Sociology | Children protection » Dave Angel - How To Help Your Child with Aspergers during the Christmas Holiday Season


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“How To Help Your Child with Aspergers during the Christmas Holiday Season” By Dave Angel An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 1 Disclaimer The writer of the material present in “How To Help Your Child with Aspergers during the Christmas Holiday Season” believes that a multi-disciplinary approach to parenting Asperger’s children is of extreme importance. This means combining the approaches of a wide variety of disciplines involved with Asperger’s children and their parents such as social workers, nurses, teachers, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, speech therapists. Also it involves using the knowledge and information of parents themselves. The author recognizes that within scientific, educational, social and medical fields there are widely divergent viewpoints and opinions. This material is written for the express purpose of sharing educational information gathered from the experiences of the author and other

people in the areas mentioned above. None of the information contained in this e-Book is intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure Asperger’s, nor is it intended to prescribe any of the techniques, materials or concepts presented as a form of treatment for Asperger’s. Before beginning any practice relating to Asperger’s it is highly recommended that you first obtain the consent and advice of a qualified health, education or social care professional. Should you choose to make use of the information contained herein without first consulting a health, education or social care professional, you are prescribing for yourself, which is your inalienable right. However, the author assumes no responsibility for the choices you make after your review of the information contained herein and your consultation with a qualified health, education or social care professional. None of the statements in this article or in the book have been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA),

or the American Medical Association (AMA). Every effort has been made to accurately represent this product and its potential. However your level of success in attaining the An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 2 results claimed in this program depends on the time and effort that you devote to the program, ideas and techniques mentioned. Results will vary for people on an individual basis We cannot guarantee your success nor are we responsible for any of your actions. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 3 Table of Contents Introduction 6 Christmas Gifts 9 Handling toy discussions 10 The problem of constant toy adverts 12 My child doesn’t want anything 14 Grandparents buy too many gifts 16 Is Santa real? 18 Suitable presents for a 9 year old? 20 Presents and hoarding 22 Receiving gifts 24 Sensory issues with Christmas gifts 26 Present repetition 28 Sweet treats

at Christmas 30 Family 32 Sibling issues 33 Family don’t understand Aspergers 35 Sibling issues part 2 37 How do I get my son to eat Christmas dinner? 39 An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 4 Christmas Dinner part 2 41 Preparation for family get-togethers 43 Christmas Transition 45 Family Christmas Activities 47 Family get-togethers part 2 49 Educating family members 51 Coping with Christmas drinking 53 Avoiding tears and tantrums at Christmas 55 Other Christmas Topics 57 How to keep routine structured 58 The true meaning of Christmas 60 Christmas travel plans 62 Preparation for Christmas season 64 How to fill the non-school time ? 66 The Christmas aftermath 68 Adjusting bed times 70 Change in routine 72 Activity ideas 74 Updates for 2010 76 Staying on the “Nice List” 77 An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 5 Sibling

issues (part 3) 79 Coping with crowds at Christmas 81 Son wants to buy expensive presents 83 Avoiding Christmas meltdowns 85 How to stop my son being ungrateful 87 Dividing up Christmas 89 Lego 91 VERY early Christmas planning 93 The problem of surprise 95 Coping with the vacation 97 Problems with a Christmas game 99 Panic attacks at Christmas 101 Should I make my son join in more 103 Problem in gift choices 105 An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 6 Introduction An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 7 Hi there and welcome to “How to Help Your Child with Aspergers during the Christmas Holiday Season”. As I am sure you are aware the holiday season (and Christmas in particular) can be such a difficult time for a child with Aspergers And this can obviously have such an impact on your child, you as a parent and the rest of your family – so that it can

become a pretty big deal. So I’ve put this resource together to help you through the festive season. In this e-book I look at topics such as  Those difficult Christmas gift discussions with your child  Advising family members on buying gifts  How and when to tell “the truth” about Santa  Sensory issues with Christmas gifts  The problems of repetitive/obsessive gift collecting  Managing sibling relationships at Christmas  Surviving big family get-togethers  How to have an enjoyable Christmas Dinner  Understanding Christmas  Coping without the structure of school for the holidays  and many more besides I want to wish you and your child the best possible holiday season. Dave Angel An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 8 Christmas Gifts An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 9 1. Does anyone have any tips for handling the 10 or 20 or 30

discussions per day every day leading up to Christmas regarding "Mom, I want this toy because it has (insert agonizingly long list of details here)"? It is easy to lose your patience when your child with Asperger’s is telling you for the sixth time in one hour about his Christmas list! It is especially frustrating when the details are numerous and repetitive. You can gently remind him that you remember the wants, whys, and all the details, but it really does not make any difference. It is simply the way he is wired Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have a tendency to focus intently on one special interest. Because he is of average intelligence or above, your child is able to study and internalize every detail of his special interest. He knows more than you could even imagine about that topic or object. He will continue to feed his obsessive knowledge, and you will continue to hear all about it Another characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome is repetitive thinking. This

also comes into play in this situation. The repetitive nature of his special interest is comforting to him, nerve-wracking to you. Here are some things you can do that may help make the Christmas list talk a little easier to bear.  Redirection is an effective option. When your child with Asperger’s begins to tell you, once again, about the attributes of his wish list, you could suggest an activity for the two of you. Distraction may be just the thing to reset his mind. If you choose to redirect, be prepared with several ideas, as you will probably use this technique many times in the days to come before Christmas.  Social stories are a great way to teach just about any concept. Find social stories (or create your own) that focus on all of the issues. You could share a story about how to wait for something you want, for example. Then you could share a story specifically about a child An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 10

waiting patiently for Christmas.  Visuals can help your child understand difficult concepts. When he starts telling you about his wish list, give him a catalog and have him circle his favorites or cut them out and glue them to paper. He can add a list of all the details to his new picture list If writing is a weakness for him, help him search the items on the Internet and print them. In addition, you may want to investigate the repetitive behavior and narrow focus. Is it all consuming? Is it mostly related to Christmas, or is it a consistent problem? If the above suggestions do not seem to help, you may want to speak with a professional. Therapy, counseling, or medications may help your child better cope with the holiday season. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 11 2. How do you get your child to understand that you cannot afford to buy every toy in an ad, on TV or on the internet? Even if the current economy was riding on a high

