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I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your help with tips and other vital information.  It has really helped me and my daughter in so many ways!!



Mr. Hutten:  You have been an invaluable resource for me and my family--your newsletters about teens and those about AS have helped us navigate adolescence with our 14 year-old daughter with AS (and ADHD and anxiety).  Your newsletter today addressed restrictive eating disorders in teens.  May I suggest a future newsletter about binge eating disorder?  My daughter with AS has bouts of nocturnal eating--we (and her counselor) have been unable to figure out if it is AS "stimming" or a true eating disorder.  I just wondered if this binge-eating behavior is common in teens with AS.  Thanks again for sharing your knowledge in your wonderful newsletters.  Nancy


Dear Dr. Mark Hutten:

thank you for sharing this topic.  This is obviously a very complex and personal issue in our family.  Praise be to God, my sister just celebrated her 44th birthday.  she finally began her healing process when she was 31 yrs. old.  I thank God for our pastor spending hundreds of hours counseling and praying with her.  She has shared her story of pain and heartache with me and nobody else.  She wants to keep it private.  She is gifted in writing about God's Grace in the form of poetry.  She still struggles with her health, but emotionally and spiritually she has a close relationship with God and with me.  I would like to encourage anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder to contact me.  Perhaps my sister could help "rescue" someone who feels like life is not worth living.  There is hope!!  I believe in miracles when I can hug my sister!!  It has not been an easy road, but I believe God has a purpose, even in the difficult trials that come into our lives.



I am an 8th grade math teacher. One of my students has Asperger’s, OCD, emotional support and is my regular Pre Algebra classroom with 23 other students. This student has been aggressive verbally and once threw an object at me….he has stated to me that he will tolerate my class because he must. He is starting to communicate more appropriately but does want what he wants when he wants it. If he does not get my attention when he wants it he will walk out of class and return generally within 10 minutes (this is part of his IEP). I am trying to model and I am redirecting what I think would be the best way for him to communicate…. keeping a calm voice and helping him use “nice” words when talking to myself, the paraprofessional or his peers. The mother of this student is very hands off and really doesn’t want to hear from me. Today he was in tears because of his frustration with his peers in class.


I am so thankful to have found you. You are amazing. My son is 13 and you are able to put into words everything I have lived and am living currently. What a blessing to have found you. I cannot thank you enough. Lisa


My daughter 9 has Aspergers and Epilepsy.  Unfortunately her first six years in life were very traumatic with a abuse father, who Kate has not seen now for over twelve months but still has phone contact with him once a week.  All conversations end up horrible.  We keep the phone contact up as we are in breach of court orders where Kate is suppose to stay with her father alternate weekends.  He dose not really want her around but with the calls feels he can still control us and keeps him happy which keeps us out of court.

Kate is still sleeping in my bed.  We see a phycologist fortnightly.  we dropped out of school and are now doing distance ed from home which is better for Kate. We have hit the early stages of puberty and Kate's meltdowns have become more regular and violent.  She is nearly as tall as I am and pysically stronger.  I have a non violence house yet the other day I hit her back when been attacked for four hours non stop.  Kate has terrible anixety and will not leave my side always frightened that something will happen to me.  Unfortunately her earlier years with her father around have not helped with him threatning  to kill me and breaking into our house and letting go her pet birds.  He has not been anywhere near us now for twelve months thank goodness.

So Kate has realisitic fears however with her aspie these thoughts are always going over and over internally.  I am begining to become frightened of her in meltdown mode, which always follows with depression.  We are off to the Doctors later today to seek some form of medication to help for the short term until we can find better ways of dealing with this.

I admit I am tense and she can see it with me waiting for the next unexpected snap.
Really looking forward to you book and starting to change our situation.  I can no longer leave Kate with my only back up person as she has attacked her as well. When Kate is not angry or meltdown like other children she is beautiful tall little girl.


My grandson is 18 and a junior in a small private school. He is functioning quite well in this environment; however, he will graduate In a year as a special needs child.  He is extremely intelligent and is probably passive.  He loves to talk with adults but has no peer relationships. His home has been very dysfunctional so unfortunately he has never been able to have the kind of help he has needed. My husband and I will be having him move in with us for a time.

My question is that he has a job interview in a week and is so excited. Is it proper for us to go ahead and give them a heads up about his condition or allow him to go through the process without any intervention. He is really a great worker when he is shown what to do. I have hired him to help me at certain times and he works very hard. Do you have any suggestions?


Hello Mark,

Today Im crying because finally Im understanding that the problems my 13 years daughter has been having all these years hasnt been because my inability as a parent ..but because she probly has aspergers...Ive worked with children for over 20 years and have in my work met many boys with aspergers so it never occured to me that my own daughter had it .. I just pressumed i was an over indulgent mother,or maybe my parenting skills were not as they should be ive spent years trying to improve my self,even isolated my self to devote all my time to my daughter.. Ive tried so many different styles of parenting to try and motivate her to do things spent hours in shouting matches trying to get her to do the simpliest of things,homework etc . Called her stupid,lazy and of coarse made her feel terrible just because my idea of aspergers was boys running around be disruptive ...Ive since she was in kindergarden thought something wasnt right,her social skills were minimal,she never copied over kids,she never had friends ..but the teacher there reassured me that she would outgrow it... At school when it sit trying to make her understand maths for maybe 5 hours i just presumed that she couldent grasp it .. When still at 9 years old she couldnt cycle that she was being lazy.. When she is bluntly honest and it hurts to hear what comes out her mouth ive classed her as arrogant,unfeeling and cold ... The list goes on and on Reading now how girls are harder to diagnose because unlike the boys they can become mute and withdrawn..saddens me so much all these years ive struggled for someone to listen understand me that my daughter was struggling not because i was an over -protective mum but because there was something more..

So today Im crying because finally I can sink my shoulders and perhaps get her the help she needs and my parenting a special child can begin ...My daughter is a wonderful girl and being her parent is a fantastic journey ..
I would be very apprecitive if you could send me information in regards to the difference between boys and girls when diagnozing . Cause now that i have a better idea i need to research EVERYTHING makes so much sense now.


Question: What would you suggest in my situation where my Aspie husband has cast himself in the hero position of providing for myself & our Aspie son, hence meeting his "obligations" - his words, while allowing himself to have an emotional affair with the woman he travels with every week.  This keeps his business that he has worked hard to build from the destruction of divorce & also allows him to do as he pleases while on the road as his priority is meeting his obligations.  They stay in the same suite together & as he has told me (I'm not in love with her - I don't open up to you, her, or anyone else)!  Do I address this, or just keep working on rebuilding trust & respect between he & I and see what doors God opens?

Answer: "Hero position" sounds a bit sarcastic. At least he's doing something right by "providing." I don't think you've worked through your resentment just yet (on that note, did you listen to the audio files on your download page?). How do you know he's having an emotional affair? Is this an assumption? You asked, and I'm sure you want an honest assessment: I think the first course of action is to work on resentment. All else will fall short until you can forgive.



I am a grandmother with a degree in counseling.  I retired from teaching after 37 years in education.  My granddaughter has aspergers syndrome and was diagnosed early in elementary school.  She graduated from high school with a 3.0 last June (with IEPs all along the way).  She is now attending Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia (3 hours from home in Springboro, Ohio).  Marshall has a special Autism Center with graduate assistants assigned to each student in the program and five adults who operate the program.  My granddaughter was accepted into the program as one of only two girls.  She went to summer school there between her junior and senior year of high school and earned 3 college credits, lived in the dorm, and adjusted well to independent living.  She began her freshman year this last fall and completed the first semester with a 2.5.  She was doing well until the only person she considered a friend died in November.  It also destroyed her and her some of her success the first semester, but with a lot of team work, she made it through.

The second semester is another story, she has totally fallen apart.  It is hard to decide what happened because there are multiple causes (too many to list here including a messed up home life with her parents).  I don't think she is going to make it this semester unless something changes soon.  She is so filled with frustration, depression, and especially anger.   She is home for spring break this week and has already had two meltdowns with her mother in just 48 hours.

My question is, what specifically would a life coach do?  I have spent at least three evenings a week with cell phone conversations since January when the second semester started trying to listen and then encourage her.  I send funny cards once a week with her laundry money, and my husband and I have spent some weekends with her taking her out to eat and shopping. I just wondered what a life coach would do and how that would be implemented.

Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, mentoring, advice, therapy, or counseling. The coaching process addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client's personal life, relationships or profession by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.

