Hi, I'm Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger's Syndrome
Survival Guide. In today's issue we will discuss...
Behavior Challenges in Aspies
The following email is representative of many I get on the challenges of behavior
problems with those with AS.
I am lost. I don't know where to turn.
My son is 11 years old. I have known from the get go that something was
off. When he reached the age of 5 he was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. I
thought sure that makes sense. Everything was a fight.
As he got older I got less comfortable with the diagnoses. About two
years ago I confronted my sons family doctor and pointed out that my son
had never talked to him in almost 7 years. So I pushed for further
testing. He then got the carpets rolled out for him or so I thought. He
got an in home therapist, a mentor, a psychiatrist, and a bunch more
labels added on, ADHD, ODD, OCD, Selective mutisem, Aspergers. It was
and is a rollercoaster ride. He is now in Occupational therapy and she
says he uses 7 senses to do everything and what she would call a low
tone, he doesn't use his upper body muscles. So I am feeling more than a
little bit lost here.
I want to give my son the tools to succeed in life. Also other points
have been brought to my attention. A family friend stated that Aspie
children are not mean and they live by the rules. Here's the glitch, my
son picks on people to the point of irritation. Is he mean or just
doesn't know the difference? He makes sure everyone else follows the
rules but they don't apply to him. They also commented that he may be a
How can I tell if he knows better and
just doesn't care or really just doesn't know? He is a great kid has a
huge heart and a lot of love to give but it gets lost somehow. Your
emails and news letters are amazing! If you have any info that might
help me out I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks a million.
It is very common for an Aspie to get multiple diagnoses. First of all,
Asperger's syndrome (AS) is not something that you can give a blood test to detect. It
is based on behavioral characteristics. In other words, a psychiatrist or
therapist will interview the patient, the parents / loved ones and ask how the person
Based on their level of social skills, how they handle pressure, the way they speak,
eye contact, etc. the professional will give an informed opinion on a diagnosis.
The challenge here is that many Aspies are diagnosed with multiple conditions (ADHD, OCD,
ADD, etc) because the behavioral symptoms overlap.
This can be brutally confusing and frustrating for a parent or for the Aspie
themselves. Ideally, try to find a therapist who is familiar with all of these
conditions. I have found that if a therapist primarily works with kids with ADHD, for example,
then that is what they tend to diagnose. There is an old expression, to a hammer, everything
looks like a nail.
How to get a correct diagnosis
I suggest that you try to find a professional who SPECIALIZES in AS. Interview them first --
just give their office a call. Ask them if they have a specialty in ASD (autism
spectrum disorders) especially Aspergers. Ask how many AS patients they see and treat. If they do
not have a specialty here, ask for a referral.
MANY parents have told me that their children initially received an incorrect diagnosis.
Therefore, I strongly suggest that you interview the professional before having them evaluate
your loved one. If they are not VERY familiar with Asperger's syndrome -- then RUN AWAY QUICKLY
and find a professional who is highly competent and knows Aspergers well. I hear all the time
from families whose children were misdiagnosed.
Where can I even get a name of someone to call?
You might just try the phone book. Look under physicians by specialty. There are also many AS
support groups and organizations where you may find a referral. Three good places to look up
these agencies are:
Are Aspies mean? Do they live by the rules? Well from my experience, Aspies tend to be
so rule focused and rule bound that they can get very frustrated if others do not follow the
rules as they perceive them. It is not uncommon at all for Aspie children to claim that
their playmates are "cheating." They perceive the rules one way, while other children may
see the rules differently. What one may see as being "mean" may be an outpouring of
frustration at not having control over their environment.
Remember, Aspies crave routine. Environments
like school yards, neighborhood kids playing in the street, high schools with constantly
changing classes and noisy hallways -- these are very stressful environments for an Aspie.
"He makes sure everyone else follows the rules but they don't apply to him." This is
very common behavior for Aspies. They tend to see rules as very inflexible. They interpret the
rules based on their own belief systems and often believe that others are not following the
rules -- and they want to enforce compliance with rules.
"They also commented that he may be a sociopath. How can I
tell if he knows better and just doesn't care or really just doesn't know?" Others often see
Aspies as having negative behavior. They do not understand the frustration and anxiety that many
Aspies feel from the minute they wake up until the go to bed.
It is estimated that 95%
of Aspie teens are bullied. This results in feels of self hatred, anxiety, depression and many
have thoughts of suicide. When seen in this context, it is easy to see how a person with
virtually no social skills may act out in a way that society deems inappropriate. Many Aspies
simply do not know how to act based on society's rules. They simply do not know what the rules
After all, the number one characteristic of an Aspie is lack
of social skills -- they simply do not know how to express their feels and frustrations in a way
that society deems acceptable. They argue, become autocratic, maybe hit and become physical
-- and often simply meltdown. To help, ask your loved one how they are thinking. Ask them
to explain to you what they see and how they feel. Ask pointed questions -- Are you frustrated?
Do you feel the others were cheating? Have they been hitting you? Have they been saying bad
things about you? Are you being bullied?
Seek first to understand
A major objective of my book, The Asperger's Syndrome
Survival Guide is to help you understand how an Aspie views the world. Once you
understand and see the world through your loved one's eyes, you will be much more able to solve
your loved one's problems and help them.
Note: my newly released book on Aspergers for Teens and Young Adults discusses bullying, anxiety, depression and what to do about it. Click here for more information:
Note: my newly released book on Aspergers for Adults discusses
how to make and keep friends, building relationships, employment, depression and the meaning of
life, therapy options and much more. Click here for more information:
This is just a small part of the answers you will need to successfully survive and thrive with
Aspergers. If you are looking for additional information immediately, go to the following site: