed." However, such behavior is often due to their intensity, sensitivity, and idealism. They do not like to be criticized for their different way of thinking. They may question the rules and engage in power struggles with authority figures.

Common concerns in gifted kids include:

1. Sleep Disorders— Nightmare disorder, sleep terror disorder, and sleepwalking disorder appear to be more common in gifted kids. Some gifted kids sleep a lot less than other kids. Others sleep a lot more. In the presence of unusual sleep patterns, your family doctor can advise whether a gifted youngster needs further evaluation for sleep or psychological problems.

2. Relational Problems— Moms and dads may lack information about the traits of gifted kids. Such kids may appear to be willful, mischievous, or strange. They may be criticized or disciplined for behaviors that stem from curiosity, intensity, and sensitivity. Power struggles, tantrums, and other behavior problems may surface. Effective therapy should involve helping the family understand and cope with the youngster's intensity.

3. Learning Disabilities— Gifted kids often have hidden learning disabilities (e.g., auditory processing weaknesses, difficulties with visual perception, writing disabilities, spatial disorientation, dyslexia, and attention deficits). Gifted kids may develop a poor self-image when learning disabilities are present. They tend to dwell on the things they can’t do and may need help in developing a good self-image. Gifted kids with learning disabilities have a great deal of trouble getting needed help in their schools because their academic achievement is usually above grade level despite their disability. Most school systems require a history of academic failure before they will provide remedial services.

Gifted kids have many strengths and possess greater than average awareness, perception, and sensitivity. This may be expressed in one or more areas (e.g., art, music, language, science, math, etc.). Common traits of gifted and talented kids include:
  • Ability to process information at deeper levels
  • Complexity and intense inner turmoil
  • Creativity and strong imagination
  • Deep compassion for others
  • High sensitivity
  • Intensity
  • Keen observation, perception, and insight
  • Love of learning
  • Perfectionism and idealism
  • Questioning established rules, beliefs, traditions, and authority
  • Strong absorption in their interests

Problems associated with the strengths of gifted children include:

Strengths: Ability to conceptualize, abstract, synthesize; enjoys problem-solving and intellectual activity.
Possible Problems: Rejects or omits details; resists practice or drill; questions teaching procedure.

Strengths: Acquires and retains information quickly.
Possible Problems: Impatient with slowness of others; dislikes routine and drill; may resist mastering foundational skills; may make concepts unduly complex. 

Strengths: Can see cause--effect relations.
Possible Problems: Difficulty accepting the illogical-such as feelings, traditions, or matters to be taken on faith. 

Strengths: Creative and inventive; likes new ways of doing things.
Possible Problems: May disrupt plans or reject what is already known; seen by others as different and out of step. 

Strengths: Diverse interests and abilities; versatility.
Possible Problems: May appear scattered and disorganized; frustrations over lack of time; others may expect continual competence. 

Strengths: Enjoys organizing things and people into structure and order; seeks to systematize.
Possible Problems: Constructs complicated rules or systems; may be seen as bossy, rude, or domineering. 

Strengths: High energy, alertness, eagerness; periods of intense efforts.
Possible Problems: Frustration with inactivity; eagerness may disrupt others' schedules; needs continual stimulation; may be seen as hyperactive. 

Strengths: Independent; prefers individualized work; reliant on self.
Possible Problems: May reject parent or peer input; non-conformity; may be unconventional. 

Strengths: Inquisitive attitude, intellectual curiosity; intrinsic motivation; searching for significance.
Possible Problems: Asks embarrassing questions; strong-willed; resists direction; seems excessive in interests; expects same of others. 

Strengths: Intense concentration; long attention span in areas of interest; goal-directed behavior; persistence.
Possible Problems: Resists interruption; neglects duties or people during period of focused interests; stubbornness. 

Strengths: Keen observer; willing to consider the unusual; open to new experiences.
Possible Problems: Overly intense focus; occasional gullibility. 

Strengths: Large vocabulary and facile verbal proficiency; broad information in advanced areas.
Possible Problems: May use words to escape or avoid situations; becomes bored with school and age-peers; seen by others as a "know it all." 

Strengths: Love of truth, equity, and fair play.
Possible Problems: Difficulty in being practical; worry about humanitarian concerns. 

Strengths: Sensitivity, empathy for others; desire to be accepted by others.
Possible Problems: Sensitivity to criticism or peer rejection; expects others to have similar values; need for success and recognition; may feel different and alienated. 

Strengths: Strong sense of humor.
Possible Problems: Sees absurdities of situations; humor may not be understood by peers; may become "class clown" to gain attention. 

Strengths: Thinks critically; has high expectancies; is self-critical and evaluates others.
Possible Problems: Critical or intolerant toward others; may become discouraged or depressed; perfectionist.

Lack of understanding by moms and dads, teachers, and clinicians – combined with the lack of appropriately differentiated education –all lead to interpersonal conflicts, which are then mislabeled, and thus prompt the misdiagnoses.


Gifted and talented kids often must overcome many challenges to reach their potential. They frequently need help interacting in the mainstream world, finding supportive environments, and channeling their skills. When gifted kids are misdiagnosed and wrongly stigmatized, they cannot get the type of support they need. Families, teachers, and health professionals need to be better educated about the social and emotional needs of gifted kids.


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Follow-up Question:

I have a 16 year old son who has Asperger Syndrome.  He has also tested in the 99th percentile for intelligence.  He learns easily and fast in most subjects.  But, as is common with Aspies, he has very little common sense.  He has problems making friends in the first place, but has further isolated himself from his peers by saying out loud in class (several times), “I don’t know why I have to learn this stuff that I already know.  They (classmates) may need to because they are not as smart as me, but why do I have to?”  Needless to say it does not go over well.  If you ask him why he would say such a thing he says “Because it is true”.  Also, he constantly challenges the teacher on whether what she has said is correct.  Any ideas as to how to get him to understand and change this behaviour? 

Answer:

Gifted Aspergers students can become frustrated in the classroom due to repetition and the lack of challenge. This may lead some kids to act-out or be disruptive. It may cause others to become disinterested and dislike school. Still others may become upset at the mere thought of going to school.