The Life Coaching Format:
  • Complimentary Coaching Consultation
  • 60 to 90 minute "Design the Alliance" first session
  • One 30 to 90 minute phone call per week (session length depends on which coach and which program)
  • Unlimited Email support
  • Occasional brief check-in calls
Life Coaching is a designed alliance between coach and client where the coaching relationship continually gives all the power back to the client. The clients usually know the answers to every question or challenge they may have in their life, even if those answers appear to be obscured, concealed or hidden inside. 

Response from questioner:

I have three more audio portions to listen to, and I already see the road map.  Our family has a two-layer problem.  My husband and I created an over indulged only daughter that we adopted who is still dependent and angry at 42.  Now we have a 19 year old aspergers granddaughter who has been subjected to the same pattern.  We have two other granddaughters who need work as well.  We have a lot to work on.  I think it starts with us, the grandparents, first.  I will let you know how it goes in a few weeks.  We should be able to do much of this on our own, but it is going to take time since we created the two layers.  When we are ready for more coaching, I will email you to ask for help.  I am so glad I found your program on line.


Dear Mark,
I have problems almost daily. My Aspie 10 years old often punches his younger brother 7 years old for no apparent reason. He also yells at our other son who is two, whenever he is near him. When questioned he says it is bc he is annoying or whines too much, then he blames me for not teaching him not to whine. Everyday I am verbally assaulted by my son, he says he hates me, I am a horrible mother, he cannot wait until the day I die, calls me retarded, tells me to shut up. He cannot take discipline or correction in any way shape or form, when I correct him he always says I am arguing with him and I never stop talking. He also says I ask too many questions. He never takes responsibility for his actions and always blames others.  All that I wanted was to be a good mother, but I find no joy in my relationship with him at all.  When he was younger at least I could enjoy him, now that is gone. He never says anything positive or shows any affection toward anyone.  All that I get is hate and anger, unless I am doing everything he demands exactly at the moment he demands it, and even then there is rarely a thank you. I bend over backwards to try to please him and all I get is mistreated.


Hi Mark! I was very impressed with your videos and your website.
Obviously, it’s difficult to spend money on everything that impresses you.
My two teenage boys-18 and 17-suffer from ADHD. The older, 18 , with ADD, and
with a social disability that leaves him alone once he finishes school, and my 17 year old,
with ADHD impulsive , disorganized and socially alone almost to the same degree as his older
brother, are both somewhat defiant and  often angry. Neither is willing to go for counseling. Both
did, but it was very short-lived.
Any advice?


 I just came across your support group today and was touched by your article, "Going to Bat for your Aspergers Child".  In August of 2012 Nathan was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD, and Anxiety Disorder.  With the aid of a Psychiatrist we went through numerous medications for Apergers and ADHD finally ending with Depakote. He has also been receiving therapy as well as Neurofeedback therapy. His "symptoms' of Aspergers go along the norm with the addition of extreme auditory sensitivity, for which he received Astronaut Training. He has come home throughout the school year upset by bullying at school (that we know about: being punched in the face 2 times, being pushed and kicked on the playground numerous times, being 'dared' to drink toilet water, which he did, and being bitten) His Anxiety disorder began to spiral out of control upon the return to school in Jan from christmas break.  Notes from his teacher started pouring in about behaviours and school work. At home Nathan was constantly complaining about bullying and 'melting down' every afternoon.  In mid-February I called his psychiatrist for an emergency appt to discuss his medications, where we initiated the process for Adderall. 

ON February 26, 2013 Nathans teacher sent a note home " constantly putting fingers in mouth today. Put them so far back this morning he gagged on them... spoke with (principal) about his behaviour today"

ON March 1, 2013, "DR Suess DAY" Nathan decided to dress as Dr Suess rather than the Cat in the Hat. This decision led to being called names and teasing by his peers. I was called by the school counselor and informed that he had choked himself with his tie during class until he was red in the face. The school counselor informed me that the 'incident' had happened before lunch and recess, which Nathan DID attend before I was notified.   
I called his therapist who recommended I take him to the local mental health community services board (RASCB) for evaluation, picked Nathan up from school and took him to RASCB.  There it was recommended we seek hospitalization and were referred to Dominion Hospital in FallsChurch, VA. He was admitted that night.  The following Monday he attempted to choke himself with a chair, twice. He had a difficult time of it until we discussed our plans of removing him from his school setting a week into the hospitalization, he then participated in treatment and was released on March 13, 2013.  His releasing diagnosis paperwork states: Axis I Mood DONOS, ADHD overactive/inattentive, Aspergers DO.  Axis III good healthy, Axis IV: inappropriate classroom placement bullied by peers, Axis V: 40.  His medications upon release are Depakote ER 250mg, Depakote delayed release 125mg, Adderall XR 10mg, and Risperdal 0.5mg. 

This road has been a long, difficult one.  Here is a brief synopsis of our Hampton Oaks Elementary School (Stafford, VA) experience:

On Sept, 11, 2012 Student Support Team Meeting 
Attendees: myself, Asst. Principal, Educational Diagnostician, School Psychologist, Social Worker, Speech Therapist, 3rd Teacher, and Resource Teacher. 
Summary of meeting: I shared Nathans difficulties and concerns w school as well as his diagnosis and the symptoms there of.  His teacher had not observed any of these at this time.  
Summary of Team Roles: consult w/ DR, observations of Nathan in different settings. Nathan will eat in the Asst Principals office each day at lunch. 

On Nov. 5, 2012 SSTM
Attendees: myself, Asst. Principal, School Psychologist, 3rd grade Teacher, school social worker, reading specialist, Speech/Lang. Path. 
Summary of meeting: I shared Nathans melt downs after school,  difficulty w homework and my concerns w bullying. 
 "TEAM" observations held for 30 minutes on Halloween: "The speech therapist, school psychologist, and social worker reviews his classroom performance but his behavior was unusual as he had been absent for a few days recently, school had been canceled for the past 2 days due to weather, and it was also Halloween dressup day.  He was noted to get out of his seat 5 times and needed 10 redirections within 30 minutes, he was talking to peers, making faces and hitting his head with a book to make other students laugh.  The whole class was on the carpet listening to the teacher and at the end of the discussion he jumped up and ran to his sear and yelled,'I'm the first one to my seat!' He need a reminder to get the worksheet that was being handed out. His desk was also noted to be disorganized.  The TEAM shared that he has friends in the classroom he interacts appropriately with peers, it appears that he can regulate his behaviours and can 'read' the social cues and feelings of others." 
Summary of Team Roles: Teacher- organizational tool for desk, reflection journal to share about his day.  Social Worker- social stories/ friendship choice.  School- Drs reports.  

On Jan. 15, 2013 SSTM
Attendees: myself, Asst Principal, school social worker, 3rd grade teacher, school psychologist.
Summary of meeting: I shared Nathans therapies, medications.
Asst Principal reported that "she noticed that he uses many excuses throughout his day to avoid nonpreferred activites... He eats lunch with a group of 2 other boys and he plays and interacts appropriately with the others in the lunch group."  
Teacher reported that his work has declined rapidly and that he is no longer completing assignments and that he has had problems with peers.
Summary of Team Roles: School- use a timer, check his work, "if/then" routine w work completion, drawing tablet.  

The organizational tools, reflections journal, use of timer were not done at all.  The 'if/then' routine is questionable but I do know that he "drew in his workbooks".  

As a mother, I check my childs agenda daily (when he hasn't hidden due to referrals or notes from his teacher)  He has had repeated notes home due to behaviours such as inability to sit still, crying in class, flapping and waving of his arms, touching other students desk, taking things from other students and teacher, lying, extreme inability to focus, trouble with peers, and use of inappropriate language.  Referrals started on 2/22, 2/26 and 2/27.  His suicide attack occurred on March 1, 2013, at school.  There was a note in his agenda from his teacher informing me that she had decided to take all of Nate's books and folders out of his desk and keep them at her desk and give them to him when he needs each one.  There was NO mention of him choking himself.  

Our next meeting with the school is on March 26, 2013 at 11 am.

Any advice you might be able to give would be wonderful. He cannot remain in the public mainstream classroom and it has been recommended that we keep him home for therapy and recovery until proper school placement can be found.  The Stafford Academy (a first year school for Spectrum kiddos) would be wonderful if we could have him placed by the school as we simply cannot afford the tuition.  Please let me know if you need more detailed information. I have already started Tony Attwoods' Behavioural Therapies at home and he is continuing to receive therapy.


