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COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Sept., 2016]

 Do you need some assistance in parenting your Aspergers or HFA child? Click here to use Mark Hutten, M.A. as your personal parent coach.

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My daughter is 16 and was adopted at birth. Chloe was diagnosed with aspergers around 5th grade. Since then the psychiatrists and therapists say possible ADD, depression, anxiety and the latest was bipolar 2. She was on many different meds that seemed to just not make her feel any better. She never had real friends. Now that she is a teenager all hell has broken loose. She hates us and blames us for “screwing her up” because WE made her take the medications. She is convinced she wants to live with the birth mother. She has spent some weekends with her and her 2 daughters (single mom). We think  the adoption is playing a big part in all this.  She has gotten so much worse over the past 2 years. She thinks she is fine and there is nothing wrong. Like it’s ok for her to talk to us like she does and act out. Her doctors said she needed  to be in a treatment facility. She was in one for 1 week and another for 9 days. It was awful there. Now she blames us for ruining her life even more. Thanks doctors!  Now she refuses to try any meds, runs away, and won’t talk to us unless she needs to tell us to “Fuck Off”. I am scared!!!!! She gets so angry and you can see the anxiety and hate in her eyes. She throws things. We even had the cops come one time thinking she would get scared. Nope. She has been to different schools from small charter, private, and now public high school. She actually got into fights at the end of her sophomore year. She does not do drugs or drink alcohol, but I know that’s the next step. We are now broke and our marriage is totally going downhill. There is so much more . . . we have tried to do what your book says but I know she needs more help. It seems like nobody really cares what happens to her – doctors, schools, therapists. They all talk a good game but no real answers. Health insurance is a joke. When you really need help they don’t cover it!!! We love her so much but she just says we are so fake! I pray all the time for a better tomorrow?!

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Dear Mark,
We (parents of 15 year old boy diagnosed with aspergers and BPD) recently downloaded the ebook on how to deal with meltdowns and behavior problems.

In the last week, it seems like he had had a manic episode as per the doctors
we went to and he has performed an act in a social gathering that has caused
a lot of shame and suffering to him as well as to us. This is related to sexual
behavior, doctors mentioned that in a manic episode, he can tend to react impulsively without caring for consequence.

In that respect, would like to hear from you, can a child with aspergers and BPD behave carelessly in matters related to dealing with people, either elders or peers of the opposite sex. He has tried to touch his co-student in an objectionable manner. Please advise on whether such symptoms exist and how to deal with those, your guidance based on any similar cases you dealt with earlier would be of immense help to us.

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Mr. Hutten,

I have recently resigned from my full time band director position and I have taken on private students.  One of my guitar students is only 7, and according to his mom has a "reading problem."  She is considering getting him evaluated for where he may be on the Autism spectrum.  He doesn't identify any letters yet; he is homeschooled and they follow the "unschool" discipline of home schooling.

I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of some resources that would help me teach him.  I am usually adamant about learning to read notated music with my students as it allows them to become independent musicians.  But I am having trouble getting him to use the printed music.  He can identify a note by the fret and can sometimes tell me a letter name (we're only on the first string, so he's only identifying 3 notes).  But as we play a series of notes, he is relying on his memory and watching me instead of tracking with the music.  I'm hoping to use guitar and reading music to help his reading skills, so any techniques you may have or resources I can access would be so helpful.  And I am open to rote teaching since he is a little young, if that is an avenue I should consider.

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Our 16 year old son, a Jr in high school, is flunking a couple of class that he has always gotten a B and an A in.  He refuses to do homework.  We have tried everything to motivate him, rewards, consequences etc...  We get along well and spend a lot of time together.  He is respectful, fun and pleasant.  He says he wants to go to college but doesn't do what he knows he needs to do.

We our at a loss and worried he is going to want to quit school.
He refuses to talk about it and gives us the silent treatment.

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My Teen is 18 years old but likes to act like he is 10. He calls himself an adult when it suits him and says he is too young when he wants me to do something for him.

He did not make it thru high school as his anxiety level was too much. He dropped out and only has about 7 credits left to go.

With that said, he is unmotivated to do anything except for play his guitar, XBOX and talk about his favorite metal group which is Motionless and White. He mainly discusses the guitar player Ricky and tries to look like him dress like him and pretty much be him. The guitar players name is Ricky Horror (stage) Jake's name is Jake Horror (tells everyone)

When i give him rules he says he will do it later or he wont do it all (Chores etc) He does not work nor does he go to school. He sleeps all day if i let him and then gets up does not eat until later so he eats dinner (when i make it)

Jake stays up all night (calls himself a vampire and like i said sleeps thru out the day.
Does not like to associate himself with Asperger's or kids with Asperger's as he only looks for friends that are like him. He calls himself goth. he has black long hair wears black clothes wants tatooes and has a piercing. Likes to wear dark eye makeup and paints fingernails black (like Ricky).

As you can tell he is not a typical Aspie. His dad and him do not get along his dad calls him names and yells alot this does not help the situation. I bought your book because i need help he is afraid to work and to be honest i don't know if he is capable because of his anxiety level.

He does not appear to want to do anything and he argues alot. I would like to find him a home to live in sometimes because he is hard to deal with. When we go out to eat he likes to order more food than he can eat and bring it home. Of course this does not sit well with his dad so there is another argument.

