Recently Diagnosed Children with High-Functioning Autism: Tips for Newbie Parents

“My 6 y/o son Josh was recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism (2 weeks ago). I have always noticed there were some issues, and now things are starting to make sense. I have a mixed bag of emotions right now. I’m new to all of this and have quite a bit to learn. I’m not sure where to start or what parenting changes I should make – if any. My question is - what methods should you use to discipline your kiddos when they have misbehaved (e.g., hitting friends, annoying his sister, has screamed at teachers… just to name a few)? Right now we are using a simple "reward" chart, which doesn’t seem to have much of an impact (so far). Any tips for a newbie will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!”

While it may be heartbreaking to say goodbye to the son you thought you had (i.e., a “typical” child with “quirks” rather than some “disorder”), you can say hello now to the son who needs you just as much - if not more - as you get to know his unique personality, and you can fall in love with your newly-diagnosed child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) – formerly referred to as Asperger’s – all over again in ways you could have never imagined.

Acceptance-levels vary among parents. When their child is recently diagnosed with HFA, some parents come to acceptance almost immediately -- and even feel a sense of relief that there is a name for what has been going on. Other parents need more time to arrive at acceptance, and that's O.K. Then there are a few parents who seem to never accept the fact that their child has special needs and struggle with the diagnosis for a life-time.

In the beginning, be sure to look at your grief. It doesn't help to pretend to be positive when underneath you may be lonely, afraid or sad. The longing for the typical youngster or a typical existence may endure. You have to learn to live with that yearning.

Take some breaks for yourself. Your son’s treatment is important – but it isn't everything! As you get involved in the HFA community, your isolation will lessen. Granted, it is not what you were expecting, but the experience can be very rewarding and meaningful.

As you begin to get more involved in the HFA community, there will be more activity and company of others. This involvement will help you feel more “normal” because it provides more chances for interaction with other parents who are in the same boat as you. Over time, life and ideals change, and you will begin to dream new dreams for your real world.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Aspergers and HFA

Here are some simple – yet very important – “parenting changes” you will want to consider (some of these strategies will be new to you, others won’t):

1. Your HFA son must learn to appropriately communicate the cause of his aggression and get his needs met through that insight. The use of “social stories” is a great way to accomplish this goal. More information on this subject can be found here.

2. Your son will need clear routines, and if there have to be changes, he will need lots of warning.

3. You should let school staff know if your son is sensitive to certain sounds, smells or being touched. This will help them develop appropriate plans for him.

4. You do not have a “typical” child. You can view the issue as a disability, or you can view it as wonderful uniqueness – or you can view it as both! The "disability” viewpoint will help because it eliminates blame, sets reasonable expectations thereby minimizing anger, and points the way for you and your son’s teachers to see themselves as "therapists" – not victims. The “wonderful uniqueness” viewpoint will help because you really are in for a special – and often quite enjoyable – experience as a parent of an HFA child.

5. Be sure that you fully understand the difference between tantrums and meltdowns. More information on this subject can be found here.

6. Try some behavior modification. You must determine what need the “bad” behavior is fulfilling, and then teach your son a replacement behavior that will satisfy the need.

7. Think of the social world as a variety of "relationship road maps" that your son needs to perceive accurately and use talking tools to be able to follow.

8. Plan ahead. Give warnings before transitions. Discuss in advance what is expected, and what the results might be. Have your son repeat out loud the terms he just agreed to.

9. Pick your fights carefully. Is the issue at hand worth chipping away at your relationship with your son? Can your son really control the offending behavior at this moment?

10. Offer ways of understanding humor or typical childhood banter that uses available environmental cues.

11. Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate. Moms and dads need to model negotiation, not inflexibility. You always gets to decide when negotiation is over and which compromise is accepted.

12. You did not cause autism in your son, so do not blame yourself.

13. Know that HFA kids are emotionally younger than their chronological age. So if your 6-year-old is still acting like a 3-year-old on occasion, things are going as expected.

14. Keep a sense of humor!!!

15. It may be helpful for you to arrange to attend a staff meeting to inform school staff about HFA and what this means for your son.

==> How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with Aspergers and HFA

16. Be glad you discovered your son has HFA when you did – he’s only 6! It is better to find out that a child has the disorder now than to wait until he or she is much older. There are many things you can do to make your son’s future the best it can be. The sooner a parent gets the child into treatment, the better his or her future will be.

17. Instead of punishing wrong behavior, set a reward for the correct behavior you would rather replace it with. Rewards should be immediate, frequent, powerful, clearly defined, and consistent.

18. If the pressure on your son to conform in school is too great, if he faces constant bullying/teasing/rejection, or if your principal and teaching staff do not cooperate with you, then it may be time to find another school. If you decide to work within a public school system, you may have to hire a lawyer to get needed services. Your son should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations for the learning disabled. This may mean placement in small classes, tutors, and special arrangements for gym and lunchtime. Also, he should receive extra time for tests and examinations.

19. Teach your son to find a "safe place" at school where he can share emotions with a trusted staff member. The safe place may be the school nurse, guidance counselor, or psychologist.

20. If anxiety is so overwhelming that it is interfering with your son’s ability to manage normal activities, medication may be helpful. See your doctor to discuss this.

21. Know that “High-Functioning Autism” is just a label …it’s not a death sentence.

22. Help your son’s teachers to think about the best way to teach him and make changes to the classroom that will help his learning experience. Teachers will also want to know about the ways that you have learned to manage your son's behavior and any special routines or interests that he has and how he communicates.

23. Get to know your son’s teacher and meet regularly, along with your son, to talk about any issues that arise.

24. At the end of a “bad” day, forgive your son – and yourself. You didn’t ask to live with the effects of HFA any more than he did.

25. Find a support group. There are many organizations that want to help parents with “special needs” kids.

26. Fatigue after school is often a problem, and facing up to homework at the end of the day can be very stressful. You may need to negotiate with your son’s teachers about the learning objectives of homework and what he actually needs to do. Since many children with HFA can focus well in some classes (especially those that are built on “facts”), they may not need the repetitive learning tasks that other children need for some subjects.

27. Consistent behaviors and expectations will help reduce your son's negative behaviors. Daily routine creates stability and comfort for HFA children. Also, it helps to lessen their need to make demands on parents. When you establish a routine, you eliminate some of the situations in which your son becomes demanding (e.g., by building in regular times to give him attention, he may have less need to show aggression to try to get your attention).

28. Don't be ashamed or try to “hide” your son’s disorder. Most people know someone or love someone with autism, and speaking openly about it may help in finding others who need and want to talk about the disorder and their children.

29. Don’t argue or nag. Instead, either (a) decide that the issue is aggravating, but not significant enough to warrant intervention, or (b) simply issue a consequence.

30. Do you want to understand your HFA child`s actions? Just ask yourself: “What behavior would make sense if you only had 10 seconds to live?”

