The Connections Between ADHD and ASD

"Are there any connections between ADHD children and those with high functioning autism? My child is diagnosed with ADHD, but he seems to cross over a bit with weak social skills and emotional behavior. How do you determine what is ADHD-related behavior versus autism-related behavior?"

The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) do mimic one another, and there are some connections between ADHD and HFA. In fact, there are dual diagnoses of ADHD and HFA in many cases.

Both of these diagnoses are developmental disorders. They share many of the same behavioral features and both affect children in the areas of behavior, communication, and social interaction. As a result, there is often some confusion as to which disorder is present. Medical, mental health and educational professionals need to be trained to differentiate between the disorders and diagnose the correct one.

Here is a list of the behaviors that may be seen in HFA and/or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
  • Avoids attending to details
  • Behavior driven by impulses
  • Cannot talk or play quietly
  • Constantly active
  • Difficulty interacting with peers
  • Difficulty with appropriate emotional responses
  • Disruptive with others
  • Does not want to wait
  • Exhibits severe temper tantrums
  • Fearlessness
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Has difficulty listening or conversing
  • Impatient
  • Impulsive work effort that results in mistakes
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Inattentive
  • Inconsistent fine motor skills
  • Interrupts others
  • Makes mistakes in work activities
  • Minimal eye contact
  • Physical over-activity or lack of physical activity
  • Problems with gross/fine motor skills
  • Resistant to intimacy
  • Risk taker
  • Talks and/or acts inappropriately
  • Temper tantrums without provocation
  • Willingly becomes involved in potentially dangerous activities

==> More information on the ASD/ADHD overlap can be found here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


•    Anonymous said... Very helpful.
•    Anonymous said... Aspergers is like living in a black and white world. There is no grey area for these kids. It is or it is not and it's hard to reason with them. My son is 8 and has ADHD, aniexty disorder and aspergers. His meltdowns are few as long as we keep a very strick schedule. The school is actually easier then the summer. My son had a melt down at his diving practice the other day when another boy came in and cut him in line. At this age it should get you a little mad but not a tantrum. They can fixate on a topic and won't let it go. My son had an argument with his teacher last year over one thousand and him saying 10 hundred is short for a thousand.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with adhd last week. They also said he's right on the edge of being in the autism spectrum. They suspect high functioning and aspergers but because it was so close he was only diagnosed with adhd right now. He's 5.
•    Anonymous said... Thank you for posting this! My child was diagnosed with ADHD in 1st grade. Last year (4th grade) her resource teacher started questioning Aspergers as well. We will begin testing in 5th grade.
•    Anonymous said… I had the same thing with my child's school. Was a Tough battle do they put it..." we are experienced..." as if we as mothers are so uneducated and don't know our kids you know. Very frustrating.
•    Anonymous said… I have a grandson with ADHD and one with autism. Many similarities.
•    Anonymous said… I think people only react that way to medication because it's being used more often than not, as "the easy way out" to deal with "difficult" children.
•    Anonymous said… I'm wondering how many children have both? We're in the beginnings of getting a diagnosis. They told us adhd vs asd or both. Like other parents, he can sit for hours and read a book, build with Legos and has no problem with attention span when it is something he desires to do or learn. Any input is appreciated. We are 5 months out from our official multidisciplinary evaluation to give us answers. As a nurse, I suspect my nephew has both. Unfortunately, he suffered significant trauma, neglect and abuse and we have been chasing that rabbit down the hole for a long time.
•    Anonymous said… It is important to get the right diagnosis because the education programs implemented in IEPs for ADHD are different than what can be included in ASD educational modification plans.
•    Anonymous said… It took from kindergarten to the end of second grade to get his diagnosis from the school psychiatrist. He was tested for ADHD, language reception, IQ, gifted, etc...all first. If they had just listened to me and tested for ASD at the start he wouldn't have fallen behind Thankfully during that time he had teachers who went above and beyond to accomodate him as best they could until he got an IEP and his third grade teachers got him caught up very quickly.
•    Anonymous said… My dd20 has both and takes meds. I'm offended when people get on their high horse about medication. Some people would not function without them!
•    Anonymous said… my son has ADHD and Aspergers
•    Anonymous said… My son has Aspergers and a diagnosis of ADHD. My daughter also Aspergers, no formal diagnosis of ADHD but it is present.
•    Anonymous said… My son is both too- and yes they do cross over and I wondered exactly the same as you.
•    Anonymous said… My son is both. ADD diagnosed first. Yes they crosssover.
•    Anonymous said… My sons ADHD said out of all her years of practicing she's never had an autistic/ Asperger child not have ADHD- it's hand and glove -- I'm surprised more have not been told this  😬
•    Anonymous said… Personally I think many cases of ADHD are misdiagnosed and are really Aspergers. It's the first thing a school suggests and many parents do not delve any deeper. I knew my son was not ADHD as he could sit for hours focused on a single thing [among other symptoms]. I mentioned when they brought up attention deficit testing that I thought he had a touch of autism and pushed the evaluation in that direction, which greatly displeased the school counselor because she thought otherwise and was all about meds.
•    Anonymous said… Possible to have both. My son does. Sophisticated educational testing which I paid for and evaluation which the school district paid for got to the bottom of it all.
•    Anonymous said… These symptoms do go along with autism much of the time, but I personally think ADHD is over-diagnosed. It's easy to slap that diagnosis on someone who presents with hyperactivity and inattention, but these are often symptoms, rather than an actual diagnosis. For example, hyperactivity and inattention often go along with sensory processing disorder, and SPD affects at least 75% of people with autism. The treatment for ADHD is medication, whereas the treatment for SPD is occupational therapy. Since SPD is prevalent in kids with autism and the treatment differs from that of ADHD, it's important to determine the root of these symptoms in order to correctly treat them.
•    Anonymous said… They are often co morbid diagnoses
•    Anonymous said… Yes and since the upping of toxins into developing babies/brains, a big explosion in both and the severity. Follow the stats. People didn't believe in ADHD either unfortunately. Then they just over prescribed drugs, none of this natural (the numbers, drugs or directly injected neurotoxins). Yuck.
*   Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 4-5years of age. I'm looking into an alternative diagnosis because I think they got it wrong!! He is now 9-10years old. Thanks for the article and other comments- I think I'm on the right track!! Understanding HFA could help to prevent the constant WW3 in our home.
Post your comment below…

Inflexibility and Rigid Thinking in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"How can I break through the rigid thinking that prevents my child (high functioning) from making a connection between his misbehavior and negative consequences? Once he gets an idea in his head, no amount of evidence to the contrary will persuade him."

