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Aspergers Teens and Poor Academic Performance: 2-Minute Tip

You, the parent, have complained ...threatened ...taken away privileges ...grounded ...and even begged, but your Aspergers teenager still fails to perform according to your (and his teacher's) expectations. If your Aspie continues to bring home nothing but D's and F's, then you may want to follow these tips in order to stop the cycle of "bad grades":

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

What to Expect After the Diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism

Most of the time, High-Functioning Autism (HFA) - or Aspergers - is diagnosed by a developmental doctor, neurologist, psychologist, or team of professionals. The diagnosis is made on the basis of behaviors, delays, and language deficits. That means that no one can diagnose HFA in an infant, and unless your youngster has Rett syndrome or Fragile X, no medical test can "prove" that a youngster truly has the disorder.

Most professionals will provide a specific diagnosis on the spectrum. You may walk away with a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism, Level 2, or Level 3. Occasionally, your youngster will receive additional diagnoses such as "social anxiety" or "non-verbal learning disorder." All of these are descriptive of your youngster's behaviors, and different diagnosticians may give different labels depending on their experience and preference.

What parents can expect from their child’s physician after the diagnosis:

1. Your physician may offer suggestions for treatment. He may support your suggestions for additional treatments. But don't expect your physician to have any idea how you are supposed to pay for those treatments. While some may, in fact, be covered under insurance and/or early intervention programs, it's rare to find a physician who can guide you through that maze.

2. Moms and dads will wonder whether they should press to have their youngster included in typical classrooms, provided with a special class, or educated privately. Since every youngster, school, classroom and program is different -- and since physicians have never seen your youngster in a group setting -- reputable physicians will rarely recommend specific educational setting for your youngster.

3. Your physician can't tell you for sure which treatments will work for your youngster. He may recommend a particular diet, supplement, or treatment program. But until you try it, there's no way to know whether it will work for your individual son or daughter.

4. Unless your youngster has Fragile X or Rett syndrome (both of which can be identified through genetic markers), your doctor will not know why your youngster has HFA. Depending on his leanings, you may hear words like "genetics," "vaccines," or "inflammation." But the truth is that no physician has enough information to reliably explain the factors that lie behind your youngster's diagnosis.

5. Most moms and dads will ask questions (e.g., “Will my youngster get better?”). Most reputable physicians will respond with vague answers – or even no answer at all. That's because no one really knows how far your youngster will develop, and even kids with profound disabilities can amaze moms and dads and professionals with their developmental leaps.

6. While some physicians may recommend specific biomedical treatments, neither they nor any other medical professional can tell you which of the many available non-medical treatments will be best for your youngster. They may suggest applied behavior analysis (ABA) based on a general understanding that ABA is well-researched. But no expert can tell you whether ABA is a better choice than, say, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What ABA involves:

Done correctly, ABA intervention for HFA is not a "one size fits all" approach consisting of a "canned" set of programs or drills. On the contrary, every aspect of intervention is customized to each child's skills, needs, interests, preferences, and family situation. For those reasons, an ABA program for one child might look somewhat different than a program for another child. But genuine, comprehensive ABA programs for these children have certain things in common:
  • Abundant positive reinforcement for useful skills and socially appropriate behaviors
  • An emphasis on positive social interactions, and on making learning fun
  • An emphasis on skills that will enable HFA children to be independent and successful in both the short and the long run
  • Detailed assessment of each child's skills as well as child and family preferences to determine initial treatment goals
  • Frequent review of progress data by the behavior analyst so that goals and procedures can be "fine tuned" as needed
  • Instruction on developmentally appropriate goals in skill areas (e.g., communication, social, self-care, play and leisure, motor, and academic skills)
  • Intervention designed and overseen directly by qualified, well-trained professional behavior analysts
  • Intervention provided consistently for many hours each week
  • Many opportunities - specifically planned and naturally occurring - for each child to acquire and practice skills every day, in structured and unstructured situations
  • No reinforcement for behaviors that are harmful or prevent learning
  • Ongoing objective measurement of child progress
  • Parent training so family members can teach and support skills during typical family activities
  • Regular meetings between family members and program staff to plan, review progress, and make adjustments
  • Selection of goals that are meaningful for the child and the family
  • Skills broken down into small parts or steps that are manageable for the child, and taught from simple to complex
  • Use of multiple behavior analytic procedures - both adult-directed and child-initiated - to promote learning in a variety of ways
  • Use of techniques to help trained skills carry over to various places, people, and times, and to enable HFA children to acquire new skills in a variety of settings

Competently delivered ABA intervention can help HFA and Aspergers children make meaningful changes in many areas. Quality ABA programs address a wide range of skill areas, but the focus is always on the individual child, so goals vary from child to child, depending on age, level of functioning, family needs and interests, and other factors. The rate of progress also varies from one child to the next. Some acquire skills quickly, others more slowly. In fact, an individual child may make rapid progress in one skill area (e.g., Math), but need much more instruction and practice to master another (e.g., interacting with peers).

