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16 Life-Saver Posts for Parents of Kids with ASD Who Are Heading Back to School

FYI to Parents: Getting ready for the new school year should start earlier when you have a ... But this year, you can make the back-to-school process easier...

With the start of school, boys and girls begin to spend much of their day in the classroom, a place where pressures and relationships with other children can be...

Preparing kids with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) for the new school year requires a little more than making sure uniforms fit and backpacks are filled...

Parents of kids with Asperger's (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have...

It's tempting to put off back-to-school preparations until the first day is just a week or so away. The resulting last-minute flurry of phone calls, errands, and...

With a new school year around the corner, it's time for new notebooks, new outfits , and new adventures to come. A fresh start! What could be...

Has your Aspergers child given you some indication that he is nervous about starting back to school? He may have even said, “I'm not going!!!”...

Usually, the school year is stressful- not only for the kids with Aspergers, but their...

Other kids can express the signs at school by episodes of extreme anxiety or .... So of course he went back to school and when he didn't have his homework...

If your youngster feels overly stressed and overwhelmed, look for ways to cut back on school work and extra activities...

Request an FBA—If the school is sending home complaints about your youngster's behavior -- and expecting you to do something about it -- put the ball back in...

Many moms and dads may also wonder when it is safe for their youngster to go back to school after recovering from their illness. The answer to...

Question: My son is 13 years old and was diagnosed with...

Effective Academic Accommodations for Students with Asperger's and ... inflexibility; obsessive and narrowly defined interests; poor organizational skills...

When you have a child with Aspergers (high-functioning autism), IEP negotiations are extremely important. As the parent, you hold a vital position on the IEP...

I am attaching several documents I would like the ARD Committee to complete and to include as part of [name of Aspergers student] IEP. The first document...

Poor Cognitive Shifting and Weak Central Coherence in High-Functioning Autism

Cognitive shifting is the mental process of re-directing one's focus of attention away from one fixation and toward a different focus of attention. Cognitive shifting refers to the conscious choice to take charge of one's mental habits and redirect the focus of attention in useful, more successful directions.

Studies in the area of cognition have noted that children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have problems with updating the scope and focus of their attention. This particular attentional difference may stem from an innate inability to reorient attention rapidly.

This deficit ties in with other neurological differences of HFA (e.g., sensory hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity). Together they impact directly on the core tasks of learning. For instance, the sudden appearance of a very strong odor from the cafeteria may prevent the child from concentrating on what the teacher is saying.



Further on the matter of sensory issues, middle-school students with HFA frequently report that they find it difficult to tolerate the normal noise, mess and chaos of the passing periods in which students are going to their lockers and/or moving on to the next class. Students on the autism spectrum cope with what are essentially neurological insults by any of a number of means (e.g., withdrawing from the toxic stimuli, melting down, leaving the situation, shutting down, etc.).

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism
 
Related to problems of attentional deficit are (a) impairment in the employment of visual attention, (b) problems in attending to both auditory and visual information, and (c) problems in attending to many visual items simultaneously. Throughout the school day, HFA students may claim they are over-stimulated and overwhelmed neurologically, or they may blame others around them for their distress.

Central coherence is the ability one has to focus on details as well as wholes of a given situation, and to follow through on plans in a variety of areas. It is also the ability one has to focus on what takes priority and what is important. Many children with HFA hyper-focus on details rather than wholes, and have odd focusing of attention. This is called “weak central coherence'.”

This has obvious consequences on performance of the short and long term core tasks of learning. Being able to see “the big picture” is part of what students need to be able to do in order to learn a variety of tasks over the course of their education.

“Weak central coherence theory” suggests that a specific perceptual-cognitive style (loosely described as a limited ability to understand context or to "see the big picture") underlies the central disturbance in autism spectrum disorders. The theory attempts to explain how some children diagnosed with HFA can show remarkable ability in certain subjects (e.g., mathematics and engineering), but have trouble with language skills and tend to live in an isolated social world. The theory is among the more prominent conceptual models that try to explain the abnormalities of HFA children on tasks involving local and global cognitive processes.

In addition to poor cognitive shifting and weak central coherence, it's important to remember that kids on the autism spectrum may have several other attentional problems going on at the same time. For example:

• There are inattentive kids who are struggling with motor planning or sequencing (i.e., the ability to carry out complex actions, to plan and sequence ideas). For example, there are several steps involved in this process of getting dressed. A youngster with sequencing problems may be able to do only two or three steps at a time, and easily gets lost on the way to his shirt or shoes. For many things “typical” kids do effortlessly, an HFA youngster with sequencing problems has to remember each step.

• Visual-spatial processing problems cause deterrents to concentration. The HFA youngster with this issue doesn't need glasses, he simply has difficulty organizing what he sees. For instance, if the parent hides something in the youngster's bedroom, instead of searching in each corner or looking under things, he may get stuck looking only in one part of the room. The youngster with this problem may be over-focused some of the time, and unfocused other times. He may have difficulty connecting what he sees with what he hears, which obstructs attentiveness, and so he may appear easily side-tracked or lost.

