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The "Out-of-Control" Child on the Autism Spectrum

Moms and dads often ask how to deal with and help the high functioning autistic youngster that seems to be out of control. How do you control or manage the kid that intimidates, hits, punches and seems to enjoy torturing their siblings? What do you do with the kid that argues, is defiant, and refuses to participate or follow directions can be difficult to live with and can create disharmony within the household?

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Aspergers and HFA Children with Anger Problems

Many moms and dads recognize that their Aspergers or high functioning autistic (HFA) child has a problem with anger management. They feel their child needs to develop anger management skills, or needs to find some kind of anger management counseling that will help them get along better in life -- in school, at work, with a parent, with siblings, and others. In some cases, professionals may have diagnosed the Aspergers or HFA child with a “conduct disorder”, or “oppositional defiant disorder”.

Types of Anger—

The natural response to fear is to fight it or avoid it. When confronted with fear, animals and humans both go into “fight or flight”, “violence or silence”, or “gun or run”. They engage in the conflict, or they withdraw. Though many moms and dads may equate “child anger management” with the “fight-violence-gun,” uncontrollable rage, parents must also recognize that anger may be “turned inwards” in the “flight-silence-run” mode, which can often times be as dangerous, if not more so, than expressed anger.

Generally, anger falls into three main categories: 1) Fight, 2) Flight, or 3) Pretend to be “Flighting”, while finding indirect ways to Fight. Most children on the autism spectrum who have anger management problems will go to either extreme of fight or flight. They tend to become aggressive, mean, and hostile, or they withdraw into themselves and become extremely silent, silently stubborn, and depressed.

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

“The Fighters”: Child Anger Turned to Aggression—

“The fighters” are pretty simple to recognize. They are aggressive. Many times, the characteristics of Aspergers and HFA children with anger management problems are included in the professional diagnosis for “Conduct Disorder” or an “Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)”. Some of the warning signs in the following list are taken from the criteria for professional diagnosis. Others are additional common signs of anger management problems for children that are “fighters”.
  • Destroys property
  • Difficulty accepting a “No” answer
  • Does not follow rules
  • Frequently vocalizes anger
  • Furious temper
  • Has left holes in walls and doors from violent outbursts
  • Initiates fights with others
  • Loud and yelling
  • Makes threats
  • Often demeans or swears directly to parent or others in authority positions
  • Often feels rules are “stupid”, or don’t apply
  • Openly and often defiant of requests
  • Physically cruel to animals
  • Physically cruel to people
  • Seems to have “emotional diarrhea”, and “lets it all out, all the time”
  • Seriously violates rules (at home, in school, or society in general)
  • Uncontrollable fits of rage (usually these “temper tantrums” are used as threats to get their way)

This list does not list every possible warning sign for the “fighters”. The child “Fighters” have anger management problems when the problems are creating an unsafe situation for themselves, for others, or for property around them. If animals and/or people are the focus of the anger and aggression, the problem is extremely critical to address. Aspergers and HFA teenagers who have abused animals or people as kids are at a higher risk of becoming a threat to society than those who have not. Where these warning signs seem to be a part of daily life, intervention is strongly suggested. Intervention can be through anger management counseling, an anger management program, or a program dedicated and experienced in working with special needs children with anger management problems.

“The Flighters”: Child Anger Turned to Passive Responses—

The “Flighters” can also be fairly simple to recognize. They are passive. They do not fight back when confronted. Many of their characteristics may coincide with the diagnosis of depression. Some of these warning signs are taken from the professional diagnosis for depression, and others are taken from learning, observations and experience.
  • Deals with difficult emotions by “cutting” the emotions off
  • Does not engage in much conversation
  • Extremely passive, to the point of getting “walked over” by others
  • Has difficulty expressing emotions
  • Holds anger in, then “blows up” suddenly and violently
  • May blame self unnecessarily
  • May have few friends
  • May punch holes in walls or kick doors, when “the last straw drops”
  • May be seen as a “loner”
  • May simply “go along” with whatever, even when it is a poor decision
  • Physical problems may include upset stomach, muscle aches, backaches, frequent headaches, or other physical symptoms from “holding it in”.
  • Seems “emotionally constipated”
  • Seems depressed
  • Seems to have very little emotion
  • Seems to hold anger in
  • Seems withdrawn
  • Tends to spend a lot of time alone
The “flighters” are in danger of destroying themselves emotionally from within. The “flighters” are like a balloon being constantly blown into, with no release valve. When they explode, their anger may be violent, and may lead to harming themselves, harming others, or destroying property. Internalized anger is potentially as destructive to a child as aggressive anger.