What CBT involves:

Children on the autism spectrum can be prone to depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders and other mental health issues. CBT is one of a range of treatment options. It is a psychotherapy based on modifying everyday thoughts and behaviors, with the aim of positively influencing emotions. The particular therapeutic techniques vary according to the particular child or issue, but commonly include keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviors; questioning and testing assumptions or habits of thoughts that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting.

Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly included. CBT is widely accepted as an evidence-based, cost-effective psychotherapy for many HFA clients. It is sometimes used with groups as well as individuals, and the techniques are also commonly adapted for self-help manuals and, increasingly, for self-help software packages.

CBT is based on the idea that how we think (cognition), how we feel (emotion) and how we act (behavior) interact together. Specifically, our thoughts determine our feelings and our behavior. Therefore, negative - and unrealistic - thoughts can cause us distress and result in problems. One example could be a child who, after frequent bullying and failed attempts at making friends, thinks "Nobody likes me." This will impact negatively on mood, making the child feel depressed; the problem may be worsened if the child reacts by avoiding social activities all together. As a result, a successful experience becomes more unlikely, which reinforces the original thought of being "hated."

In therapy, this example could be identified as a self-fulfilling prophecy or "problem cycle," and the efforts of the therapist and the child/teen would be directed at working together to change this. This is done by addressing the way the child/teen thinks in response to similar situations and by developing more flexible thought patterns, along with reducing the avoidance of social activities. If, as a result, the child/teen escapes the negative thought pattern, the feelings of depression may be relieved. The child/teen may then become more active, succeed more often, and further reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

The Bottom Line:

Even today, the disorder is a mystery. No one really knows for sure what causes it, what cures it, or even what it is. Some physicians will give you their opinion. But the moment you start digging deeper, you'll find that there are many other well-supported opinions out there. This doesn't mean your physician can't help at all, but it does mean that you'll have to look elsewhere for direction as you think through treatment options, educational settings, behavior management and other issues. For example:
  • Autism conferences, which are now held all around the world
  • Books (check carefully to be sure you know who the author is and whether he or she has a particular ax to grind)
  • Parent support groups, which offer a wealth of experience in areas ranging from therapies and therapists to schools and school programs
  • Regional centers, which offer a range of services and treatment options
  • School-based parent education programs
  • The Internet

In the long run, for better or for worse, you will be making many decisions based on your own parental perspective, knowledge, preferences and comfort level. Of course, that's the case for most parenting decisions, and it seems to be the case that when moms and dads are engaged in the process of helping and working with their autistic youngster, outcomes are improved over time.

Aspergers Teens Will Test Your Patience

Aspergers (high functioning autism) teens that regularly test the patience of their mother and/or father do so for a variety of reasons. For example, they:
  • are asserting themselves and their independence
  • are protecting themselves
  • are stiff and rule-oriented and acting like little adults
  • are testing whether their parents will enforce the rules
  • can’t "fit-in" with their peer group, or they can’t get through the school day without a significant degree of anxiety, thus when they return home at the end of the school day they slip into meltdown
  • face similar academic problems as students with Attention Deficit Disorder due to their distractibility and difficulty organizing materials
  • feel a sense of pain, loneliness and despair, which can lead to significant behavioral problems at home or school (or both)
  • feel bad about themselves

In any event, parents can do a few things to muster-up some much needed patience:

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

Depression in Moms with ASD Children

"How common is depression in parents who have an autistic child (perhaps due to stress that comes with the territory)? Of course I love my child, but I'm thinking that I may need some counseling or some other form of outside assistance at this point to help me cope better. My fuse has been quite short lately."

Research reveals  that moms of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may be prone to depression if they feel responsible for the cause or outcome of their youngster's disorder. 50% of moms with ASD kids had elevated depression scores, compared to 15% to 21% in the other groups. Single moms were found to be more vulnerable to severe depression than moms living with a spouse.

