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Six-Step Plan for Teachers of Aspergers Students

Following the six-step plan, detailed below, will help prepare you for the entrance of a youngster with Aspergers (high functioning autism) in your classroom, as well as foster inclusion throughout the school. The steps are as follows: (1) educate yourself; (2) reach out to the moms and dads; (3) prepare the classroom; (4) educate peers and promote social goals; (5) collaborate on the implementation of an educational program; and (6) manage behavioral challenges.

Step 1: Educate Yourself—

As the person responsible for the education and behavior management of all your children, including a youngster with Aspergers, you must have a working understanding of Aspergers and its associated behaviors. Different behaviors are very much a part of Aspergers. When kids with Aspergers do not respond to the use of language or act out in class, it is typically not because they are ignoring you, trying to clown around, or waste class time. These behaviors may be more related to their Aspergers, and they may be having difficulty interpreting language and expressing their needs in socially acceptable ways. It is important to find ways to create a comfortable environment for your children with Aspergers so that they can participate meaningfully in the classroom.

Learning about Aspergers in general and about the specific characteristics of your child will help you effectively manage this behavior and teach your class. You have already started your education by reading this guide. Below are some helpful hints that can guide everyday school life for young people with Aspergers. They can be applied to individuals with Aspergers across the school years and are applicable to almost all environments.

Operate on “Asperger time.” “Asperger time” means, “Twice as much time, half as much done.” Children with Aspergers often need additional time to complete assignments, to gather materials, and to orient themselves during transitions. Provide this time or modify requirements so they can fit in the time allotted and match the child’s pace. Avoid rushing a youngster with Aspergers, as this typically results in the youngster shutting down. When time constraints are added to an already stressful day, the child can become overwhelmed and immobilized.

Manage the environment. Any changes―unexpected changes, in particular―can increase anxiety in a child with Aspergers; even changes considered to be minor can cause significant stress. Whenever possible, provide consistency in the schedule and avoid sudden changes. Prepare the youngster for changes by discussing them in advance, over-viewing a social narrative on the change, or showing a picture of the change. The environment can also be managed by incorporating child preferences that may serve to decrease his or her stress. For example, when going on a field trip, the child might be assigned to sit with a group of preferred peers. Or if the field trip is going to include lunch, the child has access to the menu the day before so he or she can plan what to eat.

Create a balanced agenda. Make a visual schedule that includes daily activities for children with Aspergers. It is essential that the demands of the daily schedule or certain classes or activities be monitored and restructured, as needed. For example, “free time,” which is considered fun for typically developing youth, may be challenging for children with Aspergers because of noise levels, unpredictability of events, and social skills problems.

For a youngster with Aspergers, free time may have to be structured with prescribed activities to reduce stress and anxiety. A good scheduling strategy is to alternate between preferred and non-preferred activities with periods in the schedule for downtime. It is important to distinguish free time from downtime. Free time refers to periods during the school day when children are engaged in unstructured activities that have marked social demands and limited teacher supervision. Lunch time, passing time between classes, and time at school before classes actually begin all meet the criteria for free time. These activities are stressful for many children with Aspergers. Downtime, on the other hand, provides an opportunity for the youngster or youth with Aspergers to relax or de-stress. Children’ downtime may include using sensory items, drawing, or listening to music to relieve stress. During downtime, excessive demands are not made on the children.

Share the agenda. Children with Aspergers have difficulty distinguishing between essential and nonessential information. In addition, they often do not remember information that many of us have learned from past experiences or that to others come as common sense. Thus, it is important to state the obvious. One way to do this is to “live out loud.” Naming what you are doing helps the youngster with Aspergers accurately put together what you are doing with the why and the how. In addition, “living out loud” helps the child to stay on task and anticipate what will happen next.

Simplify language. Keep your language concise and simple, and speak at a slow deliberate pace. Do not expect a child with Aspergers to “read between the lines,” understand abstract concepts like sarcasm, or know what you mean by using facial expression only. Be specific when providing instructions. Ensure that the youngster with Aspergers knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Be clear, and clarify as needed.

Manage change of plans. When planning activities, make sure the child with Aspergers is aware that the activities are planned, not guaranteed. Children with Aspergers need to understand that activities can be changed, canceled, or rescheduled. In addition, create backup plans and share them with the youngster with Aspergers. When an unavoidable situation occurs, be flexible and recognize that change is stressful for people with Aspergers; adapt expectations and your language accordingly.

