What You Need To Know About Individualized Education Programs

"Our daughter is experiencing severe meltdowns due to the new school year. We recently were forced to make a trip to the Children's Hospital. Every person we've seen asks if she has an IEP. She does not, just a 504. The school district says she does not qualify for an IEP, which I question since all the mental health professionals think she should have one. Why does she need an IEP, and what should be included that will help this child?"

Not all children who have disabilities require specialized instruction. For children with disabilities who do require specialized instruction, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) controls the procedural requirements, and an IEP is developed. The IDEA process is more involved than that of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires documentation of measurable growth.

For children with disabilities who do not require specialized instruction but need the assurance that they will receive equal access to public education and services, a document is created to outline their specific accessibility requirements. Children with 504 Plans do not require specialized instruction, but like the IEP, a 504 Plan should be updated annually to ensure that the child is receiving the most effective accommodations for her specific circumstances. 

There is perhaps no process as frustrating for parents and teachers alike as the IEP process. As a team process, it is designed to help parents and teachers develop a program that is in the best interest of the child. All too often, the schools experience a lack of resources, which leaves the parents feeling that they are not receiving the support that they need. 

The IEP process is critical to the educational success of the child, and with success can leave parents feeling empowered to make a difference in the life of their child. Parents and teachers need to develop an IEP process that enables both parties to feel as though their concerns are heard, and the child's needs are being met.

Here are some important resources that will assist both parents and teachers in coming up with the most effective IEP possible:


•    Anonymous said... We have gone through a similar situation. It took 2 full years to get an Aspergers diagnosis, and the school STILL didn't want to acknowledge anything because of his grades. Early elementary was bumpy from behavior issues, but once we learned his triggers it all subsided. He had to take an IQ test, which the special Ed teacher and the state tester felt was not accurate since he deliberately started answering questions with nonsense once he was tired of it. We never did qualify for an IEP, but were able to get a 504. We really don't have much in the plan, since luckily we have been " bump" free for awhile. I just let his teachers know his triggers, and he is allowed to remove himself from the classroom of he begins to feel overwhelmed. ( this does have to be monitored, however, as he can be quite manipulative) we have been so fortunate that as he has gotten older and school has gotten harder he is actually doing much better. I was concerned with middle school being just too much with all the changes, but we have been incident free for 2 years. Turns out that class is over before he is "done". Keep pushing for what you feel is best, you know your aspire better than anyone and are the very best advocate they have!!! Best of luck!
•    Anonymous said... The Occupational Therapy part of the IEP will be very important, at least for my Aspie, in the eval part of this. This will help with any accommodations that are needed in the classroom such as a desk corral, placement of desk, etc. An IQ test should also be included but it is hard with an Aspie to be accurate. I am sure you know that YOU know best of what your child needs! Stick to your guns!
•    Anonymous said... Tell them your child has AUTISM because they understand that. Not everyone understands Aspergers. It is on the spectrum so you are telling the truth. Make the school district test her again. They cannot refuse you an IEP meeting.
•    Anonymous said... One of the hardest things we needed to decipher growing up was the difference between meltdowns that were due to Aspie things and meltdowns that were mere behavior problems. Once we realized that not all of his tantrums were from the disability, it cut way down on the total meltdowns and we were able to deal with the real issues from Aspergers. It also helped us realize his queues before the meltdown happened so that we could redirect before he became overloaded or overestimulated.
•    Anonymous said... My son has a 504 plan. His school feels he doesn't need a IEF because he "behaves well." I recently requested a meeting with his teacher and school guidance counselor to review his 5. I addresses my concerns to both regarding his attention/anxiety regarding his reading. I was basically told, in a nice way I'm jumping the gun.
•    Anonymous said... If she has Aspergers/Autism she should have an IEP. You can have a behavioral developmental pediatrician diagnose her and bring the paper work to your school.
•    Anonymous said... I have students who have 504s. The good thing is, teachers can still make any accomodations for these students that they deem necessary to improve the student's learning. My Asperger's/ADHD son has neither right now, because he gets good grades. Therefore, his school has determined he doesn't qualifiy for any special services.
•    Anonymous said... I am going through a similar situation with my son and his school right now. I live in NC. My son is 15 and in the 10th grade. He was diagnosed this past July with ASD, Asperger's Syndrome (he also has Graves Disease, medical PTSD, Depression, and anxiety disorder). He refuses to go to school. So far, this school year, he has only attended the first three days of school, and then his anxiety and panic got the better of him. I had to put in writing to the school, to request an evaluation for an IEP. Now, by law, they have 60 (or 90, I forgot) days to have him tested. I had tried to have him tested this past June, but I was talked out of it by the lady in charge of special education. She said that my son is "too smart" (honors classes) and does not misbehave in school, so she felt that we should wait til the new school year and if anything, sign up for a 504 plan. Her real reasoning was because it was the beginning of the summer, and she said that it would be harder for her to find someone to do the testing. Now, he is falling behind in school because of his social fears and anxiety, and they are just getting worse every day. If she would have just listened to me in the beginning, then his school year would not have started off like this. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of his father's death this month, which is making his situation even worse.
•    Anonymous said... A lot of this comes down to money, at least in the UK. To get an IEP the child needs to be statemented, but this is done by council employees that know as soon as it is done and an IEP setup, they council will have to provide some extra funding. We struggled to get our boy through, having to fight every turn and the problems tearing the family apart. We found a family support worker as part of social services (different money pot to education) who worked with us for over a year to get our boy statemented and an IEP, as well as moving him to a school that understood his needs and teaching us to understand his needs. He was way behind in his education the past school not bothering with him, but I'm so proud of him now, he's caught up everything this past year and moved to the top class where I know he'll continue to excel, what a change and family life has turned around to being fun and relaxed again.
It really makes me mad though families have to fight as hard as they do to get the help provided, the fight is hard enough to handle a child with these issues let alone fighting the authorities that were put there to help.