One big challenge for kids with ASD Level 1, or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), is mind-blindness. Mind-blindness refers to the inability to understand and empathize with the needs, beliefs, and intentions that drive other people’s behavior. Without this ability, these young people can’t make sense of the world.

The world is constantly confusing them, and they go through life making mistakes because nothing makes sense. These children can’t connect their own needs, beliefs, and intentions to experiences and positive or negative consequences. Many kids on the autism spectrum are unaware that they even have this problem, even if they know they have the diagnosis.

In any event, HFA children can learn to compensate for mind-blindness with a lifetime of constant “counseling” by good parents, educators, and therapists. Some grown-ups with the disorder can read books and learn, but HFA kids need others to help them. With good help, they can grow up to lead nearly normal lives. 

Moms and dads must understand that their "special needs" kids must be taught to use logic to make sense of the world and the people in it, one personal situation at a time. Here are some “rules” that can help parents assist their youngster in making sense of things:
  1. Every human behavior has a reason behind it, even if I don’t see it.
  2. I will not give up my rigid thinking until I find the reason for a behavior or until I am satisfied that I do not have enough information to find it.
  3. When I find the reason, all the pieces will fall into place and not a single one will be left that doesn’t fit.
  4. After I find it, I will dig further to try to disprove it.
  5. If I find a single piece that doesn’t fit, then I still have a problem. I’ll go back to step 2 with the problem.
  6. I will force myself to accept what I have in front of me as the truth, even if I find it hard to believe
  7. Most people usually talk about the things they want, and openly say what they believe. Women tend to talk more than men and focus on feelings more.
  8. When somebody’s behavior flies in the face of logic, I will concentrate on his or her feelings.
  9. Some people are so messed up that it is just not possible to figure them out. I must know when to give up.
  10. I must be patient when trying to make sense of things, because my first assumption will probably be faulty.

Put the concepts above in words that your child will understand. Also, you can make up additional rules that may be more applicable to your specific situation.

A parent’s strategy should be to get their HFA children obsessed with the need to make sense of the world and help them understand that the mysteries of human behavior disappear when one understands the appropriate states of mind behind them. Also, to help them realize that once the state of mind is understood, people’s future behavior can be anticipated. But, how does a mother or father do that when their child isn’t motivated to do so because they don’t realize there’s a need?

Parents should do the following:
  1. Teach the child to make sense of the world by himself (eventually).
  2. Constantly explain people’s states of mind to him and what they mean until he learns to figure them out on his own. This means explaining the wants, needs, and beliefs that drive human behavior and the reasons behind all the unwritten rules that are part of human relationships.
  3. Give the child books to read. Explain his challenges and that he is in a state of confusion without being aware of it. Explain how each person feels about the world and about his own life. Explain that every person has a different set of values and that their behavior is driven by these values. Explain also your own state of mind and emotions constantly. Explain why you explain things to him. Explain that he should ask you questions about things he doesn’t understand. Do these things over and over and over.
  4. Explain his needs to him. It is only when he understands what he wants himself that he will have a basis for understanding that others also have wants, and that peoples’ wants are what makes them behave the way they do. If you explain something over and over, and he never ‘gets it’, the reason could be that there is more basic knowledge that he doesn’t have in order to understand.
  5. Protect your HFA kids from the cruelty of others. Some people are not going to pass up the opportunity to treat them badly. You should explain that this is going to happen, and that they should not feel ashamed to go to you for support. They are going to meet people that will try to convince them they are worthless. You must convince them that they can and will make a success of life, as many individuals on the spectrum have. Explain the states of mind of these people and why they do what they do – over and over.
  6. Explain before punishing. If you punish a child for doing behavior “A,” all that he is going to learn is that if he does behavior “A” again, he is going to be punished again. He will not understand why he should not do behavior “A” in the first place.

It is this constant explaining and counseling by parents, educators, and therapists over years and years of living, repeated over and over again, that eventually will help the child break through the bonds of mind-blindness and learn to handle life successfully – on his or her own. Don’t give up, and get others to help you.

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

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

What other parents have had to say on this matter:

