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

Is 'high functioning' autism simply a different way of perceiving and relating to people?

That remains to be seen, is the short answer here (and it's certainly an interesting idea). Some people do believe that High-Functioning Autism (HFA) is indeed nothing more than a “different way of thinking” (i.e., a variation of "normal"). This notion is quite believable due to the fact that everyone has some characteristics of the "disorder." All the traits that typify HFA - and Asperger's - can be found in varying degrees in the “typical” population.

For example, collecting objects (rocks, stamps, old glass bottles, etc.) are socially accepted hobbies; individuals differ in their levels of skill in social interaction and in their ability to read nonverbal social cues; people who are capable and independent as grown-ups have special interests that they pursue with marked enthusiasm; and, there is an equally wide distribution in motor skills.

As with any disorder identifiable only from a pattern of “abnormal” behavior (with each trait varying in degrees of severity), it is possible to find numerous individuals on the borderlines of Asperger’s and HFA whose diagnosis is particularly difficult. While the usual case can be recognized with ease by professionals with experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders, in practice, the disorder blends into eccentric normality and into certain other clinical pictures. Until more is known about the underlying mechanism at play, it should be accepted that no precise cut-off points can be defined. 

As an experiment, take a moment to scan through the following traits associated with Asperger’s and HFA (count the number of traits that apply to you)...

Social traits of Asperger’s and HFA include:
  1. Abrupt and strong expression of likes and dislikes
  2. Apparent absence of relaxation, recreational, or “time out” activities
  3. Bizarre sense of humor (often stemming from a “private” internal thread of humor being inserted in public conversation without preparation or warming others up to the reason for the “punchline”)
  4. Bluntness in emotional expression
  5. Constant anxiety about performance and acceptance, despite recognition and commendation
  6. Difficulty in accepting criticism or correction
  7. Difficulty in distinguishing between acquaintance and friendship
  8. Difficulty in forming friendships and intimate relationships
  9. Difficulty in offering correction or criticism without appearing harsh, pedantic or insensitive
  10. Difficulty in perceiving and applying unwritten social rules or protocols
  11. Difficulty judging others’ personal space
  12. Difficulty with adopting a social mask to obscure real feelings, moods, reactions
  13. Difficulty with reciprocal displays of pleasantries and greetings
  14. Discomfort manipulating or “playing games” with others
  15. Excessive talk
  16. Failure to distinguish between private and public personal care habits (e.g., brushing, public attention to skin problems, nose picking, teeth picking, ear canal cleaning, clothing arrangement)
  17. Flash temper
  18. Flat affect
  19. Immature manners
  20. Known for single-mindedness
  21. Lack of trust in others
  22. Limited by intensely pursued interests
  23. Limited clothing preference (e.g., discomfort with formal attire or uniforms)
  24. Low or no conversational participation in group meetings or conferences
  25. Low to medium level of paranoia
  26. Low to no apparent sense of humor
  27. Often perceived as “being in their own world”
  28. Pouting frequently
  29. Preference for bland or bare environments in living arrangements
  30. Problems expressing empathy or comfort to/with others (e.g., sadness, condolence, congratulations)
  31. Rigid adherence to rules and social conventions where flexibility is desirable
  32. Ruminating (i.e., fixating on bad experiences with people or events for an inordinate length of time)
  33. Scrupulous honesty, often expressed in an apparently disarming or inappropriate manner or setting
  34. Serious all the time
  35. Shyness
  36. Social isolation and intense concern for privacy
  37. Tantrums
  38. Unmodulated reaction in being manipulated, patronized, or “handled” by others
  1. Anxiety
  2. Bad or unusual personal hygiene
  3. Balance difficulties
  4. Clumsiness
  5. Depression
  6. Difficulty expressing anger (i.e., either excessive or “bottled up”)
  7. Difficulty in judging distances, height, depth
  8. Difficulty in recognizing others’ faces (i.e., prosopagnosia)
  9. Difficulty with initiating or maintaining eye contact
  10. Elevated voice volume during periods of stress and frustration
  11. Flat or monotone vocal expression (i.e., limited range of inflection)
  12. Gross or fine motor coordination problems
  13. Low apparent sexual interest
  14. Nail-biting
  15. Self-injurious or disfiguring behaviors
  16. Sleep difficulties
  17. Stims (i.e., self-stimulatory behavior serving to reduce anxiety, stress, or to express pleasure)
  18. Strong food preferences and aversions
  19. Strong sensory sensitivities (e.g., touch and tactile sensations, sounds, lighting and colors, odors, taste
  20. Unusual and rigidly adhered to eating behaviors
  21. Unusual gait, stance, posture
  22. Verbosity

Cognitive traits of Asperger’s and HFA include:
  1. An apparent lack of “common sense”
  2. Compelling need to finish one task completely before starting another
  3. Concrete thinking
  4. Dependence on step-by-step learning procedures (note: disorientation occurs when a step is assumed, deleted, or otherwise overlooked in instruction)
  5. Difficulty in assessing cause and effect relationships (e.g., behaviors and consequences)
  6. Difficulty in assessing relative importance of details (an aspect of the trees/forest problem)
  7. Difficulty in drawing relationships between an activity or event and ideas
  8. Difficulty in estimating time to complete tasks
  9. Difficulty in expressing emotions
  10. Difficulty in generalizing
  11. Difficulty in imagining others’ thoughts in a similar or identical event or circumstance that are different from one’s own (“theory of mind” issues)
  12. Difficulty in interpreting meaning to others’ activities
  13. Difficulty in learning self-monitoring techniques
  14. Difficulty in understanding rules for games of social entertainment
  15. Difficulty with organizing and sequencing (i.e., planning and execution; successful performance of tasks in a logical order)
  16. Disinclination to produce expected results in an orthodox manner
  17. Distractibility due to focus on external or internal sensations, thoughts, and/or sensory input (e.g., appearing to be in a world of one’s own or day-dreaming)
  18. Exquisite attention to detail, principally visual, or details which can be visualized (“thinking in pictures”) or cognitive details (often those learned by rote)
  19. Extreme reaction to changes in routine, surroundings, people
  20. Generalized confusion during periods of stress
  21. Impulsiveness
  22. Insensitivity to the non-verbal cues of others (e.g., stance, posture, facial expressions)
  23. Interpreting words and phrases literally (e.g., problem with colloquialisms, clichés, neologism, turns of phrase, common humorous expressions)
  24. Literal interpretation of instructions (e.g., failure to read between the lines)
  25. Low understanding of the reciprocal rules of conversation (e.g., interrupting, dominating, minimum participation, difficult in shifting topics, problem with initiating or terminating conversation, subject perseveration)
  26. Mental shutdown response to conflicting demands and multi-tasking
  27. Missing or misconstruing others’ agendas, priorities, preferences
  28. Perseveration best characterized by the term “bulldog tenacity”
  29. Poor judgment of when a task is finished (often attributable to perfectionism or an apparent unwillingness to follow differential standards for quality)
  30. Preference for repetitive, often simple routines
  31. Preference for visually oriented instruction and training
  32. Psychometric testing shows great deviance between verbal and performance results
  33. Rage, tantrum, shutdown, self-isolating reactions appearing “out of nowhere”
  34. Relaxation techniques and developing recreational “release” interest may require formal instruction
  35. Resistance to or failure to respond to talk therapy
  36. Rigid adherence to rules and routines
  37. Stilted, pedantic conversational style (“the little professor” concept)
  38. Substantial hidden self-anger, anger towards others, and resentment
  39. Susceptibility to distraction
  1. Avoids socializing or small talk, on and off the job
  2. Deliberate withholding of peak performance due to belief that one’s best efforts may remain unrecognized, unrewarded, or appropriated by others
  3. Difficult in starting project
  4. Difficult with unstructured time
  5. Difficulty in accepting compliments, often responding with quizzical or self-deprecatory language
  6. Difficulty in handling relationships with authority figures
  7. Difficulty in negotiating either in conflict situations or as a self-advocate
  8. Difficulty with “teamwork”
  9. Difficulty with writing and reports
  10. Discomfort with competition
  11. Excessive questions
  12. Great concern about order and appearance of personal work area
  13. Intense pride in expertise or performance, often perceived by others as “flouting behavior”
  14. Low motivation to perform tasks of no immediate personal interest
  15. Low sensitivity to risks in the environment to self and/or others
  16. Often viewed as vulnerable or less able to resist harassment and badgering by others
  17. Out-of-scale reactions to losing
  18. Oversight or forgetting of tasks without formal reminders (e.g., lists or schedules)
  19. Perfectionism
  20. Punctual and conscientious
  21. Reliance on internal speech process to “talk” oneself through a task or procedure
  22. Reluctance to accept positions of authority or supervision
  23. Reluctance to ask for help or seek comfort
  24. Sarcasm, negativism, criticism
  25. Slow performance
  26. Stress, frustration and anger reaction to interruptions
  27. Strong desire to coach or mentor newcomers
  28. Tendency to “lose it” during sensory overload, multitask demands, or when contradictory and confusing priorities have been set
  29. Very low level of assertiveness

