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Rett Syndrome and Asperger's in Girls

“What causes Rett syndrome, and is it a fairly common disorder that occurs alongside Asperger syndrome? Also, what are the treatment options?"

Rett syndrome is relatively rare, affecting almost exclusively females, one out of 10,000 to 15,000. After a period of normal development (usually between 6 and 18 months), autism-like symptoms begin to appear. The little girl's mental and social development regresses. For example, she no longer responds to her mom or dad and pulls away from any social contact. If she has been talking, she stops. She can’t control her feet, and she wrings her hands. Some of the problems associated with Rett syndrome can be treated. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help with problems of coordination, movement, and speech.

Scientists sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have discovered that a mutation in the sequence of a single gene can cause Rett syndrome. This discovery may help doctors slow or stop the progress of the syndrome. It may also lead to methods of screening for Rett syndrome, thus enabling doctors to start treating these kids much sooner, and improving the quality of life these kids experience.

Symptoms of Rett syndrome include:
  • child may have long fits of laughter
  • child may become tense and irritable as she gets older
  • child may cry or scream for long periods of time
  • no language skills
  • problems with hand movements
  • problems with muscles and coordination
  • slowed growth
  • symptoms usually don’t improve over time
  • trouble with breathing

The best options available to treat Rett syndrome include:
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Good nutrition
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy 
  • Speech therapy
  • Standard medical care and medication
  • Supportive services

Also, medication can treat some of the problems with movement and help control seizures.

Rett syndrome is a progressive, neurodevelopmental Autism Spectrum Disorder. Asperger's is also an Autism Spectrum Disorder related to development. While Rett syndrome symptoms usually center around the inability to perform motor functions, Asperger's symptoms have more to do with social skills deficits, as well as language and communication impairment. 

Helping Kids on the Autism Spectrum to “Fit-In” with Their Peer Group

"My 10 year old HF Autistic/Aspie doesn't have many friends, and when he's home he doesn't have any at all. He likes to be by himself playing video games with his online friends, which is very few as well. This has been the most difficult part of raising a child with autism. It is not made easier by teachers that damage fragile self-esteem and school boards and clubs that are exclusivist. I've found it to be heartbreaking. I often have to remind my son to talk about what other kids want to talk about and to play games others want to play. He often forgets this give-and-take aspect of friendships. He recently lost his best friend. The friend couldn't take the screaming, crying, yelling, controlling, bossiness and lack of reciprocity. My son takes things very literally and thinks with his heart. It is difficult for him to focus on more than one friend. He simply speaks on and on obsessively about his video games. I don't know what to do."

Young people with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) usually want to fit-in and have relationships with friends and classmates, but they just don’t know how to do so effectively. They lack an understanding of conventional social rules and often “appear” to lack empathy. In order to improve socialization, these “special needs” kids need to learn and focus on socialization from an “intellectual” standpoint. Things that come naturally for children without autism need concentration by those with it.

The ability to navigate everyday social interactions presents significant challenges for kids on the autism spectrum. Social situations that present difficulties can range from the fairly simple (e.g., engaging in a conversation with a peer) to the extremely complex (e.g., determining whether a peer who seems friendly is actually harmful in some way).

Examples of important social skills to be taught to HFA and AS children include (but are not limited to):
  • maintaining appropriate eye contact
  • decoding body language and facial expressions
  • demonstrating empathy
  • determining appropriate behavior for different social situations
  • determining appropriate topics for conversation
  • determining whether someone is trustworthy
  • identifying one's feelings
  • interacting with authority figures
  • learning how to begin and end conversations
  • maintaining appropriate personal space
  • making appropriate choices
  • recognizing the feelings of others
  • resolving conflicts
  • self-monitoring skills
  • social-perception skills
  • taking turns
  • understanding gestures
  • understanding community norms

Watch this video on teaching social skills: 

Here are some crucial strategies that parents and teachers can employ that will assist the child on the autism spectrum in finding – and maintaining – successful interpersonal relationships with others:

Tips for Parents:

1. Work with a speech pathologist that will evaluate and offer help with language. Even though your HFA or AS youngster may speak perfectly, learning “social language” is often necessary. Learning eye contact from a speech pathologist, for example, is an important skill.

