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Aspergers Children and Friendship Problems

"My Aspie son is 10-years-old, and friends are a big problem. He never has anyone call or come over. Should I push the issue or leave it alone since he is  content so far just to play by himself?"

What do most parents want the most for their kids with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism? Friends!!! We are social beings and because of that, we desire friendships. Some people are more social, needing to be surrounded by other people constantly, while some of us are much less social, preferring to spend some of our time alone.

Socialization is difficult for kids with Aspergers. Friends are hard to come by. Other kids do not understand the characteristics of Aspergers and may think your son is awkward, aloof, or conceited. There are things your son can do to improve his chances for friendships, if he so desires.

Here are a few suggestions:

* Social skills classes help kids with Aspergers learn ways to interact with their peers. Some schools offer these classes to their special needs students through the speech and language therapy department.

* Peer mentoring picks up where social skills classes leave off. Typically developing peers are matched with students with Aspergers. Friends are made while these peers act as social guides. This can be quite effective at opening dialogue between peers while a protective peer mentor is in control.

* Special interest groups or clubs, both at school and in the community, will give your son opportunities to practice his newly acquired social skills with kids that share his special interest or topic. For example, your son could join a computer club or band at school while enjoying bird watching or local history meetings on the weekends.

* Personal hygiene is sometimes a forgotten concept in kids with Aspergers. Friends may not be so accepting if your son has poor hygiene habits. Create a visual schedule to help him remember the basics to cleanliness.

Bear in mind that friends are not the most important thing to some kids on the autism spectrum. Some of these "special needs" children truly are more comfortable with very few friends and spending most of their time alone. If your son is obviously happy and content, as you say, there may not be an issue here at all. If you notice your son struggling with who he is, or with depression or anxiety, you may want to intervene.

For now, make sure he is learning proper social skills and interacting with peers and adults appropriately. As long as he is happy and productive, take your cues from him.


•    Anonymous said… As an autistic adult, I can say this with confidence: encourage him, but respect his wishes if he chooses not to take social opportunities. He will learn social skills when he's ready. You can't force them smile emoticon
•    Anonymous said… Don't make a up fuss over having no friends...he will take that as there's something wrong with him. Some people just prefer more solitary activities. When an opportunity does present itself, just be there to help,it along, if need be.
•    Anonymous said… I encouraged it, but hes not intrested in any group things so enouraged it by coaching him on how to make friends. I think as they get older they find people who have similar interests as them. My son is 12 and this is the first year he has friends. He also has a lot of online friends, who I believe are on the spectrum as well.
•    Anonymous said… I just let my be for the most part. We leave the social opportunities open. I ask him if he wants to go with me when we hang out with our other homeschool families. He recently took a Boy Scout camping trip and because of that didn't want to go to our friends sons birthday party at chuck e cheese because he was done peopling for the weekend. Don't push it but leave the opportunities open for possibility.
•    Anonymous said… I think our kids need us to set up play dates for them as they can't do It them self
•    Anonymous said… I worried too during my son's teen years. He found his group of friends in college. He's since left school and is alone again but seeing what he can do on his own helps me relax and let go a bit.
•    Anonymous said… My 12 yr old is the same. He has Scouts and karate where he can hang out with other kids. I don't want to push other kids on him. (Or him on them).
•    Anonymous said… My 9 year old HF Autistic/Aspie has his moments.He doesn't have many friends and when he's home he doesn't have any at all.He likes to be by himself playing video games with his online friends which is a few as well.It does worry me as he gets older,but I don't force friendship on him.It makes him too uncomfortable.
•    Anonymous said… My aspie is 11 and typically he played by himself until this year. He has started participating in a social group on the weekends as part of his therapy and it has really helped.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter has an s.e.n youth club that she goes to x
•    Anonymous said… My son is 10and has had a lot of support re social skills at school in a nurture group. It's l helped him massively, he's been taught the things that come naturally to most people. He has more friends now and is much better in social situations than before. I think due to his aspergers he's learnt fast and well as he is very bright.

