Search This Site

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

Asperger’s/High-Functioning Autistic Teens and Emotional Dysregulation

“My teenage son with Asperger syndrome (high functioning) is out of control, don't know what to do? I tried every option available to me with the exception of bootcamp. I just can't afford to put him in a bootcamp or military school. But that's the only solution that I see. He’s 17 and is on pot every day. He has a hair trigger and will go off big time whenever he is the least bit irritated over something… fits of rage over little things that most people would just ignore. Has threatened to kill himself when he’s upset. Please help!!!”

Emotional Dysregulation (ED) is often found in young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and is a term used in the mental health profession to refer to mood swings and emotional reactions that are significantly “out-of-control.” Examples of ED include destroying or throwing objects, angry outbursts, aggression towards self or others, a decreased ability to regulate emotions, an inability to express emotions in a positive way, smoking, drug and/or alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, and even threats to kill oneself or others.

These reactions usually occur in seconds to minutes – or hours. ED often leads to behavioral problems for the individual, which can interfere with his or her relationships at home, in school, or at place of employment.

ED in AS/HFA teens can be associated with “internalizing” behaviors, for example:
  • becoming avoidant or aggressive when dealing with negative emotions
  • being less able to calm themselves
  • difficulty calming down when upset
  • difficulty decreasing negative emotions
  • difficulty understanding emotional experiences
  • exhibiting emotions too intense for a situation
  • experiencing more negative emotions

ED can also be associated with “externalizing” behaviors, for example:
  • being impulsive
  • difficulty calming down when upset
  • difficulty controlling their attention
  • difficulty decreasing their negative emotions
  • difficulty identifying emotional cues
  • difficulty recognizing their own emotions
  • exhibiting more extreme emotions
  • focusing on the negative

ED in adolescents with AS and HFA can be made worse by difficulty in communicating feelings of annoyance, anxiety, depression, or worry. ED may be a common reaction experienced when coming to terms with problems in relationships, friendships, school, employment, and other areas in life affected by autism spectrum disorders.

There can be an “on-off” quality to these strong emotional reactions, where the affected individual is calm minutes later, while those around are stunned and may feel hurt or shocked for hours – if not days – afterward. Moms and dads struggle to understand the out-of-control behavior of their “special needs” teenager, with disappointment and resentment often building up over time. Once they understand that their teen has trouble controlling his emotions or understanding its effects on others, they can begin to respond in ways that will help manage these flare-ups.

In some cases, AS/HFA adolescents may not acknowledge they have trouble controlling their negative emotions, and will blame others for provoking them. Again, this can create enormous conflict within the family. It may take carefully phrased feedback and plenty of time for these adolescents to gradually realize they have a problem with how they express themselves.

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

AS/HFA Teenagers and Their Struggles—

As previously mentioned, many individuals with ED have an autism spectrum disorder. But, when the typical problems associated with adolescence are added to the equation, parents have a real challenge on their hands. Here are just a few of the struggles associated with being a teen on the spectrum:

• The teen years are more emotional for everyone. Yet the hormonal changes of adolescence, coupled with the problems associated with AS and HFA, might mean that the adolescent becomes emotionally overwhelmed. Childish tantrums reappear. Males may act out by physically attacking a peer or teacher. They may experience "meltdowns" at home after another day filled with harassment, bullying, pressure to conform, and rejection. Drug addiction becomes a real concern at this age (most notably, marijuana use).

• Teens with AS and HFA - with their distractibility and difficulty organizing materials - face similar academic problems as students with ADHD. A high school term paper or a science fair project becomes impossible to manage, because no one has taught the AS or HFA teenager how to break it up into a series of small steps. Even though the academic stress on an AS/HFA adolescent can be overwhelming, school administrators may be reluctant to enroll him in special education at this late point in his educational career.

• Some teens with AS and HFA remain stuck in grammar school clothes and hobbies instead of moving into adolescent concerns (e.g., dating). AS/HFA males often have no motor coordination. This leaves them out of high school sports (typically an essential area of male bonding and friendship).

• Many teens with AS and HFA - with their average to above average IQs - can sail through grammar school, and yet hit academic problems in middle and high school. They now have to deal with 4 to 6 teachers, instead of just 1. The likelihood that at least one teacher will be indifferent - or even hostile - toward making special accommodations is certain. The AS/HFA student now has to face a series of classroom environments with different classmates, odors, distractions, noise levels, and sets of expectations.

• Many AS/HFA adolescents are stiff and rule-oriented and act like little adults, which is a deadly trait in any teen popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for an AS or HFA teenager, even though she wants it more than anything else.

• In their overwhelming need to fit in and make friends, some teens on the spectrum fall into the wrong high school crowds. Adolescents who abuse substances may use the AS or HFA teen’s naivety to get him to buy or carry drugs and liquor for their group.

• In the teen world where everyone feels insecure, adolescents that appear different are voted off the island. Teens with AS and HFA often have odd mannerisms. One adolescent talks in a loud un-modulated voice, avoids eye contact, interrupts others, violates others’ physical space, and steers the conversation to his favorite odd topic. Another appears willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because he is unable to share his thoughts and feelings with others. Isolated and alone, many autistic teens are too anxious to initiate social contact.

• AS/HFA is characterized by poor social skills. These include a lack of eye contact during conversation and body language that conveys a lack of interest. The teen years revolve around social interaction, and an adolescent on the spectrum may be ostracized and mocked by his class mates because of his lack of social skills.

• AS and HFA adolescents are often more immature than their peers and may be naive when it comes to puberty and sexuality. If they have not been taught about sex, they may pick up information from pornographic material. This can lead to inappropriate behavior and touching that could land them in trouble.

• Fashion is important to “typical” teens (especially girls), but teens with AS and HFA have little dress sense. If they do not attempt to conform to their peers' standards, they will often be mocked and left out of social events.

• Depression often results from the social skills deficits that adolescents with AS and HFA commonly experience. They may feel worthless, and in extreme cases, may consider suicide as an option.

• Bullying is a big challenge in the lives of many autistic teens. Because of their unusual behavior, they tend to attract bullies and are less likely to report this than their peers. In some cases, the AS or HFA teen may respond with violence and end up in trouble at school.

Common causes of ED in autistic adolescents include other people’s behavior (e.g., teasing, bullying, insensitive comments, being ignored, etc.), intolerance of imperfections in others, having routines and order disrupted, difficulties with academics despite being intelligent in many areas, peer-relationship problems, a build-up of stress, and being swamped with sensory stimulation or multiple tasks.

Identifying the cause of ED can be a challenge.  It is important for parents and teachers to consider all possible influences relating to the environment (e.g., too much stimulation, lack of structure, change of routine, etc.), the adolescent’s physical state (e.g., pain, tiredness, etc.), his or her mental state (e.g., existing frustration, confusion, etc.), and how well he or she is treated by peers.

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

How Parents and Teachers Can Help—

The first step is for the AS or HFA adolescent to learn emotion-management skills. A good place to start is identifying a pattern in how the strong reactions are related to specific frustrations. Such triggers may originate from the environment, specific individuals, or internal thoughts.

Steps to successful emotion-management include the following:

• Self-awareness— The AS/HFA adolescent can be instructed to become more aware of personal thoughts, behaviors, and physical states which are associated with ED. This awareness is important for the adolescent in order for him to notice the early signs of losing control of his emotions. He should be encouraged to write down a list of changes he notices as he begins to feel the need to over-react to something.

