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A Message of Hope: What Might My High-Functioning Autistic Child’s Life Be Like as An Adult?

“I am interested in what happens to children with Level 1 Autism as they mature and become adults. We have concerns for our 12 y.o. son regarding his ability to function in the real world when he gets older. Are the prospects mostly encouraging for these special needs kids? Are there areas of life that they are bound to struggle in? Is there anything we can do now that will put our son on the path to success? What might his life be like as an adult?”

The prognosis is mixed for children with Level 1 Autism (high-functioning autism) and Asperger’s, but mostly encouraging I would say. The long-term outcomes for your son will depend on the severity of his symptoms, baseline IQ, ability to communicate, and the interventions and support he receives. Early intervention is crucial in the potential normal functioning of kids on the autism spectrum.



If your son has a supportive family (which I’m sure he does), retains a reasonable sense of self-esteem, and becomes relatively well-educated, he stands a good chance of getting into solid relationships, finding a good job, and having a relatively normal life.

Kids on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum may need special attention when it comes to education due to the fact that they typically have social and behavioral difficulties in the school environment. However, they can learn to manage their differences with appropriate interventions.

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

Since most children with high-functioning autism have normal or high IQs, they often receive a standard education – and may even excel in their area of interest. Due to this normal to above-normal intellect and the ability to stay in the mainstream school-setting, many go on to college and eventually procure gainful employment.

Circumstances become a bit more problematic during adolescence. The years from 14 to 18 are the most difficult time. In the teenage world where everyone feels insecure, adolescents that appear different are voted off the island. Teens on the spectrum become more socially isolated during a period when they crave friendships and inclusion more than ever. 
 
In the cruel 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. In addition, issues of sexuality and a desire for independence from parents create even more problems.

Teens on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum often have problems with social interactions (both social and romantic), self-care, attention span, and organization. Rejection from the peer-group that some teens on the spectrum experience can be traumatic. Many will experience anxiety and/or depression.

Anxiety often stems from a preoccupation over possible violations of routines and rituals, from concern with failing in social encounters, and being placed in a situation without a clear schedule or expectations. As a result, stress may manifest as aggressive or oppositional behavior, hyperactivity, inattention, reliance on obsessions, and withdrawal.

Depression often occurs because the teen has difficulty forming meaningful friendships and fails to engage others socially. Mood disorders may appear during the teenage years as well. It’s not uncommon for these “special needs” teens to remain at home after they grow into early adulthood.

Once the “special needs” teenager has weathered the storms associated with adolescence, things tend to get a bit easier in life. By the time they reach their mid to late 20’s, many are able to work independently, get married, and raise a family.

Adults on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum are commonly gainfully employed in mainstream jobs, but may need moral support and encouragement to live an independent life. Because they typically have narrow but obsessive and intense interest in some fields, they often excel in what they like to do (e.g., engineering, computer science, mathematics, music, sciences, and so on).

Adults on the spectrum have been known to make great intellectual contributions, for example, in computer science, mathematics, and physics. The deficits associated with the disorder can be debilitating, but many people on the spectrum experience positive outcomes, especially those who are able to excel in areas less dependent on social interaction (e.g., architectural drafting, computer programming, librarian, scientist, etc.).

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

Additional dynamics that may occur in adults on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum include the following:

On a not-so-positive note --
  • These individuals often suffer difficulties in communication, language, and social interaction typical of Autistic Disorder, as well as repetitive behaviors and narrow interests. Abstract language concepts, (e.g., irony and humor) may well be beyond the comprehension of these individuals.
  • Certain symptoms (e.g., inability to maintain eye contact during conversation) can make job interviews and establishing friendships difficult, as some people often misinterpret the behavior as dishonesty or a lack of interest. 
  • Actions that result from a lack of understanding of non-verbal cues (e.g., body language, facial expression, etc.) can leave people with the impression that adults on the spectrum are self-absorbed and selfish. 
  • Steady employment can be a challenge to some adults on the spectrum. While they are very often extremely bright, focused, and talented employees, the social aspects of the workplace can be their undoing. Workplace camaraderie can be unfamiliar territory for those with social interaction difficulties, the small talk and humor beyond their grasp.
  • Co-workers who are not aware of the difficulties faced by those on the spectrum may see them as odd due to behavioral symptoms, or too serious, aloof, or arrogant because of the social awkwardness that accompanies the disorder. These misunderstandings can breed resentments among co-workers, causing dismissals by employers in order to keep peace in the workplace. 
  • Even the most mildly affected people on the spectrum face challenges in managing their disorder. They are statistically more prone to depression than occurs in the general population. Low self-esteem and loneliness are common. Affordable resources to address these issues can be hard to find, especially in light of the fact that less severe symptoms can make applications for medical and psychological assistance less likely to be approved. 
  • Adults on the spectrum can fall between the cracks of today's safety net of ASD resources and services, because their symptoms may be seen as too mild to qualify them for the support received by more severely affected individuals.

On a positive note --
  • Adults on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum are known for their ability to focus on tasks for long period of times without the need for supervision. At times, they may hyper-focus on a task to the exclusion of everything else, but this is the attribute that makes them extremely productive.
  • Due to the fact that they don’t mind being alone, adults on the spectrum are often willing to engage in solitary work that others dislike, which puts them in the position of making remarkable contributions in the workplace.
  • They are able to understand various levels of meanings of words and ideas and can form connections that others miss.
  • Many of these individuals are good at recognizing patterns and in classifying things. Because they are comfortable with order, precision and categorization, they tend to be successful in following rules, allocating resources, and solving complex problems.
  • Most are determined, and when they set their minds to something, they can typically be trusted to follow through.
  • They are very good at noting and recalling details, which is useful in a job that requires knowledge of facts, details, and memory. They are often exceptional at the recall of details forgotten or disregarded by others.
  • They have a higher level of “fluid intelligence” (i.e., ability to find meaning in confusion, solve new problems, draw inferences, and understand the relationships of various concepts - independent of acquiring knowledge) than “typical” people.
  • To say that individuals on the autism spectrum are detailed oriented is an understatement. Despite the issues surrounding a weak “central coherence” (in which they may fail to see “the big picture”), it is this “weakness” that enables them to focus intensely on details.

All of the positives above can make the high-functioning autistic individual a very productive and valued employee.

Many adults on the spectrum are able to blend into society as well as anyone, learning to manage their disorder to build successful and independent lives. Many find their niche in society quite nicely, with satisfying careers, successful marriages, fulfilling friendships, and active social lives.
 
Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… A lot of anxiety and depression issues .
•    Anonymous said… As a mom of an autistic daughter, I do worry!
•    Anonymous said… As a parent of 2 Aspies now adults, the future can be good. Both are in full employment, live in their own homes and one is married with a baby. In the teen years concentrate on life skills which include social interactions. Stretch them into uncomfortable situations, let them have casual jobs as teens, a job made them more responsible And they had to practise self control. Limit digital recreations and get them into an after school activity that they enyoy. Try not avoid. It is hard work and there were times that were tough but we all made it.
•    Anonymous said… As my daughter get's older this is a constant question. Thank You.
•    Anonymous said… At age 12 I had the same concerns for my son... I didn't think he would be able to hold a job, let alone live on his own. Fast forward to now, he's almost 17, incredible grades in school and he is headed towards a career in math and science - he will be able to go to any university he wants with his grades, he's learning to drive and he is holding a part time job. Oh! And he has an amazing little group of friends that understand that his brain works differently and that his quirkiness can be a lot of fun. He is fiercely loyal, and empathetic when he understands what is happening in situations. I wouldn't change him for the world.
•    Anonymous said… Great question!! My husband and I wonder the same with our 10yo son.
•    Anonymous said… I am 52, diagnosed late in life and teach at secondary level, and am married and raised two children. I still experience certain difficulties such as anxiety, and problems with processing some ideas and emotions quickly. For parents, it is a balance between worrying too much and letting your own anxiety about them cloud your judgement of their potential in life. I know this because my children are also on the spectrum, and I want to prove to them that they can live satisfying lives and hold down jobs etc.
•    Anonymous said… I have a few cousins who are Autistic with varying degrees of difficulty in different areas. All of them live away from home, three went to University, two are married, one is a Father. It's natural to worry about your children as long as that worry never limits them.
•    Anonymous said… I have a son 11 I wonder the same
•    Anonymous said… I think people over think and worry too much. Just remember, there are generations of people out there who never knew as kids they have HFA or apsergers, and many who still don't know, because it wasn't something we knew about when we were kids. They do pretty well in the grand scheme of things, living independently, running their own homes, holding down jobs, even having families of their own. Granted, things could have been easier, and perhaps more of their potential reached, had they got the right help and support when young. But it's not all doom and gloom.
•    Anonymous said… I'm a level 1 autistic. Doctorate degree. 30 year marriage. Beautiful son on the honors track. Good job. You can expect all these things for him. My partner helps me with the tough stuff (I don't drive right now; he helps to keep me on time / schedule when I don't have a clock or calendar right in front of me; reminds me of priorities when there's a lot of things happening at once). But yes, a good life.
•    Anonymous said… My aspie is 24 and about to graduate from a major university. He has come a long way and we are so proud of him. Never stop supporting and believing. Depression was huge his Sr yr of high school. We got through. He stayed home and worked until he was ready to go to college. He joined a fraternity and made more friends than he had ever had. It has been a great experience for him. This next transition will be huge. Work and living on his own.
•    Anonymous said… My son is now nearly 20. The thing he most struggles with is self regulation in all areas of his life. The emotional/mental strain of 'pretending to be normal'. He has part time work and a post school qualification and a very active social life.
•    Anonymous said… this is the group I find very helpful posts on.

•    Anonymous said… My daughter has moderate ADHD and Aspergers. I was very worried how she would make a living after she got out of High School. After Graduation she decided to start streaming as she played video games and it was a huge hit! She now does it as her profession, like making $400 dollars a Day profession! I never made that much working a normal job and she is very happy doing what she is doing. There are loads of kids her age in their 18-30 range who do this for a living. Almost all of them have some kind of issue like ADHD,Aspergers, speech impediments and more but they support each other. There is seems to be no competition between them. They donate money to each other when one person needs it, like their computer breaks or if VR equipment, isn’t working. It all functions like a healthy community. I tell other parents, don’t get on your kids for playing video games because it could be their job in the future. No one was more thrilled and astounded about this turn of events in her life than me but I’m so very grateful too!

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Sensory Meltdowns in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Why is my autistic (high functioning) son so sooo sensitive to certain clothing? He refuses to wear jeans and doesn’t like certain shoes and socks. I’ve made the mistake of forcing him to wear some of these things in the past, which resulted in a HUGE meltdown. He will react to certain clothing in the same way someone might react to accidently smashing their thumb with a hammer while trying to drive a nail. He also has a very very limited diet because he will gag on certain foods (e.g., anything green). And he has a startle response whenever a loud unexpected noise occurs (e.g., the blender). Any suggestions on how to work around these problems?”

Sensory meltdowns are not uncommon for children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS). A sensory meltdown is a reaction to feeling overwhelmed due to one or more of the senses becoming overloaded with too much information. The ruckus of an amusement park, the hustle and bustle of a back-to-school shopping trip, or the noise and chaos of a crowded school hallway can result in more sensory information than the child can process at one time.