•    Anonymous said... I have Aspergers and a son, who is now twelve, has Aspergers. My wife isn't diagnosed but I'm fairly sure that she has ODD. My mother in law lives with us and she has OCD to an extent I've only seen in television. It has taken me four years since I was diagnosed to work at getting to the point where I don't have meltdowns. The constant struggle over trying to be a parent to an Asperger's child, maintaining the household financials and maintenance, and learning to understand how the chemical and neurological aspects fit into almost all environments we are a part. It has taken me some time but I have worked at watching an listening to my son to understand where and when I have reached a barrier. With the filmographic memory that many people with Aspergers have, I can remember all the struggles with no one to help and always being yelled at to fit in. I am being patient and working with him to understand that this neurological difference is just that a difference. It has it days as I have neared meltdowns due to the stress because no one will believe that an adult with Asperger's can maintain a normal life by watching an mimicking normal behavior. I with his mother are working with him so that he understands he is doing a good job while imparting the importance of letting my wife and I know when he cannot understand even the smallest of details. It is a work in progress that I pray that I get better so my son has all of the understanding and resources he needs to succeed in life
•    Anonymous said... it definitely takes some getting used to! people have no idea what it's like to be a mum to an aspie! The thing to remember is that you dont control them any more than any parents control thier kids! In fact aspie kids often have better manners because once they learn a rule, it sticks and they dont do things like showing off and all that. I find that I'm my own biggest critic. I think that we have or should have the same expectations for behavior but have a completely different way of getting there. That's how I've always tried to view it. I just keep plugging away at teaching social thinking and how to interact with others. I guess I'm sort of old school about manners and decorum and that's been part of the game all along. I do however think no one can understand what a hard and sometimes seemingly insurmountable thing it is until they are in the same boat we are.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 17 and we still struggle with this. It has gotten a lot better but it is something to work on continuously
•    Anonymous said... My son old constantly hits and squeezes babies in an effort to either get them to cry or to stop crying. The other day he hit a five month old in the head with a really heavy ball to get it to stop crying, however that wasn't even the baby that was crying; the sound was coming from pretty far away. I've tried explaining a million times that all babies don't cry all the time, that they don't all say, "goo goo ga ga" specifically, etc. Once mine latches on to a "rule" he can't let it go. Anybody ever had this? What did you do?
•    Anonymous said... firstly, curtail any more baby exposure before someone gets badly hurt. ( if you can, not always easy). Then get embarked on the lifetime of teaching you have to face up to. There are no quick fixes. every minute of every day needs to be an example and a teaching experience. I would recoomend strongly to see a professional who provides social thinking and therapy of that nature. It's too much for just one mom!!! Dont give up, you'd be surprised what they can learn.
•    Anonymous said... This is my 10 year old, so difficult as those that don't understand Aspergers are quick to judge you as a bad parent, who is unable to control your child xx
•    Anonymous said... My daughter is 17 now ..still has her way of thinking but amazes me everyday.. was a very hard time for her growing up and me as a parent. . Now I m going threw the same with my 6 year old son... I see the long road ahead yet again but a beautiful light ... it's a rough n tough world out there already... all us parents can hope for is any child asd or not to be happy and take lil steps to be proud of who they are.... ahhh emotional mommy over here.. good luck to all!!
•    Anonymous said... There way or the highway! No change of mind! Hard work
•    Anonymous said... They really do have their own way of thinking
•    Anonymous said... We can video our son doing something to help show what he did and he still says he didn't do it because n his mind he was doing some thing else
•    Anonymous said... We try to see his differences as gifts as everyone should. Just because someone can't walk doesn't mean they can't contribute in society. Same with all children with these difference. Even if it's just teaching someone else tolerance and compassion 
•    Anonymous said... Yes.... This is my life. One day at a time.

Please post your comment below…

Understanding the Mind of a Child on the Autism Spectrum

"My 7-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism. This is all so new to me. How can I understand the way she thinks? We are definitely not on the same page much of the time!"

Kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) may have underdeveloped areas in the brain that cause problems in the following areas:
  • understanding the thoughts and feelings of others
  • learning appropriate social skills and responses
  • focusing on “the real world” as opposed to becoming absorbed in their own thoughts and obsessions
  • communication

Children and teens on the autism spectrum are often extremely literal in their interpretation of others’ conversations (e.g., they may wonder if cats and dogs are really raining down or think there are two suns when someone talks about two sons). They are unable to recognize differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of what others’ say. Your daughter may not understand a joke or take a sarcastic comment literally.

For HFA children, learning social skills is like learning a foreign language. They are unable to recognize non-verbal communication that “typical” kids learn without formal instruction. For example:
  • how to interpret facial expressions
  • how to tell when someone does not want to listen any longer
  • not understanding the appropriate distance to stand from another person when talking

Many kids on the spectrum will be highly aware of right and wrong and will bluntly announce what is wrong. They will recognize others’ shortcomings, but not their own. Consequently, the behavior of young people with the disorder is likely to be inappropriate through no fault of their own.

Kids with HFA need routine and predictability, which gives them a sense of safety. Change can cause stress, and too much change can lead to meltdowns (or shutdowns). Changes that are stressful for them include:
  • changing a bedroom curtain or the color of the walls
  • doing things in a different order (e.g., putting pants on before a shirt)
  • going to the bathroom at someone else’s home
  • having a different teacher at school
  • starting a new routine

Routines and predictability help them remain calm. Your daughter’s thinking may be totally focused on only one or two interests, about which she is very knowledgeable. Many kids on the spectrum are interested in parts of a whole. For example:
  • astronomy
  • designing houses
  • drawing highly detailed scenes
  • insects
  • intricate jigsaw puzzles
  • Pokemon
  • the computer
  • trains

Because her brain is obsessed by her interest, your daughter may talk only about it, even when others are carrying on a conversation on a different topic.

These kids notice details, rather than the “whole” picture. The importance of the detail prevents the HFA youngster from understanding the bigger picture, so instructions may get lost in her focus on a single detail. A lesson at school may be totally ignored in favor of a fly on the wall. Multiple instructions are extremely difficult for these kids to retain and follow.

Kids on the spectrum are not able to access their frontal cortex or prefrontal lobe efficiently, so they must call on social skills from their memories. If a social skill has not been taught, they won’t have it. Consequently, turn taking, imagination, conversation, and other people’s points of view cause them great difficulty. The youngster may be unable to realize consequences outside her way of thinking. In addition, she can’t recognize when someone is lying to her or trying to take advantage of her.

Anger in HFA kids often occurs due to over-stimulation of the senses or a change in routine. It is often the only response the youngster knows. Anger-management presents problems. They see things in black and white, which results in tantrums when they don’t get their own way, or when they feel threatened or overwhelmed. 
Some kids with the disorder bottle-up anger and turn it inward and hit or bite themselves, never revealing where the trouble is. Many young people on the autism spectrum are perfectionists, reacting with anger when things don’t go as they wish.