The starting point is to validate your son’s feelings—whatever they might be—and acknowledge and accept that the feelings are there. You can accept the feeling without having to accept the means of expression of the feeling (e.g., disrupting class). You need to communicate that your son’s feelings are understandable and natural, under the circumstances, and for the way that your son sees the world. You want to simply be offering an empathic narrative about what may be going on in your son’s mind and the connection between the trigger event (e.g., rehashing old material), the interpretation or meaning it had for your son (e.g., “this is so boring”), and the resulting feelings that arose in your son (e.g., frustration).

As the parent, you have the opportunity to model healthy ways of dealing with frustration in the ways that you, yourself, react when these feelings come up for you. The goal is to model that your own and your son’s difficult feelings can be observed, can be tolerated without "destroying" you or "driving you over the edge," and that they can be managed in conscious, healthy ways.  Monitor your own level of frustration or anger. Learn to recognize your own internal signs for when you get close to "not being able to take it anymore," or to "exploding.” It's ok to give yourself a time out, and it's not a sign of defeat. In fact, it's modeling behavior that you want your son to use. You can say something like "I'm getting close to the point where I can't think clearly, so I'm going to take a few minutes to clear my head."
 

You can also work with your son on a specific technique to help him step out of automatic reactions and unacceptable behavior. Use the sequence, "Stop, Think, Choose" as the keywords for your son to use to coach himself toward more conscious choices for behavior. The trick is to develop the association of this sequence with the onset of the frustration or anger. You would work with your son during calm times to offer acceptable choices for ways to express the feelings. Then, help your son to pick a trigger or identify a "switch" that informs your son that he is starting to reach his limits of tolerance. This might involve having him recognize that he's clenching his fists or feeling tension in his body, being able to recognize and articulate "I'm angry," or anything else that will help him catch himself in the process of becoming upset.

At first, you will have to help your son to catch himself, and you might do this with comments like, "I can see that you're starting to get frustrated. Is this one of those times when you could use your 'stop-think-choose' technique?" Presenting this technique as a choice gives your son the opportunity to learn that he can exercise control over his reactions and behavior. You may still need to coach him through the process of stopping, thinking, choosing before he can manage it himself.

One of the most common sources of frustration for gifted children has to do with their perception that others' rules don't make sense, aren't logical, and things that others say or do aren't rational (and therefore need not be obeyed). They believe that the world should operate according to THEIR rules (which they believe are totally logical), and they feel outraged when the world doesn't oblige.

Their natural drive for self-determination and efforts to feel in control of -- and to exert control over -- their world bring them into frequent conflict with the "real" rules. This can create a deep sense of despair and fear that they can never be in control of their world. Some children may even feel individually punished for not being allowed to be in control, and will fight to protect their self-esteem and efforts at self-efficacy. This can explain why sometimes the smallest incident that seems unjust to them can trigger such intense distress. They're reacting to the feeling that the entire world appears irrational, uncontrollable and unpredictable to them. Think about how scary that would be!

One possible way to address this is to find some activity or environment where your son truly can set the rules and he can feel in control. This requires some creative thinking by you to construct or find such an environment. When your son can find one place where he feels that things "make sense," and feels in control, then much of the distress over not being in control in other places subsides.

Another common source of distress for a gifted child is the fear that he really isn't as smart as others say he is, and he's going to fall from gifted grace if anyone ever found out. He therefore feels very protective of his self-image as someone who is "smart," but feels fragile since he doesn't believe it's something he has any control over.

Another way you can help your son when he explodes over perceived injustices or doesn't like following rules set by others is to help him empathize. The idea is to help your son recognize that other people have different perspectives about things, and that their reasons for doing something may be completely consistent with their own perspectives, even if they're different from his own.

Aspergers children, especially, have a difficult time recognizing that other perspectives can exist in other people's minds. In fact, being able to conceive of a different belief being held in another person's mind is a learned process, often called Theory of Mind, and usually doesn't even start to develop until around age three or four. It can take several more years for the capacity to develop to the point where a child can actually understand another's behavior and reactions in terms of completely different perceptions existing in another's mind. Since this is a learned skill, it's something you can assist your son to develop.
 

One way to do this is by engaging him in games or exercises where you ask him to imagine what's taking place in the other person's mind, when he has been in a conflict with someone else, or has refused to do something he's been asked to do. You can ask him to tell the story first from his own point of view, and then ask him to pretend that he's the other person, and tell the story again from the other's point of view. Encourage him to explain, in as much detail as possible, what he imagines the other person's motives were, or what the other person must have been thinking or feeling that made her act the way she did. If he was in an argument with another person, then ask him to replay the argument, but to argue it from the other person's perspective.
 

You can encourage your son to try to imagine as many different motives as possible, that the other person might have had for doing what she did. Approach this as a brainstorming exercise and challenge your son to be creative, no matter how outlandish his responses might be. You can help by throwing in some ideas of your own and even making a game out of it where you take turns guessing at the motives and intentions of the other person.
 

Basically, any type of exercise that helps your son to be curious about the perceptions and intentions of others, and helps him to become accepting of different perceptions, will benefit him in numerous ways. For example, if he felt hurt by something someone did, instead of assuming that the other person must have had the deliberate intention of hurting him, he might be able to see that the other person was trying to concentrate on a task, and was annoyed at being interrupted. This could help him take things less personally in the long run.
 

Lastly, if your son reverts to behavior that is destructive or unacceptable when he's upset, then form a plan AHEAD OF TIME for how you're going to respond to it. You want to establish clear rules for what is and is not acceptable behavior, write them down, and post them for your son to see and remember. Then, you want to formulate clear and precise consequences when the rules are broken, write them down, and post them for your son to see and remember. The critical elements in making a system like this work are clarity and consistency.

Another angle would be to approach your son’s teacher to see if there are some advanced (new) lessons your son can be doing while the others are repeating former lessons.