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Aspergers Teens and Dating

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

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

Social skills—

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

Personal Hygiene—

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

Interest-led activities—

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


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

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

How to Discipline Children with Aspergers and HFA

Disciplining kids displaying behavior associated with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) will often require an approach that is somewhat unique to that of "typical" kids. Finding the balance between (a) understanding the needs of a youngster on the autism spectrum and (b) discipline that is age appropriate and situationally necessary is achievable when applying some simple but effective strategies.

In this post, we will look at the following:
  1. General Behavior Problems
  2. Obsessive or Fixated Behavior
  3. Sibling Issues
  4. Sleep Difficulties
  5. Problems at School
  6. Problems in Public
  7. Over-protective Parenting
  8. The Dignity of Risk

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Parent Management Training [PMT] for Parents of Aspergers Children

Parent management training (PMT) is an adjunct to treatment that involves educating and coaching moms and dads to change their Aspergers child’s problem behaviors using principles of learning theory and behavior modification.


The aim of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is to decrease or eliminate an Aspergers child’s disruptive or inappropriate behaviors at home or school and to replace problematic ways of acting with positive interactions with peers, moms and dads and such authority figures as teachers. In order to accomplish this goal, PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING focuses on enhancing parenting skills. The PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING therapist coaches parents in applying such strategies as rewarding positive behavior, and responding to negative behavior by removing rewards or enforcing undesirable consequences (punishments).

Although PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING focuses on specific targeted behaviors rather than on the youngster's diagnosis as such, it has come to be associated with the treatment of certain disorders. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is used in treating oppositional defiant disorder , conduct disorder , intermittent explosive disorder (age-inappropriate tantrums), and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ). Such antisocial behaviors as fire-setting and truancy can also be addressed through PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING.


In PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING, the therapist conducts initial teaching sessions with the parent(s), giving a short summary of foundational concepts in behavior modification; demonstrating interventions for the moms and dads; and coaching parents in carrying out the techniques of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING. Early meetings with the therapist focus on training in the principles of behavior modification, response-contingent learning, and ways to apply the techniques. Moms and dads are instructed to define the behavior(s) to be changed concretely and specifically. In addition, they learn how to observe and identify relevant behavior and situational factors, and how to chart or otherwise record the youngster's behavior.

Defining, observing and recording behavior are essential to the success of this method, because when such behaviors as fighting or tantrums are highlighted in concrete, specific ways, techniques of reinforcement and punishment can be put to use. Progress or its absence is easier to identify when the description of the behavior is defined with enough clarity to be measurable, and when responses to the PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING interventions are tracked on a chart. After the Aspergers child’s parents grasp the basic interventions as well as when and how to apply them, the techniques that the moms and dads practiced with the therapist can be carried out at home.

Learning theory, which is the conceptual foundation of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING, deals with the ways in which organisms learn to respond to their environment and the factors that affect the frequency of a specific behavior. The core of learning theory is the notion that actions increase or decrease in frequency in response to the consequences that occur immediately after the action. Research in parent-child interactions in families with disruptive, difficult or defiant kids shows that parental responses are unintentionally reinforcing the unwanted behavior. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING trains moms and dads to become more careful in their reactions to a youngster's behavior.

The parents learn to be more discerning: to provide attention, praise and increased affection in reaction to the Aspergers child’s behaving in desired ways; and to withdraw attention, to suspend displays of affection, or to withdraw privileges in instances of less desirable behavior.

The most critical element of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is offering positive reinforcement for socially appropriate (or at least non-deviant) behaviors. An additional component involves responding to any undesired behaviors by removing rewards or applying punishment. These two types of response to the youngster must be carried out with great consistency. Consistent responding is important because erratic responses to unwanted behavior can actually cause the behavior to increase in frequency. For instance, if a youngster consistently throws tantrums in stores, hoping to be given something to end the tantrum, inconsistent parent responses can worsen the situation. If a parent is occasionally determined not to give in, but provides a candy bar or a toy to end the tantrum on other occasions, the youngster learns either to have more tantrums, or to have more dramatic tantrums. The rise in the number or intensity of tantrums occurs because the youngster is trying to increase the number of opportunities to obtain that infrequent parental reward for the behavior.