I wonder about my 10 yr old son, however - he can seem so defiant and prone to arguing - he really does find the arguing stimulating , I think, and does not see it as disrespectful at all - but then, unlike some of the kids you mention, if he says something hurtful ,  he is SO sorry and full of regret after he calms down, which turns to despair and anger directed at himself - "why do I do this all the time? why am I so stupid? God made a mistake with me- I am broken" which is where the suicidal talk starts in . No action yet to hurt himself, but we all worry when he talks this way.

So how do I handle the arguing and defiance (and SIGNIFICANTdisrespect for any authority figures ) when I know how much he wants to be liked and how much he wants to be successful- is it maybe an impulsivity issue rather than a defiance issue? that he just can't think before he speaks? is there another way to teach respect for authority that an asperger brain might grasp better? So hard to give consequences when I know he is already so hard on himself for every slip-up.

We know that he is a sweet kid, except for the times he isn't, and all the adults in his life are struggling with how to help him be more successful , at school especially (his disrespect and arguing is much worse at school than at home- the social environment really ups his anxiety and makes his reactions SO much bigger ) -

thanks for any help - I am continuing to read and work with your information, and have already looked at my own expectations and revised them , based on your great reminder that their emotional/develomental age is usually lower than their actual age- intellectually he is so smart, but developmentally Ben is more like an 7 or 8 yr old than a 10 yr old, and I need to remember that when I expect things of him!


I have recently been referred to the My Aspergers Child website.  A great resource.  My son is almost 15 and diagnosed a year ago.  His school had encouraged us.  There was hesitation on my husband’s part - as he believes our son is fine and just lacks maturity.  Any way, to be honest my son is a good kid and I believe if he had a friend no one would suggest Aspergers.  He is like Sheldon on the Big Bang - just needs some friends to accept who he is. I find it difficult that my son is diagnosed with Aspergers that is considered a disability but under any definition in order to get assistance he does not qualify as having a disability.

I do not have strategies in place.  As I said he is a good kid, I don’t have to tell him more than twice to do something.  I think he is a normal teenager except  he lacks socially and only likes certain foods and doesn’t like loud noises (school fire drills)  but other than that I treat him like I would treat my daughter (12) – but as I read the My Aspergers Child website it states he shouldn’t be treated like his other sibling.  I have spoken with other parents who have kids with Aspergers and find I have it so easy.   He had a hard time in grade school (being bullied) but now in high school an IEP is in place he is doing well,  even though no close friends, and is a B student (his level of courses will enable him to attend college - not university).  He has no problem going to school events (dances) by himself. He does not like learning social skills - he did go to a speech pathologist and it did help him with communication but we stopped because it stressed him out.

In any event, I saw your e-books Aspergers Handbook  and my Aspergers Teen and am wondering what would be the better resource.   A little background - he has chores (laundry - except folding, vacuuming, mowing lawn), gets up and goes to bed without being told, good hygiene, room clean, follows rules, hugs us and close family and friends, sometimes rocks when watching TV - only fidgeting habit and when he was younger no unusual tantrums, will speak on the phone but will not call others and has no interest in social media (Facebook), he spends most of his time watching TV, playing video games and listening to music, however in warmer months will go outside and shoot pucks, ride his bike, etc, when he has an interest he will tend to talk about it over and over but have found he does realize when we are not interested – picks up on body language and we have no disciplinary problems with him - as I stated earlier - a good kid.  So I guess that is why we never thought anything was wrong with him.


 I've contacted you to out the years and I am at the end of my rope. The district took it upon themselves to mandate an IEP that I rejected. They delivered it to his new school that I'm having to pay for now as they have done so many violations this year to my child that it's unbelievable I've done everything in my power to find an advocate defined an attorney to find support that my efforts keep coming back as nothing Christopher was hospitalized his bed and beat three times the principle of para teachers have been removed from the school if backdated they live even the superintendent has his attorney answer the phone for him when I call they enrolled my other son in on the same day he had I Christopher had a different IEP and wrote up my five year old born on October 29, 2007 every day distressed me out even more I'm exhausted frazzled stressed and I really don't know what else to do as I have done everything I can I have ADHD and dyslexia myself so that prohibits me from writing correctly and providing documents needed at the time I filed with OCR Department of Justice the advocacy families helping families capital city area you name it however somehow the parish the district the superintendent has blocked me or confused me in many many many ways. I feel like I've reached that and of the fight because of my health my family my job and my life I can't believe that people are put impositions to take care children and what day do is on believable I'm conceivable that happens thank you for all the letters the time you spent helping people and it's much Appreciated it seems everybody can write a letter and email but that's about it I've been unable to find anyone to do any action for me our help me in anyway.


Hi Mark,
I found your radio show on youtube.
My 21 year old son was recently diagnosed with asperber's. Prior to that he was treated for ADHD and mild OCD. He's been a happy kid and went to a Christian school most of his life. Since graduating high school he's taken a turn for the worse. He was finishing up an Associate of Science at Portland Community College (Oregon) and is pursuing an engineering degree.
The problem is he has absolutely no motivation. He never really has, but it's gotten more aparent recently. He stopped going to school about three months ago. Very distressing to say the least. Since that time he has been seeing a wonderful Christian psychologist who has been working with him on social skills and relationships. He wouldn't get out of bed, unless I physically pulled him up. He's also seeing a psychiatrist who has him on prozac and wellbutrin. I think this is helping with his depression. His psychiatrist said he's stuck.
As a result of him not cooperating, I took away the one thing he loved, his lap top. He is fixated on it. He's very intelligent (147 IQ) and very creative. He uses his laptop for fantasy role playing. I'm disturbed that he is highly involved with Everfree Radio - "Bronies" - Boys who like My Little Pony (MLP.)  In addition to MLP he likes other video games that involve fantasy and role playing. He's found acceptance with his online "friends" - which have their own struggles (multiple-personality disorder, gay, transgender, etc.)  
My husband, his dad, has been diligently taking him to a college group at our church. He has not wanted to go. Yesterday he didn't want to go, but once he got there he called and said he wanted to go with the kids to Buffalo Wild Wings (chicken wings place.) That was a breakthrough.
We've been considering sending him to off to school so he'd have to be more independent. His therapist is for it. I'm concerned that he won't get out of bed, take his medication, and may find the wrong friends.
He's recently completed driver's education again. I was concerned that his inability to take in things around him might make him a hazardous driver, but so far he's done pretty well.


I have adamantly tried the 3-Day grounding on both my children, the 15 year old teenager and the 9 year old son. My son William has repeated breaking the house rules with out a second thought to the consequences and the 3 days have been continually repeated since March 14, 2013. I know you said it would get worse before it got easier. However after being kicked today which brought me to knees, this child just does not get it. There is not a care in the world that everything has been taken away, he still comes out asking for privileges as if he has forgotten what is posted on the wall. I gave him 5 chores which he gladly completes but when he has to go back in his room because of his consequences he gets mad, and either calls me stupid, idiot, says they are stupid rules or breaks something. He is always coming out of his room and trying to negotiate and my reply is "Your grounded, go to your room" and he will either go but normally he has to be followed back in his room. I am exhausted, tired and in pain from being kicked I want to know what changes you could recommend for a child with ADHD and Aspergers? The 3-Day grounding has been working remarkably on the 15 year old who now gets herself up for school, dressed and to school on time, does her chores and shows much more respect but her brother, whole different ball game.


Question: I have read your book. It's seems to be pretty good and hopefully I can save myself from being frustrated all the time by my husband. I do have a question. I'm not fully understanding how to practice the "positive reframing" technique. Can you clarify?

Response: With reframing, you're simply putting a positive spin on things. For example, your husband is spending a lot of time on the computer this evening when the two of you had originally decided to watch a movie together. So, you need to go get him. But you don’t bust into the computer room and say, “I thought we were going to watch a movie. Are you going to be spending all night on the computer” (negative spin). Instead, say, “I see you are working diligently on the computer. But it’s time to quit so we can get started with the movie. I’ll start the movie in 5 minutes so you can wrap up.”

Follow-up response from questioner: Thank you responding so quickly. You have no idea of how mentally drained I am. I have read many books, watched many online segments, prayed etc. I wrote my husband an email this morning after reading your book. In hopes for him to "finally see" he needs to change it was a complete fail. I copied & pasted a few of your tips and added my own words of sarcasm and "I told you so's" and like always he filtered my words and missed my message. He replied back defensively and totally pissed off via text (I attached the picture in this email) I will try to get him to listen to the audio (which was awesome, thx!) He has already told me he don't want to listen to it he said "he's good" (Picture attached too). I pray he changes his mind. 