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

“The Pretenders”: Child Anger Silently Planning Revenge—

Perhaps the most difficult to detect, the “Pretenders” follow an anger style that seems to be calm on the surface, but is raging, scheming, and planning underneath. They are passive-aggressive. These children do not directly confront the anger as a “Fighter” would do. They will be passive and appear to accept what is said, and then will disregard what is said to do their own thing. They are sneaky. Often, they may be unnoticed. While they are giving a person a hug, they are also stabbing them in the back (so to speak). They lack the courage to be direct, and perfect the skills to be deceitful. They know where the “back door” to revenge is, and will use it often.

They will give the appearance of a “Flighter”. The list of “flighter” characteristics also applies to them. Additional items to look for with “Pretenders” are on the following list.
  • Inconsistency between what is said and what is done
  • May be very good at blaming others
  • May not admit mistakes
  • Often gets caught in lies
  • Sneaky behaviors
  • Tends to avoid direct conflict, while creating problems in other areas
  • Tends to sabotage

These warning signs are a few to look for the “Pretenders”. Aspergers and HFA children who try to manage their anger through the “Pretender” style are as potentially dangerous to others and themselves as the other style. Moms and dads cannot underestimate the “Pretender” style because the danger does not seem to be that of the aggressive “Fighter”.

As has been shown, anger comes in three main styles -- Fighter, Flighter, and Pretender -- and each style has the potential to create big problems for the Aspergers or HFA child, families, and society in general. This post has offered specific warning signs that may indicate if a child on the spectrum has an anger management problem more significant than what is to normally be expected. When necessary, professional and competent intervention is recommended.

==> More parenting strategies for dealing with tantrums and anger control problems can be found here...

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

==> 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.



Anonymous said...

    I have a question, is a child with asperger's able to kill an animal, such as a cat????
    he was asked if it bothered him and he laughed and said, it made it little sister cry. And would they do these things because of jealousy of the sibling?
    Thank you for your response.

Anonymous said...

    if this were my child I would bring him in to his psychologist. I don't think its typical for any child of any ability to be harming animals...without a proper evaluation there is no way anyone here can answer this question...we would all be speculating. Ask a professional.

Anonymous said...

    RUN to a professional, and if you don't think you found the right one for your child and family, keep looking. Abuse to animals is very serious, and often does not stop there. At this point, you might not know if your child did this out of frustration, anger, etc, or if he enjoys watching reactions (without any real malintent). Whatever the case, intervention is needed ASAP. If you are truly unsure he did it, you are at least acknowledging the possibility, so please don't get scared and back off. Even if he is not the culprit here, his reaction to the situation is not one you should be comfortable with. Blessings and good luck.

Anonymous said...

    I agree with the above comments. I have an Asperger's son who has plenty of anger/aggressiveness issues, but he is always kind and loving to animals. He also gets very irritated with his younger siblings but is never cruel (he might yell at them, etc. if they are "bugging" him). I can't imagine him purposely doing something to make someone cry (unintentionally maybe). I think your child might have something going on besides Asperger's. Early intervention can help--I'd get started quickly!

Anonymous said...

    I certainly wouldn't call this typical aspie behavior... I agree with Megan, RUN to a professional.

    Anonymous said...

    I found that although my daughter does not appear to connect with people emotionally, inherently she displays a lot of compassion for others. It might be an “Aspie like” trait to say something to a person unwittingly hurting the person’s feelings however I also found that strong emotional responses such as crying, laughing or yelling make an immediate impression on my daughter. If your son is displaying pleasure in seeing such a negative response that is something entirely different. Trait’s of Asperger’s is that the person does not identify with others feelings and/or does not know how to respond. Your son had a pleasurable response. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

    cruelty to animals is a MAJOR red flag, part of the homicidal triad. RUN to a psychologist!!!
Anonymous said...