31. Celebrate your son’s unique humor, creativity, and passion.

32. Be "concrete" with your son. Tell him that the inappropriate thing he wants, or the unacceptable behavior that he is demonstrating, is not allowed. He needs to follow structured, consistent rules that will assist in modifying his behavior. Don't give in to hitting, throwing things, or yelling, no matter how hard it is not to.

33. As other children become more sophisticated with interpersonal relationships, it can become more difficult for a child with HFA to be involved in friendship groups, although they may be able to participate well in special interest groups (e.g., science groups). When managing social interactions is difficult, some solitary time can be needed and should not be seen as a “problem'.”

34. You will make it through this – you have no choice. Always keep the following ideas in the back of your mind:
  • this is hard work – and it is also hard work for your HFA child
  • the child who needs love and understanding the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways
  • the client in autism is the whole family
  • negative behaviors usually occur because the HFA child is spinning out of control, not because he is evil

In conclusion, please resist your impulse to strive and struggle to CHANGE your HFA child …don’t strain to get desired results. Instead, enjoy the process of the work you are doing in raising him. The results you so desperately desire will come independently of your striving for them. Why? Because (a) you are doing a great job of parenting in spite of your opinion about your “parenting-skills” and (b) kids on the autism spectrum are late-bloomers. They “get it” eventually.

Enjoy the journey. Take heart. And don’t forget to take care of yourself!!!

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


•    Anonymous said… ABA therapy did wonders for my ASD kiddo, and for myself. It helped outline what I should and shouldn't be doing and gave me step by step instructions on how to obtain the results I wanted.
•    Anonymous said… Also recently diagnosed kids but we've been following positive parenting approaches loads of positive praise and generally turning our back on bad behaviour which is attention seeking. We make sure to remove him from any situation where he can hurt others.
•    Anonymous said… Check out "The Autism Discussion Page" on Facebook. Bill has lots of very specific advice based on years of experience. He's also turned his posts into books. They were so helpful to me when my son first received his diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said… He's 15 now, and has grown fond of praise but has a much greater affection for sarcasm and practical logic.
•    Anonymous said… I'd look for local support groups both on-line and in person. Other autism moms are going to be your best resource for information. The city I live in has both an Aspergers and a autism group that we belong to. As far as educational support that really depends on your situation. Our son has an IEP but medical diagnosis does not automatically mean school support. The rest depends on what challenges your kiddo has and you go from there. We do OT, psychologist, and psychiatrist for med management. Also do a great special needs gymnastics class which teaches social skills. Good luck it's overwhelming in the beginning figuring out where to get the support to help your child.
•    Anonymous said… If he was just dx then the phsychologist/phsychiatrist should refer you to behavior therapy and all other needed servi es.
•    Anonymous said… I'm in the learning stage too as my six year old son is currently being assessed for Autism and other disorders. It has really been rough for the family since he turned six. I just want to help him so that he can grow up as a functional man.
•    Anonymous said… My advice is. Go easy on the discipline because these issues are complex. Best to remove your child from the situation for cool down time. After he collects himself, talk to him about making a better choice next time. My 10 yo boy was diagnosed Aspie one year ago.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter was diagnosed a month ago. Where is the support for these kids?
•    Anonymous said… My son always identified positive praise in a negative way. Someone who shuts down when recieving too much attention is not receptive to positive reinforcement. I could tell he knew we were being patronizing and he didn't deserve rewards for acting

•    Anonymous said… Pick your battles . Never become confrontational....if possible work on the reward chart with him so it's aligned to his need. We found with our son 12yr aspie that we had to constantly change the chart as boredom set in.
•    Anonymous said… Try removing him from the 'irritation' and engaging him with his 'go to/calming' activity (be it a comforter toy or a book or ...?) and then before he re-enters a similar situation talk to him about what he could do instead of getting overwhelmed.
•    Anonymous said… We use job cards and they have been working. It also helps having him know how to take care of and do things when and if he lives in his own someday. Nothing huge, but little tasks seem to work.
•    Anonymous said…I agree with easy on the discipline. Disicpline for our son has rarely worked at all. Our approach has been more of a rehearsing. We practice different situations and talk about how he should handle it if/when it happens. We practice calming techniques. We practice giving him the words to say. That way when he is in a situation we can calmly remind him how he could respond. There are some times when a consequence obviously has to happen. We outlined beforehand what those consequences would be witb input from our son. Reward charts have never worked. Our son is mow almost 12 and was also diagnosed at 6. There is no fool proof answer, and for us we just have learned as we go. Good luck.  :)

Post your comment below…

What I Want My High-Functioning Autistic Child's Teacher To Know

Dear Teacher,

At times, some of my child's behaviors may irritate his peers – and you! Please know that this is normal and expected. Try not to let the difficult days color the fact that you are a wonderful teacher with a challenging situation.

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for Feb., 2017]

 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.


I emailed you a while back and you mentioned that I could email when I needed to. Thank you. I last wrote you in December that my son became involved in a dispute involving the local police. We have had 3 court dates. It keeps delaying due to not being able to come to an agreement. But the attorney, even though he was just vaguely familiar with Aspergers, has been very good with Craig. He has the compassion and excellence that is needed here. What started out very bad is turning into a good thing. It will probably take another 90 days or more.

But Craig is working hard. Too hard sometimes. He goes to therapy 3 times a week. Doing excellent. He's more focused and can calm down easier. He's got a lot on his plate but has support from his family. From his attorney. From therapy. And from his work.

 He has been renting a room from a lady who has a son with ADHD. It is good for him. I'm a little worried though because since she smokes he wants to find his own place. With all the costs he has to balance it out financially. That is good. I can't help him more than I am which is good. He is stepping up and taking responsibility. He is listening much better.

He is going to have an evaluation today to get an accurate diagnosis. I understand that is a little difficult since he is an adult. Also the PTSD may cover it over. The attorney stated it would help to have the diagnosis.

Aware this is a long update, but thanks for reading. I am fighting much guilt still but I have a lot of peace now. My daughter and her 4 year old son also have Aspergers symptoms. So my life chapters may not close for a while. :-)


Hi Mark,

My name is Mac. I'm sure you're quite busy, so I'll get right to it I just wanted to pass on compliments on My Aspergers Child and your post, How to Implement the GFCF Diet: Tips for Parents of Autistic Children.

Me and my wife absolutely loved it!

Have a great day!

Best Regards,




I got a facebook message from him today begging to be able to come home saying he misses home and he will change.  He says he will follow rules now. I stated to him the simple rules he has to follow which were - No weed in my house, or smoked in my house, coming home at curfew, going to school, no skipping, no drugs at school, and to drop the attitude of I am 17 I can do whatever I want.