One of the most difficult thinking patterns is mind-blindness. Mind-blindness is the lack of ability to understand the emotions, feelings, motivations, and logic of others – and not care that they don’t understand! Consequently, they behave without regard to the welfare of others. The only way they will ever change their thinking or behavior is if it is in their own interest to do so. Even then, convincing a youngster with HFA to change her mind is an uphill battle.

More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

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

Teaching Social Skills to Teens on the Autism Spectrum: Tips for Parents

"How should I deal with my 13-year-old son now? Should I simply accept him as he is now, or should I actively try to teach him ways to socialize in order to ‘fit in’ better (e.g., look in a person’s eyes when talking, how to be a friend, conversations should be two way instead of him delivering a monologue, etc.). Are these skills even teachable?"

These skills are very teachable, and you should definitely work on them with your child. This type of teaching should begin even earlier than age 13. But, at age 13, your child is likely to learn them more easily than he would have at a younger age.

Teens with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's often have a difficult time during adolescence. They become isolated socially and face rejection and bullying due to the fact that they act differently from others. They long for friends, but have very weak social skills.

There are some teens that do well during these years (if they are indifferent to peer-pressure and focused on a special interest of their own). Encouraging your child to develop a special interest may help him form friendships with other teenagers that have the same interest.

One of the biggest issues for most teenagers on the autism spectrum is that they don’t care about the usual fads, adolescent activities, and peer expectations. Sometimes their interests are more appropriate for younger kids. Males may be rejected if they are not interested in sports. Some of these issues can be resolved by helping your child learn about fads, adolescent life, and sports.
==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Even if your child isn’t very interested or doesn’t want to participate in them, it will help him understand his friends. Teach him how to talk about celebrities, teen rituals, and sports using social stories and role-playing. Focus on teaching him how to speak briefly, and then wait for the other person to respond before he speaks again.

Encourage your child to initiate contact with friends, leave phone messages, and arrange social activities. Encourage him to join clubs, especially those that focus on a special interest of his. Some teenagers enjoy talking with other teens on the spectrum in internet chat rooms, forums, and on message boards.

It helps "special needs" teenagers if moms and dads are involved in arranging social interactions with friends. Parents should help organize and supervise appropriate activities. Teaching your son how to join a group, become a part of it, how to converse on common topics, make eye contact, etc., will definitely be a big boost to his emotional development.

Behavioral therapy with a counselor also helps these young people learn how to function. Any kind of therapy takes effort on the part of the teen and his mother or father. The success of therapy depends on the teen’s own desire to fit in.

Social stories can be used to teach appropriate behavior in a variety of settings. Social stories may be used by parents, therapists, or educators. Social Stories are a tool for teaching social skills and provide accurate information about situations that your child may find difficult or confusing. A situation is described in detail, and focus is placed on a few key points:
  • the actions and reactions that might be expected of the child
  • why certain actions and reactions are expected
  • important social cues
  • events and reactions the child might expect to occur

The goal is to (a) increase the child’s understanding of a particular situation, (b) make him more comfortable in social interactions, and (c) teach some responses that are appropriate for the context of the social exchange. 
More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

Here's what parents of teens with HFA and Asperger's have had to say about this issue:

Anonymous said... I started teaching my kid ways to socialize since she was 2, because in the park she always wanted to play by herself, and I always tried her to play with others. Today she is 9, and she still have problems to make friends, but she has improved a lot. Yes, you can teach your kid how to socialize. Just remember that it will take a lot of effort and you will not see the results right away.

Anonymous said... Why would you want to change who he is? Society perhaps should adapt to him. Pressure to be like others and to fit in with others is stressful and unnecessary.

Anonymous said... i do accept my son the way he is but i also teach him what is acceptable socially.

Anonymous said... My daughter is 8, and it is hard for ME to see her watch other kids, look like she wants to play with them, but doesnt know how. She is a high functioning Aspie, but with social things she doesnt do well with. Now if there are younger kids she sometimes attempts to play with them, mentally she is only 5, but the lil kids are intimidtaed by her size and dont understand she just wants to play.

Anonymous said... I could have written that myself !!! LOL Mine comes home from school crying that she's not allowed to play with the kids she understands, and doesn't understand the kids she's allowed to play with

Anonymous said... My son is 14 and he is different but he dose his best to fit in and it works he is very popular with many of his friends he go, s to under age disco, s and dances, and he is very lucky , but iv just let him be who he is and yes he has been bullied when he was younger but lucky he has gone forward in being a teenager and has gone leaps and bounds, my other aspie child is very different and she is nearly a teenager not sure how she will go but iv bought her up to be confident , in her normal self and with her differences made them special and all her friend love her , so all I cam say is love who they are and appreciate there differences and they will be fine ......:)

Anonymous said... Re: Why would you want to change who he is? Society prehaps should adapt to him. Pressure to be like others and to fit in with others is stressful and unnecessary... ...Unfortunately society is not likely to adapt to the Aspergers child. In fact, if the Aspergers child does not learn how to "fit-in", he/she may very well find himself/herself on the receiving end of some form of abuse. Sad fact for sure.

Anonymous said... In order to succeed socializing is a key component help him to learn skills that will help him navigate a social setting when necessary. There is a difference between choosing not to socialize and not knowing how to. You want him to know how to. We don't change our children that is impossible we equip, empower and build their skills. Socializing is a skill.