Examples of sensory issues and intolerance in the HFA or AS child include the following:
  • unable to listen to someone speak or carry on a conversation in noisy or busy places
  • overly fearful of swings and playground equipment
  • may walk around acting deaf because he has had to tune out the excessive noise
  • may prefer certain textures of clothing (e.g., soft, loose cotton)
  • may be overwhelmed with new clothing that his body hasn’t become accustomed to
  • hypersensitive to certain visual stimuli (e.g., fluorescent lights) 
  • fearful of surprise touch or crowds
  • extreme response to sudden, high-pitched, loud, or metallic noises (e.g., flushing toilets, clanking silverware, echoing noises in a school gym)
  • fear of climbing or falling, even when there is no real danger
  • doesn’t like his feet to be off the ground
  • difficulty tolerating certain textures, colors, or tastes of food
  • avoids hugs and cuddling, even with parents
  • startle response when touched 
  • doesn’t enjoy a game of tag
  • avoids standing in close proximity to others

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


Difficulty with Prediction and Anticipation—

For a non-autistic child, unexpected stimuli are relatively predictable and anticipated. For example, the child may expect a loud noise when seeing someone using a hammer, but not when a pillow falls on the floor. He may anticipate a hug when his grandmother is approaching him with open arms. When his mom starts the vacuum cleaner, the noise may surprise him, but he quickly adapts to it. In other words, for the “typical” child, the world is reasonably predictable – particularly in the near future punctuated only by brief surprises.

On the other hand, the HFA or AS child has difficulty with prediction and anticipation. To her, a loving hug from grandpa may feel like a shocking squeeze, the ring of a door bell may sound deafening, and the first-time taste of spicy food may feel like fire on the roof of the mouth. The child’s weak predictive ability makes many daily events very stressful, which often contributes to a high level of anxiety.

Poor Adaptive Adjustment—

Poor adaptive adjustment also contributes to the HFA or AS child’s hyper-sensitivity to “constant” stimuli (i.e., stimuli that is not a sudden surprise, such as background noise in an airplane, florescent lighting in the classroom, skin pressure from clothes, etc.). The non-autistic child adapts to such stimuli because she can predict their persistence, and as a result, she is able to ignore the stimuli. This “adapting and ignoring” skill helps the “typical” child to label background stimulations as “unimportant.”

Conversely, the child on the autism spectrum has difficulty adapting and ignoring. An obnoxious background noise (e.g., noisy school cafeteria) is stressful throughout the entire lunch period. He simply does not have the ability to protect himself from painful environmental stimuli (i.e., shutting it out of consciousness).

It may seem as though your HFA son plans to “misbehave” simply to get on your nerves, but that's probably giving him too much credit. Young people on the spectrum usually don't have evil plans to frustrate or embarrass their parent. Sensory meltdowns often look like tantrums, but there is a major difference between the two.

Identifying a Meltdown—

Meltdowns are triggered by a fight-or-flight response, which releases adrenaline into the blood stream, creating heightened anxiety and causing the HFA or AS youngster to switch to an instinctual survival mode. Meltdowns are (a) often triggered by transitions (e.g., going from class to class, change in topic, change in teachers, etc.), novel situations, or sudden change; (b) time-limited; (c) often caused by sensory or mental overload, sometime in conjunction with each other; (d) a reaction to severe stress, although the stress may not be readily apparent to the parent or teacher; and (e) associated with cognitive dysfunction and perceptual distortion.

Warning signs of an imminent meltdown may include stuttering or showing pressured speech, repeating words or phrases over and over, perseverating on one topic, pacing back in forth or in circles, self-stimulatory behaviors (e.g., flapping hands), extreme resistance to disengaging from a ritual or routine, difficulty answering questions (cognitive breakdown), and becoming mute.

Tips for Managing Sensory Meltdowns—

1. You will need to consider the level of “sensory pollution” in your HFA son’s environment (e.g., several conversations in the same room, plus ceiling fans blowing, plus florescent lights buzzing, plus people moving around).  Understanding the way your son experiences the world will help you to respect his attempts to survive in a “sensory-unfriendly” world. If you understand how he experiences the world and how he interprets what he sees, hears, feels, etc., you can create a sensory-friendly environment in accordance with his perceptual abilities and deficits.

2. The visually-based program entitled “How Does Your Engine Run: The Alert Program for Self-Regulation,” seems particularly well-suited to the needs of young people on the autism spectrum. The program was designed to help “special needs” kids recognize their sensory needs, and teaches them to recognize their level of alertness and compare it to task demands. If the two do not match, the youngster (after completing a series of lessons) is taught to adjust his arousal level to match task demands. To accomplish this, there are a variety of interventions grouped into 5 categories: aural, movement, oral, touch, and visual.