I have made it very clear that if I see any drugs in my home I will be calling the police, as well as if I see signs of it being sold by him I will report him. (He has never had selling amounts in my house, ... I believe it's being kept at his "friends" which of course I have no proof of....I just know it is not here.
I know my battle is not over by a long shot, I am sure we will have more consequences and possibly another being kicked out, but I am going to think positive and hope that he learned some form of a valuable lesson here.

Thank you so much for the guidance, never in a million years did I ever think I'd be on this side, (the one needing the help, as I am the one who helps.)

I am going to go back to the start of the program like I said earlier and keep notes close by for reference.

Thanks for all you do, helping us all with ODD children/teens 


I have a small company providing educational support services to a few families who have children with various disabilities in Ohio.  One of the families has multiple adopted children of whom several have significant attachment disorders including RAD.  As an experienced teacher and foster parent I have some experience in working with children who have extensive trauma backgrounds.  However, I could use additional training.  Also working with these children are two staff members with minimal background in attachment disorders who would also benefit from training primarily in behavior management.  The primary caregiver to the children does a wonderful job managing their needs.  In order to further develop team cohesion, I'm hoping to include her in any training as well.  

Is it possible to schedule such a training session with you?  If so, please let us know what will work for you including time, place, and cost.  Thank you for your assistance.


Hi Mark,

I just listed to your tapes on dealing with an out of control, defiant teen.  I'd like to ask your advice on a particular situation we have.  Our 15 year old daughter is smoking pot almost every day at school.  Because we had no way to control the situation, we told her, fine, go ahead and smoke weed.  However, you will no longer receive the same support from us.  You will not have your phone, lunch money to go off campus (she has an account at the school for the cafeteria she can use), and you will be grounded until you can pass a drug test.  We will not be testing you except for when you tell us you are ready to be tested.  She is now saying she's suicidal because she feels so isolated, yet she continues to smoke weed.  In fact, she tried to sneak out last night but was foiled by our alarm system.  For the particular drug test we have, I read it takes about 10 days of not smoking to pass the test.  What would you do?  Please advise.


Hi Mr. Hutten,

I am having a problem with my 18 year old son, Danny, with high functioning autism. We finally had him diagnosed when he was 16 years old. I always knew something was going on with him but the doctors misdiagnosed him as bipolar. It's been 2 years now and he will not accept his diagnosis. He won't talk about it and when I try to bring it up he gets very angry. I've tried telling him that it's not a bad thing, that there's been many, many very successful people with Aspergers. He won't tell anyone and refuses to learn about managing life with it. He once shared with me that the other kids at school use it as an insult, like saying someone is so autistic when they do something they don't approve of. So he doesn't want anyone to know. He's turned down services that could help him. He has a girlfriend, going on 8 months. He won't tell her and they're having problems arguing a lot and I wonder if it would help for her to know.
I'm sad that he thinks it's a life sentence to something horrible instead of accepting, embracing it and learning about it more so he maybe can understand why he's struggling. I told him that he doesn't need to shout it out to the whole world but he won't even accept it himself.
I don't know how to help him with it and because he's almost 19 I have limited control now. It's made my life easier knowing what we're dealing with and I think his life would be easier is he accepted it.
Please help me help him.


Hi Mark,

I am a clinical psychologist in NYC who now has several (!!) children I see who have RAD. In 20 years of practice, I’d seen only one case. Now, I have at least three children with this. I have no training, per se, in working with this children though I know about setting structure, consistency, etc. I do a lot of work with parents about parenting. I work primarily within the school setting in a charter school whose mission is to educate children on the autism spectrum in a mainstream setting. We use Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking program with our ASD kids. I also work with gen ed kids in the school who are at-risk; the school is in the inner city from where the majority of our non-ASD kids live.


It would have been so much easier to mention to my adult son that I think (I know he does, but want to ease into the subject)
he has Asperger's when we were living together two years ago.  He has since moved to Tennessee working in his field of interest
which is 3-D printing and software development.  I am so happy for him that he has found his way into a job that he truly enjoys
even though he's socially isolated.

He's not diagnosed and does not know he has it. How I know is his classic symptoms being sensory issues (fabric feeling like sandpaper)
communication difficulties, meltdowns and much more. Throughout his childhood I just felt he was a bit different.  Nothing major stood out and time
just passes, misdiagnosis of ADHD, low frustration, etc.  We've talked about his ADHD numerous times (which I now know he doesn't have).

It's so much easier to communicate with him now that I know he has Asperger's.  I keep it "slow and low" in talking, with long moments
of silence and then we connect.  It's really too bad that Asperger's got a diagnostic code back in the 90's, yet all the so called doctors,
physiologist's, etc, didn't know how to diagnose it.  Too bad.

There seems to be no one answer to "should I tell my adult son he has Asperger's" from a few specialists I asked.  He is typical Asperger,
complicated, highly intelligent (high IQ), anxiety at times, socially isolated, hard to make friends. Not knowing how he will react is the hard part.
How will he be better off knowing he has it?  Do I wait to tell him in person, or ease into it with him over Skype?   He likes direct, honest, concrete communication.
Why is this so hard for me?  Maybe because no one know's if he is going to be better off knowing or not. Do you know if people are better off
knowing?  I try to get up the courage to just let him know, then I back down.


Dear Mark,
I have been searching the web looking for advice and came upon your site. I am trying to read blogs, websites, books, and articles to help guide me. I was so happy when you said that I could ask you a question. My husband and I are struggling with my 27 year old son who lives with us.

Kyle is the youngest of 4 sons. He is a college graduate but never could find the "right" job. He has always been quiet and never had a lot of friends. Two years ago, his girlfriend broke up with him. Kyle had an online gambling addiction and was using pot all the time. After the breakup, Kyle was very depressed and started using heroin and finally told my husband he was using. He is now seeing a psychiatrist who has him on suboxone and antidepressants. He is also seeing a psychologist weekly for counseling but it does not seem to be helping.

 Last October,, Kyle lost his job, got drunk, and was agitated and came home , fighting with us, damaging our home and being verbally abusive. My other son , age 32, who also lives with us called the police and Kyle got arrested. He is currently in the family court system. He went through an anger management course and now is in substance abuse classes.  Kyle continues to verbally abusive to me and blame me for everything. He says he "hates me "and calls me terrible names. At times, he pushes my husband and intimidates me. My husband and I are so upset. We just hired an attorney for him because since he has been going to these classes, he is getting more depressed and not getting better. Kyle continues to drink while taking his meds prescribed by the psychiatrist and then he has his "moods." My husband and I have met once with the psychiatrist just to give him background information when Kyle started with him.

At this point, we do not know what to do. We never thought at this stage of our life, we would be supporting and spending our retirement money on adult children. I do not know why Kyle hates me, I could not have been a better mom. My husband and I have no life and just do not know what it the right path we should take. Kyle does not want anything to do with us. He spends all his time in his room playing football online.We have tried tough love versus caring and love and understanding. Do you have any advice for me?


