Asperger Help Support and Strategies
20 hours ago
Here’s a graph for you to look at.
Isn’t it lovely? This particular graph illustrates one of the two major approaches to motivation: Red-Line.
Let’s break it down. On the X-axis (horizontal) we have the number of interactions. That’s simply the number of times you’ve attempted to motivate someone. When the red line is on the left-hand side, that means that there have been very few interactions and not much time has passed. When it’s more towards the right, that means that there have been many interactions and more time has passed.
On the Y-axis (vertical) we have results. This is simply the thing you’re trying to accomplish. When the red line is closer to the top the results are high, life is great, and things are happening. When it’s closer to the bottom the results are minimal or non-existent. Sometimes the results can even be the opposite of what you want.
Make sense? Cool.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Red-Line Motivation
Red-Line motivation is by far the most commonly used kind of motivation out there. A Red-Line Motivator’s go-to question is “What can I do, give, or take away that will produce a result (a change in behavior) now ?” Red-Liners love carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments; it’s all about control.
If a Red-Liner wants you to do something, then they will find the sweetest carrot they are willing to give and dangle it in front of you until you start chasing after it (money, video games, love and acceptance, etc.) Alternatively, they will find the scariest punishment they can and throw it at you until you move (losing privileges, yelling, withholding love and affection, etc.) They will bribe, manipulate, control, and coerce you to try to get you to do what they want.
Basically, Red-Liners seek to reduce human motivation to its most basic elements. They assume that people avoid pain and effort, and that they will only work hard if moved upon by an outside force or a biological urge (hunger, sleep, sex, etc.) Red-Liners see human beings as little more than animals responding to stimuli. Trained rats in a cage will press a lever over and over if you give them food. A yappy dog with a shock collar can be conditioned to stop barking. Similarly, a Red-Liner believes that you can motivate humans by tapping into that same desire to avoid pain and seek out pleasure.
And it works! If you offer to give your potty-training toddler a piece of chocolate every time she successfully uses the toilet, then she will start going to the bathroom more consistently. If you incentivize your employees with substantial bonuses, they will work harder to get that payout. Alternatively, if you put the fear of God in your teenager before handing them the car keys, they will likely drive more cautiously. If your boss tells you that the next person who turns in a late report will be fired on the spot, you will see tardiness rates drop significantly.
Psychologists have known for nearly a century that people will respond to the right rewards and punishments (they call it “conditioning”). Meanwhile, kings and rulers have understood this basic truth for millennia. You have to admit, it’s a rather elegant idea. If you want more of a particular behavior, reward it. If you want less, punish it.
However, nowadays we have decades of scientific research showing that the carrot-and-stick philosophy we hold dear actually has quite a few holes. Parents, teachers, and managers are gradually discovering that people, particularly people with Asperger’s, don’t always respond to external influences in the ways we would hope or expect. What’s going on there? Well, as awesome as carrots and sticks can be, they come with some pretty serious drawbacks.
Problems with Red-Line
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you were suddenly in a tragic accident that caused you to be irreversibly paralyzed from the waist down. No more walking, running, jumping, or wiggling your toes. Would you be sad and upset? Would you be sad and upset for a long time? How about for the rest of your life?
Now, let’s try another question. Imagine that tomorrow you win the lottery in the amount of ten million dollars. And, because this is your imagination, let’s say that you receive all of this money tax-free. Would you be significantly happier? Would you be happier for a long time? Would you go so far as to say that you would be happier for the rest of your life?
In both of the examples above, you probably assumed that their effects on your emotional well-being would be significant and long-lasting. And that’s where you would likely be wrong.
In a classic 1978 study, three psychologists investigated and measured the happiness levels of paraplegics and lottery winners. They found that less than a year after experiencing one of these life-changing events both the lottery winners and the paraplegics had mostly returned to their baseline levels of happiness. We would normally expect lottery winners to be much, much happier than regular folks. However, they were, on average, only slightly happier. Similarly, the paraplegics were only slightly less happy than others. For the most part, they were just as content with life as they had been before that fateful tragedy befell them.
Human beings are truly incredible at adapting to almost anything. Given enough time, both positive and negative changes in our lives can quickly become our new “normal”. When this happens they no longer have a significant impact on our day-to-day emotions. Scientists call this phenomenon “hedonic adaptation”. It crops up everywhere.
You buy a fancy sports car and its shiny, new features excite you for a while, but months later it brings you little, if any, joy. You move into an old, run-down apartment and its outdated appliances and off-color decor bother you for a while, but months later the annoyance barely registers. You get married to your sweetheart so, of course, you’re blissfully happy for a time. However, a couple years later you have more or less returned to your original level of happiness .
What does hedonic adaptation have to do with motivation? Well, it means that any reward or punishment consistently used to motivate your child will quickly be adapted to and thus rendered ineffective.
For example, let’s say that Margaret, a mother of three has a son named little Johnny, who isn’t waking up for school. As a Red-Liner, she would go into his room, flip over his mattress, and tell him that if he’s late for school he loses all video games for the day. Well, as you would expect, that’s incredibly effective... the first time. He scurries out the door, and she’s quite pleased with how well it worked. However, with every subsequent mattress flipping after that, she would notice that it doesn’t work quite as well, and eventually it might start producing the opposite effect. She would have to keep upping the ante and putting in more work in order to try to get the same result. She needs to find a scarier stick.
The more Margaret uses this Red-Line approach, the more Johnny goes into Defense Mode and lives in a state of fear. He’s shut down and angry. Any semblance of trust or mutual understanding in their relationship has been destroyed. In fact, he might even start missing school just to assert his independence and regain a feeling of control. As shown in the Red-Line graph, each new attempt to motivate will produce fewer results, and, in the long-term, will continually require a sweeter carrot or a scarier stick in order to maintain its original effectiveness. As a parent, unless you have unlimited power and resources (doubtful), a Red-Line motivation strategy is simply not sustainable long-term.
By now you may be thinking “Well, of course Johnny would be ticked off and defiant if you punish him like that every day. But what’s wrong with carrots? Aren’t rewards like gold stars and ice cream a much more positive and “nice” way to motivate someone?”
To that I say: Yes and no. Carrots come with their own set of issues too. Allow me to illustrate.
A chaotic cacophony of laughter, banging, and shrill exclamations came from every corner of the preschool classroom. Small children were wandering from place to place or talking with their friends, while others sat playing with toys or drawing with markers. A small group of researchers observed the chaos as it unfolded. They had been there for the past several days compiling a list of all the children who typically spent their free-time in the “art corner” drawing with markers. Tomorrow they would be moving on to the next phase of their experiment.
As is usually the case with psychological experiments, the researchers randomly separated their list of artistically-inclined children into three groups. The first group was shown a fancy, “Good Player” award, complete with a blue ribbon, and were told they would receive it as a reward if they drew a picture. The second group of children were not told about a possible reward. They were simply asked if they wanted to draw a picture and when they finished the researchers surprised them with the “Good Player” certificate. The third group was invited to draw a picture and then sent on their way when they finished. No reward promised or given.
Two weeks later, the researchers returned to the preschool to see if rewarding children for drawing had any effect on how the art-loving children now spent their free-time. We would normally expect that those children who were rewarded would draw more frequently now that the behavior had been reinforced, but that is not what happened. The children in the second and third groups (unexpected-reward and no-reward) still spent roughly the same amount of time drawing as they had before. However, those children in the first group (expected-reward) drew significantly less. Plenty of paper and markers were set out and easily accessible, but now that there was no shiny certificate being offered the art supplies seemed to have lost their appeal.
Contrary to what we would expect, introducing an expectation with a reward attached to it actually decreased the rewarded behavior instead of increasing it.
Why? Because human beings are incredibly adaptive. When this new drawing experience taught the children that drawing a picture=compensation, they got the message loud and clear. The children used to draw because they enjoyed it for its own sake ( intrinsic motivation ). Now they will only draw if they’re expecting to receive some kind of reward.
