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Crucial Strategies for Parents of Challenging Kids 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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Characteristics of Females with ASD Level 1

"We think our daughter may have a form of autism due to her severe shyness, excessive need to have things just so, certain rituals she has with food, major touch sensitivity, a lot of anxiety, just to name a few. What are some of the signs to look for to help us decide if an assessment is in order?"

Females with ASD, or High-Functioning Autism. often present with a unique set of characteristics that can make diagnosing their disorder very difficult. In addition, their strengths often mask their deficits.

There has been considerable discussion among professionals about the way girls with ASD demonstrate their major characteristics. Some girls have obvious social difficulties, whereas others appear to have excellent skills because they imitate the behaviors of others (often without understanding them).



There are many females who do not receive a diagnosis, possibly because, compared to males, (a) they have fairly good social skills (particularly when interacting with adults in a one-to-one situation), (b) their special interests are different, and (c) their clinical presentation is different.

Sometime during childhood, a female with autistic traits will begin to know she is different compared to her peers. For example:


1. Due to adopting an alternative persona, she may begin to have problems of self-identity and low self-esteem

2. Due to observing and analyzing social behavior and trying not to make a social error, she may become emotionally exhausted

3. During the stress of adolescence, she may develop routines and rituals around food and a special interest in calories and nutrition that develops into the signs of an eating disorder

4. Her interests may be different to her peers in terms of intensity and quality of play

5. She may be an avid observer of human behavior and try to decipher what she is supposed to do or say

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism
 
6. She may be extremely sensitive to the emotional atmosphere at a social gathering

7. She may be like a chameleon, changing persona according to the situation

8. She may be more likely to apologize and appease when making a social error

9. She may be overly well-behaved and compliant at school so as not to be noticed or recognized as a different.

10. She may be vulnerable to “peer predators” who take advantage of her social immaturity

11. She may become increasingly aware of her social confusion and frequent faux pas, and thus prefer to be on the periphery of social situations

12. She may enjoy living in a fantasy world and creating a new persona

13. She may escape into the world of nature, having an intuitive understanding of animals, but not people

14. She may fear that her “true self” must remain secret because she is defective, thus she is almost always acting like someone else

15. She may have a pet that she views as a loyal friend

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

16. She may have a single - but intense – friendship with another female who may provide guidance for her in social situations

17. She may have a strong desire to collect and organize her toys (e.g., dolls) rather than to share her toys with friends

18. She may have an aversion to the traditional concept of femininity

19. She may have an encyclopedic knowledge of specific topics

20. She may have an intense interest in reading and escaping into fiction

21. She may have an interest in ancient civilizations to find an old world in which she would feel at home

22. She may have an interest in other countries (e.g., France) where she would be accepted

23. She may identify with a fictional character (e.g., Harry Potter), who faces adversity but has special powers and friends

24. She may not be interested in the latest craze among her peers to be 'cool' and popular

25. She may not identify with her peers

26. She may not play with her toys in conventional ways

27. She may not want to play cooperatively with her peers

28. She may prefer non-gender specific toys (e.g., Lego)

29. She may prefer to play alone so that she can play her way

30. She may prefer to play with males, whose play is more constructive and adventurous than emotional and conversational

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with ASD

31. She may suffer social confusion in silence and isolation in the classroom or playground, but she may be a different character at home

32. She may talk to imaginary friends, or write fiction at an early age

33. She may think that the way her peers play is stupid and boring

34. She may use imaginary friends that can provide companionship, support and comfort when she feels lonely

35. She may use passive-aggressive behaviors in order to control her family and/or social experiences


 
As young girls, many (but not all) females with ASD:

1. Apologize frequently and want to please others

2. Are an expert on certain topics

3. Are determined

4. Are honest

5. Are involved in social play, but are led by their peers rather than initiating social contact

6. Are kind

7. Are misunderstood by peers

8. Are more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation because they observe other kids and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms of autism
 
9. Are more aware of - and feel a need to - interact socially

10. Are perfectionists

11. Are so successful at "faking it" that they only come to the attention of a therapist when a secondary mood disorder emerges

12. Are specially gifted in the areas of mathematics and engineering

13. Are very good at art

14. Are visual thinkers

15. Are well-liked by adults

16. Become a target of teasing

17. Do not ‘do social chit chat’ or make ‘meaningless’ comments in order to facilitate social communication

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

18. Enjoy solitude

19. Have a faster rate of learning social skills than males

20. Have a single friend who provides guidance and security for them

21. Have a special interest that is more likely to be unusual in terms of intensity rather than focus

22. Have difficulty knowing what someone else may be thinking or feeling

23. Have difficulty making friends

24. Have difficulty managing feelings

25. Have difficulty showing as much affection as others expect

26. Have difficulty taking advice

27. Have difficulty with writing skills

28. Have extremely detailed imaginary worlds

29. Have imaginary friends

30. Have interests that are very similar to those of neurotypical girls (e.g., animals, dolls, classical literature), and therefore are not seen as unusual

31. Have what is classified as a "male brain"

32. Make reliable and trustworthy friends

33. Mimic or even try to take on all the characteristics of someone they are trying to emulate

34. Notice sounds that others do not hear

35. Read fiction to help them learn about inner thoughts, feelings and motivations

36. Show little interest in fashion

37. Speak their minds (sometimes to the point of being rude)

38. Still need to be directly taught certain social skills

39. Try to understand a situation before they make the first step

40. Use doll play to replay and understand social situations

Causes of School-Related Anxiety in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

It's common for ASD level 1 (high functioning autistic) children of all ages to experience school anxiety and school-related stress.

This is often most apparent at the end of summer when school is about to start again, but it can occur year-round. Social, academic and scheduling factors play a major role, as do hidden environmental stressors.

