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COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for June, 2018]



Do you need some assistance in parenting your Aspergers or HFA child? Click here to use Mark Hutten, M.A. as your personal parent coach.

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My name is Heather. I have a 6.5 year old child on the high functioning end of the spectrum. I wanted to send you a message over Facebook as that is where I found your content, but, there wasn’t an option. I found your email through your website. I wanted to personally send you a quick message to say thank you for disseminating such important and vital information specifically targeting children who are have Aspergers. Because my son is so high functioning, we have been questioned, ridiculed, and at times been laughed at when trying to explain his struggles. My son is very verbal and friendly and is often labeled as a bad child or an awkward weird child but never autistic. Luckily , his school has recognized the autism and we are getting a lot of help through them. However, we have family members that we cannot be around anymore because of their inability to keep quiet with their unfounded and ignorant opinions on how my son does or doesn't behave. I have had to cut friends out of our lives and find people that share in the same struggles and understanding of what my son struggles with and have real and positive advice to offer. Of course, the public can be very brutal with sneers, looks and whispers. My son sees and notices a lot of it. I have longed for more information so that I can be more equipped to help him navigate his way around people and the world in general. Seeing your articles and constant information about the very same issues we deal with is very encouraging to me and my husband. I have chosen to use my Facebook page to educate people on high functioning autism and what it looks like, how to handle it, maybe recognize it in their own children or in themselves. Thank you for helping and understanding. Please keep posting this content. I rely on it everyday. Thank you.

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Dear Mark,

I purchased your excellent book: "Living with Asperger's (AS) Partner".

Very valuable advice! Helped me improve dealing with my husband of 44 years.

These were challenging years. There is so much that brings us together, yet our different emotional build up caused us a lot of serious, hurtful disagreements and suffering throughout the years.

I stopped reacting to his inconsiderate behaviors in an emotional way, forcing myself to walk away, think through when and how to respond in an effor to avoid such hurtful behaviors on his part in the future.

Yet, although we have been closer...and things were calm, warm and mutually respectful for a while...

Yesterday, we had a couple of old friends visiting.

He starting rushing me to immediately start the (already prepared) dinner although we were not done with appetizers (about half an hour into the visit). Then, when I reached for a small piece of sweetened pineapple treat, he moved the ball away from me, in front of our friends (I am very slightly overweight and have been watching a very healthy diet and lifestyle for the past 4 months, which includes some minor "treats" from time to time, in agreement with my doctor - and it IS working beautifully).

I let it go, and mentioned it only next day: said "it made me feel embarrassed, controlled, afraid to reach for food the rest of the evening, second-guessing his reaction". Asked that "he never does it again", to trust me, "that I am a intelligent 62-year-old woman, and know what I am doing".

His reaction was furious: name calling; that I should be grateful he prevented me from eating more bad food; that all these doctors I am listening too (excellent experts in an online series of newest research on pre-diabetes) are stupid, "why I am even listening and then not (100%, I guess) following their advise etc.

Again, I pointed out I trust myself and don't need him to CONTROL me. He continued to interrupt me, yell at me, even threatening divorce (which he has done 1,000 times before).

What else can I do to make him trust my judgement and not be demeaned like that in front of my friends (and in general) in the future?

My husband, a retired engineer spending most of his time either on his engineering "projects" or watching or playing tennis; prone to angry, often abusive outbursts if under stress; with strong tendency to control and criticise others'  behavior, and an underdeveloped empathy, fits 90% of characteristics of a person with Asperger's. My luck;)....

Any other suggestion how I could have handled the situation more effectively?

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Thank you so much!!  I have read all of the material and will be joining my fiance after 6 weeks of separation not due to the struggles we have had in our relationship but maintaining our individual homes in different states.  I will see him next week and he has asked for a list of things that he needs to correct or do in order for us to get along better.  I haven't told him that I believe he has AS and am hesitant to do so, but I want to gear our conversation toward those traits and need help in developing some guidelines for my list.  Any suggestions?  Also, last year we had a complete breakdown in our relationship and from Jan until July was seeing someone else while we were still together.  He has shown a lot of remorse and is confused as to why he did what he did.  I have tried to move past his lies, cheating etc and it's strange but in his mind, he doesn't remember much about his affair or acts as if it never happened.  I need some pointers should the subject come up, how to handle it .

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There is  a lot of info out there about children, but not very much about adults.  Sometime I wish I could tell parents what to expect for their children in the future, but hopefully their child will be Bill Gates, not my husband.

For people not diagnosed until adulthood, family and teachers just assume this is a problem kid.  My husband set fires in his locker at school, burned down his grandmother’s house, blew up all his toys like the bad kid on Toy Story,  later got into drugs and alcohol, dropped out of school, stole cars, went to jail and tried suicide three times.

After we got married (his first marriage at age 37, my second at age 40), he could never hold a job for more than a few days or weeks.  He would always end up getting fired for saying the wrong thing at work.  I tried so hard to teach him how to act at work, but he would always get angry about something and say something inappropriate.

Intimacy never really worked out with us either.  Most of the time he had ED, plus he doesn’t really like anyone too close, especially not leaning on him, or on top of him, or touching his face.  He says he “can’t breathe”, or he says it “freaks him out”.  So that part of our marriage is basically dead. 

He can do a lot but always says he can’t do anything.  He knows a lot but claims he doesn’t know anything.  There is a lot he can do, but he can’t tell the different between doing something useful and doing something just for the heck of it.   Some things he does well, other things he can’t do at all, or says he can’t. 

He got diagnosed a few years ago and now collects disability, which is not enough to live on, so we always struggle financially.  This is our life now, with no hope for retirement, or having any money to do anything fun.

Maybe his life would have been better if he had  been diagnosed in childhood.  If we had never met, I suspect he would have ended up homeless.

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Dear Mr. Hutten,

Thank you for your text yesterday evening. I have a few questions that possibly you could please help me with. My questions are not only about my son, who is 15 and has Aspergers, but about myself and how I deal with him. He is a very sweet boy and he always means well. He is very polite but very timid.

Every school morning, he takes a long time to get ready. I don't know if waking him up earlier would help or if he would just fill up the time. I find myself getting upset with him then getting upset with myself for getting upset with him. I don't really want to spend the time to keep on top of him. But, should I?

He really struggles with homework. He is especially bad at Math. Generally speaking, he takes a long time to do all of his homework. He then gets upset that he does not have free time to see his friends, etc. Should I just get him a tutor?

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Dr Hutten: Thank you for your expertise in this field of working with couples  who are dealing with Asperger’s within their relationship.
After reading and listing to your book and audio I feel I fall somewhere in the Asperger’s Spectron.

My wife  for years has tried to figure out my  quirky behaver and emotional lack of interaction with herself and others.
At this point in our relationship she is ready to call our marriage quits.
She recently  found your web site and said, I might what to take a look at your material.
What I found did help me understand what I have felt for years. But was not able to articulate until reading your book.

My background Iam a white male 56 years old marred for 18 years two children 10 and 15.
I own a printing company  here in San Diego with 5 full time employees for the last 20 years.
To the world I seem to be fully  functional  normal person who can run a business be married and be a parent.
My wife who I have know for 30 years knows differently and has spent years working with me on trying to get me to connect
Emotionally with herself. I know she deserves 100% myself but  I can’t seem to find the strategy’s needed to truly connect with her.

My question is do you take on new clients  into your practice who are out of state.
I like the fact that you already have a great understanding on what married couples are going though when one person falls within the Asperger’s spectrum.
I  would like to tap your  knowledge and expertise in this field to, find strategy’s to help mediate my inability to emotional connect with my wife
and let her know I do care and want to find a path going forward where I can Communicate with her in a meaningful way.
Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated
Thank you.