note, very few of us could afford to give in to our child’s every whim and wish. However, our children do not understand this concept This is a problem for many children and not just children with Asperger’s Syndrome. During the Christmas season, television networks are carried by advertisements that are targeted directly to the kids. Most parents already have a burning desire to give their children the treasures of their hearts, and this intense marketing focus sure makes it difficult to remain grounded. Every parent has to set a limit. This limit is personal and something you, as a family, should decide, depending on your finances and beliefs. Once you have set this limit, it is time for a family meeting. Be sure to include your child with Asperger’s Syndrome As you know, he is very intelligent and able to understand complex concepts when they are presented in the proper method. Depending on his age, here are some ideas on what to include in this conversation Younger Children

Explain to your child that he will be able to request a set number of items. Help him create a visual list of his favorite toys. Cut pictures from newspaper ads or store catalogs Talk about why he likes each item. Use social stories to show him that we do not always get everything we want, but we often get some of our very favorites. Does your child have a firm understanding of numbers? Many children with Asperger’s Syndrome are gifted in math. If so, talk about how much your family Christmas budget is and how much money you can spend on his gifts. Look up the prices and add them to his visual list. Show him with his list how you will have to make choices to match your budget. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 12 Older Children Older children can handle the same family meeting, yet with even more details. Help your older child with Asperger’s Syndrome create a visual list of his favorite toys. Have him compare the costs of each

toy and work them into the limits you have set. This is also a good time to talk about daily living skills like paying bills and buying food. You could even have him compare the family’s weekly grocery budget with his gift list. These concepts will be too much for some children. However, it is important to include your child with Asperger’s Syndrome in on the reality of living within your means. Talking about these concepts at a young age will give you more time to repeat these important life lessons over the course of your son’s childhood. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 13 3. My son has never wanted anything for Christmas I know that is partly because he is not materialist, but it saddens me to think that he feels he is not worthy. Have you heard of other children with Aspergers who feel this way? It is a heavy feeling to know that your child thinks less of himself than he should. Feelings of inadequacy are very common in

children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Low self-esteem and low self-worth can be major problems. Children with Asperger’s also have a tendency to struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, and a desire to live in isolation. As a parent, these issues can be difficult to understand and accept. It is important that your son has the support he needs now so that he can grow up with as healthy a self-image as possible. There are treatments for these negative feelings. Here are some ideas to consider  Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help manage a person’s emotions and to help show how those emotions influence the person’s behavior. This therapy is usually a short-term therapy that is very effective for understanding and controlling negative emotional behavior like depression, anxiety, and feeling of worthlessness.  Individual counseling is a more intimate approach to one-on-one therapy. This is long-term therapy that covers emotions, feelings, and attitudes, while

teaching the child how to deal with specific situations.  Medications are often used to treat the symptoms of children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and concentration are commonly treated with medications. In addition, some children with Asperger’s Syndrome also have seizure disorders that are effectively controlled with medications. It often takes a multi-layered approach to get the best results for a child with Asperger’s. A visit to his primary care physician for a complete physical is a good place to start. You can then receive An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 14 advice and referrals for additional care. With the Christmas season fast approaching, you may be able to help your child with Asperger’s Syndrome learn to enjoy receiving gifts.  Focus gifts on his special interests. Here are a few suggestions you can try Give him gifts that he truly enjoys. Talk about the significance

of giving to others those things that bring about true joy.  Give him annual memberships to his favorite museums or the city zoo. These gifts can be used all year as a way to spend time together appreciating the things he likes.  Include the less fortunate on your gift list. Give your son a certain dollar amount and have him choose gifts for the local homeless shelter wish list or for a family in your community. The holiday’s gift giving season can be a time of personal satisfaction and delight. And at the same time, you can teach your child the difference between feeling selfless and feeling worthless. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 15 4. What polite words can you say to grandparents who wants to give my son a lot of gifts at one time? Being a grandparent is reportedly one of the big thrills of life. There is nothing like having a house full of grandchildren to love. Visiting grandma and grandpa will fill most children

with delight, because grandparents are known for indulging a grandchild’s every desire. But what happens when the grandchild has Asperger’s Syndrome? Children with Asperger’s Syndrome can easily be overwhelmed by the holiday season. The mountain of gifts that lights the eyes of most children can cause a child with Asperger’s Syndrome to become completely overwhelmed and unglued. And because long wish lists are expected, grandparents may feel awkward or downright angry if they are asked to limit the gift list. Avoiding gift overload this Christmas will make for a calmer, more enjoyable holiday with your son. How do you do this without hurting the grandparents’ feelings? Here are some ideas to get you started.  Remind the grandparents that your son has very narrow and specific interests. Make sure that they know exactly what those interests are and what he most enjoys. Gently explain that your son will not play with toys outside his interest, even if they are the latest

fad or craze. You can also let them know that you will return or donate extra gifts in an effort to avoid the extra stress.  Talk about the benefits of one or two gifts versus a whole stack due to sensory overload. Everything from the size of the gift pile to the colors and rustling of all that wrapping paper can trigger anxiety or a complete meltdown. One great, well-researched gift choice can save your family’s holiday.  Encourage the grandparents to focus some of that generosity on others this holiday season An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 16 through programs like the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, Toys for Tots, or the charitable organization of their choice. Many people are struggling this year As difficult as it may be for some families, there may come a time when you, the parent, has to step in and override the decisions of others, grandparents included. If your son’s grandparents insist on showering him

with gifts, let them know in a gentle, yet firm, manner that you will limit the gifts yourself. You can always put some of them away for a nice spring surprise, or you can donate a few of them to your favorite charity of children’s hospital in honor of your son. As the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, sometimes you have to stand against the grain to support what is best for your child. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 17 5. How do you tell your child with Aspergers that Santa doesn’t exist? My son is 11 and still believes in Santa, I just haven’t had the heart to tell him he isn’t real. I do feel though its time to tell the truth since most of his friends dont believe and he will be entering middle school next year. When children reach the middle school years, it truly signals a change from child to preteen. Your son is growing up! This stage changes the whole dynamic of the Christmas holiday and it is