Please post your comment below…

Does My Student Have High-Functioning Autism?

“I’m a teacher and I think one of my students may have high functioning autism. What things should I look for in determining whether or not this child may have the disorder? Also, is it too early to approach the parents about my concern?”

If you have a basic knowledge of the symptoms associated with high-functioning autism (HFA), and based on that knowledge, you suspect the disorder in one of your students, advise the parents of your concern now. It’s better to know than not to know, and the sooner treatment can begin - the better!

If the student in question is having a greater degree of language difficulties than other peers his/her age or has diminished communication skills, and also exhibits a restrictive pattern of thought and behavior, he/she may have HFA. 
One peculiar symptom of the disorder is the youngster’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. The youngster living with HFA wants to know all about this one topic.

Here are a few more traits to look for:
  • Although kids on the autism spectrum can manage themselves with their disorder, the personal relationships and social situations are challenging for them. 
  • These young people have some traits of Autism, especially weak social skills and a preference for sameness and routine. 
  • Kids with HFA typically develop a good to excellent vocabulary, although they usually lack the social instincts and practical skills needed when relating to others. 
  • They may not recognize verbal and non-verbal cues or understand social norms (e.g., taking turns talking or grasping the concept of personal space). 
  • They typically make efforts to establish friendships, but may have difficulty making friends because of their social awkwardness. 
  • Developmental delays in motor skills (e.g., catching a ball, climbing outdoor play equipment, pedaling a bike, etc.) may also appear in the youngster.

 ==> A comprehensive list of traits associated with HFA can be found here.

The main difference between Autism and HFA is that the youngster suffering from HFA retains his early language skills. It is classified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder, one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. 
Unlike young people with Autism, HFA kids retain their early language skills. In Autistic kids, language is often absent, lost, limited, or very slow to develop. In HFA, however, language development often falls within normal limits.

Advise your student’s parents that many moms and dads find comfort and build acceptance with help from support groups, counseling, and a network of friends, family, and community. A diagnosis is best made with input from caregivers, doctors, and educators who know or who have observed the youngster. 
A diagnosis is based on a careful history of the youngster’s development, psychological and psychiatric assessments, communication tests, and the parents’ and clinicians’ shared observations. When making a diagnosis, the health professional will see if the boy or girl meets the criteria published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.

You can best serve this student by learning about HFA and providing a supportive classroom environment (see link below). Remember, the student, just like every other youngster, has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and needs as much support, patience, and understanding as you can give. Visual supports, including schedules and other written materials that serve as organizational aids, can be very helpful for students on the autism spectrum.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said... I sure one of my son's teachers had mentioned it to me. He didn't get diagnosed until he was 11, and so missed out on early treatment and intervention. After he was diagnosed I had teachers, coaches and other parents say "I thought that might be it"...why oh why didn't they say anything? I had never even heard of it before.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter was recently diagnosed at 4. Her preschool teachers brought it to my attention. We dismissed it because we didn't see Autism. Then...when we read and did some research, it hit us like a ton of bricks that almost everything mentioned was her to a tee. Do it gently and explain to the parents that this is not a bad thing, and she/he will lead a normal life. Aspies just approach things differently. They see life differently.
•    Anonymous said... Teachers should approach this discussion with a positive attitude and lightly. As someone who was thrown this "he has autism" in kindergarten, I was angry and unconvinced. I didn't know really anything about Aspergers/high functioning autism, and I dismissed the discussion until second grade when a much more polite discussion was brought to me about my son's habits and issues. As a parent, I didn't know that a talking, caring, sensitive and smart child could be aspergers/autistic. The best thing I did to convince myself was to go over to school and observe my son at recess. I then did alot of research and started checking off symptoms...this combined is what convinced me.

Post your comment below…

Dealing With Your Child's Frustrations: Tips for Parents of Kids on the Spectrum

"I would like ideas on how to deal with my (HFA) son’s frustrations. He will either dig his heels in and refuse to do what he is supposed to do, or he shuts down and then we have a time away so he can get himself together to discuss the problem. It seems he works himself up over things that are not that big a deal."

Children with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) overreact to crowds, confusing situations, sensory stimuli, and situations in which they are asked to do things they don’t want to do. Situations or problems that seem minor to most of us are a “big deal” to those with the disorder because they don’t know how to handle them.