2. Work with a psychologist or counselor to teach and improve social skills. Therapies often teach children on the spectrum to recognize potential problem situations. In addition, these professionals teach and practice strategies with “special needs” children so they can handle most challenging situations.

3. Utilize role-play at home prior to any type of excursion. Role-play allows the child to image all of the various scenarios that could happen. Then, teach strategies for dealing with situations that are difficult.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

4. Reduce anxiety for your child whenever possible. Keep the rest of his life structured and organized, and ensure that the environment is a positive and rewarding one. This allows him to focus on social interactions without concern about other difficulties.

5. In school and other social situations, HFA and AS children will perform best with a parent's aid. Find a friend for your child at school that he knows and can work with. Your youngster may eventually learn from the friend regarding “how to interact.”

6. Help your child get involved in sports and extracurricular activities. Through practice, kids and teens on the spectrum can learn to be socially positive.

7. Encourage socialization from a young age by bringing other kids into your home. With supervision, allow play dates to be teaching moments. For example, the parent can say something like, "See how Michael has his hand outstretched? That means he wants to say hello with a handshake. Shake his hand."

8. During the teenage years, dating is often difficult. Encourage adolescents to go out with friends and to date. It may take practice, but they will learn social skills with each outing.

9. Communicate with pictures. To teach HFA and AS children to be social, incorporate picture stories into their daily lives. This is important for difficult subjects (e.g., sharing and communicating feelings). The stories should communicate how to handle the situation.

10. Use games or role-play to focus on the viewpoint of another person. This can include simply looking at pictures of children or adults interacting or working together or sharing some activity, and asking what is happening or what a given individual is doing, and what he may be thinking.

11. Use a video of a situation to illustrate behavior that is inappropriate in, for example, causing irritation to other children. Then discuss why. Also, make a video of the child himself and discuss where there are incidents of good social behaviors.

12. Provide direct advice about when and for how long your child may go on about a favorite topic, perhaps with the use of a signal by which to indicate when to stop (or not to start). If obsessive talking appears to mask some anxiety, seek to identify its source or teach general relaxation techniques. Also, provide positive feedback when your child is not talking incessantly about his given topic of interest.

13. Provide direct instruction of social rules or conventions (e.g., how to greet somebody, how to initiate a conversation, taking turns in a conversation, maintaining appropriate eye contact, when someone is joking, how to recognize how someone else is feeling, etc.).

14. Create a series of cartoon faces with clearly drawn expressions indicating anxiety, anger, sadness, surprise, etc. Then have your HFA or AS child identify the various feelings and guess what caused them.

15. Model social skills for your child to observe, or view and discuss a video-tape of two people talking or playing, including reference to any non-verbal messages which can be discerned.

1. The establishment of a "buddy" system or a system where the HFA or AS student is encouraged to observe how other students behave in particular situations is helpful.

2. Provide specific and structured activities for the “special needs” student that are to be shared with one or two selected classmates. These can range from some jobs to be completed in the school during break or lunch time, games involving turn-taking, or tasks or mini-projects to be completed on the computer.

3. Provide direct teaching of what to do (or what not to do) in certain challenging situations (e.g., when the teacher is irritated either with the HFA/AS student – or with the entire group).

4. Provide a visual timetable plus bulletins of any innovations so there is no uncertainty about the day's routine.

5. Make use of the "Circles of Friends" approach designed to identify (social) difficulties, and to set targets and strategies by which other students in the class can be helpful and supportive, with the long term aim of increasing social integration and reducing anxiety.