    Did any of you even read the article that proceeds the comments? Hostility toward animals is a common problem with Aspie's, especially those who are "fighters". If you have an Aspie child, you should already be seeing a professional, so that's not the issue. The issue is understanding -- REALLY understanding -- the challenges your child is facing so that you can help him respond appropriately. To the OP: Whether your child killed the cat or not doesn't have to be determined. If he is a Pretender, he may pretend he did it even if he didn't. If he is a Fighter, maybe he did. Whatever. The point now is to give him every possible advantage by educating yourself and then teaching him HOW to better respond to his complex emotions. He doesn't feel or think the way you feel or think; don't expect him to. Ever. But DO expect him to LEARN appropriate, safe modes of expression. It takes time, patience, and persistence. In the meantime, don't add pets to your household. Your child needs CONSTANT supervision, and may always need it. My son turned 21 today, and I still spend 99% of my time "dealing" with the issues that result from being the parent of an Aspie. It's a commitment unlike anything you could ever even imagine, so buck up, educate yourself, and get down to the hard job of teaching this child what he needs to learn to survive in our cruel world. And DON'T rely on message boards as your source of information. Rely on the experts.

   Anonymous said...

    I actually am the one with AS and I was just looking at websites to better understand myself and my behaviors especially when I was little. I am a girl with AS who is now in her teenage years but when I was younger I was defiantly both a "fighter" and a " pretender". I still am in some ways but I have found that my temper is getting better as I am getting older.

    Anonymous said...

    I have a 15 year old with aspirers and lately he has been very fascinated with poronography. He ordered over $500 with of porno on his cell phone ( which has since been taken away) and ordered $600 of porno movies on my tv. Last night we got home and he had tries to rent another porno and he I told him no that is no acceptable and he hit me in the cheat very hard and left a bruise. I don't know what to do for him.

Aspergers Children Who Are Physically Abused


My asperger son is almost 16. He doesn't live with me. He's told me on numerous occasions that he's being physically abused. When I've reported it, they either accuse me of coaching him, or accuse him of lying, or of not being able to get him to focus enough to report the abuse. Years ago I did get one report of abuse substantiated, (because of bruises) however, nothing was done about it, and my son is still ignored. If someone could please help me to get help for my son, or just help my son, I would greatly appreciated it. I love him, and I want him to be safe and happy. He doesn't deserve abuse just because he isn't like other kids.


In the USA, an estimated 906,000 kids are victims of abuse & neglect every year, making abuse as common as it is shocking. Whether the abuse is physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect, the scars can be deep and long-lasting, often leading to future abuse. You can learn the signs and symptoms of abuse and help break the cycle, finding out where to get help for the kids and their caregivers.

Facts about abuse and neglect—

How could anyone abuse a defenseless child? Most of us can’t imagine what would make an adult abuse a child. The worse the behavior is, the more unimaginable it seems. Yet sadly, abuse is much more common than you might think. Abuse cuts across social classes and all ethnicities. And the abuse overwhelmingly is at the hands of those who are supposed to be protecting the child- the parents.

What is abuse?

Abuse happens in many different ways, but the result is the same- serious physical or emotional harm. Physical or sexual abuse may be the most striking types of abuse, since they often unfortunately leave physical evidence behind. However, emotional abuse and neglect are serious types of abuse that are often more subtle and difficult to spot. Child neglect is the most common type of abuse.

How can abuse happen?

There are many complicated factors that lead to abuse. Risk factors for abuse include:
  • Alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse lead to serious lapses in judgment. They can interfere with impulse control making emotional and physical abuse more likely. Due to impairment caused by being intoxicated, alcohol and drug abuse frequently lead to child neglect.
  • Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence in the home, as well as the chaos and instability that is the result, is emotional abuse to a child. Frequently domestic violence will escalate to physical violence against the child as well.
  • History of abuse. Unfortunately, the patterns we learn in childhood are often what we use as parents. Without treatment and insight, sadly, the cycle of abuse often continues.
  • Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time intensive, difficult job. Moms and dads caring for kids without support from family, friends or the community can be under a lot of stress. Teen parents often struggle with the maturity and patience needed to be a parent. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. Caregivers who are under financial or relationship stress are at risk as well.