understandable that you would want to hang on just a little while longer. In addition, children with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to be a bit immature for their age. You can usually subtract two to three years from actual age and get a better idea of where the child’s developmental ability lies. This creates an extra twist to an already difficult situation There are several approaches to use when explaining to your son that Santa does not exist. The Religious Explanation Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The holiday itself is not the actual birth date of Jesus, but a date more than likely chosen because of a popular pagan celebration or the winter solstice. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ while non-Christians celebrate the cultural background. Many of the aspects of each celebration have merged over the years, making for a colorful, yet spiritual holiday. With this approach, you are simply stating the facts of the holiday: what is real, what is

not, what is derived from religious belief, and what developed from pagan beliefs. If you are a religious family, this approach will make the most sense to you, but could be a bit harsh and hard to accept (and deliver). You can soften it by blending in the following explanation An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 18 The Christmas Spirit Explanation For most people, Christmas means ‘peace on earth; good will toward men’. Santa embodies that very spirit. Some people argue that Santa is indeed real as long as you believe in the spirit of Christmas. This concept is a bit abstract for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, but can be easily adapted to fit your personal beliefs. The Legendary Explanation You can take the legendary approach by teaching your son about St Nicholas. St Nick was indeed a real man. His story is the basis of today’s Santa With this approach, you can share the facts about this man’s selfless act, his death,

and the fact that his spirit lives on in those who carry on his mission. If you use this explanation, you can celebrate St Nick’s Day on December 6 for a little added holiday fun! Whether you choose to use one of these explanations or a very different approach, you can help your son maintain some of that Christmas spirit by focusing on the magic of Santa instead of the belief of Santa. There is a little Santa in each of us when it comes to Christmas spirit Removing the belief of a jolly elf sliding down your chimney does not have to destroy your holiday season. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 19 6. What are suitable presents for a nine-year-old boy with Aspergers? Buying gifts for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome is very much like buying gifts for any child. Each child is an individual with his or her own tastes and desires. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are no different in this regard. When shopping for a child with

Asperger’s Syndrome it is best to prepare yourself with knowledge of the child’s personality, likes, and dislikes. Just as a typical nine-year-old boy might enjoy the latest toy craze, a nine-year-old boy with Asperger’s may have that same desire. However, the latest toy craze may not be appropriate for some children. To aid in finding the perfect gifts, ask yourself the following questions:  What are his interests? Children with Asperger’s Syndrome usually have a very narrow and obsessive interest in a particular object or topic. Finding items that work with his interests will make for captivating gifts.  What are his physical and emotional needs? Children with Asperger’s Syndrome usually have sensory processing issues, fine and gross motor weaknesses, and communication problems. Many popular toys may be overwhelming, overpowering, and above his cognitive ability. It is important, however, that he is treated like a typical boy where toys are concerned. He likely

has a full selection of therapy-based toys and life should not always be about therapies, no matter how important or helpful therapies are.  What are his special talents? Children with Asperger’s often have special abilities, such as a penchant for numbers or an aptitude for a musical instrument. Items that can be used to enhance his personal skills and abilities are sure to be appreciated. If you ask yourself these questions and find that you do not know the answers, you should definitely delay your shopping trip. Purchasing items that are outside the child’s realm of ability or An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 20 interests will result in a poor gift experience for you and the child with Asperger’s Syndrome. An easy way to find the answers is to involve the child on a personal level. Here are a couple suggestions.  Have the child create visual aids to assist your gift hunt. Supply the child with a catalog in which he

can circle the items he likes. Or have him cut out pictures and descriptions to form his own special wish list.  Engage in a little observation. What him while he plays, watches television, interacts with his therapists and peers. What toys seem to draw his attention? Does he like certain books, games, or movies? With a bit of investigation and information, you can find the perfect gift ideas for any child, with Asperger’s Syndrome and without! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 21 7. My daughter is a hoarder She has about 15 Polly Pockets, about 30 Barbies, too many shoes, and now shes into bouncy balls. Heres my question I told her Santa probably won’t bring her any more of that stuff and she went crazy saying she needs more. How do I get her to get rid of some to get some more without her going crazy for letting go of her stuff? This behavior you describe is common in most all children and this includes children with

Asperger‘s Syndrome. Children are bombarded by television and print advertisements that literally push a desire for more, more, more. In the eyes of toy marketers, you can never have too many Polly Pockets, Barbie dolls, or bouncy balls. The idea of wants versus needs often gets lost in the shuffle. However, hoarding is also common among children with Asperger’s Syndrome. The characteristics of obsessive-compulsive behavior, like hoarding, the need for rituals, sameness, and order, can make letting go of things and ideas very difficult for some children. In addition, children with Asperger’s Syndrome usually develop an intense interest in one or two special topics or objects. They may never get enough of those special items, and parting with them may cause extreme anxiety. Before you force your child to surrender these prized possessions, examine why you feel this is a necessary step. Is storage an issue? Are the items you mention the only toys she owns? Does she actually play

with these toys, or is there more to the situation? If this is more of a storage issue or the act of indulgence, perhaps you can find a workable solution.  A collection of 30 Barbie dolls is quite extensive. Are they stored well? Does she play with all of them? Perhaps you could purchase storage for the dolls she has and encourage her to rotate An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 22 the dolls when playing. Santa could bring Barbie storage and accessories instead of additional dolls.  Storage and accessories for the Polly Pockets may also be an attractive gift. She may enjoy a special display case to keep these in so she can see them. This would compliment the collection she has without adding to it. And of course, if she received one new one, that would be even more special.  Bouncy balls come in many different color combinations and sizes. A clear vase or jar would make an eye-catching storage vessel for her collection. 