If you were honest with yourself, you found that many of the traits listed above directly apply to you. Does that mean you are technically located somewhere on the autism spectrum? Some will argue that the answer to that question is a profound “yes.” Also, many professionals are now noticing that the younger population (approximately ages 5 – 25) is becoming more “autistic-like” due to their significant obsession with digital devices (e.g., iPhones, iPads, computers, etc.).

These young people are literally (a) living in an altered reality (i.e., digital rather than real life experience), (b) spending inordinate amounts of time with their “special interest,” and (c) engaging in far fewer face-to-face social interactions – all of which are considered autistic traits. So, is autism on the rise, or are there simply more “normal” people engaging in “autistic-like” behavior (in the higher-functioning form)?

To complicate the matter of coming to an accurate diagnosis even further, there is the issue of “differential diagnosis.” For example, the lack of empathy, single-mindedness, odd communication, social isolation and over-sensitivity of individuals with Asperger’s and HFA are features that are also included in the definitions of Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD).

To demonstrate this point, I had a client (19 year-old male) diagnosed with SPD who had no friends at college, he was odd and awkward in social interaction, always had difficulty with speech, never took part in rough games, was oversensitive, and very unhappy being away from home. He thought-out incredible digital inventions and, together with his younger brother, invented a detailed imaginary world. Sounds like Asperger’s – doesn’t it?

There is no question that HFA and Asperger’s can be viewed as a form of Schizoid Personality; however, the question is whether this grouping is of any value. The capacity to withdraw into an inner world of one's own special interests is available in a greater or lesser measure to everyone. This skill MUST be present in those who are highly creative (e.g., inventors, artists, scientists, etc.).

However, the difference between an individual with Asperger’s or HFA and the “typical” individual who has a complex inner world is that the latter DOES take part appropriately in two-way social interaction at times, while the former does NOT. Also, the “typical” individual, no matter how elaborate her inner world, is influenced by her social experiences, while the individual with Asperger’s or HFA seems cut-off from the effects of outside contacts.

Many “typical” grown-ups have excellent rote memories – and even retain eidetic imagery into adult life. Pedantic speech and a tendency to take things literally can also be found in “typical” individuals. Some individuals could be classified as having Asperger’s or HFA because they are at the extreme end of the normal continuum on all these traits. In other people, one particular characteristic may be so marked that it affects the whole of their functioning.

Even though Asperger’s and HFA do appear to merge into the normal continuum, there are many cases where the difficulties are so striking that the suggestion of a distinct disorder seems to be a more credible explanation than a “variant of normality.”

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

Aspergers and Self-Diagnosis

Aspergers was not officially added to the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1994, with the release of the DSM-IV. Prior to the inclusion of Aspergers, the only autism spectrum diagnosis available to clinicians was autistic disorder.

This lack of diverse diagnostic criteria led to a generation of kids growing up with obviously Aspergers traits but no diagnosis. As the public began to learn more about the various autism spectrum disorders, many grown-ups with these unique qualities began to self-diagnose themselves with Aspergers.

Symptoms of Aspergers—

Autistic disorder, PDD-NOS, and Aspergers share similar diagnostic characteristics. According to WebMd, symptoms of Aspergers include social impairments, restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, and strict adherence to rituals and routines. However, people with Aspergers may not have experienced delays in language or cognitive development.

These symptoms may have left kids with labels like odd, quirky, or socially aloof. Once Aspergers was added to the DSM-IV as a separate pervasive development disorder, clinicians were able to apply a diagnostic label to these kids.

Weird Adults—

When information about Aspergers became more readily available, adults that were once considered quirky or that had received a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder may have been intrigued by the characteristics of people with Aspergers.

Reading through a list of the common traits of Asperger people, one may find himself nodding his head in agreement. To help in identifying the symptoms of Aspergers in oneself, several online tools were created.

The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ Test)—

While there may be several online Aspergers tests available, the Autism Spectrum Quotient is one of the most well respected tools. Simon Baron-Cohen, a noted Cambridge psychologist and expert in the field of Aspergers, created the AQ Test. Baron-Cohen operates the Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service, which is dedicated to meeting the needs of grow-ups with Aspergers.