For example, a teacher could state, “Our class is scheduled to go to the park tomorrow. If it rains, you can read your favorite book on dinosaurs.” Prepare children for change whenever possible; tell them about assemblies, fire drills, guest speakers, and testing schedules. In addition to changes within the school day, recurring transitions, such as vacations and the beginning and end of the school year, may cause a youngster with Aspergers to be anxious about the change. Children with Aspergers may require additional time to adjust to the new schedule and/or environment.

Provide reassurance. Because children with Aspergers cannot predict upcoming events, they are often unsure about what they are to do. Provide information and reassurance frequently so that the child knows he is moving in the right direction or completing the correct task. Use frequent check-ins to monitor child progress and stress.

Be generous with praise. Find opportunities throughout the day to tell young people with Aspergers what they did right. Compliment attempts as well as successes. Be specific to ensure that the child with Aspergers knows why the teacher is providing praise.

Step 2: Reach Out to the Parents—

It is vitally important to develop a working partnership with the moms and dads of your child with Aspergers. They are your first and best source of information about their youngster and Aspergers as it manifests itself in that youngster’s behavior and daily activities. Ideally, this partnership will begin with meetings before the school year. After that, it is critical to establish mutually agreed-upon modes and patterns of communication with the family throughout the school year. Your first conversations with the family should focus on the individual characteristics of the child, identifying strengths and areas of challenge. The family may have suggestions for practical accommodations that can be made in the classroom to help the youngster function at his or her highest potential. In these conversations, it is critical to establish a tone of mutual respect while maintaining realistic expectations for the course of the year.

Building trust with the moms and dads is very important. Communication with families about the progress of the child should be ongoing. If possible, schedule a monthly meeting to discuss the youngster’s progress and any problems he or she may be having. If regular telephone calls or meetings are hard to schedule, you can exchange journals, e-mails, or audiotapes with families. While the information you exchange may often focus on current classroom challenges, strategies employed, and ideas for alternative solutions, do not forget to include positive feedback on accomplishments and milestones reached. Families could respond with their perspective on the problem and their suggestions for solutions. Families can also support you from home in your social and behavioral goals for your child with Aspergers.

Open, ongoing communication with families of children with Aspergers creates a powerful alliance. Be aware that some families may have had negative experiences with other schools or educators in the past. You will have to help them work through that. If you make the effort to communicate with the family about the progress of their youngster and listen to their advice and suggestions, they will accept you as their youngster’s advocate and thus be more likely to give you their complete support.

Step 3: Prepare the Classroom—

Having learned about the individual sensitivities and characteristics of your child with Aspergers, you now have the information you need to organize your classroom appropriately. There are ways that you can manipulate the physical aspects of your classroom and ways you can place kids with Aspergers within the classroom to make them more comfortable without sacrificing your plans for the class in general. Use the search bar at the top of this page for more information about specific approaches for structuring the academic and physical environment to address the particular behaviors, sensitivities, and characteristics of your individual child with Aspergers.

Step 4: Educate Peers and Promote Social Goals—

Perhaps the most common myth about kids with Aspergers is that they do not have the ability, motivation, or desire to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with others, including friendships with peers. This, for the most part, is not true. There is no doubt that kids with Aspergers have social deficits that make it more difficult for them to establish friendships than typically developing kids. However, with appropriate assistance, kids with Aspergers can engage with peers and establish mutually enjoyable and lasting relationships. It is critical that educators of kids with Aspergers believe this to be true and expect children with Aspergers to make and maintain meaningful relationships with the adults and other kids in the classroom.

Clearly stated social skills, behaviors, and objectives should be part of the IEP and assessed regularly for progress. While teasing may be a common occurrence in the everyday school experience for young people, kids with Aspergers often cannot discriminate between playful versus mean-spirited teasing. Educators and moms and dads can help kids with Aspergers recognize the difference and respond appropriately. A more serious form of teasing is bullying. It is important for educators and school staff to know that children with Aspergers are potentially prime targets of bullying or excessive teasing and to be vigilant for the signs of such activities to protect the youngster’s safety and self-esteem.

One strategy for educators could be to assign a “buddy” or safe child in the classroom. In this way, the child with Aspergers would have a friend to listen to them and to report any potential conflicts with other children. Also, educators should routinely check in with the child with Aspergers and/or the moms and dads to ensure the comfort of the child in the classroom. In addition to the “buddy” strategy described above, it may also be important to educate typically developing children about the common traits and behaviors of kids with Aspergers.