My 10 year old has many signs of aspergers but a clear diagnosis wasn’t possible because he developed an interest in acting 3 years ago. This acting desire rules him out as an asperger child. They said asperger children don’t like to be in spotlight. I believe he likes acting because he has extreme difficulty making friends. He cant read facial expressions,gets upset because he thinks he is being teased affecting his classroom attitude. He is very intelligent,long memory,uses an adult vocabulary for several years. Yet simple instructions can be confusing as he takes everything literally.He also loves music reading and computer.He wants to dress weird a lot,and hates water. The last 2 years many meltdowns at school , almost predictible by  how much trouble he has getting ready for school. I phone school those mornings.Has thrown food and books and flipped desk over.He has Panhypopituitarism and there is a high rate of asperger with that,because it is in the brain.Also his eyes go to the side and up when conversing with him.His optomitrist said that is a sure sign of asperger.  Yet I cant get assistance for him because they wont verify it. I am a single disabled parent who needs to get my son diagnosed with whatever it is. It is amazing how him falling back on acting may be keeping him from treatment. 



Hello Mark,

I have come a cross your website about  6 months ago now and bought various  e-books. I was excited when I read your profile to find out you are a Christian. I thought that this was the case when you talked about strategies of families staying together. From that I decided to join you on line using the e mail facility. The articles are a great resource. Blessings.

Let me introduce myself.
Originally I am from England.

I started teaching in mainstream high school.

From there I taught in a special school.

I was a Special Adviser Teacher with complex difficulties. Severe Learning Difficulties and also ASD.

My wife and I moved to New Zealand. Here I started work as a Special Education Adviser. I work with the top 1% of children and adolescents with learning difficulties. This can often encompass those with ASD including AS who may have difficulty accessing the school curriculum. I am working with school teachers, teacher aides, SENCO (special educational needs coordinators, principals and parents (specialist of their child) to see how they can be included.

My role is to that every child and young person will have access to learning opportunities that maximise their learning, promote social inclusion and facilitate smooth transition through to life-long learning. However I see my role about trying to remove the stigma that goes with autism and Asperger syndrome . Addressing reasons like “we do not  have the resources”, “our classes are open plan”, “we don’t have the staff”, “we had a teacher that could have worked with your child but they are not here now” “the school down the road will probably be able to meet your child’s need, and on and on and on. I thought I was escaping this thinking when I came to New Zealand but human nature is the same.

I working with people at church who are on the spectrum and now our home in the UK will potentially be used to support people with Aspergers / mental health.

Renting our UK house for a residential to support people with mental health and Aspergers

My wife and I are in a real predicament:

We have a house in the UK which we have been trying to sell but in the mean time we have been renting out our house. Recently we had a company that showed interest in renting our house. They are a housing association for young adults with mental health and Aspergers. Our home will be staffed 24 hours a days 7 days a week.

This has not gone down well with the neighbours. Initially they said that they will be a home for people who are paedophiles and drug addicts. My immediate neighbours think that they are unsafe and me being a Christian and a teacher “And you a teacher and a parent-how could, you do this!?”

At the moment they are speaking emotionally. I cant present an alternative view. Also they are spreading rumours that are not true and are not evidence based. I am excited by the prospect of the supported house organisation renting our house. I believe it is good for the clients, but can also be an asset to the community.

Our anxieties are running high even though we are half way around the world. Some of the neighbours have become very hostile; and are seeking legal action.

The director of the company is planning to arrange a meeting with some of the neighbours but with the clients have such a low self esteem and sensitive to not being accepted is going to make it difficult for them to develop greater independence.

I was concerned at the very beginning but we soon felt that it was going to be good. The more I read about the company I was impressed at what they do. I know that Aspergers and schizophrenia need a highly structured environment, which they can provide at  our home. We are within walking distance of the towns amenities e.g. shops, library, park, plus allsorts of events hosted in the this small town.

One of the accusations is that we are in it for the money, but the rent is no higher that for a family renting it as family home. The  money we get is for the rent and maintenance and for any big jobs we will have to dip into our savings.

The website of the home is:

I have got your article on :
Aspergers Children & Mental Health Issues

Are there research papers to show the value of support in the community that is staffed 24/7  re mental health and Aspergers?

Are there any research papers /other evidence to show that the community is safe?

What can I say to my neighbours when I have the chance to put the case for supported housing in the community? I imagine the most vehemently opposed may agree it is what they need but not in my neighbourhood.


RE: Are there research papers to show the value of support in the community that is staffed 24/7  re mental health and Aspergers? Are there any research papers /other evidence to show that the community is safe?

Probably. I’ll check around for you.

RE: What can I say to my neighbours when I have the chance to put the case for supported housing in the community? 

The claim that groups homes, unlike other homes, cause surrounding property values to decline is false. Numerous studies investigating the impact of group homes on housing markets show that group homes have no significant effect on nearby housing prices. In fact, some studies have reported that property values of surrounding homes increase.

There is no evidence to support the claim that group homes harm the "character" of neighborhoods. Surveys show that group homes are maintained as well, if not better, than other neighborhood homes, and are unlikely to cause an increase in traffic or congestion.

Residents of group homes are no more likely than other people to be dangerous. Studies comparing rates of arrest of residents of group homes with the general population show that it is probably safer to live next door to a group home than a more typical family residence. Like the rest of us, persons with mental retardation spend their days working, and in their free time they, like us, go shopping, are active in church or civic groups, watch TV, eat out, go for walks, and visit friends.



 "I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when I was 9, basically by info did not get passed on to high school. So, Alcohol was the best cover, rather that be associated with the word Autism , when one ever referred to me as strange, or the classic " whats wrong with that guy". Well, friends would say, he drinks to much. What a cover . During my 20's any concern for symptons or issues were forgot . It wasn't til I was 28 years of age, when I decided to get sober. It wasn't til 93 til I kicked the illegal stuff and stopped drinking that the old issues never really left, they were simply sedated . My Social life was simply a Social Navigational experience set in selective people contact, procrastinating who is going to be a problem and who I can feel safe in navigating a conversation with. It was a Psychiatrist who pulled my ancient school records and found the diagnosis in and confirmed that its been with me side by side in some sublime denial of sorts. After 96 I became a Catholic and work on my spiritual relationship with Christ and started to get involved in Community service. I joined (1999) the "Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War" in the Dept. of Calif. and Pacific. Educating the public in 19th Century history by deploying exhibit displays at Patriotic function and days. Today, I am the elected Commander of that department overseeing 15 chapters in California, Nevada and Hawaii for 2013. Still Asperger's has taken a lot, but it did not hinder of me achieving goals. I've become saturated with kind of the isolation living, but only to the point of everyday living, I do have a work life and friends whom I interact through community service. And as I approach the age of 50, there a few friend I grew up since early grade school. And thus life marches on. The emotions aspect is just a roller coaster I have to endure, especially the ones that are nearly impossible to express. Still I do not at all blame God in anyway, there are people with much worse stories than mine. And mine is not that bad. It is what I was destine to live with, DEUS VAULT ! so be it. How can you live in depression over it, when you have people suffering twice to 20 fold from diseases, mutilation, amputations , or have been cut off from simple joys of life , like running , walking, talking, seeing, hearing. Or having a full span of life cut short for any reason. Blame God, I don't think so, we live on a planet and existence that is shaped by the weight of circumstance and free will. I thank the Lord for the gift of life, and Mom and Dad to. "


My husband and I have been together for 7 years. We are a remarried couple with kids on both sides. We both have grown kids and I have 2 still at home. Your video describing the dating/attraction part was right on. Unfortunately, your videos describing the grief cycle and the resentment are also right no. My husband was unofficially diagnosed 6 months ago by the third marriage counselor we attempted to see. I was shocked, then relieved, then understanding, and then angry again. We had moved away from his hometown a few months before the diagnosis, so he took the opportunity to flee back there while I was at work last month. I don't blame him, our home was not a haven nor a happy place to be. My family doesn't want him back now. His family has never liked me as he has shared how I'm always angry at him for no reason. He has barely spoken to my 15-year-old since the day we got married, so she doesn't want him back in the house. I'm sick to death of taking care of him and us. I'm tired of trying to have romantic feelings for somebody I've grown to see as a selfish, cold, handicapped adult child. 

