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Being the Target of Teasing, Bullying and Peer-Rejection: Preparing Your Child for the Inevitable

When a new school year gets underway, some parents soon learn that their child with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s is being teased and/or bullied by one of the other students. In some cases, school officials don’t seem to address the problem adequately, thus the “special needs” child is left to fend for himself/herself.

Here’s a recent email from a very concerned mother on the matter:

“My 12-year-old son has been a target of bullying since the 4th grade. He is fully mainstreamed because he is academically "high functioning". I send him to school for the socialization. However, I am questioning that, because he is only learning that his peers are "not o.k.". He hates school, and is being treated for anxiety and depression. Bullying is constant and "below the radar", being mostly relational. I feel that I send him into a war zone each day. School officials try to address targeted incidents, but are mostly ineffective. Any suggestions on how I can help my son?”


Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s to be the target of teasing, bullying, and peer-rejection in the school environment. This happens for several reasons, for example:
  • Low-frustration tolerance can lead to meltdowns for the HFA or Asperger’s student, and children who “meltdown” in school may be viewed as “odd” by the other classmates
  • The HFA child’s interests may be boring to his peers, so it’s hard for him to find other kids with similar interests
  • Due to having a low social IQ, the child may let things build up …then retaliate without an awareness of what the consequences will be
  • The child processes information at a different pace than expected, therefore, he may appear “space-out” or “disconnected” – then when he does respond, it is too late 
  • He appears different than his “typical” peers
  • The child may have motor difficulties, so participating in athletics is difficult – even games at recess may be a challenge
  • The child can’t tell the difference between good-natured teasing versus someone being mean, or he is oblivious to an act of bullying
  • He may not even be aware that he is being teased (i.e., he may assume that this is how he is supposed to be treated)
  • Because of built-up frustration, the child may over-react to most provocations, thus the bully knows he can always push the “special needs” student’s buttons at will
  • The child may have difficulty with multi-tasking and interpreting other’s intentions

In selecting the appropriate strategies to deal with the offender(s), you will need to determine the specific strengths and weaknesses your HFA son has socially. The best strategies will fit your son’s situation, age, skills, temperament, and the seriousness of the bullying incidents.

Teaching your son the skills described below takes time and effort. The behaviors must be modeled and practiced if he is going to be successful. The payoffs are significant though. Payoffs include safety, self-confidence, resiliency, ability to handle difficult or frightening situations, and the ability to master and to change challenging situations.

Always teach more than one strategy to combat teasing and bullying so that your son always has a second one to try if the first doesn’t work out (3 to 5 well-mastered strategies from the list below works best).

How to help kids with HFA and Asperger’s handle teasing, bullying, and peer-rejection:

1. Teach your son how to report bullying. Bullies can’t bully for long if they are getting caught. The beginning of getting a bully to stop has to start with an authority figure. So, each time someone bullies your son, he should tell a grown-up.

2. Ask your son to picture himself as a ball, and the words that the bully is saying are bouncing off -- or he can pretend that there is a shield or bubble around him so that the words can’t get through. Teach your son that he can refuse to listen to the insults, protecting himself with an imaginary bubble or an invisible protective shield. Some children can imagine themselves as a super-power figure that is safe from insults and mockery.

3. Teach your son by modeling “talking to yourself.” This is a silent “pep-talk” strategy. Help your son practice self-talk such as, “I don’t like this, but I can handle it” … “I don’t believe what this kid is saying about me” … “I have a lot of talents” …and so on. This strategy requires an ability to concentrate when under a lot of stress.

4. Have your son “buddy-up” for safety. Two or more friends standing at their lockers are less likely to be picked on than a child who is all alone. Remind your son to use the buddy system when on the school bus, in the bathroom, or wherever bullies may lurk.

5. “Reframing” is a technique that changes your son’s perception about the negative statement. He can turn the insult into a comment. For example, if your son is being teased about wearing glasses, he could say something like, “Thanks for noticing my glasses” … “That’s cool that you noticed me” …and so on.

6. “Positive thinking” is a technique for the youngster who is less reactive and feels okay about himself. Explain to your son that he has the power to choose how to act when someone is teasing or bullying. He can decide that it isn’t worth the trouble to get upset, or he can decide that there is no way that the bully is going to win by seeing him upset. Help your son see that he doesn’t have to let the other person have power. The person who has the power is the one who stays in control.

7. Teach your son to talk about something else to distract or divert the focus of the peer’s negative comments. Your son can make a short comment about a nearby game or activity, a class, or what is going to be served for lunch.

8. See if your son can make friends with one of the bigger guys in the school (some 8th graders, for example, may stand nearly 6 foot tall). Bullies are reluctant to go after someone who has backup. Bullies usually pick out the weakest student they can find, and there is strength in numbers. So, your son may be able to stop a bully by having a tall friend on hand most of the time.