A Special Message to Teens on the Autism Spectrum

There is a philosophy among some individuals in the autism community that people on the autism spectrum are living their lives on the “wrong planet.” But, this way of thinking favors a flaw-based focus, which is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve. Each of us has a special purpose on this planet.

The universe has a plan for you too, and your job is to get in alignment with this plan. So, be encouraged, you are indeed on the right planet. You belong here. You are in this life for a reason.

As a teenager on the autism spectrum, you have areas of strength and areas of challenge. The good news about Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism is that the individual with this condition possesses many more strengths than weaknesses. As an added bonus, when you capitalize on your strengths, many of your weaknesses become manageable – and some correct themselves by default.

You need to begin to reverse the belief of having to focus your development around overcoming your weaknesses, spending precious energy attempting to try and repair your flaws, while your strengths lie dormant and neglected. Capitalizing on strengths rather than fixing flaws is your greatest asset. I call this having a strengths-based focus.
   


You have things that you are inherently good at. Yet you may be going through your life without truly realizing the things you excel at. Or you may have spent years wasting your valuable time and energy on trying to overcome your weaknesses. This often leads people into attempting to become someone they are not. It leads to a false identity.

Let me make this very clear: you cannot succeed by dealing with weaknesses. Successful people focus on their strengths, they focus on activities and tasks where they can make a positive difference. So for example, if you have the ability to stay "highly focused" on a task for extended periods of time, then put that strength at the center of your character profile. Your key strengths will supply the energy needed to excel within your given profession or hobby.

I'm not saying that you should just ignore your challenges as if they didn't exist. But what I am saying is spend your time and energy building on your strengths. Your flaws will become manageable as you employ a strengths-based focus. Building on strengths is about finding opportunities rather than problems.

It's about learning how to move from analysis to action, taking a proactive stance rather than a reactive stance. For example, if one of your "flaws" is impatience and disorganization, yet you are very creative, you can focus your creative energy and direct it to devising a plan whereby you manage your unorganized tendencies by slowing down and thinking about what you are doing.

The bottom line is this: you are a unique individual who carries a host of skills and attributes which have the potential to become powerful tools to self-empowerment. What you focus on will become your reality. So if you focus on fixing flaws, more flaws show up in your life. If, on the other hand, you focus on your strong points, more strong points begin to appear. This is why you must have a strengths-based focus.

Good luck in life!

______________________

Note to parents:

As the years go by, are you seeing your Asperger's or High-Functioning Autistic teen rapidly becoming reduced to a person who is surviving on:
  • Anger
  • Being a mistake
  • Depression
  • Hate
  • Isolation
  • Low self esteem
  • Resentment
  • Sadness
  • Self hate

Have you heard your teenager say things like:
  • “I'm a mistake.”
  • “I'm dumb.”
  • “I'm useless.”
  •  “I hate myself.”
  • “I wish I were dead.”
  • “What is wrong with me?”
  • “Why was I born?”

If so, then alarm bells should be going off. You know changes need to happen! Low self-esteem and behavioral problems go hand-in-hand.

My Aspergers Teen eBook is guaranteed to (a) improve your teen's behavior and self-esteem, and (b) empower parents and assist them in starting to enjoy their amazing special needs teens.

Strengths-Focused Parenting: Empowering Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to focus (consciously or unconsciously) on the weaknesses of a youngster with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism (HFA). This is a frequent occurrence for the youngster with poor social and communication skills, odd mannerisms, and learning disabilities. This is especially true of  kids with unacceptable behavior related to their disorder.

Kids with Aspergers and HFA already feel they are different. It is up to us to teach all kids that “different” is not “bad,” and that each of us has special strengths. We can help that process along by showcasing each youngster's special strengths and interests.

How to employ “strengths-focused” parenting:

1. When choosing the right school for your youngster, visit several schools (if possible) and look for signs of success. Meet teachers and staff, visit classrooms, and talk with the students to find out if this is the right school for your youngster's challenges. Discover whether the school's attitude about helping “special needs” kids learn matches yours.

2. Be creative in looking for solutions to your youngster's needs. Supplement school learning with dynamic resources, hands-on learning, and field trips to interesting places.



3. Be success-minded. With hard work, proper resources, and solid teamwork between moms and dads and teachers who care, most kids on the autism spectrum can succeed.

4. Become involved in your youngster's school, even if you only attend parent-teacher conferences to discuss his progress. Even the smallest effort during parent-teacher communication can send a positive message to your youngster's teacher and to your youngster, helping to promote positive self-esteem.

5. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. We are fortunate to live in a society where there are organizations, clinics and private practitioners that provide beneficial services for “special needs” kids. Early intervention can make a great deal of difference in helping a youngster and setting the stage for future success. Professionals say that in early years, there is a “window” of time to help a youngster with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism. This is true, but it is important to know that help, even later on can make a big difference in your youngster’s skill, behavior and emotional development.

6. No matter the diagnosis, when we help kids focus on their positive qualities, they are happier, feel better about themselves, and become more successful overall. All kids thrive with positive feedback, unconditional love and encouragement. Kids with Aspergers and HFA especially need positive responses and interactions with moms and dads, because it is often one of the most motivating factors. When kids with different abilities feel encouraged and motivated, they are more likely to take on new challenges and learn new skills.

7. A diagnosis is often useful. It can help your son or daughter get the services that he/she needs, the best educational programs, and the correct insurance coverage. It can also help moms and dads and people around the youngster to better understand his/her way of interacting and processing information in the world. Beyond these factors, though, it is important to look past a youngster’s diagnosis and focus on the person. Highlight the child's personal strengths. When these kids know that you see them for who they are beyond their disorder, challenges that come with any diagnosis don’t seem as overwhelming – and strengths can flourish.

8. Moms and dads of kids with Aspergers and HFA are some of the most dedicated, resilient and awe-inspiring parents out there. Parenting a child on the spectrum often takes 3 times the time and energy as a neurotypical son or daughter, and the parents that manage this extra load the best take time to take care of themselves. If you give, give, give and don’t leave any time for yourself, you begin to run on empty. When your personal energy is tapped-out, you have to work harder and might feel depressed, resentful, or irritable towards your child. Although it may seem selfish at first, it is important to do things that bring you joy outside of parenting. You then have more positive energy and deeper well of internal happiness and love to give back to your youngster. When you take care of yourself, you are really taking care of your child too, because you are giving him the best in you.