• Levels of anger and coping strategies— As the adolescent becomes more aware of situations associated with ED, she can be instructed to keep a record of events, triggers, and associated levels of frustration. Different levels of disturbance can be explored (e.g. mildly annoyed, irritated, very frustrated, angry, a sense of rage).

• Develop an emotion-management record— The adolescent may keep a diary or chart of situations that trigger strong reactions. List the situation, the level of frustration on a scale of 1 to 10, and the coping strategies that help to overcome or reduce feelings of frustration.

• Becoming motivated— Parents and teachers can help the AS or HFA adolescent to identify why he would like to manage his emotions more successfully. He identifies what benefits he expects in everyday living from improving his coping skills.

• Awareness of situations— The adolescent is taught to become more aware of the situations that are associated with outbursts. She may want to ask other people who know her to describe situations and behaviors they have noticed.

Self-Help Strategies—

The “stop – think” technique:

As the adolescent notices the troubling thoughts running through his mind, he can learn to (a)  stop and think before reacting to the situation (e.g., “Are these thoughts accurate or helpful?”), (b) challenge the inaccurate or unhelpful thoughts, and (c) create a new thought.

The personal safety plan:

A personal safety plan can also be developed to help the adolescent avoid becoming upset when she plans to enter into a situation that has a history of triggering strong reactions. Here is a real life example of a plan used by a 17-year-old girl with Asperger’s for using the “stop – think” technique when approaching a shopping center situation that is known to trigger frustration:
  • My goal: To improve my ability to cope with frustration when I am waiting in long lines.
  • Typical angry thoughts: “The service here is so slow. Why can’t they hurry it up? I'm going to lose my mind any moment now.” – Stop thinking this! 
  • New calmer and helpful thoughts: “Everyone is probably frustrated by the long line – even the person serving us. I could come back another time, or I can wait here and think about pleasant things such as going to see a movie.”

Possible steps in a personal plan can include the following:
  • Plan ways to become distracted from the stressful situation (e.g., watch a YouTube video or read an e-book on my cell phone, carry a magazine)
  • Phone my friend to talk about the cause of frustration
  • Make changes to routines and surroundings (e.g., avoid certain people that are prone to teasing me)
  • Leave the situation if possible
  • Explain to another person how he or she can help me solve the problem
  • Avoid situations that are associated with a high risk of becoming frustrated

Other possible components to a personal plan can include the following:
  • Use visual imagery (e.g., jumping into a cool stream takes the heat of anger away)
  • Self-talk methods
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Anger-control classes in my area
  • Creative destruction or physical activity techniques to reduce anger

Dealing with the emotional problems in teens with AS and HFA is not easy for parents, and it can be hard to trace back the original causes of problematic behaviors. If parents are concerned about their child’s anger, rage or aggression, they should seek advice from a professional. Oftentimes, young people on the autism spectrum who demonstrate emotional problems simply need help developing some coping, social and communicating skills.

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

The Struggles of Adolescence: Help for Young People on the Autism Spectrum

“My 18 y.o. with Asperger syndrome (high functioning) is on my last nerve. He has been on in-school detention all week. Now he’s getting into trouble there too and is about to receive an out-of-school suspension. He simply doesn’t care anymore, and honestly, I think he is trying to get kicked out of school. He comes home and goes straight to his room for the rest of the evening to play online gaming (he will come out occasionally to eat a snack, but won’t eat dinner with the rest of us). He’s rude and hateful to me and his younger brother. I am at my wits end. No idea where I went wrong with this child. He has no friends to speak of, seems depressed and moody all time, and has even said he wished he wasn’t alive. I really have doubts that he will make it in the adult world at this point. He has already said he will not go to college or trade school. And he has never had an interest in working a part-time job so far. Please help!”

First of all, there is much more going on here than simple rebellion or defiance. Your son’s misbehavior is a symptom of some underlying factor(s). For example, many teens spend the entire school day under duress from peer-rejection, teasing and bullying. So, when they return home, some will take their frustration out on a “soft target” (in your case, his younger brother perhaps) as a way to discharge negative emotions. Also, some teens on the autism spectrum would love nothing more than to get kicked out of school due to (a) the mismatch between their educator’s teaching style and their individual learning style (most autistic teens learn visually), or (b) an unfriendly classroom environment that bombards and overloads their senses (most autistic teens have sensory sensitivities, such as sensitivity to excess noise, crowded hallways, smells from the cafeteria, and so on). Thus, the root cause(s) of the “misbehavior” needs to be uncovered before behavioral change can happen.

Adolescence is the most difficult time for teenagers with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS). Young people on the spectrum typically become more isolated socially during a period when they crave friendships and acceptance more than ever. In the harsh world of middle and high school, they often face rejection, isolation and bullying. Meanwhile, school becomes more demanding in a period when they have to compete for college placements. So, who wouldn’t be acting-out under these circumstances?

Most autistic teenagers struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet. The causes of these struggles (e.g., social, communication and behavioral problems, sensory issues, etc.) can create the desire for isolation. They can easily drop into a lonely state of depression and/or anxiety, making the original problems much worse. Thus, helping the teen to boost his self-esteem and level of confidence is paramount.

So what can parents do to help their “special needs” adolescent? Below are some crucial tips for helping HFA and AS teens survive - and thrive - during the rough teenage years:

1. With or without an autism spectrum disorder, most teenagers become less willing to take a parent’s word or advice. Therefore, try to hook your teen up with other trustworthy adults. If you want him to learn or try to do something outside of his comfort zone (e.g., something other than playing video games all day), then arrange for the suggestion or information to come from a trusted adult other than you. Look for other good mentors (e.g., an uncle, scout or youth group leader, peer mentor, “Big Brother,” social skills group leader, coach or martial arts teacher, etc.).

2. Teenagers on the autism spectrum need developmentally-appropriate structure, but it requires sensitivity on your part to figure out what is needed when. Watch your teen, not the calendar. Try to get inside his head. Also, be prepared to run out of patience. Create your own back-up plan for when this happens (e.g., YOU take a time-out).

3. View “misbehavior” as a signal of needs. Everything your teen does tells you something about what he needs.

4. There are going to be occasions when negative consequences become necessary (e.g., grounding, taking away privileges, etc.), but they should always be immediate, definite, and relevant. Teens with autism tend not to perceive cause-and-effect and are likely to have short memories, so prolonged consequences not only lose their impact, but also their effectiveness.

5. The “transition plan” (which needs to be part of your teen’s IEP) should address the skills that your teen needs to acquire while in high school, in order to be prepared for the kind of independent life he wants to lead after graduation. Many high schools are unfamiliar with transition planning. The more you know as a mom or dad, the more you will be able to ensure that a solid transition plan is written and carried out.

6. Although most teenagers with HFA/AS are more child-like than their “typical” peers, be prepared to tolerate and/or ignore considerable distancing, hostility, or acting-out – knowing that it won’t last forever. At the same time, set some firm limits, and keep a close eye on your teen’s anxiety level and depression.