Shoes fascinate many girls and women. At the same time, there are children everywhere that have to go without shoes. You could entice your daughter with a new pair of shoes if she donated an old pair to a less fortunate child. (You can also use this technique to pare down the toys.) It is important that you tread carefully when suggesting a reduction to your daughter’s collections. Forcing her to let go of her treasures can cause serious emotional problems. This does not mean that you should never intervene! You are her parent and have her best interests at heart. It may take real effort before your daughter agrees with your thoughts regarding her treasures. She may need professional assistance in the form of individual counseling, family therapy, and medication. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 23 8. My seven year old son is somewhat spoiled with gifts from me I use these gifts usually as a reward system (and he is my only child).

However, when he receives gifts from others at Christmas if they are not in the realm of things he thinks are "cool" he quickly moves onto to something different. I try hard to teach him that when he receives any gift he say thank-you and share his thoughts we me later on the gift as usually they are quite opinionated and rude. It is difficult to deal with his lack of empathy when it comes to others feelings and most noticeable around Christmas. Receiving gifts from people and relatives that do not know you well sometimes brings out the worst behavior in a child. Additionally, this is probably one of the most difficult concepts for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. It can become awkward quickly as others find it difficult to understand this lack of empathy and rudeness as a characteristic of Asperger’s. It makes you want to tell everyone that this is Asperger’s Syndrome and not just a parenting flaw! Christmas celebrations can be uncomfortable for children with

Asperger’s Syndrome. The senses are assaulted by lights, people, sounds, and smells that are not normally in the daily routine. As a rule, children with Asperger’s thrive on routine and order, and have distinct likes and special interests. Add the communication problems and you have an anxiety-filled situation for your boy (and you). The key to a smooth celebration is preparation. Think of every day as a chance to instruct your son in daily living skills. This is something you do naturally when you help him cope with real life situations. He will have to be taught how to be gracious and thankful when he receives any gift; it just does not come natural. You have made a good start by talking to him about these qualities You can also ask that holiday coping skills be added in all of his therapy sessions.  He can practice giving and receiving with his peers in his social skills classes, as well as An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 24

appropriate responses in all gifting situations.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help him deal with the emotional aspect of the holidays and receiving unwanted gift items.  You can make visual aids that show him step-by-step directions on accepting gifts and giving thanks. Make these visuals well in advance and practice any time you purchase something for him.  Use social stories that model correct responses during gift-giving celebrations.  Model the appropriate responses for him in your gifting situations. Feel free to communicate your son’s wish list to the gift givers in your circle. While this does not do anything to change your son’s need for correct response education, it will certainly reduce the stress of the holidays if he receives gifts he truly loves. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 25 9. Why does my granddaughter not enjoy getting gifts? She hates to open them and Im not sure if its because she

cant handle the surprise of whats inside, or if she somehow feels strange ripping the paper off? It is impressive that you recognize the reasons behind your granddaughter’s unhappiness. For most people, Christmas means great excitement. Good food, family, and gifts are high on everyone‘s list. What could be better than opening a pile of presents with your name on them? However, not everyone likes surprises. The unknown can be unsettling or even frightening for some children. In addition, sensory issues are a major characteristic in children with Asperger’s Syndrome. In a nutshell, it could be a little of both that causes your granddaughter to find receiving gifts so disturbing. It is important that your granddaughter’s therapists are aware of this situation. They can work on the sensory needs and social skills that she needs to cope with gift giving celebrations.  Occupational therapy can address her sensory needs and develop a sensory diet that will help her adapt

during situations that are outside of her normal schedule.  Social skills therapy can be effective in teaching appropriate communication during the holiday season.  Social stories can be used by any therapist, teacher, or family member to help her visualize how to handle receiving gifts. Find social stories that address giving and receiving gifts, the change of routine, how to be thankful and gracious, and what to do if she becomes overwhelmed. There are some things you can do to make your granddaughter’s Christmas a bit more enjoyable. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 26  Create a visual gift list with her help. Narrow down your purchases to a selection of the favorites on her list. Show her the list and tell her that the boxes contain items from her list  Use simple gift bags or fabric instead of gift wrap for all of your packages. The ripping and tearing sounds will be eliminated. By using limited and/or solid

colors, you can reduce some of the visual busyness that accompanies the Christmas season.  Create a calm setting. Play soft background music Ask everyone to sit quietly and take turns opening gifts. The chaos of ten people talking, laughing, and ripping into a mountain of gifts can be very overwhelming for anyone. With a little advance planning on your part and on the part of your granddaughter’s therapists, teachers, and parents, your family can have an exciting and pleasurable Christmas celebration. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 27 10. My son wants more than one of the same thing-last year he got an expensive wooden pirate ship. He played with it intensively for a couple of days but now hes done He loves it, but hes played with it now, and cant think of anything else to do with it. Hes seen 2 different pirate ships and now wants those. To him, the new ones are not at all the same as what hes already got, and he cant be

happy with that one because theres another to be had. It sounds like your son has chosen pirate ships as his intense special interest. Having an obsessive special interest, whether it is a topic, subject, or object, is a very common characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome. The obsession may include the function of an object, such as how his particular pirate ship works. In this case, he will definitely want to compare the attributes of the ship he owns with others. Obsessive-compulsive tendencies are often a part of Asperger’s Syndrome. Paired with narrow or rigid thought, all of this creates a real need in your son to collect pirate ships. The problems that must be addressed are your son’s limited, obsessive thinking, his narrow focus, and his rigidity, all of which are common in children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Here are some thoughts to consider  Is he receiving therapy to help offset the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome? Cognitivebehavioral therapy, occupational

therapy, social skills therapy, and speech/language therapy will teach your son how to handle his emotions, deal with sensory issues, interact with and make friends, and learn to communicate his needs.  Can individual or family counseling help the situation? Counseling may help you better understand his personal needs and may help your son by relieving his stress and anxiety. (Anxiety can be a major problem at Christmas due to the changes in routine.) In reality, your son’s actions are not much different from any other little boy at Christmas. It is up An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 28 to you to decide what gifts he receives. You want to make him happy while controlling any hoarding issues or over-spending. Here are some ideas for Christmas gifts that may satisfy his need for pirate ships while avoiding the problems.  Accessories that work with the pirate ship he already has could be a successful gift. Pirate action