6. In the classroom setting, instructions should be very precise with no opportunity to misunderstand what is expected. It may be necessary to follow-up group instructions with individual instructions rather than assuming that the HFA or AS student has understood what is needed or can learn "incidentally" from watching what other students do.

7. In a group setting, adopt the “circle-time” strategy of limiting verbal contributions to whoever is in possession of some object (while ensuring that the object circulates fairly among the whole group).

8. Identify particular skills in the HFA or AS student and invite him to offer some help to another student who is less advanced (e.g., with the use of the computer).

9. Help your HFA or AS student to recognize his symptoms of distress with a "script" by which to try relaxation strategies, or have in place a system where it is acceptable for the student briefly to remove himself from the class as necessary.

10. Have the autistic student’s peers model social skills. A “buddy” can also be encouraged to be the partner of the autistic student in games, showing how to play and offering or seeking help if he is teased.

11. Have a regular time slot for support from an adult in terms of feedback concerning (social) behavior, discussing what is going well and less well, and why – and enabling the “special needs” student to express concerns or versions of events.

12. Encourage participation in school clubs or organized/structured activities during the lunchtime.

13. Allow some practice of talking at a reasonable volume and pace with an agreed signal to be given if it is too loud or fast, or tape-record the student’s speech so that he can evaluate the volume and pace himself.

14. Show the HFA or AS student – and his classmates – a hand signal that the classmates can use when they are tired of listening to him talk about his topic of interest. Also, agree to a later time and place for responding to the autistic student’s repeated questioning about a particular topic of interest.

15. A clarity and explicitness of rules in the classroom to minimize uncertainty and to provide the basis for tangible rewards should be implemented.

Having friends provides support and promotes mental health and well-being. Friendships are also very important for social and emotional development. Through friendships, kids learn how to relate to others. They develop social skills as they teach each other how to be good friends. Young people on the autism spectrum who have friends are more likely to be self-confident and perform better academically. When these “special needs” kids have difficulty making friends or keeping them, it often leads to feeling lonely and unhappy with themselves. Feeling rejected by others often leads to significant distress, too.

Parents and teachers have important roles to play in helping their HFA or AS youngster develop friendship skills. They set examples for how the youngster can manage relationships. They can also act as coaches, teaching the child helpful social skills and talking through friendship issues to help with problem solving.