To give another example, let’s imagine that Margaret, a mother of three, offers to pay her son Johnny an extra allowance so he will finally brush his teeth and wash the dishes. Granted, it might actually work, but in the process, Margaret risks teaching her son that personal hygiene and basic home maintenance are tasks that people should be compensated for. Now it’ll be a lot harder to convince him to ever do it again for free. To give one more example, if Margaret offers her daughter Susie a special treat or a gold star in exchange for cleaning her room, then Susie may stop appreciating cleanliness for its own sake. That will make for a rougher transition when Susie becomes an adult who is expected to maintain a clean house without being rewarded for doing so.
Red-Line tactics tend to increase effort, enthusiasm, and compliance in the short-term, but using them also establishes a long-term pattern of undesired consequences that is very difficult to break out of. Short-term results, long-term consequences.
When Rewards are Awesome
It’s worth noting that the cancellation of intrinsic motivation didn’t occur with the “unexpected-reward” group because the children did not know the reward was coming. Thus, they could not logically view that reward as their reason for drawing in the first place. Instead, it was seen as a happy accident, a stroke of good fortune that they should receive this prize for their drawing. They would’ve done the drawing regardless. In instances like these, rewards can be awesome! They can add to and potentially enhance whatever motivation was already there.
When I was younger, I loved going out and secretly raking up my neighbor’s leaves during the autumn months. I would often spend the whole day walking around the neighborhood with my plastic rake in tow. I loved feeling like I was doing something nice for other people, I loved being outdoors, and I loved feeling accomplished. Once in a great while, someone would catch me and they would insist on giving me a few dollars, but I never went out expecting to get paid. It was fun!
Later in life, I found myself running my own yard work business. I would mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow; whatever people needed. Oddly enough, I remember actually dreading going to work most mornings. It was the exact same kind of outdoor, physical labor I once enjoyed, but my perception of the work had changed. I was no longer doing it because I wanted to, I was doing it because I had to. It wasn’t fun anymore; it was a chore.
Here’s the bottom-line: as soon as someone starts working to achieve a reward or avoid a punishment, any possibility of intrinsic motivation will be nullified. It’s possible for both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to be associated with a single task, but only one can be the “primary” motivator. If there is a ever a conflict over that central title then the extrinsic will usually crowd-out the intrinsic.
Not the say that rewards, praise, and warm, fuzzy feelings are terrible. They can actually be pretty awesome, but only if:
1.) The reward is not the primary reason for showing up and doing the thing. It’s either unexpected (like the appreciative dollars my neighbors occasionally gave me) or seen as subsidiary (Like a doctor whose primary reason for working everyday is to help people. If he didn’t need money to live a comfortable life he would still happily work for free).
2.) The reward is naturally embedded within the task itself (i.e. feeling excited about doing something kind for others).
When to Use Red-Line Motivation
Let me be clear: Choosing to use Red-Line carrots, sticks, and other if/then methods of motivation is not inherently bad and wrong, nor is it always good and right. Red-Line is simply a tool that is uniquely suited for specific kinds of situations. A hammer is great if you need to drive a nail into wood. It’s less than ideal if you’re trying to perform surgery. The problems arise when you encounter a situation that requires a tool, you look into your toolbox, and you discover nothing but a single, lonely hammer. You’ll probably end up using the hammer because, after all, it’s better than nothing, right?
If, however, you happen to be in a situation that requires a more delicate touch than a hammer can provide, you may inadvertently do more harm than good. This is what happens when Red-Line tactics are used in situations for which they are ill-suited. What are those situations, you ask? Well, there are quite a few. Red-Line is an extremely specialized tool that is well-suited to a narrow range of circumstances.
There’s been a great deal of research done on this subject and if you want a full-on deep dive then I would recommend you start with the book Drive by Daniel Pink. It’s an amazing treatise written on the subject of motivation. That said, here’s the short and sweet version.
The “SHOULD I USE RED-LINE?” Checklist:
1. Is the task boring, monotonous, and/or routine?
NO?- Don’t use Red-Line!
YES?- Then... maybe. Move on to #2.
2. Does the task have any potential for intrinsic motivation? (i.e. Is this a task that someone might choose to do just because they want to?)
NO?- Maybe. Move on to #3.
YES?- Don’t use Red-Line!
3. Does the task involve creativity or intellectual skill?
NO?- Maybe. Move on to #4.
YES?- Don’t use Red-Line!
4. Is the task related in some way to morals, ethics, and/or some kind of “greater purpose”?
NO?- Then...maybe. Move on to #5.
YES?- Don’t use Red Line!
5. Does the task involve some degree of challenge or variety?
NO?- Move on to #6
YES?- Don’t use Red-Line!
6. Could you change the task in some way to make it more challenging and interesting?
NO?- Okay, if you made to this last question and you’ve answered “no” then go ahead and use Red-Line. Just be sure to use the principles taught in Chapters 7 and 8 of our "7 Easy Ways To Motivate" book.
YES? MAYBE? HAVEN’T TRIED YET?- Don’t use Red-Line!
There’s a much better way to motivate your child. Yes, really. It’s called Blue Line motivation.
Note: This is an excerpt from our book "7 Easy Ways To Motivate Someone With Asperger's". If you'd like to learn Blue Line motivation, as well as the 7 ways to motivate, purchase the book here: www.aspergerexperts.com/go/7easyways ... See MoreSee Less
You have to keep reintroducing and suggesting. It's the only way with my son and sometimes "his perception" is "pushed or forced". It's a wrong perception and many times this is where the cognitive differences show their faces and we must "discuss more". Some are not motivated to try and the only way we got language is by motivating to try. It's not a force but a reintroduction, motivation and "try, try again." Once you've seen "forced", you know forced. Luckily, my son has not seen this and hopefully never will. I do remember reading one article though that I thought was interesting. A person did learn to communicate and wished he didn't. He said he was mute, that is the way he was supposed to be? It was an interesting read. I saw more forced with eye contact and that bothered me. I put an end to that (and this is the first step they start with!) but getting him to speak, it has to be repeated and redone and no it's not natural for anyone but if they gain lots of life skills and independence, connections and relationships with it, it was worth the reintroduction and trying again. It also teaches them to never quit, which I feel is invaluable. I think persistence is the most important in life and yes, you need space to bounce back. Once they get the foundation, it's following their lead and let them branch out.
OMG I just need to print this and take it to every meeting I have. What is with this push approach, for neurotypical or neurodiverse?! Thank you.
It doesn't compute when I'm pushed or even worse when people use various manipulation techniques - I end up anchoring on a thought/idea and then stick to it like a limpet..aka rigidity.
I need to remember this. Thank you!
I love this
The universe doesn't have plans. These obstacles didn't arrange themselves in front of the bicyclist for the purpose of causing obstruction. Rather, the bicyclist's ignorance about the road ahead is what caused his or her difficulty.
My life and I’m not autistic ! Lol!
Ah, the chasms of vulnerability! Getting to the other side is not easy.
Nuero typical people usually get to take the rout on the top, whereas people on the spectrum are usually forced to take the rout on the bottom because of nuero typical people; predjudice, social rejection, etc.
I am not Autistic, but this looks like my life,except in my life there would be sharks in that water!
Only if it involves other people.
How True. Jessica Joshua
Mara Jayne Ellora Davy
Ruth Bullock 🙂
Right back at you, thank you for being you!
Mekhy King!! Love You! <3 xo
When I was in high school I found Geography to be an exceptionally boring class. My teacher was awesome, and he did his best to make it interesting, but, sometimes, there’s only so much you can do when it comes to memorizing countries and capitals. On one fateful Thursday I was sitting there, wriggling around in my tan plastic chair trying to get comfortable, when the assignment of the day slid onto the desk in front of me. Apparently, I was expected to label, color-code, and memorize all the regions of Antarctica.
I don’t know if it was lack of sleep, a still-developing teenage brain, or just a general love of all things rebellious, but seeing that seemingly pointless assignment in front of me ignited a spark of defiance. I scrawled across the top of the page “Dear Mr. Feingold, if you can provide me with a compelling reason for why I will ever need to know this information in my adult life then I will do this assignment.” I then read Harry Potter for the rest of class and turned in my little declaration of independence at the end.
