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Special Disciplinary Techniques for Aspergers and HFA Children

“Should you discipline a child with Aspergers (high functioning) in the same way you would a child without the disorder? If not, what would you do differently?”

In many instances, a disciplinary technique would be the same for both the Aspergers/HFA and neurotypical child. But in a significant number of select areas, you will need to take a different approach due to the "special needs" child’s ASD-related symptoms (e.g., sensory sensitivities, mind-blindness, obsessions, etc.).

Here are most of the main points to consider when disciplining a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism:

1. Attend local parent support group meetings, and join online support groups.

2. Avoid being over-protective. While your youngster does need you, he also needs his own sense of self and to be able to experience life as much as he can on his own.

3. Be patient and consistent. Due to developmental delays, kids on the autism spectrum may require more exposure to discipline before they begin to understand expectations. You must follow through and apply discipline each time there is an incident in order to effectively send your message.

4. Choose a method of discipline appropriate to the level of the outburst and to the youngster in question. Planned ignoring, giving a time-out, and removing privileges or activities important to the youngster are all potential options. Aspergers and HFA kids may require a shorter time-out period and consequences given in smaller doses, especially where their attention spans are affected by their disorder.

5. Communicate your expectations. Before you enter a store, transition from one activity to another, or approach a situation where behavior may deteriorate, discuss with the youngster what will happen, review your family rules, and remind the youngster of the consequences of misbehavior. For Aspergers and HFA kids, this information may need to be broken down into a few very simple instructions and repeated often.

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

6. Create an environment that encourages your youngster to make the right choices, whether it be by providing a picture schedule, using verbal reminders, or retelling the stories about appropriate behaviors.

7. Decide on one or two motivators, or positive rewards, and one or two consequences, or negative actions. Motivators might include earning story time, candy, dessert or a new toy. Consequences might include a stern warning, timeout, removal of toys, or an extra chore. Your goal is to encourage your youngster to follow the rules, but at the same time, prepare yourself to provide discipline if she does not.

8. Develop a list of positive behaviors you want to encourage and negative behaviors you want to discourage. Your list should reflect your youngster's abilities and limitations, rather than focusing on age-appropriate activities. Consider self-care tasks, manners and chores. For some kids, the behaviors might be simple and include things like eye contact when spoken to, pointing instead of yelling and not throwing things. For other kids, the list might include several daily chores, a respectful tone of voice, and following a bedtime routine.

9. Develop a plan of action before a behavioral incident occurs. Consider possible settings where you may face an outburst, your reaction, the youngster's needs and response, and the consequences you may use to stop or alter the behavior. Kids on the spectrum may have unusual behavioral triggers, so it is important to know the youngster in question when developing your plan and to be flexible in your approach.

10. Difficult behavior usually serves a purpose for your youngster. Once you identify the desire, you may learn how to prevent the behavior and replace it with something more appropriate. For example, the desire may be to gain attention or obtain something, or avoid or escape from an unpleasant situation. Traditional forms of discipline are not effective with an Aspergers or HFA youngster who is displaying difficult behavior. The youngster may not simply seek approval or understand anger from another person, so your reaction to the behavior may have little impact. It is always important to look at what motivates and interests each youngster and to assist the youngster to communicate her needs, anxieties and frustration in acceptable ways. Assistance through behavioral services, role play and modeling may be necessary.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

11. Don’t be afraid to discipline while out in the community.

12. Don’t feel guilty if you are not 100% consistent.

13. Educate yourself about all the aspects of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism.

14. Establish a safety net of support around yourself.

15. Explain the disorder to siblings and encourage them to ask you questions about the disorder.

16. For kids on the spectrum, it is important that the consequence or reward immediately follow the behavior to have the greatest effect and opportunity to teach.

17. Give equal attention to positive behaviors as you give to negative behaviors. This will help the youngster recognize what to do – as well as what not to do.

18. Give your youngster choices appropriate to her age and development. Having the opportunity to make choices will help her feel important while learning to feel responsible for areas in her life.

