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Children on the Autism Spectrum Who Worry Excessively: Tips for Parents

Some kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) worry excessively and are often overly tense and uptight.  Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their fears may interfere with activities. Moms and dads should not discount their youngster’s concerns – even when they seem unrealistic. 

Because fretful kids on the autism spectrum may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed.  The parent should be alert to the signs of excessive worrying so he/she can intervene early to prevent complications.

There are 3 different types of worries in these young people:
  1. fretting about being separated from the parent (e.g., being overly clingy, constant thoughts about the safety of parents, extreme worries about sleeping away from home, frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints, panic or tantrums at times of separation from the mother or father, refusing to go to school, trouble sleeping or nightmares, etc.)
  2. fretting about getting physically hurt (e.g., extreme apprehension about a specific thing or situation like getting bit by a dog, stung by a bee, stuck with a needle, etc.)
  3. fretting about being around people who are not familiar (e.g., avoidance of social situations, worries of meeting or talking to new people, few friends outside the family, etc.)

Other symptoms of excessive worrying in kids on the spectrum may include:
  • constant concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
  • fear of making mistakes
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • fears about things before they happen
  • repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)

Moms and dads can help their child develop the skills and confidence to overcome excessive worrying so that he/she doesn't develop phobic reactions to certain stimuli.





To help your youngster deal with worries and anxieties, consider the follow tips:

1. Don't cater to your child’s fears. If your youngster doesn't like dogs, don't cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will just reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided. Provide support and gentle care as you approach the feared object or situation with your youngster.

2. Never belittle your child’s concerns as a way of forcing him to overcome them. Saying, "Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!" may get your youngster to go to bed, but it won't make the related anxiety go away.

3. Recognize that your child’s worries are real. As trivial as it may seem to you, it feels real to her – and it's causing her to feel nervous and afraid. Being able to talk about these feelings helps. Words often take some of the power out of the negative feeling. If you talk about it, it can become less powerful.

4. Teach coping strategies. Using you as "home base," your youngster can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again.

5. The youngster can learn some positive self-statements, such as, "I can do this" and "I will be OK" …to say to herself when feeling out of sorts.


==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


6. Relaxation techniques are helpful, including visualization (e.g., floating on a cloud, lying on a beach, etc.) and deep breathing (e.g., imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

7. Teach your child to rate his level of worry. A youngster who can visualize the intensity of his fears on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, may be able to "see" the anxiety as less intense than first imagined. The child can think about how "full of fear" I am, with being full "up to my knees" as not so afraid, "up to my stomach" as more frightened, and "up to my head" as truly petrified.

8. If your youngster's apprehension consistently seems out of proportion to the cause of the stress, this may signal the need to seek outside help (e.g., counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist). Moms and dads should look for patterns. If an isolated incident is resolved, don't make it more significant than it is. But if a pattern emerges that's persistent or pervasive, you should take action. Contact your doctor and/or a mental health professional that has expertise in working with children and teens on the autism spectrum.

The key to resolving excessive worries and anxieties is to overcome them. Using the suggestions above, you can help your youngster better cope with life's situations.


Parents Talk About Raising An Aspergers Child

Candid talk from parents of children 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.

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...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content