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My son who is almost 20 was aggressive towards me, his mother, through all of his teen years, due to anxiety - not because he is bad ! He is very kind, clever and was a happy little boy! But due to not having a diagnosis, despite so many attempts where we live to get one - he was not understood at school, or by others generally. We finally had one last year but it was handled so badly he felt totally dejected and it led to more outbursts and blame on me for having given birth to him! It resulted in him being removed from the home last year. With little information on how he is faring due to being classed chronologically as an adult - I am bereft but know that I couldn't cope with his outbursts or unreasonable demands for us to buy him expensive cars etc. We are reliant on social Services to support him and help him to learn about life - after all of my efforts over the years I feel a total failure. Not sure anyone can help when services say they are dealing with an adult although they have no plan as to what to do to support his needs.

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Thank you so much. I am currently fighting for my marriage and have the added struggle of an unsupportive step-daughter and son-in-law.

I am currently living in Indiana for the summer but going home to Alabama once a month. Last time I was home there was a big blowup because I wanted that one weekend home with my husband but he ended up bringing his grandsons (as happens every weekend) home instead. The parents have the kids ask and my husband does not want to say no. They are his life. I am not.

Now he is preparing sermons for my next visit home. I love my Bible but he becomes fixated on his and finds verses to prove that I AM THE PROBLEM and he is just suffering through dealing with me. He is the perfect picture of a husband and the fact that he works, provides, and doesn’t drink, makes him perfect and the fact that I desire emotional support is ridiculous.

His latest revelation to me was when I told him time with him was just as important to me as sex was important to him and would he feel unloved if I didn’t want to have sex.

His response to me was to read 2 Samuel 16: 9-12 and followed up with this:

Well, forgive me but I’d rather accept the things that I don’t like or that are of discomfort as to the fear of God and judgement against my own foolish acts of unrighteousness for why should I be a fool in thinking that I do no wrong or justify that my wrongs are actually right. Why should I deceive myself but yet I am my worst enemy.

What in the world is he trying to say to me? I’m so confused, as usual, and our minds just do not work together well at all.

Crying, crying, crying

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Hello Mr. Hutten,

My husband and I adopted three children as toddlers who are now in their teens.   Two are biologically related to each other.  The eldest, Kino, has never really bonded with us.  He endured at least seven different placements before entering our home at age 2 1/2.   Both biological parents had poly drug addiction and were arrested for various crimes, so we can only imagine what he was exposed to.   As literature on treatment of attachment disorders suggests, conventional discipline and parenting approaches have not proven effective.

Kino is now 17 1/2.   He does not have full blown RAD, but he does show definite tendencies across many of the diagnostic criterion.   Low empathy, can be quite cruel and hurtful.   There is no apology or repair following instances when he has violated or harmed others, and he shows no respect for our parental authority when we assert limits/boundaries and consequences for his misbehavior.

 On the other hand, Kino has never been in trouble with the law.   He generally observes rules of society, though he shows no deference toward those in authority (coaches, teachers, other adults).    Kino is naturally athletic (basketball star at his high school), and endowed with a bright mind but could care less about grades, seems determined to under-achieve, resents being asked to make an effort academically or in other areas.

In general he shows strong narcissistic traits.  People in his life serve primarily a utilitarian purpose.      His cruelty is often insidious...controlled, not outwardly emotionally reactive but rather calculated, controlled, he’s very adept at manipulating situations and people to ensure he’s in control.   Uses his younger sister as a wedge, and often as his surrogate to carry out his bullying, shunning, etc. of others.  She is just beginning to understand how he uses her in this manner and we’re trying to help her learn to set boundaries with him when he does this.

Our third child is just four months younger than Kino.   Marco suffered TBI and other serious injuries as a baby which have left him compromised in many ways.   Kino has targeted Marco, and often if angry with my husband or me, Kino will retaliate by being unkind to Marco.   We think Kino is threatened  in that Marco is very empathic and although he struggles with emotional regulation due to brain injuries, Marco is very self aware, communicative and able to connect easily with others, in ways that are difficult for Kino.

I’m writing way too much, but essentially interested in knowing how effective your approaches have been with youth with attachment challenges.  We are weary and on verge of losing hope.  Have considered separating our family, sending him away, etc. but we fear that will only reinforce his belief that he is unworthy of being loved.

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Hi Mark - my name is Jen and am about all the way through your course. Thank you for all the detail and I appreciate your experience.

My son was diagnosed RAD several years ago. Long story. He is now 13. He is emotionally immature. Very frequently doing overly childish behavior.

Many of your suggestions are familiar to me going through therapy but such good reminders, as I get overwhelmed with the day to day and often let things going.

Self-reliant strategies and making sure to praise regularly to give my energy are two main things I am implementing right away.

I am feeling a bit uncertain about implementing the discipline/grounding ideas. Our main therapist who has helped us the most was trained in Beyond Consequences with Heather Forbes. She is now retired. So as you can image, connection as been our main priority but discipline hasn't. He was sooo fantastic for about a year and a half, then 13 hit. 7th grade hit. And we have had a big regression.

He has times where he is so rational, but others that I fear that he is incapable of making choices on how he is acting. Which brings me to my question. If there is a disconnect/lid flip tendency of a RAD kiddo, do you still feel confident that your methods will be effective?

He is a good kid when his brain is working well! His anxiety and fear override and make him so disregulated that it can get scary.

Thanks Mark! I am sure you get so many of these questions. My husband and I have tried so many things over the years that I just want to confirm that if we commit to something that there is a high probability it will be effective.

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Should I allow (with supervision) my just- turned 16-year-old daughter to date an 18-year-old?  She has snuck boyfriends in the past, but she told us that if we would allow it, the relationship could be out on the open.  The young man could go to church with us, work out with us, hang out with us.  I havent been able to trust her in the past.  She seems to have ADHD, struggles severely with academics.  It seems like she uses her body as one of her greatest assets for acknowledgement.  ... like dressing in tight clothing, short shorts.  I have fought her on attire for a couple of year now.  I have just chosen not to make that issue the deal-breaker. 

I also homeschool, but I want her going to a regular school,  it am concerned she will wind up pregnant.  Any counsel?

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Good afternoon!
Although not formally diagnosed, my 60 year old husband of 30+ years has many characteristics of having Asperger's. We are both educators so it's been manageable for the most part. Life changes have come our way. We have been retired two years and work part time. Our two children are grown.

All these years I have planned, prompted, and steered- foolishly thinking that his awkwardness, rudeness could be covered by my sense of humor and southern charm. However, in the last couple of months I have been unable to "cover". Our social circle is shrinking rapidly. He's offended people from young children to elderly. It seems to be escalating.

Although I have addressed his issues with him, he truly doesn't see that there is a problem.

I'm struggling.... is it due to life's circumstances or our aging?
 How do I get him out of his current negative thought pattern?
Do we remove ourselves from situations that bring out the rudeness to spare the feelings of others?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Aloha from Hawaii!

I am reaching out desperate and very interested in what I have been reading about your work in trying to seek out some assistance for my 15 year old son.

After seeing a local psychologist for the past year, we both feel that my son may be "on the spectrum" exhibiting a lot of Asperger's Syndrome characteristics with possible video gaming addiction. So PsyD feels my son may need/benefit from more of a psychiatric protocol of treatment with possible mood stabilizers to assist with self regulation.