On the other hand, I miss his quiet, gentle self. I miss how nice it can be to be on a date with him. I also don't want another divorce and neither does he. We have not hired attorneys, filed anything, or hurt each other's finances. We are in daily contact as needed and the venom on both sides has diminished. We are both active, committed Christians involved in a local church. Although, he is better connected back in his town, which is 4 hours away. I have no plans to return to his town as we moved here (TX) because he wanted me to finish college and begin a "real" career, which I did. I love it here and so do my kids. 

We do have access to a skilled, Christian therapist. He is skilled in working with LD people as well as marriages on the brink of divorce. His method is based on "homework" for each spouse combined with ind and joint sessions and accountability. 


Dear Mark,
Your newsletters are a source of great information and hope..
I just wish I had known when my son was a kid that he had AS, it
would have helped so much..
As it is now, he has all the secondary emotional issues, low self-esteem,
and refuses to accept that he has AS!! It is also difficult to insist that he deal
with this right now, since he underwent some stresses ( one of them was that
he tried LSD to try and feel better about the world, he's not tried any drugs after
that). The LSD, given his sensory sensitivity, knocked the wind out of him and
disoriented him completely. After that, over a period of some months, he developed
mild symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, for which he is now on Lithium, olanzapine and
fluoxetine. He is much better, but there is a lot of amotivation, confused spirituality
issues and high anxiety.
In your experience, does this drug combination suit the Asperger individual? Are AS
prone to Bipolar Disorder? Given that he is just getting out of the depressive phase of
BPD, when do you think I should get him to look at the AS diagnosis and deal with it? 


Dear Sir:

My daughter is a 17 yr old senior with great scholarship offers.  We are in trouble.

She has always been extremely independent and a bit defiant, along with being a great athlete and super bright child.  She chose to go away to school (the IL Math and Science Academy) her sophomore year. It was not a good fit.  She was challenged for the first time and did well academically; but at the cost of her emotional health.  The pressure was unending and there was no balance.  I made her stay the entire year and she has been engaging in risky behavior and blaming me ever since…

She has gone from the child with the brightest future to choosing a boyfriend that brings a lot of trouble.  He was a Child and Family Services ward who was kicked out of his placement, lives with pot dealers and has low life criminals for friends.  She has smoked pot.

Currently, she sees a counselor who is trying ti simultaneously deescalate the struggle between us and work with her.  I allowed the boyfriend into the home.  She wants him here all the time - I believe for her own comfort and to give him a safer place.  She seems to be more defiant when he is here.  Last night, we were arguing and she left with him and did not return.  I was trying to hold her accountable for the pot I discovered in her backpack.

I do not know how to proceed.  I am worried about her making it through the summer and off to college.  We tr to tell her that it is a harder road on her own.  We are not wanting to support her phone, car and college if she is goIng to smoke and make bad choices.  She still has her goals which include med school but is becoming more removed.

Her Dad lives in NC and has the power of the purse.  We divorced when she was in 2nd grade.  He sees the girls about once a year and both of them resent me for trying to involve him in current struggles because he has "never been here."  She is slowly but surely pulling away from everyone who questions her or does not agree with her choices.


My oldest daughter used to interact more with her younger siblings but she was very controlling.  When the younger two children grew up enough to be assertive and not allow her to control them any more...she began to withdraw.  I should also say that we are a homeschooling that makes our family relationships much more intense.  That intensity is hard for my oldest son and my daughter.  The pediatrican told us years ago the oldest son (age 23) might have some asperger's tendencies and he is a lot like my oldest daughter.

My oldest daughter went to public high school for her first two years and the first year went really well.  It seemed like she had a small group of friends, a few were also friends from our little church.  However she never wanted to invite anyone over.  Then the second year she started missing more and more assignments and it was clear we needed to bring her home again. Her teachers loved her because she was nice and always prompt to class and honest, but they were all very worried about her.  Despite all of these struggles, she received the RAM Pride award out of all of the sophomore girls.  But getting up early in the morning and never getting enough sleep was taking its toll on her.  Her basic grooming habits were terrible and she would come home and sleep each afternoon and not wake up until I went to bed, so I couldn't keep track of what schoolwork she needed to do and it just wasn't getting done.  So was totally in agreement that we homeschool her.  She looked forward to not having to get up so early in the morning and not having to drag her stuff all over the school.

We tried to encourage her to keep up with her friends from school, but she consistently wouldn't check her e-mail or facebook or other things.  I enrolled her in a home school teenage group and a drama group.  They don't really meet often enough, but she did make some new friends.  But again, she would not initiate any socializing.  There is even one homeschool girl whom she likes to talk with who lives around the corner from us, but she is as shy and withdrawn as my daughter is and neither of them will chose to get together.  

A girl across the street from us came over with her family at our New Year's party and then the two girls talked a lot, but again my daughter will not initiate and the other girl doesn't initiate either.  All of her friends at the high school are graduating this year, but we have had to finish her junior year so she will only be a senior next year.  She had a small group at church, but they changed the format, so now she is in a different small group (the church is huge) even though she likes the small group...they are all new continuity is missing.   We did continue to take her to all of the drama events at the public high school this past year and a half so that she could see her friends, and she says hello to her friends, but doesn't talk to them for very long.  She is pretty immature for her age, so doesn't really enjoy the same things that girls her age enjoy.

So, I guess avoidance is an issue, but not aggressive avoidance.  We had a long talk and she said she never knows what to say when she was around her friends.  She does wish she had more time to be with friends, but she doesn't want to invite anyone over.

She is not one to find a favorite topic and discuss it over and over again.  There is a lack of reciprocity in conversations with siblings in the family though.  She has a hard time letting anyone else have the last word and has a real need to constantly correct other's language.  Most of the time now though, so doesn't acknowledge other's presence and you always have to call her name many times before there is any kind of response.  It frustrates her siblings a lot, and they don't try as often to initiate conversations as it is too much work.

Sensory issues are something I may need to think more about.  I know that my older son has sensory issues and I am just now learning about what this is.  I have a friend who knows a lot about that, so I will try to discuss this with her as she knows my kids.  We do have a very large house and each child has their own room, so that helps to cut down on the intensity of relationships, but often we find now (we have been here 5 years in this big house) that each person retreats into their own room too much. (Except for my youngest daughter, who is a social butterfly and often found in her 14 year old brother's room.)  She used to be closer to my older daughter, but my older daughter has withdrawn even from her.

So, I guess she would be classified as social indifference that is a problem for her.  Of course the fact that we home school can be a problem in socializing with other teenagers...and my 22 year old son had some difficulties when he was a younger teen, only because we held to standards that others didn't have..but he has learned now to be comfortable with lots of folks who hold all kinds of fact he actively seeks out friends who are different from him.  My youngest daughter is very outgoing and gregarious and has a great maturity in relationships...also has done marvelously in adapting to her sister's moods...maybe too much so.  My younger son, age 14, has also done well now in working with his older sister's moods.   He does fine in social situations, but he has had some learning to do.  He is very interested in learning how to relate though and is learning how to "not be so annoying" and how to learn when to talk and when not to talk...he has some ADHD too, but he is making great strides in his relationships in the family.   

At one time I thought my older daughter might have RAD as she had really rage outbursts, but now these outbursts are not as often because she chooses to withdraw so much.  She knows she overreacts to things and I know she has withdrawn because she is overwhelmed by her own reactions to people.

I am a bit overwhelmed as to where to begin...I guess he may have some form of asperger's and not just ADD.  She has read a lot about ADD and we tried ADD meds under supervision of the pediatrician, but they didn't help and she was losing too much weight so we quit.  Behavior mod doesn't work too well with her either as she doesn't have much motivation.   In fact other than her fantasies, I'm not sure what she really likes.  She likes the drama some, but not that much.  She wanted to do gymnastics and we let her do that, but she wasn't very good at it and we all decided she should quit that.  She was somewhat interested in the Physics course we did together last year, but she can't keep her mind on the math.  She is great at foreign language, but she doesn't like it any more.  She used to love learning spanish.  She loves to listen to music, but gets too frustrated when trying to learn how to play an instrument. I tried to teach her piano, but it was too frustrating.   She was really in to Harry Potter and was constantly living in a Harry Potter world for a while, but she finally decided that she shouldn't be reading all of this fantasy any more.  We had gone to a counselor who suggested that and at first she objected, but a few months later, she decided that she should not read any more fantasy. 