I have a hard hard time cutting the strings because im worried if i leave him in bed he will sleep all day then get up in the evening with no food and lose weight. I have to remind him to brush his teeth and to clean up his room.

when we have family day (going to fair etc,, he wants to go and does go but never seems to enjoy himself. Always wants to stay with dad and i instead of walk around with his foster brother. (same age)

Anyway i don't know what the next steps are but i don't want to have him around if he is going to act like a vegetable. The kid is smart but does not use his talents or his brain to do anything constructive.

I need guidance and wisdom as i am at the end of my rope.

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I found your website while looking for information on how to help me 6 year old who has Aspergers with his melt downs. My son is 6 and he is having a hard time keeping his temper under control at home but mainly at school it has become a major issue. I want to help him but it has been very hard to find away to help him he also has pica. When he gets upset/frustrated he lashes out and swears somethings he will hit/bite people. I really need to find a system that will work for him and help me to help him. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you so all your time.

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Dr Hutten,  I am extremely interested in your support services,  in fact I am going to subscribe (or whatever you call it) because my family is in distress and has been for quite sometime.  You seem to have knowledge and a level head and we really need the help.   I am the grandmother to a great child with Asperger's and also,  I am pretty certain,  mother the a daughter with the same LD.  I point of fact,  i often wonder if I myself may have this disorder.  It looks to me that this is a family issue and I want so much to stop the crazy cycle of this family dynamic and have tried to hard to provide my daughter with tools to help her understand her own daughter and help her to thrive in school and social settings.  My daughter, Natalie,  is pretty stubborn and just doesn't seem interested in reading the literature,  watching the videos,  or hearing much of anything I have to say about the subject; however, she recently told me that she is going to get my granddaughter into counseling which is great news.  I feel that it could only help if she were also able to have the support of your website and your experience in this area.  In any case,  I want her to be able to have someone to talk to.  I am sure you stay busy but if you have time an email would be great.  Thank you,  and thank you also for your great website.  It has helped me quite a bit.

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Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to join.

I would just like to ask something which i am batteling a lot with at the moment. My eldest son is nine and was diagnosec with Aspergers about a month ago.  I need to sit with him and his brother to work things through so that they both understand what  and why he is different in his reactions, meltdowns etc. I just have no clue where to start and how to say it.. he is already such an anxious and emotional child. Please help me.

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Hey,
I kind of suspect my husband and my son may have aspergers-- we live in a rural area with no easy way to diagnose-- my husband is also the main caregiver-- is there any way he would be able to learn from it and use it with my son?  I notice a lot of times they set each other off so to speak.

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I found you through Youtube searches about Asperger’s and marriage.  I have struggled and am struggling in my marriage.  We have read a lot of different books we sought marriage counseling.  Nothing seems to fit quite like what your audio files and e-book describe.

My challenge is that it’s an awkward fit.  I was an only child raised by a single mom that had supernatural empathy.  With her help, I overcame so many of the challenges associated with Asperger’s.  I even found courage to tackle my weaknesses head on.  For example, I took a job in high school that forced me to talk to strangers and build comfort with it.  In college I took on a sales job that forced me to cold call people and present product in their homes.  As an adult I started teaching an adult Sunday school class.  Through these steps I have become a fairly gifted public speaker, and even in an engineering role I can be a tremendous asset to my company’s sales team.

In addition to conquering challenges normally associated with Asperger’s, my mother’s supernatural empathy rubbed off on me.  I developed a gift for imagining the world through other people’s eyes, and in my home I’m generally considered the most sensitive and empathic one in the family.  At work my direct reports and colleagues often come for comfort and wisdom.

But… I married a choleric woman that grew up in a home with no concept of accountability or forgiveness.  She is extremely confident, and she seems to utilize your entire checklist of how not to fight fair.  My self-esteem has been on a steady decline for 16 years with her, and I continue to slip deeper and deeper into the habits and traits of Asperger’s.  All of the social skills and empathy that I have learned have been replaced with a sense of terror that I might say or do the wrong thing, which is unforgivable with consequences that are eternal.  Resentment seems to be one of her life’s passions.

I love my wife and my daughters (one of which has Asperger’s), and I don’t want my marriage to fail.  All of your strategies and recommendations seem practical, and I’m going to try them all.  It just feels so hopeless.

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Dear Mr. Hutton,

What if the partner who might have high functioning ASD symptoms refuses testing and is angered by the conversation?

Also I appreciate your Web site and YouTube videos. We have a seven-year-old who was diagnosed with Social Communication Disorder last year. It's mild, but if he's struggling to process social thinking issues, he gets anxious, depressed. His father and grandfather share symptoms that after researching, in my opinion look like high functioning something. They're very passive, very focused on one thing, very book smart but can be socially awkward.

I've listened to three of your videos and taken notes and the information has helped me to understand my son and how I can help him. Trying now to get his seemingly avoidant, workaholic father on board, and wondering if his resistance to helping might stem from something other than a cold heart. Our youngest NT son is suffering from separation anxiety too, so it's my goal to try and make peace with the state of our family. I feel, though, a diagnosis would help.

Initially my suggestion to get tested were considered, but after talking to a private psychiatrist, my husband decided against it. I'm curious, then, to know if the resistance or anger to the diagnosis idea is seen in adult, Aspie-ish males.

Thank you for any thoughts.

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Mark,

I'm wondering if your coaching could help, or if there was a female coach in your team that might better understand where I'm coming from.

I'm a single parent. Ethan is 4 years old. His dad left when I could start walking again after a bad cesarean surgery, about 4 months after surgery.
His dad sees him seldom. Twice Weekly for short visits at his childcare.