9. Show your son how to use humor, laugh about the teasing, and make it playful. A witty one-liner can be enough to make the teaser stop. Laughing can turn a hurtful situation into a funny one. For example, your son could use clever comebacks like, “Thanks, I love compliments”… “Hard to believe, isn’t it?”… “Old clothes are in, didn’t you know?”… “You made my day” … “Tell me something I don’t already know” …and so on.

10. Teach your son to compliment the bully by saying something like, “Wow, you’re better than me, I’m still learning” … “You’re good at this, how about helping me?”…and so on.

11. Teach your son to agree with everything that the bully is saying. Say something like, “Yes that’s true”… “I see what you mean” … “Makes sense to me.”

12. “I feel” statements work best when the HFA or Asperger’s child uses it within earshot of a grown-up. If it is used when there is no help around, it can invite more teasing. Your son should practice checking to see that an adult is within earshot, making eye contact, speaking clearly, using a polite tone of voice, and saying, “When you ___ I feel ___ because ___ so please stop” (e.g., “When you keep calling me stupid, I feel sad, because I thought you were my friend …so please stop”).

13. Teach your son a script to say over and over until the teasing stops (because it’s no longer fun for the teaser). For example, “This is getting very boring” … “Stop it” … “Don’t you have anything else to do.” The script needs to be assertive.

14. Teach several relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, counting backwards, thinking of a pleasant scene, etc.). Relaxation methods do not work in stressful situations unless they are practiced in situations that are not stressful. Practice with your son several times a day, making a game of the methods, or calling them “daily exercises.”

15. Help your HFA child to improve his self-esteem. Bullies usually pick on kids who have low self-esteem. They look for those who are weak, isolated, that feel alone, and have few friends. There is less chance of them being caught that way. If your son works on his self-esteem, he will be less of a target.

16. Teach your son to comment on what the teaser is doing (e.g., "You’re kicking my chair" … "You’re standing on my foot"). This requires an accompanying nonverbal gesture (e.g., raised eyebrows).

17. Teach your son the importance of showing no emotion during the incident. Anger and tears usually make teasing and bullying worse. Staying in control is very difficult for many children on the autism spectrum. It requires active and intense effort. Your son must have adequate emotional control to pull this off. For this technique to work, he needs to be careful not to look at -- or respond to -- the bully. It is important that the bully does not see that your son is upset or afraid. Control of emotions needs to be taught first. This takes lots of practice, especially for children who are emotionally reactive, timid or impulsive.

18. Teach your HFA son to ask questions, which are designed to neutralize what is being said by the bully. For example, “Why are you so interesting in my glasses?” … “Why would you care that I didn’t comb my hair today?” … “Are you always a joker, or are you just making a special effort with me?” …and so on. An innocent expression works well with this strategy.

19. Practice assertive body language with your son. Find pictures in magazines in which the person looks powerless, and ones in which the models appear assertive. Point out body posture and facial expressions. Act-out assertive postures (e.g., standing tall, looking directly at the other person, tightening the jaw and arms, relaxing the rest of the body, etc.).

20. DO NOT confront the student who is doing the bullying. Why? Because: (a) your son may become friends with the bully next week (you know how children are – mortal enemies one minute, inseparable buddies the next), (b) the bully’s parents may view the situation much differently than you do, (c) it makes your son even more powerless (e.g., the teaser may say something like, “Your ‘mommy’ is trying to save you”), and (d) it makes it difficult for the kids to “make up.”

21. Make sure that your son understands that reporting something that is cruel or hurtful is not “tattling,” rather it’s “standing up for your rights.” If your son has issues around tattling, and the situation is not immediately dangerous, suggest that he warn the bully that he will tell if the bullying doesn’t stop. Once warned, it is more acceptable to tell.

22. Teach your son to leave assertively. This technique is for situations when the bully is in your son’s face. Teach your son to say things like, “I’m leaving” … “I have more important things to do” … “Go bother someone else” … “I’m out of here” … “See you later!” … “Leave me alone” … “I don’t have to listen to this” … “Quit bugging me” …and so on. Teach your son to use one of these statements, and then to walk away quickly. Be sure that your son understands that this technique may not work all the time. If it doesn’t work, a different technique needs to be used immediately. Thus, when practicing, teach several techniques at the same time.

23. Show your son how to confront the bully. “Confrontational” statements are designed to stop bullies in their tracks. For examples, “I didn’t do anything to you, why are you bugging me?” … “That’s not funny at all” … “I don’t like this” … “Could you please stop?” … “Cool it.” The nonverbal behavior used with this strategy is important. Practice standing tall, using direct eye-contact and setting a firm expression.

24. Help your son learn how to deal with whispers. Teach your son to ask, “Do you have something to say about me?” when peers are whispering and laughing. Assertive body language and an exaggerated facial expression works well here.