9. Use your youngster’s interests to build other strengths. Help her channel this energy into deepening her learning skills in other areas. For example, if a youngster’s interest is in trains, use this topic to study other subjects. For example:
  • to develop social skills, pretend you are two trains learning how to share
  • in spelling and writing, use words and stories that involve train activities
  • in art, create pictures of trains
  • for math, count trains

By building on the youngster’s chosen interest, he will be more excited to learn new skills. By accepting your youngster’s interest, he feels more supported by you.

10. Have you child learn as much as he can about famous people who have Aspergers and Autism.

11. One mom tried the following:  "I play a made up version of scruples for my boys called "What should you if..." to new social rules. I recently started adding a new game called "I am special because..." we take turns naming why someone else is special or different and have to guess who we are describing. The boys love it and it's funny, heartwarming, and incredibly touching sometimes to hear their descriptions. I always tell my guys (both on the spectrum) if everyone was "perfect" and all thought the same we would all be bored all the time. I love it when they tell their friends the same thing."

Advocating for Your Teenager on the Autism Spectrum

Question

"My child [high functioning autistic] is 16 and I feel there are times when I will be advocating for him when he should be doing it for himself. Any advise where to draw the line?"

Answer

As moms and dads, we sometimes struggle when our kids reach the age of emerging independence. We must begin to let go a little and allow them to be self sufficient in their early teens in order to grow and develop into self-supporting adults. 
 
In addition, teenagers with ASD (high-functioning autism) can often feel intimidated, automatically stepping aside and allowing a parent or trusted adult to make important decisions, even when they are completely capable.

Helping your youngster on the spectrum begin to accept some responsibility does not have to be difficult. If your child is to become an effective self-advocate, he will need to be aware of the following points:

1. Your son should participate in counseling and group therapy to help keep himself focused. Counseling sessions are useful for people with autism. This is a place where your child can talk about how his strengths and weaknesses make him feel. In group therapy, your son can learn new strategies for coping with social situations.

2. Your son should become active in his IEP process and know his written goals. Your child should be encouraged to take part in his IEP meetings. Once your son acknowledges his own strengths and weaknesses, his input can help the team set reachable goals.

3. Your son must recognize his weaknesses. Just as with his strengths, your child must also be mindful of his weaknesses. People with ASD sometimes struggle with language based academics, for example. Social skills and sensory problems may be weak areas for your child.

4. Your son must know his strengths. People on the spectrum are often gifted with an above average I.Q. It is possible that your child excels in one or more academic subjects. They also usually have an intense interest outside of academics, such as music or computers. Knowing his own strengths will help your child gain much needed self-confidence. 
 

ASD is nothing of which to be ashamed. It is a part of who your child is, but it does not define him. Once your son realizes this, and that he is capable and intelligent, he should be able to step up and take on some of the responsibility of self-advocacy. 
 
In the meantime, remember, your child is still a youngster. Make the switch slowly by pushing gently. And foremost, your son still needs you.
 
What other parents have had to say about this issue:
 
•    Anonymous said... my son is going to be 15 with Aspergers, I feel like I will always have to take care of him..but I pray he will be able to succeed one day.
•    Anonymous said... Your child is always your child no matter the age but yes, u will know when the time is right. In the meantime we just have to keep showing them the right way :-) some learn fast and some take longer. Best wishes!
•    Anonymous said... They will let you know when they want more responsibility. My son is 24 and he does not want me taking him everywhere anymore, he still has problems remembering things from doctor visits and sometimes ends up needing a ride home, but he wants to try it for himself first.
•    Anonymous said... I've been wondering about this too. My husband says I'm fighting all of our son's battles and I need to let up, but I can't. Am I wrong for that?
•    Anonymous said... If you're fighting ALL - then perhaps.
•    Anonymous said... Maybe my wording is poor. I'm fighting all of the battles with the school, family, other adults, and Drs. When I see issues with other kids and he's not able to handle it himself, THEN I step in. But I don't consider the minor things with the other kids to be battles.
•    Anonymous said... Yes, I too am guilty of fighting my 14 year old son's battles. I sometimes think he "expects" it of me. He is my only child and I'm having a very difficult time of letting go of things that he should be doing solo. I want him succeed in life, but not because I help him with everything. This includes schoolwork as well as social situations.
•    Anonymous said... There is a fine line between "advocating" and "over-protective parenting".
•    Anonymous said... Tricky job being a parent. All you can do is your best. Maybe try standing back a bit and jumping in when it is obvious he can't handle it. (easier said than done, I'm guilty of being too protective).
•    Anonymous said... There is nothing wrong with advocating for your child, as long as you are also teaching him to advocate for himself when you aren't or can't be there. I think the key to this question is "I feel there are times when I will be advocating for him when he should be doing it for himself." I have never needed to rely on my instincts more in my life than I do when parenting my boys (who are all at different points on the spectrum). If YOU feel he should be advocating for himself, then take a step back and figure out why he isn't. If it's because he doesn't have the skills, then how can you help him get them? If it's because you're doing it for him, then stop it :P If it's because he's not capable of advocating for himself and never will be, then figure out who can advocate for him when you can't and get it set up. But clearly, the parent in this particular instance thinks it's time to do something different, which to me says it's time to do something different :D

 
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

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Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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

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Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum to Help Themselves

“How can I help my high functioning autistic daughter (age 7) to be more independent and confident in her abilities to handle tough situations?”

All kids need love, encouragement, and support – and for the child with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), such positive reinforcement can help ensure that he or she emerges with a strong sense of self-confidence and the determination to keep going even when circumstances are difficult.

In searching for ways to help your child, remember that you are looking for ways to help her to help herself. Your job is to give her the social and emotional tools she needs to work through the inevitable obstacles that will come. In the long run, facing and overcoming the difficulties associated with the symptoms of AS and HFA can help your youngster to become more resilient.