Below are some of the anxiety-related factors that both moms and dads and teachers should consider when dealing with ASD children:

1. Many schools now have anti-bullying programs and policies. Though bullying does still happen at many schools, even those with these policies, help is generally more easily accessible than it was years ago. The bad news is that bullying has gone high-tech. Many children use the Internet, cell phones and other media devices to bully other children, and this type of bullying often gets very aggressive. 

One reason is that bullies can be anonymous and enlist other bullies to make their target miserable. Another reason is that they don't have to face their targets, so it's easier to shed any empathy that they may otherwise feel. There are ways to combat cyber-bullying, but many moms and dads aren't aware of them – and many bullied Aspies feel too overwhelmed to deal with the situation.


2. Most ASD children want to have friends but may not have the social skills to acquire them. Concerns about not having enough friends, not being in the same class as friends, not being able to keep up with friends in one particular area or another, interpersonal conflicts, and peer pressure are a few of the very common ways children on the autism spectrum can be stressed by their social lives (or lack of a social life) at school.

3. Children are being assigned a heavier homework load than in past years – and that extra work can add to a busy schedule and take a toll.

4. Due in part to the busyness of kids’ lives and the hectic schedules of most moms and dads, the sit-down family dinner has become the exception rather than the rule in many households. While there are other ways to connect as a family, many families find that they’re too busy to spend time together and have both the important discussions and the casual day recaps that can be so helpful for Aspies in dealing with the issues they face. Due to a lack of available family time, many moms and dads aren't as connected to their children, or knowledgeable about the issues they face.

5. Not having necessary supplies can be a very stressful experience for an autistic youngster. If the youngster doesn't have an adequate lunch, didn't bring his signed permission slip, or doesn't have a red shirt to wear on "Red Shirt Day," for example, he may experience significant stress.

6. You may already know that there are different styles of learning -- some learn better by listening, others retain information more efficiently if they see the information written out, and still others prefer learning by doing. If there's a mismatch in learning style and classroom, or if your youngster has a learning disability (especially an undiscovered one), this can obviously lead to a stressful academic experience.

7. Noisy classrooms and hallways, noise pollution from nearby airports, heavy traffic, and other sources have been shown to cause stress that impacts ASD kids’ performance in school.

8. Many Aspies aren't getting enough sleep to function well each day. As schedules get busier, even young children are finding themselves habitually sleep-deprived. This can affect health and cognitive functioning, both of which impact school performance. Operating under a sleep deficit doesn’t just mean sleepiness, it can also lead to poor cognitive functioning, lack of coordination, moodiness, and other negative effects.

9. In an effort to give their autistic children an edge, or to provide the best possible developmental experiences, some moms and dads are enrolling their children in too many extra-curricular activities. As these children become teens, school extracurricular activities become much more demanding.


10. With the overabundance of convenience food available these days and the time constraints many experience, the average Aspie's diet has more sugar and less nutritious content than is recommended. This can lead to mood swings, lack of energy, and other negative effects that impact stress levels.

11. Most Aspies experience some level of stress or anxiety in social situations they encounter in school. While some of these issues provide important opportunities for growth, they must be handled with care and can cause anxiety that must be dealt with.

12. A good experience with a caring teacher can cause a lasting impression on a youngster's life – but so can a bad experience! While most teachers do their best to provide “special needs kids” with a positive educational experience, some Aspies are better suited for certain teaching styles and classroom types than others. If there's a mismatch between student and teacher, the youngster can form lasting negative feelings about school or his own abilities.

13. Many of us experience test anxiety, regardless of whether or not we're prepared for exams. Unfortunately, some studies show that greater levels of test anxiety can actually hinder performance on exams. Reducing test anxiety can actually improve scores. Certain aspects of an ASD youngster's environment can also cause stress that can spill over and affect school performance.

14. There's a lot of pressure for children to learn more and more and at younger ages than in past generations. For example, while a few decades ago kindergarten was a time for learning letters, numbers, and basics, most kindergarteners today are expected to read. With test scores being heavily weighted and publicly known, schools and teachers are under great pressure to produce high test scores; that pressure can be passed on to children.

15. Just as it can be stressful to handle a heavy and challenging workload, some kids on the spectrum can experience stress from work that isn't difficult enough. They can respond by acting-out or tuning-out in class, which leads to poor performance, masks the root of the problem, and perpetuates the difficulties.

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

Dealing with Children on the Autism Spectrum Who Refuse to Go to School

Has your ASD (high functioning autistic) child given you some indication that he is nervous about starting back to school?  He may have even said, “I’m not going!!!

What youngster hasn't dreaded September, the end of summer and the return to school – but for many ASD students, the prospect of school produces a level of fear so intense that it is immobilizing, resulting in what's known as school-refusal behavior. Some children with autism spectrum disorder have been known to be absent for weeks or months. 

Some may cry or scream for hours every morning in an effort to resist leaving home. Others may hide out in the nurse's office. Some children who miss school are simply truant (i.e., they'd just rather be doing something else), but sometimes there are genuine reasons to fear school (e.g., bullying, teasing).

Anywhere from 5% to 28% of kids will exhibit some degree of school-refusal behavior at some point, including truancy. For children with anxiety-fueled school refusal, the fear is real and can take time to overcome. Families may struggle for months to help an autistic youngster get back into the classroom. Ignoring the problem or failing to deal with it completely can lead to more-serious problems later on. Individuals who experience school-refusal behavior and anxiety disorders in childhood may face serious ramifications in adulthood.

