Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Poor Academic Performance in Students on the Autism Spectrum

“I am a single mom of a 12 y.o. daughter with high functioning autism. She is a very smart child, but she doesn’t work hard in the classroom or on homework. Her teacher recently said that she’s in danger of getting D’s in most subjects. She will do just enough to get by rather than trying her best. When I talk to her about how important it is to get good grades, she rolls her eyes and tells me that it’s too boring. And there have been a few times that talking to her about it leads to meltdowns. She’s more interested in playing games on her iPad. What can I do to light a fire under her?”

As a mother of a child with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s), I’m sure it’s difficult not to become highly invested in her academic life, because you know how important it is for her future. From an adult’s viewpoint, it probably makes no sense to you that your daughter would put things like electronics before her work. In all actuality, she probably is motivated, but not by what you think should motivate her. In other words, she is probably not at all lazy when it comes to things that excite her (e.g., her iPad). However, if you pressure her in order to motivate her to do better in school, it almost always makes things worse.

So, what can you do? Here are some general ideas that can help:

1. High-functioning autistic kids respond best when the answer to the question "what's in it for me?" is something they desire. These “special needs” children never really make the leap from instant gratification to internal motivation or drive (e.g., self-satisfaction in a job well done or pride in their ability to face a challenging situation). They are simply wired differently emotionally. Parents and teachers soon come to realize that motivation to complete tasks is closely linked to perceived personal gain or reward for that student. For them to achieve and keep on achieving, the possibility of personal reward must be present as a motivator. Often this reward revolves around the special interest of the student (in your daughter’s case, games on an iPad!).

2. Eliminate the word “homework” from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word “study.” Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your daughter saying, "I don't have any homework." Study time is about studying, even if you don't have any homework. It's amazing how much more homework high-functioning autistic children have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.

3. Is it really boredom – or anxiety? Children on the autism spectrum are notorious for experiencing anxiety. Some of your daughter’s “lack of motivation” or “irresponsibility” may very well be her own anxiety about schoolwork. Most kids have anxiety about doing certain things and may avoid them at all cost. Your daughter may not know that anxiety plays a role in her academics, because it’s not always on a conscious level for her.

Think of it like this: Let’s say your daughter tells you she doesn’t have homework when she actually does.  This will stir up your worry and concern. When you react to it by lecturing her about how important good grades are, your daughter will manage her anxiety by distancing from it – and from you! While a little anxiety can be a motivating force, too much will block your daughter’s ability to think and to have access to the part of the brain that helps her with motivation. Thus, try to keep your emotions in check by recognizing that it may be your daughter’s anxiety at play rather than plain laziness. Your task is to not react to her anxiety – or your own.

4. It's possible that your daughter may simply be bored with the school routine rather than the actual subject matter itself. Thus, try to spice up the educational process. For example, take her studies outdoors. Connect family outings and activities to things your daughter is learning in school. So, if she's studying American history, take a weekend and visit to a nearby battlefield. Or, if she is learning about botany, start digging in your backyard and plant a garden.

5. Disorganization is a problem for most kids on the autism spectrum. If you want your daughter to be organized, you have to invest the time to help her learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach her the system. Her job is to use it. Check occasionally to see if the system is being used. Check more often at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary. If your daughter needs help with time management, teach her time management skills. Help her learn what it means to prioritize by the importance and due date of each task. Teach her to create an agenda each time she sits down to study. And, help her experience the value of getting the important things done first.

6. Sometimes books needed for homework are left at school. If this happens often, it is a sure sign that your daughter is struggling to learn and feels that the homework is too hard. Talk to your daughter's teachers and try to set up a system to remind her what books are needed.

7. Many kids on the autism spectrum become overwhelmed with schoolwork and need to focus on the smaller steps to achieving goals, rather than the big end result. Perhaps the number one reason that high-functioning autistic kids feel unmotivated is that they are overwhelmed by the enormity of homework and studying, which can make success seem so far in the future that it's unattainable. Thus, create a list of small goals that your daughter can check off as she reaches them. For example, rather than telling your daughter that she needs to spend one hour writing in order to complete her assignment, break the assignment down into (a) researching an idea (check!), (b) writing a rough draft (check!), and (c) polishing it up in a final draft (check!).

8. Doing homework takes time, time that your daughter would rather spend doing her fun thing. So, set a limit to the time she spends doing homework and stick to it. If she knows she can stop working at a certain time, she will be more motivated to do the work.

9. A “token economy” suits the needs of kids on the spectrum quite well. It is a system where your daughter can earn tokens as a reward for desired actions (in this case, completing homework). A predetermined number of tokens are then “cashed in” for an activity that she desires (e.g., “game time” on her iPad).

Some parents are stringently against giving their child money in exchange for doing homework. However, for children with high-functioning autism, it is worth trying. Token economies that use money tokens seem to be the most successful in increasing their ability to delay gratification, and lessening the risk of satiation (i.e., overuse of a reward that results in the youngster no longer viewing it as a reward). Using money in a token economy will negate the need for your daughter to decode an abstract concept, because in the “real world,” people are paid money for completing tasks by way of employment.

Autistic kids take a long time to establish trust, and for this reason, a token economy should focus on rewarding desired actions. Once the program has been established for a few months, you may then be able to introduce “response costs” where your daughter is fined for failing to follow through on her “work.” This correlates the token economy program with real-world experiences. However, the focus of the program must be on the positives, otherwise your daughter will quickly lose motivation and trust.