Parents should always remember that the way they behave and respond to challenges has a big impact on their “special needs” youngster. A good attitude won’t solve the problems associated with the disorder, but it can give the youngster hope and confidence that things can improve and that she will eventually succeed.

How to help your AS or HFA child to help himself or herself:

1. Encourage healthy emotional habits. Like you, your child may be frustrated by the problems associated with his disorder. Therefore, try to give him outlets for expressing his anger, frustration, or feelings of disappointment. Listen when he wants to talk. Create an environment open to expression. Doing so will help your child connect with his emotions, and eventually, learn how to calm himself and regulate his feelings.

2. For children on the autism spectrum, being proactive is crucial and involves (a) self-advocacy (e.g., asking for a seat at the front of the classroom) and (b) the willingness to take responsibility for choices. Thus, ask your youngster how she approaches problems. How do problems make her feel? How does she decide what action to take? Discuss different possible decisions, problems, and outcomes with your youngster. Have her pretend to be part of the situation and make her own decisions. If she is hesitant to make choices and take action, try to provide a few “safe” situations to test the water (e.g., thinking of a solution for a scheduling conflict, choosing what to make for dinner, etc.). Also, share how you approach problems in your life.

3. For kids on the spectrum, self-awareness (i.e., knowledge about strengths and weaknesses) is very important. Therefore, work with your youngster on activities that are within his capabilities. This will help build feelings of competency. Help him develop his strengths and passions. Feeling passionate and skilled in one area can inspire hard work in other areas. Ask your youngster to list his strengths and weaknesses. In addition, talk about your own strengths and weaknesses.

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

4. In order to help your child to help himself, you need to be as emotionally and physically healthy as possible. Thus, take care of YOU too. It’s easy to get caught up in what your youngster needs, while forgetting your own needs. But, if you don’t take care of yourself, you run the risk of burning out. You won’t be able to help your youngster to help himself if you’re exhausted and emotionally depleted. On the other hand, when you’re calm and focused, you’re better able to connect with your youngster and help him to be calm and focused too. Enlist the help of teachers, tutors, and therapists whenever possible to share some of responsibility for day-to-day academic responsibilities. Join a support group. The encouragement and advice you’ll get from other moms and dads is crucial. Make daily time for yourself to relax and decompress. Get enough rest, eat well, and exercise.

5. Kids with AS and HFA usually need to work harder and longer because of their disorder. Therefore, discuss what it means to keep going even when things are tough. Talk about the rewards of hard work – and the opportunities missed by giving up. Talk with your youngster about times when he persevered (e.g., why did he keep going?). When your youngster has worked hard, but failed to achieve his goal, discuss different possibilities for pushing forward. In addition, share stories about when you have faced challenges and kept pushing forward.




6. Recruit family and friends so that they, too, can help your AS or HFA child to help herself. You may have tried to keep your youngster’s disorder a secret, which can, even with the best intentions, look like guilt or shame. Without knowing, extended family and friends will not understand the disorder. As a result, they may think that your youngster’s behavior is stemming from disobedience, laziness or hyperactivity. Once everybody is on the same page, they can support your youngster’s progress. Your family members and friends can be helpful teammates if you can find a way to include them and learn to ask for help when you need it.

7. Setting realistic and attainable goals is a crucial skill for success, and involves the flexibility to adapt and adjust goals according to changing challenges, circumstances, and limitations. Thus, celebrate with your youngster when she achieves a goal. If some goals seem to be too hard to achieve, talk about why - and how - plans or goals can be adjusted to make them possible. Help your youngster identify a few short-term and long-term goals, and write down steps and a timeline to achieve the goals. Check with your child periodically to talk about progress and make adjustments as needed. In addition, talk about your own short-term and long-term goals and what you do when you encounter difficult challenges.

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

8. Strong support systems are key for children with AS and HFA. The child that is able to ask for help when she needs it - and reach out to others for support - is often highly successful. Thus, demonstrate to your youngster how to ask for help in difficult situations. Help her to nurture and develop good relationships. Model what it means to be a good friend so she knows what it means to help and support others. Present your youngster with role-play scenarios that require help. Also, share examples of people needing help, how they got help, and why it was good to ask for what you need.

9. When a child with AS or HFA learns how to regulate stress and calm himself, he will be much better equipped to overcome challenges. So, ask your youngster to describe activities and situations that make him anxious. Break down the scenarios and talk about how anxiety and frustration can be avoided. Ask your youngster what words he might use to describe anxiety. Does he recognize when he is feeling anxious? Encourage your youngster to identify and participate in activities that help reduce anxiety (e.g., sports, games, music, writing in a journal, etc.). Also, use words to identify feelings and help your youngster learn to recognize specific emotions.

10. Lastly, prayer and meditation have worked wonders for other parents of children on the autism spectrum. For example, pray for your child’s success in all areas of life – spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially. Also, visualize your child thriving in all of these areas.

==> More strategies on how to help your child to become more self-reliant and confident!


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

The Potential Dangers Associated with the “Aspergers” Label

Many parents who have struggled with a child for several years feel a sense of relief when their child gets a “diagnosis.” The parent may say things like, “It was such a weight off my shoulders to finally understand why my child behaved the way he did. I thought it was my parenting, but now I see it was his disorder instead.”

Many adults who have had emotional problems and/or social difficulties over the years find it comforting to one day discover, “Oh, I have Aspergers! No wonder I haven’t been able to hold a job or find a girlfriend/boyfriend.”

Unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be), finding solace in having a “disability” or “disorder” comes with a price – a much bigger price than most realize they have paid.

1. All ‘unwanted’ diagnostic features can be helped with therapy.

True, there are some potentially problematic cognitive and behavioral patterns associated with Aspergers that come with the “Aspergers-package” (e.g., insistence on routine, narrow range of interest, etc.). However, most – if not all – “problems” associated with Aspergers can be helped with therapy (e.g., social skills training for those who lack such skills, Cognitive-Behavior Therapy for those who suffer with Aspergers-related anxiety, etc.).