25. Just shrug. A quick technique is to shrug your shoulders and walk away.

26. If your child admits to being bullied, take action. Tell him that you'll do everything in your power to help, for example: (a) find out how bullying is addressed in the school's curriculum, as well as how staff members are obligated to respond to known or suspected bullying; (b) instead of finding blame, ask for help to solve the bullying problem, keep notes on these meetings, and remember that it can take time for educators and administrators to investigate bullying in a fair and factual way; (c) start with the teacher who knows your child well, ask whether your child’s classroom behavior has changed or if there are any other warning signs, and consult a school dean, counselor or other school contact; and (d) write down the details (e.g., the date, who was involved, what specifically happened, etc.) and record the facts as objectively as possible.

27. Teach your child to “put on a brave face.” If your son lets the bullies know that he is afraid of them, it is like giving them power. If he gives them a little power, he will find that the bullying gets worse. So, he can put on a brave face, and never show his fear.

28. Help your son understand when it is dangerous to try to manage the bully (e.g., when the bully is older or much stronger, or when the bullying takes place in isolated areas with no one around).

29. You should not assume that your son’s teachers don't want to get the bullying problems in the school resolved. Most do! However, a wide range of need combined with limited resources often create the potential for conflict between what reasonably can be provided versus the parent wanting what she believes is "best" for her child. Do everything possible to establish a positive, partnership-based approach and team together with staff. Also, understand that the school’s Principal is a key player. You must have the loyalty, support, faith, and cooperation of the Principal in order to advocate effectively.

30. Help your child understand the difference between teasing, harassment and bullying. When teasing is excessive – it’s harassment. When harassment continues over time – it’s bullying.

31. You may have to simply remove the bait. If it's lunch money or gadgets that the school bully is after, you can help neutralize the situation by encouraging your son to pack a lunch or go to school gadget-free.

32. Another good strategy is to simply say, “So?!” …in response to teasing. This technique must be executed with appropriate nonverbal communication. Thus, it needs practice. The nonverbal gestures could include a quick smile, a slight tip of the head, or a slight shrug of the shoulder before walking away.

33. Simply avoiding the bully is an important strategy for some situations. Remind your son to go a different way, and to stay near other children or grown-ups. This is a safety strategy for teasing verging on bullying, and for the child who does not yet have the skills or confidence to use the strategies that he is learning.

The mental torment that HFA and Asperger’s victims feel is genuine. But possibly because a lot of us have experienced some kind of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, peer-harassment is still generally written off as a “soft” type of abuse - one that leaves no apparent injuries and that most victims simply overcome.

Dealing with teasing and bullying erodes a youngster's confidence. To help restore it, encourage your child to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Provide a listening ear about problematic situations, but encourage your child to tell you about the good parts of his day as well. Make sure your child knows you believe in him and that you'll do what you can to address any bullying that occurs.

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

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism



COMMENTS:

Anonymous said... My 12 year old son goes to mainstream secondary school but it has an Autism unit attached to it where depending on ability, kids are either educated there full time or just access it at breaktimes and lunchtime to use the quiet areas or games consoles. He is high functioning so in mainstream for all his lessons and there were a few issues when he started, mainly with his sensory problems with noise and crowds. He now has passes to leave lessons a few minutes early to avoid the crowds and has his dinner early with other kids from the unit. It's not perfect but seems to working ok and he's made a few friends and doing very well academically. It would be great if there was some provision for kids with Aspergers to be taught together the same way other kids with special needs are as I'm sure they would do much better without all the noise and distractions.