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said… A puppy or kitty it a frog whatever interests him. Don't try to change him.
•    Anonymous said… Are there social skills groups on your area?
•    Anonymous said… As a parent, this is the hardest part for me. It doesn't seem to bother my 15 year old, who perceives himself as having friends. I worry about what's going to happen when he's out of HS and has less social opportunities.
•    Anonymous said… Following...we're going through the same thing
•    Anonymous said… Get in touch with the national autistic society they have all the details of local support groups.
•    Anonymous said… He sounds just like my son.He is obsessed over his video games.
•    Anonymous said… I can so relate!
•    Anonymous said… I know it's hard to deal with my daughter has the same issues and yes the school is making things very hard and I am ready to get a lawyer and say the he'll with it.
•    Anonymous said… I think we all have to face reality that our asd kids reality will not ever be ours and accept that. aspies have organized groups now online etc and that will grow so that will have friendships of like minded people. For lower functioning kods....i just dont know. It will take the parents to develop a group or vision of what is needed and provide it.
•    Anonymous said… I understand ur frustration.
•    Anonymous said… I'm less worried about with my kids as I was the same. If they socialise or even go to clubs, great, but otherwise they need the head space to recover from the very social aspects of school. A few good friends is better than actives of acquaintances anyway.
•    Anonymous said… It is very difficult my 13 year old son says his xbox and online friends are his social life and when he has to go out of the house we are ruining is social life he will say some days he can be compliant some days he can be cross with us but mostly moans about when we going home etc ... the computer games are like thier way of escape and relaxing like us wanting to have that glass of wine or go 4 that walk whatever people do to relax .a balance is not always possible and every autistic person is different in how much they can cope with outside the computer world my son likes educational historical places so days out at places of interest can gage him for a while but the xbox will always be mentioned
•    Anonymous said… Just let him be himself. He's safe playing his games but maybe be his best friend and take him out just you and him for walks in nature. Maybe get him a pet to care for. Pets help the aspire child connect to feelings and it brings out something golden in these kids.
•    Anonymous said… Limiting the screen time, balancing it with a more neutral family occasion, then arranging a play date (at least try) would work a bit.
•    Anonymous said… My 7 year old wants a friend so bad. He has a sister that is 20 months older that really is his only and best friend. He is so social, but typically dominates conversation with what he is interested in.
•    Anonymous said… My boy is the same, I chose home schooling and I've never looked back, he has improved so much in the last two years and is now allowed to be himself.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 19 today. He's had one friend all his life. One. And he didn't even go to the same school. Somehow, when he hit 17, he started making more friends but I never worried about it. One was all he needed!
•    Anonymous said… So for all of those parents worried about their kids obsession it's video games, it is a serious problem for these teens. They get addicted to the virtual worlds they play in. They are much more sensitive and susceptible and we had to take our son completely off of it and it was very hard at first with his behavior getting aggressive but it is worth it.  😉
•    Anonymous said… So hard to let them do the computer and online games...yet you understand it is a part of them.
•    Anonymous said… That's my boy too!
•    Anonymous said… The behavior is so hard to deal with...i need a support group for parents. Can anyone direct me on how to find one?
•    Anonymous said… We have the same problem but the lifeline for us has been at the Comic book store where they run a Pokemon club, they're all the same and he fits right in! Try it  😊
•    Anonymous said… You Re not alone ! All my son wants to do.

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The Struggles of Adolescence: Help for Young People on the Autism Spectrum

“My 18 y.o. with Asperger syndrome (high functioning) is on my last nerve. He has been on in-school detention all week. Now he’s getting into trouble there too and is about to receive an out-of-school suspension. He simply doesn’t care anymore, and honestly, I think he is trying to get kicked out of school. He comes home and goes straight to his room for the rest of the evening to play online gaming (he will come out occasionally to eat a snack, but won’t eat dinner with the rest of us). He’s rude and hateful to me and his younger brother. I am at my wits end. No idea where I went wrong with this child. He has no friends to speak of, seems depressed and moody all time, and has even said he wished he wasn’t alive. I really have doubts that he will make it in the adult world at this point. He has already said he will not go to college or trade school. And he has never had an interest in working a part-time job so far. Please help!”

First of all, there is much more going on here than simple rebellion or defiance. Your son’s misbehavior is a symptom of some underlying factor(s). For example, many teens spend the entire school day under duress from peer-rejection, teasing and bullying. So, when they return home, some will take their frustration out on a “soft target” (in your case, his younger brother perhaps) as a way to discharge negative emotions. Also, some teens on the autism spectrum would love nothing more than to get kicked out of school due to (a) the mismatch between their educator’s teaching style and their individual learning style (most autistic teens learn visually), or (b) an unfriendly classroom environment that bombards and overloads their senses (most autistic teens have sensory sensitivities, such as sensitivity to excess noise, crowded hallways, smells from the cafeteria, and so on). Thus, the root cause(s) of the “misbehavior” needs to be uncovered before behavioral change can happen.

Adolescence is the most difficult time for teenagers with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS). Young people on the spectrum typically become more isolated socially during a period when they crave friendships and acceptance more than ever. In the harsh world of middle and high school, they often face rejection, isolation and bullying. Meanwhile, school becomes more demanding in a period when they have to compete for college placements. So, who wouldn’t be acting-out under these circumstances?