Anonymous said... They definitely are teachable. Some of it will depend on how much he wants to fit in. I was desperate to fit in, so I learned to look at people's mouths instead of eyes. I often don't say much to people to begin with, I tell them straight-up that I would love to get to know them but I struggle sometimes because I have Aspergers. Try to teach your son the important stuff... Good listening skills, the ability to try and see things from another's point of view, and most importantly that there are other people with Aspergers who he can vent to when the world frustrates him. He needs to feel comfortable being himself, even if he doesn't always fit in (no one ever fits in everywhere, Aspie or not). It took me til I was 29 to be told by my ASD son and daughter's psych that I have Aspergers. My own psych confirmed it. All I knew was that I never felt right. It used to make me really depressed. Now I know why I always felt like a freak, I love being Aspie. I accept myself, and I'm much much happier.

Anonymous said...This article could have been written about my 14 year old son. It is a constant effort to coach him through his social interactions. Luckily he is not defiant, and he is making progress, but it is slow . I wish society could be more forgiving, but it's tough out there, so I won't give up. Thank you for a great article.

Anonymous said... Your never going to be able to teach him anything.....All you can do is hope he grows out of his me I've tried everything. And also me and my wife don't believe in meds.....That's just another addicting drug to add to an already bad situation.

Anonymous said...  My son is now 15 we/ he will never stop learning and growing! I think if I just left things as is , even though there are struggles my son Liam goes through, he would be disappointed in me if I didn't stay growing in this life with him and help him, yes help him not push him for all the negative commenters, to be his best him. Think about it, is it really any different if he didn't have Asperger? I also have a younger son, 14, its my responsibility and privileged to help him in any way to figure out his life, get him any help he needs as he grows. There are sooo many things you can do to still challenge him and yet make his life fun at the same time. Just get some help, lots and lits of help lol cuz us Asperger/autism moms need it! Don't give up just because it may seem hopeless at times or frustrating, it will be worth it in the end! God bless, Good luck, were here for you!

Anonymous said... All kids are and my wife are not being discouraging. Even his doctor said all I can do is hope he grows out of some of his ways and over the last two years he has started to actually grow up some.

Anonymous said... as soon as I adopted my son, I asked a doc to take him off his meds. He's fine now. He's 15 and as he gets older, I see less awkwardness and more maturity. It's just a process but mostly you just have to keep pointing them in the right direction.

Anonymous said... Aspergers is just ONE part of your child! It is not the definition of your child ... Of course You should "accept" him - what else are you going to do, shun him!? Oh yes, please - lets do what everyone else in society is doing so he has no sense of safety!!! Grrr. This is 2015, people! Of course you should teach your child manners and expect him to behave accordingly (tho no one is perfect.) It's an on-going thing - social skills, learning to read social cues from peers - it's an every-day practiced task .... It takes patience & training. and for what it's worth - I feel like there is nothing wrong w/ using meds if that's what works for you ... I used to say "I never ..." Well guess what - life has taught me to never say "never" and never say "always." Can we please stop judging one another & try to be supportive?! If you're a parent of a child who is on the spectrum, you should at least know this much: you've met one kid on the spectrum, you've met one kid on the spectrum .... No one is alike in their diagnosis. So please - when everyone else in the world is shunning our amazing kids, can we please try to show them a little love & understanding?

Anonymous said... Be thankful your child didn't need meds. Mine could not have attended school if we didn't use them for anxiety and he is now a pleasant 17 year old. His behaviors have constantly changed and improved over the years. Maturity and experience help. We still limit too much exposure to crowds, smells, stress, but he is so much more willing to try different situations now.

Anonymous said... I don't give my Apsie 13 yr old daughter meds. I have never treated her like she is different, she gets enough of that at school. Aspie kids are NOT dumb, stupid, or idiots. They learn. Right now my aspie kid is helping my sister in law out with organizing stuff. She is the laziest child, part of this may be the apsie in her, part I know is the 13 yr old. I make my kid go places sometimes, not all the time, just sometimes. Take him swimming at the public pool. If that's too much, go early when it first opens. Take them to the mall, even if it's a 15-30 min trip. Never give up, and never think anything is impossible! My kids teach me this everyday!

Anonymous said... I thinks dads in general are negative. My son's father told him he was sick of his aspergers. Just stop it. HELLO!!!! It isn't going away. You have to deal with it. Two young men in Seattle that have aspergers started a self help and coaching. Aspergers experts.they are awesome.

Anonymous said... I work with children and aspergers children, its in my family and I'm told I am. Teach your children love, kindness and acceptance. I am always real with children I have had some lovely experiences of aspergers children, I love their honesty. We all have to fit into this world, thus sometimes cruel world, but they'll be fine if they have guidance.

Anonymous said... Where there is a will there is a way. I will never give up on my son and if one way does t work we will find another. My son is 8 and we take each day as it comes. We have looked foe things he is good at and it turns out he is a great springboard diver. We are looking to get him a service dog (they have great success with aspergers kids) we see a therapist every other week because he like going and talking to him. His meds doctor has been great and monitors him closely. We still have bad days and we still have our struggles but really what kid doesnt. Things sink in you just can't give up

Anonymous said... Meds are more then likely not for Aspies, but for anxiety. My son has major anxiety and could not even leave his room without them. Being an Aspie is not a problem at all! Unless you blame the anxiety from having Aspergers. Learning daily and trying to get through.

Anonymous said... My aspie is beautiful xx and from a young age has been a blessing .. he events teaches me stuff and in return he wants to learn to socialise we reach each other . And I wouldn't have him any other way .. the anxiety comes in stages and at his age it's up to me to recognise when and what to do quickly.

Anonymous said... Are you a parent? Then it is your job to teach your child how to function and act in their world. I'm confused why if a child is an Aspie, you aren't supposed to parent? I'm an Aspie, my son's an Aspie. Most people think he is neurotypical in brief meetings, and that I am outgoing. Why? Because we work to learn how to convey behaviours that are socially acceptable. That doesn't mean we are completely without our quirks. My son is 11 and feels more comfortable in his skin knowing he can respond appropriately in certain situations, and minimize awkwardness. Once he gets to know someone, they've already achieved some comfort in his presence and are accepting of his quirks. He'll never be a cookie cutter person, but he also will have the know how to convey compassion and empathy to the people he cares about, even if he doesn't fully understand the problem they are having.