I had surgery again may 2015 to correct the original one and still recovering. It's been challenging and being nurturing to a child with aspergers isn't always coming naturally.

Main frustrations includes when he doesn't want to go the the bathroom. I need the remind him and sometimes force him to go every 2 hours - or deal with the clean up.
Negative attention and hurting himself if I don't let him do things he wants...like play instead of eat dinner etc..
Oppositional. If I ask him to close a door gently or put his dishes in the sink...he slams or throws them.
If I go up or down the stairs and don't let him go first....I get a meltdown. We only have 1 bathroom at the top of our stairs. If I go pee on my own. Meltdown.
He hurts me if I annoy him instead of using his words. Later I can ask what he wanted and it's usually something simple I would have done if he asked, like turning down the volume on my iPad.

Having him sleep in his own bed is a struggle.

I'd really like to turn this behaviour around and encourage using his words, learning to ask and listening to his body when it needs to go to the bathroom.

I want to enjoy spending time with him, and not be on guard, reminding and having to repeat boundaries constantly. I want to relax when I'm home as well. I work part time. And I am trained in compassionate communication, often giving him empathy and doing my best to recognize his needs and options to get them and mine met.

However, I'm finding that I'm struggling and needing to calm myself more than I enjoy.

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Dear Mark,

I have not had an official diagnosis but it confirms our suspicion of me being the ASPIE partner in the marriage. My father has similar traits like me too. We have been married for almost 22 years. We have three children, age 19, 18 and 15. The 18 year old has definitely signs of ASPIE traits as well.

Because of my situation, our marriage is facing lots of challenges which has posed a heavy toll on my wife and which has impacted her physical and mental health (depression  and auto immune thyroiditis for the last 9 years) and she has started building up resentment as she feels I am not doing enough to rectify our relationship issues. We are still in love and not prepared to give up the relationship so easily.

I do not have close friends, never had, but that is not my main issue. I want to have a marriage in which we are both happy. I am very active in sport, I am a former (national team) triathlete and before marriage I have gone on cycle trips around the world ranging from 2,000 km to 11,000km at a time (mostly by myself as you can guess).  Needless to say, cycling is my interest/hobby and sport is my passion. I am also a focused employee (accountant) of my company.

I acknowledge that I need help to change my behavior. We agree that in addition to intimate conversation, my communication and social skills need to improve. I have to improve skills (or better say, to learn) to have intimate conversation with my wife. I struggle with knowing how to meet her emotional needs. Also I have difficulties in having a one- to- one conversation with an acquaintance, friend or stranger. Specially if it exceeds 30 minutes, then I am desperately searching for topics to avoid periods of silence.

You may have possibly dealt with similar characters like myself and wish to share some material or advise to help me with my marriage relationship.
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Hi  Mark,



I  have a very bright, kind , overindulged son. He is 17,a senior, and a very talented golfer. He is one of the captains of the  team  and they need him. He is capable of straight A's and wants hard classes but won't go to school because he won't do his homework and is not prepared for class. His dad used to help him (and sometimes do his homework for him). His dad now works in S.C. and we live in IL.  I told him yesterday he couldn't go to tonight's meet if he didn't go to school. He says he tried all night to get his homework done but couldn't do it.. I was up until 11pm with him. He was started on Focalin xr 5 mg yesterday, an ADHD drug. He says it made him overexcited, sweaty and he couldn't do his work. I am a pharmacist and guess this is possible. What to do??? Make him miss the meet? I have had him to psychiatrists who say he is depressed and anxious. He takes an antidepressant. Maybe I shouldn't have given him an ultimatum but he has to go to school. What do you think I should do?


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Good Afternoon Mark,
My son Richard who is now 30 had just finally been diagnosed with Aspergers or Autism Spectrum Disorder as I believe it is now defined. We were in the process of learning everything we could but within a few months she was diagnosed with Esophageal cancer and unfortunately passed a year later aged only 56. Since her passing I have dedicated myself to learning and helping Richard our beautiful son. We moved to the USA from England in 2002 to expand my business and I am still CEO of the company. I have been dealing with complicated grief and have zero family or support structure but with my strong constitution have been making progress in baby steps. As you can imagine the devastating loss has only supplemented the daily issues and I welcome your experience and guidance.
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Hi Mr. Hutten;
I am a married to a man who clearly fits the Asperger's diagnosis. I have not yet told him but over 16 years I have known him and as a clinician always knew he had a personality disorder and recently confirmed from going to see a counselor myself for being unhappy with the marriage.
I want to tell
Him the right way and also am interested in your audio or e-book but didn't know how to purchase from your site. I also wanted to know if you have any recommendations for a couples counselor or individual counselor in the Columbia, MD 21044 area where I live.
I am in a situation where I was planning and trying to prepare to leave the marriage and feel like I would be the only one affected emotionally when this happens. We have 2 boys, ages 3 and 4, who will probably have a hard time in the beginning. My husband is not good with too much info and I don't think he will take the asperger's test. Do you suggest a good way of telling him I think he has asperger's. He has not wanted to go to the doctor for a check up but admits to having feelings of depression.
I am living with feelings of mistrust, neglected and I satisfied mentally and emotionally. He does thugs without communicating and I am left to ask or guess most of his actions with him feeling annoyed that I ask questions to understand him better.
Anyways, any feedback will be helpful.
I continue watch your lectures online.