The characteristics of Aspergers can cause peers to perceive a youngster with the disorder as odd or different, which can lead to situations that involve teasing or bullying. Research shows that typically developing peers have more positive attitudes, increased understanding, and greater acceptance of kids with Aspergers when provided with clear, accurate, and straightforward information about the disorder. When educated about Aspergers and specific strategies for how to effectively interact with kids with Aspergers, more frequent and positive social interactions are likely to result.

Many of the social interactions occur outside the classroom in the cafeteria and on the playground. Without prior planning and extra help, children with Aspergers may end up sitting by themselves during these unstructured times. To ensure this does not happen, you may consider a rotating assignment of playground peer buddies for the child with Aspergers. The child will then have a chance to observe and model appropriate social behavior of different classmates throughout the year. This “circle of friends” can also be encouraged outside of school. The academic and social success of young people with Aspergers can be greatly enhanced when the classroom environment supports their unique challenges. Peer education interventions, such as those listed in the Resources section of this guide, can be used with little training and have been shown to improve outcomes for both typically developing peers and young people with developmental disorders, such as autism and Aspergers.

Step 5: Collaborate on the Educational Program Development—

The next key step in your preparations will be to participate in the development and implementation of an educational program for your child with Aspergers. It is critical to develop this plan based on the assessment of the youngster’s current academic skills and his or her educational goals, as defined in the IEP.

A Brief Legislative History…

Congress passed the Education of All Handicapped Kids Act in 1975 and reauthorized it in 1990 as IDEA. This legislation guarantees that all children with disabilities will be provided a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). It also states that children with disabilities should be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE), where they can make progress toward achieving their IEP goals, meaning that as much as possible, kids with disabilities should be educated with kids who are not disabled. Finally, it states that children with disabilities must have an IEP, which describes the child’s current level of functioning, his or her goals for the year, and how these goals will be supported through special services.

IEPs are an important focus of the six-step plan, and they are discussed in greater detail below. Because the challenges associated with Aspergers affect many key aspects of development, the impact of the disorder on education and learning is profound. Therefore, kids with Aspergers are considered disabled under the IDEA guidelines and are legally entitled to an IEP plan and appropriate accommodations from the school to help them achieve their developmental and academic goals.

Individualized Education Program…

IEPs are created by a multidisciplinary team of education professionals, along with the youngster’s moms and dads, and are tailored to the needs of the individual child. The IEP is a blueprint for everything that will happen to a youngster in school for the next year. Special and general education educators, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, school psychologists, and families form the IEP team and meet intermittently to discuss child progress on IEP goals.

Before the IEP team meets, an assessment team gathers information together about the child to make an evaluation and recommendation. The school psychologist, social worker, classroom teacher, and/or speech pathologist are examples of educational professionals who conduct educational assessments. A neurologist may conduct a medical evaluation, and an audiologist may complete hearing tests. The classroom teacher also gives input about the academic progress and classroom behavior of the child. Moms and dads give input to each specialist throughout the process. Then, one person on the evaluation team coordinates all the information, and the team meets to make recommendations to the IEP team. The IEP team, which consists of the school personnel who work with the child and families, then meets to write the IEP based on the evaluation and team member suggestions.

IEPs always include annual goals, short-term objectives, and special education services required by the child, as well as a yearly evaluation to see if the goals were met. Annual goals must explain measurable behaviors so that it is clear what progress should have been made by the end of the year. The short-term objectives should contain incremental and sequential steps toward meeting each annual goal. Annual goals and short-term objectives can be about developing social and communication skills, or reducing problem behavior. Appendix E (page 61) provides more information on IEP and transition planning for children with Aspergers, including writing objectives and developing measurable IEP goals for learners with Aspergers.

As a general education teacher, you will be responsible for reporting back to the IEP team on the child’s progress toward meeting specific academic, social, and behavioral goals and objectives as outlined in the IEP. You also will be asked for input about developing new goals for the child in subsequent and review IEP meetings. This resource can decrease the time spent documenting the child’s performance in a comprehensive manner.