• Auditory processing problems make it difficult for the HFA youngster to make sense of the things she hears. If you give her four or five directions, she may only get the first two and seem not to be concentrating on what you have instructed her to do.

Since difficulty paying attention is widely associated with ADHD, this disorder tends to be the first thing parents, teachers and therapists suspect. However, there are several other factors that can contribute to attentional problems. To avoid misdiagnosis, it’s important that these other factors (which are not always noticeable) are not disregarded.



 

Here are some of the other factors that may make an HFA youngster struggle to pay attention:

1. Stress or trauma: Kids can appear to be inattentive when they have been impacted by trauma. Children who have witnessed violence or other disturbing events may demonstrate a persistent sense of insecurity called “hyper-vigilance,” and those whose home lives involve acute stress may develop these symptoms.

2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Children with OCD have an added source of distraction. They not only have obsessive thoughts, but feel they have to perform rituals or compulsions to prevent bad things from happening (e.g., tapping, having an obsession about needing to fix something in order to avoid something terrible happening, focusing on needing to go to the bathroom to wash his hands, counting in his head, compulsively lining things up on his desk, etc.). Then when the teacher calls on this student, but the student doesn’t know the answer to the question, it looks like he wasn’t paying attention.

3. Learning disorders: Auditory processing problems could cause a youngster to miss some of what the teacher is saying – even if he’s listening. If a youngster is struggling with math, he may welcome distractions that allow him to think about something else, or avoid completing the assignment. Kids with undiagnosed dyslexia may fidget with frustration or feel ashamed that they can’t seem to do what the other children can do, and be intent on covering up that fact.

4. Anxiety: Some anxious children are extremely worried about making a mistake or embarrassing themselves. Sometimes they take an unusually long time to finish their work in class, not because they are daydreaming, but because they are struggling with perfectionism that requires them to do things exactly the right way. 
 
Also, some do not turn in their homework, not because they didn’t do it, but because they are worried that it isn’t good enough. A youngster with separation anxiety may be so preoccupied about something bad happening to his mom or dad while he is apart from them that he is unable to concentrate on what the teacher is saying. A youngster who seems to be inattentive in the classroom could have chronic worries that parents and teachers are not aware of. Anxiety tends to “lock up” the brain, making schoolwork hard for the anxious child.

Parents and teachers are the key members of every team. They know the HFA youngster best. They know the subtleties of what he can and can't do at home, school, and with classmates. Bringing in qualified professionals can help the team better understand the youngster’s strengths and areas of challenge. A psychiatrist or psychologist can look at the youngster's attentional difficulties, the family dynamics, the role of anxiety or depression, etc., and then make suggestions.

To make an accurate diagnosis, a professional should collect information from several people who have observed the HFA youngster (e.g., parents, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc.). These individuals should be asked to fill out a rating scale in order to capture an accurate assessment of the frequency of symptoms.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
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…

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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...

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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…

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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…

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

Click here
to read the full article...

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

Click here for the full article...
 
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A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

A Crash Course for Parents of Newly Diagnosed Kids

"Our child was just diagnosed with high functioning autism. We have blamed ourselves for many of his behavioral issues, but now see there was something else going on. So instead of viewing myself as a failed parent, I need to see my role as my son's advocate. What should I be looking for in the way of expected obstacles/challenges to address as they come up?"

You just discovered that your child has High Functioning Autism (HFA). Welcome to Club! You probably didn’t want to be here. But, don’t get discouraged. No one signs up for this membership.

Think of it like this: At least you know what the heck is going on now, which is 10 times better than parenting in the dark. Maybe up until this point, you blamed yourself for many of the emotional and behavioral issues your child experienced. You may have even viewed yourself as a “failure” or a “bad” parent because you couldn’t get your child to stop his negative attitude, tantrums and meltdowns. Well, let’s set the record straight.



The following general descriptions include all the most typical characteristics of HFA (of course, variations occur from child to child):

1. Affective conditions: The social withdrawal and lack of facial expression in HFA may give parents the impression that their child is depressed or lacks the ability to show affection. Distress, tantrums and meltdowns when away from familiar surroundings can give the impression that the child is simply misbehaving. And, excited talking about a grandiose, imaginary world might give the impression that the child is somewhat delusional. However, the full clinical picture and the early developmental history should clarify the diagnosis. The HFA child is simply experiencing the symptoms of his or her disorder rather than being depressed, unaffectionate, defiant or delusional.