This whole ODD and ADHD is killing me as a parent. I work in the field of adult psych and addictions so I am well educated. I have been dealing with my teen being like this for almost 3 years and I totally lost my cool today with my 17-year-old son to the point I told him he is out of the house. He can never simple rules, comes and goes as he pleases sometimes doesn't come home, just recently back in school from several suspension for drug related... I am just so exhausted.  He has made me hate life, hate being a parent and sometimes I just feel like not even being here. I bought your program in hopes to it would help, I am at week three and I feel things are getting worse... what am I doing wrong??


My partner hasn't been diagnosed yet but I know he has aspergers to day is a struggle . I feel I'm going crazy with how he makes me feel.Feel let down constantly. He lies alot but I've been told they can't but I know he does.I just feel trapped and unloved.We have a 4yr old daughter together and my main worry with how he is that it will effect our daughter ; (his skills as a parent are so weak.He can't disapline at all.Feel so alone .he hides it well too.I just wondered if things will get worse? He's angry so quick in arguments.Scares me etc.I can't leave as he's the main bread winner and our daughter loves him to bits.Don't know why I'm writing this..Sorry if I'm going on and not making sense :(


Dear Colleague,

I wanted to let you know about a research opportunity for children, teens, and young adults with autism. I am studying the effects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and psychotherapy on helping people with autism develop subjective awareness of others.

I am writing you to see if this might help someone in your practice, or to see if you might know of someone with autism who may benefit from participating in this study. The requirements of the study will be:

1.      A participant should be between 7-21 years of age and have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
2.      The participant should enroll in an approved Jiu Jitsu Academy and attend at least two sessions a week for a period of six months.
3.      The participant should enroll in social skills groups, provided by my office or be in a steady psychotherapeutic relationship in your office, at least once a week, or minimally two to three times a month.
4.      The participant will be given a SRS (Social Responsiveness Scale) test at the beginning of the study, at three months, and again at six months.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from this novel approach to helping to develop social awareness in autism, please do not hesitate to contact me for further information.



I have a 10 year old daughter who has outbursts with prolonged crying almost like tantrums that 2 year olds have when they cannot express themselves.

I had her in therapy from age 6-8 years old for the same thing but I feel that the sessions didn't really help much.

She has severe sensitivities to light, sound, vibration, frequencies which trigger irritability and crying.

We changed her diet and tried getting her involved with activities but she is anti-social and prefers reading than being social. She is terrified of change even in daily routine (even that will trigger prolonged crying).

It frustrates me because I don't know what else to do with her behavior.
I've tried acupuncture (she refused at the first session); she refuses massage too.

She is an honor-roll student at school and has very minimal issues at school but if she has had a bad day it does result in a tantrum or crying and defiance.

How can I get her tested for Asperger's Syndrome?



Last night our 24 year old son with Aspergers told his dad and I that he is pulling out of the 4 college classes that he recetnly enrolled in because he has not  been attending class or turning in his assignments.  He paid $2800 (his own money) for tuition and I reminded him of this when he told us but it did not seem to bother him. 

This is the 3rd time he has started college courses and has not completed them. (He also took some concurrent college classes while he was in high school that he failed).  This is a son who basically had a 4.0 grade point average through 10th grade and got a 34 on the ACT the first time he took it.

With the news that he was once again not sticking with college courses I did not sleep well.  When I got up this mornning I began looking online for help in how to deal with his situation.  I found your "Launching Adult Children With Aspergers" and purchased it.  Most of what is included are things we have done or did with our son throughout his life.  I was hoping for more help so I am emailing you now in hopes of more specific ideas.

We noticed some things with our son, Taylor, as a yound child but as we had not heard of Aspergers at that time we just did what we thought would help him.  As a toddler and a child at pre-school he generally went off on his own to play.  When I talked to his pre-school teacher about my concerns (that I was worried he would end up a hermit) she said she did not see him being a loner and that he seemed to interact fine with others in many situations.  We worked with him on making eye contact when talking with others. We explained different emotions in people's faces and mannerisms to help him know how to interact with others.  We discussed the fact that people would say things that did not mean what they souneded like - such as "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse".  As we did these things he worked hard to better understand communication with others.

During his 4th grade year I had a teacher from the gifted program ask me if I had ever heard of Aspergers.  I told her that I had not heard of it.  She proceeded to read me some of the charateristics and so many of them described my son.  So we had him tested by the school district during the summer between 4th and 5th grade and they did find that he had Aspergers but that he was high functioning.  We then set him up with and EIP which stayed with him until his sophomore year.  We pulled him from it at that time because we had moved and the new district was requiring him to take one class a day that was a study class.  This reduced the number of required classes he could take and he was doing fine with his studies at the time.

It was during the 2nd half of his Junior year that we noticed some of his grades going down.  Then during his Senior year is when he started skipping classes and not doing assignments.  We had not realized it before then but we soon became aware that he was addicted to gaming.  He would go to the library or somewhere else on campus and play games on the computer rather than go to class.  It was also at this time that he began lying about his actions (so as not to get in trouble).

Based on his grades and his ACT score he received offers from colleges for full tuition scholarships.  He chose the college where he had taken concurrent classes during his high school years.  But he proceeded to skip class and not turn in assignments so he lost his scholarship and quit attending college.  During this time he was only able to find employment through an employment agency where he was mostly sent to manuel labor type jobs (which is not something he enjoys but he did it anyway).  It was during this time that at one place had gone to on numerous occasions he was told if he came late one more time they would tell the emplyment agency they did not want him to come there anymore.  (This seemed to make an impression on him because he has continued to be reliable and responsbile at his places of employment).

At 19 1/2 he left to serve a 2 year full-time mission for our church.  He completed his mission successfully. (I don't think it was without some struggle, stress and depression, but he was able to pick himself up and move on from those times).

When he came home he started working for the employment agency again but began looking for employment elsewhere.  He got a job at a local Chick Fil-A where he has worked for 3 years.  He started college again shortly after he came home but as before it was short lived.  He did finish out the semester but failed most of the classes due to his skipping class and not turning in assignments.  When he skipped class he would usually sleep in his car.

Taylor's life consists of working (where to the best of our knowledge) he does well, he is reliable and his employer likes him.  When he comes home from work he either sleeps or plays video games or other games - such as kakuro.  He spendes most of his time in the basement where his bedroom is and this is where he games.  Taylor owns his own car, bought his own laptop and very rarely spends money.  He pays us $200 /month to still live at home, unloads the dishwasher on a regular basis and does the weekly garbage. However, his room is a mess and he only cleans his bathroom when I tell him he needs to clean it.

Taylor used to read quite a bit and loved to learn.  It has just been in his adult years that he has not read as much - I think because of his gaming addiction.  Taylor goes to church on a regular basis but sleeps through the main meeting.  In Sunday class room settings he stays awake - I think because he is able to particpate in discussions.