Step 6: Manage Behavioral Challenges—

Many children with Aspergers view school as a stressful environment. Commonplace academic and social situations can present several stressors to these children that are ongoing and of great magnitude. Examples of these stressors include:
  • Anticipating changes, such as classroom lighting, sounds/noises, odors, etc.
  • Difficulty predicting events because of changing schedules
  • Interacting with peers
  • Tuning into and understanding teacher’s directions

Children with Aspergers rarely indicate in any overt way that they are under stress or are experiencing difficulty coping. In fact, they may not always know that they are near a stage of crisis. However, meltdowns do not occur without warning. There is a pattern of behavior, which is sometimes subtle, that can indicate a forthcoming behavioral outburst for a young person with Aspergers. For example, a child who is not blinking may well be so neurologically overloaded that they have “tuned out.” They may appear to be listening to a lesson when, in fact, they are taking nothing in. Tantrums, rage, and meltdowns (terms that are used interchangeably) typically occur in three stages that can be of variable length. These stages and associated interventions are described below. The best intervention for these behavioral outbursts is to prevent them through the use of appropriate academic, environmental, social, and sensory supports and modification to environment and expectations.

The Cycle of Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns and Related Interventions…


During the initial stage, young people with Aspergers exhibit specific behavioral changes that may appear to be minor, such as nail biting, tensing muscles, or otherwise indicating discomfort. During this stage, it is imperative that an adult intervene without becoming part of a struggle.


Effective interventions during this stage include: antiseptic bouncing, proximity control, support from routine and home base. All of these strategies can be effective in stopping the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns and can help the youngster regain control with minimal adult support.


If behavior is not diffused during the rumbling stage, the young person may move to the rage stage. At this point, the youngster is disinhibited and acts impulsively, emotionally, and sometimes explosively. These behaviors may be externalized (i.e., screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, destroying property, or self-injury) or internalized (i.e., withdrawal). Meltdowns are not purposeful, and once the rage stage begins, it most often must run its course.


Emphasis should be placed on youngster, peer, and adult safety, as well as protection of school, home, or personal property. Of importance here is helping the individual with Aspergers regain control and preserve dignity. Adults should have developed plans for (a) obtaining assistance from educators, such as a crisis teacher or principal; (b) removing the child from the area [removing the upset child from the peer group is far less memorable for the peers than is moving the entire peer group away from the upset child]; or (c) providing therapeutic restraint, if necessary. Especially in elementary and middle school, every effort should be made to prevent allowing a child to have a meltdown in view of peers as this behavior tends to “define” the child in the peers’ minds in years ahead.


Following a meltdown, the youngster with Aspergers often cannot fully remember what occurred during the rage stage. Some may become sullen, withdraw, or deny that inappropriate behavior occurred. Other individuals are so physically exhausted that they need to sleep.


During the recovery stage, kids are often not ready to learn. Thus, it is important that adults work with them to help them to once again become a part of the routine. This is often best accomplished by directing the youth to a highly motivating task that can be easily accomplished, such as an activity related to a special interest. If appropriate, when the child has calmed sufficiently, “process” the incident with the child. Staff should analyze the incident to identify whether or not the environment, expectations, or staff behavior played a role in precipitating the incident.

Pulling It All Together—

The six-step plan presents a constructive framework for how to approach the inclusion of a youngster with Aspergers in your classroom. Specific strategies for developing and providing academic, environmental, and social supports are given in the Appendices of this guide. Your classroom is already a diverse place, including many children with varying backgrounds, talents, difficulties, and interests. With the increasing inclusion of children with Aspergers, the challenges associated with managing a diverse classroom into today’s educational environment will grow. Just as every youngster with Aspergers is different, so is every school environment. It is quite likely that there will be constraints -- environmental, interpersonal, financial, and administrative -- on the ways that you can implement the approaches suggested in the Guide.

Despite the challenges, your hard work makes a difference in the lives of all the kids in the classroom. It is clear, though, that kids with Aspergers may need more help and support than some of your typically developing children.

As you learn more about kids with differences and how to support their inclusion in the classroom, you will become a mentor to other educators who may be facing this challenge for the first time. Many of the skills that make you a powerful educator will help you succeed in the tasks ahead of you. Your curiosity will fuel your education about Aspergers and other disorders on the autism spectrum; your communication skills will help you create a meaningful alliance with the moms and dads of the youngster with Aspergers in your class.

Most of all, your collaboration skills will help you work as a key part of the team that will support the youngster with Aspergers throughout the course of the school year. The reward for your patience, kindness, and professionalism will be the unique sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you have helped a youngster with a special need and will have made a difference in that young person’s life! 

Struggling with an Aspergers student? Click here for highly effective teaching strategies -- specific to the Aspergers condition.