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My husband and I are desperate. I listen to one of your you tube videos on adult children with aspergers. Joe is 20 years old. He has quit school and work. He has been verbally abusive for years, but on the 2nd of the month he became physically abusive to my husband. It was bad and we had to get the police involved.  He is now at the county psychiatric hospital. We are afraid To let  him come back home. The social worker and the doctor are telling him that he will have to go to a homeless shelter. We are trying to get help for Joe. He now wants to go to the shelter. He has never been in a shelter. I have taken care of him all his life. You can imagine how I feel as his mother. I am caught between a rock and a hard place. I never thought that this would happen in my family. There is a lot more to this story but I don't want to take up to much of your time. Should we let him go to the shelter, or
should we rent a room?  My husband and I live on a fixed income so we can't rent an apartment.
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Hi! I hope you are well. I appreciate you time and thoughts. My best friend is using your resource and it has changed her relationships with her husband and son. Both aspies. My husband had a couple of strokes 2 1/2 years ago that damaged his language and emotion areas. He can read and speak again but it left him with some aspie traits. How likely is it that the information will apply to brain trauma behaviors that are similar? I really appreciate you taking the time for this. Our family keep telling me I have a psych degree so of course I'll just figure it out. 

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Dear Mark Hutten,

I came across your website after processing an eventful couple of weeks, where after 22 years of marriage I suspect my husband may have Aspergers.

Last week I went for a drink with a friend, whose teenager daughter is best friends with my daughter; they are both 14 years old. The mum has been really struggling and suspects her daughter maybe on the spectrum. As she listed the signs and behavioural traits of Aspergers, it was as if someone had switched on a light bulb. It described my husband.

For years I have struggled through all the emotions and processes described on your website. My husband has always been organised at his work with good results, but has been made redundant twice and recently forced to leave his managerial position with a payout; his longest stint has been 7 years in any given job title. This has been hard on us as a family having to move all the time with new schools and network for me and the children. When we move to a new location he makes one close friend, but does not keep in regular touch with old school friends or his best man at our wedding etc., (if he does it would be occasionally after years).

Over time I believe my husband has found it hard to bond with people in the work place. He is caring, gentle, fair (to the nth degree) and kind, but can come across as aloof, wooden, and emotionally cold. In conversation he can talk endlessly about facts (usually cycling), unaware that this may not be interesting for the other party. These are descriptions shared by close friends. A previous female work colleague of his spoke to me in confidence, concerned that he was isolating himself at work and not relating well to the workforce on the factory floor.

This week however, in his new job (by the grace of God we didn't have to move), he set about meetings of groups of 4 or less for the staff to give them an update on where the company was heading and what his supporting role entails as their boss. It seems he is working out strategies without realising? The female Director of the company he now works for, who is a church friend of mine, said she employed him because he was unemotional and a little cold and wanted someone in place who can get the job done well.

He doesn't mix in large social gatherings, which has been painful for me, as I'm very sociable and have felt we have not made any 'couple friendships' as a result. I have a large network of girl friends instead. We were at a big family fun day with our cycling club and he wouldn't join in the games because he had an important race the next day. He sat on the sidelines while everyone had fun (inside I'm thinking WHY?)

My husband is obsessive about cycling, he lives and breathes it. I cycle too and we both love sport, but on occasions where I needed him to be a husband or father for a special event he could not read my emotional need of quality time or support; daughter's first day on zone squad for windsurfing, all parents were there - went cycling, family holiday site seeing in Italy - too hot for sight seeing and went cycling, his brother's stag do - wouldn't join in because of the drinking (his other brother nearly floored him he was so annoyed).

He can be inappropriate at a meal with other couples with immature jokes where I cringe inside (this is a handsome, intelligent and caring individual). Now I accept it will happen every time. I've given up.

I don't even know how to broach the subject with him. There is a young lad who is part of their cycling group who has a high level of Aspergers, and I think my husband would be so upset if he thought I was putting the same label on him. I did share that our cognitive communication was completely different, he is more like a computer - logical, I'm sensitive to other peoples feelings and more emotional. He agreed. That's as far as I've got.

How do I go about a diagnosis for my husband so we can make our marriage work. I have been so close to leaving, but my faith has prevented me. At times this has been worse than the grieving of a loved one who has passed away, you can't move on but feel desperately lonely and no one else understands.