Taylor has only had 2 real friends since entering Junior High school.  And as of now he only keeps in contact with one of them who still lives in Georgia.  We have lived in Utah since the summer of 2007 and he has never had a friend to do things with since we have lived here.  He has two younger siblings, a brother 22 and a sister 20.  They love Taylor and spend time with him when they are home.  They are both at college and doing well.

Throughout Taylor's school years he has seen a counsleor on a fairly regular basis.  One summer during junior high he attended a weekly class where he interacted with other kids with Aspergers.  We did see a lot of change in him from this group.  After he returned from his mission he went to see a counselor for a short period - this counselor tried to help him with some social skills.  His dad and I went with him the first 3 or 4 times but we found out that after we quit going with him he only went a few more times and then scheduled appointments but did not show a couple of the times.  We only found this out when a bill came for a "no show" appointment.

I don't know if this is too much information but were are in dire need of help for him.  In the information that we purchased from you you mentioned that you do coaching for Aspergers adults.  I don't know if you can help us but I thought I would check with you just in case.


Hello Mark
Alas I think I have found your information too late to save my marriage but I am hoping to save myself.
I am currently going through a very very painful separation after a 27 year relationship with my husband whom I am convinced has aspergers syndrome. It is a long and painful story and I am desperately trying to process it all alongside dealing with a very conflictual separation. My partner is angry non communicative and totally dismissive of me and our long shared history.
He walked out last year after I discovered he had been visiting massage parlours and developed a relationship with an illegal Chinese escourt whom he subsequently moved in with. He had been seeing this woman behind my back for over 18 months. The pain of all this indescribable and his dismissal of my pain and very existence beyond belief.
Leading up to this I had been battling  anxiety and depression which my husband found very hard to cope with.
Over the years of our relationship I knew something was off but I just could not put my finger on it. I often felt a complete lack of validation and empathy. Communication was also difficult as my husband was defensive and unwilling to look at issues in our marriage.
Please Mark could you help me validate some of this pain and try and make dense of 27 years of my life without drowning in fear guilt and despair about my future.
Thank you for listening and your site.


I have had problems with drunkenness, being late for school, not handing in school work, buying pot from a dealer etc. I chose to focus on the drinking and did the grounding then (grounding happened 3 times). I also stopped sleep overs at friends 100%. I have stopped handing out money for no reason or even buying treats like chocolate.

I did lose it one evening (and didn't do the poker face) when I was trying to unplug the internet at midnight on a school night (she’s always late for school so I am trying to get her to sleep at a reasonable hour). I was physically stopped and pushed around so I slapped my daughter (it was not hard). This ended up with her saying she didn’t want to come home (the next day after school). By this stage, I also had enough and didn’t go get her. I thought I am not begging. You will run out of money soon. It was quite a relief to have some peace. Daughter’s Dad was in town (from another country) and called a family meeting with the counsellor. To cut a long story short, daughter and her counsellor put it on the table that daughter wants to go live somewhere else (with her friends family) because of the stress at home with me (we live on our own) (i.e. stricter rules and her bucking up against it).

I didn’t really want this but made a compromise that daughter would go there Tues morning – Friday afternoon as the friend is an A student whereas my daughter is failing. They do the same subjects. I made the decision at the end of the day based on what is good for me – some time away from the daughter. I also thought of your book when the child went to live with the grandparents – daughter will dig her own hole over at the friend’s house. They have a week day no going out policy which made me think it is OK. I went and discussed with them the problems experienced (drinking, pot, late nights, not handing in work)

I am also trying to follow the let go of school thing per your book. I find it really difficult to remain calm when I can see daughter on her phone and watching series (when I have her on the weekends) when I know there are projects due. I hired her a private tutor once a week for help with a subject. The tutor has just fired my daughter for not handing in work and being not committed. It’s not the first time private tutoring has not been appreciated. The school give me a report back on a Friday as to whether everything is handed in. The deal is – if the work is not handed in – no pocket money and no Friday night out). Her school is a "progressive" school and there are no repercussions for her being late or not handing in work. I would change schools if I could but there are only 8 months left of school (she turns 18 in August).


Hi Mark,
We have just completed the first week and beginning week two of your material.  We are agreeing with your take and see our son and ourselves in most of what you are saying.  Prior to finding your material and starting your program we had been having extreme out of control behaviors and had to call the police because he was breaking things in our house and pushed my husband.  This happened three weeks ago.  After that incident we took away privileges ie. PS4, phone (which had already been taken for a few days), and friends.  So, last week while doing your program he already didn’t have privileges and has continued with poor behavior – name calling, throwing things, slamming doors.  We are not sure when to give privileges back.  He has been given the privilege of playing with friends on occasion.  His 13th birthday is tomorrow.  This past weekend, for his birthday my husband and he went boar hunting. Of course we debated about it but decided to go ahead since it was his bday.    We are cooking some of the meet on the grill tomorrow night for his bday and inviting a couple of his friends over for a cookout.  No more gifts other than cards and balloons.  We are wondering if we should go ahead and give him his privileges back and not sure how to do it.  Last Friday morning we attempted to talk giving him a date to return privileges and that conversation ended with him getting angry but he gathered from our conversation that he is getting his stuff back on his bday.   We are starting week 2 assignments today but not sure how to handle what was already in place.  Of course, we aren’t seeing the respect and responsibility we are looking for but realize it has been a long time.  We were wanting him to pay for his phone and thought it might be a good time to introduce that idea.  Allowing him to earn his phone.  We expect that he will be angry with this idea and not sure how to implement. 


My son and myself are interested in a inpatient Aspergers program. We line in Calif which is preferable. My son is very high functioning and was diagnosed dry late. He was eight years old. He has never been in or attended a full day of class. Partially due to depression,anxiety, and trouble with his ADHD also his aversion and being bullied and of course his Aspergers. He will not attend his freshmen year due to surgery on both Achilles' tendons from walking on his toes. With physical therapy he should be ready by his sophomore year! We all feel he needs in patient therapy to give him the tools on how to work with his issues in a structured setting and a place that will give him tools for the rest of his life.


Dear Mark

In my utter desperation to find a way to get some help for my daughter's increasingly challenging behaviour I trawled the internet to see if I could find some strategies that would provide specific methods on dealing with teenagers with Asperger's syndrome. When I came across your website, I couldn't believe that every statement you made was exactly what I have been going through with my daughter. She has just turned 14 last week, and was diagnosed with Asperger's/ Autism Spectrum Disorder 15 months ago. I have already been seeing a child psychologist for the past five months, however the methods she has been advising have not been very effective.