Stephen's Story: Parents Share Their "Aspergers" Experience

While we are a bit sad about our son Stephen's diagnosis of Aspergers, we are also actually somewhat happy to find out. Finally, we have direction and some understanding!

Just like you read about kids with Aspergers or PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified), Stephen has a lot of idiosyncracies, practices, attitudes, etc. that get him in trouble and teased and ridiculed.

He's also very sad at times, very depressed to the point of talking about suicide at least every other day.

We had problems with him being attacked at school, over and over again, and after much screaming and threats of lawsuit over the lack of safety contributing to Stephen being repeatedly assaulted we were finally granted a meeting with the Director of Pupil Services, the District Psychologist and the Principal and Vice Principal of the school.

After reciting Stephen's history to the District Psychologist she then asked us if anyone had ever mentioned Aspergers in regards to Stephen's difficulties.

As soon as that meeting was over and we got home I started researching Aspergers online and it wasn't long before I was convinced that this is what Stephen has been dealing with all this time.

I downloaded information from online, highlighted sections and made notes that were specific to Stephen's issues and scheduled a couple appointments, one with a psychiatrist (med doctor) and one with a particular psychologist whom Stephen is familiar with and connects with.

Our suspicions were confirmed and Stephen was officially diagnosed with Aspergers in November 2005.

After his diagnosis, his depression subsided quite substantially. I think it's because of a few reasons...

1. I think our son somewhat realizes that we understand him better and sees that we are fighting for him to make life in school smoother for him.

2. The psychiatrist that he has started seeing (he was seeing just a behavioral doctor for behavioral issues) has changed his medication, he eliminated the Risperdal and put him on Prozac.

3. We are able to understand him better and we now realize that he's not necessarily purposely breaking rules, not necessarily purposely hurting feelings and not necessarily purposely 'bugging' people and because of this new-found understanding we are working with him differently now.

4. Mark Hutten’s eBook entitled My Aspergers Child has given us the tools to deal with Stephen’s meltdowns. We had no idea what to do about these intense temper tantrums before. But the information in the eBook and videos has made a tremendous difference in how we react to our son, which in turn has made a big difference in how our son reacts to us – his parents. There is much less tension in our home now, which gives everyone more energy to focus on the really important things.

Building Self-Esteem in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

"How can I help my very depressed 13 y.o. lad to develop some self-esteem? He feels like nobody NOBODY likes him right now :(  Is this common for children on the autism spectrum? Would it have anything to do with puberty?"

Youngsters with ASD can oftentimes FEEL that they are different. This can affect his/her self-esteem. As a parent, this can break your heart. 

Here are some ideas to help your youngster to build up his self-esteem again:

Kids with ASD have a much harder time with their self-esteem. They often perceive the constant correction of their behaviors and their social interactions as criticism. The frequent visits to doctors, or speech therapists, or OTs, the testing and the stream of interventions that we try with them can easily leave them feeling like they're under the microscope, a specimen that warrants investigation, a person who needs fixing.

Expressive and comprehensive communication has a direct impact on a youngster's self-esteem. These are areas that do not come easily to kids or adults with ASD. Understanding subtle jokes and participating in human interplay, actions natural to their neuro-typical peers, further increase their feelings of 'not fitting in' and erode their self-esteem. Combine all this with the expectations of siblings and the all-too-frequent bullying interactions from many peers and it's easy to understand how devastated a youngster with ASD can feel.

What can we do? It's critical for us, as family members, educators, and professionals to learn strategies and techniques! In our not-too-distant past, institutional placement was the standard intervention for people with ASD. While that is not the case today, we still encounter lack of understanding and appreciation for the unique qualities of the person with ASD. Everyone, especially these visual learners, need a constant reminder of how special they truly are. We must find ways to give them their own Teddy Bear (or dinosaur!) so they will feel "L.C.B." on their own.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism
But how do we really build their self-esteem? It starts with us examining our own ideas of how we view kids with ASD. We must believe in their value ourselves before we can ever change their minds. These kids know when we're faking our compliments or arbitrarily handing out encouragement because the therapy book says we should give 5 positive comments to each correction. It involves empathy, walking in their shoes, rather than sympathy; no one wants to be felt sorry for. Each youngster is a gift, with his or her own special qualities. We just need to look for these special gifts, tune into the youngster with our hearts, and bring their essence out.