Anonymous said... My daughter did too, but the things she used would get my son expelled (beating one kid bloody) and she is not oriented socially at all and could care less if kids liked her, so she basically told them to F off or laughed at their idiocy, but my son does care about what kids think and I have wondered how it looks for a social kid to deal with this.
Anonymous said... Some teachers schools need to be more aware of this us as parents of these children stand up for our kids as we are the only ones they trust ..everyone needs someone ...even if they take their frustration out on us ...just not fair x
Anonymous said... Sounds exactly like what goes on with my daughter. She is 15 now and was mainstreamed until this last school year, which was her 9th grade yr. That school yr. attended a private school and was considered to academically on point and beyond. She is also high functioning, but still has trouble socially and emotionally, due to the fact of all the teasing and bullying that went on in previous yrs. That being said...we are back to square one and headed to back to her public school with extra support from an outside agency. She is not thrilled with this idea, simply because she is worried about the other kids and experiencing the same problems. We have an advocate representing her. We as parents are praying for other children to be a little more mature by high school, but we all know that won't be the case for all students, or are we sending her into a war zone as well. Teachers, and school officials all need a better handle on how things go for HFA children who are in need of extra support to stay mainstreamed. Well, here we go 10th grade. Hoping and praying for a descent yr. for my daughter.
Anonymous said... We just pulled our son out and he will now go to a much smaller charter school.
Anonymous said... I also have been bullied like this as an adult in a professional environment. I had to go through multiple investigations when I first started my job. Then all went away, but I did have a mini breakdown and still hardly trust anyone because of it. I wish we could say to our kids "it gets better" but it doesn't always get better. My daughter has gotten better, but she is in a flexible job, so if she doesn't like the people she changes work. But I am not and so I have to endure this person (going on 20 years) and they never get in trouble for the lies they spread. NEVER. If I had money, I'd sue them for defamation.
Anonymous said... i feel the same, but I'm getting triggered all over the place because you can't really protect your kid. Trying to figure out the line of when to pull because I would absolutely pull if needed, but where is that line? I was also bullied by teachers and if that happened, I'd be pulling him right away, but it is harder to know when with kids.
Anonymous said... I was bullied mercilessly at school and even now, over 20 years since I graduated high school there are ramifications. Pull your child out. Enrol them elsewhere, get them into counselling where the counsellor understands that there is HFA at play here and work like hell on their self esteem. If another school is not an option, look for online schools or homeschooling. As for socialising, if you think about it, school socialisation is about teaching 10 and 11 year olds to socialise with 10-11 year olds, and 5yos with 5yos. In homeschooling where socialisation is often criticised, kids are taught to be social with all ages. They learn to speak with younger and older children, their peers in either learning or age and also the adults with whom they interact. Food for thought.
Anonymous said... I was bullied severely as a child. I've also been through other traumas. But the bullying had the most effect on my life. I'm almost 40 and it still affects me. Do whatever you have to do to protect your children. Sure wish someone had protected me.
Anonymous said... I'm lucky mine can stick up for himself. He also sticks up for his older NT brother  ;)
Anonymous said... My daughter experiences this everyday. We've taught her lots of strategies but she is very smart and gets incredibly frustrated that she's the one that always had to think about and change her behaviour and the ones in the wrong don't. There needs to be a greater focus on accountability on those in the wrong. They are the ones who need to change.
Anonymous said... my daughter was bullied in school and in college and now out of college the new trick is to contact the police and accuse her of plotting to attack people it always happens near christmas to spoil our holidays she is so anxious now she is under a psycologist
Anonymous said... My son was bullied verbally, isolated from peers, and ignored by teachers. He was constantly on the defensive and reached a breaking point. It was a horrible experience and as a parent one of my biggest regrets. Don't make him go and find an alternative.
Anonymous said... My son's school was awful, he was in kindergarden and got punched in the face on more than one occasion. I informed the school to watch him at break times and even gave them the names of the kids that were bullying him. The very day I warned them he got punched in the face again, he is homeschooled now.
Anonymous said... online school - all the academics none of the bullying - find other social outlets with like minded kids
Anonymous said... our sons school is so ignorant there still putting he lacks concentration, he is better in some lessons not in others and the classic my son needs to listen more and join in with making friends hes leaving soon I feel for others going to my sons school no hope
Anonymous said... Private schools don't know how to deal with this either, unfortunately. It infuriates me!
Anonymous said... Pvt and public need more education on children with Aspie.
Anonymous said... School will be starting soon. Oh the horror!
* Anonymous said... Public schools don't know how to deal with our children that are aspie's. He is going into 5th grade and last yr in elementary, last yr in public school also. Him and his twin will be homeschooled or pvt school. I won't tolerate any bullying at all. He eas bullied the beginning if 4th grade by a 120lb kid and he is 56lbs. Ummm ni thats wint happen again. The principal heard from us about that issue. If he is bullied and explodes cause he is tired of it, he won't get in trouble by me.

Post your comment below...

Is your Aspergers or HFA child's "misbehavior" truly deliberate, willful, or manipulative?

Children with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism often exhibit different forms of challenging behavior. But, are these behaviors willful or malicious? You may be surprised!



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

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for July, 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.

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Mark,

Just wanted to update you:

I have enrolled Ben in the UCLA, evidence-based PEERS social skills training course. I would have never further looked into this or pursued this without your advice and help and I just wanted to take a minute and express my extreme gratitude and appreciation for your help.

However, don't think you're off the hook. You are a hidden gem and I know I will need your expertise again soon!

Thank you again so much!!!

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Hi Mark,
I just want to inform you, my son Jeremy and I will be considering moving to the U.S this summer. My parents and three of my siblings have been living in Maryland for the past 20 years. Presently my mom who has been ailing for the past six years has somehow given up and I want to spend some time with her before she passes on. I want to let you know that I have been taking notes as I have been receiving and reading the e-mails sent from you and this has been a tremendous help and blessing to my family. My son Jeremy has improved and is looking forward to start Hyattsville Middle School September this year. Jeremy is now 12 years old and is ready to go into mainstream schooling. Presently, my nephew who is a student with a special need also attends Hyattsville middle school so it won't be much difficulty for Jeremy since he will have someone there he already knows. 
               I am hoping to see more improvement once Jeremy starts school in the U.S. In Trinidad 17 schools have been closed down putting further burden on parents with special needs kids. Jeremy is currently attending Autism Services for special children, this school is not Government assisted it is an NGO. Tuition is $1500 per month plus $500 in travelling expenses. I don't want my son to be left behind in our school system so I have decided on move to the U.S.
            In my quest to better understand my son and how to help him I have been studying some Psychology, and Special education as well as writing Social Stories, recently my sister ordered two books for me from Carol Gray. I have been actively involved with the Ministry of Education, Student Support and Autism Services in Trinidad, I want to support parents and teachers with special needs children. I want to sincerely thank you for all the e-mails I received from this website.