Mothers are considered to exhibit symptoms of depression if they responded “all of the time” or “most of the time” to at least two of the following questions.

During the past 30 DAYS, how often did you feel:

1. Hopeless?
2. Nervous?
3. Restless or fidgety?
4. So sad that nothing could cheer you up?
5. That everything was an effort?
6. Worthless?

Certainly, a feeling of never being a “good enough” parent can lead to depression. And, in many cases, individual counseling for mothers is tremendously helpful. But, while feelings of guilt and inadequacy certainly are at play for many moms - and dads - there's much more to the story.

Families, even those with kids at the upper-end of the spectrum, cope with many other significant issues that often lead to frustration, anger, irritability, anxiety and more. For example:
  • As kids with ASD grow older, moms and dads often face "retirement" with full personal and financial responsibility for an adult child who may depend on them for everything. This can be quite depressing.
  • It can be expensive to treat a youngster on the spectrum. Many families go into debt to support therapies that are not paid for by insurance. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and anger.
  • It can be tough to engage in normal social activity with a youngster on the spectrum. Social isolation is known to lead to depression.
  • Many kids with ASD have a tough time sleeping, and keep their moms and dads awake all night. Exhaustion can lead to depression.
  • Often times, moms with ASD kids wind up quitting jobs they enjoy – and income they need or want – in order to care for or home-school their child. This can certainly lead to depression.
  • Moms and dads receiving a diagnosis of ASD are also coping with the loss of many of their expectations of parenthood. At the same time, they are losing out on the "parent club" that may have sustained them -- everything from exchanging play-dates and childcare with neighbors to coaching the local ball team. That can be depressing.
  • Moms and dads who have to battle the school districts and state mental health agencies for any type of appropriate services are almost certain to run into issues and circumstances which are unacceptable, but over which they have little control. This is certainly depressing.

In short, having a youngster with ASD can, indeed, lead to depression, but the reasons are many and complex. No matter how optimistic or upbeat parents are, they may be unable to cheer up in the face of exhaustion, bankruptcy and isolation.

What are parents to do in the face of so many negatives?

There are a number of options for action. While none will change the underlying truth that your child’s ASD is here to stay, many can help moms and dads cope better with the emotional strain.
  • Try journaling to relieve your stress.
  • Seek respite care, so that you and your spouse can get away together for a well deserved break.
  • Seek professional help from a professional with experience working with families with ASD children.
  • Lower your therapy costs by choosing low-cost, low-risk treatments for your youngster.
  • Find support among like-minded moms and dads of ASD kids.
  • Know that you are doing the very best you can for your youngster. Instead of tormenting yourselves with "what if's," take a moment out to enjoy him or her.

Note: ASD kids of depressed moms are more likely than other kids to have behavior problems, academic difficulties, and health problems. Maternal depression has also been linked to delays in cognitive and motor development among kids 28 to 50 months old. Long-term, maternal depression has been found to have especially adverse consequences for child development and behavior. Five-year-old kids whose moms experienced frequent depression were more likely to have behavioral problems and lower vocabulary scores than those whose moms had less chronic depression. Thus, if you feel you are suffering from depression and have procrastinated in seeking treatment, then please get some help now – if not for you, do it for your special needs child.