Knowledge is power and nowhere is it more powerful than in helping people better understand what it's like to have ASD. Explain the disorder to everyone involved with the youngster. This will increase their empathy and provide opportunities for genuine praise and encouragement. Explain ASD to the youngster, too, when he is able to understand his disability. Who are we really kidding, other than ourselves, when we pretend a youngster does not have the "label" or we try to camouflage it? Who are we hurting? It's the youngster with ASD who is hurt in the long run.

Go to conferences, read books, research and share information that takes into consideration the many sensory, social, behavioral and communication challenges faced by the youngster at his/her functioning level. Armed with this understanding of how the disability affects the youngster, you and others can better find ways to help him or her fit in.

Remember to teach extended family, educators, other parents and professionals all you can to help integration and provide a deeper understanding when trying to teach particular skills. Be intuitive when advocating for kids and persistent in your approach, though not abrasive. Having a positive mental attitude, especially when advocating, helps others want to cooperate with us. After all, who wants to deal with anyone cranky?

Bridge the interactions between peers and the youngster with ASD. Visually and verbally interpret what you think they both are thinking and/or feeling based on your own experiences when you were their age, and your understanding of ASD.

By teaching others about ASD, more people will become aware of this invisible disability. When people understand empathetically, they will more naturally accept the youngster with ASD, as he is. This is often effective in reducing or eliminating bullying from peers, too.

Learn to correct behaviors by sandwiching the correction in the middle of positive feedback. For example, "Sammy, you are doing a great job cleaning your room. If you pick up the clothes over there it would look even neater. Boy, you sure are a good

Kids with ASD often times have an incredible sense of humor. I have to stop myself from laughing so my own son doesn't feel like I'm laughing "at" him, causing him to feel inadequate. Sometimes I'll even say "I'm not laughing at you, Jonny, I'm laughing with you."

Stress the positives! Look for the good in every youngster, even if you don't see it at first. Pretending to be Pollyanna can only help, but make sure you're genuine in what you say. Stress the good effort your youngster is making, if he hasn't yet achieved a goal. Show your confidence in his abilities by telling him that you believe he can succeed. Saying things like this that may not be 100% true initially will contribute to your youngster's trust and belief in himself, raising his self-esteem and encouraging self-motivation to continue trying.

Model a mental attitude of "things are great". Express yourself in the positive, rather than the negative. Kids with ASD are masters at copying what others say, so make sure they're hearing things that are good for them to copy! When we say, "You are great!" to a youngster often enough, he, too, will believe it and feel valued for who he truly is.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism
Encourage kids to share their thoughts and feelings; this is so important and often sheds new light on existing situations. My son, Albert was temporarily removed from the bus after cutting the seat. At first we thought he was acting out, so we had him write an apology to his bus driver. When we read his letter, we discovered that he was being bullied by another student on the bus and that it had been going on for quite some time. We intervened appropriately. The other youngster was reprimanded and Jonny was taught appropriate methods of expressing his anger in the future.

Like most people, kids with ASD feel better about themselves when they're balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Since they are often very picky eaters and gravitate towards junk food, it's important to try supplementing their diet. Also, provide regular physical activity, when possible, to relieve stress and clear their mind.

Set the stage for success by acknowledging their achievements - however small - and reminding them of their past accomplishments. Keep their life manageable and doable, refraining from overwhelming them with so many activities that they become too challenged physically and mentally to succeed at anything. Provide choices to them frequently so they understand they have a say in their own lives and even let them be in charge sometimes. These are all great ways to build self-esteem!

Don't overlook giving them opportunities to connect with their spiritual side through religious avenues or by communing with nature. This can help them feel purposeful, that their lives have meaning and connected with their source.

A strategy that helped raise Albert's self-esteem, especially in overcoming his victim thoughts and feelings, was spiritual affirmations. Using affirmations took some time, but we found that it brought calm and peace to Albert and our family.

Dr. Jerry Jampolsky, author of Love is Letting Go Of Fear and founder of the Center for Attitudinal Healing, offers many principles I find helpful in teaching us to love ourselves, thereby enhancing self-esteem, both in ourselves and then with others. Some of his principles include:
  • Become love finders rather than fault finders
  • Health is inner peace
  • Learn to love others and ourselves by forgiving rather than judging
  • Live in the now
  • The essence of our being is love
  • We can choose to be peaceful inside regardless of what's going on outside
  • We're all students and teachers to each other

Part of Jerry's message is that by focusing on life as a whole, rather than in fragments, we can see what is truly important. His concepts, when embraced, positively affect how a youngster with ASD thinks and feels about him or herself. Anger, resentment, judgment and similar feelings are all forms of fear. Since love and fear cannot co-exist, letting go of fear allows love to be the dominant feeling.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism
Look for the Miracles Daily, there are miracles and good things happening all around us. Learn intimately the challenges that kids with ASD face in their everyday lives. Be on their team by tuning into who they truly are - unique expressions of divine light. Empower them to be themselves, perfectly okay with who and how they are.