Low frustration-tolerance originates from the youngster’s dysfunctional and irrational beliefs. Behaviors are then the result of avoiding frustrating events which, paradoxically, lead to increased frustration and even greater mental stress.

Low frustration-tolerance occurs when the youngster gets upset 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 HIGH frustration-tolerance. High frustration-tolerance 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.

Removing your son from a stressful situation and giving him time to calm down is an excellent idea. Then if he is willing to discuss the problem, you may be able to help him learn how to handle a similar situation in the future. His frustration and stubbornness are due to the anxiety he feels and his inability to handle situations ...he can’t help those feelings.

Generally, there are two therapeutic approaches to working with the anxiety seen in kids on the autism spectrum. The first is cognitive psychology, which is an approach that focuses on the child’s mental processes (e.g., problem solving, memory, language, etc.). A cognitive psychologist will want to know how your son perceives and solves his problems.

A cognitive psychologist will be able to help your son figure out exactly what triggers his anger. The psychologist will help him change the negative environment that fuels his anger and develop various age-appropriate techniques for coping with anxiety.

The psychologist’s recommendations might be simple (e.g., lowering lights and sound levels), or it could be more complex, and therapy might become long term. In addition to cognitive psychology, medication may be recommended for your son. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications that will help reduce your son’s frustrations and reduce his anxieties.

Please note that antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac have been prescribed for HFA and AS kids, but they have also been known to cause serious problems. Ask the psychiatrist to explain all of the behavioral changes and discuss the possible side effects of any medication that is prescribed.

The second approach for helping your son - and one of the most frequently recommended interventions for kids with the disorder - is for you, as a parent, to make his life structured and consistent. If he has chores to do around the house, they can be done on a certain day and at a specified time. He can leave for school at the same time every day, and he can be expected to return home at a certain time every day, also.

Structure can be built into his life for recreational activities, in addition to his school obligations and chores. If he enjoys video games, a time can be set aside that is predictable for the both of you. He can complete school homework and chores while looking forward to the recreational time that he knows will occur at the same time every day.

Your son is becoming easily frustrated over things that he perceives as too challenging. You can provide a “wrap-around” treatment for him by surrounding him with a psychologist that he can talk to, medication he can use to reduce anxiety (if warranted!), and a predictable home environment each day.



Anonymous said...
We have the exact same problem with our 14-years old ASD son. Even the psychologist couldn't get him to talk (AT ALL), and this psychologist is known as an autism expert and well-loved by his clients and peers in our area. We should probably try another doctor, but money is tight and insurance doesn't cover it and we were frustrated with that first attempt which lasted an entire school year. The second piece of advice, to give our son a routine schedule, is what we need to do. His life is quite routine, and it's the disruptions that are so hard because in any life there will be interruptions and disruptions. We will work on being even more consistent, however, and we REALLY need to get better at allowing him screen time as a reward. This Aspergers stuff really makes me work harder at being a better parent!

Anonymous said...
I have a 17 yr old son with HFA/ADHD, His routine now is constant unexpected change and as our life is a struggle to plan anything because something ends up changing. I found this was a struggle in the beginning & a few difficult moments but now that he is older I now realize this turned out to be a benefit because now his routine is kaos & he has learned to work with it. Just in case here is some back ground. My son was quite low functioning in the beginning he started off non verbal and by kindergarten could form 3 word sentences.He was not aloud to attend more than 2.5 hrs of school a day until Grade 6, by grade 9 he was on the honour roll, by grade 11 he was on the high school football team, He now will be graduating with his peers. I am a single mom and have never been able to afford the ABBA therapy or much of anything else his therapy consisted of a neighbors daughter who was beyond a blessing to us who was going to university & grew up with a special needs uncle. Prayers, Love, discipline & learning the language of Autism was what I used.

Anonymous said...
I still though have a son that won't talk about how he is feeling, this became a challenge when my daughter went through medical distress with having to call 911 over 60 times. My son explained when my Nana passed during that time that he new who should feel sad & he would miss her but beyond the moment of being told he didn't have the same response to feelings like we did they were dealt with then gone,

Anonymous said...
I have a pretty structured routine for my son (who will be 15 in a couple of days) and for the most part he does fairly well with small disruptions to the routine. The issue's we are having is when it comes to social functions. If we are able to, we try to find a quiet out of the way place for him to go and sit when he gets over whelmed, but I don't know how to help him with the white noise, or how to help him deal with the crowds of ppl. He is able to handle public school fairly decent, but it's fairly structured in the school setting as well, but at wedding's or charity events, it's chaos and I don't know what do to help.

Anonymous said...
We have a "chill out" list. He helped us make it. Its a list of things for him to do to, well, CHILL OUT! swing, wear his weighted vest, color, play with the cat, run, take a walk, etc. You get the idea. He can help make the list when he's calm and thinking clear. Sometimes we pick from the list, and sometimes we just tell him to go pick from the list. so far so good....

Anonymous said...
We suggest ways for our 13 year old to chill out. Also, before going out like to a restaurant or such, we have him make a "plan B" just in case "plan A" doesn't work out.

Anonymous said...
My daughter does the same thing. I try to talk in a low monotone just to make sure she stays calm. Then I'll pose several solutions and then let her choose...right or wrong. And, as always, just be there for them!! It's frustrating on our end too!