2. A self-fulfilling prophecy will manifest itself – either positively or negatively – when it comes to labels.

When one “buys in” to a label (e.g., Aspergers), the labeled individual begins to view her “self” in a different light. She “reframes” her identity such that her “diagnosis” becomes a part of who she is. The reframe, in and of itself, doesn’t come with any serious ramifications. However, with the new reframe comes a different way of thinking about “self” and others. This cognitive change results in a different way of feeling about “self” and others, which in turn results in a different way of behaving (or conducting one’s life). In other words, she begins to “live up to” her diagnosis, displaying more and more of the symptoms that are in alignment with the diagnostic features of her “disorder.” This is a self-fulfilling prophecy working toward “disability” rather than ability.

Conversely, many parents of Aspergers children who have sought counseling have been advised (by therapists who have experience with the Aspergers condition) to “reframe” Aspergers in a positive light, thus setting-up a self-fulfilling prophecy that works toward “ability” rather than disability. For example, when disclosing to her child that “there is this thing called Aspergers,” the parent may be instructed to do the following:

Lead with strengths. All children with Aspergers have significant areas of strength (even if this has not been translatable into tangible success yet). Bring up areas of strength with the child who is suspected of having Aspergers. Next, tactfully point out the areas in which he is struggling. Then, suggest to him that “there is this thing called Aspergers,” which is a confusing combination of strengths and challenges.

Think like a counseling psychologist for just a moment…

Words are important. Words change the way you think, feel and behave. Notice in the “reframes” above that there was never any mention of a “disability” or “disorder.” Also notice the statement “there is this thing called Aspergers.” This statement separates the ‘label’ from the ‘child’. Your child is not “an Asperger” – he is a “human being” who has a certain set of strengths and challenges.

In reframing, Aspergers is thought of as a “condition” replete with possibilities, strengths, and challenges that are able to be addressed sufficiently. In this state of mind, the child tends to view his “self” as “able” (and maybe even better off than the general population). With this mindset, the child – as an adult – may very well “set the world on fire” with his area of expertise (e.g., engineering, computer programming, etc.).

3. Labels tend to help the individual relinquish a level of responsibility.

If I receive the label of Aspergers, I can say to myself and others, “See, this is why I can’t - or don’t - do certain things. It’s not my fault – it’s my disability.” When others are in agreement that I am “not able,” I am free from meeting certain expectations from parents, teachers, employees, etc. I can safely lower my standards, settling for the “comfort zone” that comes with the assistance (or over-assistance) from others.

I have counseled hundreds of families who, for example, have a 26-year-old adult child with Aspergers who is still living at home playing video games all day. Why? The entire family “bought into” the “disability reframe” years ago. As a result, the child (now an adult) behaves in accordance with his label, even though - WITH THERAPY - this Aspie could be employed, happily married, and living in his own home.

Does all this mean we shouldn’t have any labels? Of course not! Without labels, we wouldn’t be able to conceptualize ‘clusters of characteristics’ (a set of symptoms that defines a particular mental/emotional/behavioral state). However, it is important to “reframe” the label as an ‘opportunity’ to ‘capitalize on strengths’ and ‘work on the areas that present challenges’. This use or words is empowering rather than debilitating, ability-based rather than disability-based, all of which helps the labeled individual to be all that he/she can be rather than settling for a life of mediocrity – or worse yet – hopelessness.

For those who want to hold onto the label “disability” – you should know exactly what you are settling for. As define by Wikipedia: “A disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.”

Notice the ‘words’ above: impairments, limitations, restrictions.

Warning: Be careful about the words you use to describe your condition. Your words become your reality!

We polled a group of Aspergers teens and asked the question: Is Aspergers a “disability” or just a “difference”? Here are some of the initial responses:

I think it's only a disability because the world is not suited for us. Consider: What if all humans were born with crippled legs? We would all be on wheelchairs, and there would be no stairs, so what if a small portion of a population were born with functioning legs - they would have to adapt to a world not meant for legs but for wheels, no stairs, just ramps, they would obviously have some trouble with a lot of this, these fully functioning individuals are disabled, but only in the same way all humans are disabled and handicapped and an atmosphere without air, it doesn't mean there’s something inherently wrong with them. I certainly can't think of any of my issues that couldn't be solved by simply being an in more AS friendly world, no more bright lights and loud noises or eye contact.

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My version is just a difference. I am high functioning despite my issues and am not "disabled" in any part of my life that matters to me.

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Maybe - like being tall? Standing alone, being tall is just a deviation, and therefore a difference from the average. You could even have a population of tall-only people in which they wouldn't stick out. However, being tall in a society of people who are shorter or even considerably shorter than you have a high potential of leading to problems, maybe even to the extent of being a disability. So, maybe like 'being tall' but perhaps in two or three different ways and the problems these features cause to the individual may augment each other.

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Difference, I'm glad that I'm not NT. I would kill myself if I had to be one of those "gangster" people who have sex all day, get bad grades and graffiti everything in sight like they do. I like the way I am even if it is difficult to live with.

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A difference for me (but I'm very high functioning Aspie): I can do what other people do but with more effort, but NT can't do what I do, so... I win.

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I continually find myself disagreeing with people on this, often labeling us because of their own situations.... i.e... when children often have an associated condition with autism which courses a disability, they insist autism is the disability. I feel a more general positive use of how we are all described is vital to help phase out the old stereo type of what autism often is seen as by many.... as most of us know here those of us on the autism spectrum are as diverse and different as those that are not. The word disorder is often used and some are starting to use the word condition, my preference is still difference, as feel until our differences are fully understood, accepted and allowed, many will continue to feel they have a right to want us to conform to a stereo type imagine to suit them, not necessarily us!

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I think it's a condition with both disabilities and things that are mere differences. So I think it can be misleading to say that it's all mere disability.

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I have no problem with the word disability, but unfortunately it tends to stereo type us even more than others already do, and gives a false misconception to many that we are all disabled, when many of us are not, many function extremely well, it’s just often as I see it anyway our difference so misunderstood.