Do this by loving them for who they are now, today, not who you think they should become, after ABA, or speech therapy or learning 'appropriate' social skills. Consider that kids and adults with ASD are wonderful beings here to teach us empathy, compassion, understanding and most importantly, how to love. Most importantly, do whatever it takes to include them in life rather than merely integrate their presence.

In genuine star sapphires there are tiny imperfections and inclusions that reflect light perfectly to form a star in the stone. Each youngster with ASD is like this precious gem, unique in every way. Without the tiny inclusions, there would be no star. It is our job as parents, educators and professionals to "bring out the stars" in all of our special kids by shining the light on their natural beauty. In so doing, we see their different abilities rather than their disabilities. And, then they will see them, too.

==> Here's more information on how to build your child's self-esteem and to capitalize on his/her strengths...

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



•    Anonymous said… And that's why we've stopped the social skills groups. Can you imagine being made to work on your worst skill and being constantly scrutinized for it on every turn? Now we do playdates with kids who have similar interests as my son, and he's doing so much better!!!
•    Anonymous said… As an ASPIE aka Aspergers person, my self esteem is put on LOW by those who think everybody should be flawless.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter came to me at a very young age (way before I suspected AS) and told me "I can't do anything right"... young enough that I wouldn't have thought a child would normally be analyzing such things. It made me so sad. I think she actually did pretty good homeschooling, then I put her in public school which is what brought her AS to my attention. It's been a struggle every since and she is not open to counseling or help.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter, who also has severe anxiety, attends a therapeutic high school, which has been great. She has daily in-school counseling and an outside psychiatrist (who she really doesn't have a relationship with). However, she refuses to see an outside counselor (the last one made her cry every time). We tried s social skills group and that didn't work either. Suggestions?
•    Anonymous said… Our social group doesn't focus like that, it is a "community based group", meaning all of the meetings take place in businesses around town: Starbucks, ice skating, a restaurant etc. There are themes the facilitator has in mind to work on, but if another challenge comes into play they work on that. See if you can't get into or create one of those types of groups with the therapy team in your area.
•    Anonymous said… We've been treading very carefully with therapies since our then 7 now 10 ds said he was dumb, stupid, not good at anything and thought he should die....such a fine line between providing good therapeutic support where needed and not making him feel like he's broken and needs fixing.

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Should my ASD teenager get a job?

If you have the perfect situation and your ASD (high functioning autistic) teenager is excited about the opportunity, then go for it. You know your youngster better than anyone, and many ASD teenagers can do very well working for others. 
However, if you are uneasy about sending your teenager off to a job, then consider the possibility of starting a home business with him. You and your teenager can work together. You can help him learn about responsibility, customer service, sales, marketing and book keeping.

Here are some business ideas to consider:

1. Elderly care. Stop by once a day, to bring in their paper, take out their garbage, and check in.

2. Pet Sitting or Grooming. If your teenager loves animals (and doesn’t have allergies), pet sitting can be the perfect way for your teenager to make money and build self-esteem in the process. The only critical thing here is that you have to make sure they are meeting their appointments. Depending on your teenager’s level of responsibility, you may be driving and, possibly going with them. An alternative, of course, is to bring the pet to your home, if that’s an option.

3. Pooper scooper. Yes, you read that right. Yards get messy. People are busy. It’s a perfect fit. It’s not the most pleasant work, but, it is work that you can do on your own schedule. It’s flexible and it pays well.

4. Yard work. Raking, weeding, spreading mulch. All of these things can pay quite well for an ASD teenager. In fact, your teenager could easily make more money per hour than many of his classmates who have regular hourly jobs.

These are just a few of the many ways you and your teenager can build a business together. Please, if your teenager cannot function in a fast paced job like McDonalds or a Movie Theater, then don’t force it. There are ways to help your youngster to learn the skills needed to become an entrepreneur instead.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers 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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