Although my son was evaluated in 2012 with a resulting axis-I diagnosis of Dyslexia/Dysgraphia (more of the latter is prominent), he has always been a very emotional and rigid learner with poor expression/communication skills that has often impeded the joys of what should've been happier times in his childhood that I often feel guilty about thinking much was my fault as a poorly skilled mother.

With this dysgraphia diagnosis he matriculated successfully to a private special school setting (Assets School) through middle school up until when he felt he was not being helped and wanted to try another private campus for his high school years (an all boys school).

Up until recently, my son has always sought out opportunities to be with friends/others as he is an only child with a limited social network. However, although we've tried to engage him in a number of activities- boy scouts, martial arts, sports, music etc.- he would often lose interest and protest to the point that we allowed him to drop out of these groups.

In lieu of this he unfortunately has found much comfort in devices that has resulted in what we feel is a dependency that tends to drive his moods and isolates him from much else to the point where nothing else exists/matters.

Although there are some good moments, he demonstrates signs of depression and anxiety rarely seeming happy about much and becoming argumentative as well as easily frustrated/angered with himself and others which often results in very destructive meltdowns particularly if he is not allowed unlimited device time. He no longer has much friends that he interacts with and often shares how he doesn't fit in anywhere and is worthless even though he has had much academic success when he wants to extend the efforts and/or is monitored.

With the above being just a general overview of what has become very concerning I am writing to inquire about whether we should have my son further evaluated for an official ASD diagnosis in order to seek our your program/services. If so might there be anyone you could suggest/refer us to in Hawaii, as I have not been too successful in trying to locate a reputable provider who is accepting new patients with adolescent psychiatric expertise with Asperger's or even device addictions- the ones I've been in contact with are not able to take on new cases or have wait lists.

Apologies for this lengthy correspondence as I am hoping this can provide some insights into my situation to discern what to pursue next in trying to reach my son and hoping it is not too late.

I sincerely appreciate your time and any considerations that you can offer particularly if you think your expertise could make a difference.

I will look forward to hearing what could be possible to explore with much indebted gratitude.

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Greetings
My name is Hadeel Sabti Hmeidan. I adopted my son when he was 1 month old.  He is 8 now. When he was six he was diagnosed as ADHD with asperger.  He is on concerta medication to help control his hyper activity. He is good in school specially math and reading.  I was advised not to put him in international schools. I have the following issues which I need help with
- some times he is aggressive. If some one hit him not intentionally while passing by he his hard and attack as if he was hit hard
- he attacks older kids with no fear.  Usually he does not attack but he hits instead of saying I don’t want you to do this.  I tried teaching him other methods of communicating but not as successful as I want to be
- I am scared at times when he is angry he says things like if I have a knife I would kill him . He is not in an aggressive environment but he uses aggressive language.

Please assist.  I feel overwhelmed

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I have a 13 year old child finally diagnosed with HFA (Aspergers) last year after many fights with school since she was in second grade.   We have an IEP that is no where near robust enough to help her generalize the little social skills that they are putting in place for her.  About 40 minutes a week 20 group and 20 one-on-one with speech therapist plus 20 minutes of counseling a week.  I think the biggest problem for the school is that she is a straight A student in mainstream classes. 

We see a child that is so used to rejection nd bullying from her peers that she is beyond sad, depressed and angry.  We supplement school based speech and counseling out of school, but she is so smart that the therapists aren’t sure what to do with her.  She can answer every social question appropriately but cannot generalize.  I have bought several Michelle Garcia Winner books to read with her and am really trying to help, but she hates thinking that she has a problem. 

I’m wondering how your program will differ and how we can start to connect with our daughter.  She fights me tooth and nail all the time and I’m exhausted.  BTW – she has Dravet Syndrome, a genetic based disease that caused epilepsy and may be the root cause of her aspergers diagnosis as well.
 

Teaching Interpersonal Relationship Skills to Teens on the Spectrum

"My son (high functioning, 15 years old) has a hard time learning from past 'social mistakes' and usually reacts without thinking through to the likely outcomes as he interacts with his peers. Is there a way to help him be a bit more insightful, that is, be able to generalize from one situation to the next and identify cause-and-effect re: the things he says and does around friends and classmates?"

Having positive peer relationships is important for all adolescents. Unfortunately, many teens with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have a hard time making and keeping friends and being accepted within the larger peer group. The perceived “odd behavior” associated with AS and HFA can wreak havoc in an adolescent's attempts to connect with classmates in positive ways.

Not being accepted by others, feeling isolated, different, unlikeable and alone – this is probably the most painful aspect of having AS and HFA. These negative experiences carry long-lasting effects. Positive connections with others are so important. Though teens with AS and HFA desperately want to make friends and be liked by the group, they often just don't know how. The good news is that parents can help their adolescent develop social skills and competencies.



Here are some important tips on how parents can help their “special needs” teenager to develop much needed social skills:

1. Adolescents with AS and HFA tend to have a hard time learning from past experiences. They often react without thinking through consequences. One way to help these young people is to provide immediate and frequent feedback about inappropriate behavior or social miscues. Role-playing can be very helpful to teach, model, and practice positive social skills, as well as ways to respond to challenging situations like bullying.

2. An after-school or weekend job can let a teenager practice some social skills and gain self-confidence. Many AS/HFA teens feel they are doomed to social isolation until they, for example, land a job at McDonald’s. In this case, the teen just might begin talking to classmates who work at – or come into – the restaurant, and then get to know many of them outside of work.

3. As an adolescent reaches young adulthood, friendships are often more complicated, but it is equally important for you to continue to be involved and to facilitate positive peer interactions. The middle school and high school years can be brutal for an adolescent who struggles socially. Even if an adolescent remains unaccepted by the peer group at large, having at least one good friend during these years can often protect him or her from the most damaging effects of ostracism by the peer group.

4. AS and HFA teenagers need planned activities. Although you, as the parent, no longer plan and supervise your teenager as closely as you did back in the day, church organizations, scout groups, and other after-school or community activities can provide structure for the teenager who can’t find a crowd on his or her own. The grown-ups who run such groups are generally committed to involving all the teens. They’ll take the time to talk to a teenager standing on the edge of the group and encourage him or her to join in.

5. Clearly identify and give information to your adolescent about social rules and the behaviors you want to see. Practice these prosocial skills again and again and again. Shape positive behaviors with immediate rewards.

6. Communicate with the school, coaches, and neighborhood parents, so that you know what is going on with your adolescent and with whom your adolescent is spending time. An adolescent's peer group and the characteristics of this group have a strong influence on the young people within the group. A middle or high school age adolescent who has experienced social isolation and repeated rejection and simply wants to "belong" somewhere is often more vulnerable to moving into any peer group that will be accepting – even when that group is a negative influence.

7. Collaborate with your adolescent's school to make sure the classroom environment is as "AS/HFA-friendly" as possible so that your adolescent is better able to manage his or her symptoms. Work together with the school staff on effective behavior management approaches and social skills training.

8. Focus on one or two areas that are most difficult for your adolescent so that (a) the learning process doesn't become too overwhelming and (b) your adolescent is more likely to experience successes. Keep in mind that many teens with AS and HFA have difficulty with the basics like starting and maintaining a conversation or interacting with another individual in a reciprocal manner (e.g., listening, asking about the other person’s ideas or feelings, taking turns in the conversation, showing interest in his or her peer, etc.), negotiating and resolving conflicts as they arise, sharing, maintaining personal space, and even speaking in a normal tone of voice that isn't too monotone.

