We have a 15 year old son who is just starting his Freshman year in high school. He was diagnosed with Asperger's and ADD (impulsivity part) in 4th grade. His biggest problem was lack of control. He is doing very well in school and is doing quite well in the social arena now. He is a dedicated swimmer and has several interests.
So what is my problem? At home he is getting difficult to deal with. I have a nine year old daughter and he is often mean and rude to her. If he is in a bad mood, he will do the same to his parents. Whenever I or my husband have to correct him on anything he will invariably escalate it and winds up swearing at us and being extremely disrespectful. My husband being from the "old school" has lost control himself with this and they have had a physical fight. I spoke with them both and told them this was unacceptable and that counseling would occur if they could not find their boundaries themselves.
My husband and I both read your book and have taken the tack that we back off when he starts losing control. We then revisit consequences and such when cooler heads prevail. This seems to be effective, but can leave the parents drained.
Just this morning after he was rude to his sister and I tried to ask him to try and be polite, he ignored me and said he didn't want to listen to my "****". This afternoon he will probably see me and say "hi mommy!" (give me strength...or medication!)
He chats on the internet quite a bit. I will be honest here. I have spyware that I can monitor the chats and every so often I check. I have never seen anything inappropriate in their conversations. And sometimes I am even surprised in their level headed opinions on certain things. There does not seem to be any problems in school. The teachers say he is respectful to them and he has not had any incidences of losing his temper in school in a couple of years.
So I ask. Am I seeing normal crazy teen behavior with Asperger's mixed in, or should I be looking at counseling for him? He is opposed to counseling and feels he is just fine. Are there certain benchmarks I should use to determine when counseling is appropriate? And how do I deal with the disrespect of those in our house?
The behaviors you are seeing are very common for an Aperger's/ADD adolescent. These kids often go through this phase where they seem so cruel to the folks they love the most, and yet so nice to strangers. Asperger's makes adolescence doubly hard, causing great anxiety among these kids who struggle to understand social cues and nuances that their non-Asperger's friends get automatically. It can cause a lot of frustration that gets let out upon the family in the form of anger.
The trick is to ride out this storm without letting the damage get great. To do this, get yourself and dad to a good adolescent shrink who can walk you through this phase with some good strategies and helpful support.
A couple of things I've seen work well are as follows:
-Try negotiating a reward system where Junior earns things he wants (money?) for getting through a day with respect for family (i.e. not cursing folks off).
-Do not engage him when he's in a mood. Back off, quietly framing his behaviors ONE TIME, saying things like, "It hurts me to see you hurt your sister like that." When he curses in response, just walk away.
-Reinforce the heck out of him when he's nice. Let him know how proud you are of him whenever you see him being respectful and helpful, particularly at home.
Try and not take his behaviors personally. A lot of what you are seeing is just the fallout from his difficult life, and he will come out of this as he matures further. He'll just be a little behind the curve due to the Asperger's.
Beyond all else, keep your connection with him. That bond is even more vital to your son than it is to other kids.
Keep us posted.
Last edited by Mike Bradley; 10-07-2003 at 02:30 PM.
Dr. Mike Bradley
This is a great website and I'm glad I stumbled onto it. Looking forward to buying the book. Have a 17 year old son who up to about a year ago exhibited great behavior. Good grades, for the most part respectful. Now a mess. Daily fights where he's rebelling against consequences for lying to my face. Had the car taken away for several weeks, now adding more. He had the cell phone taken away for getting kicked out of class holding a cell. He doesn't have much time left at home and we don't want his last few months here at home to be as miserable as the last few months. Weekly councling sessions doing some good until he goes off his rocker again. Saw the word "Dispassionate" a bunch of times Gonna try it.
Teen off his rocker
Glad you stumbled onto the site, but do read the book before you go trying the techniques you've read about other parents using. The book will really make you understand so much about the teen brain and how to deal with its crazyness.
Best of luck, and hope to read about your successes soon.
Very weird that this site popped up three years after I submitted this post. I believe the website that caused it is spam,
But I think I want to write an updated post for parents. What a difference three years makes. My son is now a Senior in high school and a different person. After a wrote this we did get him counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, which works well for Aspergers kids. We learned to follow Dr. Bradleys advice and learned how to back off and maintain communication. He now has a great relationship with Dad, to where dad is actually getting sad that he will be leaving for college soon.
He prefers to do most of his work at the kitchen table rather than locked in his room. Maturity and patience are wonderful things. Although, I must say, I never thought I possesed as much patience as was required.
Don't get me wrong, he is not perfect, he is still a little "behind the curve" as Dr. Bradley put it, but nothing insurmountable.
The reason I am posting this is I want to give parents some good news. You can survive this difficult period and you can help your kids get through it without too much agony. Good luck, hang in there and God Bless....Thanks Doc
PS My daughter is turning 13 this year. I am sure I will be writing soon.
My name is Clayton, and I have been diagnosed with aspergers (high-fuctioning atusim) and I am 15 yrs old. Lately I noticed that I have been very disrespectful and mean to my parents, but mostly my dad... and I cant find out why. I love him to death, but I just dont know why i am rude to him. I mean im nice to my mom most the time, but when I am rude to her, its not as bad as dad. I have researched and researched and this is where I ended up... on a parenting forum. So I was wanting to know if this is normal for a 15 yr old teenager with aspergers. Please respond ASAP...
P.S. - Dad, I Love You
Hang in there Clayton. The fact that you were able to send this is an indication that you will make it through this period. Just keep reminding yourself that you love your Dad and give yourself a little slack for having to go through the pains of growing up. It also isn't wrong to get a little help. As you can see from my original post, my son did get some counseling which helped greatly.
Good luck and hang in there.