Not surprisingly, at the end of class the next day, Mr. Feingold stopped me before I left, and asked if I could come back to see him at lunchtime. He wanted to have a talk. I felt an icy thrill of fear, but I agreed, fearing the worst. Later that day, I walked into his classroom, sat down, and waited in apprehensive silence. My Antarctica assignment was out on Mr. Feingold’s desk, and he sat there looking at me steadily. Then he took a deep breath, smiled, and proceeded to change my life.
“You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you wrote here, and I think I have an answer to your question for why this is important. Do you want to hear it?”
I nodded slowly. “Go for it.”
“Thank you. Okay, so first of all, you’re probably right that memorizing the geography of Antarctica won’t make a big difference in your adult life, unless you’re planning to go on an expedition there someday. However, this is still important, albeit in a more subtle way. I’m assuming you want to have a career someday?”
“Any particular field?”
“I love psychology.”
“That’s awesome! What do you love about it?”
That was a long list, so I told him the short and sweet version.
“Right on. Well, in the psychology field, you’re probably going to need some kind of advanced degree, right?”
I nodded again.
“Okay, then I have some cool stuff to teach you...”
Mr. Feingold’s “Deep Explanation” of Why Antarctica Homework Isn’t Totally Pointless:
Part 1: The History Lesson.
The U.S. public school system really came into being a little under 200 years ago during the Industrial Age. Then it really picked up speed about 100 years later when Child Labor Laws were passed. Children couldn’t work in factories anymore, but many of their parents still did, so all the children needed somewhere to go during the day.
Those that first designed the school system did so with the “industrial” mindset of that era. Most children were expected to grow up to become factory workers just like dear old mum and dad. It may or may not have been intentional, but the school system created a “factory-like” culture in the classroom. There was a strong emphasis placed on rigid routine, strict adherence to certain educational standards, and unquestioning obedience. Many aspects of that culture still persist to this day.
That’s where we get the traditional classroom where the students sit in rows, keep their heads down, and do their work. It’s straightforward and efficient, just like a factory. Because of this underlying cultural bedrock, the system can often get confused about its true purpose, and it frequently places a higher premium on obedience and routine, rather than on learning and education.
Part 2: Cool Story, Bro... So what?
That means that because of the industrial way the education system is designed it will ask you to do a lot of things you don’t necessarily want or need to do. Factories aren’t supposed to be fun or flexible. Additionally, if you don’t jump through the system’s hoops then, because of its rigidity, it will try to prevent you from getting where you want to go.
In other words, if you choose not to do pointless or difficult assignments (such as the Antarctica one) then you risk getting poor grades (another problematic system unto itself), and not graduating high school, or not getting your GED. If you don’t have one of those certificates (plus decent grades) then it’s very difficult to get into a good college, or even any college. Society will try to push you into another career path that you may not be as enthusiastic about, like being a truck driver for example.
Oh, and that’s not all! If you do choose to go to college you’ll still run into the same problem. You’ll be required to take certain “general” classes that may or may not have anything to do with your future career, but you will still have to take them and pass them if you want the degree that will ultimately allow you to be a psychologist someday (or some other degree requiring job).
Are there exceptions to the “you-have-to-have-a-degree” rule? Absolutely! Some of the most brilliant, knowledgeable, and capable people I’ve ever met don’t have degrees, and yet they still have very successful careers in their field. Yes, even fields like psychology, medicine, or computer science. These individuals are still very educated, they’re just self-taught.
In my opinion, that’s really the best way to learn, but it seems that most of society is still in the mindset that you have to have a formal degree in order to work in certain fields. If you ever find yourself job hunting as an adult you will likely have to do battle with that expectation.
Of course, you could choose to go the truck driver type of route. That’s not a bad path at all. My dad drove truck for his entire career and he’s one of the finest men I’ve ever known. Many trade jobs like that can make really good money, and there’s usually a high demand. Ultimately, all of these are valid options, and there are pros and cons to each of them. If you don’t want to play by academia’s rules, then you don’t have to.
There are plenty of other paths in front of you that won’t require you to do this Antarctica assignment. To the best of my knowledge, however, the “psychology path” isn’t usually one of them. You don’t have to do the assignment if you don’t want to. I can’t force you. It’s just up to you to decide whether or not the psychology path is worth it to you. My only purpose today is to present you with this choice and make sure you fully understand all sides of it. Now the ball’s in your court.
Part 3: Now What?
Now I had a choice to make. In life, each of us will arrive at moments where our desires and priorities conflict. On the one hand, I was principally opposed to the idea of doing pointless things, and I greatly preferred comfortable, easy things (I mean, who doesn’t?). On the other hand, I was passionate about psychology, and helping people, and I would really love to be able do that as a career someday.
Near the end of our discussion Mr. Feingold said something that has burned into my memory: “You have to decide what it is you really want, and what you’re willing to give up to get it. I don’t know the answer to that because that’s something you can only decide for yourself.”
Was I willing to give up my dreams of being a psychologist in order to be more comfortable and not do homework ever again? Or was I going to bite the bullet and just do the difficult, pointless tasks in order to ultimately achieve my dream? In the end, I chose psychology, and I did the stupid assignment.
Why Did This “Deep Explanation” Work?
Let’s break it down:
1. The Pasteur Principle - The microbiologist Louis Pasteur is famous for saying “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” Sure, Mr. Feingold could’ve chosen to just dive into our conversation right after class and fly by the seat of his pants, but I’m betting that he didn’t do that. He obviously thought carefully about what he wanted to say, and he made it personal and specific to me. By taking time to consider my point of view and thoroughly preparing his argument, he dramatically improved the chances that I would fully understand what it was he was trying to communicate.
Granted he was a history teacher who already knew a lot about the school system, so it’s possible he could’ve pulled it off on the fly. I’ll never know for sure. What I do know for sure is that for the rest of us it’s a really a good idea to do some thinking, preparation, and research prior to initiating your “deep explanation” discussion. Think about what the other person’s questions, concerns, and misunderstandings may be and be prepared to address all of them.
2. The Permission Principle - Asking permission is one of the most powerful communication techniques you can use to begin any difficult or substantial conversation. It helps to get buy-in and ensure that the person you’re talking to doesn’t get blindsided. It also helps to let you know whether or not the person is willing to engage with you. After all, if they’re not, then that conversation will be over before it even begins. Trying to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t want to be there is like throwing marshmallows at someone’s head and calling that eating.
If Mr. Feingold had just launched immediately into his lecture I might have gotten defensive or tuned him out. Asking for my explicit buy-in showed respect and created an atmosphere of safety and consideration.
3. The Oxygen Principle - To modify a quote from Robert Ingersoll : “What air is to the lungs, listening is to the soul.” We all have a need to feel heard, validated, and understood. Until your conversation counterpart feels like you have truly heard and understood them, then they will have a difficult time relaxing and listening to what you have to say.
Normally, I recommend starting into your “Deep Explanation” by asking questions, gathering more information, and giving the other person the opportunity to talk first. Then you validate and summarize back what they’ve just said. To be fair, Feingold mostly rushed through that first step. Although technically, I still got to talk first. I had already made my feelings about Antarctica homework pretty clear in my sassy note. Instead, Feingold spent a lot of time acknowledging what was valid about my perspective, questions, and upset feelings with phrases like “You’re right. You probably don’t need to know this” and “The school system is not efficient because it requires you to jump through pointless hoops.”
4. The Connection Principle - When I was a teenager I was deep in Defense Mode and I rarely brushed my teeth. My parents tried for years to explain that grimy teeth= cavities, but I guess that natural consequence just didn’t resonate with me. What did finally hit home was a dating advice website I stumbled across which informed me that the number one turn off for girls was bad breath. The timing of this information was fortuitous because I had just recently learned that the girl I had a crush on actually liked me back (gasp!). Suddenly, like magic, I had all the motivation in the world, and I started brushing my teeth religiously. I had finally made the connection between dental hygiene and something (or rather, someone) I genuinely cared about. As a result, I found the inner drive I had been missing for so long.