Most autistic teenagers struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet. The causes of these struggles (e.g., social, communication and behavioral problems, sensory issues, etc.) can create the desire for isolation. They can easily drop into a lonely state of depression and/or anxiety, making the original problems much worse. Thus, helping the teen to boost his self-esteem and level of confidence is paramount.

So what can parents do to help their “special needs” adolescent? Below are some crucial tips for helping HFA and AS teens survive - and thrive - during the rough teenage years:

1. With or without an autism spectrum disorder, most teenagers become less willing to take a parent’s word or advice. Therefore, try to hook your teen up with other trustworthy adults. If you want him to learn or try to do something outside of his comfort zone (e.g., something other than playing video games all day), then arrange for the suggestion or information to come from a trusted adult other than you. Look for other good mentors (e.g., an uncle, scout or youth group leader, peer mentor, “Big Brother,” social skills group leader, coach or martial arts teacher, etc.).

2. Teenagers on the autism spectrum need developmentally-appropriate structure, but it requires sensitivity on your part to figure out what is needed when. Watch your teen, not the calendar. Try to get inside his head. Also, be prepared to run out of patience. Create your own back-up plan for when this happens (e.g., YOU take a time-out).

3. View “misbehavior” as a signal of needs. Everything your teen does tells you something about what he needs.

4. There are going to be occasions when negative consequences become necessary (e.g., grounding, taking away privileges, etc.), but they should always be immediate, definite, and relevant. Teens with autism tend not to perceive cause-and-effect and are likely to have short memories, so prolonged consequences not only lose their impact, but also their effectiveness.

5. The “transition plan” (which needs to be part of your teen’s IEP) should address the skills that your teen needs to acquire while in high school, in order to be prepared for the kind of independent life he wants to lead after graduation. Many high schools are unfamiliar with transition planning. The more you know as a mom or dad, the more you will be able to ensure that a solid transition plan is written and carried out.

6. Although most teenagers with HFA/AS are more child-like than their “typical” peers, be prepared to tolerate and/or ignore considerable distancing, hostility, or acting-out – knowing that it won’t last forever. At the same time, set some firm limits, and keep a close eye on your teen’s anxiety level and depression.

7. List the behaviors that you feel are most deserving of attention. This is an important step, because some behaviors may need intervention or therapy in order to be eliminated rather than simple disciplinary tactics. Odd self-soothing behaviors are common in autistic teens with sensory processing issues, and they can be easily replaced with more appropriate ones.

8. Teach laundry and other self-care/home-care skills by small steps over time. Also, try to get your teenager to take an elective at school (e.g., cooking, personal finance, etc.).

9. Special interests may change, but whatever the current one is, it remains an important source of motivation, pleasure, relaxation, and reassurance for your teenager.

10. Some teenagers on the spectrum adjust to high school with appropriate supports and accommodations. However, others just can’t handle a large, impersonal academic setting that exists in high school. You may need to hire an advocate to negotiate with the school system to pay for an alternative school placement, tuition, and transportation.

11. Seek out social skills groups designed especially for teenagers with autism. Participating in such a group and being accepted by group leaders and peers is probably the most powerful way to alleviate your teenager’s potential despair at not fitting-in socially and not having any friends. The positive social experiences and new skills he learns will be assets for the rest of his life.

12. Schedule regular monthly educational team meetings to monitor your teenager’s progress, to ensure that the IEP is being faithfully carried out, and to modify it if necessary. Because teenagers on the spectrum can be so volatile or fragile, and because so many important things must be accomplished in 4 short years of high school, these meetings are crucial. If your child is doing very well, the team can agree to skip a month, but be sure to reconvene to plan the transition to the following year.

13. Reading body language and understanding sweeping generalizations can be quite frustrating for autistic teens. Thus, they usually benefit from systematic social training in which they are given the chance to role play, study body cues and language, and practice interpreting new signals that may not have been evident in early childhood.