Post your comment below…

Applied Behavioral Analysis for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"I've heard that ABA therapy is very effective for children with high functioning autism. Is this true, and how does it work?"

It is often difficult to understand why the child with ASD level 1 or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) behaves the way he does. However, there is a reason for his behavior, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) helps us understand the behavior and determine a method of support for the child so that he no longer needs the behavior to meet his needs.

Using ABA, you can determine the antecedents to behavior, identify the behavior, and identify the consequence for the behavior, or what is currently maintaining the behavior. Using this process, you can determine alternative behaviors that are more appropriate, yet will meet your child's needs, without displaying the inappropriate behavior. This aids moms and dads in understanding their child better and helps outline a method to change their behavior.

ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help children and teens with HFA to live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills (e.g., looking, listening and imitating) as well as complex skills (e.g., reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective).

ABA treatment can include any of several established teaching tools:
  • verbal behavior
  • pivotal response training
  • incidental teaching
  • fluency building
  • discrete trial training

1. An ABA-related approach for teaching language and communication is called "verbal behavior" or VB for short. In VB, the therapist analyzes the youngster’s language skills, then teaches and reinforces more useful and complex language skills.

2. Pivotal response training uses ABA techniques to target crucial skills that are important (or pivotal) for many other skills. Thus, if the youngster improves on one of these pivotal skills, improvements are seen in a wide variety of behaviors that were not specifically trained. The idea is that this approach can help the youngster generalize behaviors from a therapy setting to everyday settings.

3. Incidental teaching uses the same ideas as discrete trial training, except the goal is to teach behaviors and concepts throughout a youngster’s day-to-day experience, rather than focusing on a specific behavior.

4. In fluency building, the therapist helps the youngster build up a complex behavior by teaching each element of that behavior until it is automatic or "fluent," using the ABA approach of behavioral observation, reinforcement, and prompting. Then, the more complex behavior can be built from each of these fluent elements.

5. In discrete trial training, an ABA therapist gives a clear instruction about a desired behavior (e.g., “Pick up the paper.”); if the youngster responds correctly, the behavior is reinforced (e.g., “Great job! Have a sticker.”). If the youngster doesn’t respond correctly, the therapist gives a gentle prompt (e.g., places youngster’s hand over the paper). The hope is that the youngster will eventually learn to generalize the correct response.

Through ABA, moms and dads can learn to see the natural triggers and reinforcers in their youngster’s environment. For example, by keeping a chart of the times and events both before and after Michael’s temper tantrums, his mom might discover that Michael always throws a temper tantrum right after the lights go on at night without warning. Looking deeper at the behavior, Michael’s mom might also notice that her most natural response is to hug Michael in order to get him to calm down. In effect, even though she is doing something completely natural, the hugging is reinforcing Michael’s temper tantrum.

According to the ABA method, both the trigger (lights going on at night without a warning) and the reinforcer (hugging) must be stopped. Then a more appropriate set of behaviors (e.g., leaving the room or dimming the lights) can be taught to Michael, each one being reinforced or prompted as needed. Eventually, this kind of approach will lead to a time when the lights can go on without warning and Michael still does not throw a temper tantrum.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

Parents’ Comments:

•    Anonymous said... my 12 year old son started 3 weeks ago. It is hard right now, but I know it will get better when we get past all of his manipulation. he likes to control situations if they become difficult he will refuse and shut down . we are trying to stand our ground and undue some bad behaviors that have formed over years of us giving in...
•    Anonymous said... my 7 year old son has been in ABA therapy for about 6 months (only 3 hours per week). We are seeing slight improvement in eye contact and listening skills. From a parent's perspective, it seems like they are just playing with your child, but they have assured me that there is a method to their madness.
•    Anonymous said... it's a therapy. It will only work if the child is receptive. Our 7 year old likes the attention and is doing okay. I would like to more results, but anything is better than nothing. I love my boy and I want him to be able to function happily through life so i want more than he is getting but that is what it is.

Post your comment below…

Video Game Obsessions in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"How can I get my son (high functioning autistic) to focus less on his favorite video game (Call of Duty) and spend more time doing other things? He is truly obsessed with war games. It's all he ever talks about."

One of the hallmarks of ASD level 1, or High Functioning Autism (HFA), is the child's tendency to be obsessed with particular topics. He might want to constantly talk about video games, race cars, cartoon characters, movies, or even bugs. 
It can be very frustrating for parents and teachers to deal with an obviously bright, articulate youngster who is somehow "stuck" in one particular frame of reference.

How can you get a child on the autism spectrum to have less obsessive thoughts and ideas? The honest answer is: You will not be able to entirely eliminate them. Some HFA kids will gradually leave one special interest behind, only to quickly fixate on a new one.

There are two ways to classify these thought-consuming interests. Some are considered "primary obsessions," and others are "secondary interests." Often it's difficult to tell which of the two you're dealing with.

Primary obsessions are intense enough that it is very difficult to get the youngster to think of anything else. The obsession monopolizes conversation and daily activities. It may also interfere with schoolwork. The youngster is consumed by the thoughts.