7. List the behaviors that you feel are most deserving of attention. This is an important step, because some behaviors may need intervention or therapy in order to be eliminated rather than simple disciplinary tactics. Odd self-soothing behaviors are common in autistic teens with sensory processing issues, and they can be easily replaced with more appropriate ones.

8. Teach laundry and other self-care/home-care skills by small steps over time. Also, try to get your teenager to take an elective at school (e.g., cooking, personal finance, etc.).

9. Special interests may change, but whatever the current one is, it remains an important source of motivation, pleasure, relaxation, and reassurance for your teenager.

10. Some teenagers on the spectrum adjust to high school with appropriate supports and accommodations. However, others just can’t handle a large, impersonal academic setting that exists in high school. You may need to hire an advocate to negotiate with the school system to pay for an alternative school placement, tuition, and transportation.

11. Seek out social skills groups designed especially for teenagers with autism. Participating in such a group and being accepted by group leaders and peers is probably the most powerful way to alleviate your teenager’s potential despair at not fitting-in socially and not having any friends. The positive social experiences and new skills he learns will be assets for the rest of his life.

12. Schedule regular monthly educational team meetings to monitor your teenager’s progress, to ensure that the IEP is being faithfully carried out, and to modify it if necessary. Because teenagers on the spectrum can be so volatile or fragile, and because so many important things must be accomplished in 4 short years of high school, these meetings are crucial. If your child is doing very well, the team can agree to skip a month, but be sure to reconvene to plan the transition to the following year.

13. Reading body language and understanding sweeping generalizations can be quite frustrating for autistic teens. Thus, they usually benefit from systematic social training in which they are given the chance to role play, study body cues and language, and practice interpreting new signals that may not have been evident in early childhood.

14. Not all teenagers on the spectrum are ready for a residential college experience right after high school. To decide, use the evidence of how your teen did at sleep-away camp or similar samplings of independence, and look carefully at executive function skills (e.g., organizational skills). As an alternative, community colleges offer a lot of flexibility (e.g., easy admission, low cost, remedial courses if necessary, the option of a light course load, the security of living at home, etc.). Some college disability offices are more successful than others at providing effective, individualized support. However, if your teenager is living at home, you may be able more easily to sense trouble, step in with help, or secure supports he needs to succeed.

15. Make sure thorough neuropsychological re-evaluations are performed every 3 years. This information and documentation may be critical in (a) securing appropriate services, (b) alternative school placements, (c) a good transition plan, (d) choosing an appropriate college or other post-secondary program, and (e) proving eligibility for services and benefits as a grown-up.

16. Look for volunteer activities or part time jobs at the high school or in the community. Be persistent in asking the school to provide help in the areas of career assessment, job readiness skills, and internships or volunteer opportunities. They probably have such services for learning disabled teenagers, but may not realize your high-functioning autistic teen needs that help, too. They may also not know how to adapt existing programs to meet his needs.

17. Look for opportunities for a sheltered, successful overnight stay away from home with no parent (e.g., long weekend visits to relatives, a week or two of a carefully chosen sleep-away camp, taking a course on a college campus, etc.).

18. Instill the essential habit of a daily shower and clean clothes. Peers, teachers, and future potential employers are very put-off by poor hygiene. If possible, put your teenager’s clothes on a well-organized shelf in the bathroom near the clothes hamper.

19. In adolescence, communication becomes complicated as teenagers invent words, signs, and body language to discreetly talk with a friend. For a youngster with HFA/AS who has been struggling just to understand common social cues, this change can be frustrating and incredibly difficult to understand. The best scenario is when language is "concrete and definite." Teenage conversations that use shortened terms or lingo are going to be very difficult for a young person on the spectrum.

20. Impersonal, written communication is easier for the HFA/AS teenager to absorb (e.g., lists of routines and rules, notes, charts, calendars, etc.).

21. If your teenager seems like a good candidate for college, take him to visit colleges during the spring vacation weeks of the junior year of high school, or during the summers before junior and senior year. Visits reveal a lot about what environment your teenager will prefer. Also, purchase a large college guide to browse.

22. If you have not yet made a will and set up a special needs trust, do it now. Ask your lawyer about powers of attorney or other documents you may need once your teenager is no longer a minor. Few moms and dads assume guardianship of a young adult 18 or older, but it may be necessary and appropriate in some situations.

23. If you have not talked to your teenager about his disorder, you or someone else should do so (to the extent that he is ready to hear it). It’s tricky for teenagers on the spectrum – they so much want to be “normal” and strong and successful. A diagnosis can seem threatening or even totally unacceptable. In truth, however, adults on the spectrum who do best are those who know themselves well – both their own strengths (which point them toward finding their niche in the world) and their own blind spots (where they need to learn new skills or seek out specific kinds of help).

24. If both parents can agree about their HFA or AS teenager’s diagnosis, treatment, and rules, it will save a lot of family wear and tear. To get your spouse on the same page, attend autism conferences or classes together. When you hear the same information, you can discuss it and decide what will work best for your teenager and in your family. As you learn more about autism spectrum disorders, you may also come to better appreciate each other’s contributions to your youngster’s welfare. Attend team meetings at the school together, or alternate which parent attends. Also, seeing your teen’s therapist together (possibly without the youngster), or seeing a couples or family therapist may help you weather a tough time together.

25. Have realistic, modest goals for what your teenager or the family can accomplish in a given time period. You may need to postpone some plans for career goals, for example.

26. Go with the flow of your youngster’s nature. Simplify schedules and routines, streamline possessions and furnishings. If your teenager only likes plain T shirts without collars or buttons, buy plain T shirts. If he likes familiar foods, or has a favorite restaurant, indulge him.

27. Multiple stressors during adolescence often bring on anxiety and even depression in teens on the spectrum. Stressors may include increased academic/abstract thinking and social demands at school, peer pressure, increased social awareness, and fears of the future. Anxious teenagers who do not get help may be at risk for school failure, acting-out, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide attempts.

28. Consider delaying graduation in order to ensure that transition services are actually provided under DOE. It may be hard to convince an academically gifted, college bound student to accept this route. However, it may be very helpful for autistic students who will need a lot of help with independent living skills and employment issues. Services need not be delivered within high school walls. Community college courses, adaptive driving lessons, and employment internships are just a few alternatives to consider.

29. Build and use any support networks you can (e.g., extended family, close friends, church/synagogue groups, an understanding school staff, etc.). If you don’t have a good network, consider individual or family therapy for a little support during a stormy, demanding life passage. When you have a demanding teenager, it’s good to be reminded once a week that your needs and feelings are valid and important, too!

30. Remember that teenagers with HFA/AS are relatively immature - both socially and emotionally - compared to “typical” teens of the same chronological age. Adjust your expectations for your teen, and make sure he has appropriate supports. 

31. Teenagers with HFA/AS are less prepared than “typical” teens for the new challenges of sexuality and romance. Many teens on the spectrum want a girl or boy friend, but are clueless about how to form and maintain a relationship. Autistic males may be at risk for accusations of harassment, and autistic females may be at risk for becoming victims. Teach appropriate rules. Look for supervised activities in which boys and girls can socialize safely together, supervised by a staff person who can coach appropriate social skills.