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Hi Mark ;
I came across your info regarding couples and being in a relationship with an Asperger partner.  Do you have an online website that shows your upcoming workshops and conferences?
I live in Nova Scotia and have attended workshops foe ASD children as these are the only conferences available.  I recently researched “Aspergers and Cognition” as I realised the brain is so amazing and I wanted to understand more about how my husband thinks.  I found a link to your articles but not your workshops .
I am an Educator and had a student with Aspergers. When I was given some basic resource information by the specialist working with him; a light bulb went on for me. This happened after 35 years of marriage  and believing I was the one that was  at fault by expecting more in our relationship and more of my partner instead of me being the one to carry the relationship and 90% of the effort to hold it together. My husband fit the bill in every way for Aspergers. He was a great teacher and a brilliant musician.
Although we have been married for 46 years I am  very much aware that it is never too late to invest some time and effort to make our relationship more balanced.  I suffer everyday and struggle with keeping our relationship together and trying to keep things on an even keel with no meltdowns from him.  Without going into the details lets say his MO is classic and denial at times is part of that. I know that he can develop strategies. He is a smart man. I believe we would benefit by attending your workshop for couples. I need strategies ; he needs to be motivated to develop strategies and not just bury his head in the sand.
There are almost no resources here in Nova Scotia for Aspergers and the fact that it is now under the umbrella of ASD I do not believe that the difficulties of Aspies or high functioning Autism individuals are being met . The focus is on children in the education system. Few mature adults are still in the education system and thus their needs are seldom being met. Certainly adults  are not considered as these individuals are not so obvious to the various professionals that might be able to assist with the issues affecting them and their families.  It is the partners in the relationship and the children that are aware and bare all the issues and hardships of dealing with the individual.  As you say 80% of marriages with an Aspie partner end up in divorce.
I would really be interested in hearing more about your couples workshops.
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Thank you for your prompt response. I really enjoyed your audio presentations and information regarding asperger's. 
I actually started speaking to my husband about the condition and convinced him to sit and watch the 6-7 min video presentation about your book. 
He is not accepting that he has this condition even though for the last 16 years, he shows every sign and symptom associated with it. He has a lot of anger toward me and me getting him to want to resolve anything is not working. We have gone through marriage counseling a couple of times. He thinks I have a mental problem and always criticizes my family as a reason for my behavior toward him. I even told him I am willing to look into my "problem" if he can just confirm with evaluation or just consider learning more about Asperger's. He is not a reader so I am looking to send videos to let him get a feel for what the condition is and how it affects life. Any suggestions will be helpful. 
Thank you for the list of practitioners in the area. I was working with a counselor who helped me confirm what my husband may have and was working with me of leaving the relationship. I am putting her on hold and going to read your book. 
It does "take two to make things right" so I am discouraged that he is not willing to consider anything wrong with him to make things work. 
Thanks again for your response and I really do appreciate it! 
Are you offering any lectures or courses in my area by chance to learn more? I am also a health care practitioner for the last 16 years working as a physical therapist and received my second masters degree in  rehab counseling. I am very interested in learning more about the condition for professional and personal reasons. 
Thanks again. 

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Hi Mark

I just wanted to ask you please for advice as I refuse to make any decisions with my husband without researching further what our avenues are!

My husband and I have finished reading your e book and watched the workshops. We found them EXTREMELY helpful for both of us. We have both been really responsive and made positive changes, it has only been a week but it has been a great week.

My husband did however consult his cousin, who is overseas about our revelation and wandered what else he can do to help. His cousin is a psychiatrist and he immediately recommended a higher dose of the anti depressant that my husband is already taking as usually these meds are recommended in higher doses to people on the spectrum. I don’t believe he needs it but wanted to ask your opinion?
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I have 2 boys with aspergers
Question numbe 1. My 18 year old had a hard time with graduation the cliser it got the more panicked he became. So d put him on Zoloft for anxiety. He seemed better he got a job at walmart in produce he seemed. To love it. Then they started switching his sechdule around back down the hill he went. He ended up quitting the. Job and now says he cant handle panic attacks so he just wonts to be left alone and locks himself in his room. I dont know how to help him
Number 2 my 6 year old is also on zolof 100 mg and ritilan 5mg 3x a daytho i dont see any diffrenc with or wih out the Ritalin. He is in kidegardn after doing a spec prek for 2 years and was doing fair as far as school when it first started now 3 months in he states and i quoat "i no longer wont to go to school its boring and of no intrest to me" his teacher said its just because he doesnt like tracing letters and to say its a have to thing. Yea because i said so doesnt work fo any kid much less for one on the spectrum. He randomly blurt stuff out in c lass and is unabl most days to sit in 1 spot. He also has choosen to walk himself to class and is constantly late because he doent wont to go sco he walks slowly.

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Hello Mark

I'm Laura from Australia and I've found your book and would like to download it...

My partner was diagnosed with Aspergers about six weeks ago. I'm just tearing my hair out - the meltdowns seem to get worse. I have psychotherapy myself every week, and I have nearly finished a degree in the same. I love him and am at the end of my tether.

I try as best I can to own my part of the conflicts but sometimes I feel so defeated, so drained I'm almost suicidal. Feel trapped and like a complete idiot for making the decisions I have.

It would be great if I could purchase your book - could you send me a link please? I'm also wondering if Anthony would be open to therapy with you - I doubt it because he doesn't like doing stuff over the Internet for privacy reasons - but just in case, could you please send me some info to share with him?

I'm looking for a lifeline!!

Kind regards


Understanding the "Easily Annoyed" Child on the Autism Spectrum

“I have a 9 year old son with high functioning autism (Asperger syndrome). My main issue with him is that he is sooooo easily annoyed at EVERY THING! Including ME! If I don't hear his question the first time and say, "What did you say?" …I get, "Nothing, never mind" (big huff and rolling eyes). If his 5 year old sister is crying or getting into his stuff, it is MAJOR drama (screaming at her, slamming doors, etc. etc.). If I am not walking around smiling with sunshine shooting out of my butt (sorry for the metaphor), he automatically thinks I'm angry about something and says, “What's wrong?" I say, "Nothing..." and then it is the whole, “Whatever, never mind.” It's not just the rotten attitude, but his being chronically annoyed. He can't find his shoes, and I get, "arrrgghhhh, I can NEVER find my shoes!!!!" (huff, slam door, and more arrrgghhhh). The toys that he has all lined-up in a row don’t look right, the pants he wants to wear are dirty, his sister doesn't want to watch what he wants to watch – anything and everything! Sometimes I think he needs to be on some kind of medication. We've tried counseling... no help there. Is this just his personality? Is it a symptom of autism? He doesn’t behave this way at school – just at home. I am at my wits END!”