Secondary interests are a challenge and are somewhat obsessive for the youngster, but ultimately can be managed. Not only that, but secondary interests can be used as motivators to help the boy or girl succeed in school or improve behavior. 

Here are some suggestions:

1. Working with your son's teacher, use the "favorite" topic to promote learning. If he likes war video games, apply them to math problems (e.g., "If there are 5 tanks on the battlefield, and then 7 more line up, how many tanks in all?"). Art projects that teach different techniques could involve the topic. Science experiments could address the topic in some way. Reading can be promoted by providing your son with books on the topic. Use the interest as a starting point, and then build upon it, slowly expanding his areas of interest.

2. Use the topic to motivate good behaviors. Buy a book associated with the topic. Your son can read it when homework is finished, or after sitting quietly. Perhaps allow him to watch a movie on WWII when he's completed a job around the house.

3. Reward your son for making conversation that is correctly related to what's going on at the moment (something other than his special interest). For example, if your son looks at the sky and says, "I see an airplane," and that's a comment which is appropriate and in the moment, then immediately respond with attention and praise (e.g., "You're right! I see it too! Look, it's very far away. You've got good eyes. Do you think you'd like to fly in a plane someday?").

4. Give less of a response to random, meaningless comments about the obsession. If your son mentions the obsessive topic when it has nothing to do with what's currently going on, either don't respond, or act confused. For example, gently reply, "We're not on the topic of video games right now," or "why are you talking about that?" If your son becomes agitated, give a simple "ummm hmmm" with little eye contact. Then ask him a question, which requires him to engage in the present activity or conversation.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

•    Anonymous said... A nine year old that plays video games and surfs the net for hours does not become a computer programmer or video game maker. They become 25 year olds that play video games and surfs the net all day. The electronics allow them to be non-verbal, non-social, and obsessive, all the things that are comfortable for my 16 year old. He can control his environment and is confident and competent within the world of the game. I found that he is more social and plays well with other kids at his level, especially other aspies. I took the video games away completely and internet time is at the end of the day as a reward for good behavior. Some days this really sucks and he turns from aspie to a-hole. But he has friends, he plays some sports, and can be social. You have to make them uncomfortable so they will be comfortable in the long run.
•    Anonymous said... By the way, words written out of grief of mama heart, not to frustrate anyone who posted on the set limits topic. And I meant "advice".
•    Anonymous said... Explain how video games can be addicting. Compare and contrast to something else that is addicting. Then ask how will they know when playing their game becomes a problem for them. What are the signs they see? How can they monitor themselves? Do they need a timer set for instance...All children on the spectrum unwind with video games but they must be taught to self monitor themselves and balance that with outdoor activities.
•    Anonymous said... I appreciate the "set limits" thoughts BUT, my 9 year old Aspie is ONLY interested in video games, computers and electronic devices. I get frustrated with the onslaught of advise to replace the activity because in the case of autism, sometimes you simply cannot. We had him in play therapy since he was a tiny toddler and he has NEVER EVER played. So yes...I homeschool...then he has chores...but by afternoon when all is done there is literally nothing else that can occupy his time. Outside stuff? No. Legos, puzzles, coloring, cars, board games, books...absolutely no interest. If you take away the electronics (which of course I have done a million times), he simply doesn't replace it and he does nothing (and that hurts a mama's heart). I had to rant a bit here because I am up to my eyeballs in advise that doesn't work and it is very frustrating. I wish my son could learn to love other activities (and it is not that we don't try - he starts archery class tomorrow) but it is what it is sometimes.
•    Anonymous said... I think Erik has hit the nail right on the head. You can't help your children by doing things that make them comfortable, especially when they have Aspergers. Most day-to-day things make a kid with Asperger's uncomfortable and the only way to help them grow is to push them out of their comfort level and do the things that don't come naturally.
•    Anonymous said... My boy is more violent and less caring for others especially his siblings when he has been playing fast action video games. We completely banned him from them over a year ago and his behaviour has much improved. He was a little upset, but he knows they affect him and get him into trouble, so those times when he is logical it's easy enough to get over the reasons why which he's accepted. thereare plenty of other games he can play, even some educational ones, he loves maths games.
•    Anonymous said... my boy loves anything to do with games and the internet! too... think I let him play on them too long myself... But then he says you like Facebook and being online too Mom!... He's right it is very addictive.... kids can't just go play outside like I did as a kid, that's why I let both my kids be online and on games more then I should.... Wish my kids could have the freedom that I had..... Say la vie... Goodluck will def be reading the comments
•    Anonymous said... there are a lot of jobs in video games, computers and electronic devices. is he interested in taking them apart and putting them back together? enroll him in computer class or take him to video game conventions for socialization. buy him books or check out books at the library about the video game. get the call of duty lego sets. embrace the obsession. he may outgrow it and appreciate that you accepted it or he may turn the obsession into a career.
•    Anonymous said... try introducing him to sports games, like NBA 2013 or FIFA which is a fun soccer game- my son switched from Halo and Call of Duty to the sports xbox games and loves them.
•    Anonymous said... We also have limits on time for video games. It's my sons down time after school. He gets 30-45 mins depending on what events we have for the evening (homework, etc). I don't let him earn the time but we have a printed schedule that he helped create that I refer to if I have a problem.
•    Anonymous said... We set a daily time limit on video games. He has to do chores to earn the time.
•    Anonymous said... When you take the video games away and he doesn't replace them, how much time are you giving him to choose something else? Maybe he hasn't gotten bored enough. He's old enough, in spite of his condition, to make the choice to be bored. Though it may be upsetting to you to see him "doing nothing" its not hurting him a bit. Adults go to meditation retreats and do nothing for days on end, and its considered a good thing. My son likes to do two things - legos and TV. Due to discipline issues, I took both away for a week. The first day was HELL, I can't believe we made it a day, gradually we did things he didn't normally do and it turned out to be not so bad.
•    Anonymous said... Wow this is my son to a tee, he to is addicted to "call of duty" on his xbox. i hate it he will play al day and have the night if i let him. he is 14yrs old, and was into legos for awhile but he's starting to outgrow them. i just worry in the future that it will be more important then the things he needs to do like school or work. im finding it very hard to set limits.

