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Helping the Teacher to Understand Your Asperger's or HFA Child

"Are there certain things that I should tell my son's new teacher before he starts the new school year in order to help her make any necessary adjustments or accommodations?"

You have had several years of experience figuring-out what works and what doesn’t work in managing your son. While his teacher understands the fundamentals of teaching, he/she may be lacking in crucial information about Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism, and what works best in certain circumstances.

This means that you have information to share with the teacher, and the time to do that is before (or very near) the time your son enters the classroom.

Here are the basics to discuss with your son's teacher:
  • You’ll want to share information on your son’s diagnosis and his  normal level of functioning.
  • If your son has a normal or above normal IQ, tell the teacher that he has the cognitive ability to succeed under the right circumstances.
  • Talk about visual learning and the fact that children on the autism spectrum learn through pictures and are less likely to learn through auditory awareness or through letters and words.
  • You’ll also want to talk to the teacher about those things that set your son off, including any obsessions or compulsive behavior he exhibits. 
  • If your child still has temper tantrums, talk about how to manage them and how to avoid them, if possible. If he has meltdowns, be sure to talk about that too.
  • Ease the teacher’s possible discomfort about your son’s repetitive or strange actions by telling him/her that it has to do with how his brain processes information.
  • Explain that your son's inappropriate behavior often comes from misunderstanding, not insubordination. 
  • Tell the teacher about different skills your son finds challenging (e.g., making eye contact, accepting change, showing appropriate emotions, etc.).
  • Educate the nature of the disorder. It's neurological, not psychological or behavioral. It has an organic origin.

Also, if possible, copy and paste the link to this video and email it to the teacher:

In addition, tell the teacher that you can be available as a resource if needed. Try to have a phone number at which you can be reached for any impromptu issues that arise during the course of the day. 

Make a deal with the teacher that allows you to attend class on the first few days of school or when things get difficult. Not only will that help your son adjust to school, it will aid the teacher in the process of getting to know him.

Maintain that teacher-parent alliance throughout the school year in order to have the best chance of your son learning and thriving within the structure of the mainstream classroom. As one mother stated: "My daughter puts her head down on the desk when she has to much input. This gives her a moment to process all that she is hearing. Now that her teacher knows this, she is no longer getting in trouble for not paying attention. Sharing these cues with teachers will greatly help your child AND the teacher!"

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

Helping Children On The Autism Spectrum To Deal With Stress

"Is it common for a child with autism (high functioning) to quickly and easily get upset about little things throughout the day? The least little thing will set my son off."

Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's often suffer from different types of stress compared to other kids. Stressors can be as diverse as school issues to the texture of their clothing!

These young people often suffer from so many obsessive thoughts that they are stressed out by things such as noise, smell, certain textures, things out of place, and disorder in general.

These "special needs" kids are perceived to be quite intolerant of others as well as the environment. They often become very anxious in unstructured settings and in situations where people are moving at random.

They may not be able to tolerate people standing close to them. Whether it is sudden or it comes from general background activity, noise can cause acute stress, fear and even panic and, at the very least, the youngster may be distracted and unable to concentrate.

Each child on the autism spectrum will have his issues that stress him out. When they are younger, this kind of stress can lead to tantrums. Older kids can have anger outbursts or other evidence of distress when things aren’t going their way. They may swear or act-out in inappropriate ways to cope with their environment.

Sometimes a parent or sibling just needs to give in to the idiosyncrasies of the HFA child. They may need to keep the noise down or keep things in a specific order. Moms and dads may have to respect their youngster’s need for certain clothing textures or food preferences.

Lack of sleep can lead to stress in a child on the spectrum. Sleep disorders are very common. Medication or taking naps during the day may help ease the stress of sleep deprivation.

Some stress reduction techniques can be taught and are somewhat different from other stress reducing techniques. Your son may need to remove himself physically from the situation causing the anxiety. A quiet environment, free from distractions and where rules are followed rigidly can do much to help him concentrate.

Carrying a favored object can also give your son a sense of security. The nature of this object can seem quite bizarre to others (e.g., a "cat's eye" marble from the road), but without it, your son may be unable to settle or concentrate.

Some HFA kids derive comfort from repeating a set ritual of some kind that can be long and complex. It goes without saying that the ritual, however time-consuming, may have to be carried out in classroom situations, and the comfort object must be allowed to be present if the youngster is to be able to cope with the stressors.