Our main difficulty with our daughter is her overwhelming obsession to use her cell phone (and to a lesser extent her laptop) constantly. Without any restriction, she will be on it every minute of the day, and will be awake until the early hours every day. We have tried to incorporate her input around rules as to when she has to give in her phone, but she is unwilling to compromise on a time that she should give it to us, believing that she should have unlimited use. I believe she is unable to do any adequate study or homework, as she is constantly having to look at the phone. We have tried to put rules in place that she has to give in her phone and laptop on school nights at 22:15. If she is able to do this then she is given rewards, and if she doesn't then she knows that there will be consequences. The consequence has been restricted use the following day. However, this is usually where we fail, because taking her phone away from her results in tantrums, screaming, and even threatening to harm herself. This behaviour is relentless to the point where the whole family becomes deeply distressed, and inevitably results in her getting the phone back.

This obsession is affecting her schoolwork, and more severely her eyesight. She has become very shortsighted, and her eyesight continues to deteriorate as a result of holding the phone or laptop very close, and mostly in the dark without any lights on. My husband and I have a constant battle on our hands daily, in all areas of discipline with our daughter, but our main concern is that we have been unable to find a way to minimise this obsessive behaviour centred around her phone and laptop. Please can you provide some strategies that can help us specifically with this problem.


Hi Mark.

First of all, I thank you for developing this program and I am only at the first stage of assignment 1. I have loads of books I have bought, attended psychiatrists for my son and myself, family therapy, occupational therapy, begged and prayed for change but have been dealing with behavioural issues for so long I am definitely exhausted and resentful.

I am a mum to a 15 yr old boy with ASD, dyslexia, OCD and ODD. Sorry to focus on the labels but just to give you an idea of what I am dealing with. I also have a 13 yr old son whom finds his brother’s behaviours difficult, embarassing and challenging. My husband whom is not in great health ( he had a cerebral aneurysm clamped two years ago and has two further aneurysms that are inoperable so endures fatigue, headaches and stress). We have however a pet cat that is very social and a calming influence in the home! I was fortunate enough to have loving parents but I lost both my mum and dad in 2008 and 2015. My inlaws are elderly and quite directly say they are too old to help us so it feels we are alone in dealing with the issues we have.

I am desperate for change as the household is one of stress and anger and I feel all the control lies in my son Patrick’s hands. I am hopeful your programme can make life better for all of us but I wonder if it is too early to ask you two questions?

The first lies with what to do when Patrick goes into my other son Brendan’s room and will either turn on a light when he is sleeping, yell when he is on his phone or create some disturbance. He will not leave the room when asked to do so and the situation always escalates into yelling and Brendan attempting to physically remove him. This happens regularly and always ends badly with doors slamming, my husband being woken and myself in tears feeling the lack of control and also I admit I seem to think “Why me?” which rationally I know is of no help.

The second problem is leaving the house for school. Patrick refuses personal hygiene (either morning or night) and any request to even brush his teeth is fraught with swearing and abuse. If I can get him to shower, he will watch the water roll down the drain and turn up the water really high temp (mu husband has had to turn down the thermostat on the hot water service) without so much as getting wet. My husband leaves for work at 6am but I leave at 745 to work as a nurse in a busy outpatients department in the Alfred Hospital (Melbourne). My work is my sanity as it is a paid break from home but most days I am late which is causing considerable stress and anxiety not to mention my responsibility to do my job. Patrick simply refuses to leave the house and as much as I am tempted to just walk out and leave I know the house would be left unlocked and wonder if Patrick would even attend school. The time I need to leave is not negotiable but Patrick uses this to his advantage and seems to delight in stressing me out and subsequently speeding to work in a frazzled mess.

The interesting and frustrating element in all of this is that although he is socially isolated at school (he has no friends) and academically challenged his behaviour at school is not a problem. He is quiet and his teachers report he does his best and is compliant and well mannered. It is like a Jekyll and Hyde situation where another side of him at home is so angry and abusive yet at school this behaviour does not happen.


Hi there

I’m Jackie, I now work primarily as a freelance tech writer, after starting my career in software development and moving on to teach IT to young adults at a variety of colleges and schools.

My freelance work is pretty varied and looks at many aspects of the computer industry as a whole, and I’ve just recently completed a piece which gives help and advice to anyone wanting to become a game designer, which you can read here: It highlights the hard work and effort it takes to get into such a role, and also how you can further your career and continue to learn and improve as you go. I hope you’ll agree it shows that starting work in the industry takes dedication and skill and that becoming a game designer isn’t just a fly-by-night job!

If you’d be interested in sharing a quick mention of my work on your blog that would be really wonderful and I’d appreciate the chance to get my work out there to a wider audience. Alternatively, I’d be happy to write a short blurb or paragraph or two (or a longer piece - just let me know) highlighting the key points because I think some of your readers might get a lot of value from it.


My son just turned 15 and is a freshman in high school.  Although this is his first year in a general ed environment, he is struggling with behaviors in school.  He has meltdowns and does not express why he would have them until much later.  Once we all know what caused it, the school will accommodate him and try to "change up" things so as not to cause his meltdown.  Once that is resolved, another issue comes up and causes him to melt down.  He is a high functioning and academically does well, when he wants to do the work.  We battle at home over homework.  He does not care how it is done, as long as he hands it in.  He thinks failing a test is ok, at least he took the test.  Homework is never on his mind when he gets home from school.  If I never prompt him, he would never open is backpack.  He can be aggressive but is never intentionally trying to hurt anyone.  He may push over a chair in school, but it is not directed at anyone.  We know how that in itself could hurt someone who gets hit by it though.  He is defiant in that he only wants to do what interests him.  He does not go out by himself (still immature), or abuse alcohol or drugs and never curses.  He is a very funny kid and very talented.  His main problems are task avoidance and seeking attention.  He can be disrespectful to adults in that he is "cheeky" with them, trying to be funny or cute.  And he has no "filters".


Hi Mark,

I’ve just finished reading your Living with an Aspergers Partner ebook. I found it so informative, thank you.

You offered some personal advise, and i wanted to run a situation past you and seek your input as to a strategy for what to do next.

I’ve been seeing a guy for about 7 months now who I believe has Aspergers. I came to this conclusion months ago and I don’t think he realizes, (or acknowledges) although he is aware he has some traits.

He’s highly intelligent and successful, a pattern seeker, has a tendency to focus on the project to hand to the total exclusion of all else for as long sit takes (work or home) socially awkward (has learned coping strategies), sensitive to loud noise, high anxiety with control strategies, black and white thinking etc. He’s currently not working and I’ve seen a slow withdrawal over the last 6 weeks, including the need to ‘escape’ and leave a situation at least once.

He also has a bipolar ex overseas who has primary custody one daughter where there has been ongoing patterns of drama which has recently increased.

Over the past couple of months (since stopping work and drama increase) I’ve gone from being ‘wonderful’ in his eyes to him now being sorry and not having the ‘urge’ to spend close/intimate time with me and offering friendship.  Since he shared that with me in a message he’s stonewalled and has retreated to the safety of minimal messages and talks about not knowing what best to say and not being able to find the right words somehow.

He’s a good kind man who I feel is struggling. I’m concerned about his anxiety and possibly the risk of depression. I’m fairly resilient and whilst i’m disappointed he doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with me, i’m concerned for him and his well being. One of his very few close friends is also just leaving the country to live overseas.