32. For a teenager with HFA/AS, friendships can be a struggle. Your youngster may not understand social cues, and may not know how to be someone's friend. He may feel the typical feelings of a first crush, but be uncertain on how to act on it. Social training can help these young people to understand social cues, slang, and meet other teens who feel similarly about how to deal with new friends. In these social trainings, teenagers can be taught how to listen, and how listening and reacting appropriately can lead to stronger bonds. Also, you should try to explicitly explain what the act of flirting is (e.g., by pointing it out on a TV show or movie).

33. A regular bed time at a reasonable hour is more important than ever. Regular routines of all kinds (e.g., familiar foods, rituals, vacations, etc.) are reassuring when the autistic teenager’s body, biochemistry, and social scene are changing so fast. Keeping your teen’s routines constant will improve his outlook. He will know what to expect at any given time, lessening the stress he feels.

34. Using your teenager’s special interests - both at home and at school - can generate positive responses in many situations. For instance, a 14-year-old's love of trains can be used to encourage eating at home. Train-themed dinnerware - or even themed foods - can be used to entice the reluctant eater.

In conclusion, young people with HFA and AS bring their special flavor to adolescence. Some will not avoid interacting with others. They are eager to communicate (though often in a clumsy, in-your-face way). The level of their insight into their social skills deficits will then become the determining factor of their social success. If they are unaware of their shortcomings in gauging the social atmosphere and reading social cues, they may inadvertently come across as rude, insulting or boring. They may miss subtle criticism and sarcasm. As they develop better insight, they will become more motivated to learn, which had not come naturally and intuitively.

In the social development of HFA and AS teens who show some interest in peer interactions, social anxiety and resultant avoidance play an important role. Some of these young people get very nervous just with the thought of approaching others and may choose to avoid it at all costs. Their avoidance may appear as if they are not interested in others. It is important to differentiate this since anxiety can be treated much more easily than genuine lack of interest.

Regardless of the individual developmental route, most teens on the spectrum start realizing that they are not quite like others at some point during their adolescence. Once the teenager realizes that he has significant difficulties in conducting social relationships compared to his peers, he needs deal with this loss, just like dealing with any other loss. Understanding the thoughts, feelings and behavior of a teen on the spectrum is the necessary first step in helping him out and being there for him. 

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

Aspergers Teens and Dating

"My Aspie son is 17 years old, and dating is now becoming a problem. He likes girls but struggles with starting a conversation, showing that he likes them, and so on... Any suggestions?"

Aspergers dating can be a bit more complicated than typical teen dating. The onset of dating is a big step for teens with Aspergers (high functioning autism), just as it is for all teens. Like any other teen, your son wants to develop those special friendships and be a part of the crowd. The socialization struggles brought about by Aspergers calls for some advanced planning. Here are some tips to get you started.

Social skills—

Social skills are necessary to form friendships. Unfortunately, this skill area causes problems for people with Aspergers. Dating calls for the ability to notice social cues, body language, and gestures. You can help your son by identifying and practicing necessary skills. Many schools or community Autism support organizations have social skills group therapy classes. By attending these group activities, your son can learn socialization skills in a controlled and supported environment.

Personal Hygiene—

Sometimes personal hygiene is all but forgotten by people with Aspergers. Dating definitely requires good personal hygiene. It is difficult to attract the attention of the opposite sex if you forget to bathe and brush your teeth. Help your son create a schedule for his personal hygiene. A visual checklist can keep him on a regular schedule.

Interest-led activities—

One way to meet people is through a shared interest. For example, if your son's special interest is computers, he could join a computer club or take a class. Now is the chance to put to good use those obsessive interests that are so commonly held by people with Aspergers. Dating someone who loves the same things you do makes for a more natural relationship.


It is not easy to make your way through the teen years with Aspergers. Dating is expected and desired. If your son is struggling, he may benefit from individual therapy. A private counselor can help him work through his issues, concerns, and fears. A counselor can give him strategies that will make life easier and more pleasant.

With a little planning, your son can tackle his socialization struggles. With a bit of organization, some social skills practice, and possibly some therapy, your son can begin to overcome some of the weaknesses of Aspergers. Dating will then become his reality. With a little practice, he will become comfortable with himself in social situations.

Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism and Struggles in Adolescence

“I have a very lonely and depressed 17 year old son with high functioning autism that spends all of his time (except for going to school) in his bedroom playing video games. I don’t totally understand why he is always so down in the dumps. I wish there was something I could do to help him find some friends and start enjoying life. Any suggestions?”

Adolescence is probably the most miserable and complicated years for many young people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). This is not true of everyone – some do extremely well. Their indifference to what peers think makes them indifferent to the intense peer pressure of adolescence. They can flourish within their specialty and become accomplished in their area of interest (e.g., music, history, etc.).

Unfortunately, many AS and HFA adolescents become more socially isolated during a period when they crave friendships and inclusion more than ever. In the rough-and-tough world of middle and high school, these adolescents often face rejection, isolation and bullying. To make matters worse, school becomes more demanding in a period when these young people have to compete for college placements. Issues of sexuality and a desire for independence from moms and dads create even more problems.

In the adolescent world where everyone feels insecure, young people that appear different or “odd” are voted out of “the group.” AS and HFA adolescents often have strange mannerisms (e.g., talk in a loud un-modulated voice, avoid eye contact, interrupt others, violate others physical space, steer the conversation to their favorite “odd” topic, etc.). Many of these young people appear willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because they are unable to share their thoughts and feelings with others. Isolated and alone, these adolescents are simply too anxious to initiate social contact.

Many AS and HFA adolescents are stiff and rule-oriented and act like little adults, which is a deadly trait in any adolescent popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for these teenagers, even though they want it more than anything else.

AS and HFA teenagers typically don’t care about current fads and clothing styles (concerns that obsess everyone else in their peer group). Also, these adolescents may neglect their hygiene and wear the same haircut for years. Some AS and HFA adolescents remain stuck in grammar school clothes and hobbies (e.g., unicorns, Legos, dolls, etc.) instead of moving into adolescent concerns like FaceBook and dating. AS and HFA males often have little motor coordination, which leaves them out of high school sports (typically an essential area of male bonding and friendship).

AS and HFA adolescents are not privy to street knowledge of sex and dating behaviors that other adolescents pick up naturally. This leaves them naive and clueless. AS and HFA males can become obsessed with Internet pornography and masturbation. They can be overly forward with a female peer who is simply being kind, and then they can get accused of stalking the girl. AS and HFA girls may have fully developed bodies, but no understanding of flirtation and non-verbal sexual cues, thus making them susceptible to harassment – and even date rape.

Loneliness and depression can lead to problems with drugs, sex and alcohol. In their overwhelming need to “fit in” and make friends, some AS and HFA adolescents fall into the wrong crowd. Typical adolescents who abuse drugs and alcohol may use the AS/HFA teen's naivety to get him or her to buy/carry drugs and alcohol for their group.

Many AS and HFA adolescents, with their average to above average IQs, can sail through elementary school, and yet hit academic problems in middle and high school. They now have to deal with 5 to 7 different teachers instead of just 1 or 2. The likelihood that at least one teacher will be indifferent - or even hostile - toward making special accommodations is almost certain. The AS and HFA teenager now has to face a series of classroom environments with different classmates, odors, distractions, noise levels, and sets of expectations.