Be creative with the “reinforcers” offered as motivation for your daughter. Offering a “menu” of rewards to choose can be very effective. Initially, “cashed in” rewards need to be fairly instant (e.g., at the end of each day). Over time, this can be stretched to the end of each week. As your daughter matures, this delayed gratification may be able to be stretched to a month. However, small rewards and motivators should be offered consistently along the way.

10. Homework is often left to the last minute. Thus, help your daughter keep a homework agenda complete with dates for when work has to be handed in. Mark dates on a calendar and work backwards to decide when she should start the work. Then let her be responsible for getting the work done on time. Don't let your daughter allow her problem (no time left to complete homework) to become your problem.

11. Kids on the spectrum are very visually-oriented. Thus, consider a visual way for your daughter to see accomplishment on homework. For example, it may mean taking a link off of a paper chain or putting jelly beans in a container. It can be a marker board or calendar to mark off the items completed. When the completed tasks are made visible, your daughter will develop a stronger sense of accomplishment.

12. Be patient with your daughter. Some days will go smoothly when it comes to homework. Other days, it will feel like a war-zone. Maybe she is having a bad day. Tomorrow is a new day that brings another opportunity to teach study skills.

13. The amount of benefit your daughter gets from finishing a homework assignment NEVER outweighs the importance of your relationship with her. The amount of time you spend cajoling and coercing her to do the work is counterproductive. There is no way that homework should create tension in a family, and definitely not the kind that leads to meltdowns.

As a mom of a high-functioning autistic child, you have probably discovered that this disorder disrupts her academic abilities in multiple areas (e.g., a lowered tolerance for new situations or sudden transitions, lack of organizational skills, inconsistent energy levels, high distractibility, excessive interest in only one or two subjects to the exclusion of all others, etc.). All of these can present challenges when attempting to complete homework. Fortunately, the basic strategies listed above can help prevent those dreaded evening meltdowns related to homework.