14. Not all teenagers on the spectrum are ready for a residential college experience right after high school. To decide, use the evidence of how your teen did at sleep-away camp or similar samplings of independence, and look carefully at executive function skills (e.g., organizational skills). As an alternative, community colleges offer a lot of flexibility (e.g., easy admission, low cost, remedial courses if necessary, the option of a light course load, the security of living at home, etc.). Some college disability offices are more successful than others at providing effective, individualized support. However, if your teenager is living at home, you may be able more easily to sense trouble, step in with help, or secure supports he needs to succeed.

15. Make sure thorough neuropsychological re-evaluations are performed every 3 years. This information and documentation may be critical in (a) securing appropriate services, (b) alternative school placements, (c) a good transition plan, (d) choosing an appropriate college or other post-secondary program, and (e) proving eligibility for services and benefits as a grown-up.

16. Look for volunteer activities or part time jobs at the high school or in the community. Be persistent in asking the school to provide help in the areas of career assessment, job readiness skills, and internships or volunteer opportunities. They probably have such services for learning disabled teenagers, but may not realize your high-functioning autistic teen needs that help, too. They may also not know how to adapt existing programs to meet his needs.

17. Look for opportunities for a sheltered, successful overnight stay away from home with no parent (e.g., long weekend visits to relatives, a week or two of a carefully chosen sleep-away camp, taking a course on a college campus, etc.).

18. Instill the essential habit of a daily shower and clean clothes. Peers, teachers, and future potential employers are very put-off by poor hygiene. If possible, put your teenager’s clothes on a well-organized shelf in the bathroom near the clothes hamper.

19. In adolescence, communication becomes complicated as teenagers invent words, signs, and body language to discreetly talk with a friend. For a youngster with HFA/AS who has been struggling just to understand common social cues, this change can be frustrating and incredibly difficult to understand. The best scenario is when language is "concrete and definite." Teenage conversations that use shortened terms or lingo are going to be very difficult for a young person on the spectrum.

20. Impersonal, written communication is easier for the HFA/AS teenager to absorb (e.g., lists of routines and rules, notes, charts, calendars, etc.).

21. If your teenager seems like a good candidate for college, take him to visit colleges during the spring vacation weeks of the junior year of high school, or during the summers before junior and senior year. Visits reveal a lot about what environment your teenager will prefer. Also, purchase a large college guide to browse.

22. If you have not yet made a will and set up a special needs trust, do it now. Ask your lawyer about powers of attorney or other documents you may need once your teenager is no longer a minor. Few moms and dads assume guardianship of a young adult 18 or older, but it may be necessary and appropriate in some situations.

23. If you have not talked to your teenager about his disorder, you or someone else should do so (to the extent that he is ready to hear it). It’s tricky for teenagers on the spectrum – they so much want to be “normal” and strong and successful. A diagnosis can seem threatening or even totally unacceptable. In truth, however, adults on the spectrum who do best are those who know themselves well – both their own strengths (which point them toward finding their niche in the world) and their own blind spots (where they need to learn new skills or seek out specific kinds of help).

24. If both parents can agree about their HFA or AS teenager’s diagnosis, treatment, and rules, it will save a lot of family wear and tear. To get your spouse on the same page, attend autism conferences or classes together. When you hear the same information, you can discuss it and decide what will work best for your teenager and in your family. As you learn more about autism spectrum disorders, you may also come to better appreciate each other’s contributions to your youngster’s welfare. Attend team meetings at the school together, or alternate which parent attends. Also, seeing your teen’s therapist together (possibly without the youngster), or seeing a couples or family therapist may help you weather a tough time together.

25. Have realistic, modest goals for what your teenager or the family can accomplish in a given time period. You may need to postpone some plans for career goals, for example.

26. Go with the flow of your youngster’s nature. Simplify schedules and routines, streamline possessions and furnishings. If your teenager only likes plain T shirts without collars or buttons, buy plain T shirts. If he likes familiar foods, or has a favorite restaurant, indulge him.