Making new connections is the key to growing motivation for otherwise undesirable tasks, and the best way I know of to do that is education. You need to help them connect all the dots and give them any dots they might be missing. Mr. Feingold helped me see the clear, step-by-step connection between the Antarctica assignment (something I didn’t care at all about) and my dreams of being a psychologist (something I cared about deeply.) By doing that, he empowered me to draw motivation from that source and apply it to the assignment.
5. The Clarity Principle - I’m sure you’ve heard that when it comes to goal-setting, the more vividly you can envision where you’re trying to go and how you’ll get there, the more likely it is that you will succeed. Well it may be cliche, but it’s true, and the same principle applies here. When helping someone with Asperger's to make a new connection, you will need an incredible amount of detail and specificity. They must be able to see a clear and complete logical path between the the task at hand and what they truly want.
Mr. Feingold wasn’t content with broad generalizations such as “if you don’t get good grades, then you won’t have a successful career.” He walked me through step by detailed step exactly how A connects to B, B to C, and so on.
When you’re going through this process with your child it’s really important that you don’t inadvertently skip a step. Remember the Curse of Knowledge? Be aware of your own unconscious bias and remember that what is obvious to you might be completely foreign to them. Avoid assumptions, ask questions, and be prepared to possibly spend some time digging into the details of a single idea until you find the missing piece where it all clicks.
6. The Choice Principle - There’s an outstanding gentleman by the name of Mauricio Delgado who’s done some exciting research out at Pittsburgh University. He’s most interested in what exactly causes motivation and what that looks like in the brain. The experiment itself was simple. Participants were invited into his lab and were told they would be climbing into a brain scanner and playing a game for as long as they desired. They were free to leave at any time. As each person slid into Delgado’s trusty fMRI machine (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) they found themselves staring at a blank white screen.
To say the game was boring would be an understatement. A number between one and nine would flash on the screen, and the participant could press one of two buttons indicating whether they thought the next number that flashed would be higher or lower than five. That’s it. Rinse and repeat. Meanwhile, Delgado, seated in the other room, would watch what happened inside their brain.
You would think that with such a simplistic challenge, people would be bored out of their minds and, since there was no expectation to stay, would soon leave once they felt they had done the minimum amount of guesses they felt socially obligated to do. Delgado found the opposite to be true.
With each round of guessing, participants had a little burst of activity in their striatum , a part of the brain associated with excitement and anticipation. Instead of being bored, they were hooked. Some participants would even play for hours. Apparently, the thrill of guessing right and the disappointment of guessing wrong was slightly addicting.
Delgado then set up another version of the experiment. This time around, the participant would get to make a guess, and then for the next round the computer would just guess for them as they watched. The participant then got to guess again, and so on.
On the times that the computer took over, there was zero striatal activity. None. As soon as you took away their ability to choose and make decisions all enjoyment of the activity (read: motivation) evaporated.
My old teacher Mr. Feingold seemed to have intuitively understood the powerful truth that we’ve spent a large number of these pages talking about. “When you perceive choice, you perceive motivation.” So he didn’t tell me what do. He only gave me choices and information. That’s it. As soon as he did that, I automatically took ownership of whatever happened next. I’m sure Feingold knew that, given his position of authority, with enough control, rewards, and punishments he probably could have gotten me to do the Antarctica assignment. But he didn’t. He saw the bigger picture. He saw that the only way for me to succeed in school and in life as a whole was for me to decide to do that for myself.
Note: This was an excerpt from our book "7 Easy Ways To Motivate Someone With Asperger's". You can purchase it here: www.aspergerexperts.com/go/7easyways ... See MoreSee Less
I remember throwing an Antarctica map exercise out of the school window thinking it was pointless and dumb....many years later when I was doing fieldwork in Antarctica and trying to figure out which way was north (which is difficult if you're close to the south pole)....I thought back to crumpled little paper that sailed out of the window.
Hmm. Interesting story. I'm not really one to encourage others to "obey the messed up system simply because otherwise you will never get where you want to go" I personally find it much more inspiring to instead say, "obey the messed up system and take notes about what is wrong and why so that you can produce a change in the system for your own children" that's my take, anyway. 🙂
The Clarity of where you want to go struck me most . All of us have a goal, or more than one, but what we do to achieve it is the necessity. The action of achieve what ever goal
That's deep man As for autodidacts. They do exist. I just like to see formal education as a more convenient way to get a certain appreciation and rapport in your studies. For some their own passion carries them on, and that's great. But we're only human. I for one, don't want to hang onto a damn straw especially if my life depends on it. A rudimentary security also gives "you" more focus on the actual study. On the other hand, intermittent existence is hell. Not that being self taught makes your life inevitably capricious and insecure in nature. Admittably, the line between self-taught and educated is sort of a social illusion. But it's understandable, people don't automatically know what runs around in your brain, they want to know you've been objectively validated for your knowledge. Just like everyone prefers a certified brain surgeon to do any kind of brain surgery. But I don't think I'm saying anything too contrary to your original POV. As for choice and motivation, that resonates with me. Although it wouldn't seem like it from the first paragraph I just wrote, I think people generally tend toward the bias of distrusting themselves. They'd rather live in the mental fog of drifting into things, with no clear standard of success or failure, meaning they can't really fail. But if they put in the effort, the likelihood of a catastrophic or even mediocre failure is rather small. The slumber and the subsequent inexperience make it a rather distinct possibility. Not that everyone "wins" or becomes number one, if they just put in the work. But relative to their own talents and inborn abilities, everyone can make immense progress in some fields. Also, then they can say, they have genuinely tried, so they have genuinely lived, too.
Do you think this book would be good for a 21 year old to read to help motivate themselves? Or is it more for parents?
Wow! Love this so much! Very true about breaking the steps down and making connections. My little boy lights up when he sees relevance, connections, and choice. Thank you for this reminder!
Excellent! What a brilliant teacher! Buying the book now!
Be sure to let us know when the physical paper book is ready
This talk i had for years and years with my now 22 old
Lisa Rochfort Dempsey a really long read but awesome. Answers the ‘I’ll never have to do this in my real life’ argument.
Mitchell Morrill check this out
Marilyn Lambert this is what I am finding with Marlen. He has to choose to do it. He he normally does when he sees the bigger picture. Now to try this with the homework lol
Amazing post!! Thank you!
Amelia Nicole Williamson
yes, but how do you manage executive functioning issues and perfectionism?
Any suggestions on what we should cook with our children? I’m scared to let him see raw meat because he’ll reject it...
My son became a true foodie once he started cooking with me and learning to try different ingredients together.
My son and I love watching master chef Jr.! I love for him to see kids can do anything they put their mind and heart into!
Thanks for the tip!
Alaine Sturniolo Do you think this would help Aurora and Jonathan??? Growing vegies themselves didn't work but this.......?
This explains a lot about my son
Tom Bond, I have been enjoying your cooking lately.
Chest Rockwell! GREAT idea!
Mekhy King!!! Can't wait for you to make me a quesidilla
Kwi Hee Oh
Troubleshooting is the art and science of identifying root causes and fixing them. It is most commonly applied to the computer repair world (such as “My computer won’t turn on”), but we’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for life in general.
In essence, troubleshooting is a particular mindset in which you ask a series of questions in an attempt to gain a new perspective on a problem.
Sometimes you find out that what you thought was a problem actually wasn’t at all. Sometimes you find out that you forgot something simple, (“Have you plugged in the computer?”) and sometimes you find out the answer was something weird and obscure that you never would have thought of.
The troubleshooting mindset can be applied to all sorts of problems. Everything from “My kid won’t shower” to “I’m anxious” to “I’m feeling bloated and weird but I don’t know what is causing it” to the classic “My computer won’t start”.
Here’s how to troubleshoot:
#1 - Is there an actual problem?