*   Anonymous said... I didnt see this thread and just posted about this same issue. Its sooo hard. My daughter is getting 'lost' in the world of Pokemon and i do get her interested in other things but Pokemon are everything to her. They are real to her and she relates to them. Its excluding other things. I know its a result of her trying to organize her world and feel safe but i want to help her feel safe somehow without always needing them. i hired her a babysitter over the summer i knew was aware of pokemon but little did i know the 21 year old girl was still obsessed with them herself and it put my daughter over the edge! i feel like she gets angry that i'm not a big pokefan myself. its almost like her and the pokemon vs the world. sad. i wish there were a better way to help her with her anxiety. i get her outside a lot and spend time with her and have done everything i can to get her socialized/friends. i advocate for her at school (but still believe its her big stressor) and i know that there are changes in our life that are hard. i got her a counselor but all she talked about there was pokemon and she didnt connect with her... thanks for letting me vent

Post your comment below…

Defiance in Teenagers with High-Functioning Autism

"My son (high functioning autistic) is now 13 ...he was diagnosed at the age of 8. All of a sudden he is acting out, cussing all the time, lying, being disrespectful and verbally abusive, and has an overall grumpy attitude. Are these years the hardest, or is this just the beginning? When he finally hits puberty, will things get better?"

Yes, the teen years are the hardest, whether your son has High Functioning Autism (HFA) or not! He has probably “hit” puberty already, but it’s just beginning.

Raging hormones and frustration with social interactions at school can cause a lot of anger and bad behavior during the teen years, especially for adolescents with "special needs!" Many need counseling to negotiate this time in their lives successfully. Peer-rejection, teasing, bullying, and all other other stressors that your son may have to endure can take a psychological toll, which may in turn influence him to act-out his frustration on a "safe" target at home (i.e., YOU).

Your son is exhibiting rebellious behavior, and this type of behavior fulfills his needs. For example, he may have the need to:
  • Avoid responsibility (e.g., attending school, obeying parents)
  • Get something (e.g., his way in a decision, your attention, control over a situation)
  • Manage pain (e.g., physical and/or emotional stress that must be alleviated)
  • Fulfill sensory needs (e.g., relief from heat, cold, or to satisfy thirst)

Having a developmental disorder such as HFA or Asperger’s is no excuse for being verbally abusive. However, it is important for you to understand that some of the associated symptoms do contribute to defiant behavior. Teens on the autism spectrum may display some - or all - of the following characteristics, many of which contribute to problematic behavior:
  • the teen may be able to talk extensively on a topic of interest, but have difficulty with more practical tasks such as recounting the day’s events, telling a story, or understanding jokes and sarcasm
  • sensitivity to criticism 
  • preference for playing alone or with adults
  • narrow field of interests (e.g., a teen with HFA may focus on learning all there is to know about cars, trains or computers)
  • language may be considered to be very advanced or ‘precocious’ when compared to their peers
  • lack of appreciation that communication involves listening as well as talking (e.g., they may not allow their communication partner an opportunity to engage in the conversation)
  • inability to understand the rules of social behavior or the feelings of others
  • difficulty ‘reading’ body language (e.g., a teen with HFA may not understand that someone is showing that they are unhappy by frowning)
  • having rules and rituals that they insist all family members follow
  • difficulty in forming friendships
  • behavior varies from mildly unusual, eccentric or ‘odd’ to quite aggressive and difficult
  • apparently good language skills, but difficulty with communication
  • anger and aggression when things do not happen as they want

Your son is unlikely to identify with your feelings or comprehend others’ objections to his behavior. The only explanation you should use with him is to specifically state that the objectionable behavior is not permitted. Your son needs to follow rules, and following rules can help to focus and modify his rebellious behavior.

Behavior modification is a therapeutic approach that can change your son’s behavior. You need to determine the need that his rebellion/aggression fulfills and teach him an acceptable replacement behavior. For example, your son can be taught to ask for, point to, or show an emotion card to indicate the need that he is trying to fulfill.