Indeed, children with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are often easily annoyed by others. They are quickly overwhelmed by minimal change and highly sensitive to environmental stimuli. They like everything to stay the same – even their parent’s mood and their sibling’s behavior (which is obviously an unreasonable expectation)). They are anxious and tend to worry obsessively when they do not know what to expect. Stress, fatigue and sensory-overload can throw them off balance. As a result, they may seem to be upset about “everything.”



In addition, it is not uncommon for AS and HFA children to behave fairly well at school, yet act-out at home. However, just because the acting-out occurs at home does not necessarily mean the “cause” of the behavior lies there. Many AS and HFA students find school very stressful, but they tend to keep their emotions bottled-up until they get home. Most young people on the autism spectrum do not display the body language and facial expressions you would expect to see when a “typical” youngster is feeling a stressed or angry. While kids on the spectrum may appear relatively calm at school, they are often experiencing very different emotions under the surface – and may release those pent-up emotions in the safety of their home.

When your AS or HFA youngster is acting-out due to being annoyed by someone or something, what is your initial response? Do you become anxious and give-in to avoid conflict? Do you say nothing and hope that it will pass? Do you get angry yourself and start shouting? Maybe your answer is, “All three depending on the day!” Welcome to the club! Trying to help an annoyed, angry child to calm down – time after time, day in and day out – is exhausting and stressful.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

The adamant expression of annoyance in the form of anger serves a purpose. It lets you know that something is wrong in the same way that burning your finger lets you know that the oven is hot. It hits rapidly, and the reaction is instantaneous. Similarly, for example, your youngster is upset because he can’t watch the TV show he wants to – and BAM – the parent has a fight on her hands. Keeping this in mind, let’s switch gears and get into problem-solving mode…

How can parents help the “easily annoyed” AS or HFA child? Here are some thoughts to ponder:

1. The first step in helping your child overcome this problem is to change your reaction to his behavior. If you give-in, or say nothing, or get angry, then your child will know that he can push your buttons – and that it works. He knows that if he can wear you down by complaining or getting angry, he will get his way in the end. Instead of being held accountable, he has figured out a way to avoid negative consequences. Therefore, parents need to learn to overcome their “knee-jerk” reactions of giving-in, ignoring misbehavior, or getting angry.

2. Do not simply assume that there is nothing to be annoyed about. Your youngster may not be wrong for feeling this way. There may be some justification for her frustration, even if the behavior is not justified. If your youngster can’t be civil in explaining her annoyance, then say something such as, “I understand you feel annoyed. I’m sorry you feel that way.” Then leave it alone until she has calmed down. If she starts acting-out her frustration (e.g., cussing, throwing things, hitting, etc.), then that is when you want to address the behavior. You can’t control the way your youngster feels about things, but you can give her consequences and hold her accountable for acting-out. It’s normal for all children to be annoyed from time to time. It’s not the feeling of frustration that is the problem, it is the resulting behavior. So, don’t punish feelings, only punish misbehavior.

3. Consider whether or not a consequence is really necessary. Let’s say a 10-year-old boy is annoyed and frustrated about something, so he mutters something under his breath, walks into his bedroom and slams the door. When you look at it objectively, a youngster who is working on his frustration has actually handled it fairly well – in this case, going to his room to calm down. In a situation like this, you may decide to waive the consequence. While different parents have different rules about what is allowed and what is not, there should be some latitude to allow your youngster to express frustration as long as property is not damaged and no one gets hurt.

4. Sometimes, a child’s frustration is caused by very real and inescapable problems in his life. Not all frustration is misplaced – and often it is a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to the parent’s frustration to find out that this is not always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is NOT to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how the frustrated child handles and faces the problem. Help your child to make a plan for those occasions when he is annoyed and irritated, and help him check his progress along the way. If your child can approach his problems with his best intentions and make a serious attempt to face it head-on, he will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

5. Parents need to understand that the AS or HFA child typically has a very low toleration for frustration. This frustration comes from a lack of understanding of his feelings. He is unable to identify and express what he is feeling, so he lumps all the “bad” feelings together. Moms and dads witness the overflow of “bad” feelings that come out all at once. It's important that you don't take them personally, even when they seem as though they are directed at you. A young person on the autism spectrum wants to tell his parents what is on his mind, but most of the time he does not know how to say it properly, or he misinterpreted his thoughts and feelings altogether.

6. Often times, when a child is easily annoyed, it is because she has poor problem-solving skills. She has not learned to solve her underlying problems in healthy ways, so she yells, throws things, and calls people names. One of your most important jobs is to give your child some problem-solving tools. The development of problem-solving skills should include your AS or HFA youngster as a contributor in planning and execution. Thus, be sure to include her input in all the suggestions listed below. The ideas described are something you are doing WITH your youngster, rather than TO her. In order to help the easily annoyed child, parents need a thorough understanding of their child’s perspective. Any approach to correcting frustration and resultant acting-out behavior that does not include the youngster is not going to have long-term benefits.