19. Have a set community outing each week that occurs just for “teaching” and practicing good behavior.

20. Have a set plan for car misbehavior.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

21. If the day’s routine is not typical, plan to surround the youngster with as many familiar items (e.g., favorite songs, books, toys, etc.) to help him feel as comfortable as possible in unusual circumstances.

22. Implement negative consequences for poor choices and noncompliance with a calm, yet assertive voice. Do not feel anxious or guilty about implementing a consequence. You are helping to teach your youngster how to function successfully within society. To deny kids with an autism spectrum disorder these consequences would deny their development into responsible grown-ups.

23. Increase supervision and structure.

24. Increase your efforts to “catch your child being good.”

25. It’s okay to “bribe.”

26. It’s okay to say, “No.”

27. Moms and dads can help to reduce their kid’s misbehavior by anticipating difficult moments in the day. Transitions are often difficult for kids on the spectrum. The unpredictability of change can make a youngster feel uneasy, even fearful. Knowing what to expect can help eliminate unnecessary stress. All kids crave structure, and knowing what comes next provides comfort. Simply being aware of a daily schedule can help a youngster adjust between two activities.

28. Provide opportunities for your youngster to do things the right way. Clearly explain what you expect. Role-play the correct behaviors or make up a social story about the correct choices you expect your youngster to make.

29. Realize that kids with Aspergers and HFA come with all sorts of personalities, temperaments, abilities, likes, and dislikes. While they come with their own set of challenges, they are also armed with some tremendous qualities.

30. Recruit some help from your other children. Ask the neurotypical siblings for help with their Aspergers sibling. Give them a role (e.g., helping the autistic youngster with homework).

31. Solve any medical or sleep problems.

32. Teach the youngster the importance of responsibility, self-control, and positive behaviors. As a parent of a youngster with Aspergers or HFA, your job is to arm your youngster with these tools so he can live a productive life where he can discipline himself as much as possible.

33. Teach your youngster responsibility by giving certain chores he is responsible for. By doing this, you’ll give him a sense of accomplishment, value, and self-worth.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

34. When considering how to discipline kids on the spectrum, it is important to provide structure appropriate to your youngster’s age and developmental stage. This is critically important as you want to discipline your youngster depending on their ability and understanding, and not strictly on their chronological age.

35. When disciplining your youngster, show her value by not focusing on the disorder, but on her “self.”

36. When your youngster is displaying an undesirable behavior, consider the fact that the behavior could indicate a need. Evaluate each behavior to see if there is anything you can do to help the youngster in this area.

37. Work on simple directions and following them every day.

38. Kids with Aspergers and HFA are concrete, literal thinkers and have difficulty communicating both verbally and non-verbally. Being unable to express or receive messages can lead to frustration and anger. Here are some points to consider:
  • Give and receive messages using a variety of communication methods (e.g., written, verbal, gesture, or visual cues).
  • Use clear, simple and precise language when giving instructions; start with one word and gradually move on to more complex sentences.
  • Try to phrase requests in a positive way, stating what you want rather than what you don’t want.
  • Use activity schedules to assist the youngster in following daily routines.
  • Provide a structure and routine this assists the youngster in knowing what to expect.

39. Kids with Aspergers and HFA have difficulty understanding social rules and interpreting the feelings and emotions of others. Physical space and/or contact with others may cause anxiety. Here are some points to consider:
  • Reinforce the use of appropriate verbal or facial expressions of feelings and emotions.
  • Rehearse social rules in different settings.
  • Have clear consequences for inappropriate social behavior.
  • Actively teach social behaviors through role play and presentation.

40. These young people can become very confused when routines change. They may also know what is expected in one situation, but may not be able to transition this knowledge to another, related situation. Here are some points to consider:
  • Identify danger, being prepared, and transition between activities.
  • Provide clear signals to specify the start and finish of an activity.
  • Teach the same skill in different settings.
  • Use effective communication to warn of unexpected changes to routine.
  • Using a variety of communication methods, explain rules that apply to each situation encountered.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> 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


Unknown said...
Thank you. I love reading your blog. No 25 its ok to bribe, thank god, my son isn't keen to do things sometimes unless there is something in it for him! Reading this makes me feel so much better. I have never had any help, the only thing that made me feel like I have been dealing with it ll in the right way was my sons doctor, he told me that it sounds like we cope well! Nice to hear but it never feels like that.