Psychologists say and studies show the following:
  • Alcohol, drug use: A study of kids ages 9 to 13 with an anxiety disorder showed that those who still had the disorder seven years after treatment drank alcohol more often and were more likely to use marijuana than those whose disorders had resolved.
  • Depression: Teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 that had social anxiety were almost three times as likely to develop depression later on than those without the anxiety disorder.
  • Different life choices: Psychologists say they've seen young people with persistent anxiety make fear-fueled choices that can have long term effects, such as selecting a less-rigorous college or a less challenging career.
  • Psychiatric treatment: A study of school-refusing kids showed that about 20 to 29 years later they received more psychiatric treatment than the general population.

School refusal affects the entire family. If a child doesn't go to school, it may be hard for a parent to keep her job. Children are at heightened risk when starting a new school, and especially when entering middle school. It is the perfect storm with the onset of puberty, a huge transition and a chaotic academic environment.

Well-meaning moms and dads can make things worse by allowing an anxious youngster to miss school. Such an accommodation sends the message that school is too scary for the youngster to handle and the fear is justified. Overprotective moms and dads rush in way too quickly to shield their Aspie from any experience that creates distress.

Untreated, a youngster on the spectrum with school-refusal behavior is likely to fall behind academically, which can then lead to more anxiety. And there may be longer-term consequences. A 1997 study followed 35 students (ages 7-12) treated for school refusal. Twenty years later they were found to have had more psychiatric treatment and to have lived with their parents more often than a comparison group.

Some ASD teens with unresolved anxiety may go on to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. A 2004 study followed 9- to 13-year-olds who were treated for an anxiety disorder. Seven years after treatment, those who still had the disorder drank alcohol more days per month and were more likely to use marijuana than those whose disorder had resolved.

Children with school-refusal behavior may have (a) separation anxiety (i.e., a fear of being away from their moms and dads), (b) a social phobia (i.e., an inordinate fear of being judged), or (c) a fear of being called-on in class or being teased. A specific phobia (e.g., riding the bus, walking past a dog, being out in a storm, etc.) may be present as well. Other kids are depressed, in some cases unable to get out of bed.

Because many children complain of headaches, stomachaches or other physical symptoms, it can be difficult to tell whether anxiety, or a physical illness, is to blame. (Note: Anxiety-fueled ailments tend to disappear magically on weekends.)

Autistic kids with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to leave for school or repeatedly ask to visit the school nurse. If the youngster is allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear, only to reappear the next morning. In some cases, the child  may refuse to leave the house. Common physical symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea. Tantrums, inflexibility, separation anxiety, avoidance, and defiance may show up, too.

Starting school, moving, and other stressful life events may trigger the onset of school refusal. Other reasons include the youngster’s fear that something will happen to a parent after he is in school, fear that she won’t do well in school, or fear of another student. Often a symptom of a deeper problem, anxiety-based school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age kids. It commonly takes place between the ages of five and six and between ten and eleven, and at times of transition, such as entering middle and high school. Kids who suffer from school refusal tend to have average or above-average intelligence. But they may develop serious educational or social problems if their fears and anxiety keep them away from school and friends for any length of time.

What Can Parents Do?

The most important thing a mother or father can do is obtain a comprehensive evaluation from a mental health professional. That evaluation will reveal the reasons behind the school refusal and can help determine what kind of treatment will be best. Your youngster’s pediatrician should be able to recommend a mental health professional in your area who works with kids on the spectrum.

The following tips will help you and your Aspie develop coping strategies for school anxieties and other stressful situations:
  • Arrange an informal meeting with your youngster’s teacher away from the classroom.
  • Emphasize the positive aspects of going to school: being with friends, learning a favorite subject, and playing at recess.
  • Encourage hobbies and interests. Fun is relaxation, and hobbies are good distractions that help build self-confidence.
  • Expose kids to school in small degrees, increasing exposure slowly over time. Eventually this will help them realize there is nothing to fear and that nothing bad will happen.
  • Help your Aspie establish a support system. A variety of people should be in your youngster’s life—other kids as well as family members or educators who are willing to talk with your youngster should the occasion arise.
  • Learn about your Aspie’s anxiety disorder and treatment options. For more information about school refusal and kid’s anxiety disorders, type "anxiety" and/or "school problems" in the search box at the top of this page.
  • Meet with the school guidance counselor for extra support and direction.
  • Talk with your Aspie about feelings and fears, which helps reduce them.
  • Try self-help methods with your Aspie. In addition to a therapist’s recommendations, a good self-help book will provide relaxation techniques. Be open to new ideas so that your youngster is, too.

Treatment—

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which clients learn to change negative thoughts and behavior, is the main treatment for school-refusal behavior and the anxiety disorders that often underlie it. The primary technique is exposure therapy, where children gradually face and master their fears.

CBT is very effective. Recent studies have shown that about half to 70% of children with anxiety disorders treated with CBT will have a significant improvement in function and decrease in their symptoms. Some specialized school-refusal clinics have success rates that are even higher.

Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline) or Prozac (fluoxetine) are often prescribed for kids with anxiety disorders, although their use in kids is controversial.

Psychologists stress the importance of seeking treatment quickly—after as little as two weeks of missed school. The longer they've been out of school, the poorer the prognosis.

Kids with ASD Who Worry Excessively: Crucial Tips for Parents

"I need some advice on how to help a very anxious son (with ASD) to deal with his strong emotions. He is very unsure of himself, needing constant reassurance and last minute accommodations."
 
Some kids with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] worry excessively and are often overly tense and uptight.  Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their fears may interfere with activities. Moms and dads should not discount their youngster’s concerns – even when they seem unrealistic. 

Because fretful kids on the autism spectrum may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed.  The parent should be alert to the signs of excessive worrying so he/she can intervene early to prevent complications.

