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Preparing Family Members for Your ASD Child's Behavior: Tips for Family Gatherings

The following is an email (or you can simply send this URL in a text: https://www.myaspergerschild.com/2008/12/dear-family-and-friends-holiday-letter.html) that you can send to relatives and hosts of family gatherings who might need a crash course in what to expect from your ASD (high functioning autistic) child. You can use it as is, or edit it to make it more applicable to your unique situation:

 
Dear _____, (e.g., Aunt Sally)

I understand that we will be visiting each other for a family get-together! Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful.

As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disorder called Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD (some people refer to it as High-Functioning Autism). ASD is a neuro-developmental disorder which sometimes makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can’t see, but which may make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt, but it is only because I have to try to understand people, and at the same time make myself understood. Children with ASD have different abilities. For example, some may not speak much, and some write beautiful poetry. Others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein had a form of autism), or may have difficulty making friends. We are all different and need various degrees of support.

Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated, too. Being around a lot of other people sometimes feels like standing next to a moving freight train – and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I may feel frightened and confused some of the time. This is why I like to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can stay pretty calm. But if something changes, then I may have to relearn the situation all over again!

When you talk to me, I may not be able to comprehend everything you are saying to me if there is a lot of noise and distraction around. I usually have to concentrate to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you, but I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything, but not knowing what is most important to respond to.

Holidays can be hard for me because there are so many different people, places, and things going on that are out of my ordinary environment. This may be fun and adventurous for most kids, but for me, it can be hard work and extremely stressful. I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if you had a private place set up to where I could retreat.

If I can’t sit at the meal table, please don’t think that I am misbehaving or that my mom and dad have no control over me. Sitting in one place for very long is often very hard for me. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people. When this happens, I just have to get up and move about. But please don’t stop eating on my account. Go on without me, and my mom or dad will handle the situation the best way they know how.

Eating in general can be hard for me. If you understand that ASD is a sensory processing disorder, it’s no wonder eating is a problem. Think of all the senses involved with eating (e.g., sight, smell, taste, touch) and all the complicated mechanics that are involved (e.g., chewing and swallowing).  This is something that some kids with the disorder have trouble with. I am not being picky. I just can’t eat certain foods because my sensory system is overly-sensitive. (Hope you understand.)

Also, please don’t be disappointed if my mother or father doesn’t dress me in fancy clothes. It’s because they know how much stiff and itchy clothes can drive me nuts! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes, or I will just be miserable. When I go to someone else’s house, I may appear bossy and irritable. In a way, I am being controlling, because that is how I try to fit into the world around me. I like things to be done in a way I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn’t mean you have to change the way you are doing things. Just please be patient with me and understanding of how I have to cope.

My parents have no control over how my ASD makes me feel inside. Kids with this disorder often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The professionals call it “self regulation,” or “stimming.” I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, or any number of different things. I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to the environment. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The professionals call this “perseverating,” which is similar to self-regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable. Perseverative behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.

Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average home is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. This may be fun for most kids, but it can be hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act-out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don’t possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules. In any event, I will try very hard to be on my best behavior when we get together during the holidays.

Thanks for listening. I’m looking forward to seeing you.

________ (child’s name)

From: www.MyAspergersChild.com

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Transition Services for Aspergers Teens

"I have a 17 year old with Asperger’s. She was a late diagnosis (wasn’t diagnosed until age 15). How do you help a teen with transition services (e.g., getting a job, learning to drive, going to college, etc.) when she doesn’t have any desire to learn or do any of those things?"

Click here for the answer...


"Job Interview Tips" for Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Marcus and his boss, Mr. Whitfield
The economy is pretty shaky right now, and many businesses are making some changes. For some, that might mean a job interview, which can be especially stressful for those teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism.

The most important thing to do before going into a job interview is to try to relax. We’re going to set up a relaxing “space” now, before the job interview, so you can use it during the interview:

Take a breath. Seriously, right now, as you read this, take a deep breath. Breathing is a way to calm yourself, move your chattering thoughts into the grounding influence of your body, and exist in the present moment. The more you can get into the habit of taking a deep, conscious breath, the more your body will connect it with slowing down and relaxing. Practicing a deep breath in a safe, calm environment will help you access those same calming feelings when you repeat the breath during your job interview. Also, it can be helpful to think of a soothing phrase like, "It’s OK." …"You’re fine." …"You can do this" (keep the phrase short, positive and silent).