As Stephen Covey says, “Before you start climbing the ladder of success, make sure your ladder is propped up against the right wall.”
In other words: Before you start solving a problem, make sure that the thing you are solving is actually a problem. You can do this by looking at what you define as a problem.
Is it simply uncomfortable? Not necessarily a problem!
On the other hand, is there a clear and imminent danger (like a guy coming at you with a knife, yelling?)... Definitely a problem!
Make the distinction between big emotional feelings and something that is inefficient, ineffective or dangerous. Just because it feels big doesn’t mean it is an actual issue. It could just feel big.
#2 - Isolate
Once we have determined that yes, there is an actual problem to be solved, it is time to begin the troubleshooting process. This begins with isolating all of the distinct parts. If we were fixing a computer, that would be the software, and all of the different hardware components (hard drive, CPU, graphics card, power supply, etc.).
In the non-computer world, it depends on what you are attempting to solve. Let’s take the example of “My son refuses to take a shower”.
The parts would be: The temperature of the water, the pressure of the water, the texture, color and size of the towel, the various smells in the room, the temperature of the room itself, etc.
We find that it generally helps to physically write out all of the parts, step back for a day and then review the list again. You’ll usually find that you missed a few parts.
#3 - Test
Now that you’ve isolated all of the different parts of the issue, it is time to test! Testing is very simple: Just replace one component at a time. If this were a computer, we’d replace the hard drive, then the power supply, etc. We could gain more info based on the problem at hand. If this were an issue with a computer not starting up, I would start by testing the computer by verifying that all of the cables are properly connected to the motherboard and devices, next I would swap out power supplies to see if something in the power supply has failed, etc.
Similarly, if this is an issue with shower refusal, I would start by talking to the person who is refusing to take a shower and asking them what specifically they are having issues with.
From there, we could narrow down the list, and start the testing process. Eventually, we may figure out that they simply don’t like the water pressure, and by changing it or getting a new shower head, the problem is resolved!
#4 - Course Correct
Finally, we just continue to course correct on a regular basis to ensure any hiccups along the way are properly addressed at the root level.
The biggest hiccup we see is that people are shut down, in Defense Mode, and biologically incapable of learning and growing. Here's how you know if you are in Defense Mode: www.aspergerexperts.com/defense-mode/defense-mode-a-different-perspective-on-understanding-helpin... ... See MoreSee Less
I'm a professional troubleshooter. (software support) Nothing more satisfying than fixing a super complex problem. 🙂
I don't have Asperger's; I have bipolar disorder (I don't like to say, "I suffer from bipolar disorder"). And the reality is, I've done some pretty amazing things with my life, things that nobody ever thought I could do. But I definitely find it hard to rest, even when I need to. When someone says, "you're doing your best", I always think my "best" would be pushing myself to 100% of capacity whatever capacity at that time was. And the reality is, I *don't* push myself to 100% of capacity. So I'm *not* doing my best. I torture myself with that.
Really need this reminder right now. Very difficult time with my son. In DM for 5 days over school issues. Patience is what I pray for.
Could you please help me! I am teaching in a classroom with students with ASD. A group of students want to make special gifts for my students. Could you please make suggestions of sensory items that are low cost . I really appreciate it!!! You can pm me too!!! Thank you so much
my son is a senior in High School and has aspergers. He is a pretty good student but did not schore well on the sat's. He has been turned down by two colleges already. Very discouraging for him. But he made a video and sent it to the remaining two colleges, he talked about having aspergers and his desire to become a lawyer. I pray some College takes a chance on him. He really needs a WIN!
What if I’m also just being a bit of a shit tho?
When I was a child I was diagnosed with "minimal brain dysfunction". The most I can find out about it is that it involves a swollen brain stem. Does anyone know what that is? I have wondered for years if it was a kin to Asperger's.
Love this thank you
Thanks for the reminder
Thanks - I needed that 🙂
I hope so
Tack a mental illness on top of it, it gets harder. I deal with both Aspergers Syndrome and mental illness mental illness/depression
Having a bad day? Here's some relaxing sounds of nature to help you de-stress: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2NmyoXBXmE
Oh and a llama in a lobster costume. Because that's just awesome. ... See MoreSee Less
it's kind of awesome but what if animals get autism too? He can't say "I dont like this costume - its the wrong colour and the labels itch me" I say poor llama. 😉
Journy Vanpatten, the llama is a CRAB! LOL!!!
Adrian Morley just a llama dressed as a lobster 😂
Joy look at this llama
Isn't it an alpaca, rather than a llama?
Janet Dickson Noseworthy for Paige LOL
Adriana Alicia Mullins Llama Lobster!!!
Kris....a llama in a lobster costume.!!??? Lol
Paige Dewar!!!!!!!!!!! This is AMAZING!!!!!
That picture is meme gold people
Hahaha Merinda Walton😂
Cat Stedman Youngblood
Richard Farvis Dave Moar
Anna Geldermans Moore
We're actively soliciting opportunities to speak around the US in the next 6-9 months. If you are interested in hiring someone from AE to speak at your organization, conference or event, please email email@example.com and we can talk. ... See MoreSee Less
Raelyn Wortman, lets ask the school district.
Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic of Mississippi State
It’s deeply frustrating when we see our children floundering and feel powerless to help them. There’s no doubt that your child would benefit from a deeper understanding of social skills or from a better homework routine. However, what many people don’t realize is that trying to teach social skills (or anything else) is the last step in the process when working with someone on the Autism Spectrum, not the first. Metaphorically speaking, before we can build a roof to keep the rain off our heads, we need to build the walls and foundation. Step one in building your foundation is to help your child get out of Defense Mode. Those other steps, such as teaching and communication, come later on.
We define Defense Mode as a state in which someone with Asperger’s is scared, frustrated, or angry, as well as shut down and withdrawn. Think of it like this: Imagine a soldier who is caught in the middle of a firefight. Bullets are flying overhead and explosions are booming in the distance. The soldier will be on constant alert for any kind of threat, and the slightest trigger could send him over the edge into full-on fight-or-flight. He’s physically, mentally, and emotionally overwhelmed.
Now imagine that the soldier's sweet, kindly grandmother comes hobbling up to him. Grandma really wants to teach him to knit, and she wants to do it now. After all, knitting is an important life skill and he really needs to learn it.
How effective do you imagine Grandma’s teaching is going to be? Can the soldier actually learn anything in that moment? Can he devote mental and emotional resources to this new task? Probably not. Additionally, how is the soldier going to react? He’s probably going lash out, run away, or shut down. Defense Mode always manifests in one of those three ways: fight, flight, or freeze. Grandma will naturally be surprised by this. After all, when she lovingly offers to teach someone knitting the last thing she expects is to get yelled at.
In a nutshell, that’s what Defense Mode is. That’s the philosophy that underlies everything we do here at AE.
The difference between your child and the soldier is that (hopefully) there aren’t any bullets and explosions involved. Instead, your child is repeatedly traumatized by his own experience of reality. If you want to really understand the science of this you can find a lot of recommended books as well as deep dive courses & in person workshops & retreats on our website. That said, here’s the short and sweet version:
According to the Intense World Theory and the science of vagal tone, individuals with Asperger’s feel some sensations and emotions differently and more intensely than the average person. If we look at it on a stress scale of one to ten, a neurotypical person might experience an itchy shirt tag or a tense moment of anxiety as a level three. They don’t get overwhelmed. An individual with Asperger’s, on the other hand, could have those exact same experiences and to them it feels like a level ten. Oftentimes, it’s so much that they can’t cope. They become traumatized, so they shut down and go into Defense Mode.
When someone finds themselves in Defense Mode, safety becomes priority number one, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. For example, they may try to feel safe through bursts of anger, following rigid routines, or escaping into video games. Anything that gives them a semblance of comfort, control, and certainty. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to seek out a feeling of certainty. It is a basic, psychological need that all human beings have. The issues arise when the means to that end (i.e. the behaviors) become unhealthy or problematic, such as playing video games for sixteen hours a day. These sorts of difficult behaviors, combined with the natural permutations of life, often create circumstances that lead to more stress and overwhelm, which leads to more Defense Mode, and it keeps on spiraling ever downward. Then just rinse and repeat. Eventually, given time, Defense Mode becomes their default setting; the only reality they’ve ever known.