There are 3 different types of worries in these young people:
  1. fretting about being separated from the parent (e.g., being overly clingy, constant thoughts about the safety of parents, extreme worries about sleeping away from home, frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints, panic or tantrums at times of separation from the mother or father, refusing to go to school, trouble sleeping or nightmares, etc.)
  2. fretting about getting physically hurt (e.g., extreme apprehension about a specific thing or situation like getting bit by a dog, stung by a bee, stuck with a needle, etc.)
  3. fretting about being around people who are not familiar (e.g., avoidance of social situations, worries of meeting or talking to new people, few friends outside the family, etc.)
 
Other symptoms of excessive worrying in kids on the spectrum may include:
  • constant concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
  • fear of making mistakes
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • fears about things before they happen
  • repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)

Moms and dads can help their child develop the skills and confidence to overcome excessive worrying so that he/she doesn't develop phobic reactions to certain stimuli.





To help your youngster deal with worries and anxieties, consider the follow tips:

1. Don't cater to your child’s fears. If your youngster doesn't like dogs, don't cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will just reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided. Provide support and gentle care as you approach the feared object or situation with your youngster.

2. Never belittle your child’s concerns as a way of forcing him to overcome them. Saying, "Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!" may get your youngster to go to bed, but it won't make the related anxiety go away.

3. Recognize that your child’s worries are real. As trivial as it may seem to you, it feels real to her – and it's causing her to feel nervous and afraid. Being able to talk about these feelings helps. Words often take some of the power out of the negative feeling. If you talk about it, it can become less powerful.

4. Teach coping strategies. Using you as "home base," your youngster can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again.

5. The youngster can learn some positive self-statements, such as, "I can do this" and "I will be OK" …to say to herself when feeling out of sorts.


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


6. Relaxation techniques are helpful, including visualization (e.g., floating on a cloud, lying on a beach, etc.) and deep breathing (e.g., imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

7. Teach your child to rate his level of worry. A youngster who can visualize the intensity of his fears on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, may be able to "see" the anxiety as less intense than first imagined. The child can think about how "full of fear" I am, with being full "up to my knees" as not so afraid, "up to my stomach" as more frightened, and "up to my head" as truly petrified.

8. If your youngster's apprehension consistently seems out of proportion to the cause of the stress, this may signal the need to seek outside help (e.g., counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist). Moms and dads should look for patterns. If an isolated incident is resolved, don't make it more significant than it is. But if a pattern emerges that's persistent or pervasive, you should take action. Contact your doctor and/or a mental health professional that has expertise in working with children and teens on the autism spectrum.

The key to resolving excessive worries and anxieties is to overcome them. Using the suggestions above, you can help your youngster better cope with life's situations.


ASD: Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns - What Parents Need to Know

Question

My eldest boy J___ who is now 5-years-old was diagnosed with ASD (level 1) last July. We did 6 months of intense therapy with a child psychologist and a speech therapist before we moved over to Ghana. J___ has settled in well. He has adjusted to school very well and the teachers who are also expats from England are also dealing with him extremely well.

My current issue is his anger. At the moment if the situations are not done exactly his way he has a meltdown. Symptoms are: Extreme ear piercing screaming, intense crying, to falling down on the floor saying he is going to die. I have tried to tell him to breathe but his meltdown is so intense that his body just can't listen to words. I then have asked him to go to his room to calm down. He sometimes (very rarely) throws things across the room, but does not physically hurt anyone. As I have two younger boys (ages 1 and 3) I still need to be aware of their safety. I then managed to put J___ in his room with the help of a nanny. He throws all blankets off the bed (which doesn't bother me) and then hides under them. Today I waited 10 minutes then went upstairs to talk to him, but he then started again with the extreme crying and screaming at me. It took him over an hour to calm down fully. The situation arose as the nanny and I were helping him to make muffins and the nanny put a spoonful of the mixture into the muffin tin.

I am requesting your help on ways to calm him down in a manner that is acceptable. He is getting too old to be put in the "thinking corner/naughty corner" and I am a petite person so I'm not going to physically put him there. I am finding his resistance at the moment is a lot with me and his father.

I have structures in place by visual laminated pictures of how the morning is run and the structure before bed. This works fine, but like I said when things aren't done exactly his way, he can have an outburst in a flash. Please give me some strategies on how I can better manage these meltdowns.

FYI - he was diagnosed on the border on the CARS model. I have found a qualified speech therapist who is from England which we go to once a week (but as it is summer break we don't go back to August) to assist with his pragmatic language.


Answer

Problems related to stress and anxiety are common in kids with ASD (high-functioning autism). In fact, this combination has been shown to be one of the most frequently observed comorbid symptoms in these children. They are often triggered by or result directly from environmental stressors, such as:
  • a sense of loss of control
  • an inherent emotional vulnerability
  • difficulty in predicting outcomes
  • having to face challenging social situations with inadequate social awareness
  • misperception of social events
  • rigidity in moral judgment that results from a concrete sense of social justice violations.
  • social problem-solving skills
  • social understanding

The stress experienced by kids with ASD may manifest as withdrawal, reliance on obsessions related to circumscribed interests or unhelpful rumination of thoughts, inattention, and hyperactivity, although it may also trigger aggressive or oppositional defiant behavior, often captured by therapists as tantrums, rage, and “meltdowns”.
 

Educators, therapists, and moms/dads often report that kids on the spectrum exhibit a sudden onset of aggressive or oppositional behavior. This escalating sequence is similar to what has been described in children on the spectrum, and seems to follow a three-stage cycle as described below. Although non-autistic kids may recognize and react to the potential for behavioral outbursts early in the cycle, many kids and teenagers with the disorder often endure the entire cycle, unaware that they are under stress (i.e., they do not perceive themselves as having problems of conduct, aggression, hyperactivity, withdrawal, etc.).

