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Parenting Young Adults with HFA and Asperger's

"My 20 year old high functioning autistic son (unemployed and not attending college) is staying out all night and not telling us where he has been. I am worried as he is not really ‘street wise’ and probably at big risk."

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Aspergers Teens and Game Addiction

"I have a partner and many family members with Asperger’s, but the worst affected is 19. He has very limited social skills, his eating pattern is poor, and so is his sleeping pattern. But he is addicted to a game on his computer. How do we as parents encourage him to spend less time on the computer, eat better, and sleep more?"

Playing electronic games provides repetition, consistency, and security in his life. Also, electronic games are predictable. He can count on the same actions and results every time he plays the games. People with Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism want to feel safe and secure in their activities. The electronic games allow him to follow predetermined rules that result in predictable outcomes.

It sounds like your son is concentrating on electronic games at the expense of his health. He spends time in front of a video screen that could be better spent learning new eating habits and practicing better sleeping patterns.

Check into Asperger’s support groups for your son; there might be one in your local area. Support groups give advice on daily living skills and healthy lifestyles. Encourage your son to join one of these groups; he will meet people who are his age and may be experiencing similar difficulties with Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition to information, a support group can give your son the opportunity to talk about his feelings about Asperger’s and the help necessary for him to cope with adult responsibilities.

Another resource for your son is an Asperger’s specialist who can inform and teach your son social skills. A specialist, such as a psychiatrist, might prescribe Melatonin, which will help your son sleep better at night.

Your son is in his late teens, and he is fast approaching adulthood. You can use reasoning and negotiation instead of rules and orders. However, if the excessive computer use continues, you might need to move it into a room that restricts his access to it. Also, the computer can be used as a reward if your son tries new foods and establishes a regular pattern of sleep. Although your son is getting older, there are rules that are still effective in changing his behaviour; you should establish those rules in your household.

In terms of nutrition, many autistic children suffer from food allergies, overgrowth of intestinal yeast, and sensitivity to sugar and dairy products. Consult a doctor to see if your son needs to adjust his diet. Changing your son’s diet to wheat-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free products requires patience because people with Asperger’s can be very strong-willed, and implementing change can be difficult for both of you. See if other family members will adopt a diet similar to your son’s; this will make him feel integrated into the family. Also, read diet books, look into websites, and read advice from nutritionists.

Your son’s sleep patterns can be changed with consistent hours. He needs to establish a time that he will go to bed each evening and get up each morning. If he complains that he cannot get to sleep or wake up at a given time, tell him that there are parts of our bodies called circadian rhythms, and they help our bodies rest. If your son can get to bed at a specific time several nights in a row, the circadian rhythms in his body will reset and help him go to sleep and wake up at a given time each evening and morning. Remove all distractions from his bedroom to help him concentrate on rest and sleep.

Q & A on High-Functioning Autism


I have a 5 year old son that has high functioning autism and he doesn't like to sleep in his own bed. We have tried everything. It's frustrating because he will continue to come into my bed and that is very difficult to deal with. If we try to put him in his bed it will trigger an outburst and it will last well into the night. Which makes us very tired and emotionally drain. How do I transition him back into his bed and help him understand he has to stay there and he can't sleep in my bed. Now that he is getting older and bigger it's very difficult.


Routine is key backed up by social story/Pecs or some kind of visual cue. For example the routine could be story - bath - hot drink - bed. The social story could feature his favorite cartoon character, animal or something like that. Then it's down to good old fashioned perseverance with the routine rigidly every night - and you should see change.



My HFA son refuses to do what is asked of him at school. He has days where he completely shuts down and will not write or perform math assignments. The school is trying to make accommodations for him, yet he refuses to even try. They hear, and we hear come homework time, that it's too hard or the answer is zero. We are very frustrated and don't know how to move him past this.

We believe it is attitude. He also has lots of fine motor issues. Penmanship is very poor as is spelling. He cannot tie shoes, button buttons or snap snaps cut with scissors... I thought we were making progress with school when we got some assistive technology and then I come to find out they were still expecting him to write it before typing...he perseverates on Star Wars and the teacher says he is being silly. He puts his head down during math time. He has had a very difficult time learning his math facts--can solve them with strategies but if he can't do a problem immediately he melts down, at least at home. At school he puts his head down and refuses to even try the work. He is extremely inflexible and very easily frustrated. I don't know if this helps, but this is our biggest hurdle yet to overcome.


It's possible he may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work clumped together. Has anyone tried breaking work down into bite sized chunks for him as they may be more beneficial. Equally dependent on his age and how appropriate this is - can the teachers or yourselves hone in on the Star Wars thing as a positive? So use this in Maths, English, Geogrpahy - in fact most subjects you could slant with a Star Wars angle to improve his interest and ability in them. He may well have a "mental block" on maths for example but I bet he doesn't have such a block if maths can be presented with Star Wars (e.g. measuring angles of the Millenium Falcon to the Death Star, or working out percentages of storm troopers killed in Return of The Jedi etc.)



I have an 11yr old (year 6 at school). I recently had a meeting with his class teacher and she is having trouble getting him to complete class tasks. He is obsessed with reading (which he does during class time instead of listening) then gets extremely upset because he does not know what is going on in the classroom. I have told the teacher to use this as a reward for completing work which she is doing but he will often just sit at his desk and not do anything for each subjects class task (e.g. complete so many maths questions). I have suggested we draw up a contract (visual) and get him to sign it and refer him to this when he is off task. My question is do you have any resources or previous experience with such a contract which may help us get it right? And give us ideas on how to construct one. The teacher is extremely helpful and willing to do whatever I suggest.


It needs to be in clear "black and white" language with no ambiguity. He needs to be involved in it as much as possible (but clearly within certain boundaries of what it's actually there for - no point in a contract that says "Johnny has 10 ice creams each school day" just because that's what he wants")! It could be themed in line with tastes. Also a contract is only as useful if it is regularly re-visited - by both you and each teacher (daily would be best). Here are some contracts to view that may give you some ideas on how to create one specifically for your son.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content