AS and HFA adolescents, with their distractibility and difficulty organizing materials, face similar academic problems as young people with ADHD. A high school term paper or a science project becomes impossible to manage, because no one has taught the youngster how to break it up into a series of small steps. Even though the academic stress on AS and HFA students can be overwhelming, school administrators may be reluctant to enroll them in special education at this late point in their educational career.

Adolescence is an emotional rollercoaster for all teens. But, the hormonal changes of adolescence coupled with the problems associated with having an autism spectrum disorder mean that AS and HFA adolescents can easily become emotionally overwhelmed. Childish tantrums can reappear. Males often act-out by physically attacking the teacher or a schoolmate. They may experience "meltdowns" at home after another day filled with harassment, bullying, pressure to conform, and rejection. Depression and drug/alcohol abuse become real concerns, as the adolescent now has access to a vehicle, drugs and alcohol.

The parent of an adolescent with AS or HFA often faces many problems that others parents don’t. As the teen approaches adulthood, time is quickly running out for teaching him or her how to become an independent adult. The parent may face issues like vocational training, teaching independent living, and providing lifetime financial support. Meanwhile, the immature AS/HFA teen is often indifferent – and even hostile – to the parent’s concerns.

Once AS and HFA youngsters enter the adolescent years, they are harder to control and less likely to listen to their parents. They may be tired of parents nagging them to “pay attention to people when they’re talking to you” … “comb your hair” … “you need a shower” … “get up, it’s time to get ready for school” …and so on. They may hate school because they are dealing with so much anxiety, social isolation and academic failure.
==> 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

Here are some ways moms and dads of AS and HFA adolescents can help:

1. Because of their sensitivity to textures, AS and HFA adolescents often wear the same clothes day in and day out. This is unacceptable in middle or high school. One idea that has worked for some moms and dads is to find an adolescent of the same age and sex as your teen, and then enlist that person’s help in choosing clothes that will enable your teen to blend in with his or her peers.

2. Most AS and HFA adolescents can learn to drive, but their learning process may take longer because of poor motor coordination. Once they learn a set of rules, they are likely to follow them to the letter. However, these teens may have trouble dealing with unexpected situations on the road. Have your teen carry a cell phone, and give him or her a printed card that explains autism spectrum disorders. Teach him or her to give the card to a police officer and phone you in a crisis.

3. Alcoholic and drugs often react adversely with a person’s prescriptions, so you have to teach your teenager about these dangers in the event he or she is taking any medications. Also, since most AS and HFA adolescents are very rule-oriented, try emphasizing that drugs and alcohol are illegal.

4. If your adolescent is college-bound, you have to prepare him or her for the experience. You can plan a trip to the campus and show your adolescent where to buy books, where the health services are, and so on. Teach your adolescent how to handle everyday problems, like where to buy deodorant, what to do if you oversleep and miss a class, etc.

5. If the pressure on your adolescent to conform is too great, if she or he faces constant harassment and rejection, if the principal and teachers do not cooperate with you, then it may be time to find another school. The adolescent years are often when many moms and dads decide it is in their adolescent’s best interest to enter special education or a therapeutic boarding school. In a boarding school, professionals will guide your son or daughter academically and socially on a twenty-four hour basis. They do not allow males to isolate themselves with video games. Everyone has to participate in social activities. Also, counseling staff helps with college placements. 

If you decide to work within a public school system, you may have to hire a lawyer to get needed services. Your AS or HFA adolescent should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations for the learning disabled. This may mean placement in smaller classes, having a tutor, and obtaining special arrangements for gym and lunchtime. Teach your adolescent to find a safe place at school where he or she can share emotions with a trusted professional. The safe place may be the offices of the school nurse, guidance counselor, or a psychologist.

6. You MUST teach your AS/HFA adolescent about sex. You should NOT "talk around" the issue. You will have to be specific and detailed about safe sex and teach your adolescent to tell you about inappropriate touching by others. He or she may need remedial “sex education” (e.g., females need to understand that they are too old to sit on laps or give hugs to strangers, and males may have to learn to close toilet stall doors and masturbate only in private).

7. Teach your AS or HFA adolescent how to initiate contact with others. Teach how to leave phone messages and arrange details of social contacts (e.g., finding transportation to a school event). Encourage your adolescent to join high school clubs (e.g., chess or drama). It is not necessary for you to tell your teen’s peers that he or she has an autism spectrum disorder – let your teen do that. Many adolescents with AS and HFA are enjoying each other's company through Internet chat rooms, forums and message boards.

8. Most summer and part-time jobs involve interaction with the public (e.g., movie usher, fast food worker, store clerk, etc.). This means they are not always a good fit for an adolescent with AS and HFA. Some of these young people can find work in their field of special interest or in jobs that have little interpersonal interaction. Others have spent joyful summers at camps designed for “special needs” individuals like them.

As you prepare your adolescent for the workforce, keep in mind that individuals with AS and HFA often do not understand office politics. They have problems with the basics (e.g., handling criticism, controlling emotions, showing up on time, working with the public, etc.). This does not mean they can’t hold down a job. Once they master certain aspects of employment, AS and HFA adolescents and young adults are often able to work at high levels as accountants, research scientists, computer programmers, and so on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