3. Certain colors used on the walls can set the tone for alertness (e.g., red, orange, yellow). Try to minimize these colors in the home (especially in your son’s bedroom). Earthy, neutral tones are best for reducing over-stimulation. Also, accents of purple, blue, or green can be calming.

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

4. When your son has a sensory meltdown at home, there are several items that may bring immediate comfort, thus breaking the sensory-overload cycle before it gathers enough steam to turn in to a meltdown. For example:
  • favorite video or song
  • massage seat
  • body sock
  • chamomile tea 
  • deep hugs
  • sandwiching between two body pillows
  • ear, hand or foot massage
  • giant exercise ball for sitting and bouncing
  • handheld massage ball
  • heating pad 
  • lavender essential oil or chamomile essential oil
  • massage jet for the bathtub 
  • mini-trampoline
  • rocking chair
  • swing
  • slide
  • climbing structure
  • silly putty
  • play dough 
  • weighted blanket or vest
  • wooden foot massager

5. When you and your son are out and about, carry a portable “sensory toolkit” for situations that may cause sensory-overload.  Items in the toolkit could include the following:
  • a stuffed animal
  • baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat
  • change of clothes (e.g., long-sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants, etc.)
  • chewy snacks (e.g., beef jerky, raisins)
  • hand lotion
  • ice-cold juice box with a straw
  • lip balm
  • soft fabric (e.g., velour) for rubbing on hands
  • soundproof headphones
  • squeeze ball 
  • sunglasses

6. HFA and AS kids need an environment where they can retreat to when feeling over-stimulated and ready to have a meltdown. Thus, allow your son to have his own sensory-friendly area – one with decreased sensations, comfortable seating (e.g., bean bag chair, large floor pillows), noise-canceling headphones, picture books, etc.).

7. When creating a sensory-friendly environment, consider the following senses: visual, vestibular (i.e., balance), touch and pressure, taste, proprioceptive (i.e., space), olfactory (i.e., smell), and auditory. The questions parents should ask themselves when trying to create a sensory-friendly environment include the following:
  • Are curtains, carpets and furnishings patterned?
  • Are there any smells from indoors that can cause distress (e.g., cleaning products, perfumed products, foods)?
  • Are there any smells from outside that permeate through the walls, windows or doors?
  • Are there items to provide different feelings on the skin (e.g., sand or water)?
  • Are there items to provide pressure if needed (e.g., wooden massagers)?
  • Are there opportunities for swinging, to balance on beams or boards, or to bounce or climb?
  • Are there regular external sounds (e.g., traffic, dog barking)?
  • Are there regular internal sounds (e.g., clocks ticking, refrigerators humming)?
  • Is it possible to reduce external sounds from permeating to the inside?
  • Is there a way of reducing unwanted sounds inside the home?
  • Is there an area that provides for different textures to be felt or stroked?
  • What colors are the walls?
  • What is the lighting like in the rooms, both natural and artificial?

8. As much as possible, try to “optimize” your home environment to meet the specific sensory needs of your HFA son. For example:
  • Allow him to wear sunglasses outside or carry them with him whenever he goes out in public.
  • Avoid using strong scented candles or air fresheners.
  • Avoid wearing perfume or colognes.
  • Consider diffused lighting to reduce glares.
  • Consider using carpets in rooms to help reduce noise intensity.
  • Don’t force your son to eat something or threaten to keep him at the dinner table.
  • Eliminate any lights that flicker.
  • Give your son earplugs to take with him when he is out in public to cope with any unexpected auditory stressors.
  • Keep television and radio noise at a low level.
  • Limit the number of objects or materials hanging on walls.
  • Make use of natural lighting as much as possible.
  • Make a variety of sensory toys and activities accessible in your home (e.g., stress balls, chew toys, sand box, boxes of different types of fabric, vibrating toys, exercise balls, etc.).
  • Only use soft clothing or textures your son prefers. 
  • Remove all tags from clothing.
  • Use odor-free cleaning products.
  • Use visual schedules and other decor that remain in predictable, consistent places.
  • Warn your son before using a machine that makes loud noises (e.g., vacuum cleaner or blender).
  • Watch for distracting glares light fixtures may cast on windows and televisions.