Hi Mark,

I was delighted when I found your information on the Internet!  I've been working with adults who have aspergers, and their partners for about 5 years.  As far as I know, I am the only therapist in the Minneapolis area who deals specifically with this type of clientele. 

My husband was diagnosed with aspergers 7 years ago.  At that time we'd been married for 29 years. Our marriage was very rocky and we had been in and out therapy for 15 years.  When I discovered aspergers, my life and our marriage changed dramatically. I'm sure you've heard the same story many times.  My husband eventually embraced the diagnosis and now we are doing quite well.

I've watched several of your YouTube videos and listened to your radio web cast. I'm very impressed with the work you do. I would like to expand my practice to do some of the same things you're doing.  My schedule is very full and I can no longer take new clients.  There is such a need for professionals to work with adults on the spectrum as well as their partners. As you know, there are many individuals and couples out there struggling and don't know why. 

I'm writing to see if there is a possibility we could talk at some point. I'd be very interested in hearing how you came to be an aspergers expert.  I purchased your ebook, "Living with an Asperger Partner."  I found it very helpful and informative.  I shared some of it with my asperger couples group this week. I would love to hear more about your workshops.  I have been thinking for a very long time about doing a workshop for therapists on how to identify aspergers in couples counseling. 


Hello Mr, Hutten,

In my desperate attempt to get information to guide me and my daughter through her teens I found your web site. I know you probably get a million emails every day so I will try to make this brief.

My daughter will be 15 on April 9th. Her maturity level is closer to 9. I have raised two "normal" children with little trouble. Tara is another story. She keeps to herself most of the time only going places when we "drag her kicking and screaming". I struggle with getting her to do everyday things, hygiene (she messed her pants till 5th grade), eating with the family, doing school work.

She cares very little about school even though she has a brilliant mind. She is artistic, writes poetry and loves music but her passion is video games, especially the dungeons and dragons type. That's all she wants to do. I feel I should take them away from her but this is literally her only connection with the outside world since she is homeschooled. I want to help her but I don't want to make her even more isolated. I always try to keep in mind that I am, in affect, dealing with a 9 yr old.

How do I motivate her to care about her grades and want to do her studies? How do I get her to want to leave her room for more than a half hour at a time? Thank you for any guidance you can give me.


My daughter turned 17 at the end of February.  Within one week, she ran away and stopped attending the online schooling program.  She called the police on me trying to get me to give her her drivers license and social security card.  I told her and them she was welcome to return and enjoy the benefits of being at home (provided for, car to drive, phone, clothing, etc.) but if she chose to leave, then she would be doing it without my support or assistance.  Weeks went by without her contacting us.  Today she contacted me asking if she could buy her car from me by making monthly installments.  (I have already sold her car.)  I told her if she returned home, enrolled and completed school, lived by our rules, that I would help her get a car.  She said she wasn't returning home and asked for her ID and social security card.  Once again I said, I love you but I will not support your rebellion and that she would need to make it without my assistance.


Thank you Mark for taking the time to e-mail me with this information. I want you to know that  I have read through parts of your e-Book and I am going to bed  happy tonight after a week of stress & concern about my son. I feel so relieved & so moved with the "what you think about expands" in the change your perspective section. I know that all my son needs will be placed in his path & that this will be such a beautiful journey for us both. You have brought this to my attention, information I always believed deep down but have lost my perspective.... and really needed to hear right now. You have renewed my spirit & I want to tell you a million thanks Mark. 

Blessing to you - (worth every cent of the cost of the e-book just for this section alone)


Hi Mark,
We love listening to your show and reading your blog.
We have a son who is 7 and in first grade who was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism about 3 years ago.
I have been to multiple parent education courses and have learned who to manage a lot of the behavour that happens at home and/or time with our family (through ABA and rewards charts, different techniques for calming behaviour, certain plans with his teachers etc.).

My question for you is it seems like my son is starting to have a harder time socially as the school year progresses... My son is very smart and doing well academically, and is off the charts
with Math, but socially I feel like it's deteriorating. He didn't qualify for an IEP since he is fully capable academically, but as soon as recess comes, or social things happen in the classroom - he curls up in a ball and hides under his sweatshirt, or has arguments and fighting etc. He is also becoming defiant towards his teacher (who has her hands full since it's a public school situation..) We are noticing that there are more and more mis-understandings when we get together with other friends and their kids...and he seems to be getting more and more upset at people for things they say and do, and starting to get more explosive and/or angry.

I'm not sure what direction to go in right now - should I seek a more one-on-one therapist for him? Re-try for an IEP for added help at school?

I have some support at school in that we have a 504 plan (an outside source diagnosis, sort of a safety-net, and this allows him to qualify for twice a month visists with the care-counselor at school...) but I'm starting to think that this isn't enough. But, I'm not sure where to next seek out some help. He was diagnosed through the Lanterman center in LA, but never received any direct therapy through there.

ASD Panic Attacks Disguised As Meltdowns

Your child is majorly upset over something - but is it a meltdown, shutdown, tantrum, or full-blown panic attack?

As a parent of a child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA), you know that your child is capable of having a meltdown occasionally. We’ll describe a meltdown as “an over-reaction to environmental stimuli designed to give HFA children a sense of control when they feel that their world is out-of-control.” 

Let’s also make the distinction between a meltdown and a temper tantrum. We’ll describe tantrums as “normal acting-out behaviors designed to help children assert their independence as they learn they are separate beings from their parents.”

Having defined meltdowns and tantrums, parents need to know that there are times when their “acting-out” HFA children are having neither a meltdown nor a tantrum; rather, they are in the throes of a legitimate panic attack. Let’s describe panic attacks as “periods of intense fear and apprehension that are of sudden onset and of variable duration of hours to days.” Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, may reach a peak within 10 minutes, but may continue for much longer if the child had the attack triggered by a situation from which he or she is not able to escape. 

In panic attacks that are triggered by a situation from which the HFA child desires to escape, he or she may make frantic efforts to escape, which are often violent – especially if parents attempt to contain the child. Often, the child suffering from panic attacks will experience significant “anticipatory anxiety” in situations where attacks have previously occurred (e.g., a child having a panic attack after the neighbor’s dog jumps up on him, resulting in the child fearing ALL dogs in ALL situations after the initial incident).


Experiencing a panic attack is one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences in a child’s life and may take days to initially recover from (unlike meltdowns, which usually only last a few minutes to a few hours). Repeated panic attacks are considered a symptom of panic disorder. 

Children with HFA are prone to anxiety, which in extreme situations can lead to panic attacks. Panic attacks are a terrifying experience where the body reacts as if it is in immense danger, in a situation where most children would not be afraid. A small number of HFA children will go on to develop panic disorder, whereby panic attacks are intense and occur frequently. If left untreated, panic disorder can be a debilitating condition, severely restricting the quality of life for the youngster.

In between attacks, the affected child often feels intense anxiety, worrying when and where the next one will strike. Panic attacks are accompanied by the unpleasant physical symptoms of anxiety (e.g., heart palpitations, hyperventilation, muscle pain, dizziness, sweating) along with the fear that the attack will lead to death or a total loss of control.

HFA children suffering from panic attacks need to be taught that the physical symptoms they experience with an attack are just extreme versions of normal bodily responses to danger. For example:
  • Pupils dilate for more acute vision, and this can cause difficulty with bright lights or vision distortion.
  • Blood is diverted away from non-essential areas including the stomach, brain and hands, resulting in digestive problems, dizziness and tingling or numbness in the hands.
  • Adrenaline being released into the blood stream causes the heart to beat faster and the breathing rate to increase in order to supply major muscles with more oxygen.
  • Sometimes it may appear that the walls are folding in, or in extreme cases, inanimate objects may appear to move.

During an attack, the affected child can become convinced that the symptoms are caused by a major health problem (e.g., heart attack, brain tumor) or that he or she is going crazy. This fear causes more adrenaline to be released. Thus, a worsening cycle can be generated.

Panic attacks can be accompanied by other conditions (e.g., depression), or they can give rise to the development of phobias. If, for example, the HFA child has a panic attack during his first day of school, and then associates panic attacks with “the classroom,” he or she may refuse to go to school. Some of these children’s lives become very restricted, and they avoid normal, everyday activities. Some may even refuse to leave the house unless they are accompanied by a parent (i.e., agoraphobia).