Unknown said...
My brother is 24 with this syndrome. I have a 1&2 year old who live in the home with us. He seems to hate them even though I know that in not the case. He doesn't want them to touch him or be around him at times. He destroys their toys and can never really give a clear answer to why he was mad other than he just did not want the object in his room. He does not like being around the kids but I know he wants to spend time with everyone else in the home. Is there a particular reason why he is like this with the toddlers?

Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum Overcome Their #1 Deficit

"My son with autism (high functioning) often has very little sympathy or compassion for his younger brother, sometimes bordering on emotional abuse. Any tips or tricks that can assist in this situation would be greatly appreciated!"

The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of Aspergers and High Functioning Autism (HFA). Children, teens, and even adults with this disorder experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include:
  • impaired nonverbal behaviors (e.g., eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture)
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity (e.g., social "games," give-and-take dynamics)
  • failure to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others (e.g., showing others objects of interest)
  • failure to develop friendships

Empathy is one of the foundational moral emotions. It is linked to moral action. It’s a feeling that compels individuals to act compassionately while reasoning alone might not. Kids who don’t develop empathy can become callous grown-ups, oblivious to the hurt and pain they leave in their wake.

Empathy is not something that matures on its own—it must be learned. Moms and dads play an important role in helping their special needs kids acquire empathy by guiding them toward it from infancy, by acting as an “emotion coach,” and by setting an example of empathetic behavior.

While some Aspergers and HFA kids seem to develop empathy more naturally than others, all young people with this disorder need help for this skill to grow. Moms and dads should begin teaching them as early as possible. Kids as young as 18 months can be taught empathy. In fact, some experts say that kids display empathetic responses as early as infancy. Although it may take many years for a youngster’s empathy to mature, starting “empathy training” early does two important things: (a) it creates a seamless transition from understanding verbal instructions to later being able to act, and (b) it gets moms and dads into the habit of noticing teaching moments and seizing them.

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

Parents with children on the spectrum will need to teach them to “put themselves in some else’s shoes” (so to speak), because this is not a skill that comes naturally to them. Below are the methods to employ in order to achieve this task:

1. Children on the autism spectrum are more likely to show empathic concern for others if they have moms and dads who help them cope with negative emotions in an empathetic, problem-solving-oriented way.

2. These young people may benefit from explicit coaching. In one study, three autistic children watched a grown-up describe how he figured out what another character would think and do next (e.g., “These footprints are a clue. He’ll follow these footprints to the treasure chest and open it up”). The strategy helped these children solve similar problems on their own.

3. Be empathetic yourself in your parenting. While having patience with small kids can be difficult, it’s important to stay as calm as you can when they misbehave. If your youngster does something you don’t like, it’s not helpful to yell. That teaches them that yelling is an acceptable way to handle feelings.

4. Create an open atmosphere in your home so that your kids feel welcome to talk about their experiences, both positive and negative. As they talk to you, behave empathetically by working to understand their feelings, expressing that understanding to them, and by giving them nonverbal cues (e.g., leaning in and nodding) that say you are actively listening.

5. Employ role-playing games. In one study, researchers asked young medical students to simulate the difficulties of old age. For example, students wore goggles covered with transparent tape to simulate the effects of cataracts. To experience poor motor control, the students wore heavy rubber gloves. After the experiment, the students showed greater empathy towards the elderly.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

6. Encourage older kids to become tutors or mentors. Tutors learn that they can’t help very well unless they first learn about the needs and feelings of those they tutor.

7. Help your son or daughter to learn about emotions in general. Young kids feel all of the emotions that grown-ups feel (e.g., frustration, disappointment, sadness, etc.), but they lack experience identifying, labeling, and managing those feelings. When moms and dads help their special needs kids name what they feel, these kids can more easily make sense of their emotional world.