The strategy I’ve used so far is simply to back off and give him space. I’ve asked to take him up on an original offer he made to talk but haven’t pushed it. I also haven’t been aggressive or accusatory in the few messages i’ve sent.

Any advise you could give would be greatly appreciated,


Carli who is 10 years old and has had behavioral issues her whole life. The other night she came home very upset after having a conflict with a friend. She was at her friend's house and her and her friend wanted to get on the computer and the older sister was using it. Carli made up a story that someone was at the door to get the older sister off the computer. Her friend didn't understand that she was making up a story to get the sister off the computer.  She got excited that someone was at the door and ran downstairs to answer the door. In the process of getting the door, she fell and yelled at Carli. Carli became extremely upset.  She was able to control her feelings at her friend's house, but when she came home, she proceeded to cry extremely loudly for over an hour. Her dad spent most of that time with her, talking to her and trying to calm her down. After an hour, I asked him if he could please tell her to be more quiet because the other members of the household were trying to go to sleep.

My question do I as the girlfriend, handle this?  He did not like that I asked her to be quiet.  We have a rule that if she is having bad behavior, and can't calm down in 5 minutes, he takes her out of the house because her yelling doesn't stop for a long time and is very upsetting to everyone in the household. I would like to ask him to do this with this kind of situation as well. Is this a reasonable request?  His thought was that she shouldn't be made to calm down, because everyone handles being upset in a different way.  But, she was literally sobbing and wailing very loudly.

My other question is should she have been told that if she wouldn't have lied, this wouldn't have happened?  She has a history of lying and of not accepting responsibility for her actions.   My boyfriend became very upset with me when I brought this up.  He was being very sympathetic and understanding to her.  I feel like he was giving her negative attention, and being an over indulgent parent by not putting his foot gown and saying, "you can't carry on like this, even though you are upset".  Please let me know how we can handle these situations better.


I am contacting you for help with adult AS. I am taking initiative to pre screen potential therapists to help my current boyfriend get therapy and help with Adult AS.
He has seen many therapists, but it seems like they aren’t really helping him with his problems. They don’t seem to understand how his (undiagnosed) AS would affect therapy approaches. For example, he may not share enough in therapy session and I’m assuming an AS therapist would recognize that is part of the AS and employ strategies to get information from him that helps with treatment. Sometime he tunes out when he is processing something heavy or that he doesn’t want to hear necessarily, or he gets distracted and I’m hoping an As therapist would recognize that and get that he may need repeated something for example, if this is happening.
He is currently suffering from depression that appears clinical in nature as well as reoccurring negative thoughts about something specific that has been worrying him about our relationship. Today he told me these reoccurring thoughts happen during all waking hours unless he watches TV, he never gets a break from them and they make him feel like he is going crazy. As his girlfriend, I am extremely concerned that he cannot get relief from these thoughts and that the therapists he is seeing are unable to help him with his problems. Therefore, I am taking initiative to try and help him find better therapy options, because I want to see him someone who can better help him get to the bottom of things and help him with the challenges he is facing. He really needs an advocate that will help him go deep to figure things out and not just assume therapies are working well, without seeing changes or getting supporting feedback from him in that regard.
Here are some questions I am trying to ask in advance to find the right people to help us with this. As you may know, insurance for these therapies are not often available. We don’t have a lot of money to go from therapist to therapist to find the right person and are hoping prescreening will help.


Dear Mark,

I recently downloaded your e-book and listened to your talks and your information is by far the most helpful I have been able to find to date. It's very accurately describes my situation as an NT wife married to a very probable AS husband. I think you for taking the time to write this and sharing your insights as well as the experiences of many of your clients. It has really helped me understand the last 32 years of our marriage and get a grasp on how to move forward.

One area that is of primary concern to me, that I did not see addressed, is stimming.  I believe that is the behavior my husband is showing through constant vocal singing, repetition of words, shouting out, as well as slapping himself in the chest and general nervous activity. It is very loud and disruptive to our household and it is often a relief when he is not at  home. I think there may be a level of Tourette's syndrome as well.

I did some searches on the Internet and could not find anything that really describes his behavior. Most of what I found was flapping or children's behavior. I understand that it is a release of nervous tension but I am really trying to find some strategies to help him stop this behavior as it is extremely frustrating and builds my resentment in dealing with it daily. A lot of it is embarrassing as well and sounds childish to me.

He usually does this when close family members are around and will reign himself in if he is around other people besides us. When we are home it is constant.  He also has a lot of anger, mostly at himself, and blows up at unimportant things,  it is as if he has a ton of negative energy inside him that need to get out and stimming is one outlet.

I will try to build my acceptance of it, but I also would just like him to stop especially the loudest and most annoying portions. Would you have any resources you could point me to?

Abnormal Grieving in Children on the Autism Spectrum

“I have a 10-year old son Michael who has high functioning autism. His father passed away a couple months ago. Michael coped with this remarkably well initially. He didn’t seem terribly upset, and didn’t even cry at the memorial service. But about 3 weeks ago, we went together as a family to put some additional flowers on his father’s grave.  Later that day, I found him sobbing intensely in the closet in his bedroom. Currently, he is having a lot of behavior problems at school and is risking suspension. The school is considering transferring him to a special education class for students with various disabilities. Today, he refused to go to school. He hardly leaves the house. He prefers to stay in his room playing video games, and will not even eat meals with us. I told him that I would like for us to see a counselor for therapy, but he says he will not go! So my question is how do I get Michael to cope with the loss of his father?”

Children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s have difficulty with empathy. This is largely due to the fact that the connection between their rational brain and their emotional brain is not fluid. They tend to get stuck on one side or the other. In other words, they are "Spock-like" (Star Trek reference) or excessively emotional. They have a huge disconnect between thinking and feeling, or cognitive empathy and emotional empathy.

The cause is poorly working circuits in the brain. Your son's brain has limited neurological mechanisms in place to understand or empathize. Perhaps this is why he could be stoic for a time. True empathy is the ability to be aware of one’s own feelings and thoughts -- at the same time. And it means having the wherewithal to speak about this awareness.

My best guess is that after his father's death, he was very much in his rational brain. Evidently the visit to the grave site was the trigger that linked his rational side to his emotional side. Your son is likely to be stuck in the emotional side of his brain longer than a "typical" child might be. Thus, he may take longer than expected to progress through the grief cycle.

The phases of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And it’s not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum to remain stuck in one of these phases for an extended period of time. After all, they do suffer from a “developmental disorder,” which means that they are emotionally and socially immature compared to their same-age peers. Mind-blindness and Alexithymia also play a role in the disruption of the grief cycle.

Some of these children display little emotion at the time of the parent’s death, almost to the point of appearing indifferent. They may fantasize that the parent is still alive, or believe that the parent will come back to life someday. However, they eventually become distraught (perhaps months later) once they have passed through the denial phase.