There are a number of treatments for panic attacks, with research showing cognitive behavioral therapy to be the best practice. Some parents may choose to combine a number of treatment options for their child, for example:

1. Relaxation techniques/meditation: These can be useful to reduce acute anxiety or to help the child cope during a panic attack. There are numerous books, CDs and DVDs which can help the child learn these techniques. 

2. Medication: Some of the anti-anxiety drugs are very potent and some produce severe side effects in some kids. While medication can give short term relief to the symptoms, it is important that other strategies are used as well, including counseling and learning more about the condition.

3. Diet and exercise: Physical fitness and a good balanced diet are essential for emotional well being. Many young people find that doing something physical helps reduced the “keyed up” feelings often associated with anxiety. For some children, high caffeine drinks and chocolate can act as a trigger to panic attacks, probably because caffeine can cause bodily changes (e.g.,  increase in heart rate), which can be misinterpreted as the start of a panic attack. The fear this causes can then trigger a real panic attack.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

4. Complementary therapies: Some parents report that the use of herbs, vitamins, and homeopathy have been effective with their child when either used alone or in conjunction with other treatments.

5. Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT is very effective for treating panic attacks. It teaches affected children how to identify their anxiety and how to change anxiety-generating thoughts. The underlying belief with CBT is this: It is not so much “events” that are a cause of anxiety, but what the child “thinks” about the events.

6. Parental instruction: Teach your child to avoid fighting the panic. When experiencing a panic attack, affected children need to remember the following: It does not matter if they feel frightened, unreal or unsteady, because these feelings are just an exaggeration of normal bodily reactions. The feelings are unpleasant and frightening, but not dangerous. Teach your child to face the symptoms and not run from them. Tell your child to not add to his or her panic with scary thoughts about what is happening or where it might lead. Instruct your child to allow time to pass, and for the fear to fade away. He or she can use one or all of the following positive statements:
  • “I can be anxious and still deal with the situation.”
  • “I’ll just let my body do its thing. This will pass.” 
  • “This anxiety won’t hurt me, even if it doesn't feel good”.
  • “This feeling isn't comfortable or pleasant, but I can accept it.”

Symptoms of panic attacks include the following:
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chills or hot flushes
  • depersonalization (i.e., being detached from oneself)
  • derealization (i.e., feelings of unreality)
  • fear of dying
  • fear of losing control or going crazy
  • feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • feeling of choking
  • nausea or abdominal distress
  • palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • paresthesias (i.e., numbness or tingling sensations)
  • sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • sweating
  • trembling or shaking

Many children being treated for panic attacks begin to experience “limited symptom attacks” (i.e., fewer than four bodily symptoms listed above being experienced). It is not unusual for the affected child to experience only one or two symptoms at a time (e.g., vibrations in the legs, shortness of breath, an intense wave of heat traveling up the body).

Some symptoms are sufficiently different from any normal sensation such that they clearly indicate panic disorder. Panic disorder does not require four or more symptoms listed above to all be present at the same time.

Pure “causeless” panic and the racing heart beat that panic causes are quite sufficient to indicate a panic attack. But, with proper treatment and parental-coaching/encouragement, affected children can go on to live very normal lives.

The "Smart Parenting" of Children on the Autism Spectrum

"For those parents of both neurotypical kids and children on the autism spectrum, do you basically parent the same - or is there a big difference in your approach with the autistic child?"

There are basically two types of parents who are raising Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) children: (1) those who use "traditional" parenting techniques with ALL their children - including the one with Aspergers, and (2) those who have learned that you simply can NOT parent Aspergers children and "typical" children in the same way.

Why? Because the mind of a child on the autism spectrum is wired differently than that of a "typical" child. 

Think of it like this: Let's say you have 3 children. Two of them only speak English, and one only speaks German. You, as a parent,  have learned to speak both languages. So, which language will you use when you are trying to get your point across to the German-speaking child? German, of course! But too many parents are speaking a foreign language to their Aspergers or HFA child, and then they wonder why the kid "doesn't get it." 

It's not that your child "doesn't hear" you; rather, he or she "doesn't understand" you. When you, as a parent, try to teach your child how to behave, you must know how he or she thinks and what language he or she understands. Don't speak "neurotypical" to a child on the spectrum.

When helping these special needs children to learn new behaviors (e.g., positive social skills, taking “no” for an answer, doing chores, completing homework, etc.), parents can use a combination of parenting strategies that work well with nearly any child, but that seem to work especially well with the child on the spectrum, including:
  1. being a positive role model
  2. consistently following through with positive and negative consequences
  3. continuous reinforcement
  4. developing and clarifying clear expectations
  5. modeling
  6. praising the youngster for his or her behavior
  7. prompting
  8. rehearsing appropriate behavior
  9. role playing corrective behaviors
  10. staying calm in the midst of meltdowns when your youngster gets upset

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

Let’s take a deeper look at some of these strategies:

1. "Target Behavior of the Day" is a technique used to help Aspergers and HFA children think about good behavior on a daily basis. Parents can introduce this exercise by asking the child to make a list of specific behaviors that are desirable (e.g., listening when parents talk, waiting your turn, speaking with an inside voice, cleaning up the bedroom, not picking on the younger sister, etc.). These behaviors are then written on large strips of poster-board and displayed everyday on the "Target Behavior of the Day" bulletin board. During the day, the mother or father records a mark on a tally card each time the child displays the desirable behavior. If the child modeled such behavior throughout the day, the parent praises (e.g., “You did a great job of being responsible today”) and rewards (e.g., “As a reward, you can have an extra 15 minutes of computer time tomorrow evening”) the child at day’s end.

2. “Do what I say and not what I do” is a common phrase that is often repeated; however, it only confuses kids on the autism spectrum. These young people will not do what the parent says, rather they will do what the mother or father has modeled. Kids model the behaviors that the parent has presented to them time and time again. Looking at the messages you send your youngster is easily seen by analyzing your own behaviors. Your main goal is to always set a positive example that your child can model.

3. Before parents concentrate their efforts on disciplining their youngster for misconduct, they must have a strategy, or game plan, for teaching their youngster how he or she is expected to behave. Moms and dads must model the appropriate behavior for their child if they want him or her to be successful in behavior modification.

4. Continuous reinforcement is an “operant conditioning” principle in which the child is reinforced every single time he or she meets parental expectations. For example, you, as a parent, might offer an extra 15 minutes of computer time every time your child completes his or her homework before dinner. However, one of the biggest dangers when using this type of reinforcement is “saturation.” For example, the child basically gets full – you keep offering that extra 15 minutes of computer time if homework is completed, but it’s no longer a motivating force for the child. In other words, NOT doing homework before dinner has more value for the child than extra time on the computer. Thus, the idea that “giving reinforcement in the same way all the time” is the best way to teach/learn is NOT necessarily true. Instead, you will want to periodically offer other reinforcers that have equal value (e.g., the child can have his or her favorite food item for dinner if homework is completed on time).

5. Developing clear expectations of what both parents want is crucial. Depending on the background, or what is deemed as right and wrong, parents, within reason, should plan and communicate their expectation to each other. Creating a list of expectations (e.g., social, academic, religious, family oriented, personal appearance and hygiene, etc.) for different settings and activities will help moms and dads to be very specific and concrete in teaching their youngster. Some expectations are certainly more demanding than others; however, moms and dads must take into consideration the youngster’s age, ability, developmental status, and resources that are available to the family. Have you, as a parent, taught the expectation to your child? Can your child clearly understand the expectations given? Can your child model and perform what you have expected? Answers to these three questions will determine whether or not your expectations are realistic.

6. Negative consequences are defined as “adding a negative consequence to prevent or decrease a certain behavior that is problematic, or taking away something that the youngster holds dear.” Doing extra chores and/or taking away a privilege are examples of negative consequences. Aspergers and HFA kids will soon realize that the behaviors that are causing these consequences are to be avoided.

7. Positive consequences are used to increase or encourage desirable behaviors. Catching your youngster doing good acts and following directions are great examples of when to apply a positive consequence. Positive consequences can range from short-term rewards (e.g., candy, extra play time, etc.) to long-term rewards (e.g., trips and gifts). Parents should use positive consequences that will work for their youngster, and use consequences that don’t cost money.

8. Providing constructive feedback to the child is important. Many parents have devised an approach for helping their “special needs” son or daughter to demonstrate positive behaviors, For example, every Saturday, one mother writes a brief progress report on the child, describing his behavior (both good and bad), effort (or lack of effort), chore and homework completion (or lack of completion), and the total number of parental requests that were accepted (or rejected). Then the mother meets with the child to discuss the comments in the progress report. During this meeting, mother and son work together to problem solve and suggest alternatives where needed.