The AQ Test features 50 questions to help adults evaluate their own autistic traits. Questions on the test address a person’s social aptitude, repetitive behaviors, narrow interests, adherence to routines, and other traits common among adults with Aspergers. During the first trial period of the AQ Test, 80% of adults with an actual autism spectrum diagnosis recorded scores of 32 or higher.

While the AQ Test isn’t an actual diagnostic tool, many adults use this to help self-diagnose themselves with Aspergers. It is important to note that while the test may be helpful in identifying autistic traits, individuals that feel they may be on the autism spectrum should seek an evaluation by a professional experienced with adults with an autism spectrum disorder.

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

The Traits of High-Functioning Autism: Fact Sheet

Is there a detailed list of traits associated with high functioning autism that we can use as a gauge to see whether or not to have our child assessed?

A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's often has many of the following traits:
  1. Has a different form of introspection and self-consciousness
  2. Has a fascination with a topic that is unusual in intensity or focus
  3. Takes longer to process social information due to using intelligence rather than intuition
  4. Needs assistance with some self-help and organizational skills
  5. Enjoys a very brief and low intensity expression of affection, and becomes confused or overwhelmed when greater levels of expression are experienced or expected
  6. Collects facts and figures about a specific topic
  7. Has a tendency to be considered disrespectful and rude by others
  8. Has a tendency to make a literal interpretation of what someone says
  9. Has an unusual profile of learning abilities
  10. Teachers often identify problems with organizational abilities, especially with homework assignments and essays
  11. Teachers soon recognize that the child has a distinctive learning style, being talented in understanding the logical and physical world, noticing details, and remembering and arranging facts in a systematic fashion
  12. Often has levels of anxiety, depression or anger that indicate a secondary mood disorder
  13. Can be easily distracted, especially in the classroom
  14. When problem solving, the child appears to have a one-track mind and a fear of failure
  15. Has a different, but not defective, way of thinking
  16. Is clumsy in terms of gait and coordination
  17. Has a delay in the development of the art of persuasion, compromise and conflict resolution
  18. Has delayed social maturity and social reasoning
  19. Has difficulty reading the messages in someone’s eyes
  20. Has difficulty making friends
  21. Is often teased by peers due to his/her “odd” mannerisms
  22. Has difficulty with the communication and control of emotions
  23. If the child with HFA is not successful socially at school, then academic success becomes more important as the primary motivation to attend school and for the development of self-esteem
  24. In adolescence, the interests can evolve to include electronics and computers, fantasy literature, science fiction, and a fascination with a particular person
  25. Much of the knowledge associated with the child's special interest is self-directed and self-taught
  26. Is vulnerable to feeling depressed, with about 1 in 3 HFA children having clinical depression
  27. Experiences physical and emotional exhaustion from socializing
  28. Has problems knowing when something may cause embarrassment to others
  29. Is remarkably honesty
  30. Has sensitivities to specific sounds, aromas, sights, tastes and touch 
  31. Can be immature in the development of the ability to catch, throw or kick a ball
  32. HFA girls often develop a special interest in fiction rather than facts 
  33. Often has academic abilities above his/her grade level
  34. Sometimes the special interest is a particular animal, and can be so intense that the child acts like the animal
  35. Has difficulties with handwriting
  36. Becomes hypervigilant, tense and distractible in sensory stimulating environments (e.g., in the classroom), unsure when the next painful sensory experience will occur
  37. The emotion management can be conceptualized as a problem with "energy management," specifically an excessive amount of emotional energy, and difficulty controlling and releasing the energy constructively
  38. Emotional maturity is usually at least three years behind that of his/her peers
  39. The special interest can be a source of enjoyment, knowledge, self-identity and self-esteem that can be constructively used by parents, teachers and therapists
  40. The most common sensory sensitivity is to very specific sounds
  41. There can be an under- or over- reaction to the experience of pain and discomfort
  42. The sense of balance, movement perception, and body orientation can be unusual
  43. May have a fixation on something neither human nor toy, or a fascination with a specific category of objects and the acquisition of as many examples as possible
  44. The child’s overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others
  45. The child is usually renowned for being direct, speaking his/her mind and being determined and having a strong sense of social justice
  46. The child may actively seek and enjoy solitude, be a loyal friend, and have a distinct sense of humor
  47. The child usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with "typical" children 
  48. The child values being creative rather than co-operative
  49. Can have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions
  50. May perceive errors that are not apparent to others, giving considerable attention to detail rather than noticing the “big picture”
  51. The child's special interest has several functions: to (a) create a sense of identity, (b) create an alternative world, (c) ensure greater predictability and certainty in life, (d) facilitate conversation and indicate intellectual ability, (e) help understand the physical world, (f) overcome anxiety, (g) provide pleasure, and (h) provide relaxation
  52. There seems to be two main categories of special interest: collections, and the acquisition of knowledge on a specific topic or concept
  53. Has a limited vocabulary to describe emotions, and a lack of subtlety and variety in emotional expression
  54. Tends to have a different perception of situations and sensory experiences
  55. May have problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others
  56. Unusual language abilities that include advanced vocabulary and syntax, but delayed conversation skills, unusual prosody, and a tendency to be pedantic
  57. Unusual or special interests can develop as early as age 2 to 3 years and may commence with a preoccupation with parts of objects (e.g., spinning the wheels of toy cars) or manipulating electrical switches
  58. HFA traits are more conspicuous in early childhood and gradually diminish during adolescence, but some traits remain throughout adulthood
  59. When one considers the attributes associated with the special interests, it is important to consider not only the benefits to the HFA child, but also the benefits to society
  60. The child’s coordination can be immature. and he/she may have a strange, sometimes idiosyncratic gait that lacks fluency and efficiency