8. Help children develop a sense of morality that depends on internal self-control, not on rewards or punishments. Aspergers and HFA children are capable of being spontaneously helpful and empathetic. But studies have shown that children become less likely to help others if they are given material rewards for doing so. Other studies have shown that children are more likely to develop an internal sense of right and wrong if they are raised with authoritative discipline (i.e., an approach that emphasizes rational explanations and moral consequences, not arbitrary rules and heavy-handed punishments).

9. Help children explore other roles and perspectives. Empathy involves “perspective-taking” (i.e., what the world is like when experienced from another person’s point of view). Stories from books or television are opportunities for children to practice perspective-taking skills. What do the characters think, believe, want, or feel? And how do we know it? When parent and child discuss these questions, children may learn a lot about the way that other people’s minds work. Studies show a link between such family conversations and kid’s performance on perspective-taking tasks.

10. Helping kids develop empathy through service. Through bringing relief to someone who is suffering, kids can come to understand the depths of that suffering. For example, they can hand out blankets and hot tea to homeless families on a particularly cold winter's day, or they can help a recently widowed neighbor by raking her yard or taking her trashcans out. By performing acts of kindness, whether at school, in the family or in the community, kids can't help but think about the hard luck of those they help. When they do, they're sure to think about how it would feel to be in a similar situation.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

11. Moms and dads who are “mind-minded” treat their children as individuals with minds of their own. They also talk to their kids about emotional and mental states, and discuss the ways that our beliefs, desires, and emotions motivate behavior. 

12. Point out to your youngster both similarities and differences between him and other kids. Understanding the ways that others are like him can help him behave empathetically. Knowing that others are different helps him perceive that what helps one person feel better might not help another person.

13. Remember that children on the spectrum are more likely to develop a strong sense of empathy when their own emotional needs are being met at home.

14. Search for opportunities to model empathetic feelings for other people. By modeling empathic behavior and pointing out situations that call for empathy, moms and dads can generate empathetic responses in their children (e.g., if you and your youngster see someone being victimized on a television show, talk with your youngster about how that person must feel).

15. Show children how to “make a face” while they try to imagine how someone else feels. Studies show that simply “going through the motions” of making a facial expression can make us experience the associated emotion. We can “boost” our empathic powers by imitating the facial expressions of people we want to empathize with.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook 

16. Teach children to follow the motto, "If it feels wrong inside, it's good for no one."  This helps them keep their motives sincere and pure.

17. Teach your kids about people who are models of empathy (e.g., Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, etc.).

18. Teaching kids empathy by not criticizing the unfortunate. Criticizing people with imperfections sends our kids a message that the shortcomings of others are intentional and exclusive to everyone else but us. They learn to criticize others for not correcting those flaws, even when the flaws can't be changed, and to react negatively to imperfect people rather than respond with empathy and compassion.

19. Use "I messages" to teach empathy. When we use "I messages," we send a loud and clear signal: "Understand how I'm feeling right now, please!" For example, a comment like, "I get frustrated when someone walks on my freshly mopped floor with muddy shoes," may jump-start some internal dialogue that makes our kids consider what we are going through and what they should do to make things better.

20. When Aspergers and HFA children have secure attachment relationships (i.e., they can count on their caregivers for emotional and physical support), they are more likely to show empathy and offer help to other children in distress.

Empathy is one of the greatest lessons we can teach to our autistic kids, because it helps them see the good in those around them. If we work hard to raise empathetic kids, they'll develop a sense of inner strength that will protect them against outside influences that pressure them to make the wrong choices.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> 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

Assisting Children with High-Functioning Autism: Parenting Tips & Treatment Techniques

"We have recently learned that our daughter has (or might have) High-Functioning Autism, and we're wondering about what comes next. We were not prepared to hear that she is anything other than happy and healthy, and this diagnosis is particularly worrisome."

You may be unsure about how to best help your youngster or confused by conflicting treatment advice. Also, you may have been told that High-Functioning Autism (HFA) is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving you concerned that nothing you do will make a difference.

While it is true that HFA is not something a child simply "grows out of," there are many treatments that can help kids learn new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. From free government services to in-home behavioral therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your youngster's special needs. With the right treatment plan, and a lot of love and support, your youngster can learn, grow, and thrive.