Because of the combination of innate stress and anxiety and the difficulty of kids with ASD to understand how they feel, it is important that those who work and live with them understand the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns, and the interventions that can be used to promote self-calming, self-management, and self-awareness as a means of preventing or decreasing the severity of behavior problems.

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The Cycle of Meltdowns

Meltdowns typically occur in three stages that can be of variable length. These stages are (1) the “acting-in” stage, (2) the “acting-out” stage, and (3) the recuperation stage.

The “Acting-In” Stage

The “acting-in” stage is the initial stage of a tantrum, rage, or meltdown. During this stage, kids and teenagers on the autism spectrum exhibit specific behavior changes that may not seem to be related directly to a meltdown. The behaviors may seem minor. That is, children with ASD may clear their throats, lower their voices, tense their muscles, tap their foot, grimace, or otherwise indicate general discontent. Furthermore, somatic complaints also may occur during the “acting-in” stage. Kids also may engage in behaviors that are more obvious, including emotionally or physically withdrawing, or verbally or physically affecting someone else. For example, the youngster may challenge the classroom structure or authority by attempting to engage in a power struggle.

During this stage, it is imperative that a mother/father or educator intervene without becoming part of a struggle. The following interventions can be effective in stopping the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns – and they are invaluable in that they can help the youngster regain control with minimal adult support:

1. Intervention #1 involves displaying a chart or visual schedule of expectations and events, which can provide security to kids and teenagers with ASD who typically need predictability. This technique also can be used as advance preparation for a change in routine. Informing kids of schedule changes can prevent anxiety and reduce the likelihood of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns (e.g., the youngster who is signaling frustration by tapping his foot may be directed to his schedule to make him aware that after he completes two more problems he gets to work on a topic of special interest with a peer). While running errands, moms and dads can use support from routine by alerting the youngster in the “acting-in” stage that their next stop will be at a store the youngster enjoys.

2. Intervention #2 involves helping the youngster to focus on something other than the task or activity that seems to be upsetting. One type of redirection that often works well when the source of the behavior is a lack of understanding is telling the youngster that he can “cartoon” the situation to figure out what to do. Sometimes cartooning can be postponed briefly. At other times, the youngster may need to cartoon immediately.

3. Intervention #3 involves making the autistic child’s school environment as stress-free as possible by providing him/her with a “home-base.”. A home-base is a place in the school where the child can “escape.” The home-base should be quiet with few visual or activity distractions, and activities should be selected carefully to ensure that they are calming rather than alerting. In school, resource rooms or counselors' offices can serve as a home-base. The structure of the room supersedes its location. At home, the home-base may be the youngster's room or an isolated area in the house. Regardless of its location, however, it is essential that the home-base is viewed as a positive environment. Home-base is not “timeout” or an escape from classroom tasks or chores. The youngster takes class work to home-base, and at home, chores are completed after a brief respite in the home-base. Home-base may be used at times other than during the “acting-in” stage (e.g., at the beginning of the day, a home base can serve to preview the day's schedule, introduce changes in the typical routine, and ensure that the youngster's materials are organized or prime for specific subjects). At other times, home-base can be used to help the youngster gain control after a meltdown.

4. Intervention #4 involves paying attention to cues from the child. When the youngster with begins to exhibit a precursor behavior (e.g., throat clearing, pacing), the educator uses a nonverbal signal to let the youngster know that she is aware of the situation (e.g., the educator can place herself in a position where eye contact with the youngster can be achieved, or an agreed-upon “secret” signal, such as tapping on a desk, may be used to alert the youngster that he is under stress). A “signal” may be followed by a stress relief strategy (e.g., squeezing a stress ball). In the home or community, moms and dads may develop a signal (i.e., a slight hand movement) that the mother/father uses with their youngster is in the “acting-in” stage. 
 

5. Intervention #5 involves removing a youngster, in a non-punitive fashion, from the environment in which he is experiencing difficulty. At school, the youngster may be sent on an errand. At home, the youngster may be asked to retrieve an object for a mother/father. During this time the youngster has an opportunity to regain a sense of calm. When he returns, the problem has typically diminished in magnitude and the grown-up is on hand for support, if needed.

6. Intervention #6 is a strategy where the educator moves near the youngster who is engaged in the target behavior. Moms/dads and teachers move near the autistic youngster. Often something as simple as standing next to the youngster is calming. This can easily be accomplished without interrupting an ongoing activity (e.g., the educator who circulates through the classroom during a lesson).

7. Intervention #7 is a technique in which the mother/father or educator merely walks with the youngster without talking. Silence on the part of the grown-up is important, because a youngster with ASD in the “acting-in” stage will likely react emotionally to any adult statement, misinterpreting it or rephrasing it beyond recognition. On this walk the youngster can say whatever he wishes without fear of discipline or reprimand. In the meantime, the grown-up should be calm, show as little reaction as possible, and never be confrontational.

8. Intervention #8 is a technique that is effective when the youngster is in the midst of the “acting-in” stage because of a difficult task, and the mother/father or educator thinks that the youngster can complete the activity with support. The mother/father or educator offers a brief acknowledgement that supports the verbalizations of the youngster and helps him complete his task. For instance, when working on a math problem the youngster begins to say, “This is too hard.” Knowing the youngster can complete the problem, the educator refocuses the youngster's attention by saying, “Yes, the problem is difficult. Let's start with number one.” This brief direction and support may prevent the youngster from moving past the “acting-in” stage.

When selecting an intervention during the “acting-in” stage, it is important to know the youngster, as the wrong technique can escalate rather than deescalate a behavior problem. Further, although interventions at this stage do not require extensive time, it is advisable that grown-ups understand the events that precipitate the target behaviors so that they can (1) be ready to intervene early, or (2) teach kids and teenagers strategies to maintain behavior control during these times. Interventions at this stage are merely calming. They do not teach kids to recognize their own frustration or provide a means of handling it. Techniques to accomplish these goals are discussed later.