If most of the traits above characterize your child, then an assessment by a qualified professional would be in order.

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

The Misdiagnosis of Children on the Autism Spectrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common misdiagnoses of gifted kids include:

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

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

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

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

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

Common concerns in gifted kids include:

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

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

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

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

Problems associated with the strengths of gifted children include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly Acclaimed Parenting Programs Offered by Online Parent Support, LLC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do you need the advice of a professional who specializes in parenting children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders?  Sign-up for Online Parent Coaching today.

Follow-up Question:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aspergers: Different Levels of Severity


As I read articles about Aspergers, I have to question if there are different levels of Aspergers? My son does not have extreme behavior however I also have to ask if some of the behavior training I have drilled into him is showing more now as he ages. Some of the stories that I read seem extreme. I can think of extreme behaviors that he has displayed and lack of reasoning skills that he has shown, social issues, but still I wonder if he was dx incorrectly or am I just grasping at straws?


Health care providers think of autism as a “spectrum” disorder, a group of disorders with similar features. One person may have mild symptoms, while another may have serious symptoms. But they both have an autism spectrum disorder. Different kids with an autism spectrum disorder can have very different symptoms.

Aspergers (high-functioning autism) can range from mild to severe. A child might have a few traits of Aspergers, or might have a large number of traits, and each of these traits can range from mild to severe. So, some children with Aspergers have only minor difficulties functioning in society while others need someone to help with most aspects of life.

Some children have all of the criteria for Aspergers that are quite severe and very noticeable, and others may not get diagnosed until they are a teenager (or even later) because they were thought of as just being shy or eccentric. Some adults with Aspergers can't get a job, can't live on their own, can't drive, have major marriage problems, and have very few friends. Others are married and have children, hold down employment, can drive, and have plenty of friends (but still have the social problems and obsessive interests/routines that are part of the disorder).