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To me it’s nothing. I don't want anyone to know about my Aspergers and I don't want to be referred to by it at all.

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For some reason the people I talk to genuinely stumble over the "right" politically correct word. In that case, I'll accept just about any word they use because I know they're trying to courteous...

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It’s always seems to be the D "disease", "disability", "disorder", "disadvantaged" my "D" has to be different, we are simply different and feel it’s about time people focus on how able we are, as everyone has strengths and weakness, and can all be able or disabled in many ways... ignorance disables other not on the spectrum seeing what able individuals we really are, after all some of the best minds on the planet are on the autism spectrum, but guess while there continues to be no fact we are mysteries as the universe to some.

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I think that it's a difference, and what can be different can be beautiful.

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As I see it, difference (neurodiversity) is more descriptive, while disability is more relational. In other words, disability can be socially defined as a lack of enablement by those in power.

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I can't help being irritated sometimes by the constant identity construction work done by people who identify with the Aspergers label. Whatever they think, or say or do, they always, always view it through the prism of AS. It is also clear that many carefully adjust their behavior to fit the predictions of the diagnosis. It is as if the diagnosis had become a full time job for them.
 

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

Aspergers Teens and College

Your intelligent Aspergers (high functioning autistic) child has made it to his junior year in high school, and it's time to consider colleges! The good news is that more and more colleges are meeting the special needs of Aspergers teens to help them succeed.

Here are some important suggestions for teens with Aspergers (and their moms and dads) as they think about applying for, managing, and thriving in college:

1. Consider broadening your search if your youngster has additional disabilities such as ADHD, which often co-exists with Aspergers. Academic programs for kids with organizational disabilities may also offer social help for Aspergers people.

2. Consider taking a few classes online. Young people with Aspergers may be overwhelmed by the harsh lighting and noise from a classroom. You may want to check and see if a couple of your required classes may be taken online. However, be advised that taking classes online actually requires more self-discipline than in a traditional classroom.

3. Do your best! Speaking as an instructor who also has Aspergers, I am sensitive to young people who have special needs. However, this also means I expect people to attend class unless they have medical documentation.

4. Establish a medical care provider near your campus. This is extremely important because as a person with Aspergers, you have special medical conditions that many college students will not share. Do some research online or ask your hometown physician for a referral.

5. Have the number of a personal counselor nearby. You may have your good days and bad. Some issues can be especially daunting for a college student with Aspergers. There’s no shame in speaking with a counselor on campus that can help you work through those issues.

6. If you are planning on living in a dorm, you may want to let the administration know about your Aspergers or request a private room. If you are someone who is extremely sensitive to external stimuli (e.g., light, sound, etc), you may want to be placed in a “study floor” instead of a “sorority wing.” Or, if possible, you may want to request a private room so that you have a little more control over your environment.

7. Join an activity to meet people with similar interests to your own. Socializing is not something that always comes easily to people with Aspergers. Think of those activities you enjoy or in which you have succeeded. There are bound to be groups or clubs focusing on that activity.

8. Let your teachers know of your Aspergers and what may be helpful to you. If possible, arrange a meeting with your teachers before the beginning of the semester, but no later than the first week. They will probably respect your honesty and the initiative you are taking in your courses. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help. As an instructor, I am always willing to help someone who asks for it.

9. Obtain certification of your Aspergers from your medical professional. In order to obtain accommodations on a college campus (such as disability support services), you will probably be required to have documentation of your Aspergers from a physician, neurologist, or psychiatrist.

10. Research universities. Talk with high school counselors and other moms and dads; search online for schools offering support to Aspergers people. Some schools designate certain dorm floors for young people with social difficulties and facilitate interactive activities to ensure they connect with others right from the beginning.

11. Seek career counseling as soon as possible. Finding a job after graduation is particularly challenging for young people with Aspergers. Unfortunately, society tends to focus on the limitations that come with the word “autism” rather than the strengths. So you may want to write down some activities you really enjoy doing or perform particularly well. This can be very helpful for a career counselor who will work to provide you with some direction in terms of courses, volunteer, and internship opportunities.

12. Streamline the process by honing in on schools that offer majors in your youngster's areas of interest and then contact the departments of disability accommodations in each of those schools to see what they offer.

13. Understand that your youngster can have a successful college experience. More than likely she is doing OK or even brilliantly at academics and will just need extra help with social and life skills.

14. Utilize your advisor. Take an active approach with your advisor. It can’t hurt to mention your Aspergers so you can work with your advisor to find a career that is compatible with your strengths. Share the results of any career testing with your advisor, so that you may receive more guidance.

15. Visit several colleges. Most Aspergers kids are very concrete thinkers and cannot just "imagine" what a school will be like from descriptions and photos.

16. When applying for college or a program, it is a good idea to indicate your disability. Of course, you are not required to do so. However, state institutions are not permitted to discriminate against someone due to a disability.

17. Without delay, locate the disability support services on campus. This is very important, as they will likely be the professionals who will arrange (or provide verification) for you to receive necessary accommodations to perform well in your courses.

18. Write down your strengths as well as your limitations. As I mentioned, society tends to focus on the limitations of Aspergers rather than the strengths. You need to advocate for yourself by writing down what you do well and those tasks in which you have succeeded.

Congratulate yourself for having the ambition to attend college and not letting yourself be limited by Aspergers! You’ve made it this far – what else will you do!"

Self-Advocacy & Self-Disclosure: Advice for Teens on the Autism Spectrum

The purpose of this article is to get young people on the autism spectrum thinking about how they can actively advocate for themselves rather than passively accepting “things as they are” or settling for a one-down-position in various situations or aspects of life.

We will look at both self-advocacy and self-disclosure, because disclosure (i.e., telling others about your diagnosis) to the right people is a primary way to advocate for yourself. When self-disclosure works well, it has positive effects for interpersonal relationships. On the other hand, when self-disclosure does not work well or you disclose to the wrong person, it can lead to lowered self-esteem, embarrassment, and relationship deterioration – or termination!