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My son is 12.5, and my wife and I had another rough weekend with him.  He has no diagnosis... no teacher has ever suggested an issue other than in 4th grade discussing his inability to perform in group work.  I have , however, through the years, researched "Highly Sensitive"  disorder to try and explain some of his symptoms.   A therapist suggested he might have anxiety, but no improvements were made in multiple appointments. 

My son is extremely bright- he is genius level IQ.  No issues with speech growing up.   He has and still doesn't look anyone in the eyes; struggles to have any conversation that isn't one word with other adults; struggles to make friends or interact- often is 5 feet behind the group, off in his own world; use to have temper tantrums more frequently but still has them and always just repeats the same thing over and over when he is upset; used to just read all day long, or build legos all day, now would play video games all day if allowed;  has odd posture mannerisms- keeps his arm folded behind his back, never sits with feet on the floor but instead will squat on the dinner chair, also twirls his hands when nervous and can't stop it.  My wife often complains he has no empathy for anyone, only worries about himself.

I was typing in some of the symptoms and fell upon your website.  I see so much in my son that you describe in aspergers.  My wife loves him so much but is increasingly frustrated- he always promises to talk to other kids and parents but never really does ... we always just hoped he would grow out of these problems and "issues." 

Is it possible to make it to 7th grade and have no one mention Aspergers?   He has always excelled in school but the transition to middle school was tough-  struggled with organization, turning in assignments, following directions.

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Dear Mark:

Thank you for making yourself available to so many families.  My step-daughter is beyond about the aspergers meltdowns her son has.  All the professional
people we have been put in contact with have given great hope, only to have nothing happen.  The school system is pointless with knowing how to cope and cause more problems for him than good.  I have seen information on line with help for teachers, and I would be willing to share anything I learn with them, but would need permission from the School District from what I have learned so far.  Here in New Brunswick there does not seem to be much in the way of help.  There is an autism group, but they are not funded by the government, so their help is limited, and they are closed for the summer.

I am determined not to let this young guy fall through the cracks.  Once I have all my info for the aspergers, I will look into info for ADHD for his twin brother.  Their mother does not have the time to devote to getting the info so we are going to work together.

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Dear Sir,
I have been married to my husband for almost 33 years. The first 20 years he was very affectionate and caring.  Occasionally he would have episodes of anger and moodiness.  Now, it's almost every day.  It gets worse when he is drinking.  Often, I will walk into a room where he is at and he will be waving his arms in the air and be moving his mouth as if angrily chewing someone out.  He stops immediately when he sees me.  Sometimes he is doing this in front of a mirror.  He will be in a restaurant and grit his teeth and vibrate his head.
Is this something that people with this affliction do??

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Thanks for the quick reply! I've been buried in the program since I emailed you and didn't see your response till now. In any case, disregard my question! I have gotten my answer and I believe strongly that I have also gotten my 'answer' to my larger question...what do I do with this kid?
I have purchased the program, completely related to just about everything you have said in the first 3 steps in week 1, and I am prayerfully going to dive into this with everything I've got for the next 4 weeks.
Thanks and thanks in advance for this program.
Catherine

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Dear Mr. Hutten,
Thank you very much for taking your time to respond to my questions. The notes are excellent, in understandable language and responding to my need to help our grandson. Once again thank you very much.
Our grandson traveled over night from Kampala to Arua, a distance of about 500 miles. We asked the parents if we could stay with him. Today, we went with him to town and had lunch with him. We only told him, he was welcomed and that this was his home.
After reading through the notes from you, we are now going to start speaking to him.
From the list we noted that if you could help us with notes on the following, I think we will be more prepared to help our grandson get a new direction for his life:
1.       Gets suspended or expelled from school
2.      Is depressed
3.      Lies
Thank you very much Mr. Hutten for the notes. We shall be happy to share with you the outcome of our efforts to safe our son.

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I have been married for 57 years.  About 5 years ago, I read David Finch's book on his Aspergers and marriage.  Then my husband read it.  We both recognized that John very likely has Aspergers.  He tried for a while to follow Finch's suggestion for "best practices",  but it didn't last long.  We continued to struggle.  He is now 83; I am 78.  In the last 6 months, things have really gotten bad.  Possibly dementia setting in.  I began reading everything I could about Aspergers.

What I found was that I kept thinking of several other family members probably having it.  Actually, I have found one son-in-law so out of touch socially since I first met him 23 years ago.  His wife, our youngest daughter, was always a bit different herself.  Friends said she was a "Little philosopher".  In first grade, her teacher alerted us to the fact that she kept trying to hug the boys in her class.  In third grade, we were told she had mild dyslexia.  Her older siblings worried about her social skills.  She also has a major sleep disorder.  At age 47, she does seem 'distant' (rather unempathetic).  She and her husband seem to have a good marriage, but I wonder if it is all real.