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


•    Anonymous said… Everyone is different and has a different set of circumstances. Consider yourself lucky if your kid doesn't rage. I know my daughters rages are not just because of Aspergers, unfortunately the split between me and her dad has affected her negatively. Sometimes I think some of her rages stim from that and lack of control. She is a major control freak......
•    Anonymous said… I have 2 boys with it, 1 with the extreme rage and 1 not. Totally different behaviours and aspects of it. I beleive the younger 1 is because we didn't know what was going on with the older 1 and at the time we were told this is what we were looking at the youngest had started showing the smae traits. So the younger 1 had earlier intervention and help than the older 1.
•    Anonymous said… Many adults have Aspergers and they don't know it. And you would never know it. Its not about being "extreme".
•    Anonymous said… My 13 year old Aspie daughter doesnt get on at school,can hardly get her 2 go.She sits in her room,she used 2 go 2 judo twice a week but now doesnt go.Her anxiety is thru the roof alot of days.Ive tried 2 get her the help but mental health say she has 2 be 14 before certain organisations step in.
•    Anonymous said… My 9 year old aspie does not have any rage - he has infrequent meltdowns or gets overly rigid & emotional - but no rage. Every aspie, autistic, autism spectrum, sensory child - every child is different & unique.
•    Anonymous said… My son has definitely changed in his teens. He used to be crazy and funny (when he wasn't melting down or angry). Now he is super quiet and shuts down a lot. Closed off. He won't leave the house at all except for school. The social anxiety is more extreme.
•    Anonymous said… This article reminds me so much of my thoughts! It gets so tricky-! There are 3 kids one of which is a cousin that my son can make that connection with everyone else is like back ground noise to him- as if there not in his picture - just there- he operates in same room but not connecting- however while one on one play date s he thrives!! Leaving me thinking-- did they get this right! Could it be wrong! But then we go out to the world such as a Drs appt and I see his body language and demeanor- he can't stand to even be in same lobby with others of its close quarters- he will even take his blanket and cocoon hisself with it-- then it's like yep! They got it right! And also going into the classroom to just observe is so telling!! So so telling! He's in his world  🌎-- and will allow the one kid in-- I think tony Atwood's book- Guide to Asperger is best read I have found!! It's like a blue book to my son! I think they should mandatory every therapist, that is going to be giving therapy to these kids to read it 3 x!!! Lol!!! Then let's have a session!! I am so worried about his teen age years-- that will be the crucial part! Keeping him going to school , trying to interact will be so important-! This year it almost got to point of home school- I'm so glad we pushed through because he is so happy there now! He is still who he is but it's as if the others kids have accepted him but not only accepted it they help him! It was Beautiful how I saw them helping him! Wish I had it on video to share !! Kids can be just awesome!  ❤

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Promoting Social Competence in Children with Asperger's and HFA

"My child (high functioning autistic) is currently struggling to have good relationships with his peers? He is mostly disliked because he is frequently aggressive and disruptive."

One of the traits of young people on the autism spectrum is social unresponsiveness (social avoidance behavior). Social unresponsiveness is fear of, or withdrawal from, people or social situations. This becomes a problem when it interferes with relationships with peers, in social situations, or other aspects of a youngster’s life. 

Symptoms of social unresponsiveness may appear as part of the child’s overall personality or as a situation-specific response to a particular stressor. Many kids with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are especially susceptible to self-consciousness in social situations that make them feel exposed or psychologically unprotected.

Social unresponsiveness can also develop as an ongoing reaction to repeated failure, mistreatment, or rejection by peers. Some AS and HFA children may show good peer-group adjustment and ability to interact socially, but they may display communication apprehension when asked to perform in public, answer academic questions, or engage in an activity that they know will be evaluated. Other types of social unresponsiveness may result from specific experiences or environmental factors.

In a manner of speaking, the opposite of social unresponsiveness is social competence. Social competence refers to a child’s ability to get along with others. A youngster’s social competence is affected by how well he communicates with peers, teachers and other adults. A youngster’s view of himself in relation to his family, friends and the wider world also affects his social competence.

How well a youngster gets along with others may be the single best childhood predictor of how well she will function later in life. Kids who are unable to sustain close relationships with peers, who are generally disliked, who are aggressive and disruptive, who can’t establish a place for themselves in the peer-culture, and who do not have a basic level of social competence by the age of 6 usually have trouble with relationships when they become adults. The long-range risks for a youngster who can’t interact well with peers may also include poor mental health, low academic achievement and other school difficulties, and poor employment history.

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's
Conversely, a youngster is more likely to have stronger relationships, better mental health, and more success in school if she has many chances to strengthen her social competence by playing, talking, collaborating with others, and working out disagreements. The youngster doesn’t necessarily have to be a "social butterfly." Quality matters more than quantity when it comes to friendships. Kids who have at least one close friend tend to increase their positive feelings about themselves.

The checklist below was created to help parents and teachers check to see whether a youngster’s social competence is developing satisfactorily. Many of the traits included in the checklist indicate adequate social growth if they are “usually” true of the youngster. If a youngster seems to have most of the traits in the checklist, then he is not likely to need special help to outgrow occasional difficulties. Conversely, a youngster who shows few of the traits on the list will benefit from strategies to help build social competence.