The “Acting-Out” Stage

If behavior is not diffused during the “acting-in” stage, the youngster or adolescent may move to the “acting-out” stage. At this point, the youngster is dis-inhibited and acts impulsively, emotionally, and sometimes explosively. These behaviors may be externalized (i.e., screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, destroying property, or self-injury) or internalized (i.e., withdrawal). Meltdowns are not purposeful, and once the “acting-out” stage begins, most often it must run its course.

During this stage, emphasis should be placed on youngster, peer, and adult safety, and protection of school, home, or personal property. The best way to cope with a tantrum, rage, or meltdown is to get the youngster to home base. As mentioned, this room is not viewed as a reward or disciplinary room, but is seen as a place where the youngster can regain self-control.

Of importance here is helping the individual with ASD regain control and preserve dignity. To that end, grown-ups should have developed plans for (1) obtaining assistance from educators, such as a crisis educator or principal, (2) removing other kids from the area, or (3) providing therapeutic restraint, if necessary. 

The Recuperation Stage

Following a meltdown, the youngster has contrite feelings and often cannot fully remember what occurred during the “acting-out” stage. Some may become sullen, withdraw, or deny that inappropriate behavior occurred; others are so physically exhausted that they need to sleep.

It is imperative that interventions are implemented at a time when the youngster can accept them and in a manner the youngster can understand and accept. Otherwise, the intervention may simply resume the cycle in a more accelerated pattern, leading more quickly to the “acting-out” stage. During the recuperation stage, kids often are not ready to learn. Thus, it is important that grown-ups work with them to help them once again become a part of the routine. This is often best accomplished by directing the youth to a highly motivating task that can be easily accomplished, such as activity related to a special interest.

Preventing Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns

Kids and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder generally do not want to engage in meltdowns. Rather, the “acting-out” cycle is the only way they know of expressing stress, coping with problems, and a host of other emotions to which they see no other solution. Most want to learn methods to manage their behavior, including calming themselves in the face of problems and increasing self-awareness of their emotions. The best intervention for tantrums, rage, and meltdowns is prevention. Prevention occurs best as a multifaceted approach consisting of instruction in (1) strategies that increase social understanding and problem solving, (2) techniques that facilitate self-understanding, and (3) methods of self-calming.
 

Increasing Social Understanding and Problem Solving

Enhancement of social understanding includes providing direct assistance. Although instructional strategies are beneficial, it is almost impossible to teach all the social skills that are needed in day-to-day life. Instead, these skills often are taught in an interpretive manner after the youngster has engaged in an unsuccessful or otherwise problematic encounter. Interpretation skills are used in recognition that, no matter how well developed the skills of a person with ASD, situations will arise that he or she does not understand. As a result, someone in the person's environment must serve as a social management interpreter.

The following interpretative strategies can help turn seemingly random actions into meaningful interactions for young people on the spectrum:

1. Analyzing a social skills problem is a good interpretative strategy. Following a social error, the youngster who committed the error works with an adult to (1) identify the error, (2) determine who was harmed by the error, (3) decide how to correct the error, and (4) develop a plan to prevent the error from occurring again. A social skills analysis is not “punishment.” Rather, it is a supportive and constructive problem-solving strategy. The analyzing process is particularly effective in enabling the youngster to see the cause/effect relationship between her social behavior and the reactions of others in her environment. The success of the strategy lies in its structure of practice, immediate feedback, and positive reinforcement. Every grown-up with whom the youngster with ASD has regular contact, such as moms and dads, educators, and therapists, should know how to do social skills analysis fostering skill acquisition and generalization. Originally designed to be verbally based, the strategy has been modified to include a visual format to enhance child learning.

2. Visual symbols such as “cartooning” have been found to enhance the processing abilities of persons in the autism spectrum, to enhance their understanding of the environment, and to reduce tantrums, rage, and meltdowns. One type of visual support is cartooning. Used as a generic term, this technique has been implemented by speech and language pathologists for many years to enhance understanding in their clients. Cartoon figures play an integral role in several intervention techniques: pragmaticism, mind-reading, and comic strip conversations. Cartooning techniques, such as comic strip conversations, allow the youngster to analyze and understand the range of messages and meanings that are a natural part of conversation and play. Many kids with ASD are confused and upset by teasing or sarcasm. The speech and thought bubble as well as choice of colors can illustrate the hidden messages.

Conclusion—

Although many kids and teenagers on the spectrum exhibit anxiety that may lead to challenging behaviors, stress and subsequent behaviors should be viewed as an integral part of the disorder. As such, it is important to understand the cycle of behaviors to prevent seemingly minor events from escalating. Although understanding the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns is important, behavior changes will not occur unless the function of the behavior is understood and the youngster is provided instruction and support in using (1) strategies that increase social understanding and problem solving, (2) techniques that facilitate self-understanding, and (3) methods of self-calming.