•    Anonymous said... an instrument could help -my boy plays drums and loves it ...more confidence anyway...
•    Anonymous said... Aspies have a VERY hard time finding, making and keeping friends. When I was a teen I lost ALL of my friends my 9th grade year. Every last one. I was depressed and suicidal. I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong and why no one liked me!!! I do now though and today I know that I have Aspergers and so do two of my four children. We also believe my husband has it as well.  Computers/games/electronics allows us to focus on something else other that ourselves (Aspies are also VERY egocentric) and to escape. It helps us turn off our brains. It is comfort and it is release. The world of books is also comparable. For me, when I wasn't on the computer (I spent a lot of time programming - taught myself to do it when I was 8 yrs old), on my nintendo or my atari, I was reading. Those were probably the only things that kept me alive. If I'd had nowhere to escape to, I probably would have killed myself back then just to get that escape! Anyway, that's just my insight based on my own experiences. My two aspie kids also do this as well, especially my son, who also seems "mopey" all the time. He deals with being understimulated and a total lack of an ability to display emotion. So he might be REALLY excited about something but you would never know it based on his body language and facial expression. Hope this all helps!!!
•    Anonymous said... Attending church & going to youth group functions is a tremendous blessing for my 15 yr. Old.
•    Anonymous said... Certified Classical Homeopath
•    Anonymous said... Find your state's autism society or advocacy organization and see if there are support/social groups for his age. If there aren't then start one! These nonprofit agencies offer wonderful support. I have found church and sports organizations that aren't affiliated with special needs groups specifically to be a mine field. You never know how accepting they can be but there are plenty of people out there in your position and you just need to connect with them! Also, look into letting him start community college. My son it only 10 but I have friends who have older Aspergers kids and they find their niche in community college where people tend to be more mature about accepting people into their groups. I live in Washington state and I came from Colorado where I had a wonderful resource outlet! If you are anywhere near me or would like some help finding some resources you can PM me! I don't mind helping anyone find support!
•    Anonymous said... get him some professional help asap - find a therapist who specializes in adolescents on the spectrum, or a social skills group. Homeopathy can work wonders; find a CCH and get him treated asap. Do not take this lightly.
•    Anonymous said... Good suggestions so far. I would also suggest encouraging more social interaction online. My husband is an Aspie who was not diagnosed until in his 30's but when he was a teenager he struggled immensely with in person interactions and relationships but was able to connect much easier online and this was back before the internet It may seem counterintuitive but for those with asperger's it can provide a place to belong, access to friends, and socialization in a way that is more comfortable for them which may help with the lonely depressed feeling. I also strongly agree with the suggestion to find him a therapist who works specifically with Aspies and look for a social skills group. Most importantly, remember that his way of interacting with the world may be different than yours and that there is nothing wrong with that. Make sure you are not trying to make him into the version of him you want for him - support him being who he is and what he needs to be happy. Hope that helps!
•    Anonymous said... I would agree with Tristan. My son is 5 and if he gets too much screen time (ie. computer,tv, even Leapster) his behavior is much worse. We are working online with a Biomedical Dr named Dr. Woeller. He has given us great advice on all natural supplements for balanced behavior!
•    Anonymous said... My 8 year old spends every available minute glued to a computer, or game console. We did not want to stop him from his one interest but were concerned that it was not healthy. He is now learning HTML programming so he can make his own web pages and hopefully he will go on to game programming later. We take him to all the conventions (comic con, Supa nova etc) as he loves to dress up as his fav game/anime characters and he even did Cosplay in front of a couple thousand people this year. I don't think taking the computer away is the answer. Sometimes they are ok but my son just gets angry, frustrated and depressed. Try engaging with them. We play games with my son online now. We play League of Legends with him and have our own mine craft server
•    Anonymous said... My aspie son helped his depression and anxiety with working out. Specifically LA Boxing workouts. Also list out his favorite non computer activities and find events related. For example my son liked yu gi oh cards so i started taking him to tournaments. Also when i limited computer time to weekends his depression and behavior improved. Best of luck. Address issues as early as you can.
•    Anonymous said... Really my son is exactly the same, as been put down to asperges and been a teenager, he asnt been certified anything
•    Anonymous said... similiar situation here too
•    Anonymous said... Sounds like my son
•    Anonymous said... This is an awesome article. It is helpful to hear someone put into words what you continue to observe but can't really understand. Thanks for posting.
•    Anonymous said... very helpful thank you.
•    Anonymous said... Depressed aspies need counseling. I've found that to be the best solution
•    Anonymous said... Hi my newly diagnosed daughter is 14 years old. She also plays "Sims" most of her free time for hrs. She has managed to keep one close friend from Primary School who she meets now & again. They play computer games all day when they meet up. I was just thinking whilst standing washing up a minute ago....the word isolation came in my mind. That's what I feel like as a caring parent so heaven knows how she feels. Just had an hr & half of calming her down after 2 and half hrs at her short stay medical school. She is staying there until age 16 as no other provision available at her age as starting GSCE's. She has been put on Prozac as her depression was getting so bad. It has helped lots. It enables her to socialise for about 3 hrs without meltdown or fatigue. I feel for is so hard. I am researching, reading all the time about Asperger's. My daughter has started blogging her experiences, passions etc. I hope for her to connect with othet teens with Aspergers over the internet to widen her friend base? Good luck with you son.
•    Anonymous said... I know it's not the answer for most people, or even possbile, but just over a year ago I began to home educate my daughter and the change is marked now she is not using all her 'spoons' to deal with copng with large numbers of people she can and does want to socilaize - on her own terms. she is more likely to chat on line with friends that she also meets up or has round now than play the same computer games or just watch her DVDs (and has had two major meltdowns in one year since I took her out of school), She didn't have any firends or want any and rejected fgirls that tried to befriend her while at school. Try to remember your teen is surrounded by too many noisy NTs all day and once removed from the situation will find and make friends on their own terms, so things will improve once they are older. I would also recommend 'Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers' by an Aspie teen Luke Jackson. And don't ever expect a teen with autism to ever socialize as much as NT one, they just won't want to, however many social skills workshops and classes they may have attended, their brain is just wired up differently. If they are unhappy with the situation a club or on line chat room around an interst will give then a shaed interest as a beginning to make friends.
•    Anonymous said... Like minded kids help as they're all into similar stuff like minecraft and strategy games or top trumps etc. My lad has 1 firm friend and that's enough. When I was younger I had a few friends -and that's all I wanted. The depression came from deep thought (usually depressing and confusing when you start to wonder how you were born without your own say-so ) or getting worn down with constant punishment for untidy/careless work, arguing with teachers as if you are their peer or forgetting homework/equipment (anything you think is unimportant to you rly) My own insights usually help me deal with my son apart from when I'm in the moment picking at details in an argument - Then I'm just as bad as he is ! I wonder if this rings true with anyone else.. if so maybe I should write my own book Hehe.
•    Anonymous said... Mine same but 17yr son. He only has one year of school. I'm trying to get every day filled with at least one outdoor activity. He only has a 3 day week @ school so the other days he has voluntary work for a few hours a day,
•    Anonymous said... my daughter does sims all day!!! Also depressed, nearly 13 now, very similar from what you write, we are going through tough times right now...
•    Anonymous said... My daughter is depressed.... No enthusiasm for living, for doing things or making contact with others; she must be very self critical whilst comparing herself to other girls of her age who seem to be living without a care... at times she stays in her bed playing on ipad.. just like the other Aspies. So sad to watch.   

•    Anonymous said... Do your research and find a social skill activity program. Have him volunteer. Limit the video time, offer comic books or graphic novels as an alternative.
•    Anonymous said... Find a HFA support group where he can connect with kids like him. My 8 year old has the same issue. If we let him he would play video games all day but we have him in sports. He is a diver. He still struggles with social aspects but he is learning! Get him out and sooner the better
•    Anonymous said... I have the exact same issue with my 16 year old son. He doesn't accept his diagnosis, never has, and there is no way he would let me take him to a social group of similar kids..ughh
•    Anonymous said... My almost 16yr old is/was exactly the same (except now works instead of school).. Went through months of deep depression , is only coming out of it now.. I think backing off too much pressure helped my son ALOT, he also did not want to join social groups/outings still doesn't. It breaks your heart as a mum to watch them sit in their room or on computer with no friends, but to be honest, he tells me he is happier doing that than being forced out being made to be sociable. I think they all eventually find their feet, grow into their own skin, however you want to put it.. But by me always showing I was there for him and as said previously, taking the pressure off him, he is beginning to show signs of being happy once again . If you ever need a chat, please message me, I completely understand your concern and heartbreak xx
•    Anonymous said... My son is thirteen, doesn't like sports and he also doesn't accept a label. It's a daily challenge coaxing him away from screens. In order to keep screen time, he is required to have a daily set amount of social time with the family. My son says has made many friendly connections through his video games.

Post your comment below…

Defiance in Teenagers with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

"My son (high functioning autistic) is now 13 ...he was diagnosed at the age of 8. All of a sudden he is acting out, cussing all the time, lying, being disrespectful and verbally abusive, and has an overall grumpy attitude. Are these years the hardest, or is this just the beginning? When he finally hits puberty, will things get better?"

Yes, the teen years are the hardest, whether your son has High Functioning Autism (HFA) or not! He has probably “hit” puberty already, but it’s just beginning.