9. High schools are usually much larger than elementary and middle schools – and the school-wide social scene can be daunting to navigate for AS/HFA teens. Conversation and friendship come more easily among teenagers who have a shared interest. Encourage your teen to sign up for clubs or activities that will put him or her in touch with like-minded peers. An outing with the Spanish club may spark conversation with a peer in a different class.

10. If a teenager is seriously struggling on the social front, his or her "jump start" might be a formal group designed to teach social skills. Such groups are generally led by a psychologist or therapist, and may be sponsored by schools or community centers. The format may involve structured tasks or be an open forum for conversation, with feedback coming from both group leaders and peers.





11. Once an adolescent is labeled by his or her peer group in a negative way because of social skills deficits, it can be very hard to dispel this reputation. In fact, having a negative reputation is perhaps one of the largest obstacles your adolescent may have to overcome socially. Studies have found that the negative peer status of adolescents with AS and HFA is often already established by early-to-middle elementary school years, and this reputation can stick with the adolescent even as he or she begins to make positive changes in social skills. For this reason, it can be helpful for moms and dads to work with their adolescent's teachers, coaches, etc. to try to address these reputational effects.

12. Get involved in groups that foster positive peer relationships and social skills development (e.g., Boy Scouts, Indian Guides, Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, sports teams, etc.). Make sure the group leaders or coaches are familiar with AS and HFA and can create a supportive and positive environment for learning prosocial skills.

13. Research finds that adolescents with AS and HFA tend to be extremely poor monitors of their own social behavior. They often do not have a clear understanding or awareness about social situations and the reactions they provoke in others. For example, they may feel that an interaction with a classmate went well – when it clearly did not. AS and HFA-related difficulties can result in weaknesses in this ability to accurately assess or "read" a social situation, self-evaluate, self-monitor, and adjust as necessary. These skills must be taught directly to your adolescent.

14. Some AS/HFA teenagers do best in smaller groups with some parental monitoring. Although moms and dads are generally viewed as "not cool" to most teenagers, your presence is acceptable in certain situations. A teenager that is reluctant to call a friend to "hang out" might be persuaded to invite a friend or two to a sporting event, if mom gets a few tickets.

15. Establish a positive working relationship with your adolescent's teacher. Share about your adolescent's areas of strength and interests, as well as areas of weaknesses – and strategies you have found to be most helpful in minimizing those weaknesses.

Cultivating friendships during adolescence can be an awesome task for the teenager with AS and HFA. Cliques are hard to break into, and delayed maturity is a roadblock to social success. While some AS/HFA adolescents win friends with their enthusiasm and off-beat humor, others find themselves ostracized, seen by their peers as over-bearing or immature. Parents can NOT structure their teen’s social life as they did through elementary and middle school, but by using the suggestions above, they CAN give the little push that can get their teen started on the path to effective interpersonal relationships.

Tips for teachers with AS/HFA students:

1. Adolescent students often look to their teachers when forming social preferences about their peers. A teacher's warmth, patience, acceptance, and gentle redirection can serve as a model for the peer group and have some effect on a “special needs” student’s social status.

2. Pairing the “special needs” student up with a compassionate "buddy" within the classroom can help facilitate social acceptance.

3. When a “special needs” student has experienced failures at school, it becomes even more important for the student’s teacher to consciously find ways to draw positive attention to him or her. One way to do this is to assign the student special tasks and responsibilities in the presence of the other students in the classroom. Make sure these are responsibilities in which your student can experience success and develop better feelings of self-worth and acceptance within the classroom. Doing this also provides opportunities for the peer group to view your “special needs” student in a positive light and may help to stop the group process of peer rejection.

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

How to Explain High-Functioning Autism to Your Child and the Siblings

“We recently got a diagnosis. How should I explain high functioning autism to my affected son and his ‘typical’ siblings?"

Kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are very intelligent and inquisitive. Their struggles are obvious to them, but they may not be able to actually pinpoint the areas of weakness.

If asked, young people with HFA will tell you that they are different from their friends and siblings. Their friends and siblings also notice the differences. It can be difficult to live with and understand a youngster with HFA. It can be tough for all involved.

You should be completely honest with all your kids about HFA. The youngster who has this disorder needs to understand the condition in age-appropriate context. Your “neurotyical” kids need to know about HFA so that they will be able to support their brother as much as possible.

Educate yourself about HFA so you can share the details with everyone involved with your child (e.g., teachers, pastors, youth workers, etc.). Contact your local Autism society chapter and ask for information on the disorder and also about the events in your area that they sponsor. Ask about support group sessions and educational events for the affected child’s brothers and sisters.

Speak with the special education staff at your son’s school about resources that can assist in explaining HFA to your youngster and his siblings, as well as information that will help you discuss HFA with your extended family.

You can find a lot of information on the Internet. The Autism Society and other Autism support organizations have websites chock-full of information and materials for families affected by HFA. Other websites offer testimonials and products produced by people with HFA, families affected by HFA, and professionals trained to treat the challenges associated with HFA.

Your kids will be more comfortable when they know exactly what having HFA means. They will see that while there are challenges to overcome, there are also numerous strengths associated with this disorder.

For more in-depth information about how to explain HFA and AS to “neurotypical” siblings, go to this post: Explaining Aspergers To Your Neurotypical Children


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

Click here to read the full article…

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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.

Click here for the full article...

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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.

Click here to read the full article…

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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."

Click here to read the full article…

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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.

Click here
to read the full article...

------------------------------------------------------------

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...


 PARENTS' COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Google the Arthur tv episode
•    Anonymous said... I agree and do the same with my daughter Kristin... I pray every day ... She's my heart and soul ..
•    Anonymous said... I treat my son no different than anyone else, and expose him to as much as he can, to experience life, and not hold him back. He's expected to pull his own weight at home and has certain responsibilities.
•    Anonymous said... We talk about how our brains work differently, so my daughters might think my son is saying or doing something that is unusual to them. I point out that he feels the same way about them sometimes too and we all need to accept we are different. It doesn't make anyone wrong, just not the same. They all know that he has to work at understanding society's rules but doesn't get it right all the time and that's ok. Good luck with it all
•    Anonymous said... What I tell people is that my son struggles with social skills, just like Jimmy may struggle in math or Lucy struggles in English. Everybody has a hard time with something, and ---- has a hard time with social skills. The parents in our neighborhood asked how to explain it to their kids, and this seems to work. My son is really good at scholastics, so I would point that out and then say that he has to practice social skills just like Jimmy has to practice his math skills. I hope this helps. Good luck to you.

*   Anonymous said... We had a great experience reading "Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome?" with our 8-year-old Aspie. We've talked a lot over the years about differences people have in learning, in strengths and weaknesses, in friendship and emotional control. We got the diagnosis shortly before his 7th birthday and have recently felt ready to give him a name for it. This book was great, and I wrote out "Asperger Syndrome" "AS" "Aspie" and "Aspergian" for him on a piece of paper. He's asked us to use "Aspie."

Post your comment below…

School Refusal in Children with ASD

Question

What do you do if your 9 year old with high functioning autism is refusing to go to school ever again? Do I take her kicking and screaming? Home-school? What?

Answer

Some ASD (high-functioning autistic) kids experience fear or panic when they think about going to school in the morning. These kids may tell their moms and dads that they feel nauseous or have a headache, or may exaggerate minor physical complaints as an excuse not to go to school. 
 