Sometimes, self-stimulating behaviors such as rocking or pacing are taught as replacement behaviors, but it will take time for your son to integrate these behaviors into his daily activities. If your son is severely out of control, he needs to be physically removed from the situation. Granted, this may be easier said than done, and you may need someone to help you; yet, behavior modification can be helpful, and it must be started as soon as possible.

For adolescents on the autism spectrum, the importance of maintaining a daily routine can't be stressed enough. A daily routine produces behavioral stability and psychological comfort. Also, it lessens their need to make demands. When you establish a daily routine, you eliminate some of the situations in which your son’s behavior becomes demanding. For example, by building in regular times to give him attention, he may have less need to show aggression to try to get that attention.

Ideally over time, your son will learn to recognize and communicate the causes of his aggression and get his needs met by using communication. Unfortunately, teens who get their needs met due to aggression or violence are very likely to continue and escalate this defiant behavior.

A behavior therapy program may help; however, an individualized program has to be designed specifically for your son because adolescents on the spectrum vary greatly in their challenges and/or family circumstances. Treatment approaches that work well with other diagnoses may not work with HFA. Consult a psychiatrist who can oversee a treatment plan as well as any medication regimen that your son may be need.

In addition to the suggestions listed above, here are a few simple parenting tips that may help:
  • Take care of yourself. Counseling can provide an outlet for your own mental health concerns that could interfere with the successful management of your son's defiant behavior. If you're depressed or anxious, that could lead to disengagement from your son, which can trigger or worsen oppositional behaviors. Let go of things that you or your son did in the past. Start each day with a fresh outlook and a clean slate. Learn ways to calm yourself, and take time for yourself. Develop outside interests, get some exercise, and spend some time away from your son to restore your energy.
  • Set up a routine. Develop a consistent daily schedule for your son. Asking him to help develop that routine can be helpful.
  • Set limits and enforce consistent reasonable consequences.
  • At first, your son is not likely to be cooperative or appreciate your changed response to his behavior. Setbacks and relapses are normal, so be prepared with a plan to manage those times. 
  • Remind yourself that your son’s defiance is most likely a temporary inconvenience rather than a permanent catastrophe.
  • Recognize and praise your son's positive behaviors. Be as specific as possible (e.g., "I really liked the way you cleaned up your room tonight").
  • Pick your battles carefully. Avoid power struggles. Almost everything can turn into a power struggle — if you let it.
  • Model the behavior you want your son to exhibit.
  • Develop a united front. Work with your partner/spouse to ensure consistent and appropriate discipline procedures.
  • Remember that behavior often temporarily worsens when new limits and expectations are set. However, with persistence and consistency, the initial hard work will pay off with improved behavior.
  • Build in time together. Develop a consistent weekly schedule that involves you and your son being together.
  • Assign your son a household chore that's essential and that won't get done unless he does it. Initially, it's important to set him up for success with tasks that are relatively easy to achieve, then gradually blend in more important and challenging expectations.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said... Its so good to not feel alone in this. My son emailed the principle and councilor this week with a page of cuss words, then says "he doesn't remember it". He never talks at home like that. Trying to find alternatives for anger, like using a punching bag. But that day I had no idea he was even upset that is what scares me. Praying lots and lots.
•    Anonymous said... My Son doesnt like going outside at all eather!... Not very nice if he's got a little Sis that does want to go and do nice things tho... But tried to take him out today, but it was Far to Busy! Really made him have a Noise overload in his head till now... We'v been back for 10 hours... Must be horrible for him...
•    Anonymous said... my son like that as well. Does not want to go outside because the kids are making poor choices
•    Anonymous said... Not only does the stew of Aspie issues flare up at new situations and new social expectations. But puberty hits and the hormones kick in like they do in non-Aspie kids. So you get a double dose of Teenage attitude.
•    Anonymous said... Puberty makes them begin to resemble something of aliens. lol Seriously though they do become quite difficult. The acting out, cussing, lying, etc., all are magnified x 3 during this time. Counseling and keeping the schedule has helped us. In the end however not much helps lately. Praying a lot. Good luck.
•    Anonymous said... There may be commorbid conditions. Mine has ODD and ADHD. But, yes, teens will always test limits. Be thankful he's a boy; ) Deep breaths. And approach delicately. Never demand, request. Always give him time to respond, and make a consequence that fits the "crime" and stick to it. Consistency is key to any austism spectrum disorder. Hugs.
•    Anonymous said... We have been through hell with my son since he turned 13 and now he is 16. I try to see the silver lining with him having to deal with ASD - one is that he doesn't want to leave the house because of his heightened social anxiety - so I know where he is at all times! At least he is not out hooning around and making bad choices with other idiot teenage boys. I'm hoping that by the time he is happy to engage again with society he will be dealing with other guys whose frontal lobe has developed (him too).
•    Anonymous said... You have to adjust your responses to the outbursts and also reinforce what good choices look like for your child as well as what bad choices look like. The teen years are rough for everyone, but Aspergers and kids in the Autism Spectrum have it even harder. Pick your battles. You do not always have to win an argument. Actively listening and explaining what is going on is the best win for both you and your family.
*   Anonymous said...My upstairs neighbors (mom) are very uncooperative when it comes to respecting my household! The teenage son stalks me, destroys my plants and flowers.. breaks my patio decor and had almost destroyed my 5ft windmill. He makes a lot of noise constantly and walks in place to make the floor squeak in many areas of their apartment... And, how does he know when I am using my bathroom... It's embarrassing that he lets me know he knows I'm in my bathroom because he will make noise or flush the toilet or run the water in the sink or bathtub... He will run out and sometimes stomp very loud upon exiting.