Here are some ways to assist your AS or HFA child in learning a few problem-solving skills:
  • Enhance sensitivity to verbal and nonverbal social cues through games and role play, teaching your youngster to identify social cues in body language and pitch of voice.
  • Have your youngster make a video of his own nonverbal cues, and then have him explain his feelings on the basis of cues demonstrated in the video (e.g., hand gestures, facial expressions, voice intonation, and other indicators of social intent).
  • Help your youngster identify his own feeling states through self-report and observation.
  • Help your youngster to assess likely outcomes of potential responses and to select a response that can be initiated given the limitations of the situation. Compared to non-frustrated kids, frustrated ones tend to evaluate pro-social responses less favorably. Thus, they are not behaving a certain way to purposely hurt those around them, rather they are simply making decisions based on social skills deficits.
  • Help your youngster to assign meaning to social cues. This step is necessary because easily annoyed, frustrated kids commonly interpret neutral interactions as threatening – and then respond defensively. Unlike “typical” kids, AS and HFA kids do not intuitively know how to exhibit socially acceptable behavior, and the level of their required assistance depends on the social supports they have previously encountered.
  • Help your youngster to attend to social cues that are often missed or misinterpreted.
  • Help your youngster to develop ideas about how to respond to each social circumstance he encounters. This step is necessary because, compared with “typical” kids, AS and HFA kids identify fewer alternatives and seem unaware of the various options that may be open to them when confronted by a social problem. These “special needs” kids need help identifying their options and possible outcomes (this is why constantly telling them what they are doing wrong does not increase the likelihood of improved future performance).
  • Your youngster should learn to identify and classify social cues by friendly, neutral, and hostile categories of intent. The youngster can practice by assuming the roles of his siblings and/or peers in disputes.

If the AS or HFA child is exhibiting threatening behavior and seems unable to control it, then getting him to work with a professional is the best approach. A qualified therapist can provide coping techniques for the youngster to deal with his tendency to be annoyed by others and the resultant frustration and acting-out. In addition, the therapist can provide you with valuable insight and tools for helping your youngster deal with his negative feelings.