When the ASD youngster or teen exhibits a developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from their home or from those to whom they are attached, they may be experiencing a Separation Anxiety Disorder. Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by the youngster exhibiting three or more of the following for a period of more than four weeks:
  1. persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures
  2. persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped)
  3. persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation
  4. persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home
  5. persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings
  6. recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  7. repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  8. repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation

 
In addition to the symptoms described above, ASD kids with an unreasonable fear of school may also:
  • display clinging behavior
  • fear being alone in the dark
  • feel unsafe staying in a room by themselves and frequently go check to find their parent or have a need to be able to see their parent (e.g., a teenager in a shopping mall who feels a lot of distress if they can't always see their parent may be exhibiting a symptom of separation anxiety)
  • have difficulty going to sleep
  • have exaggerated, unrealistic fears of animals, monster, burglars
  • have nightmares about being separated from their parent(s)
  • have severe tantrums when forced to go to school

School Refusal Warning Signs—

While one student may complain of headaches or stomachaches, another may refuse to get out of bed, while a third repeatedly gets "sick" and calls home during the school day. Symptoms can run the gamut and may even include combinations of behaviors. Here are some typical warning signs that an autistic youngster is suffering from school refusal disorder:

• Anxiety or panic attacks
• Depression
• Drug/alcohol use
• Failing grades
• Fatigue
• Frequent physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches
• Physical aggression or threats
• Risk-taking behavior
• Social problems

Many symptoms, particularly physical complaints, can mimic other disorders. When these occur in combination with a pattern of not attending school, a complete evaluation should be made by qualified professionals to determine whether a student has school refusal disorder or another psychological or possibly even a physical disorder.

Separation Anxiety Disorder can be exhausting and frustrating for the moms and dads to deal with, but it is worse for the autistic youngster who feels such intense fear and discomfort about going to school. If moms and dads are unable to get the youngster to school, the youngster may develop serious educational, emotional, and social problems. 
 

Because the anxiety is about separating from the parent (or attachment object), once the youngster or teen gets to school, they usually calm down and are OK. It's getting them there that is the real challenge.

School avoidance or school refusal may serve different functions in different kids or teenagers. For some ASD kids or teens, it may be the avoidance of specific fears or phobias triggered in the school setting (e.g., fear of school bathrooms due to contamination fears associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, fear of test-taking). For other kids or teenagers, it may serve to help them avoid or escape negative social situations (e.g., being bullied by peers, being teased , or having a very critical teacher).

When school refusal is anxiety-related, allowing the "special needs" youngster to stay home only worsens the symptoms over time, and getting the youngster back into school as quickly as possible is one of the factors that is associated with more positive outcomes. To do that, however, requires a multimodal approach that involves the student's physician, a mental health professional, the moms and dads, the student, and the school team. 
 
The same therapeutic modalities that are effective with Panic Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are also effective for school refusal, namely, exposure-response prevention (a form of cognitive-behavior therapy that may include relaxation training, cognitive alterations, and a graded hierarchy of steps towards the goal).

There is some research that suggests that education support therapy may be as effective as exposure therapy for treating school refusal. Working with the school psychologist, the student talks about their fears and is educated in the differences between fear, anxiety, and phobias. They learn to recognize the physical symptoms that are associated with each of these states and are given information to help them overcome their fears about attending school. 
 
The student is usually asked to keep a daily diary where they record their fears, thoughts (cognitions), strategies, and feelings about going to school. The time of day that they arrived at school is also recorded, and the record is reviewed each morning with the school psychologist. Although it might seem like a good idea to incorporate positive reinforcement for school attendance, that may backfire and merely increase the student's stress levels and anxiety. 
 

Parent training in strategies to work with the youngster in the home is also an important piece of any school-based plan to deal with the student with school refusal.

When it comes to school refusal, accommodating the youngster by letting them stay home is generally contraindicated, unless there are other issues. So what can moms and dads do? Here are some tips:

• A youngster's reluctance to go to school can be irritating to moms and dads. Expressing resentment and anger is counterproductive. And you won't feel the urge to do so if you adopt specific strategies to assist your youngster.

• Be open to hearing about how your youngster feels. However, lengthy discussions about the youngster's problems are not always helpful and can be experienced as a burden by the youngster. The focus must always be that you want to help your youngster be free of worries and fears.

• Do not deny the youngster's anxiety or worries, but acknowledge them and reassure him/her. For example: "I know you're worried I won't be there to pick you up, but there's no reason to worry. I'll be there."

• Do not quiz your child about why s/he feels scared. The youngster often does not know why. By not being able to provide an explanation, in addition to being anxious, the youngster feels guilty about not making sense of what is happening. Better to acknowledge that the fears make no sense and that the child has to fight them.

• It is most important to tell the Aspergers youngster exactly what s/he is to expect. There should be no "tricks" or surprises. For example, a youngster may be told that he should try to stay in school for only one hour, but after the hour he is encouraged or asked to stay longer either by the school or parent. This will backfire. The youngster will eventually refuse future arrangements for fear that they will be modified arbitrarily. Part of being anxious is anxiety about the unknown and the “what if?”.

• Punishment does not work, but kind, consistent, rational pressure and encouragement do.

• Try to find ways to enable the Aspergers youngster to go to school. For example, a youngster is likely to feel reassured if times are set for him or her to call the mother from school. In extreme cases, mothers may stay with the youngster in school, but for a specified length of time which is gradually reduced.

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

Click here to read the full article…

---------------------------------------------------------------

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...

--------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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...

------------------------------------------------------------

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...
 
------------------------------------------------------------
 
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.

Click here for the full article...