There are infinite possibilities when it comes to constructing a more sensory-friendly environment in your home. Include your son in the planning, decision making, and creation process. His sensory needs could involve the reduction of stimuli -- or an increase of stimulation -- depending on the situation.

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

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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...

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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…

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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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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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to read the full article...

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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...
 
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A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

How to Intervene When Your Child is Being Bullied at School

"My son (age 9) with high functioning autism tells me that he has been bullied by one of his classmates since the start of the school year. My son said he didn't mentioned it earlier because he didn't realize until recently that this other student was actually doing something "wrong" (go figure). How do you address bullying when the school seems to be indifferent about it – and has even blamed my son for initiating some of the conflict? If they don’t actually see the bullying taking place, they seem to assume that it’s not going on and that my son is simply exaggerating the problem."

According to research, 94% of kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are bullied. Bullying usually begins when the HFA or AS student is harassed by another student (or a group of students), but is unable to resist and lacks the support of others. It usually continues if the student doing the bullying has little or no sympathy for the peer they are hurting – and especially if the bully is getting some pleasure out of what he is doing.



The mental torment that HFA and AS victims feel is indisputable. However, since many of us have experienced some kind of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, bullying is still written off as a “soft” type of abuse that leaves no apparent injuries. However, the current research into the effects of bullying indicates something more than “hurt feelings.” 
 

Bullying often leaves an indelible imprint on a child’s brain at a time when it's still developing. These neurological scars bear much resemblance to those carried by kids who are physically and sexually mistreated in early childhood. Neuro-scientists now know that the human brain continues to develop and change long after the initial few years of life. Bullying is not simply an unfortunate rite of passage, rather it is a severe form of childhood trauma that triggers psychological damage.

HFA and AS students are easy targets for a variety of reasons:
  • They have difficulty with multi-tasking and interpreting other’s intentions
  • They seem “out of step” with the other kids
  • Due of built-up frustration, they may over-react to most provocations, thus the bully knows he can always push the HFA or AS student’s buttons at will
  • Due to having a low social IQ, they let things build up, and then retaliate without an awareness of what the consequences will be
  • They have difficulty telling the difference between good natured teasing versus someone being mean
  • They may be oblivious to an act of bullying or teasing behavior
  • They have motor difficulties, so participating in athletics is difficult (even games at recess may be a challenge)
  • They process information at a different pace than expected, as a result, they may appear “space-out” or “disconnected” 
  • Their special interests may be boring to others, so it’s hard for them to find other students with similar interests
  • Low-frustration tolerance can lead to a meltdown (and a child who has a meltdown in school is often looked at as a “freak”)
  • They appear different than their peers

Most schools are cracking down on bullying and are treating such behavior as assault and punishable by legal means. As the parent, you have every right to speak with the principal, teacher or counselor in order to ask their help in controlling the problem. Some schools have behavioral support staff whose job is to get to the bottom of behavior issues and crack down on bullies.

Here are some ways that you can intervene - as well as advocate - for your HFA son:

1. Your son may find it difficult to explain what is wrong. Talking it over with his teacher may lead to a better understanding of what is really happening. The more you can do to intervene with the help of school staff, and the more you can teach your son methods for self-preservation that don’t include fighting back, the more likely this unfortunate situation will be put to rest. Your son may be reluctant to have you intervene, because he may fear the social stigma of having his “mommy” fight his battles. However, it is up to you to intervene on his behalf with school administrators to ensure his physical and emotional well-being.

2. Don't talk to the parents of the alleged bully. They may become defensive when their child is accused of bullying, and the conversation may not be a productive one. Let the school administrators manage the communication with the bully’s parents.