The youngster:
  • Asserts own rights and needs appropriately
  • Displays the capacity for humor
  • Does not draw inappropriate attention to self
  • Does not seem to be acutely lonely
  • Enters ongoing discussion on a topic
  • Expects a positive response when approaching others
  • Expresses frustrations and anger effectively, without escalating disagreements or harming others
  • Expresses wishes and preferences clearly
  • Gains access to ongoing groups at play 
  • Gives reasons for actions and positions
  • Has “give-and-take” exchanges of information or feedback with others 
  • Has positive relationships with one or two friends
  • Interacts nonverbally with other kids (e.g., smiles, waves, nods, etc.)
  • Is able to maintain friendships even after disagreements
  • Is accepted versus rejected by other kids
  • Is invited by other kids to join them in play
  • Is named by other kids as someone they are friends with or like to play with
  • Is not easily intimidated by bullies
  • Is not excessively dependent on parents or teachers
  • Is usually in a positive mood
  • Is usually respected rather than feared by other kids 
  • Makes relevant contributions to ongoing activities
  • Negotiates and compromises with others 
  • Shows appropriate response to new people (as opposed to extreme fearfulness or indiscriminate approach)
  • Shows interest in others 
  • Shows the capacity to empathize
  • Shows an interest in keeping friends and misses them if they are absent
  • Takes turns fairly easily
  • Usually copes with rebuffs or other disappointments adequately

Though each component contributes to the other, there is a necessary initial sequence to the elements of learning social competence for children: (1) the ability to enter play successfully, which (2) creates feelings of being accepted by others, which (3) leads to friendships and to caring about others, which (4) makes the youngster more willing to consider the perspective of others instead of just his own. When these components are in place, the youngster is usually open to assistance with social skills and behaves in a fairly socially acceptable manner.

Parents and teachers should think about a youngster’s motivation for prosocial behaviors (e.g., sharing, compromising, taking turns, etc.). Some young people simply don’t care if they hurt others or make them upset. These are usually the kids who feel rejected by peers – and who reject peers in return. If a youngster has little empathy, then parents and teachers are going to have little luck with lessons about “getting along.”

A basic component for learning social competence is having friends, which for most kids, means having playmates. In order to have playmates, young people must be able to successfully enter into play with their peers, which may be the most basic part of developing social competence. The process of playing with others not only provides motivation for learning social skills, it also provides superb practice. Play provides many opportunities for conflict resolution and negotiation, which help kids to be empathic (i.e., to consider the needs and feelings of others). Considering the needs and feelings of others is called “perspective-taking,” which is also “basic” to developing social competence.

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

Why Asperger's/HFA is Largely a Disorder of Social Skills 

Below are suggestions for AS and HFA kids who are socially unresponsive, and how parents and teachers can promote the development of social competence:

1. Any time your AS or HFA youngster exhibits socially appropriate behavior, praise her and let her know you are proud of her.  Also, be sure to state exactly why you are proud (e.g., “Julie, you did a great job saying ‘hello’ to Mrs. Johnson.  That’s you being friendly.”).

2. Don’t speak FOR your youngster. When someone approaches her (e.g., asks her name or comments on her pretty dress), it may be tempting to speak for her.  By speaking for your youngster, it lets her off the hook because she doesn’t have to respond. Also, it sends the message that her voice isn’t necessary, which can reinforce social unresponsiveness.  So, let you child speak for herself as often as possible.

3. Find information on the internet, in books and magazines, etc. on ways to be prosocial and make friends. Share this information with your child. In addition, social stories about “making and keeping friends” are especially helpful when attempting to promote prosocial behavior in AS and HFA children (click here for an example).

4. For the AS or HFA youngster who is socially unresponsive, it may take her a while just to muster up the courage to attempt to join a play group. Let her go at her own pace with your support and encouragement.  Pushing a youngster to join in play may lead to humiliation and resentment towards you.

5. Help the youngster develop confidence that she will be accepted by her peer-group. A youngster who approaches playmates with confidence is more likely to gain entry to play. On the other hand, the hesitant child is more likely to experience peer-rejection. Peer-rejection starts a cycle of ineffective behaviors that lead to even more rejection. Parents and teachers can make a difference with careful confidence-building strategies.
==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

6. Parents and teachers can help kids on the autism spectrum become socially competent by encouraging friendships. Friendships are crucial for a variety of reasons: (a) friendships offer the best opportunities for developing the interpersonal understandings needed for socialized behavior; (b) kids are more likely to be successful when initiating contact with friends, thus increasing their confidence; (c) kids care more about the feelings of friends than about those of others, thus encouraging them to practice perspective-taking; and (d) kids’ play is more sophisticated and mature when they are playing with friends, which improves their competence.