Anonymous said... We help our son as much as we can.he has special help at school,special docs etc we haven't given up its just that the more things change the more they stay the same it just gets discouraging to us at times.....that's all...prayer is the thing that works the best.without God we couldn't deal with it as we do.but it is hard but with Gods help he will grow up into a fine young boy and we do love him.

Anonymous said... We tried to connect with other families with kids that are simular and we joined a social group. We go out to other kids houses and special outings by our group. We found that the more confortable our son is with something the more like he is to be more social. An example is finding friends for our son, he is now confortable going out in public with his friends or with groups where he has already meet people. He has taught some of his friends the things he like (yu gi oh) and they have taught him some of their's. That way they are not always talking about their one thing. Also if you can find a group for things your son likes then he can talk with them about stuff. The more you get out the more confortable he will be. Not sure where you are but there is a group called TAG teens w/ aspergers group in our area and we do a lot of fun things together. It's a nice time for parents to talk too.

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Helping Your Other Kids Cope with Their "Special Needs" Sibling

"My autistic son (high functioning) is 11 and my youngest son is 4. My 11-year-old verbally attacks my 4-year-old and my 4-year-old just stands there looking dazed and confused. How can I get my 11-year-old to stop doing this and how can I protect my 4-year-old from it? It is really starting to take a toll on my relationship with my husband. (The 11-year-old is his stepson and the 4-year-old is ours together.) Not to mention the toll it is taking on my 4-year-old. He loves his brother so much and wants nothing more than to spend time with him. His feelings get so hurt when his brother yells, screams, calls names, and tells him he hates him. I have tried sending 11-year-old to his room, talking to him, taking things away, watching the situation and trying to stop it before it happens, but it happens so quickly, it’s hard to see it coming. What can I do?"

First of all, find a time when you and your husband can sit down and have a talk with your 11-year-old, without the 4-year-old being present. Calmly, each of you should tell him how sad and upset you feel when he yells and screams at his little brother.

The goal is to make him feel guilty about this behavior and to understand that it is unacceptable. Point out to him how awful it would be if you and your husband acted that way toward him. Ask him how he would feel if you yelled, screamed, and called him names. Be specific describing such a situation to help him understand how bad he would feel. Then make the point that his little brother feels the same way.

Tell him that he cannot continue yelling, screaming, and calling names and that if he does, he will be punished. The punishment should be “time out” in a room (other than his bedroom) alone for 15 minutes with no fun activities available to him, following by apologizing to his brother.

Do this every time he acts inappropriately. Each time after his time out, sit him down and explain again why he must not act this way and that it is unacceptable. Find out why he had “a meltdown.” Help him find an alternate way that he could have handled the situation. Have him practice it. You may have to do this many, many times.

To stop verbal abuse, you may need to use other forms of behavior modification as well. You must determine the need that your son’s behavior fulfills and teach him a replacement behavior. For example, if he yells when his brother uses his things, teach him to come to you with a single code word, and when he does, help him handle the situation. This takes time. If the youngster is severely out of control, then removing the youngster from the situation is required. As you know, this may be easier said than done.

Behavior modification should be started early. You may need the help of a counselor or psychiatrist to help you deal with this now before it escalates into physical abuse. Hopefully your 11-year-old will learn to communicate the cause of his anger and get his needs met by doing so. Unfortunately, kids who get what they want because of misbehavior are likely to continue and escalate such behavior.

Your son may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or another disorder in tandem with high-functioning autism. Some theorists claim that ODD is a result of incomplete development; the ODD youngster has never completed the developmental tasks of normal kids. The youngster is stuck at the 3-year-old level of development and never grows out of it. In this case, medical intervention may be necessary.

Another theory about ODD is that it is a result of negative interactions, possibly interactions that occur away from home. This theory states that having successfully used anger and abuse as a way to get needs met, the youngster continues to use it.

ODD does not usually occur alone. About 35% of ODD kids have an affective disorder and 20% may have a mood disorder, such as Bipolar Disorder. Other ODD kids have personality or learning disorders. It is imperative that your son is evaluated for other disorders.

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

Here's what other parents have had to say:

*   Anonymous said... Social stories on sharing, correct behavior, controlling outbursts, etc.. are a good start. it seems the communication level is way off between the brothers. the age difference is the most obvious, but also, how they approach one another. It's hard for the 4 yr old to understand AS, so he'll approach his brother when the mood strikes, not knowing if his older brother is even approachable at that time. I see this with our 15 yr old son & our 6 yr old son w/AS. I would suggest that you ask your son's doctor/therapist about Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT). We did this for 6 months & it made a world of difference. It teaches you & family how to communicate with an AS child, how to set rules/boundaries & discipline efforts that really work!! I was amazed at the positive changes in our lives!! It takes a month before you see changes, but stick with it... positive changes will come!! Praying for your family!!

•    Anonymous said... I have given my daughter a trashcan and told her to say her words in it.That way everybody knows that it is not intended to hurt them,just an Aspie out of control.So when she needed to say things she could grab the trashcan.Incidentally I don't think we have need of the trashcan much anymore.Same thing when I taught Kindergarten many years ago and the potty mouth years emerged.I just told they kids they could only say those words in the bathroom and to feel free to go to the bathroom and say them to their hearts content.When they figured out it wasted their playtime they quit.Of course,there were not Aspie kids but the daughter and the trashcan are.

•    Anonymous said... Recommend reading and applying 'The Explosive Child' by Dr Greene - explains why rigid, chronically inflexible, easily frustrated children have meltdowns & how to handle situations

•    Anonymous said... This is one of my biggest struggles with my 13 yr old and 8 yr old. This has always been very difficult to deal with, and hard to figure out where to even start. For me it is not his choice in words, but seeming apathy and dislike for her. She asks often why he hates her, and has begun to take every word he says personally.