They have two children ... both of them very different.  The older was born female after a very difficult pregnancy.  She was also always seen as "unique" and into reading mythical fiction and cosplay.  2 years ago, she got into a relationship with a transgender FTM and announced in January that she was going to transition as well.  She/he is 22.

The other child is a boy who is now 14.  He has long shown AS traits.  Difficulty getting to sleep from infancy.  Exceptionally bright both verbally and in mathematics but doesn't do homework so is very much underachieving even though he has been kept in gifted/honors classes his whole school career.  Admits to being socially awkward (as has his sibling) and both talk that way about their father.  We are currently traveling with this child (we have given each of our six grandchildren special international trips.  This is the last one.), and his AS traits are more obvious than ever.  His diet has always been limited.  On this trip, he has devoured anything sugary with some meat thrown in.  No fruits.  No vegetables.  He points out any/all "errors" in our speech.  Ie, very literal.  His humor is childish and inappropriate (very much a problem his father has, too).  He is a collector like his grandfather (my husband - who collects stamps; pictures of manhole covers; fruit labels, and more).  Our grandson still collects stuffed animals and started to collect shot glasses when he was 12.  He has purchased 7 so far on this trip.  He stays buried in games on his iPhone.  He does love the outdoors, and we have tried to make this trip largely about that, but visiting Papua New Guinea to see cultural dances was of little interest to him.  His sister also spent much of our trip with her 5 years ago on the laptop.  Our other four grandchildren were far more engaged in the experiences we were having.

Cody (the grandson we are traveling with now) has had a female friend since 4th grade.  His sister played only with boys in her elementary years.  Cody and his friend are now boyfriend/girlfriend.  She is a delightful person (and as black as he is white).  We haven't been around her enough to decide if she is also on the spectrum.  They have been in the same classes until this past year when they went to different schools.  She is now very passionate about theater.

Anyway, I have thought that his sister's problem is really AS and not gender dysphoria, so I worry about her/his health down the road when he realizes that changing genders is not the answer to happiness.  He began college as a very bright Computer Science major but dropped out after 1-1/2 years and is now driving dogs to/from a doggy daycare.

Neither parent is happy with his/her job.  That's been their history.  Our daughter has a law degree from U of Mich law school.  She got into practice and hated it.  She got into real estate in 2005 and never got far with it.  She avoided work for 4-5 years and now is an operations manager but hates her work situation.  Her sister-in-law, by the way, also struggled her entire short life ... especially with eating disorders.  She died at age 38 as a result of years of bulimia.

Our other children include one with possible bi-polar disorder and substance addictions.  Has never had a job for more than 1-1/2 years.  Tried starting a business and failed.  Has been married twice and blames everyone else for her problems.  Her husband has had it.  Two kids are very creative and well-liked, but I worry about their decision making, too.  Older one is 27 and male-dependent.  Younger one is 16 and quite talented in film-making but without much good decision making.

Second daughter married a brilliant electrical engineer (Intel).  His siblings have brains but poor social skills.  One is divorced with awkward (!!!!) behaviors socially, as does his ex and their sons.  The other was married for two months then later decided to have a child through a donor.  She got twins out of that and lives with her parents at age 40.  Brian, himself, did not do much hands on with parenting his two.  The older is 23; a musician of sorts; a college dropout - twice; lives at home; few friends; no girlfriends; and has been on meds for serious depression for a long time.  He was considered suicidal a few years ago.  His sister is going into her junior year at Mills College majoring in computer science.  She has had pink hair for quite a while; is gay and a militant SJW.

Among my kids, I have seen a serious case of being a helicopter mom; a woman who has been labeled narcissistic (by a psychologist in her divorce custody case); a woman who has very flat affect and no consistency in discipline; and our 51 year old never married son who is on his 8th fairly long term relationship.  He is an engineer who struggles with bosses and collects musical instruments (last count he had 28).  He spends every chance (and most money) on concerts around the country.  He, too, has struggled with drugs over the years.

And I am the NT in the family who tries to keep everything positive and in reasonable control.  But this trip with 2 Aspies has gotten to me.  My family needs help, but I don't have a clue how to get them aware enough to want to make changes ... especially my husband as we age and my youngest grandson who could be helped, still, to manage his ASD as he grows up.

We (the grandparents) love in Mexico.  Oldest daughter is in Australia.  Second is in Portland, OR. Son is in Sacramento area.  Youngest is in Virginia.

I really hope you have suggestions for what I can do to get out from under the weight of all this.  We have a family reunion in Mexico every two years.  This year is it ... complete with partners, other friends of the kids and a gay couple from Paris who are like family.

I hope you have some ideas for this very tired "invisible" wife/mother/grandmother.

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Hello Mark,

I am in Canada and bought your book for a missionary lady in Uganda who has a 'family' (adopted off the street) and has raised them for several years.  One of the children, Fanice, has been diagnosed with Aspergers.