Click here for more ==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said…  This sounds like my daughter. I have not found anything that helps.
•    Anonymous said… (9yr old): so true when I must do homework I'd rather just play games its way better than boring school work. Trust me if you were a child in these days then you would understand. Maybe give your child enough playtime before school and after school then they more likely to do some homework, but it must sound like its part of playtime From me (mom): I completely get this, homework time is a nightmare!
•    Anonymous said… At home don't you think it's easier to manage than what they do or don't do at school?
•    Anonymous said… Does she have an IEP, we got my daughter one this year, so far they are working with us and modifying hw....its a battle every night.
•    Anonymous said… Have they tried to figure out why he won't do it? My son likes Math but he has Sensory issues so he's distracted in the classroom. He complains of the noise a lot. Also, he has problems writing. I think they need to find out why first.
•    Anonymous said… He behaves for the most part at school. He releases it all on me. I raised him as a single mom. He doesn't act this way with his every other weekend dad. I'm the one who has to make him do things he doesn't want to do. So, homework and home behaviors are tough for us.
•    Anonymous said… he doesn't do it because it's "boring and pointless" he says.  😞He's been told numerous times how math helps you in the future, but he is still resistant. I think he just needs help reading math questions to clarify what they ask, because he makes it harder than it is.
•    Anonymous said… Home school her. Let her guide her own education, since she's smart enough :)
•    Anonymous said… I am experiencing the exact same thing with my son. My fear is that video games are always going to be more interesting, addictive, and they make him feel happy. He us fairly socially isolated so all the more reason video games are attractive to him. He does well at school but does not work to his ability and only puts in enough work to get it done. There is no passion beyond video games. I talk to him all the time about it but nothing seem to change his thinking.
•    Anonymous said… I don't normally comment on anything but i will have to say i am happy with the progress of my son who is now 14 yrs old. For the fits he is on antidepressants. I was always against it till we got one that works. He can now have a rational conversation. He has the same rules as the rest of the kids which is no gaming until house work and home work is done. He is the only one of the kids who figured it out and gets his stuff done because we don't give in on the rules. Good luck it's not an easy road but doable😎
•    Anonymous said… I have a 15 yo grandson with Aspergers. Enrolled in our local Charter school. When he does not perform up to his potential, he loses all electronics.
All. At our house electronics are tied to participation and grades. Tough love. Let her meltdown.
•    Anonymous said… I'm so sorry. I think the only reason the considered it for my daughter is because she also has seizure disorder but is well controlled with the med. see if a doctor could maybe help
•    Anonymous said… It can be the way their brain works. Had trouble with my son getting him to expand on answers, finally got out of him "the teacher already knows the answer, and if they don't, they need to learn where to get the answers from, I'm not giving them my tricks to get the answer." We also found with him at times he couldn't be bothered writing the answers, or wouldn't expand when the work was too easy.He is now doing home schooling and we have seen a large improvement in his work, as it is all on the computer, and he is individually assesed and given work at his level as he is a year 7, but they are giving him year 8-9 work..
•    Anonymous said… It should not matter that he gets it. Having a iep allows special instructions. It is individualized to fit the needs of the student. You can write a letter requesting why he needs the iep. My daughter is in a mixed class. Some without iep and some without There are coteaching to Keep things on track.
•    Anonymous said… Lock up the devices. (We have to put our kiddo's in the Thule roof pod, because he's getting good at opening other locks.) Give time on the device as a reward for better school performance. Write up a contract with your kiddo that outlines the marks they need in order to obtain time on the device. Worked with our kiddo. Went from a D to an A-minus average. Of course, he still whines about us not giving him free-range access.
•    Anonymous said… Mine fakes sick and really doesn't want to go. It is so frustrating.
•    Anonymous said… My 11 yr old son is the same. I've emailed the head of year 7 and she said she'll inform the SENCO.
•    Anonymous said… My 12 year old boys are exactly the same. With us we try to vary rewards (computer time being one of them) to at least get stuff done at home. They've used a point system at school with the same reward to get stuff done. We try to base stuff on minecraft or things they like doing
•    Anonymous said… My husband is always accusing me of letting my son off the hook because of his asperger's so I find it difficult to find the balance. I want him prepared for life but also want to have empathy for his situation and the way his mind works. It's a constant battle with school work and tests etc. I spend so much of my time breaking his work down into manageable sections.
•    Anonymous said… My son is similar and all teachers in all prior grades have said he picks up quick and knows all material and they afraid he will get bored easily. Which is exactly what hapened. Try talking to the school staff and see if they can her something more challenging to find interest.
•    Anonymous said… My son is the same but he just often refuses to go to school. Yes, he is on an iep. Getting him to even go to school for a short time is a daily battle. He has a lot of anxiety.
•    Anonymous said… Pushing them harder will only make it worse, teach her differently. Sometimes there is too much stimulation in a full classroom that makes it hard to concentrate. Went threw this with my son. Or, it simply just cant hold their attention. Not all children learn the same. Like putting square peg in a circle.
•    Anonymous said… Sometimes I wonder if we make excuses for them because we don't want to deal with the rage and tantrums. I'm at a crossroads where I feel like I'm sick of always thinking about the diagnosis and making it about that. At a certain point he's going to have to deal with it and toughen up. He can be so manipulative and uses rage to get what he wants. I used a reward system at a younger age then I stopped because I think I created a need for reward for doing regular things. Now, when he has to do normal stuff it isn't worth it to him. I feel I need to let him know that no one will give him exceptions in the real world. I'm worried he will not succeed in terms of learning to be motivated to provide for himself or do basic self care if he's not held to the same standards as everyone else. I'm really burned out. Anyone else?
•    Anonymous said… Take her on experiences that show her how the subject matter that she is learning is applied. Just as an example, for Geography, get a compass and borrow an altimeter. Take her on an awesome hike with a plotted destination. Teach her to calculate the gradient and direction, look at wind flow and mountain clouds to describe adiabatic flow and orographic rain. Let her take you to where you're going to learn to orientate a map..... Once she can see application in real life during fun activities, her whole attitude to learning will change.
•    Anonymous said… The last meeting about this was Thursday. This is the second time I've asked for it. The last time we were turned down after going through the process, so they don't want to try again. We are at a brick wall. We had a stressful weekend and that added to today's meltdown. This all scares me.
•    Anonymous said… They won't give my son an iep because he gets the math, but won't do it. Just today he threw a fit in class in front of the other students!!. 6th grade and it landed him in the principles room. What the heck do I do? What am I doing wrong???
•    Anonymous said… This is my 16 year old son as well. He has a 504 but his school counselor isn't all that helpful. It's been a constant homework battle for 10 1/2 years of school. He's still getting D's in classes but his test scores are As. One thing I have observed having another kid in my neighborhood who is on the other end of the spectrum is that it's easy for people to look at a child who is visibly handicapped and be empathetic and want to help, but with these high functioning autism spectrum kids like ours they look normal so the attitude is they should just act normal.
•    Anonymous said… Use what they love as a reward and break the task down. I had to sit beside my son to do homework almost every day until he was in year 10 then fortunately he got a case manager at school who would help him to alleviate the stress at home. I found that once I accepted that his field of interest was so narrow and explained to him that he still needed to get the work done for the other classes to be able to finish school and then focus in a career in gaming it made it easier. We would do one task then set the timer and he was allowed to game until it went off - was usually an hour as it gave me time to get dinner cooked! My son is now 21 and studying online, he also "works" with a group of international people on game design which hopefully oneday he'll see a return on. Remember to look after yourselves along this journey, it is particularly exhausting for parents of ASD kind to yourselves  🌷 ❤
•    Anonymous said… We had the same problem with my son, refused to do any homework and it just became a never ending battle that no one was going to win, so I explained the situation to the school SEN coordinator and they decided to put aside a little time at school every day to do his homework so he could have his time in the evening at home (which I think they really need as when you think it must be an exhausting day for any child on the spectrum) and it worked. He's 16 now, got all B's and C's in his GCSE's and is now at college studying computer science and I.T which he loves as it's something HE is interested in, "no more boring lessons" :)
•    Anonymous said… You're doing nothing wrong! If he has a diagnosis then they have to work with you to create an IEP. If the school won't work with you, go to your school district.

Post your comment below…

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Nov., 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.


My daughter was adopted at birth and diagnosed with Aspergers in 4th grade. Fast forward to this year. She hates us and we have had a horrible year as a junior in highschool. Chloe has progressed to the point where she runs away and has stayed with her birth mother, acquaintences, and so called “friends”. We have tried all these years with psychologists and psychiatrists. She has been been on medications and she believes it is all my husband’s and my fault she is messed up because we made her take these drugs! Her doctor’s said she needs to be in treatment at a facility twice this past summer. That was the worst decision in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I could take back this whole year I would and I would never listen to these so called professionals!! That time in these places destroyed any relationship that could have been. I am positive things were  not handled correctly considering her adoption and aspergers together. Between these 2 parts of her personality her life has fallen apart and I’ve lost my daughter. Nobody would listen and the schools and doctors made everything worse. My world has fallen apart!