Children experiencing stress may react by having a tantrum, rage, or meltdown. Behaviors do not occur in isolation or randomly; they are associated most often with a reason or cause. The youngster who engages in an inappropriate behavior is attempting to communicate. Before selecting an intervention to be used during the “acting-out” cycle or to prevent the cycle from occurring, it is important to understand the function or role the target behavior plays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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• Attwood T. (1998). Asperger’s Syndrome: A guide to parents and professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley.
• Barnhill, G. P. (2001). Social attribution and depression in adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 46-53.
• Barnhill, G.P. (2005). Functional behavioral assessments in schools. Intervention in School and Clinic, 40(3), 131-143.
• Barnhill, G.P., Hagiwara, T., Myles, B.S., Simpson, R.L., Brick, M.L., & Griswold, D.E. (2000). Parent, teacher, and self-report of problem and adaptive behaviors in children and adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Diagnostique, 25, 147-167.
• Beck, M. (1987). Understanding and managing the acting-out child. The Pointer, 29(2), 27-29.
• Bieber, J. (1994). Learning disabilities and social skills with Richard LaVoie: Last one picked ... first one picked on. Washington, DC: Public Broadcasting Service.
• Bock, M.A. (2001). SODA strategy: Enhancing the social interaction skills of youngsters with Asperger syndrome. Intervention in School and Clinic, 36, 272-278.
• Bock, M.A. (2002, April, 30). The impact of social behavioral learning strategy training on the social interaction skills of eight students with Asperger syndrome. YAI National Institute for People with Disabilities 23rd International Conference on MR/DD, New York.
• Buron, K.D., & Curtis, M. (2003). The incredible 5-point scale. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
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• Dunn, W. (1999). The Sensory Profile: A contextual measure of children’s responses to sensory experiences in daily life. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.
• Dunn, W., Myles, B.S., & Orr, S. (2002). Sensory processing issues associated with Asperger Syndrome: A preliminary investigation. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(1), 97-102.
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• Gray, C. (1995). Social stories unlimited: Social stories and comic strip conversations. Jenison, MI: Jenison Public Schools.
• Hagiwara, T., & Myles, B.S. (1999). A multimedia social story intervention: Teaching skills to children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 14, 82-95.
• Henry Occupational Therapy Services, Inc. (1998). Tool chest: For teachers, parents, and students. Youngstown, AZ: Author.
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• Klin, A., & Volkmar, F.R. (2000). Treatment and intervention guidelines for individuals with Asperger Syndrome. In A. Klin, F.R. Volkmar, & S.S. Sparrow (Eds.), Asperger Syndrome (pp. 240-366). New York: The Guilford Press.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder in Kids and Teens: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS from Parents

 1. Are individuals with ASD more likely to be involved in criminal activities?

Some individuals with ASD have found themselves before the criminal justice system for a variety of offenses that are usually related to their special interests, sensory sensitivity or strong moral code. If a person's special interest is of a dangerous nature it can sometimes lead them into unusual crimes associated with that interest. The courts are becoming increasingly aware of the nature of ASD and are responding accordingly. More often than not, individuals with the disorder are more likely to be victims than offenders. Their naivety and vulnerability make them easy targets.

2. Can ASD occur with another disorder?

The simple answer to this question is YES. The symptoms of ASD have been recognized in individuals with other conditions and disorders. Once a single diagnosis of ASD is confirmed, it is wise to continue the diagnostic process to see if there is another specific medical condition.

3. Can ASD occur with ADHD?

These are two distinct conditions, but it is possible for a youngster to have both. They have specific differences, but there are some similarities, and a youngster can have a dual diagnosis and require treatment for both conditions.

4. Can the person develop normal relationships?

In early childhood, a youngster with ASD may need to be given instructions on the different ways of relating to family members, to a teacher, to friends and to strangers. Teenagers on the spectrum can be delayed in their social/emotional maturity compared to the other kids in their class. It may be necessary to repeat some school programs on human relationships and sexuality when the person with ASD has reached that stage of their emotional development. 
 
With a prolonged emotional adolescence and delayed acquisition of social skills, the person may not have a close and intimate relationship until much later than their peers. Many individuals with ASD have loving relationships, but the partners may need counseling on each other's background and perspective. One could describe these relationships as similar to those between individuals of two different cultures, unaware of the conventions and expectations of the other partner.

5. Could a difficult pregnancy or birth have been a cause?

Some studies state that quite a high percentage of cases had a history of natal conditions that might have caused damage. But, in general, pregnancy may well have been unremarkable. However, the incidence of obstetric abnormalities is high. No one factor can be identified, but labor crises and neonatal problems are recorded with a significant number of kids with ASD. There is also a greater incidence of babies who are small for gestational age, and mothers in the older age range. It is recognized that there are three principal causes of ASD - genetic factors, unfavorable genetic events, and infections during pregnancy or early infancy that affect the brain.

6. Could ASD be a form of schizophrenia?

These are again, two distinct conditions. The chances of a person with ASD developing schizophrenia are only marginally greater than for any individual. Some individuals with the disorder are wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia, when they have extreme stress, anxiety and depression related to their ASD. A false diagnostic trail is easily created and it is important to re-trace the steps and see what is causing the stress and anxiety for the person with ASD.

7. Could ASD be inherited?

Some research shows that there are strikingly similar features in first- or second-degree relatives on either side of the family, or the family history includes "eccentric" individuals who have a mild expression of the disorder. There are also some families with a history of kids with ASD and classic Autism. Should a relative have had similar characteristics when younger, they have a unique advantage in helping the youngster - they know what they are going through. There is no formal identification of the precise means of transmission if the cause is genetic, but we do have some suggestions as to which chromosomes may be involved. As our knowledge of genetics improves, we may soon be able to predict the recurrence rate for individual families.
 
==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

8. Could the pattern be secondary to a language disorder?

If a young child has difficulty understanding the language of other kids and cannot speak as well as their peers, then it would be quite understandable for them to avoid interactions and social play, as speech is an integral part of such activities. However, the youngster with autism has more complex and severe social impairments, which identify the disorder from other disorders.

9. Could we have caused the condition?

ASD is not caused by emotional trauma, neglect or failing to love your youngster. The research studies have clearly shown that ASD is a developmental disorder due to a dysfunction of specific structures and systems of the brain. These structures may not have fully developed due to chromosomal abnormalities or may have been damaged during pregnancy, birth or the first few months of life.

