How to Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums in Children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

If your child suffers from High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's Syndrome (AS), expect him to experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over a very small incident, or may experience a minor meltdown over something that is major. There is no way of telling how he is going to react about certain situations. However, there are many ways to help your child learn to control his emotions.

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Help for Parents With Aspergers Children and Teens

Let's say you have 3 children. Two of them only speak English, and one only speaks German. You, as a parent, have learned to speak both languages. So, which language will you use when you are trying to get your point across to the German-speaking child? German, of course! But, too many parents are speaking a foreign language to their Aspergers child, and then they wonder why he or she "doesn't get it."

It's not that your Aspergers child "doesn't hear" you, rather he or she "doesn't understand" you. When you, as a parent, try to teach your Aspergers child how to behave, you must know how he or she thinks and what language he or she understands. Don't speak "neurotypical" to an "Aspie."

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Discipline for Defiant Aspergers & High-Functioning Autistic Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum (i.e., high-functioning autism), the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels, unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

The standard disciplinary techniques that are recommended for “typical” teenagers do not take into account the many issues facing a child with a neurological disorder. Violent rages, self-injury, isolation-seeking tendencies and communication problems that arise due to auditory and sensory issues are just some of the behaviors that parents of teens with Aspergers and HFA will have to learn to control.

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Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

Though they want to be accepted by their friends, Aspergers children tend to be very hurt and frustrated by their lack of social competency. Their inability to “connect" to others is made worse by the negative feedback that Aspergers children receive from their painful social interactions (e.g., bullying, teasing, rejection, etc.). The worse they perform socially, the more negative feedback they get from peers, so the worse they feel and perform. Due to this consistent negative social feedback, many Aspergers children and teens feel depressed, anxious and angry, which just compounds their social difficulties by further paralyzing them in social situations.

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Launching Adult Children with Aspergers

As you prepare your Aspergers teen for college, technical school, or the workforce, keep in mind that people with Aspergers often do not understand how the “social world” operates. They have problems with the basics (e.g., handling criticism, controlling emotions, working with the public, taking college exams, showing up on time). However, this does not mean they cannot learn a trade, attend college, or hold down a job. Once they (a) develop some specific coping skills and (b) master certain aspects of education and/or employment, young Aspergers adults are often able to perform just as efficiently as their “neurotypical” (i.e., non-Aspergers) counterparts.

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Teaching Students with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Teaching strategies specific to the Aspergers condition are essential for any teacher with an Aspergers student. The “Aspie” has difficulty navigating social situations, and as a result, is often teased and used as a scapegoat in the classroom. In addition, he or she often has "odd" behaviors (e.g., clumsiness, being obsessive about a specific subject, insisting on routine, experiencing meltdowns, etc.). In spite of these challenges, there are many things that teachers can do with instructional practices, classroom accommodations, and behavioral interventions to promote success for the student with Aspergers.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with AS and HFA 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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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

High-Functioning Autistic (HFA) children are often regarded by parents and teachers as a "problem child" or a "poor performer." The child’s low tolerance for what he perceives to be boring and mundane tasks (e.g., typical homework assignments) can easily become frustrating for the youngster, resulting in his refusal to complete certain tasks. Consequently, adults may well consider the HFA child to be arrogant, spiteful, and insubordinate. This misconception often results in a “power-struggle” between the child and the adult, and in combination with the youngster's anxieties, can result in problematic behaviors (e.g., severe tantrums, violent and angry outbursts, meltdowns, etc.).

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