The missionary lady, (Belgian, speaks English very well), asked me to pay with PayPal.  Other purchases I've made allow for 'gifting' an item to someone else.  As you likely know purchasing online, downloadable books doesn't seem to have that feature...  My first time, so now I know.

I'm sending Dominique the payment information as below and have suggested she attempt to now download the book.  If she has a problem she will likely contact you or get back to me for help.

I did take time to read down the website and found it super-informative.  My wife and I are in our 70s but have lots of interaction with families who are being 'run-over' by their kids.  Some of them seem to fit the issues you describe.  I will look to the Lord to direct me where a tactful suggestion might gain them your insights...

Thanks for all of your studies and the time it's taken to put them together to help others.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Mark,

I have been in relationship with a man for 4 yrs, recognizing at the beginning that there was something 'different' about this man with such a great heart.

 As I learned more about Aspergers I began to understand how he fit in that category in many ways. However in other ways not so much, and I have learned that personality is the first consideration. For example, on the DISC Assessment Profile he is in the very high I category. This category of individuals is very fun-loving, likes to joke, childlike behaviors etc. Also, his 'love languages' are attention, affirmation and affection.

I suggested to him that I thought he had some Aspergers tendencies and he agreed it might be the case and that would 'explain some things'. (His 80 yr old undiagnosed father is clearly has quite a mix of autism, terets syndrome and ??? His younger brother is high-functioning autistic and his 2 grands are both on the spectrum)

He did an on-line Aspergers assessment on his own and then asked me to do it with him. On a scale of 1-50 (questions) he ranked over 35 which indicated a definite diagnosis. According to this website there is an 80% accuracy rating.

A significant concern to me is this. In the past year we have experienced what I might  identify as seriously emotional, angry meltdowns on 4 dramatic (on his part only) occasions.

My concern is, because I have understood that things get worse as Aspies age, what am I to expect in the area of this behavior? He gets through the episode which is extremely loud and angry and then gets perturbed with me because he doesn't understand why I am upset and feel the need to 'shut down' and withdraw from him for a couple of days. He does not tolerate the silence.  I told him I am an not trying to hurt him, but that I'm afraid that he will (by my definition) lose control again and I'll have to endure a repeat performance. He argues that I am not in control either if I handle it by shutting down.

This has become a serious issue for us. I feel like the only solution for this situation is that I need to somehow gain strength the endure his meltdowns.

Do you have any guidance for me?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mark,

Hello. My wife and I have been reading a great deal attempting to understand the trauma we've been living in for the past couple of years with our Adopted Identical Twin Sons, who are now 15.

I came across your expertise, directed from a number of different articles. 

We are in Los Angeles.

One son is currently in placement (serving a 9-month court order) the other was just released from placement and is currently back home.

Beside ourselves would be an understatement... Outside of staging it all with Dr. Phil and airing everything on TV, can you help us, or point us to someone or an institution, program, or... anyone that can actually help?  

Both boys were diagnosed by UCLA with Conduct Disorder and ADHD last summer, after a three and a half week admittance in the UCLA hospital through Dr. Mark DeAntonio.

Josh is the anger and muscle, and Jake is the manipulator... a "deadly Duo." Both boys are very athletic, average intelligence per UCLA testing. 

Anything you can do to help is seriously appreciated!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Mark Hutten,

My 6 year old son was diagnosed with ASD or HFA and I've found your ebooks helpful. He seems pretty normal socially to me at home in regard to eye contact, conversational back and forth and playing with his younger brother. But in a group setting like school or camp the behaviors really come out. He does pretty well while sitting down in a small group, but when everyone is standing around or standing in line he mostly runs around and does a lot of pacing back and forth during recess time. Usually, once he's more comfortable he'll do less pacing but this can take weeks or months. I'd love to find a way to get him doing more socializing and less pacing at school and on playgrounds. He does often initiate social contact (sometimes in inconvenient places like at the mall or sidewalk) but frequently runs off after saying hi or engaging briefly. Any suggestions regarding pacing behaviors? We're moving to a new school in Utah next year. I'm hoping to get him off to a good start.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. Hutten,

Ran across your online option for counsel.

Husband and I have been married 25 years, 2 children - daughter 21 in college, working and doing well.  She is on scholarships, does not partake in promiscuous behavior etc. Have small issues with her when she comes home, has one more year then grad school.  Our son, 19 -- we need counsel !!
Graduated from High School 2016 with a 2.9 ! Obtained his Eagle Scout Award.  He fits some of your profiles that I don't think he feels competent in school so he ran to the "video" fantasy world.  Wanted to attend Full Sail University (for video work) but did not want to apply himself in High School for much of anything sooooo we said no college until we see you are serious about ACT scores, studying etc.  He has had several jobs in HS and is working now for Coca-Cola full time.  He gets himself up at 3:30 AM and goes to work 5 days per week.  His work ethic, we are told is awesome!  He moved in with 2 guys 5 months ago (marijuana smokers and pornography on their walls....argghh) and they parted ways several weeks ago.  Before that, he was partaking in very risky behaviors with a girl -- sleeping overnight etc.  He didn't lie to us about it and we gave them both our morals and values speech.  We do not think he is doing any drugs because Coca-Cola does drug testing and he likes his work there.  His girlfriend doesn't do drugs either.