2. Experiences at school: The combination of school and communication deficits, and certain special skills gives an impression of marked eccentricity. The HFA child may be mercilessly bullied at school, and as a result, becomes anxious and fearful. Autistic students who are more fortunate in the schools they attend may be accepted as strange “professors” and respected for their unusual abilities. More often than not though, HFA children are labeled as “problem students” because they follow their own interests regardless of the teacher's instructions and the activities of the rest of the class. Many eventually become aware that they are different from their peers, especially as they approach adolescence. As a result, they may become overly-sensitive to criticism. They give the impression of fragile vulnerability and childishness, which some find infinitely touching – and others merely exasperating.

3. Lack of imaginative play: Imaginative pretend play does not occur at all in some children with the disorder, and in those who do have pretend play, it is confined to one or two themes, enacted without variation, over and over again. These may be quite elaborate, but are pursued repetitively and do not involve other kids unless the latter are willing to follow exactly the same pattern. It sometimes happens that the themes seen in this pseudo-pretend play continue as preoccupations in adult life, and form the main focus of an imaginary world.

4. Lack of interest in human company: During the first year of life, there may have been a lack of the normal interest and pleasure in human company that should be present from birth. Babbling may have been limited in quantity and quality. The HFA youngster may not have drawn attention to things going on around her in order to share the interest with others. She may not have brought her toys to show to her parents or friends when she began to walk. In general, there is a lack of the intense urge to communicate in babble, gesture, movement, smiles, laughter, and eventually speech that characterizes the normal baby and toddler.
 

5. Motor coordination: Gross motor movements are clumsy and uncoordinated. Posture and gait appear odd. Most HFA kids are poor at games involving motor skills, and sometimes the executive problems affect the ability to write or draw. Stereotyped movements of the body and limbs are also evident.
 
6. Non-verbal communication: Non-verbal aspects of communication are also affected. There may be little facial expression except with strong emotions (e.g., anger or distress). Vocal intonation tends to be monotonous and droning, or exaggerated. Gestures are limited, or else large and clumsy and inappropriate for the accompanying speech. Comprehension of others’ expressions and gestures is poor, and the HFA child may misinterpret or ignore such non-verbal signs. At times he may earnestly gaze into another person's face, searching for the meaning that eludes him.

7. Over-valued ideas: The tendency found in HFA children to sensitivity and over-generalization of the fact that they are criticized and made fun of may be mistaken for paranoid tendencies. Those who are pre-occupied with abstract theories or their own imaginary world may be said to have delusions. For example, one boy with ASD was convinced that Batman would arrive one day and take him away as his assistant. No rational argument could persuade him otherwise. This type of belief could be called a delusion, but is probably better termed an “over-valued idea.” It does not have any specific diagnostic significance, since such intensely held ideas can be found in different psychiatric states.


8. Repetitive activities and resistance to change: Kids with ASD often enjoy spinning objects and watching them until the movement ceases, to a far greater extent than normal. They tend to become intensely attached to particular possessions and are very unhappy when away from familiar things and places.

9. Skills and interest: Young people with the disorder have certain skills as well as deficits. They have excellent rote memories and become intensely interested in one or two subjects (e.g., astronomy, geology, the history of the steam train, the genealogy of royalty, bus time-tables, prehistoric monsters, characters in a television series, etc.) to the exclusion of all else. They absorb every available fact concerning their chosen field and talk about it at length, whether or not the listener is interested, but have little grasp of the meaning of the facts they learn. They may also excel at board games needing a good rote memory (e.g., chess). However, some have specific learning problems affecting arithmetical skills, reading, or writing.

10. Speech: The HFA youngster usually begins to speak at the age expected in “normal” kids; however, walking may be delayed. A full command of grammar is sooner or later acquired, but there may be difficulty in using pronouns correctly, with the substitution of the second or third for the first person forms. The content of speech is abnormal, tending to be pedantic and often consisting of lengthy speeches on favorite subjects. Sometimes a word or phrase is repeated over and over again in a stereotyped fashion. The youngster may invent some words. Subtle verbal jokes are not understood, though simple verbal humor may be appreciated.




So, there you go. You thought it was “bad parenting” on your part. Well now you know differently. These issues simply come with the territory. However, you do need to understand that you can NOT parent your HFA child and your "neurotypical" (non-AS) child in the same way. The mind of your “special needs” child is wired differently.

Think of it like this: Let's say you have 2 children. One speaks English, and the other speaks French. You have learned to speak both languages. So, which language will you use when you are trying to get your point across to the French-speaking child? French, of course! But too many parents are speaking a foreign language to their HFA kids, and then they wonder why they "don't get it."

It's not that your HFA child "doesn't hear" you. Rather, he "doesn't understand" you. When you try to teach your child how to behave, you must know how he thinks and what language he understands. Don't speak "neurotypical" to an "autistic."

 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
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…

---------------------------------------------------------------

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...

--------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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…

------------------------------------------------------------

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

Click here
to read the full article...

------------------------------------------------------------

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...
 
------------------------------------------------------------
 
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

Click here to read the full article…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

Click here
to read the full article...

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

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

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content