Before the soldier can even attempt to learn the ancient art of knitting doilies he first needs to get to a place where he feels completely safe. Before your child can learn social skills, change their homework habits, feel motivated to get a job, or willingly take a shower in the morning they need to get out of Defense Mode. Then, and only then, will effective communication, problem solving, and growth be possible.
On our website you will find a raft of videos, courses, and articles that can give you more detailed information about the what, why, and how of getting out of Defense Mode. I wish you and your child all the best, and I hope that this has been at least somewhat helpful. Feel free to email us if you have any further questions!
-The Asperger Experts Team
Note: This was an excerpt from our book "7 Easy Ways To Motivate Someone With Aspegers", which you can purchase here: www.aspergerexperts.com/go/7easyways ... See MoreSee Less
Question. I’ve been told through the process of having my son diagnosed that the term Aspergers is no more. Yet so many articles and literature still use the term. Can you advise?
Well said I sometimes feel guilty about my son retreating to the bedroom when we have visitors but forcing him to socialize when there are many triggers seems wrong.. I’m afraid of a bad reaction but feel badly he’s missing out on family time Thoughts?
We must instill personal power in our children. Focus on strengths. Give them the tools for their serenity. I love my Aspies. They are teachers here to teach unconditional love and promote personal freedom. Don't put them in a box, for they will never fit.
Spot on. Does anyone have a lexicon of potential triggers?
I finally understood that until we moved our son out of the public setting (too crowd, too demanding, stressful, and little supports, etc) to a private placement, where he started finally having a close friend... Because our move out of state on the middle of the school year, and Anxiety, we decided to Homeschool him, best thing ever up to now.... A month after being Homeschooled he wanted to see and play with the kids across the street, since then he's been a lot more social, and outgoing, willing to go out with us and try new things... I just pray in this new State, CT we'll find better support, and services within the public system.
When the DSM-5 replaced the 4 they absorbed Aspergers and some other dx into an autism diagnosis and created different levels of severity in the dx. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (most impaired). However, many people with Aspergers choose to still identify as Aspergers rather than Autistic.
Keir Eaton nice read
No matter the diagnosis label a person is NOT their disease. It may be empowering to know a diagnosis, but it is humiliating to be called "autistic" or "diabetic". They are a person with autism or diabetes.
Shannon N Michael
Teresa Smith Koerner
Rachel Louise Sadler
I do not get that look because my son simply does not do what he agreed to do in "collaborative parenting" sessions. He stays on his electronics until he is ready to get off of them, and this is how it has always been, regardless of what methodology I have used. Any boring or unstructured time results in his "need" for being on. I do not deal with this is sue very effectively in favor of dealing with others. Any suggestions.?
Since I started collaborative and proactive problem solving with my daughter, and address both of our concerns about wrapping up electronics time, we no longer have this battle.
My son broke his and we can't afford to fix it. Best thing to have happened
The looks Tamer and Barry gave us yesterday when we told them to put it away and do your homework, Asmahan.
Almost afraid to even say it!
Hope Vance is this the face em is gonna give me tonight when I tell her iPad time is up?! Lmao
It's like the grenade is there, and waiting for the pin to be pulled
Now let maybe clear it started out as 1 day and escalated to that
Michael has been grounded from his for 2 months because of this exact thing
Mattie Shepley or you just don't let him have it! Team G!!
Claire Louise Ashton Better than been out on streets xx
Hahaha "its the precious" Karen
That....literally is the look that I get
Time to put mp3 away? TaraMccarthy,KirstyWelch,Lj Liz
I know that look well.
Brandy does this sound like your daughter
It’s Sam and his PlayStation Becca Rowe Chris Rowe
Aliss Diaz is this Maximus or what actually all of them lol
Sam Queen trying to get jack off the vita
Marsha Stasney see I'm not the only one failing---the struggle is real!
Maisie Evans just wait until you come back and witness this!
Ian, I can see Katie in this hahahah
Jenae Wilkins telling skyler no more computer lol
You read a book. Or listen to a doctor or therapist and think "That's a great idea!"... but when it is time to finally IMPLEMENT that advice, you easily forget to actually use your new found wisdom.
Sound familiar? It's something I've done time and time again. So as a reminder, here are the top 9 things to remember when raising someone with Asperger's. You might want to print this one out and hang it somewhere to remind you. If you'd like more reminders, inspiration, and hope, you can join our email list here: www.aspergerexperts.com/go/
#9 - It's Not Personal
This is an essential mindset to always have. Kids WANT to do their best (adults do too). Nobody wakes up in the morning and goes "I'd sure like to have a horrible day! How can I make that happen?"
So when someone attacks you (verbally or physically), or does something that seems to be in spite, always remember. They are hurting inside. They aren't doing it because they want to be mean to you, they are doing it because they are suffering.
#8 - "Bad" behavior is a cry for help
ALL behavior is some form of communication. It's how we show what is going on inside our mind & body. We show that we love someone through a certain set of behaviors such as hugging, kissing, etc.
Kids also show how they are doing emotionally through behaviors. When a "bad" behavior happens, it is a cry for help. They aren't feeling like they are being heard enough. They feel scared. They are frustrated and don't know how to continue. Etc.
Your job is to look BEHIND the behavior, and notice what is really going on. Train yourself to see beyond the behavior and look at what might have caused it.
#7 - Getting them out of Defense Mode makes EVERYTHING else easier
I liken Defense Mode to going everywhere with a bag of bricks and a blindfold. You can technically still do everything in life, it will just be a lot harder.
Once you get someone with Asperger's out of Defense Mode, it makes everything else they do & learn a lot easier. And it makes your job easier as well, because they are finally receptive and not so avoidant.
You can read more on Defense Mode here: www.aspergerexperts.com/defense-mode/defense-mode-a-different-perspective-on-understanding-helpin...
#6 - Don’t focus solely on teaching social skills (sensory stuff is more important)
This goes with #3. If you solely focus on teaching executive functioning and social skills, then you miss the most effective part of helping someone with Asperger's.
Holding space for someone with Asperger's to be with their emotions, and deal with sensations will not only set them up for an amazing life, but will help them to switch from "Protect" to "Connect" so they are able to learn social skills on their own.
This video succinctly explains this concept using the "Sensory Funnel": www.aspergerexperts.com/go/sensoryfunnel-guide/
#5 - Diagnosis doesn’t matter as much as solutions and actual help
That's not to say that getting diagnosed doesn't help. It absolutely does. It opens up tons of doors for government and school services, and allows you to finally name the issues. But then what?
If you had to choose between focusing all of your effort on pursuing a diagnosis, or working with your child to build love & trust, always choose the latter. Don't get caught in the trap of trying to find the "right" diagnosis before you shift your attention to actually helping your child. Do both.
#4 - Choose your battles
You can't fix it all. And you certainly can't fix it all at the same time. So by sheer necessity, you'll need to pick your battles, or you will get extremely exhausted and overwhelmed.
#3 - Put on your own oxygen mask first
"Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." Why? Because you'll suffocate if you don't. In other words, if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others (including your kids).
Here are some simple things to do that you can immediate add to your daily routine of self care (or, if you don't have a daily self care routine, here's how to start): www.aspergerexperts.com/self-care/self-care-taking-care-can-take-care/
#2 - Parents need to do just as much work as the kids
It's not all about the kids needing to change. There is lots of research to show that the way parents behave influences the way children behave. In other words: If the kid has issues, the parent needs to do work just as much as the kid does.
What can you, as the parent do to better yourself so that you better your kid?
#1 - It's never too late. There is always hope.
Here at Asperger Experts, we believe in the transformative power of neuroplasticity. Simply put, neuroplasticity is the brains ability to change and adapt. Previously this was thought to end at the age of 5, but there's new science that shows that the brain can actually adapt and change all throughout life.