27. Multiple stressors during adolescence often bring on anxiety and even depression in teens on the spectrum. Stressors may include increased academic/abstract thinking and social demands at school, peer pressure, increased social awareness, and fears of the future. Anxious teenagers who do not get help may be at risk for school failure, acting-out, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide attempts.

28. Consider delaying graduation in order to ensure that transition services are actually provided under DOE. It may be hard to convince an academically gifted, college bound student to accept this route. However, it may be very helpful for autistic students who will need a lot of help with independent living skills and employment issues. Services need not be delivered within high school walls. Community college courses, adaptive driving lessons, and employment internships are just a few alternatives to consider.

29. Build and use any support networks you can (e.g., extended family, close friends, church/synagogue groups, an understanding school staff, etc.). If you don’t have a good network, consider individual or family therapy for a little support during a stormy, demanding life passage. When you have a demanding teenager, it’s good to be reminded once a week that your needs and feelings are valid and important, too!

30. Remember that teenagers with HFA/AS are relatively immature - both socially and emotionally - compared to “typical” teens of the same chronological age. Adjust your expectations for your teen, and make sure he has appropriate supports. 

31. Teenagers with HFA/AS are less prepared than “typical” teens for the new challenges of sexuality and romance. Many teens on the spectrum want a girl or boy friend, but are clueless about how to form and maintain a relationship. Autistic males may be at risk for accusations of harassment, and autistic females may be at risk for becoming victims. Teach appropriate rules. Look for supervised activities in which boys and girls can socialize safely together, supervised by a staff person who can coach appropriate social skills.

32. For a teenager with HFA/AS, friendships can be a struggle. Your youngster may not understand social cues, and may not know how to be someone's friend. He may feel the typical feelings of a first crush, but be uncertain on how to act on it. Social training can help these young people to understand social cues, slang, and meet other teens who feel similarly about how to deal with new friends. In these social trainings, teenagers can be taught how to listen, and how listening and reacting appropriately can lead to stronger bonds. Also, you should try to explicitly explain what the act of flirting is (e.g., by pointing it out on a TV show or movie).

33. A regular bed time at a reasonable hour is more important than ever. Regular routines of all kinds (e.g., familiar foods, rituals, vacations, etc.) are reassuring when the autistic teenager’s body, biochemistry, and social scene are changing so fast. Keeping your teen’s routines constant will improve his outlook. He will know what to expect at any given time, lessening the stress he feels.

34. Using your teenager’s special interests - both at home and at school - can generate positive responses in many situations. For instance, a 14-year-old's love of trains can be used to encourage eating at home. Train-themed dinnerware - or even themed foods - can be used to entice the reluctant eater.

In conclusion, young people with HFA and AS bring their special flavor to adolescence. Some will not avoid interacting with others. They are eager to communicate (though often in a clumsy, in-your-face way). The level of their insight into their social skills deficits will then become the determining factor of their social success. If they are unaware of their shortcomings in gauging the social atmosphere and reading social cues, they may inadvertently come across as rude, insulting or boring. They may miss subtle criticism and sarcasm. As they develop better insight, they will become more motivated to learn, which had not come naturally and intuitively.

In the social development of HFA and AS teens who show some interest in peer interactions, social anxiety and resultant avoidance play an important role. Some of these young people get very nervous just with the thought of approaching others and may choose to avoid it at all costs. Their avoidance may appear as if they are not interested in others. It is important to differentiate this since anxiety can be treated much more easily than genuine lack of interest.

Regardless of the individual developmental route, most teens on the spectrum start realizing that they are not quite like others at some point during their adolescence. Once the teenager realizes that he has significant difficulties in conducting social relationships compared to his peers, he needs deal with this loss, just like dealing with any other loss. Understanding the thoughts, feelings and behavior of a teen on the spectrum is the necessary first step in helping him out and being there for him. 

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

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."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

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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.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content