Raging hormones and frustration with social interactions at school can cause a lot of anger and bad behavior during the teen years, especially for adolescents with "special needs!" Many need counseling to negotiate this time in their lives successfully. Peer-rejection, teasing, bullying, and all other other stressors that your son may have to endure can take a psychological toll, which may in turn influence him to act-out his frustration on a "safe" target at home (i.e., YOU).

Your son is exhibiting rebellious behavior, and this type of behavior fulfills his needs. For example, he may have the need to:
  • Avoid responsibility (e.g., attending school, obeying parents)
  • Get something (e.g., his way in a decision, your attention, control over a situation)
  • Manage pain (e.g., physical and/or emotional stress that must be alleviated)
  • Fulfill sensory needs (e.g., relief from heat, cold, or to satisfy thirst)

Having a developmental disorder such as HFA or Asperger’s is no excuse for being verbally abusive. However, it is important for you to understand that some of the associated symptoms do contribute to defiant behavior. Teens on the autism spectrum may display some - or all - of the following characteristics, many of which contribute to problematic behavior:
  • the teen may be able to talk extensively on a topic of interest, but have difficulty with more practical tasks such as recounting the day’s events, telling a story, or understanding jokes and sarcasm
  • sensitivity to criticism 
  • preference for playing alone or with adults
  • narrow field of interests (e.g., a teen with HFA may focus on learning all there is to know about cars, trains or computers)
  • language may be considered to be very advanced or ‘precocious’ when compared to their peers
  • lack of appreciation that communication involves listening as well as talking (e.g., they may not allow their communication partner an opportunity to engage in the conversation)
  • inability to understand the rules of social behavior or the feelings of others
  • difficulty ‘reading’ body language (e.g., a teen with HFA may not understand that someone is showing that they are unhappy by frowning)
  • having rules and rituals that they insist all family members follow
  • difficulty in forming friendships
  • behavior varies from mildly unusual, eccentric or ‘odd’ to quite aggressive and difficult
  • apparently good language skills, but difficulty with communication
  • anger and aggression when things do not happen as they want

Your son is unlikely to identify with your feelings or comprehend others’ objections to his behavior. The only explanation you should use with him is to specifically state that the objectionable behavior is not permitted. Your son needs to follow rules, and following rules can help to focus and modify his rebellious behavior.

Behavior modification is a therapeutic approach that can change your son’s behavior. You need to determine the need that his rebellion/aggression fulfills and teach him an acceptable replacement behavior. For example, your son can be taught to ask for, point to, or show an emotion card to indicate the need that he is trying to fulfill.

Sometimes, self-stimulating behaviors such as rocking or pacing are taught as replacement behaviors, but it will take time for your son to integrate these behaviors into his daily activities. If your son is severely out of control, he needs to be physically removed from the situation. Granted, this may be easier said than done, and you may need someone to help you; yet, behavior modification can be helpful, and it must be started as soon as possible.

For adolescents on the autism spectrum, the importance of maintaining a daily routine can't be stressed enough. A daily routine produces behavioral stability and psychological comfort. Also, it lessens their need to make demands. When you establish a daily routine, you eliminate some of the situations in which your son’s behavior becomes demanding. For example, by building in regular times to give him attention, he may have less need to show aggression to try to get that attention.

Ideally over time, your son will learn to recognize and communicate the causes of his aggression and get his needs met by using communication. Unfortunately, teens who get their needs met due to aggression or violence are very likely to continue and escalate this defiant behavior.

A behavior therapy program may help; however, an individualized program has to be designed specifically for your son because adolescents on the spectrum vary greatly in their challenges and/or family circumstances. Treatment approaches that work well with other diagnoses may not work with HFA. Consult a psychiatrist who can oversee a treatment plan as well as any medication regimen that your son may be need.

In addition to the suggestions listed above, here are a few simple parenting tips that may help:
  • Take care of yourself. Counseling can provide an outlet for your own mental health concerns that could interfere with the successful management of your son's defiant behavior. If you're depressed or anxious, that could lead to disengagement from your son, which can trigger or worsen oppositional behaviors. Let go of things that you or your son did in the past. Start each day with a fresh outlook and a clean slate. Learn ways to calm yourself, and take time for yourself. Develop outside interests, get some exercise, and spend some time away from your son to restore your energy.
  • Set up a routine. Develop a consistent daily schedule for your son. Asking him to help develop that routine can be helpful.
  • Set limits and enforce consistent reasonable consequences.
  • At first, your son is not likely to be cooperative or appreciate your changed response to his behavior. Setbacks and relapses are normal, so be prepared with a plan to manage those times. 
  • Remind yourself that your son’s defiance is most likely a temporary inconvenience rather than a permanent catastrophe.
  • Recognize and praise your son's positive behaviors. Be as specific as possible (e.g., "I really liked the way you cleaned up your room tonight").
  • Pick your battles carefully. Avoid power struggles. Almost everything can turn into a power struggle — if you let it.
  • Model the behavior you want your son to exhibit.
  • Develop a united front. Work with your partner/spouse to ensure consistent and appropriate discipline procedures.
  • Remember that behavior often temporarily worsens when new limits and expectations are set. However, with persistence and consistency, the initial hard work will pay off with improved behavior.
  • Build in time together. Develop a consistent weekly schedule that involves you and your son being together.
  • Assign your son a household chore that's essential and that won't get done unless he does it. Initially, it's important to set him up for success with tasks that are relatively easy to achieve, then gradually blend in more important and challenging expectations.

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens


•    Anonymous said... Its so good to not feel alone in this. My son emailed the principle and councilor this week with a page of cuss words, then says "he doesn't remember it". He never talks at home like that. Trying to find alternatives for anger, like using a punching bag. But that day I had no idea he was even upset that is what scares me. Praying lots and lots.
•    Anonymous said... My Son doesnt like going outside at all eather!... Not very nice if he's got a little Sis that does want to go and do nice things tho... But tried to take him out today, but it was Far to Busy! Really made him have a Noise overload in his head till now... We'v been back for 10 hours... Must be horrible for him...
•    Anonymous said... my son like that as well. Does not want to go outside because the kids are making poor choices
•    Anonymous said... Not only does the stew of Aspie issues flare up at new situations and new social expectations. But puberty hits and the hormones kick in like they do in non-Aspie kids. So you get a double dose of Teenage attitude.
•    Anonymous said... Puberty makes them begin to resemble something of aliens. lol Seriously though they do become quite difficult. The acting out, cussing, lying, etc., all are magnified x 3 during this time. Counseling and keeping the schedule has helped us. In the end however not much helps lately. Praying a lot. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said... There may be commorbid conditions. Mine has ODD and ADHD. But, yes, teens will always test limits. Be thankful he's a boy; ) Deep breaths. And approach delicately. Never demand, request. Always give him time to respond, and make a consequence that fits the "crime" and stick to it. Consistency is key to any austism spectrum disorder. Hugs.
•    Anonymous said... We have been through hell with my son since he turned 13 and now he is 16. I try to see the silver lining with him having to deal with ASD - one is that he doesn't want to leave the house because of his heightened social anxiety - so I know where he is at all times! At least he is not out hooning around and making bad choices with other idiot teenage boys. I'm hoping that by the time he is happy to engage again with society he will be dealing with other guys whose frontal lobe has developed (him too).
•    Anonymous said... You have to adjust your responses to the outbursts and also reinforce what good choices look like for your child as well as what bad choices look like. The teen years are rough for everyone, but Aspergers and kids in the Autism Spectrum have it even harder. Pick your battles. You do not always have to win an argument. Actively listening and explaining what is going on is the best win for both you and your family.