•    Anonymous said... As a single mom, struggling with my ASD beautiful child on my own, I can honestly say I suffer from depression, loneliness, and just being burnt out. I love my child and she is the best thing in my life but being the only support for her from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to be is exhausting.
•    Anonymous said... Definitely stress, yes depression, wishing you could take their pain away during a meltdown and the smile that reaches your heart when you watch them take amazing strides. My 10 year old son has 2 rare diseases in addition to high functioning autism, and he is hospital homebound for school, the autism makes the health issues harder to deal with and the health problems aggravate the autism. It definitely makes for an interesting life.
•    Anonymous said... I can totally relate to that, as a single mum it is 24/7 with no break and friends with NT children just don't get it. I found though that it was the constant fight to get my daughter supported in school that led me dangerously close to depression. I've been home edding for 2 years now and she has made so much progress that although yes, it is still isolating, lonely and exhausting I can see my daughter one day holding down a job and maybe even living independantly. I have hope now, whereas in the school system I had none. She is 15 tomorrow and has high functioning autism. Don't give up. I'm sure you are doing brilliantly.
•    Anonymous said... I could totally see this.
•    Anonymous said... I think this is definitely very common and probably the norm.
•    Anonymous said... PTSD is common.
•    Anonymous said... Thank you for posting this.
•    Anonymous said... Wow, is this ever the case in our home. This HFA is not just our sons condition but a family and marriage condition.
•    Anonymous said... Yep it makes sense for sure xx
•    Anonymous said… Good job I am a dad or this could be affecting me too.
•    Anonymous said… I am in that same predicament, except they haven't diagnosed my 4 year old son yet, keep getting told he is too young. But I know he is ADHD, SPD and more than likely has Aspergers. But, I can't find help anywhere near me and I'm a single mom with the 4 year old and 2 year old.
•    Anonymous said… I definitely have anxiety. I brush mine aside to deal with my son's whose is through the roof. I am constantly achy and I know this is the reason.
•    Anonymous said… I find myself in a constant state of grief. When I see friends post about their kids getting straight A's or excelling in sports I get sad and jealous. I know my son is doing the best he can but would rather stay home and play video games.
•    Anonymous said… I found being around people who know how you feel is a massive help. It saved me somewhat. I spent 12 years in my son's world alone and no one else knew what it was like for me. For him yes but for me no. Until I joined local autism groups. The support and friendship is overwhelming at first as your so used to going it alone. I've met some lovely new friends and we all help each other and know how the other feels. My son gets to socialise and I get to chat with the mum's.
•    Anonymous said… I get that! Anxiety that your child will be ok in school, will not be bullied by neither peer nor ignorant teacher. That he won't have a melt down. That he will have a friend. That the other kids won't throw grapes at him during lunch or steal his food. It has been one difficult road, as a mother, to watch your child go to school. He has always been super anxious too and is also treated for it.
•    Anonymous said… I had exactly that but we moved and changed schools and it's so different. My son has had to learn some social lessons about not telling on every single thing but he's relaxed and is enjoying it now. In his last school I dreaded picking him up as the teacher always had a negative comment and he'd be in tears. So we've been very fortunate but he's 10 and we have many school years to go.
•    Anonymous said… I have a Aspie husband, Aspie step-daughter (22), and an Aspie son (15). For so long, I thought I was depressed, but found out it was anxiety. I have gone through a lot of Asperger's counseling with experts. I was also suffering from unrelated PTSD and so I am on a mild anti-anxiety med and it truly has turned my life around. Talk to a counselor to see if it really is depression. Anxiety is masked in many different forms.
•    Anonymous said… I so needed to read this today. When my son struggles at school I struggle emotionally. I want to help him so much but I feel helpless.
•    Anonymous said… I struggle greatly with anxiety. My husband is an aspie with bipolar, adhd, anxiety, depression and NF 1. Our 14 yr old is an aspie with adhd, anxiety, spd, and NF 1. Our 4 yr old has social pragmatic communication disorder, spd, anxiety and is a runner. Our 17 month old and 5 month old have NF 1, so far. I feel overwhelmed most of the time. Lack of jobs due to hubby's issues and my trying to keep appointments for health and counseling and everyone together. So, no money, lots of bills, and constant worry equals lots of anxiety.
•    Anonymous said… I'd say it's pretty common....extreme levels of emotional stress coupled with anxiety, the fatigue from worrying constantly, yep, a total recipe for depression.... 😕
•    Anonymous said… I'd say very common. Throw is normal life stressors and then for me chronic pain and no support I'm fighting a losing battle
•    Anonymous said… I'm trying to take it one day at time. I have such control issues! Ha!
•    Anonymous said… It's a tough road, going thru the same with my 4 yr old.  :-(
•    Anonymous said… I've had anxiety for a while. My son is 11 and on the spectrum. The daily worries of school life, psychology appts, doctors, meltdowns etc gave me anxiety. I consulted my doctor in which l take medication for now to put me on an even keil to cope.
•    Anonymous said… Not only moms. I am the primary caregiver. I have lost my job, I'm depressed, have panic attacks, and broke. Apart from that, everything is hunky-dory.
•    Anonymous said… Not so much depression, anxiety lethal high have 2 kids asd. 1 with asd adhd severe odd learning difficulties its hard for it to not affect ur mental health esp when ur a single parent buy defo dont tink im depressed its pure worry
•    Anonymous said… One day at a time  😘 I'm here when you need me. You got this.
•    Anonymous said… this is the sort of support I use xxx
•    Anonymous said… You are not alone. Message me if you want to talk. I'm in the same boat  ❤️

Post your comment below…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

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