My marriage has failed. I had posted my thoughts on the subject on facebook because I wanted to share with people about the changes in my life. A friend of mine that has known me for years reaches out to me whose child has recently been diagnosed with ASD. She used to live with me for at least a year or two and asked me if I had looked into Aspergers before because she began to think specifically of me while she was learning about her child. About three years ago a pediatrician had met me for the first time and then asked my wife if I had Aspergers. I did not follow up on this because it seemed ridiculous. A year later my third child, my second son, was diagnosed with ASD. He is moderate to severe. Now that my friend has reached out to me I began to take her thoughts seriously. Since I was on the edge of divorce which is now inevitable, I was much more open. I began to read about Aspergers and watch videos on youtube and I almost cried because of just how much it made sense to me... the isolation, the depth of intense emotion, and the great difficulties in social interaction, etc, etc. While I may not have a strong case which we might seen as portrayed in Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, which I believe is just an acted portrayal to extenuate the obvious, I do believe that I may suffer from some form of Aspergers, ever if just a mild case. My wife has insisted that I am narcissistic but I don't feel that on the inside at all. I have difficulty understanding most people and am often misunderstood. I have many friends who have experienced social awkwardness. I have not found an affordable method of obtaining a formal diagnosis, and even then I am afraid that I will not receive it. It would be very confusing to me if it were not so given the cogency of this perspective. I know that not all psychologists are the same, with varying degrees of knowledge concerning ASD, and so I fear that I could receive a wrong conclusion depending upon who does the evaluation. Please share your thoughts with me in this regard. I would greatly appreciate it.


My son is high functioning but he still struggles with alot as far as school, he has autism and a central auditory processing disorder and fighting back amd fourth with his school to have him placed in a smaller setting and its been a year and im still fighting to get my son the best education he deserves im uneducated when it comes to his disorder i try to understand it a little more each day i want to know if you have any referral sources for me to help me be a better advocate for my 8 year old son.


I have a 17 year old who just found out he has HFA and is devastated. Even when his father and I heard the news, it didn't make sense. We thought he just had been suffering from depression all his life but the more we learn about HFA, the more we realize that you're describing our son. However, he doesn't seem so typical...he plays baseball but that's his only other interest besides video games, he doesn't seem not to get along with friends but when he's tired of them, he pushes them to the curb with no empathy, he never invites friends over, and he says he has no feelings for us, his parents,.. he's adopted.
But if anyone met him on the surface, they would never suspect anything. They describe him as funny, a nice kid and everyone loves him. Hes never been picked on in school. But it's an act.
Anyway, my question to you is, how do we get him used to the idea that he has this. It was suggested to him by his therapist and ever since then, he doesn't want to talk about it, or deal with it. He wants to bury it. He always thought of a kid with autism as a "nerd" and he says he's not that kid. And I understand, I never would have guessed on the surface, but the more I learn about it, I think his therapist is right.
Any suggestions?
I would do anything to help out this kid. He has been dealing with this for a long time and we need help before he graduates.


Hi Mark,
My husband and I realized he had aspergers about 3 years ago. We have two small kids. I am working on letting go of the resentment but its hard. Especially because no one really knows except me that he has it so I can't really talk about it openly.  I have been reading your ebook and listening to the audio clips from your seminar. They are extremely helpful. Its really hard to find the right resources. Your book and audio clips are spot on our challenges.

I have been struggling to find the right therapist for my husband and I that has experience in this area. I have seen psychologists and find them helpful for me. My husband has gone too which is a good step but I think we need someone with more knowledge of Aspergers.  Is there a website of therapists you would recommend? We live in Northern Virginia.


Hi Mark,

We have  HFA 14yr old  teenager( Ethan). He under treatment for anxiety. He is taking cymbalta and adderal for Adhd.     We have many issues : failing grades , poor hygiene., little or no social connection with anyone in 9th grade.  He has not friends in the neighborhood. Based on our knowledge , this is normal for HFA kids.

We try to  provide support  and guidance on his difficulties. He does have consequence for non-compliance. Currently , he has lost all phone and video game privileges.   He can be defiant to discipline at times.

 When we offer advice and  or get him professional help , he is resistant to needing help.  He doesn't think he has anxiety  or depression.

He tells every psychiatrist  that he does not  have anxiety and doesn't need medicine.  He does it only for his parents. 

WE remind him to shower and brush teeth every  day.  He often lies about it or makes an excuse not to  do either. When he does clean himself , he does a poor job.

As parent we knows something is wrong, but HE WONT ADMIT ANY difficulty or the fact that is autistic in even a minor way..  He will argues  this to the end. As far as he is concerned he is normal teen and does not see much difference between himself and other teens. Any issues he is having he thinks he can handle it himself. He has the maturity of a 5-6th grader in a 14yr old body.

. He is smart enough to come up with lots of excuses ( tired, lazy, sleepy, etc)

  He is too big and too old to hold his hand on hygiene and he is self aware enough to know that he is too old for parents to see him naked or help do basic hygiene like teeth brushing.