Self-Disclosure—

The hard part for many teenagers with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) is telling friends, classmates and coworkers about their diagnosis, given the prevalence of ignorance in regards to Autism Spectrum Disorders in general. Many Asperger’s teens want to be honest and share their diagnosis, hoping that others will be accepting and supportive. While there are many compassionate people out there who will be, there are also many who won't be – or aren't ready to be.

So, should you tell people about your Asperger’s? It depends on what your needs are and if you're ready to accept the good or bad results that may stem from your disclosure. Self-disclosure is a tough decision. It's crucial that you take the process seriously – and protect yourself. In any event, there comes a time when decisions have to be made as to who to tell and what to tell about your disorder.

It can be quite a challenge to tell peers about the struggles you are experiencing. Asperger’s teens look “normal” (of course), yet many suffer terribly – often on a daily basis. It’s the absence of obvious physical clues that cause other people to minimize the full extent of the challenges that accompany autism spectrum disorders. Thus, it’s wise to decide carefully who you tell. Despite numerous campaigns to raise awareness of autism, there are always going to be individuals in your life who do not (or will not) understand your disorder. Unfortunately, these people are capable of inflicting further distress.
 
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Here are some guidelines that Brandon, one very smart 18-year-old Asperger’s teenager, used to make the task of telling others about his diagnosis easier and more empowering:

Before I tell anyone about my diagnosis, I want to be clear as to why I am telling this person. In one case, this person was my boss and I needed to explain some absences. In another case, it was a friend because I needed his assistance on a school project. So, I always want to be clear what it’s that I hope to achieve by telling any particular person. Knowing this helps me cope with negative reactions that I may receive. I don’t want to disclose for the wrong reasons. So, I make sure I know what my true motives are for revealing my Asperger’s.

I have a pamphlet on Asperger syndrome and have it on hand to give to people should they require further information. A lot of people out there are poorly informed about autism spectrum disorders in general, and providing them with good information benefits me in the long run. Critics in particular are more likely to react more favorably to well-informed documentation than a personal, emotionally-charged monologue delivered by me.

When I need help from the person I am disclosing to, I try to be clear about what form that help should take. I find that a lot of people are more than willing to help, but don’t have the faintest idea of what to do. This is where I need to be specific about my needs. So, I write my thoughts down on paper before sharing them. This is a useful practice for clarifying my reasons for telling a particular person about my special needs.

I think it’s important for my own mental health to share my disorder with a few specific people. Some are willing to assist me, and some have walked out of my life once they were aware of the true nature of my disorder. A few others have even teased, bullied, or ignored me all together. I expect this. I expect to be hurt by some of my peers and acquaintances. But I don’t let this aspect of some people’s characters put me off telling significant others.

Lastly, I try to prepare myself for all possible reactions from the other person. I remind myself that I can’t control other people’s reactions or belief systems, but I can be prepared for what to say in response to any questions I may encounter. Telling other people, regardless of their reactions, is a truly empowering experience in most cases.
 
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Self-Advocacy—


Self-advocacy teaches Asperger’s teens to identify issues that mean the most to them. It helps them prioritize their hopes and dreams – and to make certain that nothing gets in the way of achieving their goals.  

Here are some important tips for learning self-advocacy skills:

1. Asperger’s is nothing of which to be ashamed. It’s a part of who you are, but it does not define you. Once you realize this, and that you are capable and intelligent, you should be able to step up and take on some of the responsibility of self-advocacy. In the meantime, remember, you are still a teenager.

2. The road to becoming your own greatest advocate begins by being as informed as possible about your disorder. There are dozens of books (some more scholarly than others) that you can read to help yourself understand that this disorder is not your fault and to learn patterns of behavior you have come to see in yourself, but didn’t know what they meant.

3. Another aspect of being a good self-advocate is to pay careful attention to yourself. Learn your idiosyncrasies and pay attention to the things that work for you, along with the things that don’t work. For example, if you have certain obsessions or compulsions, understand what they are and find out ways to get around them (if needed, and if possible).

4. Know your strengths. Asperger’s teens are often gifted with an above average I.Q. It’s likely that you excel in one or more academic subjects. Also, you probably have an intense interest outside of academics (e.g., music or computers). Knowing your own strengths will help you gain much needed self-confidence.
 
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

5. Recognize and accept your weaknesses. Just as with your strengths, you must also be mindful of your weaknesses. For example, teens with Asperger’s sometimes struggle with language based academics. Social skills and sensory problems may be weak areas for you as well.

6. Participate in counseling and group therapy to help keep yourself focused. Counseling sessions are useful for teens on the spectrum. This is a place where you can talk about how your strengths and weaknesses make you feel. In group therapy, you can learn new strategies for coping in social situations.

7. Regarding school-related issues, remind staff that you are an individual and must be viewed as such. There is no single solitary program or approach that works effectively with ALL students – even if they have the same diagnosis. If you can't learn the way teachers instruct, then teachers need to instruct the way you learn.

8. If you have a problem with a certain teacher, remember that an adversarial relationship between you and that teacher is typically never in your best interest. It's sometimes easy to fall in the trap of blaming teachers for disappointments or a particular issue. However, blame doesn't typically result in anything more than bad feelings and an ill-willed outcome. Instead of blaming your teacher, try the opposite approach: keep calm, know the facts, and advocate about meeting your unique needs. Propose solutions or create a possible plan that works best for you and the teacher. Be open-minded and hear proposed solutions from your teacher’s side as well.

9. Be an active participant in your IEP process and know your written goals. Also, take part in your IEP meetings. Once you acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses, your input can help the IEP team set reachable goals.

10. Understand that your school’s Principal is a key player. You MUST have the loyalty, support, faith, and cooperation of the Principal in order to advocate effectively for yourself in the school setting.




Self-disclosure and self-advocacy are core communication skills. Being proficient at using these skills means that you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others. These skills can help with stress management, boost your self-esteem, and help earn others' respect. Some teenagers seem to use these skills naturally, but if you're not one of them, you can become skillful by utilizing the information above.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content