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Three Odd Expressions of Emotions in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

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

Dealing with Sensory Problems in HFA and AS Children

"Our 6 year old daughter is very very selective, for example, will only wear certain clothes, only eat certain foods, doesn't tolerate loud noises, doesn't like to be touched sometimes, and on and on. This causes a lot of conflict in our home. I've been reading where this is a sign of autism (high functioning). Is this truly a telltale sign - and should I have her assessed by a professional?"

An assessment would be warranted here. The occurrence of sensory issues and intolerance is very typical for kids on the autism spectrum. Parents of these children often recognize early that there are some "odd" problems with their youngster.

For example, they may have a hyperactive startled response to various kinds of noises, and some may walk around acting deaf because they have had to tune out the excessive noise around them. Some kids on the spectrum report auditory problems and find themselves unable to listen to someone speak or carry on a conversation in noisy or busy places.

Young people with High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) also have difficulty with tactile stimulation. They may exhibit a startle response when touched or feel uncomfortable when held. They may be overwhelmed when dealing with the wearing of new clothing that their body hasn’t become accustomed to. The youngster may prefer certain textures of clothing, such as soft, loose cotton.

There can be difficulty tolerating certain textures or tastes of food. Moms and dads need to be aware of this when trying new foods or when the child enters a new eating environment (e.g., school lunches, eating at the homes of others, etc.).

Coping with some of these sensory difficulties often means having an understanding of the common problems and trial-and-error regarding the specific problems your daughter has (e.g., new clothing may need to be washed a few times until they are softer and easier to wear). Some girls with HFA or AS can't tolerate the rubbing of their legs together, and so need to wear pants and not dresses.

The proper middle ground between sensory deprivation and a noisy, chaotic environment needs to be found and maintained whenever possible. Exposing the child to dozens of screaming kids at daycare may not always be the best option for the child on the autism spectrum.

Parents also need to find the most effective way to give affection to their child without creating more anxiety. Cuddling with your daughter may be less of an option than just verbally showing approval. Parents can show their affection in ways that are less stressful to the child, yet still give the same comfortable message.

As your daughter ages, she may have greater insight into what kinds of things she can tolerate and which things she can't. Until then, you will need to have some patience and creativity in finding the right middle ground that leaves her as comfortable as possible.

As one mother of an Asperger’s child stated, “I allow my daughter (8yo) to pick her clothes out. She has since she was about 2 years old, she sometimes wears dresses with cowboy boots or sweaters with shorts and cleats. Does she look unique? YES - but she is comfortable, she is in charge of something meaningful to her. I know what she will and will not wear so I am in charge of purchases, but her recommendations are spot on. My non-AS girls pick out their clothes too, we have NO fights about getting dressed. I have found that giving her options is the best way to cut down on conflict, the difference is that I make up the options, so a choice of two things, but both are easy for me and then she is happy as she gets to choose.”

The Long-Term Outcomes for People with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's?

"What are some of the long term outcomes for people with high functioning autism? I'd like to know what to expect when my 7 y.o. son becomes an adult and leaves the nest."

The long term outcomes for those with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's depends on the severity of their symptoms, their baseline IQ, their ability to communicate, and what kinds of interventions and support they receive. Those who come from supportive families, retain a reasonable sense of self-esteem, and become relatively well-educated, stand a good chance of getting into solid relationships, finding good jobs, and having a normal life.

In other cases, the symptoms of the disorder are severe enough to affect speech and interpersonal relationship, or the individual’s IQ is low enough to impair their ability to find a good job, leaving them with a low paying job or on disability.

Because some individuals on the autism spectrum suffer from depression and OCD as adults, these secondary characteristics can negatively impact how the individual develops and grows into adulthood.

Several research studies have looked at outcomes in people on the spectrum. In one study, outcome was looked at in a cross section of people with the disorder. After a five year follow-up using specific outcome criteria, the outcome was found to be good in 27% of cases. However, in 26% of cases, the individual maintained a very restricted life, with no occupation/activity to occupy their time - and few friends.

Another study looked at outcomes in those on the spectrum to see which factors were more related to a poor or good outcome over time. It was found that language and communication skills were the greatest predictor of good outcome, with social interaction skills being a secondary predictor. The actual symptoms (e.g., ritual behaviors and obsessions) were less likely predictors of outcome. The study indicated that early intervention directed at improving communication was a good idea.

Finally, researchers studied an eight year follow-up of a specialized job program for those with HFA and Asperger's to see if such a program helped improve job outcome. For those with an IQ of 60+, approximately 68 percent of clients found employment. Of the 192 jobs found, most of the jobs were permanent contract work, and most involved administrative, technical or computing work. The study indicated that programs like these can be helpful in improving career outcome in people with the disorder.

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

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's: How to Promote Self-Reliance


•    Anonymous said... Depends on many things. Will they have something to medically help them in the future? Did they attend enough social skills classes to learn how to cope and such? Did their parents facilitate them "fitting into" society rather than making tons of exceptions for them? Many questions.
•    Anonymous said... I am HF autistic, never attended a social skills class, never had any assistance, and now am approaching 28 years old. I am married, have 2 children and have a full time job in real estate. My eldest is HF autistic too, we are teaching him HTML programming at the moment as he loves computer games. Eventually I want to teach him C++ and the like so he can make his own games. Our youngest is suspected to be on the spectrum also but he hasn't beed diagnosed yet (he's 2)
•    Anonymous said... It takes the dedication of a parent, caregiver. I always wondered that same question. I asked some specialists, doctors, and even with all the advances in therapy , it still comes down to many factors. My kids have jobs, and are in college. I was never able to rely on a school system to do the work, and get the therapy the needed. Being creative, with social skills is a must.
•    Anonymous said... my aspergers husband has been married to me for 48 yrs,his obsession is buses,so he is a bus driver,our oldest a/s daughter trained as legal sec but through mental healtth probs cant work at moment,younger a/s daughter is a rep for a charity,my a/s sister in law is an author,many books published,luckily most of mine have done o,k,both daughters lead independant lives,
•    Anonymous said... My aspie husband functions fine but does struggle to keep a job, his bosses love him as he is a hard worker, but he quits because he has never found a boss he likes and doesn't always understand why they don't do things his way. I work with lots of people with disabilities and most adults with aspergers cope better as adults than as children.
•    Anonymous said... My hubby has the perfect engineering job. Suits him and his skills perfectly. I have to manage alot of the other parts of life (social, not black and white issues). In his defense he has learned as we have gone on (from a counselor and myself) how to deal with them too. The right employment, support, and taught skills make all the difference.
•    Anonymous said... My son was just diagnosed (finally) with aspergers on last Tuesday..he's six and we really need to get him into social skills classes. Any recommendations on where those classes would be or where we should start? The school IEP we setup includes him going to social group 30 mins a week but that's it socially...
•    Anonymous said... Things seem to have turned out ok for Bill Gates.

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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