 When he was younger I could  forcibly clean him but now  he just shuts bathroom door and comes out. I cannot verify if he uses soap at all.. many times his hair is not washed at all.

when he is confronted with his failures, he makes simple excuse that he is tired.
But it seems he is tired all the time.  i know he is frustrated but getting him to admit that he is having struggles is nearly impossible.

What advice can you offer?   We need help.  I keep thinking if we could get him recognize that he needs  help, he would  follow our guidance more.
Even for schoolwork, we he thinks his strategy is working and he is failing.

Where should we start? 

One final note, his mother and I are divorced but have good communication and co-parenting. He lives primarily with his mother. I have him every other weekd and every Wednesday.


Dear Mark Hutten,
my wife and I have read you article "Parents with Asperger Syndrome"on
Being parents of five wonderful now adult children my wife Elisabeth and I initially felt that you were a little too sombre in your approach, but we have come to realise that my ASD has been more devastating to our children  than hitherto perceived.

Elisabeth is working on a book in Danish to deal with the burden that ASD pose on the neurotypicals in their family. Most books have until recently dealt more with how to cater for the autistic persons.  Such books are certainly needed. But we have (at least on the rather small Danish market )  lacked books and information aimed at helping the many neurotypical "innocent bystanders" who become victims of the urgent demands from siblings or parents with ASD.
We have translated the article mentioned above into Danish, and want to ask your permission to quote it in full in the Danish book , which hopefully will be the result of our endeavours. I am an experienced translator and interpretor (my main special interest is in the field of Linguistics) But your article did not get much help from Google translate, so I had to translate most of it "by hand",
A Canadian friend of ours offered to help, but we think that we have already a functional translation and only need your approval (you are welcome to receive a copy - though it might not make much sense to you).
While responding my Canadian friend, the real meaning of the third part of the triad finally dawned on me - and I have to agree with your description and metaphor. Also mind-blindness is a more precise description.
Thank you very much for the enlightenment that you article has yielded for us.  I hope that you will take the time to read the mail quoted below since it contains the reason for me realising the meaning of mind-blindness.


I 'used' his gullibility to tell him that I called non-emergency police and they confirmed that it is about the assaulted one, once one pays hands on another, that the one who was grabbed and frightened could press charges, he'd be arrested. He seemed to shrug it off, but then a few mins ago, I intercommed to see what he needed for school tomorrow, and said I wished he would be sorry, and he said, "Goodnight Mom and i AM sorry I knocked you on the sofa and pressed your lungs that you felt bad."
We talked a little more about it, I thanked him for the acknowledgement. We even said our prayers together on the intercom--he led. He is staying out in the tent bc I am sure it is just too much to have said that and he needs some time with his ego and feelings.
I would still welcome any feedback you may have, as you likely have much experience with this. Overall, I feel it is a good outcome and I will sleep well tonight.


Hi there,
My daughter has many of the challenging behaviors you speak of on your website. However, I am wondering what you think since the situation is with a teen who is 19 years and 4 months of age. Wants out of the house for many reasons and would go if affordable. Attends college, works, etc. Therapy and meds have been used but are now refused.  Should I work on this with your techniques or is this more of an "I want out of the house" situation? We are all pretty miserable. Of course when a teen is now an "adult", legally, things change.
I look forward to hearing from you.


Hi, Mark.
I am part of your parents of those on the spectrum. My son is 21, "high-functioning" and attends college classes independently. He reliably comes and goes, etc but occasionally has, as is the case this time, misperception about how HARD or roughly he handles or touches me, his mother.
There is no-body else in the home, and mostly no-body else in his life that "knows" him in this way, although he would deny the validity of this statement.
The issue I ask your advise on is this: Friday evening, when I was vocally upset that he wouldn't come along to the tire store (because I have laryngitis this week and it has been tough to talk or I would have handled the tire issue) and stated so, he came into the other room where I was sitting on the sofa and knocked me down to a laying position and held my shoulders. With the laryngitis I already have a feeling of it being a little hard to breathe in my upper chest--when he held me down saying I was 'out of control" I was gasping and I was really frightened, struggling with NO HOPE of getting UP and out of his grasp--I had to say "I can't breathe!" as loudly as I could until he finally let me up about the 5th request--I was terrified that my lungs were going to burst.
He had to leave to go to self defense on the bus, and I told him that under the rules of housing, he had to stay out in the tent on our premises--I locked the house and made it inaccessible and that is how it has been until now--2 nights. I originally wrote in the note I placed outside that he was "grounded outside" until Sunday at 5 pm--and then at 230 PM today, I requested an apology via note outside on door. He denies that 'he held me down THAT hard" and refuses to apologize.
My position, although I prefer of course not to have to remain in it, is that I refuse re-admittance until he makes apology, having told him on the phone extension (which is how we talk--a few times now since he has been outside) that ASSAULT is not about how the person inflicting IT perceives it, but rather how the INJURED party perceives it, and if it were another person he did this to, they could have him arrested. (Of course, a smaller or older person could have been seriously hurt or caused death and he would still contend that "he didn't hold them down THAT hard"???). He is 210 pounds and 6'2". I am under 150 pounds and 56 years old.
I feel you will support my position as the parent and owner of this home, and advise me that I must hold my ground, even though I DID in fact change the original statement (that he would be grounded only until Sunday 5pm) and that I now require an apology/acknowledgement. I ask what additionally you will advise so that I can "get through to him" about this being a serious matter. (He stated after refusing the apology that (he graduates with an AS Business degree next month) that he is going to get a job at the DQ down the street and 'have his own money'. To me, that is evading the responsibility of this matter, and separate and unreal in light of the fact that he now lives in a tent.)