Others accept the fact that the parent is deceased – knowing full well what death means – but begin to display anger-management problems almost immediately. These children “act-out” behaviorally in a variety of ways, both at home and school. They have an acute reaction to the parent’s death, and may experience frequent and lengthy meltdowns for weeks – and even months – after the death.

Then there are those who turn their anger inward in the form of depression. They may refuse to attend school, refuse to eat meals with the rest of the family, and generally hibernate in their bedrooms. They are extremely hard to console, and tend to grieve longer than is typical.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

As mentioned earlier, acceptance is the last phase of grief. Your son will get to that acceptance phase on his own time, which means the link from the emotional side to the rational side has had a connection. I believe that your son is stuck in the depression phase currently. And it wouldn't be surprising to see him bounce back and forth between depression and anger.

So, the emotional and behavioral issues that you are witnessing are, in my opinion, depression driven. Thus, it would be good to see the doctor and have your son assessed. He may need to be on an antidepressant for a short period of time.

Here are some additional things to consider:

After a death, many kids benefit from sharing their story. Telling their story is a healing experience. Therefore, one of the best ways you can help your son is to encourage him to talk about the experience and listen to his story. He could even write his story rather than speak it (e.g., he may want to tell what happened, where he was when he was told about the death, what it was like for him, etc.).

Especially now, your son needs continuity (i.e., normal activities at home and school), care (e.g., plenty of hugs and cuddles), and connection (i.e., to still feel connected to his father and you).

Talk to your son's teacher and other school staff about what has happened so that they are able to provide extra support.

Grief is a very lonely experience for all kids, but especially for those with an autism spectrum disorder. It’s important that your son continues to feel looked after and cared for. Ask other family members and friends to help you with this -- especially when your own grief is overwhelming!

When a parent dies, the entire family feels fractured and incomplete. It’s quite natural for your son to withdraw for a while. Give him time and space to grieve rather than insisting that he eat dinner with you.

Know that your son needs to have his fears and anxieties addressed. He needs to have respect for his own way of coping, reassurance that he is not to blame, and opportunities to remember his father. He also needs inclusion in rituals and anniversaries, adequate information about the death, and acknowledgement and acceptance of his feelings.

In addition, try some of the following strategies:
  • Talk about his dad (mention his name frequently).
  • Create an album of photographs and stories.
  • Create special rituals or remembrance activities.
  • Keep a journal of memories.
  • Link objects and special things (e.g., it's important that your son have some of the special objects that belonged to his father, such as items of clothing, jewelry, etc.).
  • Make a memory box and use this to store precious things that offer memories of his father.
  • Put together questions that build a portrait of his father (e.g., what was his favorite food, what was his favorite place, what was his favorite TV program, etc.). These questions can be asked and answered together as a family whenever the time seems right (i.e., when your son is actually in the mood to talk about his father).

Lastly, kids who are experiencing emotional problems due to the loss of a parent can really benefit from grief counseling. Below are some signs that your son may need professional help. Many of these signs are normal following the death of a mother or father, but indicate a problem if they are prolonged:
  • aggressive behavior and anger
  • eating disturbance (e.g., eating excessively or having no appetite)
  • marked social withdrawal (e.g., not wanting to socialize with family or friends)
  • persistent blame or guilt
  • persistent difficulty talking about the deceased parent
  • school difficulties (e.g., academic reversal, school refusal, inability to concentrate, behavioral problems)
  • self-destructive behavior (e.g., suicidal thoughts, talking about wanting to hurt themselves)
  • sleep difficulties
  • unexplained physical symptoms and discomfort (e.g., stomach aches, headaches)

Grief counseling provides kids the opportunity to talk about very difficult things in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. If all else fails, the seeking the assistance of a qualified grief counselor is highly recommended (preferably one who specializes in working with children on the autism spectrum).


•    Anonymous said…  Do not be afraid of special education classes...Most are so smart and the teacher is well equipped to assist with these things! Best thing I ever did for my son.
•    Anonymous said… Get him a kitten or puppy....he needs to worked well with my mom passing and my noeces were in serious grief (ages 5 and 6) at that time. It was quite the healer ....
•    Anonymous said… Here in NY , My aspie hasnt found an ounce of understanding in any of the 3 schools he has been in ...the damage they have done is unreal ...all i can say is ... be your childs advocate or get one and be LOUD and take no crud ! If i had it to do all over again ... things would be so different ...the school system would be asking ME how high should we jump !
•    Anonymous said… I have been through this with my two surviving children when their brother passed away suddenly in a car accident. My first advice is to protect your child at school. Make sure your gets a functional behavioral assessment to ensure he is protected. Put the request in writing and ask for a response within three days. Send the request by email or preferably certified mail. Moving classrooms sounds like school/administrativly focused rather than child focused. Everything I know about autism and grief in teens/children says maintain consistency. Is this school focused on your child's needs or on what is best for them from an administrative standpoint? My daughter became increasingly withdrawn to the point of refusing to go to school. Unfortunately for us, it became a very negative situation where the teachers and administrators just wanted a quick fix, such as medication - which she was already on. It was obvious they just "didn't want to deal with it". We wound up homeschooling this year and she is sooooo much happier. I feel in hindsight she needed that time to "heal" and to be in a protective, loving environment where stress is minimized. I know it might seem impossible if you are working and/or a single parent, but look into online programs, local home-school co-ops, etc. Seek out therapy together and tell him it's for "the family," that way he doesn't feel singled out. Have him earn video game time or maybe a new game or add-on for going. Big  🤗
•    Anonymous said… I'd watch his behaviour carefully. The massive cry may have helped, but if you're still seeing signs of stress in his play, it might be worth seeing a psych.
•    Anonymous said… My asd daughter was 5 when he first dad died she never spoke about him since. Went to grave few times and now older she tells me if she wants to go. I gave her photos and some of his things to keep. She is 16 now. I think she has just accepted it I remarried x hope you find the answer for your son sorry for ur loss
•    Anonymous said… There are grief counselors who can come to the home. Not sure if trained for special needs, but I will look for the link. I know also that play or art therapy with counseling if you can him there eventually can help.
•    Anonymous said… This explains so much! When our daughter passed (his little sister) my husband and I had to sit our son down and tell him. His exact words were "Meh, i wanted a brother anyway." Now this was prior to him being diagnosed and I was taken aback but did not for a second think he meant it ill intentioned just because I know my son. Now that he is diagnosed, my whole life is now filling in the missing pieces of the last 10 years. It's all coming together.
•    Anonymous said… When my mother died of cancer this past August, my son didn't cry or talk about it at all. Several months later, my daughter pointed out that he has been "meaner since Granny died". I started to talking to him about it and he just fell apart, crying hysterically! He has not cried or spoken about it since. Should I bring this up with him and make him talk about it?

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