figures, supplies found on board a ship, and a treasure chest can fuel his imagination and desire to learn about pirates. You may have to search the Internet or specialty catalogs for these items.  Is he a reader? Find books, both fiction stories and non-fiction accounts of life on a pirate ship.  Magazines and comic books are another source of pirate fun.  Pirate movies are common in Hollywood. Rent or purchase age-appropriate pirate movies for him to watch.  Search for museums and galleries that are hosting pirate-related exhibits and plan a visit. Check the Internet for traveling pirate ships that may come to your area. Interactive exhibits are an exciting way for your son to immerse himself in his special interest. Rest assured that your son’s desire to own a fleet of pirate ships is not an odd occurrence. Many children request to add to a special collection. If space and finances are not a problem, there is not much harm in giving your son the desires of his

heart, within reason. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 29 11. Sweet treats - my son cannot say no to sugar and while we can contain the amount he has access to during the year Christmas means a significant weight gain every year as everyone gives him treats and snacks which in combination with his meds means he is teetering toward obesity - how do I regulate the Christmas goodie snacking without becoming the Grinch (which is already a role I already seem to have taken on even though I really am quite jolly)? Every year at Christmas, millions of people lose control and eat too much sugar and fat in the form of treats and snacks. And every January 1 st, millions of people pledge to lose the extra weight and get healthy. It can be an endless cycle You son with Asperger’s Syndrome is falling into the good trap along with everyone else! The keys to beating the overindulgence that comes with the holidays are balance and control. Allowing

your son to sample all of his special treats, in moderation, can keep him from feeling cheated while maintaining a bit of normalcy. However, this can be a difficult concept to master for anyone. He will need your assistance to succeed Here are some things you can do to help  Enlist the help of friends and family so the “Grinch burden” does not fall on your shoulders. Obesity will have a negative impact on your son’s self-image, as well as his health. Find articles from the Internet, information from your Autism support group, or even a letter from your son’s physician, to explain the importance of your son’s balanced diet during the holidays. Ask that all treats are modified before delivered. (You can find recipes that modify those holiday favorites to make them a bit healthier.)  Stick to your normal routine whenever possible. Your son’s behavior and overall well-being is affected when his normal routine is altered. Arrange the holiday activities to fit

seamlessly into his routine as often as possible.  Maintain a visual schedule that includes special treat and snack time. When the routine is An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 30 altered, a written schedule will help prepare your son for the upcoming changes. This can also help you prepare for the extra treats and possible behavioral problems brought on by the disruption.  Find ways to adapt your son’s favorite treats to make them more health-conscious. Low fat, low sugar recipes, as well as special restrictive recipes, can be used to maintain control. Many children on the Autism spectrum have significant gastrointestinal issues due to dietary sensitivities. Common offenders are gluten and casein, which are found in special treats like holiday cakes, candies, and cookies. Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like wheat Casein is a protein found in milk. Once these proteins are restricted from the diet of children with

Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, the cravings are diminished, health is restored, and often, the symptoms of Autism are reduced. With a little advanced planning and moderation, your son should be able to enjoy his Christmas, treats and all, without the concern of failing health and worsening behavior. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 31 Family An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 32 12. I’d like to ask if you have any advice on how to get my daughter (12), who has Aspergers Syndrome, to spend time with her brother (10). I know he misses the way they used to play and spend time together outside on the farm and he often feels lonely as she is pushing him away all the time and just likes to spend time alone in her room playing computer games or talking to her friend on the phone. I think Christmas is going to be difficult this year as she has no interest in spending time with any of us but I

do worry about her brother because its hard for him to understand. Is there any way I can impress it upon her, just how much he needs her? When a child moves from the childhood stage to puberty, it can be a very emotional and difficult time for the whole family. Although this is very typical behavior, there are added concerns to watch for in children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Here is a short list of typical preteen-to-teen behavior:  Shutting out family members  Spending time alone or on the telephone  Treating a friend’s feelings, opinions, and needs as more important than family members  Emotional and moody towards others Typical behavior for this same age group with Asperger’s Syndrome is very similar:  Shutting out family members  Spending time alone listening to music, playing video games, or on the computer  Moody when approached by others It is very important that you keep a close watch on your daughter during this time. Because

children with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to have problems with depression and anxiety, what An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 33 seems like typical teen behavior can quickly escalate to a serious emotional or medical situation. It is difficult to say whether she will respond to any type of intervention due to her age. However, it is important that you try. Here are some suggestions that may help the situation  Social stories are effective at teaching appropriate behavior in many different situations. It can be difficult to find social stories written for older children and teens, so you may decide to write your own. For example, you could write a fact-based story about your family so she can see her actions from a different point of view.  Family therapy and/or individual therapy may help both of your children learn to cope with the changes that are occurring within your family. A professional therapist trained to handle the

problems of Asperger’s Syndrome can help your family make the necessary adjustments.  It is possible that your daughter will need medication to help her cope with puberty and her teen years. Anti anxiety, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers are often prescribed for teens with Asperger’s Syndrome. A visit to her physician and psychologist may be in order It could be that your son will just have to make his own adjustments in his expectations regarding his relationship with his sister. He may be too young to understand the transition that is taking place is not his fault. Make sure he is able to spend time with his own friends during the holiday season to help lessen his disappointment. Make plans for holiday activities that are fun for the entire family to help keep both siblings involved. It is not easy to watch your children struggle with sibling relationships. These tips should help soften the transition during the holidays, and for the future. An Exclusive Report for

Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 34 13. How should we deal with family not understanding that our 7 year old daughter with AS, hates having all the family around for Christmas. We try to explain we need to keep things calmer for her, but they just don’t understand or they think they know more about AS than we do! Asperger’s Syndrome can be extremely difficult to understand, even though it is quite common to see references on television and to read about it in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet. Asperger’s Syndrome is not a one size fits all diagnosis. Every individual with Asperger’s Syndrome that you meet will have his or her very own manifestation of symptoms and characteristics. This is what makes it so complicated. In addition, this is exactly what makes it so important to treat each child with Asperger’s Syndrome as the unique individual he or she is. The holidays can get crazy for all of us. Some children with Asperger’s Syndrome are

not bothered by a mob of family, as long as they keep their distance. Other children with Asperger’s Syndrome, like your daughter, are uncomfortable with the thought of being in a crowd. Here are a few tips that may help your Christmas season go a bit more smoothly.  Keeping your daughter’s routine as close to normal as possible will help keep her calm and in control. When you know the routine will be altered, like the days that school is out and the times the family is gathering, a visual schedule can help prepare her for the changes that are coming.  Social stories are an effective tool for teaching children with Asperger’s Syndrome how to deal with certain situations. You can find social stories on the Internet, at the library, or you can even write your own.  Your daughter’s sensory issues can greatly affect her emotions. Normally, sensory issues are managed by a specialized plan of sensory activities, called a sensory diet. With the help of her occupational

therapist, you can develop an adjusted sensory diet to address her holiday-specific An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 35 needs.  Educate the extended family about your daughter’s specific Asperger’s Syndrome characteristics. Describe her sensory profile and her individual strengths and weaknesses This may be the perfect opportunity to explain the uniqueness of Asperger’s Syndrome and how it affects children differently. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions that are in the best interest of your immediate family. While your goal is to accommodate your daughter’s needs, you also have an obligation to teach her that she sometimes has to step outside her comfort zone. You can prepare her and accept invitations, but be ready to make adjustments in the length of your stay or involvement, if necessary. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 36 14. Because of the lack of structure

and boredom my child constantly likes to aggravate and doesn’t really understand why especially his sister wants nothing to do with him. What can we do? In spite of normal or above average intelligence, children with Asperger’s Syndrome do not always realize the implication of their actions. It is very possible that your son does not see his aggravating behavior in the same light as his sister. This may be the only way he knows to get his sister’s attention. The changes in everyday routines caused by the Christmas holidays may also play a part in your son’s aggravating actions. Here are some suggestions that may make things better for all of you.  Social skills classes can help teach children with Asperger’s Syndrome how to interact with peers in social situations. You can usually find these classes in schools and in some Autism support groups. Trained therapists usually facilitate these groups In many cases, typically developing peers are added as social mentors.

 Use social stories to teach your son how to act appropriately in many different situations. You should be able to find social stories on the Internet or at the library. You can also write stories that are personalized to fit any particular situation.  Create healthy routines and schedules to keep your son’s behavior and emotions balanced. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have a deep need for structure and routine. Just as he has a set daily routine at school, he should have another for the time at home before school, after school, and on holidays. It is especially important to inform him of his daily schedule during the Christmas holidays due to the changes of routine and all of the excitement. A picture schedule will give him a clear visual of what is planned.  Find activities that your son enjoys to keep him busy and reduce boredom. Boredom is a definite problem. Boredom causes mood disturbances and behavior problems Check the Internet for fun Christmas projects

that you can do with both of your children. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 37 It is possible that Asperger’s Syndrome is not the main reason for the problems between your children. Sometimes siblings struggle to form solid relationships due to age and personality differences alone. If the above suggestions do not yield to a better sibling relationship, you may benefit from family therapy. A trained professional can help smooth the rough edges within your family dynamics while sorting the normal sibling rivalry from the issues brought upon by Asperger‘s Syndrome. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 38 15. My question is how do I get my child to engage in eating the Christmas dinner at the table with everyone else? His main course is cereal and its been a struggle trying to introduce knew things. Many children with Asperger’s Syndrome struggle with feeding issues. These feeding

issues can have different causes. Sometimes the trouble is caused by sensory problems It is common to have an aversion to different tastes, smells, and textures of food. Some children with Asperger’s Syndrome may prefer dry, crunchy foods, while others may favor soft, smooth textures. Other times, feeding issues are caused by allergies or gastrointestinal intolerance. And sometimes, it is a direct characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome, like limited or rigid thinking. Added to the typical feeding issues are the sensory problems brought upon by the Christmas holiday itself. The sounds, lights, and movements are not the normal activity and can be too much. There are things you can do to make this Christmas dinner a success Here are a few suggestions.  Start preparing as early as possible. It can take your son time to become comfortable in new situations. Talk about the big family gathering and what behavior you will expect from him  Introduce new foods to taste and try

without the pressure of an audience. Begin serving some of the holiday dinner menu items in the weeks before Christmas. Talk about them and urge him to taste them. You might also think of ways to adapt some of the dishes in ways that will make them more acceptable to your son.  Speak with your son’s speech therapist about feeding therapy. If he doesn‘t have a speech therapist, ask his physician for a referral for an evaluation. You can also speak to the speech therapist at his school. However, the school’s speech therapist probably may not have experience with feeding therapy since the focus there will be specifically on educational deficiencies. Your Autism support group is another good place to find information and tips from An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 39 other parents and professionals regarding feeding therapy.  Make sure that you add your son’s favorite foods to the Christmas diner menu. While it may seem

strange to serve breakfast cereal during a holiday dinner, including your son’s old standby will bring him comfort in a time that can be extremely stressful. Sometimes we all have to choose our battles. Explain to your Christmas dinner guests that you will be accommodating your son’s specific needs in order to enjoy your holiday. Most people will be accepting and understanding. You can always work on your son’s limited diet when the pressure is off and there are not a lot of people watching your methods and his responses. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 40 16. Christmas Dinner - Our AS-probable son often leaves the family dinner table in a huff unless weve prepared food that meets with his particular wants at that time. I think if we involve him in planning our holiday meals, he will be more inclined to dine with us. Do you have additional suggestions that will help us have peaceful holiday meals? Most children really love

cooking. Creating something good to eat in the family kitchen produces strong positive memories and an appreciation for good food. Cooking with your children also develops emotional, educational, and social skills as you interact with each other, the ingredients, and the utensils. Encouraging your son with Asperger’s Syndrome to assist in the holiday meal planning and preparation is a great idea. He will be able to work with his favorite foods, as well as some foods he may have never considered eating. Your goal is to have an enjoyable and peaceful Christmas dinner with full participation. Here are some more ideas that may help you meet your goal  Mix in your son’s favorite dishes along with the typical holiday fare. You could also introduce your holiday favorites in the weeks prior to Christmas to give your son additional chances to try new foods without the added pressure of the stresses of the holidays.  Find or write social stories that teach the proper manners you