When your son is upset, he is either wanting (a) immediate pleasure or (b) to avoid emotional pain. Upset feelings occur when the HFA youngster gets frustrated and has an unwillingness - or inability - to tolerate the necessary short-term discomfort that is sometimes required for long-term gain.

The opposite of this would be self-control, which is simply the ability to tolerate or cope with discomfort and hard work in the short-term in order to achieve one's long-term goals.  Thus, teaching self-control methods to your son would be the ideal "fix" for his chronically feeling upset.

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

Should You Pull Your Child Out of Public School - and Homeschool Instead?

"I've been thinking about home schooling my 6-year-old (high functioning autistic) son. Are there any critical issues I should examine before making this move? I'm undecided at this point and want to make the right decision."

When faced with questions about how to educate your child, the challenges become all that much more difficult if he has High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's. Home schooling is an option for many children, and it could be the best educational choice for a child on the autism spectrum.

The first decision to make is whether or not the family has the resources of time necessary to home school the "special needs" student. Special learning techniques may need to be learned, and parents who home school need lots of patience and a level head.

It may be interesting to try your child out at a private schooling situation before deciding on home schooling. Some HFA kids fit fairly well into the classroom, while others are quickly labeled “freaks” and are shunned by their classmates. Teachers of regular classrooms may not have the time or energy to deal with the intricacies of teaching an HFA student and, by observing what’s happening in the classroom, a parent may find that home schooling is one of the few viable options.

Some challenges of home schooling include dealing with a child that is a visual learner who might not learn as well by listening. Some HFA kids become so obsessed about having everything perfect that they will throw away papers that have mistakes on them. Some kids on the spectrum often have very narrow focuses of interest so that the parent-teacher needs to find ways to tie in other subjects or to teach other subjects in a way that is interesting to the child.

There are always critics who argue that home schooled children lack the necessary social skills that children who go to a regular school get on a daily basis. With HFA children, social skills must often be taught in a structured setting, and parents have the opportunity to do this and to explore putting their child on a sports team or other social organization (e.g., band or music programs), which will give them social skills without overwhelming them.

There are some important issues to consider before making the decision to home-school. If you're considering this option, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Are you ready for the critics (home-schooling skeptics still exist)?
  2.  Can you afford it (the decision to home-school often results in limited income potential for the primary home-schooling parent)?
  3. Do you have the disciplinary techniques to home-school? 
  4. How does your spouse feel about home-schooling (if only one of the parents believes in home-schooling, it can be very difficult to home-school on a long-term basis without support from the child’s other parent)?
  5. How will you arrange to meet your child’s socialization needs? 
  6. Does your child have opportunities to learn with other kids in the neighborhood and church? 
  7. Are there opportunities in your area for scouting, sports, and get-togethers with other home-schoolers?
  8. What are the home-schooling laws in your state (some states require the home-schooling parent to have a level of education)? 
  9. Why do you want to home-school your child (you may find it helpful to write your reasons for home-schooling down, so that on the worst of days, you'll have something to look to for encouragement and motivation)?

Carefully thinking through the above questions will help you determine whether or not home-schooling is right for you.

Other factors to consider:
  • There is usually a state guideline for home-schooling. Some states require home-schoolers to take a standardized test.
  • There is little time for you to “distress” (e.g., there is no such thing as "I'll be there in a minute” as you try to talk on the phone). 
  • Some home-schooled children are not required to work on a time frame (not a good idea with HFA kids since they crave structure). 
  • Just because you take your son out of the current school system does not mean that he is going to immediately change some of his undesirable traits. 
  • If you decide that your main reason for home-schooling is because your son presents a discipline problem for the teacher, don’t necessarily think that his attitude will change when you teach him. 
  • Home-schooling is not free and the government does not provide home-school vouchers.

Some of the benefits of home-schooling include:
  • Your son's education can be tailored to his unique interests, pace, and learning style.
  • Family life revolves around its own needs and priorities rather than the demands of school. 
  • Family values and beliefs are central to social, emotional and academic development.
  • Home-schooled kids are largely free from peer-pressure.
  • Home-schooling provides a high teacher-student ratio for the child. 
  • Students are allowed to mature at their own pace.
  • Research shows that the two most important factors in the overall educational success are positive home influence and parental involvement – home-schooling provides both.

In general, a parent who teaches to the innate interests of their child will not only be successful, but will have succeeded in giving their child a better education than they would get in a noisy chaotic classroom. 

==> The Complete Guide to Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

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