3. Explore with your son what leads up to the bullying. It’s possible that, on occasion, he does provoke the bully by annoying or irritating him, in which case, your son can learn not to do so.

4. Find out how bullying is addressed in the school's curriculum and how staff members are obligated to respond to known or suspected bullying. 
 

5. If possible, your son should try to stick with a trusted classmate during the school day. If he walks home from school, maybe he can find someone to walk with him. Sometimes, just having another friend around reduces the incidence of bullying. If your son has problems making friends on his own, try to facilitate a friendship with a mature, understanding child who can both be a friend to your son and can help out if bullies try to tease or hurt him. Facilitating friendships may mean inviting another child over for a meal or for some games or television, or it may mean taking both of them to a movie or on a shopping trip.

6. Remember that it can take time for teachers and administrators to investigate bullying in a fair and factual way. Most schools want to get the problems resolved as quickly as possible. So, patience is key here. Also, write down the details of reported incidence of bullying (e.g., the date, who was involved, what specifically happened, etc.). Record the facts as objectively as possible. Show this data to your son’s teacher(s) to help them make an informed decision regarding how to best address the issue.

7. Maintain open communication with your son. Talk to him every day about details small and large. How did his classes go? What does he have for homework that night? Who did he sit with at lunch? Who did he play with at recess? Listen carefully and be responsive to show interest.

8. Role-playing can help your son identify bullying. If he has a brother or sister, he or she may be able to help shed some light on bullying (kids have a closer connection to today’s playground politics than grown-ups).

9. Scenes from television, movies and video games provide plenty of opportunities to talk about bullying. You and your son can discuss how the bullied character handled the situation, and whether he or she handled it appropriately or not. The two of you can share what you would do in a similar situation.

10. Discuss with your son what places it might be best to avoid, and on occasion, whom to stay close to in threatening situations.

11. Suggest to your son things to do when he is picked on. Sometimes by acting “as if” you are not afraid – or by not over-reacting – the bullying can be stopped. It’s better if your son, with a bit of good advice, can do something to help himself.

12. Take complaints seriously, whether they be stories of physical, verbal or psychological bullying. If your son is just now telling you about problems he has had at school, you can bet that there is plenty that he hasn't told you yet.

13. Teach your son to manage negative emotions by setting an example with your own behavior. Reflect on how you respond to strong feelings of anger, fear or sadness — being careful to identify and accept your emotions, express them without blaming other people, and respond without hostility.

14. Teach your son to walk away from the bully, preferably before the bully gets started. Help your son learn to recognize those situations that may lead to bullying (e.g., after school, on the playground, during lunch, etc.), and teach him to be more vigilant and stay near adults in such circumstances.

15. Teach your son to walk tall, make eye contact, and speak assertively to the bully. Just saying "stop" and walking away from the bully may be enough.

16. Lastly, if all else fails, you may want to consider taking legal action. For more information on this topic, click here ==> Bullying: How Parents Can Take Legal Action To Get It Stopped

Research reveals that kids who have been bullied report more signs of depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues compared to kids who have not. In fact, psychological abuse from same-age peers is as harmful to mental health as psychological abuse from parents. Most HFA and AS children who are bullied (a) have low self-esteem (which may continue for many years), (b) often complain of headaches, concentration difficulties, stomach aches, etc., and (c) are frequently distracted from schoolwork, resulting in poor academic performance.

If the bullying is severe and prolonged, and the targeted child is unable to overcome the problem or get help, he may (a) seek revenge, and in extreme cases, use a weapon to get even, (b) refuse to go to school, (c) become isolated, and (d) distrust others and find it impossible to make friends.

There are a few crucial things that need to happen in order to fully resolve the bullying problem in schools: The HFA or AS youngster needs to learn how to identify bullying or teasing behavior. Schools that have instituted bullying prevention programs that are working should be visited and copied. School officials need to learn more about autism spectrum disorders and how it affects “special needs” students in the classroom. And a network of like-minded professionals and community members to join in a partnership should be developed.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content