Now he is back in our house reluctantly, car repairs taken all his extra cash.  His girlfriend was in our driveway the other night at 9 PM waiting for him as he packed a bag to go over to her house (where her mother and 2 grandparents approve of them sleeping together I found out, and were looking for a rental house the next day to accommodate them both, what is this all about??????).  I went out to her car and requested she (girlfriend) come in our house and we could talk about what they were doing.  My husband, myself, girlfriend and our son sat down (sort of) and talked about what they were doing.  It was very emotional and I ended up asking them to make a choice, sleep together and tomorrow we take our son off of our cell phone plan, car insurance, and health insurance and all his stuff is on the front porch (was raining that night) OR no sleeping together and we would help with all these things and a wedding next month so they could sleep together.  They chose no sleeping together and have not heard about a wedding plan for now.  I think my son is not seeing her anymore, that was 5 days ago......argggghhhh.

My husband, myself and my daughter are Christ followers.  We do not do any proselytizing with him but we do share truth and he asks me to pray for him when he has trouble.  I know this is a family problem and not only him.  He wants his independence sooooooo bad which we are happy for.  We have started the Financial Peace University online program which we are hoping would show him how he can be independent financially in a responsible way, what about his immaturity in relationships?

My husband wants to kick him out the next time we have a problem like this.  I want to try a contract with him with hopes that he can save his money, and get his own place.  Some how I feel in his desperation to be on his own, he landed with this girl that has a mother that did not care about her daughter much and has no boundaries or limitations and thought my son's rent money (which he does not have right now) could help them all out.

Thank you for your website, it has already been helpful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good afternoon. I took your advice and literally printed out your ebook on paper and put in in a binded folder so I could go through and make notes in the margins and use it more as a workbook. After reading it and making notes on my own feelings the entire way through I told my husband about the book and that I was attempting to find some support whether he agreed with my suspicion of him being on spectrum or whether he had a willingness to seek an evaluation and diagnosis. I didn't expect what came next, but he found the book filled with my notes, took it to work with him, made a copy of it and read the whole thing. He was surprisingly not upset by my notes and said it was helpful in understanding my feelings better. We still have a lot of trouble communicating and understanding one an another, but I feel that was definitely a step in the right direction.

Now, my one son who is on spectrum is starting Kindergarten and we are trying to prepare him best we can. I attended a workshop yesterday about how to use social stories to help influence behavior change in children with ASD hoping to find some closure with a few behaviors my son is having that would be bothersome in school. I was surprised how applicable many of the example social stories were to my own martial arguments. Just yesterday we got into an argument about him leaving the house and not saying goodbye to me again (one of the very first examples discussed in one of the social storybooks). I will tell him how that makes me feel and why he should be mindful to give me greetings and goodbyes, and he understands me, but feels I shouldn't care about being greeted or told goodbye just the same as I feel he should. We get locked into not agreeing on what is correct or "normal." He often tells me that he feels judged by me and he's correct in that I am continuously offended by his behavior, the way in delivers messages both verbally and non-verbally, and his tone. I don't want to be offended by him constantly, but I am. Additionally, I believe he actually is not intending to be offensive and hurtful, but I am still hurt. I know I can't attempt to make my husband read children's social stories to influence the interaction between us as a couple, especially when he doesn't even agree that he might be on the spectrum, but I'm hoping that learning about our son and how to help him might give my husband some further insight on our issues. There are so many resources I've seen offered for children and parents of autistic children to help them, but very little from what I can see on how to help adults or spouses of adults that might be on spectrum that want to stay in their relationships have a smoother relationship. There is your book and support groups from what I can tell (and these groups appear pretty negative), but is there any additional resources that you suggest for spouses trying to find ways to make communication smoother or legitimize their feelings about what is acceptable and not acceptable and why it would matter to people (people like me)? If there are further resources or audios please let me know. Thanks again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Mark,

I need some advice, please. My sister is a widow with 2 children, a boy (15) and girl (12). The boy has been diagnosed with ASD and is high functioning. He is a Grade 10 student who had to leave the regular school program due to frequent episodes of the police taking him to the hospital and the psychiatrist suggesting that he enroll in a different type of school program.

He is abusive, defiant, destructive, disrespectful, refuses to attend psychiatric appointments, has abused his prescribed medication by hoarding it and then overdosing and causing psychotic episodes. In a nutshell, my 56 year old sister is at her wits end. He refuses to go away for a week’s vacation in Drumheller with the his mom and his sister, and his mom doesn’t trust him at home on his own. She is desperately in need of a break and has her own physical disability problems. Is there a place that will take autistic teenagers to give her a break from the intense, neverending strain she is experiencing?

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

Click here to read the full article…

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

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

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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

Click here
to read the full article...

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

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

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content