•    Anonymous said... About protecting your 4-year old- watch for the pre-signs that your son is having a hard time, or escalating- sometimes they go from 0-10 with no warning, but try to find out what his triggers are and remove them. For example, the trigger may be video games, so remove all electronics preemptively. If he becomes escalated- remove your 4-year old immediately to another room, and back away from your son- do not give him any verbal, as he most likely cannot process verbal information when he is escalated coming at him. Give him space most importantly, and remove your other children from the room to protect them. We have been fortunate to have home ABA services and it has changed our home environment completely, we have 2 other young children which their lives have also improved since the therapy in the home. This is long-winded, but I really hope your son gets the services he needs smile emoticon

•    Anonymous said... My 12 year old aspie will verbally attack his 11 year old sister. She has learned over time to (with our direction) that he doesn't mean it, and doesn't have control. When he triggers, she's trained herself to walk away. When she was younger we used hand signals. So when her brother would start to escalate we'd give her the signal and she would walk away. It took some time for her to understand the signal, but once she was old enough to understand her brothers behaviors she walks away before he escalates. They play together extremely well now! There are still times when she has to walk away, but she knows what will trigger his behaviors and is in more control.

•    Anonymous said... Thank you so very much for all of the invaluable information! I am on the site and I am also going to post more here on the page.

•    Anonymous said... We use many strategies from Michelle Garcia Winner on to help our son know what is expected, what is unexpected and that other people form their opinion of you based on your actions within social situations. Writing it down in a chart helps our son "see" it. Hope the information is helpful for you.

•    Anonymous said... You need to get a home ABA therapist to help your son, this is not done intentionally and is not in your son's control- he needs to be taught these things explicitly and in a supportive, understanding, therapeutic manner. Your school system is required under IDEA to provide these services to you as part of his IEP- they will typically give you a bank of hours, such as 25 hours at a time. But, the important thing is- not all BCBA's are the same- you need to have someone who knows what they are doing, i.e. experienced, Master's degree prepared at a minimum and with the BCBA certification. Hope this helps, but just remember that your son is not doing this on purpose.

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Kids on the Autism Spectrum Who Refuse to Cooperate with Parental Requests

"Any tricks for getting a very stubborn 4 year old high functioning autistic child to do what he is told. He truly has a mind of his own. For example, if our requests don't make sense to him, he refuses to do what we ask, which usually results in a mother-son tug of war."

One quick suggestion would be to use a  "token economy." This technique seems to work best for kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's. It's a system where the child earns tokens as a reward for desired behaviors.

A predetermined number of tokens are then "cashed-in" for a privilege the child desires (e.g., a favorite snack, time for playing video games, etc.). A token economy is flexible and can be easily tailored to suit the individual needs - and desires - of the youngster.

Token economies that use money tokens seem to be the most successful with kids on the autism spectrum in increasing their ability to delay gratification, and lessening the risk of satiation (i.e., overuse of a reward that results in the child no longer viewing it as a reward). Using money in a token economy negates the need for the child to decode an abstract concept, because in the "real world," people are paid money for completing tasks in their place of employment.

These "special needs" children take a long time establishing trust, and for this reason, a token economy should initially focus on rewarding desired behaviors and actions. Once the program has been established for a number of years, you may then be able to introduce "response costs" where the child is fined for inappropriate behavior.

This correlates the token economy with real world experiences (e.g., if I drive too fast, I get a speeding ticket; if I park where I shouldn’t, I get a parking ticket). However, the focus of the program in the early stages must be on the positives, because HFA kids are prone to quickly losing their motivation and trust.

Be creative with the reinforcers offered as motivation. Offering a "menu of rewards" to choose from seems most successful. Initially, "cashed-in" rewards need to be fairly instant (e.g., at the end of each day). Over time, this can be stretched to the end of each week. As the child matures, this delayed gratification may be able to be stretched to a month; however, small rewards and motivators should be offered consistently along the way.

As with all strategies used with children on the spectrum, patience and perseverance are the keys to success when using a token economy, but the rewards for both the parent and child are awesome!

Here are more suggestions from parents who have "been there and done that":

•    After many meltdowns over laundry, he screamed "why do I have to do all of the laundry?!?." Later I explained that there are 2 of us and we each must contribute to keeping this house running, and this is something he is good at. Just like I am better at driving him around and keeping the bills paid.

•    Anonymous said... 4 can be a hard age w/out the spectrum issues. A visual chart of your expectations (show pictures of cleaning up, brushing teeth, eating dinner, and any other chores you want him to help with), you might include an area where he can make a check mark after the does it. Also, I find the more explaining you do, the worse it gets.

•    Anonymous said... Find a way for what you say, to make sense to him. They have exact balance of rationale, a type of logic not easily defeated by simple requests.

•    Anonymous said... Google Pathological Demand Avoidance - traditional ASD parenting doesn't work for it, you have to let go of EVERYTHING! The difference between being a doormat and creating a non-threatening environment full of aspirations not expectations and most importantly NOT taking it personally.

•    Anonymous said... I always try to visually "paint" the picture of the outcome or reward vs consequences of doing what is told regardless of if it is what the child wants to do. In other words... once the homework is done we can have play time. Knowing they are working toward a goal tends to help.

•    Anonymous said... I picked up a little trick recently that worked quite well with getting my 7 to wash his hair "show me how you wash your hair" works for cleaning, teeth brushing eating etc my 3 year old works under "big girls can do that" but my boy never cared about any of those statements, good luck

•    Anonymous said... Keep it simple and stick with it. Practice what you preach, you want your child to be patient, you must also show patience (point out the times where your practicing patience). You want your child to tidy his room, tidy your room too, make it a house rule, do it at the same time, see who can finish first, make it fun. If your son is arguing at times when it's important to follow the rules, be like a teacher and say it's not up for debate, it's a rule everyone must follow etc. Keeping consistent is key so don't switch up the rules, keep them simple, make a list, put some pictures by them, make it fun.