As you think about and prepare for your job interview, continue to practice the breathing technique. When you get stressed about what might go wrong, take a breath and say to yourself, "It’s OK." When you remember things that went wrong in past job interviews, take a breath, calm yourself, and then figure out the lesson of that situation.

Your future employer expects you to breathe, so this calming technique is something you can use during the job interview. As you walk into the job interview room, take a breath. If you have a break during the job interview, remember to take a breath. Tell yourself, "You can do this." Of course you can!

Here are some more "job interview" tips by Marcus, a 17-year-old young man with Aspergers:

1. All the same rules apply in the workplace as they do anywhere else. But the one difference is that there is something at stake - your job. This means it is extra important to keep a clean slate, or you might be a target for scapegoating, which is a very nasty threat to your job.

2. You will meet three different kinds of people in the workplace: Meek, Assertive, and Aggressive. Aim to be the assertive type.

3. Remember that first impressions are extremely important.

4. If in doubt -- keep quiet. This is often seen as a good quality in the office.

5. If you are doing your own research, you may find yourself in a situation where you wish to patent copyright or create proof of ownership of a piece of work you have produced. The easiest thing to do is to make a copy, seal it in an envelope, and post it to your home address. It gets the date stamped on it in the post. Don't open the envelope when it arrives, but keep it sealed and stored away in a safe place. Recorded delivery may be more reliable and legally airtight. Also, keep any notes you have written while producing your work. You now have legal proof that it is your work and should not have to worry too much about it falling into the wrong hands.

6. In an interview, body language is extra important, and you want to look confident and relaxed. You are also expected to sit still with your arms by your side or on your lap and a good posture. You are expected to speak clearly and professionally.

7. Know what your skills and talents are. Like it or not, as a person with Aspergers, some jobs will be more suitable for you than others.

8. Prepare as many possible answers for as many possible questions as you can, but don't over-rehearse your answers.

9. The interviewer will often drop you a few hints towards the end of the interview (using mainly body language) to let you know whether you are likely or unlikely to get the job.

10. There are courses and classes around that teach interview techniques. You may want to take a class on this subject.

Launching Adult Children With Aspergers: How To Promote Self-Reliance


BEST COMMENT:
Found the interview advice tips very help full. Our son is waiting to see if he has got an engineering apprenticeship. If he is offered a place, it will involve an interview with the company which may be interested in taking him on. We are keeping our fingers crossed for him. These tips may come in handy. Thanks Marcus!

LEGO Engineering Online Class for Students with Special Needs

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I am writing to you about All About Learning, Inc. and our wonderful enrichment programs being taught throughout Michigan, and over 30 other U.S States. We use creative ways to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Operating since 2002, with classes ranging from LEGO Engineering, Robotics, to Video Game Making, we are proud to teach thousands of students each year.

We are also proud to announce our "LEGO Engineering On-Line Class” for children with special needs such as Aspergers, Autism and ADHD. Please read the following program description:

LEGO Engineering Online for Students with Special Needs

The class consists of engineering theory and instruction plus 6 very complex building exercises. Lessons harness the motivational effects of LEGOs to teach math and science, 3 dimensional shapes, patterning, comparing and contrasting objects, extending patterns, shapes, language arts, listening and following directions and learning mechanical vocabulary. This class is an on-line version of our ever popular Elementary Engineering held in a classroom. Once registered for this course, you will be sent a LEGO kit with over 1,000 very advanced LEGO pieces. When you receive the kit in the mail, then you are ready to take the class. Yes, you keep the kit when the class is over! Intended for K-8 students.

Video Game Making Class

This instructor facilitated On-Line class will teach how to design and modify your own exciting arcade style video games. You'll learn how to control characters, objects and outcomes in your game, then increase the difficulty level and add more features. Learn how to design your own version of PacMan and several other games. Students will participate in this class at home using their own computer, or, in a school computer lab. For ages 10 thru adults. 7 weeks.

We have experience working with grant programs and children with special needs. Please visit our website at: All About Learning

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...