The lasting effects of abuse—

All types of abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self and ability to have healthy relationships.

You can make a difference—

One of the most painful effects of abuse is its tendency to repeat itself. One of every three abused or neglected kids will grow up to become an abusive parent. You may be reluctant to interfere in someone’s family, but you can make a huge difference in a child’s life if you do. The earlier abused kids get help, the greater chance they have to heal from their abuse and not perpetuate the cycle.

Physical abuse: Warning signs and how to help—

Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline, ways to make kids learn to behave. But there’s a big difference between giving an unmanageable youngster a swat on the backside and twisting the child’s arm until it breaks. Physical abuse can include striking a youngster with the hand, fist, or foot or with an object, burning, shaking, pushing, or throwing a child; pinching or biting the child, pulling a youngster by the hair or cutting off a child’s air. Another form of abuse involving babies is shaken baby syndrome, in which a frustrated caregiver shakes a baby roughly to make the baby stop crying, causing brain damage that often leads to severe neurological problems and even death.

Warning signs of physical abuse—
  • Behavioral signs. Other times, signs of physical abuse may be more subtle. The youngster may be fearful, shy away from touch or appear to be afraid to go home. A child’s clothing may be inappropriate for the weather, such as heavy, long sleeved pants and shirts on hot days.
  • Caregiver signs. Physically abusive caregivers may display anger management issues and excessive need for control. Their explanation of the injury might not ring true, or may be different from an older child’s description of the injury.
  • Physical signs. Sometimes physical abuse has clear warning signs, such as unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts. While all kids will take a tumble now and then, look for age-inappropriate injuries, injuries that appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt, or a pattern of severe injuries.

Is physical punishment the same as physical abuse?

Physical punishment, the use of physical force with the intent of inflicting bodily pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control, used to be a very common form of discipline. Most of us know it as spanking or paddling. Many of us may feel we were spanked as kids without damage to body or psyche. The widespread use of physical punishment, however, doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. The level of force used by an angry or frustrated parent can easily get out of hand and lead to injury. Even if it doesn’t, what a youngster learns from being hit as punishment is less about why conduct is right or wrong than about behaving well — or hiding bad behavior — out of fear of being hit.

Emotional abuse—

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. This old saying could not be farther from the truth. Emotional abuse may seem invisible. However, because emotional abuse involves behavior that interferes with a child’s mental health or social development, the effects can be extremely damaging and may even leave deeper lifelong psychological scars than physical abuse.

Emotional abuse takes many forms, in words and in actions.

Words. Examples of how words can hurt include constant belittling, shaming, and humiliating a child, calling names and making negative comparisons to others, or constantly telling a youngster he or she is “no good," "worthless," "bad," or "a mistake." How the words are spoken can be terrifying to a youngster as well, such as yelling, threatening, or bullying.

Actions. Basic food and shelter may be provided, but withholding love and affection can have devastating effects on a child. Examples include ignoring or rejecting a child, giving him or her the silent treatment. Another strong component of emotional abuse is exposing the youngster to inappropriate situations or behavior. Especially damaging is witnessing acts that cause a feeling of helplessness and horror, such as in domestic violence or watching another sibling or pet be abused.

Signs of emotional abuse—

Behavioral signs. Since emotional abuse does not leave concrete marks, the effects may be harder to detect. Is the youngster excessively shy, fearful or afraid of doing something wrong? Behavioral extremes may also be a clue. A youngster may be constantly trying to parent other kids for example, or on the opposite side exhibit antisocial behavior such as uncontrolled aggression. Look for inappropriate age behaviors as well, such as an older youngster exhibiting behaviors more commonly found in younger kids.

Caregiver signs. Does a caregiver seem unusually harsh and critical of a child, belittling and shaming him or her in front of others? Has the caregiver shown anger or issues with control in other areas? A caregiver may also seem strangely unconcerned with a child’s welfare or performance. Keep in mind that there might not be immediate caregiver signs. Tragically, many emotionally abusive caregivers can present a kind outside face to the world, making the abuse of the youngster all the more confusing and scary.