expect from your son during company dinner events. Social stories are simple, straightforward stories written to teach developmental concepts to children who are struggling in this area.  You can also address table manners with visual aids. Create a pictorial chart of acceptable actions that your son can use as a ‘cheat sheet’ during dinner. Practice using the chart during all meals to give him a chance to absorb the information.  Behavioral issues are often a problem for families living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Your son needs to practice the proper behavior, even at times when he is unhappy with the situation. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 41 For example, he needs to learn ways to deal with a dinner menu he does not like, other than storming away in a huff.   Behavioral therapy works on the emotional issues that cause negative behaviors.  Social skills classes teach proper social behavior with the help

of a therapist and peers. It is possible that your son is unhappy at dinnertime due to specific feeding problems. Sensory issues often affect mealtime due to food texture issues or over stimulation by the environment. An updated occupational therapy evaluation, as well as a feeding therapy assessment, may be helpful in this situation. With a little therapy work, family time, and advanced planning, your son with Asperger’s Syndrome can have a comfortable, and even pleasant, holiday dinner experience this year. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 42 17. How can you help your child prepare for going to family get-togethers at Christmas and make it more enjoyable for him and everyone involved? Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are often overwhelmed by the family gatherings and outings that come with the celebration of Christmas. The daily routine goes out the window, and in its place is something that resembles chaos. Christmas

decorations, lights, and music are not exactly normal to the routine, and so are the extra visitors and the fancy parties. When you look at it all through your son’s eyes, it is understandable that he may struggle with the holidays. When preparing your child with Asperger’s Syndrome for the craziness of the Christmas holiday season, the keys are to start early and to practice for the new social situations. There are therapybased options, as well as family-oriented ideas, that you can implement when preparing your child for Christmas gatherings. Here are a few suggestions to get you started Therapy options  Social stories can help prepare your son for any new situation. Find stories that cover how to act during parties and large dinner gatherings, or write your own personalized stories. These stories allow your son to visualize these unusual situations.  Behavioral therapy can help your son deal with the behavior problems created by his emotions.  Your son may

benefit from social skills classes. Children are encouraged to practice social situations with their peers while under the watchful eye of a therapist or facilitator. Family-based ideas  Make sure your son’s favorite foods and activities are included in the celebrations. Any time that you can add in his special interests or some of his limited favorite foods, you will increase An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 43 his comfort level.  If gifts are involved, inform gift givers of his specific interests. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome usually have a couple of special, sometimes obsessive, interests. Your son may quickly forget any gifts that are unrelated to his specific interests. Receiving unwanted items may even cause a meltdown.  Have an alternate plan for times when sensory issues become a problem. A large gathering complete with unfamiliar food, faces, sounds, and smells is a recipe for a sensory breakdown.

Anything from a quiet place to calm down to cutting the evening short may be necessary. It takes a bit of extra planning, but a child with Asperger’s Syndrome can enjoy the family gatherings that come with the Christmas holidays. As long as you work on your son’s social skills, sensory issues, and special interests, you should find success. Just remember always to have a back up plan. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 44 18. My husband was laid off in May, but found a new job in California He has been gone since August and will be coming back for Christmas. I have different house rules and am more laid back about kid clutter; my husband insists that everything stays in bedrooms or is put away. How do I help with the transition with dad coming back? In this economy, many families are living separately for career purposes. This is not an easy way to live. It is difficult on a marriage and is confusing for the children However, often

it cannot be helped. Sometimes we have to make complicated living arrangements work for the family When you have a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, this type of situation can be especially complex. As you know, children with Asperger’s Syndrome have trouble handling abrupt changes in routines and many other types of transition. You have probably been dealing with odd behavior problems due to the changes you are experiencing. With the return of your husband, your child with Asperger’s Syndrome may exhibit even more odd behaviors. Here are some suggestions for you that may help create a smooth transition.  Start planning for the reunion now. Talk about your husband’s return, but be careful not to create too much nerve-wracking anticipation for your child with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Establish Structure in your daily routine. Structure really is best for children with Asperger’s Try to stick to a daily routine while you begin to add in some of dad’s requirements so

he and the children will be happy. Use visual aids to create chore lists and daily schedules to help your children understand the changes that are coming.  Compromise is a necessary part of life. Incorporating your husband’s organization requirements, to a certain extent, can help you come up with a balance between being too laid back and too strict. In addition, you will be dealing with the upheaval that comes along with the Christmas holidays. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 45 Changes in the normal routine due to the commotion that surrounds the holiday can really cause problems for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Here are some additional things to think about  The holiday celebrations and decorations can assault the senses of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Plan extra occupational therapy sessions or have your child’s therapist create a sensory diet you can use at home when your child struggles with sensory

input.  Your child needs extra guidance to deal with social situations. Social skills classes offer structured practice under the watchful eye of a trained facilitator.  Use visual aids whenever possible. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are not good communicators. Visual aids are straightforward and easier for them to understand than a verbal request. Working together, you and your husband can create an acceptable transition for your children this Christmas. Make sure that you both have appropriate expectations and your holidays will bring a joyful reunion. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 46 19. How can I make Christmas more about being with family? Normally there is too much TV on in the house. What activities could you suggest? For example, one year the kids made coupons to give each other siblings with special things to do with their brother or sister. Any other ideas that might make the holidays special? It is

easy for people to be all caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. With so much going on, family time is the first thing to fall to the wayside. Family members may go there own ways, searching for something calming, especially a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Taking the commercialism out of your holiday and focusing on the real reason for the season can bring harmony and joy into your lives. However, it can be difficult to remove the distractions due to outside influences like extended family, friends, and habit. Here are some ideas that can help you bring your family together for Christmas. Focus on your family Creating a holiday haven for your family can mean fun for everyone. Develop a family routine for the days the children are on school holiday. Routines are necessary for children with Asperger’s Syndrome, and are also useful for typical developing children. Children thrive when given direction. Schedule everything from household chores to family outings so