I need so much help I am on the verge of divorce that my husband doesnt know. We have three kids and everything in this video describes me. My husband mother never told him he was HFA and left it to me to do so. I am not sure why his fsmily wont tell him and he hates me for telling him he is and needs help. I feel like I cant do anything for him and the best thing to do is leave. Please send me the e-book or direct me to sute to download please. It is by God I came across you again the first time I just skipped by it thinking there wasnl no hope now I am here and need to give this another shot. If he is in denial about being autistic how do i get him diagnose and my young daughter has autistic child like characteristic but because she is smart people blow me off but I know she thinks differently I feel so alone as a wife and mom.
Thank you for all that you do to help us women.


Hi Mark,

I am about to get the book “Living with an Asperger Partner” for us. Jim and I have an Asberger son now 35.
He lives with a wonderful gal partner the last few years and they really love each other. she really goes thru it with him – as we did for 30 years. We love her and she is very close to us like a daughter. We are very blessed she has a relationship with us….they want to get married…but there are big hurdles that have to take place first.

We discovered that his problem was Aspergers only later in life at 25….I was taking a Psychology course for Art Therapy studies and I literally screamed when I read the section on Aspergers and shouted to my hubby- honey this is it -this is it -this is whats wrong!!! We then headed into great grief as there was NO info like this when he was younger!! We took him to a psy. Doctor and he confirmed it….but he WoNT get any more help. We have all have gone nuts trying everything and my/our health suffered from the acute stresses.


Hello Mark,

Could you tell me if there are any online support group for teenagers with Asperger’s?  My 13 year old son has expressed interest in joining a group and I think this could be beneficial for him. We told him about his diagnosis about a year ago, but he struggles with it daily and I think that maybe if he could talk with other teenagers like himself, it would make him feel not so different.  In addition, I was wondering if you could help direct me to any social group for teens with Aspergers in Maryland or DC? 

I will look forward to your response.  Thank you and have a great day! 


Dear Mr. Hutten,

I am the proud Mom of a 15 year old son diagnosed with ADD and Asperger's approximately 5 years ago (also Mom to an 8 yr old girl).  I've been a frequent visitor to and have found it to be an excellent resource on a variety of topics!  

Fortunately my son has been very high functioning and has required little, if any, modifications/accommodations at school (he has a 504).  He's always been the "little professor" with dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer from the age of 4!!  However, as he started high school last year (he's in 10th grade now) it seemed as if some of the "traits" were becoming more apparent.   I've read many articles and was informed by his Doctor to expect this as he reached his teens and responsibilities grew, but somehow I just hoped he'd get off easy....and then life got even more complicated.  

My 17+ year marriage to his Father was crumbling and we began living separately in Nov 2015 and started the horrific descent down the path of divorce.  Obviously any divorce is difficult and we have the added stress of domestic violence against me (which children have witnessed, unfortunately) and although never officially diagnosed, my son's Father exhibits behaviors which leads my therapist and myself to believe he is a narcissist (covert).  Whether my soon-to-be ex is or isn't a narcissist, he has suddenly taken a keen interest in being a Dad and is waging an all out war to get the "time" he is entitled to his children - 50% - but specifically using the 5/2/2/5 schedule (One parent has Mon/Tues overnight, the other parent has Wed/Thurs overnight, then alternate Fri/Sat/Sun overnights).  Personally this sounds like transition terror for anyone - let alone a child with Asperger's.  I am praying my attorney and I can convince either my husband or a Judge but it doesn't look promising.  

Please forgive me for sharing my life story, but, here's where you may be able to help me.  I'm hoping my story can give you a glimpse into our life and help you determine how or if any of your programs may assist me in better supporting my son.  Currently my son is barely attending school and is suffering anxiety and depression to the point he's been placed on an anti-depressant.  Of course we are seeing a therapist, Dr., etc. on a regular basis and my attorney will hopefully be addressing the legal issues as best he can.  But is there anything else I can do to help my son?  I've been a stay-at-home mother for 15+ years and will soon be forced to sell the home we've lived in for over 10 years, am facing financial hurdles and a future that is unknown.  All the while I'm feeling like a spectator in this process of divorce, having little sense of control over the direction of my or my children's lives.  I almost feel it would have been easier on the kids if I had just "sucked it up" and tried to continue living as a married couple.  What did saying "no more" get us?  I'm still being manipulated and abused, maybe not physically, but certainly mentally and emotionally and my husband is now armed with an additional weapon - the legal system.  I can tolerate just about anything, but seeing what this is doing to my kids is killing me - and I'm afraid I seem to be the only one seeing the damage being done.  Ok, sorry for the ranting, but hopefully the intensity of my concern for my kids, especially my son, is coming through.