Sexual abuse—

Sexual abuse, defined as any sexual act between an adult and a child, has components of both physical and emotional abuse. Sexual abuse can be physical, such as inappropriate fondling, touching and actual sexual penetration. It can also be emotionally abusive, as in cases where a youngster is forced to undress or exposing a youngster to adult sexuality. Aside from the physical damage that sexual abuse can cause, the emotional component is powerful and far reaching. The layer of shame that accompanies sexual abuse makes the behavior doubly traumatizing. While news stories of sexual predators are scary, what is even more frightening is that the adult who sexually abuses a youngster or adolescent is usually someone the youngster knows and is supposed to trust: a relative, childcare provider, family friend, neighbor, teacher, coach, or clergy member. Kids may worry that others won’t believe them and will be angry with them if they tell. They may believe that the abuse is their fault, and the shame is devastating and can cause lifelong effects.

Signs of sexual abuse—
  • Behavioral signs. Does the youngster display knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior? A youngster might appear to avoid another person, or display unusual behavior- either being very aggressive or very passive. Older kids might resort to destructive behaviors to take away the pain, such as alcohol or drug abuse, self-mutilation, or suicide attempts.
  • Caregiver signs. The caregiver may seem to be unusually controlling and protective of the child, limiting contact with other kids and adults. Again, as with other types of abuse, sometimes the caregiver does not give outward signs of concern. This does not mean the youngster is lying or exaggerating.
  • Physical signs. A youngster may have trouble sitting or standing, or have stained, bloody or torn underclothes. Swelling, bruises, or bleeding in the genital area is a red flag. An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14, is a strong cause of concern.

Sexual abuse: The online risk—

Kids who use the Internet are also vulnerable to Internet predators. Among the warning signs of online sexual abuse are these:
  • You find pornography on your child's computer.
  • Your youngster becomes withdrawn from the family.
  • Your youngster receives phone calls or mail from people you don't know, or makes calls to numbers that you don’t recognize.
  • Your youngster spends large amounts of time online, especially at night, and may turn the computer monitor off or quickly change the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.

Child neglect—

Child neglect is the most frequent form of abuse. Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child's basic needs, endangering a child’s physical and psychological well-being. Child neglect is not always deliberate. Sometimes, a caregiver becomes physically or mentally unable to care for a child, such as in untreated depression or anxiety. Other times, alcohol or drug abuse may seriously impair judgment and the ability to keep a youngster safe. The end result, however, is a youngster who is not getting their physical and/or emotional needs met.

Warning signs of child neglect—
  • Behavioral signs. Does the youngster seem to be unsupervised? School kids may be frequently late or tardy. The youngster might show troublesome, disruptive behavior or be withdrawn and passive.
  • Caregiver signs. Does the caregiver have problems with drugs or alcohol? While most of us have a little clutter in the home, is the caregiver’s home filthy and unsanitary? Is there adequate food in the house? A caregiver might also show reckless disregard for the child’s safety, letting older kids play unsupervised or leaving a baby unattended. A caregiver might refuse or delay necessary health care for the child.
  • Physical signs. A youngster may consistently be dressed inappropriately for the weather, or have ill-fitting, dirty clothes and shoes. They might appear to have consistently bad hygiene, like appearing very dirty, matted and unwashed hair, or noticeable body odor. Another warning sign is untreated illnesses and physical injuries.

What to do if a youngster reports abuse—

You may feel overwhelmed and confused if a youngster begins talking to you about abuse. It is a difficult subject and hard to accept, and you might not know what to say. The best help you can provide is calm, unconditional support and reassurance. Let your actions speak for you if you are having trouble finding the words. Remember that it is a tremendous act of courage for kids to come forward about abuse. They might have been told specifically not to tell, and may even feel that the abuse is normal. They might feel they are to blame for the abuse. The youngster is looking to you to provide support and help- don’t let him or her down.