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

•    Anonymous said…  Almost word for word what I say/do when my Aspie son thinks he can get away with that type of behavior.
•    Anonymous said… Anxiety is also a good thing to learn about. This will probably drive a number of his behaviours. Meditation and mindfulness are great for both of you! Plus he most likely is doing some of these things at school - they just have structure and support staff to manage his needs. It's 100 times harder at home. Like my sister said, moan and chat when not there because then you have the energy to manage when it doesn't go right. Rob long (ed psyc) says "calm when they get it wrong, happy when they get it right"
•    Anonymous said… At that age they get a huge testerone increase . Have a Google of it and see if that helps explain his change in behaviour.
•    Anonymous said… Brilliant article
•    Anonymous said… Find a therapist who specializes in Behaviour Modification Techniques ... PAY THE MONEY TO LEARN It and most importantly ... STICK TO IT! Temple Grandin is th best expert on Aspergers and Autism and she has spoken frequently on the need for manners, rules and good behaviour for children on the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said… Firstly, I would remove the bedroom door, and explain that when he can be trusted with it by showing some self-control he may get it back. We have done this at our house. He can choose to control himself, but he is controlling you , as he seems to have you all walking around on eggshells, so the anger is beneficial to him. He needs to lose something, such as a privilege, when he is being obnoxious. As a boy, he is only going to get bigger, stronger, and harder to train. Teach him more acceptable methods of expressing displeasure, such as just telling you he is upset. Then when he does it, thank him for using words instead of anger, and try to reach a compromise. Maybe you could make some house rules and post them for all the kids, such as: No door slamming, Work out problems calmly, Don't touch other people's things without asking permission, etc. And try to get him into the tub two or three times a week and put a cup or two of Epsom salts in there as the water runs. The magnesium helps anxiety tremendously.
•    Anonymous said… I can't tell you what a miracle biofeedback was for us. He can control his physical response to stress and anxiety.
•    Anonymous said… I get the same thing from my Aspie and she tells me I am screaming when I am not at all it is annoying to hear that stuff all the time
•    Anonymous said… I would say anxiety. That's how my husband and oldest son project their anxiety. The right meds for both of them helps with that so so much.
•    Anonymous said… I'm really not having a go at all but some of this ( and I mean some not all) can be solved by very strict parenting - not a day without the house rules... Nothing. Hard work but you will get there... It's very hard to differentiate between what is truly aspergers behaviour and what is a naughty child... The latter needs telling. Aspergers isn't a licence for bad behaviour non stop. I have been through it with my son but honestly you will get through to the other side by just sticking to your guns.
•    Anonymous said… It is expectation. In their all or nthing thinking, They expect you to be a certain way. Perform to a certain level. Respond immediately. Know everything. Be everything. When you fall short of their expectations, as you invariably will, you get the eye roll and huffing and puffing. Teach them that people don't operate at their level. That they can and will do it their way, in their own time. Just because he expects it does not mean it's going to happen.
•    Anonymous said… It is like reading the story of my 12 year old! Sigh.
•    Anonymous said… it is the autism, my son has same diagnosis. there are many tricks to helping him. these kids benefit from programs that teach them how to read body language. set s place for his shoes and make sure they are put in same place for him til he gets used to doing it for himself. allow him to have his own tv solves the tv issue. and with my son i just have to do his laundry regular esp. if he has a fave shirt he wants to wear everyday cause it has to get washed after every use, they can be OCD about a lot of things! sometimes you just got to see the humour in it.
•    Anonymous said… Keep smiling keep loving him xx have a good moan and chat when he's at school xx surround yourself with positive people! You are not alone in this xx
•    Anonymous said… My 14 year old! The constant mumbling "whatever, you don't care" under his breath when I don't hear what he said to me or he doesn't think I'm interested in what he says. Everyday! I think I just expect to hear it now on a daily basis. Some days it's not as easy to tolerate.
•    Anonymous said… My 9 year old until I insisted on putting him in lexapro . He's a different person now. The psychiatrist wanted him in mood stabilizers . They didn't work he was angry then at times a zombie and gained weight which caused more problems . Find a good Psychiatrist. Good luck it's a game of trial and error. It's so exhausting and emotionally draining . Mine is also 9
•    Anonymous said… My daughter does some of the same things. I do not allow her to continue with the behavior. I tell her yes things are going to agitate her but she can't control other people only herself. If she is agitated I tell her to remove herself from the situation of possible.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter is on a natural supplement called GABA recommended by her therapist. It is amazing and helps with the anxiety.
•    Anonymous said… my poor lad spent quite a lot of his time in bedroom when younger. It's v tricky to know what's right but my boy is 14 now and just fabulous!
•    Anonymous said… My sentiments exactly. My son (not an aspie) has been in therapy since he was 8 years old (he's 18 now) and it did help some.. but since he has been on Paxil he is just feeling so much better.. we are getting to see the real kid
•    Anonymous said… My son has always reminded me of an old curmudgeon. LOL! Part of it is from anxiety.
•    Anonymous said… Not saying this is the case in every family, BUT kids do mirror how their parents act in any given situation. How the parent reacts in a stressful or bad situation is important. Are Mom and Dad yelling and screaming at eachother or the kids or they acting like the adult and staying calm ? I think all kids will see how far they can push you,but with our kids in the spectrum it may be other triggers setting them off 9 times out of 10 and it's your job as their parent to help them through it.
•    Anonymous said… Now if you try to hold his hand he digs his nails in you, if you hold his arm he yells your hurting him which we are not. Prior to him moving in my home last year I never had issues with him.
•    Anonymous said… Pathological demand avoidance after all these years my daughter is finally diagnosed she is now 40 years old!!!
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like A 7 old i know saying "Life is horrible" etc for any "good" reason
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like my 5 yr old grandson who hasn't be diagnosed but is being evaluated for it, he doesn't act like this at school either. His 2 yr old sister shares the same attitude so I'm questioning why do they share the same type behavior? My grandson growls to express his anger a lot. I discipline him as if he is a just a normal child but with a slight difference bcz he needs to learn it's not ok to hurt people and the fact I don't know if he's autistic or not. He scratches the paint off my wall in time out. I figure if he can behave at school, he can behave here or at home.
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like my 6 nearly 7 year old son
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like my hubby and daughter LOL!
•    Anonymous said… That's like the majority of 14 year olds!... It's up to you to decide whether you accept it or not...not much to do with aspergers imho
•    Anonymous said… The therapy recommended for my daughter was cognitive behavioral therapy. In one year her tantrums and anxiety have decreased dramatically.
•    Anonymous said… This sounds exactly like my 8 year old daughter.
•    Anonymous said… Took him to an air show yesterday and spent most of the time disciplining him. to stay side by side as we walked, disturbing other people, asking for food or to buy him stuff bcz I wasn't paying the high prices. He makes up his own jibberish language (which I used to do and a young child), he is impulsive(what comes to mind he does-something I used to do).
•    Anonymous said… Very difficult when this is your everyday, my easily upset one is an adult now and manages himself better , he really didn`t know anyone else was upset by his actions or why they would be. Empathy is not his big thing I have had to learn to love him in spite of his behavior.
•    Anonymous said… We are living this nightmare now with our son. He is 15. Oddly enough when he was younger he rarely got upset. It wasn't until the end of 7th grade that the anger issues began to show and now its a common occurrence. Just dealing with a teen is hard enough but then compound that with Aspergers. It's exhausting! We recently turned to a psychiatrist and counseling. Too early to tell if it has helped...he is more aware and is trying to make a conscious effort to not get angry. Its a start (:
•    Anonymous said… Wow I thought I was reading my own story. I have a 8 year old high functioning Aspergers who is exactly this story. Yesterday he totally lost control and became violent. Later he broke down crying and asked for a cuddle. He revealed that all his friends for dumping him and he felt different confused and that no one understood him. As devastating and heartbreaking as that was for us to hear at least I know he trusts me enough to have those tough conversations. Even at 8 he loves his cuddles. I don't think anyway has the right I think we just work it out along the way as every child is different there sensory needs are different and the way the my respond is obviously different. Hang in there stay calm and take a breath
•    Anonymous said… You pick and choose your battles and keep moving forward
•    Anonymous said…Oh you just wrote about my son. He is 19 now. But still. Cracked it yesterday cause one of his computer leads got tangled - they seem to have a very short fuse.
*    Anonymous said... My son gets frustrated to the point that he always seems upset or angry. He will give up on things if they don't go his way without even putting any more effort into it. I've dealt with it for so long that I just tend to go on with my day and not let it get me down. I've tried to explain to him how to persevere and get something accomplished, or how to fix his problem. He tends to be very stubborn and often doesn't listen to that either. It does wear out a parent! He is 19 and done with school now, so this is also a hard transition time. I'm hopeful that eventually he will outgrow the teen years and maybe develop a more laid back attitude toward life.
*    Anonymous said... My son who is also 9 is the same way and also has very high anxiety. His doctor put him on a low dose Zoloft for the anxiety because it was affecting everything he did and it's done wonders for his anger as well.

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