9. Role playing with your youngster is great method to teach proper behavior without resorting to the use of punishments or consequences. Each and every time you practice doing the right thing in a situation with your youngster, you increase the chances for his or her success and decrease the likelihood that he or she will engage in that problem behavior in the future. Here is a simple four-step role playing format:
  • narrate the situation that occurred for your youngster
  • swap roles with your youngster
  • begin the role play
  • give critiques by giving feedback on the performance, using praises when needed

Role playing can help an Aspergers or HFA youngster to think in advance and rehearse adaptive responses to potentially frustrating situations, thus developing a more thoughtful and flexible response to the everyday problems that he or she faces.

10. Staying calm is an important part before applying any positive or negative consequences to your youngster’s behavior. Kids with autism can be sarcastic, defiant, rebellious, and even violent. Moms and dads have to prepare themselves for times like these and learn to keep their cool. There are times when these special needs kids will make their mother or father so furious that the parent gets caught up in the moment, and as a result, is not able to think clearly. Parents must be aware of what is going on around them. They need to know their limits to which the youngster pushes, and redirect situations back in focus to respond properly.

11. Verbal prompting has been found to help these children better understand the “house rules.” For example, one mother  helps ease transitions (generally a very difficult time for many children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism) by telling the child when there are "3 minutes to go before ______." Even younger kids who might not comprehend time can benefit from the cue, which alerts them of the approaching change.

12. Praise, praise, and then praise some more. Here is the “how and when” of praising an Aspergers or HFA youngster:
  • Always give a rationale of why you approve of your child's positive behavior. It is always good for the youngster to know why that specific positive behavior benefits him/her or others, since this helps the child to understand the relationship between certain behaviors and the outcomes. Sometimes you can add-in a reward, which reinforces the behavior that you have approved of, described, and given a rationale of why you approve of it.
  • Describe the positive behavior that you want the child to continue. This lets him or her know what behaviors to keep doing in the future. 
  • Praise your youngster when he or she makes positive “attempts” at new skills or tries new tasks.
  • Praise your child at tasks he or she is already doing well at, but that you may have taken for granted.
  • Praise your child when he or she makes improvements on current skills or tasks. 
  • Try action praises like giving a hug, a kiss, a high five, nodding in agreement, or the clapping of hands. 
  • Try vocal praises like “wow”, “keep it up”, “amazing”, “super”, or “that’s a great job.”

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

Here are some parenting tips that are very specific to children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism:

1. “Typical" children and those with Asperger’s Syndrome may have very different ways of communicating their feeling about life events, including: managing emotions, learning from life events, incorporating rituals and traditions for managing life events, dealing with dying and death, and coping with illness, injury or recuperation. Just because children may process and communicate their feelings differently, though, doesn't mean it's right or wrong. It is best to be honest and literal to help “special needs” children to manage major life events. Provide information and allow them time to process it.

2. A child with AS may have difficulty understanding clich├ęs or expressions and interpret a phrase literally. By speaking directly and factually, like saying "It's easy" as compared to "It's a piece of cake", the child is more likely to understand the line.

3. Aspergers and HFA children have difficulty with transitions. So, don’t surprise them – let them know your plans.

4. Being met with an individual in a dark uniform can be intimidating to a child on the spectrum, particularly when he or she has been a crime victim or is injured. Police and emergency responders may become frustrated, not knowing that the child they're talking to has an autism spectrum disorder. Responders need to communicate in a way that will create understanding and make the situation less stressful.

5. Body language, facial expressions, gestures, and turning away from someone may be cues that are missed by an AS child. When this happens, it is another opportunity for parents to be direct and factual, realizing that their body language or social cues may not be picked up by their child.

6. Children with Asperger Syndrome can manage situations by being aware of what they're feeling and thinking and expressing their thoughts to important adults in their life. Being aware of when they need help - and asking for it - is a good skill to have.

7. Children with AS take in information from their five senses as do “typical” children. The difference is that AS kids are not able to process it as quickly and can become overwhelmed by the amount of information that they are receiving. As a result, they may withdraw as a coping mechanism.

8. Due to the break of routine with family vacations, many parents of Aspergers and HFA children may avoid taking vacations. Steps can be taken to help make for a successful family vacation. One is sharing information with the child, like pictures or internet web pages. There are organizations that will make accommodations, if requested, to better manage uncertainty, crowds, noise disruption. This includes theme parks who allow “special needs” children to skip long lines and airlines or airports that may allow for a dry-run prior to the trip. Also, prepare prior to the trip so that there is a plan for managing boredom.

9. Environments with the least amount of disruption will help AS students remain calm. Speak in a quiet, non-disruptive tone and utilize a physical space that has a low level of disruption.

10. Many children with an autism spectrum disorder are hypersensitive to changes in sight, touch, smell, taste and sound. The sensory stimulus can be very distracting and can result in pain or anxiety. There are other autistic children who are hyposensitive and may not feel extreme changes in temperature or pain. Each of these has implications for making an autism-friendly environment.

11. Providing the best outcomes for a child with AS may be difficult, complicated by each youngster's unique way of managing communication and interaction with others, associated disorders that make each youngster's situation unique, and emerging understandings of neuro-diversity. Teacher effectiveness can be optimized based on an awareness of the differences along the autism spectrum, acceptance that each youngster is unique, engagement of the youngster in social and educational activities, and employment of teaching methods that are found to be helpful with kids who have developmental disabilities. 

12. Since change of routine can be quite anxiety-producing for many AS children, a structured, predictable routine makes for calmer and happier transitions during the day.

13. Social stories have been a great method to communicate ways in which my Aspergers child can prepare herself for social interaction.

14. Talking about - or engaging in - activities that the AS child cares about is a great way to bond with him or her.

15. When you find out that your child may not be able to look you in the eyes, realize that he or she is not trying to be rude. It’s simply uncomfortable for some of these children to do.

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... After years of trying and my mom telling me not to "give in"- it was such a relief and a reward to know it wasn't that I was doing it wrong. I didn't even know the rules!

Anonymous said... Amen to that! It just does not work. They dig in like a tick. Resistance is futile, you have to move to them rather than pull.

Anonymous said... Even parenting 2 aspergers kids is not the same for both, as the same straigies for the same behavior doesn't always work.

Anonymous said... Now, if only we can get the schools to understand this!

Anonymous said... So agree especially with schools my son in mainstream and having daily struggles teachers don't understand and don't want to it seems

Anonymous said... So true x

Anonymous said... This is so reassuring. I read it often and I KNOW I cannot parent them the same way but it feels good to see it in black and white sometimes! My kids are two entirely different entities and one can handle one thing and the other can't. Thankfully, my NT daughter seems to understand the difference! When I tell people my son is stubborn, they brush it off saying all kids are. They have NO IDEA. My daughter is stubborn. Thank goodness. We all should be to a point. My son takes it to a whole new level!

Anonymous said... too true.

Anonymous said... That picture is EXACTLY how I feel every day this year as I homeschool our daughter!! I thought the problems she was having in school were causing her extreme resistance and that schooling at home would help. Wrong. I feel absolutely, totally, completely hopeless and can not STAND it anymore!!!! I do try many of these things, but there are more that I can do. My husband and I will look at this article and come up with a game plan for the rest of our school year (we have to go through June because of all the time my daughter's impossible behavior has stolen from learning). If things don't change, I'm going to send her back to public school just so I can get a break - she is stubborn and impossible no matter where she is at. At least if I can share the burden, maybe we can all be a little calmer and more patient. I had to ask her 15 times, very calmly and patiently to read back her word so I could check the spelling(the verbal exchange is part of the learning and I find skipping it hinders her learning - even though she hates the verbal). She explained very well (and I praised her for it) that when she has to do something that she doesn't want to do, she has a little war or argument in her head and it hinders her ability to speak - she is distracted by the argument. I get that, but when I threaten to take away her DS, she is able to overcome the argument and answer. I have told her that her task is to figure out ways that she can overcome the argument quicker without there being a threat from me. I have tried to give her ideas and I have told her that if she overcomes the argument with only three requests and then compliance she will receive a reward that she chooses ahead of time. That strategy is completely not working! I just want to throw up my hands and let my husband raise her for the next few years. I am all emptied out (and I am NOT one to give up easily - where do you think dear daughter got some of her "stick-to-it-ive-ness?). Ugh!

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

Click here to read the full article…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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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...