7. Teach your youngster positive self-talk.  Have her list the things she can do, what she is good at, and friends and family that care about her.  Have her practice saying all of this to herself.  Keep the list posted in a prominent place. In this way, she is reminded of all her good qualities.

8. The AS or HFA youngster will have a much easier time being outgoing in social situations if his parents model good social behavior.  For instance, when you are out with your youngster, make an effort to be especially friendly and outgoing to people. This will let your youngster see that it is safe to relate to others (i.e., family members, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers).

9. Well-meaning parents and teachers often insist that “no child be left out,” but this eliminates a teachable moment that may actually make things worse for the AS or HFA youngster in the long-term. There is usually a reason for a youngster being rejected by the play group, and it is the adult’s job to assess the situation and figure out why. Usually there is a missing skill that the child needs to develop. So, parents and teachers should try to identify what needs to be learned – and then teach it. Insisting that a particular youngster be allowed to play just covers up the problem, teaches no social skills or understanding, and makes the other kids more resentful of the “special needs” youngster forced upon them. Consider how you would feel if you were in a meaningful conversation with your best friend, and an uninvited acquaintance jumps in and disrupts the conversation. It’s reasonable at times for kids to ask not to be disrupted by others.

10. Young people on the autism spectrum must be helped to avoid advances that disrupt the ongoing play among his peers. Too often, the AS or HFA youngster will barge into a play situation like an Army tank and be totally surprised and disappointed when the other kids get angry. In these cases, it would be helpful to teach the child a “beginning strategy” that does not interrupt. For example: (a) doing a similar activity near the play group; (b) observing what the desired playmates are doing, which provides information that the youngster can use by offering a way to contribute or fit into the existing play (the youngster who joins a group with a contribution to ongoing play is most likely to be accepted); or (c) simply playing alongside potential playmates.

Play is a common form of interaction between - and among - all kids. Young boys and girls do not construct their own understanding of a concept in isolation – but in the course of interaction with peers. Some of the social skills developed through play are (a) the ability to work towards a common goal, (b) cooperating with peers, and (c) initiating a conversation. By using the strategies listed above, parents and teachers can help the AS or HFA child to move past social unresponsiveness – and on to social competency.

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

==> 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

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

Aspergers and Genetics

If you have recently received a diagnosis of Aspergers (or high-functioning autism) for one of your children, you may be asking yourself, “How could this be?” You are probably experiencing a lot of emotions right now, but your brain has also kicked into high gear as you search for an explanation. You want to know “Why?” Where did it come from? Isn’t Aspergers an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Is it genetic? Is it due to a poor diet or childhood immunizations? Could our toxic environment be a contributor?

While there are many contributing factors (e.g., environmental toxins, dietary sensitivities, etc.) and scientists are still uncovering the mystery of ASDs, one often overlooked factor is that one or both parents probably have an Autism Spectrum Disorder - or at least some of the traits. Since we did not start diagnosing Aspergers until 1994 here in the United States, there are many parents with the disorder who were not diagnosed as children. Now when one of their own children is diagnosed, and as the parents start learning more about the traits of autism, the dawning light of recognition begins. Many of the Asperger traits that they see in their children are very similar to the traits of the parents, grandparents and other family members. Undeniably there is a strong genetic component to Aspergers.

A diagnosis of Aspergers for your child is the beginning of a major transformation for a family. Now at least you have a direction to start exploring for some answers. Hopefully you will find a team of professionals to help you reconstruct a medical, psychological and educational plan for your child. But all of your hard work will go up in smoke if you do not come to terms with the fact that most likely one or both parents are on the Autism Spectrum too. How can you parent effectively if you have not resolved the confusion and misdirection from your own undiagnosed childhood? It’s true for all parents, not just Aspergers parents, that to be an effective and loving parent, you have to clean up your own bad habits and insecurities. If our goal as parents is to raise children with strong self-esteem, which leads to a “can-do” attitude in adult life, then we need to take stock of our own behaviors first.

Some research shows that there are strikingly similar features in first or second degree relatives on either side of the family, or the family history includes "eccentric" individuals who have a mild expression of Aspergers. There are also some families with a history of children with Aspergers and classic Autism. Should a relative have had similar characteristics when younger, they have a unique advantage in helping the child -- they know what the child is going through.

There is no formal identification of the precise means of transmission if the cause is genetic, but we do have some suggestions as to which chromosomes may be involved. As our knowledge of genetics improves, we may soon be able to predict the recurrence rate for individual families.

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

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...