As I mentioned, I have visited your site often, however, for the first time today I noticed you are based in Anderson, IN.   I too am a Hoosier!  I was born and raised in Lapel, Indiana, graduated from Madison Heights High and still have a brother living in Anderson.  I relocated to Arizona in 2000 but am still a Hoosier at heart!  Call it Divine Intervention or something but knowing you were based in Indiana made me look a little further - specifically into the online parent coaching.  I'm really thinking it would help me to get some reassurance and support regarding issues with my son.  Obviously in this whole process of splitting up, it's really been just trying to survive, keep things together and as normal as possible for the kids.  There's been little time for healing myself - that will have to come later.  But I do recognize my lack of confidence and insecurities as a woman and a parent can play a huge factor (good or bad) in how I am able to support my children through this.   Perhaps having someone to bounce things off via email when I'm questioning myself or need ideas or advice in handling issues with my son is just what I need.  My typical hour long therapy session is good, but somewhat limited by time and my ability to connect face to face.  I feel more comfortable behind the screen.

Again, sorry for the lengthy note.  I'd really appreciate it if you would take a moment and consider if any of your services may be useful.  I'm looking to expand my knowledge to better assist my son through this process.  I really believe one of the best things I can do for both my kids is to reassure them everything will be ok - no matter what the future looks like - I'll still be there for them.   And in order to do that I have to BELIEVE it myself and learn to trust myself and empower myself.  Thanks so much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you Mr. Hutten.


Hi Mark!  I have a daughter with HFA and bought your e-book awhile back.  Well, just starting with it now and am very HOPEFUL this will help our entire house.  2 questions for you:
1.  Megan, my daughter, has been in a MAJOR flare-up for almost 2 months now.  Due to her stage 3 kidney disease, we just now have it under control.  HOWEVER, the NEGATIVE behaviors that came along with it (PANDAS) are NOW her natural response when she is upset, frustrated, etc.  She uses the F bomb, spits, and destroys a room.  There is NO talking to her when she is in this place.  Her 2 brothers know this is wrong and usually lock themselves in their rooms for safety sake. Any suggestions?  Am I just supposed to let her call me a F'n lady and destroy things?

2.  She is "sweet as pie" at school (she is at a small Montessori school), yet if something has her mad, it all comes out in the car and at home.  I used to think this was all behavioral, but the autism experts tell me this is where she feels safe.  What is your take on this?  BTW, she won't communicate with me about what the problem is and trying to figure it out only makes things worse.

Thank you for your time!  Today we are going to start week 1 in our home. 


Dear Mark,

I listened to the video about your book but my daughter is 5 years old so thought I'd email you for advice. 

I have had my little lady at a specialist who said she has some asperger traits but because she's so clever and because I have put a lot of work into educating her, she copes well. 

The issue isn't crisis point and she does pretty much as I ask her but if she's doing something she likes (jumping on the sofa) and I tell her not to with the reasons why, she gives me reasons why she likes doing it.  I then have to put her through to her room as she will not stop when I have asked her to stop.  I know it seems a small thing but it could potentially be a big thing if it's not dealt with in the right way.  We both live with my mum at the moment.  My mum tells me that my daughter is being defiant but I think she genuinely doesn't have the concept that other people's feelings matter or that she needs to respect that.  I know she's only 5 years old but she's incredibly bright for her age in some ways so my mum sees her behaviour as defiant.  How do I discipline her without her throwing an almighty Tantrum that lasts all night because she doesn't give up her reasons for doing certain things despite the effect it has on others never mind the sofa..... I hope this email makes sense and that you can help.....?


Hi Mark,

 I LOVE my boyfriend to death. He has aspergers but does not know it. It is very obvious though. I think it is so beautiful, and while at times frustrating, I have grown to really admire the qualities that are so specific to him. We have been dating for the last 1.5 years. We have had stretches of pure bliss, and times of a rollercoaster type relationship. The bad times seem to be sparked by me.. wanting more.. whether more of a partnership or more affection and communication. I have learned to back off in these times for the most part. But this past month, I guess I had some outside stress going on, and I couldn't seem to cut off the complaining commentary. His parents just came to town to visit. I met his mom for the first time. We all hung out for 4 days straight, and then all of a sudden he started getting pretty rude towards me. we spent the last night that they were here apart. He talked about how miserable he was and that he wants the relationship to be over and that we need to talk about how to move apart and separate. The next day, while we took his parents to the airport, he acted normal like nothing happened. We slept together that night and cuddled a little bit, but never talked about him breaking up with me. The next morning I brought it up and tried to apologize for complaining lately. he was very stern in saying that the relationship is over and its not what he wants, etc. There is no negotiating it. He didn't have time to talk but said that we needed to talk about separating and finances at some point. This was yesterday morning. We have gone through this before, and it eventually blew over. But it seems a lot more serious this time. He was talking about how I wedge my way in with everyone in his life - parents.. friends.. etc. His parents really liked me.. maybe he got jealous? And yeah, his friends always reach out to me because I'm a quicker responder and better communicator, but I am in no way trying drive a wedge between them at all!! But, that is what he sees in his mind. I know he is not truly miserable (maybe right now he is). But whenever there is conflict, he seems to totally forget the good times and that he was happy right before that. There's no discussing it with him either. 

So all day yesterday, I didn't call or text him. Right after work, I went to my friend's house where I stayed until almost midnight. Right before I got home, he texted me and asked if I was okay... which is abnormal for him to do. I didn't see it until I was home so I didn't reply. He was staying up waiting for me it seemed. So, I went to bed... no words spoken... and he initiated sex.. and then we cuddled all night again. Then this morning, when he got up, it was just this "dead" feeling again. No talking on either of our behalfs. 