 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Elizabeth Munoz. Try Wowbutter. It looks and tastes exactly like peanut butter but is 100% soya beans. It was made for school bans. My daughter can't tell the difference. And for me, the best thing ever (I developed an allergy after being pregnant!)
•    Anonymous said… Food is a major issue with kids I packed muly kids much everyday :)) that's what you have to do but depends on school cause he only liked pb and j sandwiches and the school wouldn't aloud penut butter so yes it a very difficult situation with food it sucks ://
•    Anonymous said… Food plays a huge part in upsetting my son and not wanting to go in he is only six of friends run off and don't wait for him to go in for lunch he doesn't go in and it's gone un noticed by dinner ladies !!thats a long time to go without food:( breaks my heart ,if I brought him home for lunch I wouldn't get him back in and he struggles with being different and standing out !difficult situation!!
•    Anonymous said… I had no choice, she wasn't kicking and screaming but her mental health wasn't right, we were abroad, since then I've worked with children and have a better understanding of myself and others with autism. We used to have units attached to schools (Weymouth had one) they were brilliant with good teachers and teaching assistants and environmental was geared to needs. That's what we need, we need to be allowed to decide main stream isn't always the way.
•    Anonymous said… I had this problem with my son, who has HFA, a couple of years ago. In the end I had to make the decision to keep him home, untill a meetting was set up with school and health care professionals, to decide how to proceed for his best interests. The reason being, he has autism related food refusal, and during the time he was do distressed about going to school, his food refusal got so bad that he started losing weight and became iron deficient. It took 2 years to finally get him settled and happy at school.
•    Anonymous said… I spent nearly EVERY day of my sin's first grade year with him refusing to go to school. The school told me he'd have to go to "truancy school", with kids from junior high! I completely freaked out and fought back, but basically we just struggled through the miserable year. Second grade was better--his teacher was AMAZING! Made all the difference.
•    Anonymous said… In my experience, you can only take them 'kicking and screaming' for so long before it takes its toll on the physical and emotional health of everyone involved. It might be helpful to keep in mind that behavior IS communication. Even for kids with this school refusal disorder, they aren't doing this just to make our lives miserable. Sometimes the school setting or routine just doesn't work for every child. Thankfully there are plenty of alternative schooling options these days!
•    Anonymous said… My sons school is great with the food issue. They always make sure he has something for lunch that he will eat. The problem was, he didn't transition very well from daycare to school, (I live in Sweden). When he first started he was fine. But three months in, he could no longer hold it together and the big change took it's toll, and he almost stopped eating all together, and ended up on specially prescribed drinks.
•    Anonymous said… No. Don't take her kicking and screaming. Find out why the child doesn't want to go. Wish I had done this with my older son back about 15 yrs. ago. Now I homeschool my youngest. Something I really wished I had done with my middle son.
•    Anonymous said… There can be all kinds of reasons why children on the spectrum suffer at school, from communication problems (and that covers everything from feeling bullied to not having a clue what is happening in class or what is required of them) to sensory overload. The drip drip of fear, anxiety and confusion may not even come out in meltdowns at school. Schools frequently refuse to understand or make even the simplist of accomodations. Forcing human beings into a situation detrimental to their mental health and ruining educational opportunities is abuse. It's power play on the adult side to never listen and accept childrens feelings.
•    Anonymous said… There isn't enough xaxax in this world for me to try homeschooling.
•    Anonymous said… there's no one fit fix for all. Know your child, hear your child and love your child and you'll know what the kick n scream is about.
•    Anonymous said… Unless the child is being abused, "why" they have problems in school is irrelevant. They are engaged in a power play with you. Do not let them win. Take it from someone on the spectrum who has taught and worked with autistics for years.
•    Anonymous said… We had this with Aspergers son. We insisted he go. We regretted that when he had a big meltdown at school and an altercation with teachers. He must have had a reason for the refusal.
•    Anonymous said… Also the school being proactive and setting up these meetings yourself really helps because alot of times things will go faster and smoother with us really involved, I kinda am learning as I go.
•    Anonymous said… Don't put her through it... she may be losing much more than any wins......homeschool or special learning schools - small size classes small school.....
•    Anonymous said… Homeschool. Works for us.
•    Anonymous said… If you can, you change your life and take them out of school.
•    Anonymous said… In second grade my daughter begs to not have to go. She quit sleeping at night, vomited in the morning, cried getting out of the car at school. Teacher said all is fine. She got back in the car in the afternoon, started crying, vomited all the way home and has massive meltdowns until bedtime and then the cycle started over. She was fine in school according to the school. At six weeks in I pulled her to homeschool. She was evaluated with a high IQ, Aspergers, anxiety and depression. It's been three years and life is much better for her. She is coping successfully educationally, emotionally and with her anxiety.
•    Anonymous said… Is there a reason why the child is refusing? is child being bullied? Is child failing classes? Do you have a school that has a special ed department with small classes? i have a current 7th grader in public school. K-5 he was in regular classes. since 6st grade he has been in a special day class with minimal students. His teachers have taught special ed for years and work very well with him and the other students in the class. We are currently working on getting placement for high school as the public high schools do not seem to have small classes for our sensitive kids. We are mainly looking at charters/magnets that have special ed departments with small classes. While my son attended regular classes in elementary, we tried last year to put him into a regular class for two hours and it was a nightmare. He developed bad ocd which led us to medicate him...a HUGE mistake for us as it made him violent.
•    Anonymous said… My 13 year old has aspergers and high anxiety. She was bullied at school, and I just couldn't send her back. We discovered K12 online schools. We have done it for 2 years now, and it is working for us.  :)
•    Anonymous said… My daughter is 9 and ad the yrs went on it got harder and nearly impossible to get her to school. I had to resort to homeschooling to stabilize the situation get her evaluated, take a break and get proper personalised tools in place to help her feel comfortable going to school. The school referred an aid from a program that would come an hour before school and go with her to school and stay for 2 more hours with her. That helped her atleast try school again but she still was off and on about school. Then we got an IEP and she has daily access to the special education room even though she's super smart. Ever since she has been able to go to the special education room she has been going to school since it's been about a week but she's doing good and that may be the key for her to be calm and go.
•    Anonymous said… My oldest is 14 and we have a 11 yr old too. They both refused to go to school and disliked it. I literally have took them both, carried them, crying and screaming. I had enough. How can they be learning? We have homeschooled for 4 years. Things are so much better. Not worth their anxiety and stress for my "quiet" time.
•    Anonymous said… My son is high functioning autistic.. The beginning of the school year was super rough...The first couple of weeks we had to drive him and take him in kicking and screaming (transitioning is not our strong point) but once he got used to going back he was fine.. Hes in 5th grade we have an IEP in place he eats lunch in the office and if hes having a rough morning he goes into the Deans office and hangs out with him.
•    Anonymous said… Not if you want to maintain a trusting relationship with your child. They aren't mucking up. It seems that this is pretty classic for our special kids (including mine). The school refusal is a cry for help and letting you know the current situation isn't working. Dragging her kicking and screaming will just traumatise her further and fracture the trust she has in your relationship with her. From my perspective no education is worth that. See if you can find another option for her that suits her needs better.
•    Anonymous said… Same issue here but a long time ago now. Oliver didn't see why he had to go to school but I pointed out it was the law and if he didn't go to school I would have to go to prison. He accepted this and went to school because he didn't want me to go to prison. Of course it depends on your relationship. I know some children who would see this as a bonus. He did continue to argue the point on a regular basis but I would remind him that it was the 'rule'.
•    Anonymous said… Same with mine but we had to support this by discussion during periods of calm. This included the odd occasion when we 'agreed' to his having a day off from school BUT he would have to go along with my plans for the day including stuff like shopping (which he hated). Oliver knew I had to go to work to pay for his food and computer stuff etc and essentially learned to rationalise his own thinking to accept the status quo. He continued to hate school but accepted the rules.
•    Anonymous said… Same with my 10yo Asperger's son. We started homeschooling this year. Perfect for our situation:)
•    Anonymous said… She was homeschooled for about 7 months this school yr during the whole process. She has asbergers, anxiety and adult defiant disorder.
•    Anonymous said… This works for some kids and worked with mine for a little while. My sons anxiety was too high to be able to make rational decisions once he was in a heightened state.
•    Anonymous said… You really have to be their advocate. So many untrained individuals that don't really understand our kids. Believe your kids more. My daughter is now in her twenties and out of frustrations of not knowing how to handle the spectrum as a whole a lot of abuse takes place. Which of course comes in many forms so can be very discouraging for our kids. Over the years some were caught and fired. It's really about having a heart to want to work with them with proper training. Stay strong and love and encourage them. They need us.


Post your comment below…

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for May, 2017]

Do you need some assistance in parenting your Aspergers or HFA child? Click here to use Mark Hutten, M.A. as your personal parent coach.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Mark, all the way from little old New Zealand.. We have just recently come across your online support group and so many things ring true to what we are going through at the moment with our Miss 14 ( we've been in a living nightmare for the last year and a half )
And no light at the end if the tunnel. we have almost given up.  I get called a f***ing whore, s**t, b**ch on a daily basis, get food thrown over me, over walls, floors etc telling me how disgusting the food  I make is. That stuff is only the start of it.   She has currently decided that we, her parents, are the worst people in the world and has run away to stay with her also 14 year old boyfriend and his family.  We have told her we love her, but this time it is her choice to make. She either wants to be here, or she doesn't.  That this time, we won't stop her, no police etc, and that she can come home when she is ready.  As long as she's ready to to start making a change and also making an effort. It's been almost 2 weeks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Basically, my son is non-violent, very lovely, smiley, very well-behaved [loves to co-operate & collaborate] & we can see how he tries hard to be calm & open to correction. All the adults invariably love him for his behaviour & purity of thought. Even his carer said she absolutely loves him & he won role model of the year because he is caring, kind & self-controlled from intensive 1 on 1 training. Yet, he has no social skills & always tell the truth 100% of the time however tactless.