Post your comment below…

Explaining "the Birds and the Bees" to Teens on the Autism Spectrum

"My son (high functioning autistic) is 14. He knows he is different from other 'typical' teenagers, and he wants to know why. What do I say to him? Also, how would you start explaining sex and changes his body is going through?"

This is a tough question to answer, but at 14, your son is certainly ready for some explanation of his disorder. Here is a statement for you to follow when you answer your son’s question:

Lots of people have problems and challenges in life to deal with. Some of them can be seen and some can't. You have a condition known as high-functioning autism. We don’t know why you have it. Sometimes it is inherited from other people in a family. High-functioning autism has something to do with the genes that are in our bodies, and something may have happened to some of them before you were born. Children have the condition from the time they are born, but some children are going to school before the doctors diagnose it. More and more people are being diagnosed with this condition, but that’s probably because doctors and psychiatrists know more about it and what to look for than they did in the past. You are not the only teen with it - a lot of teenagers have it, so you are not alone.

Some kids and teenagers can be very critical of a peer who doesn’t act, talk or think like them. And a child with Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can easily take this criticism as a sign that he or she isn't good enough or cool enough to be in the group. It is important for you to stress to your son that “different” does not mean inferior.

Re: explaining sex...

Sex education basics may be covered in health class, but your son might not hear or understand everything he needs to know. That's where the parent comes in. Sex education is a parent's responsibility. But if you wait for the perfect moment, you might miss the best opportunities. Instead, think of sex education as an ongoing discussion.

Here are some tips to help you get started and to keep the conversation going:

1. Clearly state your feelings about specific issues (e.g., oral sex, intercourse, etc.). Present the risks objectively, including emotional pain, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Explain, for example, that oral sex isn't a risk-free alternative to intercourse.

2. If you're uncomfortable, say so — but explain that it's important to keep talking. If you don't know how to answer your son's questions, offer to find the answers or look them up together.

3. Don't lecture your son or rely on scare tactics to discourage sexual activity. Instead, listen carefully. Understand your son's pressures, challenges and concerns.

4. Let your son know that it's perfectly acceptable to talk with you about sex whenever he has questions or concerns. Reward questions by saying, "I'm glad you came to me."

5. Your son needs accurate information about sex — but it's just as important to talk about feelings, attitudes and values. Examine questions of ethics and responsibility in the context of your personal or religious beliefs.

6. When a television program or music video raises issues about responsible sexual behavior, use it as a springboard for conversation. Remember that everyday moments (e.g., riding in the car together, walking in the park, putting away groceries, etc.) may offer the best opportunities for discussing the topic.

With your support, your son can emerge into a sexually responsible grown-up. Be honest and speak from the heart. Don't be discouraged if your son doesn't seem interested in what you have to say. Say it anyway. Studies show that teenagers whose moms and dads talk openly about sex are more responsible in their sexual behavior.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said... He already knows he's HFA. We talk about the birds and bees stuff. He's more uncomfortable with it than I am. But I tell him. .you gotta know! He runs in his room, then I tell him some more another day. Its an ongoing process.
•    Anonymous said... He should know he has HFA. We told my nephew as soon as he could understand.
•    Anonymous said... I guess for me since I have a daughter was to be honest, brutally honest about all of it, because of the "woman" stuff she had to know a little sooner but being honest and open has its perks
•    Anonymous said... I think this woman's son knows he's HFA. I hope he does!
•    Anonymous said... I told my son at an early age, all in correct terms, he then had more education in school starting in the 4th grade. He still comes to me with any questions. I make the conversation matter of fact. My son was 11 and asked me if he had Asperger's while watching a news special during Autism awareness month. He has recently asked me when I knew he was different. (He is 15 this month) I asked if he remembered the first time he wanted a toy~ we literally threw him in the minivan and immediately drove to Toys RUS! It's really something seeing him mature. Good Luck1
•    Anonymous said... If he's super factual, maybe some medical/science-type books on reproductive development. My 6-year-old has been looking at my Netter's Anatomy books since he was like 3. He's obsessed with them.
•    Anonymous said... 'making sense of sex by' sarah attwood , written specifically for teens with AS. Has everything about growing up, bullying, crushes, hygiene etc....
•    Anonymous said... My son wasn't interested in books that were recommended to help him understand AS. I finally got the idea to give him the WebMD print out on it. Worked like a charm. He needed the facts, and only the facts. He knew he was different and needed to know why. And most importantly that he is not alone.
•    Anonymous said... Tony Attwood has done a lot of research and has information on this as well.

*   Anonymous said... My 5 YO HFA son is doing a sexual behavior which keep me worried about him. He always looks to my chest and start behaving very strange, open legs pushing his lower body forward. Could`nt get the  reason behind this behavior which scares me alot ...he is only 5!

Post your comment below…

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...