Here is a comprehensive list of things to consider:

1. Accept your youngster, quirks and all. Rather than focusing on how your HFA youngster is different from other kids and what he or she is “missing,” practice acceptance. Enjoy your kid’s special quirks, celebrate small successes, and stop comparing your youngster to others. Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted will help your youngster more than anything else.

2. Be consistent. Kids with High-Functioning Autism have a hard time adapting what they’ve learned in one setting (e.g., a therapist’s office or school) to other settings, including the home. Creating consistency in your youngster’s environment is the best way to reinforce learning. Find out what your youngster’s therapists are doing and continue their techniques at home. Explore the possibility of having therapy take place in more than one place in order to encourage your youngster to transfer what he or she has learned from one environment to another. It’s also important to be consistent in the way you interact with your youngster and deal with challenging behaviors.

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

3. Become an expert on your youngster. Figure out what triggers your kid’s “bad” or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your HFA youngster find stressful? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your youngster, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing situations that cause difficulties.

4. Caring for a youngster with High-Functioning Autism can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isn’t ever easy, and raising a youngster with HFA is even more challenging. It’s essential that you take care of yourself in order to be the best mother or father you can be. Don’t try to do everything on your own. You don’t have to! There are many places that families of HFA children can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support.

5. Create a home safety zone. Carve out a private space in your home where your youngster can relax, feel secure, and be safe. This will involve organizing and setting boundaries in ways he can understand. Visual cues can be helpful (e.g., colored tape marking areas that are off limits, labeling items in the house with pictures). You may also need to safety proof the house, particularly if he is prone to tantrums or other self-injurious behaviors.

6. Don’t give up. It’s impossible to predict the course of High-Functioning Autism. Don’t jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your youngster. Like everyone else, people with High-Functioning Autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.

7. Don’t wait for a diagnosis. As the mother or father of a youngster with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect something’s wrong. Don't wait to see if your youngster will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Don't even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier kids with HFA get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your youngster's development and reduce the symptoms of HFA.

8. Every mother or father needs a break now and again. And for moms and dads coping with the added stress of High-Functioning Autism, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.

9. Figure out the need behind the temper tantrum. It’s only natural to feel upset when you are misunderstood or ignored, and it’s no different for kids with High-Functioning Autism. When kids with High-Functioning Autism act out, it’s often because you’re not picking up on their nonverbal cues. Throwing a tantrum is their way communicating their frustration and getting your attention.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

10. If stress, anxiety, or depression is getting to you, you may want to see a therapist of your own. Therapy is a safe place where you can talk honestly about everything you’re feeling—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Marriage or family therapy can also help you work out problems that the challenges of life with an HFA youngster are causing in your spousal relationship or with other family members.

11. HFA infants and toddlers through the age of two can receive assistance through the Early Intervention program. In order to qualify, your youngster must first undergo a free evaluation. If the assessment reveals a developmental problem, you will work with early intervention treatment providers to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP describes your youngster’s needs and the specific services he or she will receive. For High-Functioning Autism, an IFSP would include a variety of behavior, physical, speech, and play therapies. It would focus on preparing HFA children for the eventual transition to school. Early intervention services are typically conducted in the home or at a childcare center. To locate local early intervention services for your youngster, ask your doctor for a referral.

12. Joining a support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Moms and dads can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many moms and dads feel after receiving the youngster’s diagnosis.

13. Keep in mind that no matter what treatment plan is chosen, your involvement is vital to success. You can help your youngster get the most out of treatment by working hand-in-hand with the treatment team and following through with the therapy at home.

14. HFA kids over the age of three may receive assistance through school-based programs. As with early intervention, special education services are tailored to your youngster’s individual needs. Kids with HFA are often placed with other developmentally-delayed children in small groups where they can receive more individual attention and specialized instruction. However, depending on their abilities, they may also spend at least part of the school day in a regular classroom. The goal is to place children in the least restrictive environment possible where they are still able to learn. If you’d like to pursue special education services, your local school system will first need to evaluate your youngster. Based on this assessment, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be created. An IEP outlines the educational goals for your youngster for the school year. Additionally, it describes the special services or aids the school will provide your youngster in order to meet those goals.