Avoid denial and remain calm. A common reaction to news as unpleasant and shocking as abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the youngster may be afraid to continue and will shut down. As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can.

Don’t interrogate. Let the youngster explain to you in his/her own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the youngster or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the youngster and make it harder for them to continue their story.

Reassure the youngster that they did nothing wrong. It takes a lot for a youngster to come forward about abuse. Reassure him or her that you take what is said seriously, and that it is not the child’s fault.

Reporting abuse and neglect—

Reporting abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives. However, by reporting, you can make a tremendous difference in the life of a youngster and the child’s family, especially if you help stop the abuse early. Early identification and treatment can help mitigate the long-term effects of abuse. If the abuse is stopped and the youngster receives competent treatment, the abused youngster can begin to regain a sense of self-confidence and trust. Some moms and dads may also benefit from support, parent training and anger management.

Reporting abuse: Myths and Facts—
  • I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of abuse are life long, affecting future relationships, self esteem, and sadly putting even more kids at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of abuse.
  • It won’t make a difference what I have to say. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
  • They will know it was me who called. Reporting is anonymous. In most states, you do not have to give your name when you report abuse. The abuser cannot find out who made the report of abuse.
  • What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in youngster protective services is keeping kids in the home. A abuse report does not mean a youngster is automatically removed from the home - unless the youngster is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.

Abuse Hotlines: Where to call to get help or report abuse—

If you suspect a youngster is in immediate danger contact law enforcement as soon as possible.
  • To get help in the U.S., call: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) – Childhelp National Abuse Hotline
  • To get help for child sexual abuse, call: 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) – Stop It Now
  • 1-800-656-HOPE Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

Abuse prevention—

Reducing the incidence of abuse is a matter of intervention and education.


In some cases, as in cases of extreme cruelty, sexual abuse, and severe alcohol and drug abuse, kids are safer away from the caregiver. Not all abusive moms and dads intend harm to their kids, however. Some moms and dads need help to realize that they are hurting their kids, and can work on their problems. Some examples include:
  • Alcohol and drug abuse. Alcohol and drug abusers may be so focused on their addiction that they are hurting their kids without realizing it. Getting appropriate help and support for alcohol and drug abuse can help moms and dads focus back on their kids.
  • Domestic violence. A mother might be trying to do her best to protect her kids from an abusive husband, not realizing that the kids are being emotionally abused even if they are not physically abused. Helping a mother leave an abusive relationship and getting supportive counseling can help stop these kids from being abused.
  • Untreated mental illness. A depressed mother might not be able to respond to her own needs much less her kid’s. A caregiver suffering from emotional trauma may be distant and withdrawn from her kids, or quick to anger without understanding why. Treatment for the caregiver means better care for the kids.

In some cases, you might be able to provide support for parents/caregivers who need help yourself. What if a parent or caregiver comes to you? The key is not to be self-righteous or judgmental, which can alienate caregivers, but offer support and concrete offers of help, such as helping them connect with community resources. If you feel that your safety or the safety of the youngster would be threatened if you try to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later after the initial professional intervention.


Some caregivers have not learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Teen parents, for example, might have unrealistic expectations about how much care babies need or why toddlers can be so prone to tantrums. Other times, previous societal and cultural expectations of good child raising may not be considered so today. In previous generations and in many cultures, for example, strict physical discipline was considered to be essential in teaching a youngster to behave. Education can greatly help caregivers who need information on raising kids. Parenting classes can not only be effective for teen parents, but for parents who themselves were abused and need to learn new parenting patterns. Education on managing stress and building healthier relationships also helps caregivers.

Kids need education as well to help protect against abuse. They need to know that abuse is never their fault and is never “OK”. Teaching a youngster about inappropriate touch and that they should never keep secrets that make them uncomfortable can help prevent sexual abuse.

For caregivers—

Do you see yourself in some of these descriptions, painful as it may be? Do you feel angry and frustrated and don’t know where to turn? Caring for kids can be very difficult. Don’t go it alone. Ask for help if you need it. If you don’t have a friend or family to turn to, call the abuse hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD, yourself. The hotline is also designed to get you support and find resources in the community that can help you.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

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.

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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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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content