•    Anonymous said... My guy is much more compliant if he knows the logical reason behind the request. Though I'm not as good at recognizing the need.

•    Anonymous said... My son is now 11, so I'm trying to think back to when he was 4. We didn't know then that he had ADHD & Aspergers... we just knew things were very different with him. Anyway... he's been seeing a behavior therapist over the last year. We learned that our behavior also had to change if we wanted his to improve. For example, we must be consistent with our "demands" and with his schedule. Routine is important to teach expectations of everyday life -- and to teach compliance without a huge struggle. Also we learned that if we want him to do something, it works best if we plan it so the less rewarding or unfavorable things are done first; use the rewarding/more favorable activities as a motivator. The token system might work okay... but if you try to get them to give up their favorite activity in order to do something they don't want to do... a token at that point probably won't motivate them enough to try and earn it. Routines, limits, set expectations, motivators... I've learned they are all important if you want to lessen daily struggles.

•    Anonymous said... Part of it is because he's 4. Mix a new independent 4 year old and Aspergers and we have quite a mix! One thing I learned was that I needed to stop trying to explain everything (that goes against what "new" parenting advice says, doesn't it? Ha! But I won't get into that or my opinion of it). With Aspergers, they really have to learn "good habits" whether they understand them or not. They think alot differently than us. I fell back on "Who asked you to do that? (mom), So, you need to do it." End of topic. A visual of "because mom said so" made a BIG difference. (Just a picture of yourself and the repeated phrase until he knows when you hand him that picture you are NOT backing down and you don't have to say a word. If you need to remove him from the room because of a meltdown, etc...AS SOON as he is able to join you again give him the same instruction and don't back down with your requirement. They WILL learn it over it time. Teaching of the "why" we do certain things needs to be done through social stories and etc outside of the situation...not during the situation.

•    Anonymous said... Sounds just like my youngest. Unless he is given instant reward for something he isn't interested. Even then it doesn't always work. Very difficult to find rewards he likes as this changes frequently. As for explaining consequences (eg no playtime if task not done) he simply doesn't care. Hard to get them to do what you want when neither reward or consequence seem to bother Them!

*   Anonymous said... Try changing the subject so you divert him from that emotion, then as the motion subsides you may be able to come back to it from another angle where he will see your logic of the situation. At least when not emotional they see logic very well. Doesn't always work with my boy and I often forget to try it when I should as I also get a little emotional, but it often does work well.

•    Anonymous said... we went through PCIT (parent child interactive therapy), it is the ONLY thing that worked for us!! Now, my son listens, has follow-through, and he knows that discipline is time-out & Mommy is not afraid to use it!! ask your son's therapist about PCIT & if it's available through their facility. if not, get a referral to a facility that offers it.

•    Anonymous said...I say , don't you dare go and do x, y or z ...and my 4 year old goes and does it ! Reverse psychology. I say it in a cheerful way an it works 80% of the time

•    Anonymous said… First make sure he understands the direction. Next. Lots of notice and reminders of what your going to do.... And don't use TV shows as a reminder. The after this show gets.... Hairy. I used taped shows with no commercials (don't want something else getting in the Way). Mine just hated having something changed last minute (I mean like 60 minutes). He will grow up to adjust. Now you need to learn about him and his triggers.

•    Anonymous said… Give him time. Be patient and calm. Do not punish, but use natural consequences. Explain why you need something done. Make sure he understands what you are asking him to do. Check if he needs help with it. Be prepared to help him until he learns to do things on his own. Look past him being autistic because this part? Yeah, that's parenthood. It's not always easy. And those of us who are autistic are usually super logical but struggle to learn to do things like tie our shoes, understand the vague concept of what you call "time", and remember what you asked us to do after the first thing.

•    Anonymous said… I have found that my little guy is very logical in his own way, so if I can sit with him and explain why I need him to do it, and answer his many questions, he gets it and does the task. It doesn't work every time, and I can't do it every time, but the difference has been remarkable. I have to make it make sense to him first.

•    Anonymous said… I have to give random directives throughout the day just to get him in the compliance mode. Like.. Tyler could you hand me that pen? Please take this to your room. (Even if these things are not necessary at the time) it's a way to start a habit of compliance. Once the child does it you then praise the behavior. Visual reward charts working for something preferred work really well too. Like 25 reward checks in a week result in .... Whatever your child really likes" Hope this helps

•    Anonymous said… Oh my goodness, this could be *any* 4 yo boy! 4yos are notoriously difficult and boy get a "fun" little surge of testosterone at that age too. 4 has been my least favorite age with all of my kids, NT or not. wink emoticon remembering to "connect before I correct" was especially crucial at that age. Framing things as "let's work together to solve this problem" helped so much, instead of "do it my way not your way".

*   Anonymous said... I bought a simple chart at $ store for name, activity or non/action, and stars or stickers. It's labeled m-f. Good behavior gets a star or if teacher gives a sticker too(I got 1 out of 3 teachers to do this, ugh). If 5 earned they pick out of prize bag, (just dollar items or clearance, really cool stuff);or save 10 n go to Walmart,target,or Kmart for bigger prizes. It works on 3 out of 4 of my kids so its worth it and all 4 if the prize is right for that one other child.

•    Anonymous said… Rewards chart 
*   Anonymous said... Behaviour precedes articulation. Essentially we act out behaviours before we understand and can articulate them. Law for example is an articulation of what we already know is right or wrong. The problem we can experience is that when we ask for a certain type of behavior we instinctively know is right, when asked 'why' we can struggle to explain it. So the lesson here is anticipate the question and have a clear answer ready! 

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…


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...


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…


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…


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...


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...
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.

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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...