I find coaching him social skills very difficult as he's only an enthusiastic listener at his own familiar home. Outside of what is thoroughly familiar like being comfortable at home & with adults, he days dreams & fails to listen when youngsters talk about anything that is not within his sphere of obsessive interest - he zones out... another world. This zone-out inability to listen to a turn-taking conversation frustratingly for all but himself happens almost all the time. If you play/talk snooker/music with him, he would take turns, easily, no problem. He would not zone out but how many youths love snooker as obsessively or plays as much music as he does? None. He has not met any. Not even one - his age.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We are looking for a therapist for our son to also help him as we go through the process. We live in Alpharetta GA in case you know of anyone. We have a very high functioning son and somehow we have forgotten in the process that he has Aspergers. He is now 16 and after two years of fighting with him, we are just now realizing that while he has grown so much,  he still has areas that we need to focus. I feel terribly that we did not realize this before.

He is in a college prep program and really doing extremely well, but here is my question. The environment he in at 16 is stressful, he is making friends and doing well in classes. But home life is full of melt downs and challenges. He hides out in his room and will not talk to us about any issues or conversations so we cannot help him. He truly dislikes being told he is different and hates it when we tell him he has any social or emotional challenges. Do we continue to push him to understand his limitations  - so he understands he still needs to partner with us? He doesn’t want to be considered different and thinks that HFA means he is not smart or able. I have not been able to change this perception for him at all. Thoughts? Advice?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello Mark,

I am a single mom with a 15 years old son.  I had triplets which are 22 all scholar and athletic. I home school them for several years and had never had an issue.  My  younger son on the other hand always been an issue with school, social and activities.  He was diagnose with ADHD at 9 years old.  I have been able to help him with school until this year.  He just started high school and struggle to get a "d" he is failing 9th grade.  I am getting lots of pressure from
My ex and the other children. They are telling me I am too soft not disciplinary enough.  I see my son with so
Much anxiety that I don't want to add to it.  I don't know what else to do with him.  We had several session with a counselor and she mention to have him
Tested for asperger.  I have to wait until August for insurance to pay for it but when I read the symptom, He has at least 75% of it.  So now I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I thought I was going crazy for a while. He doesn't do  anything that I tell him. He doesn't want any of my help.  I just need a little direction since this is new to me.  I will buy your audio book tonight.  If you have any other advise, it would be awesome.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My friend teen daughter is way out of control.  Besides trying blackmail to get what she want now she is cutting and uses the excuse that she is being abused at home.. I know that she is not being abused. Example last week she came home drunk after her curfew.  Her mother scolded her for drinking so she went to her room and cut her wrists if her mother had not heard her fall to the floor she would have bleed to death.  When the police questioned her she told them that she was being abused now the mother faces losing not only one child but her youngest daughter also.  The teen refuses to go to any consoling.   It appears that the police only believe the teen on what is going on.  I have even talked to them and they do not seem to listen to anyone but the teen.

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Dear Mark:
I have been following your website for months now hoping that someone would ask about helping their child through retirement. My wife and I are "late in life" parents to a beautiful 12 year old aspie daughter. My wife is a teacher and I a hospital chaplain. Our daughter has, according to her specialist, abilities with communication, empathy, compassion and the arts that are not often seen. She still struggles socially but is better than most.

My wife within the last week has been told by a neurosurgeon that she must have a complex cervical fusion surgery that will likely impact her voice and so he recommends retirement due to that and the recovery time necessary. She has decided to retire early to give herself the best chance at a good recovery. However, our daughter is transitioning from the private elementary school across town to the middle school where my wife used to teach and she expects that her mother is going to be there next year.

Question - how do you tell a pre-teen aspie that the dream that they have had is now not going to happen and that it is nobody's fault? My daughter has never been the type to be ultra angry or violent but I can see that this is going to be a real difficult situation for all of us with a possibility of huge fall out. what are your suggestions?

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Once again I am reaching out to a discrete group of clinicians with experience in evaluating or treating young men with ASD who were charged criminally for engaging in inappropriate  behavior, typically online viewing of child pornography. I am a criminal defense lawyer.  Over the past decade, I have become increasingly involved, directly or indirectly, in defending these young men.   

 I need to get the benefit of collective experiences on a question, hopefully in a way that only puts a small burden on you, but which may provide enormous help to a present clients.  I am only asking around in the belief that it may be possible to provide what I need without spending a great deal of time. 

I am currently working on a cases initially involving a young men with ASD who was arrested for  viewing child pornography.  However when being interrogated he volunteered that several years earlier he had touched a much younger niece under her underwear.  That is difficult enough to deal with.  But see what happened at the time and how it affected the cop: 

During this interview as he would recall the specific details he would smile uncontrollably and giggle. It was only during the time he was talking about the actual sexual assaults of the child. It was actually disturbing even to me as he went over the two assaults. What was disturbing specifically was the smile and laughter, the apparent satisfaction while in the moment of the assault. It was clear that he was reliving the moment and it was bringing him satisfaction while explaining it to me . . . He said ‘even going over what I’ve done I don’t consider myself what the TV calls sexual predators. I’m not going after kids.’ I then said ‘yeah you’re not ripping kids out of your neighborhood and tying them up in your basement.’ When I said that he got really excited and giggled with a huge smile from ear to ear and said ‘no.’ This actually was so disturbing to me that I had to move my chair away from him and stand up. . .  .  I then asked him what would prevent him from touching any other children in the future, he just again smiled and giggled . . . At this point I confronted him and told him that it was disturbing to me that he giggled and appeared excited when we were talking about assaulting little girls. He agreed that he could ‘see how it would be disturbing.’ I then explained that it was disturbing and scary to me that when I talked about touching other little girls that he was smiling and giggling, clearly excited. He responded ‘yeah that’s bad.’”   

This is a perfect and catastrophic example of misinterpreting someone with ASD because of their inappropriate facial expressions. Of course the clinical and family history confirms that smirking, etc. is the way he reacts under stress or when being criticized, a very common experience. However, if not explained to the satisfaction of the prosecutor and judge, I see no chance of avoiding a criminal conviction and sex offender registration and substantial jail time. 

I would like to provide as many examples as I can this kind of misunderstanding.  So I am looking for examples in literature, or from clinical practices of individuals who have had similar problems, especially with the police,  that I can use as examples.  And whatever useful information I get I will try to make it available to other defense lawyers seeking to help the same population. 

As you can see from the attached, I am relying on fairly general stuff, in literature and individual reports from individuals on web sites like Wrong Planet.  I need something more.  Any technical additions or references you can think of for me to add, I would appreciate greatly. 

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My 10 year old daughter was abused in fostercare before i adopted her. I have had her most of her life but by age 5 her behavior was more than tipical 5 year old behavior. By age 10 she was diagnosed as having RAD. She is having trouble at home, school and any place that she is not allowed to be totally in control. Is there help for her to ever be able to cope with the rules of living in the real world? Since there is no medicine that will help her the psychiatrist discharged her and in her DC comment she let me know there is alternate housing when and if it becomes more than i can handle.  
I'm not looking for an alternative I'm  looking for perminant help for my child.