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook
15. Learn about High-Functioning Autism. The more you know about HFA, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions for your youngster. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.

16. Look for nonverbal cues. If you are observant and aware, you can learn to pick up on the nonverbal cues that kids with High-Functioning Autism use to communicate. Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make, their facial expressions, and the gestures they use when they’re tired, hungry, or want something.

17. Make time for fun. A youngster coping with High-Functioning Autism is still a kid. For kids and their moms and dads, there needs to be more to life than therapy. Schedule playtime when your youngster is most alert and awake. Figure out ways to have fun together by thinking about the things that make her smile, laugh, and come out of her shell. Your youngster is likely to enjoy these activities most if they don’t seem therapeutic or educational. There are tremendous benefits that result from your enjoyment of your youngster’s company and from her enjoyment of spending un-pressured time with you.  Play is an essential part of learning and shouldn’t feel like work.

18. Pay attention to your youngster’s sensory sensitivities. Many kids with High-Functioning Autism are hypersensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Other kids are “under-sensitive” to sensory stimuli. Figure out what sights, sounds, smells, movements, and tactile sensations trigger your kid’s “bad” or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your HFA youngster find stressful? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your youngster, you’ll be better at trouble-shooting problems, preventing situations that cause difficulties, and creating successful experiences.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

19. Reward good behavior. Positive reinforcement can go a long way with kids with High-Functioning Autism, so make an effort to “catch them doing something good.” Praise them when they act appropriately or learn a new skill, being very specific about what behavior they’re being praised for. Also look for other ways to reward them for good behavior (e.g., giving them a sticker, letting them play with a favorite toy, etc.).

20. Stick to a schedule. Kids with High-Functioning Autism tend to do best when they have a highly-structured schedule or routine. This goes back to the consistency they both need and crave. Set up a schedule for your youngster, with regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime. Try to keep disruptions to this routine to a minimum. If there is an unavoidable schedule change, prepare him for it in advance.

21. Under the U.S. federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), kids with disabilities—including those with HFA—are eligible for a range of free or low-cost services. Under this provision, kids in need and their families may receive:
  • assisted technology devices
  • medical evaluations
  • parent counseling and training
  • physical therapy
  • psychological services
  • speech therapy
  • other specialized services

Kids under the age of 10 do not need a diagnosis to receive free services under IDEA. If they are experiencing a developmental delay, including delays in communication or social development, they are automatically eligible for early intervention and special education services.

22. With so many different treatments available, it can be tough to figure out which approach is right for your youngster. Making things even more complicated, you may hear different or even conflicting recommendations from other moms and dads – and even doctors. When putting together a treatment plan for your youngster, keep in mind that there is no single treatment that will work for everyone. Each child with High-Functioning Autism is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses.

23. Your youngster’s treatment should be tailored according to his or her individual needs. You know your youngster best, so it’s up to you to make sure those needs are being met. You can do that by asking yourself the following questions:
  • How does my youngster learn best (e.g., through seeing, listening, or doing)?
  • What are my youngster’s strengths?
  • What are my youngster’s weaknesses?
  • What behaviors are causing the most problems?
  • What does my youngster enjoy and how can those activities be used in treatment?
  • What important skills is my youngster lacking?

24. Know that a good treatment plan will:
  • Actively engage your youngster's attention in highly structured activities
  • Build on your youngster's interests
  • Offer a predictable schedule
  • Provide regular reinforcement of behavior
  • Involve the moms and dads
  • Teach tasks as a series of simple steps

25. Know your youngster’s rights. As the mother or father of an HFA youngster, you have a legal right to:
  • Seek an outside evaluation for your youngster
  • Request an IEP meeting at any time if you feel your youngster’s needs are not being met
  • Invite anyone you want—from a relative to your youngster’s doctor—to be on the IEP team
  • Free or low-cost legal representation if you can’t come to an agreement with the school
  • Disagree with the school system’s recommendations
  • Be involved in developing your youngster’s IEP from start to finish

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> 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

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

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

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

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

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

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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

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

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content