To you, this means that someone with Asperger's can ALWAYS learn new skills, habits, beliefs and ways of being. That never goes away. ... See MoreSee Less
would love a list like this to send to teachers
Good to know. Where do they,and us, get our strength? No mention of belief in the Lord or hope. My family members are adults - atheists. Feeling like its so overwhelming and all on their shoulders adds to stress. God is part of the stability if people would try. Peace comes to all who ask. Prayers for your continued path. My experience, prayers do all and aid in every effort. ❤ Thanks for sharing it helps more than you know.
I think these are just all plain good reminders for parents of any child.
Jenni Hanson this awesome dude
❤These are great. Thank you for posting💕
I wish I would have known so much more of this sooner.
Jordy Meacham & Kyralee Ralph some good tips here. X
Hey, did you close the private group page? I don't see it in my list of groups anymore and I can't seem to locate it.
I used to climb into trees. They are such kind souls and some carry amazing stories.
I get that way too!
Dereck J. Garcia
Raising someone with Asperger's during the summer time
Note about the author: Ellen is the mom of two adult sons (including Danny) who are two years apart. She was the “mom on call” for Danny, who was diagnosed with Asperger's at age 12, and his older brother, who was the one with the more “normal” culture. She is thankful that she has had a very patient, and much more playful husband, to share in her parenting responsibilities.
I really hated summertime! Unless I could get frequent breaks, I disliked being with my Asperger son, Danny, playing Pokemon with him all day, and listening to endless monologues about his obsessions.
While I did my best to pretend to enjoy every single moment of parenting, I can now admit that I did not enjoy summertime. Here are some things I would have done differently:
1) Don't stress about the lack of peer-friends. Up until about age eight, his peers didn't seem to mind Danny's quirks. After that, the kids his age began to notice that Danny was different and didn't want to be with him. (I used to cry when he was excluded from birthday parties.) They didn't understand him when he spoke obsessively like a little engineer explaining in much too much detail about whatever topic interested him. They didn't like that Danny did not abide by the social norm of respecting their physical space, and they thought it was strange that he would freak-out when someone touched him playfully. So, instead of complaining about the lack of peer-friends, or forcing Danny to be in stressful situations trying to fit in, I would have removed that stress by finding people of different ages to be with him.
I would have found a few patient adults or older teens to be Danny's buddies and spend time with him. I would have contacted the local high school and asked for some mature students who need volunteer time, connected with the community “big brother” program, or asked friends and relatives to help out. A few hours of their time would have provided Danny some social time, and allowed me to have more breaks.
2) Let him be in control by giving him choices. I often was the “drill sergeant” mom and told Danny what to do. But, when I gave him two choices that I was willing to live with, he felt in control and we were both happier. For example, “At 10:00 this morning, two hours from now, do you want to go to the park, or a walk on the beach?” Or, “We need to go grocery shopping. Do you prefer store X or store Y?”
3) Avoid Meltdown triggers. I would have avoided places that set Danny off into Defense Mode. It took me years of dragging Danny to the fish market until I finally realized he stressed every time. Likewise, how many times did I need to cook with olives before I realized the smell caused him pain? And, Kmart's florescent lights were way to bright for him. He was overly sensitive to these smells and sights, and was very uncomfortable, ultimately stressing, retreating into his own world, and melting down.
I would have also avoided people who stressed Danny out. Summer was often time to visit with friends and relatives and that unfortunately often triggered problems. Danny had a very low tolerance for certain people's voices, and others who talked too much, or as he would say, spoke “mindless chatter.” (He would sometimes accuse me of being one of those people.) Of course, there were times when he needed to be polite, but I would have changed my visit times or durations, and explained to him ahead of time that it was perfectly okay, after saying hello, to excuse himself whenever he was feeling stressed and go read a book or play gameboy in the other room. And, I would not have cared what anyone thought of this behavior!
4) Find more volunteer experiences for Danny. (This would have worked well when he was about 10 or older.) One summer, Danny got a taste of a fun volunteer job when he helped at a preschool. The children were too young to judge, and instead simply liked that Danny showed them magic tricks, made really cool shapes out of clay, and pushed them on the swing. Other opportunities existed too. There are many homes for the elderly in town and perhaps they would have enjoyed to play cards or chess with Danny. Opportunities are out there, but again, I would have narrowed the choices down and let Danny ultimately pick what he would do.
Ultimately a less-stressed Danny meant a happier mom. And, likewise, a less-stressed mom, meant a happier Danny! Oh, how I wish I would have known better! ... See MoreSee Less
These pieces of advice are invaluable! As a parent you’re constantly wondering if you are doing the right thing. Having someone who’s been through it, reflect on it and offer wisdom is really helpful. Thank you!!!
As my son was not correctly diagnosed until he was 20, we spent his early years trying to make him “blend in” with kids his age. I have so many regrets but now that we understand him more...let him “stand out”, he is so much happier and content. It’s always nice to know that you are not alone!
It is wonderful that you share your mum's experience, as a parent we are often forgotten as people and harshly judged for every thing we do out of the norm. We are all susceptible to societies pressures, some of us accept at different times and adjust accordingly to the needs of our 'atypical' children - I say that because everyone essentially wants the same things in life but we are typical or atypical. I adore both my children. My son is autistic and I have had to - by choice - yield to his world, to understand him, to help him. Sadly not every parent/advocate does to the detriment of the autistic person.
Ellen, I understand. On a long flight to San Francisco I was seated next to a young adult who knew every statistic about baseball. Yes, he stimmed occasionally, but I will never forget the joy he had challenging me to guess who won, who was at bat, etc.. I loved it and the time melted away.
Wanted to say thank you for your son , I'm a 63 yr old Gma & raising my 16 yr old Gson . I've never understood Asburgers until I started listening to Danny on FB. Of course Dr's & counslers & meds all his young life...but no one could ever explain things the way Danny does. Can't afford the courses..but the info from him is helping tremendously. I was doing so many things wrong..Thank you for your idea's you have shared also.
I needed to read this today! THANK YOU for this article.
Thank you for that straight truth. Danny has taught you well😉. Feels good to not feel alone in the journey. Bless us all
Thank you for your insight- it makes a lot of sense to me and our world. I LOVE the volunteering idea and was just brainstorming with my husband about it this week.
Man it feels good to be able to say, me too.
Enjoy those years. I know I miss them!
Thank you Ellen for some great ideas. I am in a similar situation with an almost 12yr old. I spend most summers as my sons best friend. Did you ever find a camp or summer program that worked for him?
Questions about summer plans are flying around right now. I stress a lot about all that unscheduled time. This post made me stop and take a breath. Thank you, Ellen!
Oh I think you did just fine! Look at him now! With out the experiences that he had he would not be Danny and he would not be here helping all of us with his insights and wisdom! So no regrets please! He is doing just fine as he is! Thanks to you both for raising a great kid! X
I have learned so much from you, Thank you. We go camping every summer for about 4 weeks. We plan an adventure, last year we went to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. It was great because with our camper my son had familiar things,I we could cook his favorite foods and he could relax quietly if there were too many people around.
Thank you for sharing! I have a Danny also (8). I’ll definitely use some of your ideas. Yes,shopping can be a nightmare 😮
Krista Minutella Collins I don't know how to share with your group, but i love these guys and this post in particular.
Thanks. I have a 15 year old son with Aspergers. I appreciate you sharing your experience. We have been homeschooling since kindergarten, so we kind of have "summer" plus school all year round.
Thank you for helping me 'know' a little better how to be a better mom for my son (12).
You sound like a great Mom. I think Danny is amazing too. This FB page give me lots of insight into Aspergers and how I may better relate to my fabulous grandson, Taylor James, who also has Aspergers. He is also an awesome young man.
i can relate to all of these comments. good days and bad dqys.. .. thanks for sharing your story . we are still going strong.. my son is 28 now.. grateful for my husband's support emotionally..spiritually and my other kids as well.