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Dear Mark,
              I have sought out help throughout the web and you seem to be the only one that can offer me advice. For that i am thankful. My 15 year old son seems to think that his physical motions upon me is the only manner inwhich he can gain control of me. Recently, he picked up a pair of scissors and began marking up my wife's dresser. I asked him to stop but he refused to do so. I then took his hands and raised them. Upon doing so, he managed to strike me with the scissors in his hand to my right eye. I went to emergency and was taken care of. Afterwards, he muttered death threats against me. I am 57 and i was raised properly. I have always leaned on what was right. I now know that my son smokes pot. Weather or not he has done other drugs i am uncertain. We currently have CAS involved but they do not help me despite me asking. I also have called the police yet again, without assistance. How or where do i proceed?

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Good morning. I am now re-reading your ebook as my marriage has hit a downswing again. My husband and I have tried therapy in the past and it was a complete nightmare, and then for several years he refused to go. When our one son (he is 5 now) became diagnosed with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Sensory Processing, it became very clear to me that my husband is also likely on the spectrum. Additionally, my husband's ex-wife who is still close to our family (mainly through our children and sharing blended family holidays) sent me an article a few years ago on living with a partner with Aspergers and told me that her marriage to my husband now makes perfect sense to her. After reading that article and literature afterward that I so closely identified with, it was as if I could have written the article myself. Anyway, back in July of 2016 after threatening to separate from my husband and actually meaning it, my husband agreed to go back to a therapist with me to work on our communication issues (is as if we speak completely different languages and live on different planets). I brought up autism spectrum to my husband as possible reasoning for our communication difficulties and my opinion of this was not taken well at all, so I put that to rest as long as we were still progressing toward getting some professional help with or without a diagnosis. I did however chose a marriage and family therapist that was on my son's treatment recommendation list hoping he might be better equipped to bridge communication difficulties of couples both on and off spectrum better than a traditional therapist. The therapist is a Gottman therapist (John Gottman Model). So far we have made quite a bit of progress in how we communicate and relate to one another (going every two weeks or so) and have read the major Gottman text, but even still we get into cycles of arguments where the downswings are almost unbearable. I love my husband and don't want to separate, but we also need to be able to apply the tools we have been given consistently to maintain more peace in our home than not and have an emotionally stable environment for ourselves and our kids. When I am asked to share my feelings by him and do, my feelings are met with much resistance and I'm accused of criticizing him and trying to hurt him. He will act like he cares and shows concern until I tel him my actual feelings and then he gets angry and tells me that he is unaffected by me and what I think of him and tells me he doesn't feel empathy for me. I do not understand my husband. We were high school sweethearts too (didn't understand him then and don't now either). I find myself getting very offended by my husband and how he talks to me (or doesn't speak to me) and I don't want to be offended and anxious so much of the time, but I just am. 

So, my questions to you are- 1.) in your professional opinion as a therapist and expert on couples on and off spectrum- Can couples make substantial progress without a diagnosis because it is not likely my husband will ever be professionally diagnosed, as "I am the one with the problem that needs to change, not him." He seems to think that being labeled with ASD is some sort of character flaw that he couldn't bear and I'm awful and abusive to even mention it as a possibility. I willingly go to my psychiatrist for my ADHD meds and go to my own personal therapist as needed or in times of situational crisis. He is perfectly supportive of my son's diagnosis, but even mentioning a possible diagnosis for him appears to be out of the question. So, I want to know if we are wasting our time in therapy without a diagnosis? Please, please, please advise. Thank you so much.

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Hello Mark
Do you have suggestions for helping parents in the launching process of  a 36 yo individual dx with Asperger’s who has a team around him of professional supports but he refuses to share information with the parents.  The parents see the same behavior in the home and wonders why he is not working and not moving out?  He appears capable but complains of anxiety and says he is getting support for 15 years?  How can the parent differentiate between narcissim, entitlement, or ordinary fears of adulating  -- between the challenges of Asperger’s? They are frustrated acting on their own without being kept in the loop.  They have fears if they ask their son to leave the family home they may find him lying in the streets.  I can’t imagine why they would leave the parents out of the loop of care plan, unless the son is  happily living the life he has chosen without having to take the responsibility of moving forward.
We recently attended a conference with Temple Grandin and other then saying “tell him to go work”, I didn’t find her suggestions very helpful.  This is a more complex question.   The parents often encourage him to go get work work and have found him many jobs but he says the jobs are just too stressful.  They feel unsafe or fearful for him when they consider pushing him.  They don’t know enough about his experiences to make a rational decision towards launching.  Nor do they have support.  Unfortunately, there is no support for parents here for adults dx with Asperger’s.   Just thought you might have some suggestions.

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My brother, a minister, and his wife adopted a baby 13 years ago
Joshua's mother was on drugs and drank
He was born 3 months premature and no one knew what could happen

He has Asbergers
Is very smart with electronics
Reads well but has no comprehension skills

He doesn't listen well to his parents
He explodes and has no control
He has no social skills

My sister-in-law has been taking him to Massachusetts to an organization that works with brain waves ... it is costly and I have not seen much progress

Can he have a normal life
He has been home schooled along with going to christian schools but neither has been too helpful - he doesn't listen to his mother and gets frustrated at school which makes him explode at home

My brother doesn't make a lot of money
my sister-in-law won't send Joshua to a public school in Bethlehem as they live in the inner city ... therefore he has not been getting much interaction with other kids or school

Are there public schools that can be helpful and how do you find them

Do you know anything about organizations that say they can help readjust the brain through various lessons ... if might be something for the future but now I think it is just taking money from parents who are desperate

I worry that Joshua will get worse as he gets older and though he has a loving family, he doesn't respond well ... he knows he is adopted and wishes a rich family had adopted him

I wish there was something that can help these kids ... more so with the anger issues

I don't know if you have any suggestions, but anything you say would be appreciated.


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Hi Mark:
I am actually not a parent!  I am a defense attorney representing a client in federal court with documented diagnoses of Aspergers and PTSD, and I turned to your resource manual for some insight.  My client definitely demonstrates the Weak Central Coherence and Executive Dysfunction you describe.  And the problem for him is that his probation officer and federal judge ascribe a level of malice and criminality to his thinking that I believe is far better explained by aspects of his Aspergers, which were never really addressed at home by his mother, who falls squarely into your “Indulgent” category of parenting.

I can see how my client drives the court and probation department crazy.  But I fear they are simply locked in an unnecessary and punitive power struggle with him, instead of being willing to tailor his conditions of probation to his disorder.

I would really love to chat with you informally about this, just so I can incorporate some of these concepts into the presentation of my client’s case at his probation revocation hearing, which is coming up.  If there is a time when you could schedule a 20 min. call that would be terrific.

Thanks for your work in this area.  You are, no doubt, preventing more youngsters with spectrum disorders from entering into the criminal justice system.
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We have a very difficult teen, I have some areas to improve and now understand why some things I do are working.
My husband who works away is going to read this and hopefully be consistent in applying this as well.

This is one of our problems we parent different. Mike disaplines  in anger but hopefully we can work together now and be consistent to bring change.

My big question is.
The three areas my
Son has his down falls in is
1. Speaking disrespectly to other kids and other adults.
2. Lying and being so convincing it hard to find the truth ( some times he is very honest and other times very dishonest)
3. Eats junk food and lying he is only having a bit when it's more ( so lying)

I have trying many things but find it hard when I don't have solid evident he is lying.

What and what do I deal with first 
The disrespect or the lying.

He is on the brink of getting kick out the only school I think he could cope with and being a single parent 7 months of the year ( husband works away)
I don't think I could handle homeschooling him
Again. 

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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