10. Do girls have a different expression of the disorder?

The boy to girl ratio for referrals for a diagnostic assessment is about ten boys to one girl. However, the evidence indicates that the actual ratio of diagnosed kids is four boys to one girl (this is the same ratio as occurs with classic autism). Why are so few girls referred for a diagnosis? In general, boys tend to have a greater expression of social deficits, whereas girls tend to be relatively more able in social play and have a more even profile of social skills. Girls seem to be more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation because they observe other kids and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms of ASD.

11. How can you reduce the person's level of anxiety?

A person with ASD is especially susceptible to high levels of anxiety, and this can only be reduced by practical strategies to cope with the issues causing the anxiety. Sensory issues, social skills and the need for structure and routine can cause unbearable stress and anxiety and this increases the expression of their ASD itself, thus causing a vicious circle. Stress management programs can help minor levels of anxiety - providing a sanctuary without social or conversational interruption and using relaxation techniques.

If a person becomes increasingly anxious or agitated, it may help to start an activity that requires physical exertion (e.g., a trampoline or swing). Offering a youngster an alternative to the playground at break-time can be invaluable, and using specific ways (such as sending the youngster to the school office with a message) to give the youngster a break from the classroom. It helps if the teacher can establish a special code with the youngster with ASD, so that they can signal their anxiety without drawing attention to themselves. We recommend Cognitive Behavior Therapy as an excellent way to reducing anxiety for individuals with ASD.
 
==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

12. How do you share the news?

This varies according to each youngster and their circumstances. For some it may help if the diagnosis becomes public, while for others it may be preferable that they are not distinguished from other kids. A principle of who needs to know is considered to be useful. There are classroom activities that can be used to help other kids to understand the condition, and how to help their classmate with ASD. At home, it will become apparent to siblings that a diagnosis has been reached, and it is important to explain things properly to them. There are some useful books on this topic; also, local help groups may run workshops for siblings. How do you tell the youngster themselves that they have ASD?

The answer may be to tell the youngster when they are emotionally able to cope with the information and want to know why they have difficulties in situations that other kids find so easy. It is important to give the person with ASD a sense of their many positive qualities, and to give examples of the many scientists and artists who have the disorder and have used these qualities for great achievements. Once the person knows they have ASD it can provide a sense of relief and understanding.

13. Is the person likely to become depressed?

Clinical evidence shows that there is a greater risk of depression in individuals with ASD. In early childhood the person may be less concerned about their differences to other kids. During adolescence they start to become more interested in socializing with others and become acutely aware of their difficulties. The most common cause of depression is the person with ASD wanting to be like others and to have friends, but not knowing how to succeed. Should one suspect that the person with on the spectrum is depressed, it is essential that they obtain a referral to a psychiatrist who is knowledgeable in autism spectrum disorders and obtain treatment. Treatment for depression involved conventional medicine, but should also include programs to deal with the origin of the depression.
 
==> Launching Adult Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

14. Is there a specific area of the brain that is Dysfunctional?

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are dysfunctional.

15. What are the advantages of using the term ASD?

If the term ASD-Level 1 is used, it can avoid misunderstandings in relation to the use of the term autism. Many individuals have a negative association with the term autism, so it is good to use a different one. When a youngster is said to have ASD-Level 1, the usual response is "I've never heard of that. What is it?" The reply can simply explain that the youngster has a neurological condition which means that they are learning to socialize and understand the thoughts and feelings of other individuals, have difficulty with a natural conversation, can develop an intense fascination in a particular area of interest, and can be a little clumsy.

16. What are the changes we can expect during adolescence?

The physical changes of adolescence are likely to occur at the same age as for their peers, but young people with ASD may be confused by such changes. During the hormonal changes and increased stress associated with adolescence, the teenager may have a temporary increase in their expression of ASD. Moms and dads need to be supportive and patient, and remember that this is a difficult time for virtually all kids.

Some of the emotional changes of adolescence may be significantly delayed in teens with ASD, and while other teenagers are intent on romance and testing the rules, the teenager with ASD still wants simple friendships, has strong moral values and wants to achieve high grades. They can be ridiculed for these qualities, but it is important to explain that they are valuable qualities, not yet recognized by others. Some traits of adolescence can occur later than usual and extend well into a person's twenties; thus, the emotional changes of adolescence are often delayed and prolonged.

17. What is the difference between High-Functioning Autism and classic autism?

Some kids have the features of autism in early childhood and then develop the ability to talk using complex sentences, develop basic social skills and an intellectual capacity within the normal range. This group was first described as having High- Functioning Autism. It is most likely to be used as a term for those who had a diagnosis of autism in their early childhood. It is less likely to be used for kids whose early development was not consistent with classic autism. Both autism [level 3] and ASD [level 1] are on the same seamless continuum, and there will be those kids who are in a diagnostic "grey area", where one is unsure which term to use.

18. What is the difference between the disorder and the normal range of abilities and personality?

The normal range of abilities and behavior in childhood is quite extensive. Many kids have a shy personality, are not great conversationalists, have unusual hobbies and are a little clumsy. However, with ASD, the characteristics are qualitatively different. They are beyond the normal range and have a distinct pattern.

19. What should we look for in a school and teacher?

What are the attributes of a good school? Most important is the personality and ability of the class teachers and their access to support and resources. It is not essential that the teacher has experience of similar kids, as each youngster with ASD is unique and a teacher uses different strategies for each individual. It is very important to find as small-sized a class as possible, to have a quiet, well-ordered classroom, with an atmosphere of encouragement not criticism, and to have practical support from the school administration. It is important to maintain consistency for the youngster with ASD, so try not to change school unless absolutely necessary once a youngster is settled.

 

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

Click here to read the full article…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

Click here
to read the full article...

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

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

Click here for the full article...