Planning responses ahead of time to predefined target behaviors by rewarding desired actions and by withdrawing rewards or applying punishment for undesirable behavior is a fundamental principle of PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING. Consistent consequences, which are contingent on (in response to) the youngster's behavior, result in behavior change. Moms and dads practice therapeutic ways of responding to their Aspergers child’s behavior in the PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING sessions with the therapist.

Through PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING, parents learn that positive rewards for appropriate behaviors can be offered in a variety of ways. Giving praise, providing extra attention, earning points toward obtaining a reward desired by the youngster, earning stickers or other small indicators of positive behavior, earning additional privileges, hugging (and other affectionate gestures) are all forms of reward. The technical term for the rewarding of desired behavior is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement refers to consequences that cause the desired target behavior to increase.

PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING instructs moms and dads to cancel rewards or give punishments when the Aspergers child behaves in undesirable ways. The removal of rewards usually entails time away from the circumstances and situations in which the youngster can do desired activities or receive attention. The concept of a "time out" is based on this notion of removal of rewards. Time out from rewards customarily means that the youngster is removed from people and stimulation for a certain period of time; it can also include deprivation of privileges.

Punishment in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is not necessarily what parents typically refer to as punishment; it most emphatically is not the use of physical punishment. A punishment in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING involves a response to the youngster's negative behavior by exposing the Aspergers child to something he or she regards as unpleasant. Examples of punishments might include having to redo the correct behavior so many times that it becomes annoying; verbal reproaches; or the military standby—"drop and give me fifty"—having to do pushups or sit-ups or laps around a playing field to the point of discomfort.

The least challenging problems, which have the greatest likelihood of successful change, are tackled first, in hope of giving the family a "success experience." The success experience is a positive reinforcement for the family, increasing the likelihood that they will continue using PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING in efforts to bring about change. In addition, lower-level behavioral problems provide opportunities for moms and dads to become skilled in intervening and to learn consistency in their responses. After the parents have practiced using the skills learned in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING on the less important problems, more severe issues can be tackled.

In addition to face-to-face sessions with the parents, some PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING therapists make frequent telephone calls to the moms and dads between sessions. The purposes of the calls are to remind moms and dads to continue to be consistent in applying the techniques; to answer questions about the work at home; and to praise the parents' attempts to correct the youngster's behavior. In addition, ongoing support in sessions and on the telephone helps parents feel less isolated and thus more likely to continue trying to use learning principles in managing their youngster. Troubleshooting any problems that arise regarding the application of the behavioral techniques is handled over the telephone and in the office sessions.

An additional aspect of learning theory is that rewarding subunits of the ultimately desired behavior can lead to developing more complex new actions. The subunits are finally linked together by changing the ways in which the rewards are given. This process is called "chaining." Sometimes, if the youngster shows no elements of the desired response, then the desired behavior is demonstrated for the Aspergers child and subsequent "near hits" or approximations are rewarded. To refine "close but not quite" into the targeted response, rewards are given in a slightly "pickier" manner. Rewarding successive approximations of the desired behavior is also called "shaping."


The best way to learn to alter parental responses to Aspergers child behaviors is with the support and assistance of a behavioral health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical social worker). As noted earlier, moms and dads often inadvertently reinforce the problem behaviors, and it is difficult for a parent to see objectively the ways in which he or she is unintentionally supporting the defiant or difficult behavior. Furthermore, inappropriate application of such behavioral techniques as those used in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING can actually make the problem situation worse. Families should seek therapists with valid credentials, skills, training and experience in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING.

Normal results—

Typically, the parents should notice a decrease in the unwanted behaviors after they implement the techniques learned in PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING at home. Of the various therapies used to treat childhood disorders, PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING is among those most frequently researched. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING has shown effectiveness in changing Aspergers kid's behavior in very well-designed and rigorous studies. PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING has a greater effect on behavior than many other treatments, including family therapy or play therapy.

Furthermore, the results— improved child behavior and reduction or elimination of undesirable behavior— are sustained over the long term. When a group of kids whose families had used PARENT MANAGEMENT TRAINING were examined one to fourteen years later, they had maintained higher rates of positive behavior and lower levels of problem behavior.

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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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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