Post your comment below…

How to Prepare Your Autistic Teenager for Adulthood

"How can I prepare my son with HFA for adulthood? He seems so immature for his age and we worry about how he's going to cope with life being out of the 'nest'."

Very few young adults with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are ready for “full independent” living. They need ongoing support, social skills training, and encouragement from parents as they learn to negotiate the “adult world.”

Adolescents with HFA need extra time to gradually learn and practice adult life skills (e.g., finding a job, managing finances, doing laundry, preparing meals, driving a car, arranging medical appointments, etc.). Many of these individuals may not be ready for adult responsibilities at the same age as their neurotypical peers.

They may choose to live at home and attend a local community college rather than go to a university where they would need to live on campus. Many have even experienced sudden drops in their grades as graduation approached, due to fears about having to leave home before they feel ready. Some may need to experiment with alternatives and adjustments for skills (e.g., driving a car) that are not within their reach.
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with High-Functioning Autism

With some special challenges in mind, here are a few parenting tips for promoting self-reliance in your older teens with HFA:

1. Base your support and expectations on your teenager's abilities, level of emotional security, and history—and not on his chronological age or what his peers are doing.

2. By the time your adolescent is working and making an income, he should assume responsibility for all cell phone charges. This cuts down on extravagant cell phone use, because most adolescents are more prudent about usage when they have to pay the bill.

3. By the time kids on the spectrum are in the 8th grade, they should be taking responsibility for their own schoolwork. Moms and dads should not hound their child to complete work. Obviously, instilling a good work ethic regarding schoolwork starts much earlier than middle school. But by the 8th grade, young people should “own” the quality and timeliness of their work so they understand cause and effect before they enter high school, where a poor grade can affect college prospects.

4. Check with your adolescent's school about any transition services the district may provide.

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

5. Consider finding a job coach for your teen. The benefits of having a job coach include the following:
  • A job coach can identify specific strategies and techniques that can help your teen learn new tasks or adapt to new schedules.
  • A job coach can serve as a “liaison” between the employer and the employee.   This can help ensure that the employer’s needs are met while advocating for the employee by addressing any concerns of the employee in a manner that is pro-active.
  • Assessing the need for “on the job” accommodations is a fundamental responsibility of a job coach.  In most instances, the job coach can provide information on the procurement of the accommodation as well.
  • Coping skills can be developed or enhanced with the assistance of a job coach.  The job coach’s knowledge of your teen’s strengths and preferences can prove invaluable in determining how specific skills (e.g., relaxation techniques, journaling, role-playing of solutions and responses geared toward specific situations and scenarios, etc.) can be enhanced.

6. Do not rescue your teenager by paying off her debts or by making excuses to her teacher for a failing grade. Let her feel the consequences, and the lesson will be long lasting.

7. Explain in great detail how you will help your adolescent move into adult life. He needs to know how long he can live at home and whether or not you will help him with his first apartment rental, pay college tuition, keep him on the family health insurance, and so on.

8. Explore substitutes or assistance for skills that are not manageable. Your family is the best judge of when your adolescent is ready to partially or fully manage adult tasks.
9. Let your teen make mistakes. Moms and dads naturally want to rescue their special needs children. Avoid doing that unless it’s a matter of your adolescent’s health or safety. Otherwise, simply say, “Okay, you made a mistake. It happens to everyone. What can you do to fix it?”

10. Let your teenager make decisions. At this age, she should have some say in nearly everything that affects her. Trust her in this way. She will be more likely to bend your way when you make clear that an issue is very important to you.

11. Provide ongoing emotional and tangible support even after your young HFA adult moves out of your home. Moms and dads who visit frequently, assist with household management, help to fill out tax forms, etc., help these youth not feel too overwhelmed as they adjust to life away from the family.

12. Purchasing a car can be the single most rewarding effort an adolescent makes other than good grades and a decent job. The sense of accomplishment an adolescent feels when she saves money for a vehicle is only trumped by the first purchase of a house. Moms and dads should not deprive their teenager of this milestone by buying a car for her. Saving for a car (preferably the entire time she has her permit) will teach her the value of setting a goal and achieving it by herself and give her a shot of confidence. These young people should also pay for their own insurance – either their own policy or as a rider on their parents' policy.

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

13. Remember that teens with HFA take longer to mature than their neurotypical peers. During those 16-18 years, moms and dads are responsible for teaching their teens how to survive in the adult world. Developing good money habits and taking responsibility for their own financial well-being is best achieved by these adolescents before they truly have to manage on their own so that their transition to adulthood has fewer speed bumps and considerably less heartache.

14. Skip the power struggles. Instead of trying to control your special needs adolescent (e.g., “Get upstairs and do that homework now”), place the control on yourself (e.g., “I’ll be happy to drive you to the mall after you do your homework”).

15. Teach your teenager how to balance a checkbook and budget her money. It's important that she learns by trial and error before she turns 18 and starts making choices as a grown-up. In an era of easy credit and payment plans, the temptation to spend more than they earn hits younger target markets every year, and it is never too early to teach adolescents how to resist those offers. Your adolescent should open a checking account as soon as she starts working (even if she is only babysitting) and should be saving 10% of her earnings. Also, you might want to assist your teen with choosing a checking account.

16. Teens with HFA should begin to think about viable employment by at least the 10th grade. Experience working with others and handling workplace conflicts is critical to developing the work ethic and job skills they need when they enter the adult workplace. Many part-time jobs can be secured by working as an unpaid intern first. Summer camp programs, park and recreation departments, landscaping companies, and recreation businesses will often use free labor, and volunteering opens the door to an eventual paid position. By the time these teens are 15, they should be working part-time in preparation for life beyond school, when they will have to juggle work and family responsibilities. Colleges like to see regular student employment on their applications because it shows dedication, responsibility, and maturity!

17. The next time you talk to your adolescent about an issue, help her to reason on how her choices reflect on her. For example, instead of criticizing her friends, say: “What if your friend got arrested for breaking the law? How would that make you look?” Help your adolescent to see how her choices either enhance her reputation or tarnish it.

18. Under Federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), by the time a “special education” child reaches age 16, the school is to provide a plan that may include help obtaining further education, getting a job, or living independently. Moms and dads need to advocate for these services. Communicate respectfully, clearly, and often with your school's "transition coordinator" about your teenager's transition plan.
19. When an issue arises, try reversing roles. Ask your adolescent what advice she would give you if you were her teenager. Have her do research to come up with reasons to support—or challenge—her thinking. Discuss the matter again within a week.

20. Write down one or two areas in which you could extend a little more freedom to your  adolescent. Explain to her that you are extending this freedom on a trial basis. If she handles it responsibly, in time she can be granted more. If she does not do so, the freedoms she has been granted will be curtailed.

Launching young men and women with special needs from the family home brings some unique challenges. "Interdependence" rather than "independence" is a more fitting goal for these youth as they venture into the adult world.

==> Click here for more information on how to help your young adult on the autism spectrum to cope with life...

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

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

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

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...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content