I really don't know where to go from here. I do not want it to be over at all. I have had the most pain I've ever experienced in the last few days. I want it to blow over. So, this time I'm avoiding talking about it. Being more distant.. Trying to let him come to me. But, do you think there is hope? Do you have advice of how to communicate to him in a way that he will listen and we could possibly move past this. I know if we can get past this, I will be much more aware of myself and complaining. Reading your book really helped. He can't help the lack of affection/emotions. But he does show he cares in his own ways. I love that so much about him.

Any advice would be appreciated. For now, I'll just keep being silent.


My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years. When I met his son, I noticed right away that he was more unsocial and sort of void in expression most of the time. As time went by, I would mention to my husband that I felt Cole must have some sort of high functioning autism or Aspergers. He would deny it, but after time, he has come around a bit and mentions during conversations that I think he has some sort of Aspergers "or something". Problem is, Cole is now 20 years old. I read so much about teens with HFA but not much about young adults. Do you talk to the child at the age of 20 and tell them your thoughts? Do they get diagnosed at that age? And if so... it seems more knowledge and understanding than anything. 
Cole has never been one to throw a tantrum, and he is willing to put the game down for a minute to do an errand... I appreciate all of that. 
He does play games ALL of the time when he is home. My husband doesn't find issue with it at all. He's glad that Cole isn't out partying or getting into trouble. I told him that I agree, but this is its own kind of wrong... sitting on the computer or xbox ALL OF THE TIME. We did make him get a job. This took a couple of years. Now that job ended and he just got another job, or he was going to have to move out, cause he needs to pay rent and car insurance. (He didn't get his license til we made him either.) The job hunting was hard too, cause he doesn't want to deal with the public and would overlook so many job openings due to disinterest. He finally is working at Office Max. 
I guess I'm just asking for answers to the above questions if possible. Or even finding info that would help with a young adult HFA.


Good morning,

I am looking for a counselor with Asperger experience for my husband and I.  He is 52 yrs old with a later in life diagnosis.  He travels for work so we need online counseling as I am not with him during the week.  We have been married since 1998 and have tried counseling for many years which did not work since it did not address the Asperger issues.  I am exhausted and deflated.  If I could support our 5 children by myself, I would have left years ago.

Our income is 125,000 a year for a family of 7 (we have 3 boys on the Autism spectrum as well.

Please let me know if you are taking new clients and what the fee would be for long term therapy.


My teenager is totally out of control and abuses me verbally won't listen to me my mother sides with her my mother abused me and I am bipolar and very sick with chf they take advantage of me because I am mentally ill and take advantage of that situation I am widowed My husband sometimes had control of our daughter she is very strong willed at school she acts shy and lets others push her around gets bullied and at home she is very vocal I think someone at a friends house is abusing her or she is depressed or someone at school is abusing her she use to go to school HC with panties come home without panties I just don't know what to do and can no longer reach her afraid for her actions I don't think anyone is safe around her she becomes very violent at times this weekend she was hitting her friend for chicken when she had food on her plate when I told her to stop she hit her more...

Lost on what to do in Holland(?)


Hello Mark,

I am wondering if it is possible for a child to have 2 evaluations (at ages 13 and 15) by 2 different agencies, be diagnosed with ADHD-Not Otherwise Specified and ADHD-Inattentive Type, but have HFA instead.  I guess what I’m really asking is if you’ve ever heard of someone having a very atypical presentation of HFA but still being diagnosed with HFA.  For instance, instead of the typical stims of rocking and hand-flapping, the stims are ballet-spins and constantly singing out loud unconsciously.  

All of my daughter’s issues seem to line up with HFA at this point, rather than ADHD (she’s a senior in high school now).  Her 1st evaluator indicated “Savannah has an unusual presentation which warrants continued monitoring for emergence of more severe psychopathology.” I’m wondering if my daughter could have been so high functioning and had such an atypical presentation of HFA that it was missed.  Have you ever heard of this happening and, if so, where does someone go next for a proper diagnosis?

My son has aspergers. I am going to give him this information about Skype appointments and see if he is interested.
He has some serious paranoia problems that arise at times.
He just had one. He was arrested first time for acting aggressively and over reacting to a situation that was triggered by an incident.
I need to have him connect with someone right away because of a need for a mental consult for him.
Just wanted to know when you are available.

I and his brother have gone over your material and videos and I've tried to keep up on your facebook.
Please let me know when you are available.
I have been introducing your blog to my son with Aspergers. He is 33 and this year is starting to act out more. He just landed his first good job and he needs to keep it.
I knew he had some kind of autism when he was 3. But have not narrowed it down until the last 2 years. He is starting to understand a budget. But he does not have a handle on his thinking.


Hi Mark
I was called in school today to be informed that my 8 year old son has been caught kissing his 8 year old boy classmate several times this week. The teachers warned him and he still did it. They were even caught touching each other's private parts. How should I react to this? I'm in shock.. We have had several sex talks with him yet he did this..Should I purnish him/ ground him ? What would be effective enough for him to understand his behavior is wrong at his age?


Do you have any names to therapists n the Portland Oregon  see that are skilled in working with couples dealing with Asperers?

My husband and I are botj 57-yers-old, and has aspergers. We've been to counseling b4 but the clinicians have usually apply  their chosen form I couples therapy which simply doesn't work with asperger.  My husbands symptoms worsen a he ages any suggestions you could offer would be apprecited. My husband gets enraged when I try n talk w him about anything related to his behaviors.  There is no right time Or way to speak n tells me he wouldn't do B if I just didn't Do A. Common yet needing help. 

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