So true! So greatful for Asperger Experts and their information. I wish I would have found y'all two years earlier than I did, but better late than never!!!!! This website should be mandatory reading for all families who wish to have a relationship with us!
Love this as a fellow mom! And the kMart reference made me laugh! The smell of that place would always put me over the edge!!!
We do our best and that’s ok! ❤️
Love you, Danny and Danny's mom!
So helpful. Thank you.
So true. They are just wired differently.
So true! So sad how the world sees them rather than celebrating the great human beings they are!!
What a perfect response that would have been.
God DON"T make junk!!!!!!! 💖💖💖
Sometimes you want to break them....of their craziness sometimes 😬😬😎😎 love my ASD Kiddos
I am broken and I can't be fixed because something that is broken cannot self repair itself
i like this statement!
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The following post is by Danny's Mother:
Raising a son with Asperger's, we often had to celebrate in a different way. And, you know what? It was really fun and very memorable for all of us. Here are three examples:
When Danny turned 12, we were on vacation in Seattle. To celebrate his actual birthday, Danny didn't want a party or special dinner, but instead requested a tour of Microsoft Headquarters. Fortunately, we had a business acquaintance whose son coordinated a fabulous tour of the campus. I really didn't understand all of the technical terms or descriptions of software – but Danny did! He was focused, happy, thrilled, and social doing something that he wanted to do.
Danny was raised Jewish, and that meant we celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at age 13. To prepare, he studied for months to learn to read Hebrew, learned some prayers, and wrote a speech about the meaning of his Torah portion. (A lot for any 13-year-old!) On his Bar Mitzvah day, he led services, and then we had a celebration. We had just had the diagnosis of Asperger's, so I had a little better idea of what we should NOT do to celebrate. We shouldn't invite too many people. We shouldn't make too much of a fuss of him. We shouldn't celebrate with loud music. This was not the normal celebration of our community, but it was perfect for Danny. At the party celebrating him becoming part of the adult-community, instead of having lots of loud screaming teenagers dancing “YMCA,” we had a magician performing. Instead of expecting Danny to participate in any games, he was the judge. And, instead of him arriving into the room with full fan-fare, he sat on his Dad's lap watching close-up magic.
High School Graduation Day was perfect for Danny. My husband and I dreaded the thought of Danny having to sit through a few hours of speeches and a long line of students waiting to get their diplomas. So, when Danny said he really didn't want to go through with the graduation ceremony, we were a bit relieved. But, we knew the importance of celebrating milestones, so we asked Danny for some alternative ideas. What he came up with was spectacular. On the day of everyone else's graduation ceremony, we drove the 1 ½ hours to Los Angeles, had dinner at an Italian restaurant where “picky eater” Danny could be assured of finding something he'd like on the menu, and made our way to an outdoor venue to attend a symphonic concert featuring the music of video games called “Video Games Live.” Although my husband and I felt like we were in a foreign culture in unfamiliar territory, we were elated to see Danny very comfortable and happy and singing or humming along to every song.
Celebrations are important but we quickly learned that we had to do things Danny's way. And, we had fun too!
Want more? Read Danny's dad's perspective here: www.aspergerexperts.com/family/a-fathers-perspective-what-i-did-wrong-and-what-i-did-right/ ... See MoreSee Less
So thankful for these stories cause makes me actually understand my 18 year old a lot more. He was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 4. He is very much into computers and electronics. He actually finished school early (in January) and has no want to walk at his graduation. Of course so many have chewed me out about that one.
Such important lessons! When my 2nd aspie turned 16, he wanted to take just a couple of friends bowling, but not ON his birthday, and it was a lot of fun. On his actual birthday, he wanted to go out to dinner, read his new (Star Wars) novel at the table until his steak came, and then go home and eat his birthday cake. We thought it was so funny (and so perfectly him) that he sneaked the cake he had picked out over to his computer and enjoyed it solo-he had had plenty of social celebration, he wanted to treat himself. My first aspie wants to bake her own birthday cakes, go shopping for shoes and craft supplies, and hasn't even thought about graduation ceremony yet, but shouldn't have any real difficulties. She is excited that as school staff, I can wear a cap and gown and be "in there" somewhere, too.
Before learning my daughter was on the spectrum, I tried all kinds of girly birthday ideas... including a sleepover of every little girl she knew who was willing to come over. What a nightmare! Now, we celebrate every birthday with either lunch or dinner out at her favorite place (at the time) to eat and an afternoon of bowling (her favorite sport). Just us family. Every year I ask "what do you want to do this year?" And regardless of how many times we go to the bowling alley, she always just wants to bowl on her birthday. It's tradition now.
My son didn't want to attend the graduation ceremony...no matter what I came up with to bribe him with...even saying I would walk up with him. Finally I relented and his teacher/asst.principal came up with a great plan. He wore his cap and gown and they had an unnoficial ceremony in his classroom in front of his own classmates...he did so wonderful..he was totally himself and in his comfort zone and even ran around school in his gown visiting all his teachers. Find what works for your child!!!
I am learning so much from AE thank you so much!! My son (16) is exactly the same, no parties to celebrate birthdays and lives life through his gadgets and PC that he built. He is computer mad and built his own PC aged 14, replaces iPhone screens etc. Main problem though is he is lonely, has no friends and no-one to play games online with 😥
Thanks for sharing these stories. It’s clear that while there may have been some challenges along the way, you have always been so respectful of who Danny is and it is evident in the man he has become. I/we try to raise our kids this way too, with the knowledge that we love and accept them for who they are. A lot of times that means adjusting our lives and expectations to suit their unique needs, and not to live according to ‘rules’ or traditions that may work for society at large, but don’t work for our family.
Hearing these snippets from parents is EXACTLY what I am needing more of currently. I read highlights of Rob’s post to my husband last night. He still isn’t quite there, but he listened...that’s a start. Thank YOU!!
I am so thankful for your son. We will be making a visit to one of Danny’s programs hopefully in the near future. He has helped me immensely in understanding my son Cooper. Coop is still our chemistry project that we continue to learn from every day. Danny has greatly helped in shortening that timetable. He truly is making a difference to families like ours. Thank you for allowing your son to fly!
I know I am the practical type who doesn't care about holidays or family celebrations, but I love to geek out. Hubby and I are both on the spectrum and our townhouse looks the same year round, holidays or not. We just don't care.
so interesting..our son Jacob has aspergers and had a obsession with Microsoft as s child. Jacob wrote a letter to Bill Gates and got a response..
You have to roll with the punches (or go with the flow?) when you have a kid on the spectrum. It's important to look at things through THEIR eyes, not ours.
I just love Danny’s posts! What an incredible guy you’ve raised!
I am more and more convinced my son has some aspergers characteristics. Undiagnosed, and now a junior in high school. Whew. He told me a couple of months ago he didn't want to participate in the ceremony. Ugh. I told him that was for us to celebrate his accomplishment. I may need to go back and revisit that conversation. . .If we can get him through algebra 2.
My 40th was visiting Dad and Grandad's grave, going to 2 skin clinics instead of a big party, where they made a fuss of me with cards, a voucher, luxury soap and photographed me on their website, then me and Mum went McDonald's!
Thank you so much for posting this, my son and I have so much in common with your experiences!
Danny, you are blessed to have such supportive parents!
Thanks so much for these amazing ideas! My little man is going to start getting ready for his bar mitzvah too, and I've been wondering how to plan a celebration that would be right for him.
Love this thanks for posting. So true.
Thank you for sharing.
Love it! Hits very close to home.
We adapt and we all achieve and we get a little closer. Amen
Thankyou for sharing
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing .
He helps me a lot. Grateful.
If only I had time.
Daniel - which is why I understand when you say you need down time or time in the country where life is a slower pace.
My mother brought me up to believe I was selfish if I payed any attention to myself...and I ended up with chronic fatigue syndrome trying to look after everyone but myself. 😕
Mara Jayne Ellora Davy Ally Boyce Mia Boyce Jenni Anne Kyra Riddell Janet Duley
Ruth Bullock 👍😁