your children know what is coming. Visual schedules, either written or pictorial, will help your child with Asperger’s Syndrome find calm in the changing routines of Christmas. Turn off the television and turn on the creativity by planning fun holiday projects each day. Be sure to schedule in television, video game, and computer time if these activities are normally An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 47 allowed. Having blocks of regular activities scattered in the daily routine will help anchor your children, giving them something familiar to do. Remember, when planning holiday activities with children it is best to lower your expectations to prevent disappointment. Your plans do not have to be precise, flowing without flaws Let the children enjoy the activities without the pressures of a perfect outing or project. Special Holiday Activities Your coupon example from past years is a popular idea, and a good one at that. You should

keep this on your list for this year. Help your child with Asperger’s Syndrome come up with more fun coupon offers to share this Christmas. Here are some additional ideas you may enjoy  Popcorn and movie night-Gather the family and watch a Christmas movie. You can find Christmas movies for all ages. Share a children’s movie and after their bedtime, pop in one for the grownups.  Christmas light cruise or walk-Bundle up and hit the road for a tour of your city’s Christmas lights. Vote on your favorites, and then return home for hot cocoa  Cookies-Everyone loves cookies! Children love to create in the kitchen. Bake cookies and give them as gifts to friends, family, neighbors, assisted living homes, and deployed military personnel. Talk about the act of charity-a good lesson for all children to learn  Homemade gifts-Encourage your family members to exchange something hand made this year. Supply the children with craft items and your assistance, if needed. Search

the Internet for age-appropriate project ideas. These are just a few ideas to get you started. With a little planning and a lot of flexibility, you can give your children a break from the commercial holidays. Have fun! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 48 20. My most important Christmas Holiday Season question deals with how relatives treat my son at family gatherings. Usually the "typical" kids just stare at him and make him feel uncomfortable. Also, the adults do not like the fact that he hates to be touched and talks about it in voices loud enough for him to hear. Usually during gift exchanges, hugs are also exchanged and you know how children with Aspergers hate to be touched! Family holiday gatherings can be extremely uncomfortable for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. The change in daily routine, the attack on the senses due to sensory integration problems, and the lack of understanding from extended family and

friends all contribute to this discomfort. It is easy to see how frustrating the holidays can be for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Even though Asperger’s Syndrome is becoming more publicized, there are still many people who have no idea what it really means or how complicated it can be. Let’s face it Unless you live with something like Asperger’s Syndrome, it is impossible to comprehend the extent of the problems it causes. Unfortunately, those of us who live with Asperger’s Syndrome are left to defend our loved ones, while attempting to educate others. Educating the extended family about Asperger’s Syndrome will help. They need to know that the communication problems and sensory issues your son struggles with can cause him to appear aloof, uninterested, annoyed, or unhappy. Unbalanced sensory input can lead to over stimulation or major a meltdown. There is no way to predict his reactions during holiday gatherings because every situation is different, bringing about

its own atmosphere. Perhaps you can send a seasonal newsletter to all family members that updates the growth and activity of every member of your family. Devote a couple of paragraphs to Asperger’s Syndrome, explaining all possible symptoms and characteristics. Highlight your son’s specific symptoms in detail. You could also provide book titles and Internet links for them Once they understand the An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 49 real reason your son struggles with touch (and other sensory assault), perhaps they will extend a more welcoming attitude. In the meantime, here are some tips that you can use to create a more enjoyable experience for your son this Christmas.  Increase occupational therapy session in the weeks prior to the holidays. If this is not possible, learn tips and strategies from your son’s occupational therapist that you can use at home.  Social skills classes and/or group therapy can help prepare

your son for the increased social commitments of the holidays. Enlist the therapist’s help to learn how to handle the comments and looks from family members. He can practice with peers during group sessions  Think about making alternate plans. We all want to spend the holidays with family However, if the gatherings cause added stress and discontentment, plan a family outing or similar activity instead. Another option is to attend the gathering, but find a quiet place your son can use if needed, or adjust the length of the visit. Some people, even family members, will always be skeptical and show a lack of understanding, so do not expect to have 100% support. Remember, your desire is for your son to have an enjoyable holiday, which means you may have to change the way you celebrate with your extended family. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 50 21. How do you deal with relatives who think if youd "just" discipline him

more, "just" set boundaries with him, etc. "hed be fine?" Holidays are especially stressful with this as lots of relatives are around and see how "wild" your child can be. The holidays can be very stressful for families living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Extended family members and others not dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome on a daily basis have no idea how difficult it can be, with and without their added commentary. The truth is children with Asperger’s Syndrome cannot be disciplined in the same manner as typically developing children. It just does not work. In addition, your son lives within his own boundaries, which tend to be more restrictive than any boundary you would set for him. The problem here is that many people still do not believe that Asperger’s Syndrome is a real condition, and not caused by a persons parenting abilities, or disabilities. You can attempt to educate your family members about the very real symptoms and

characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. However, if they are bold enough to suggest that you are lacking in parenting skills, they will probably not be open to your medically backed information. One thing you can do is change the way you think and feel about the holiday gatherings. Asperger’s Syndrome is a complex, neurobiological condition that you could not have caused. Your son has Asperger’s Syndrome and that makes him see the world in a different way. His condition is something you have researched, learning the best ways to treat his symptoms emotionally and medically. To increase your chances of a positive experience, here are a few reminders that may help prevent your son’s negative reactions during the holidays.  Limit caffeine intake. This stimulant can increase behavior problems and cause hyperactivitytwo things your son does not need to experience Switch to decaffeinated sodas as a holiday treat, and avoid all soda drinks for the most part. An Exclusive

Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 51  Consider cutting out dietary excesses like special treats, sugar, gluten, and casein. If your son is normally on a special, restrictive diet, try to remain diligent. Many families see major improvements in symptoms when gluten and casein are removed from the diet. If you have never tried a gluten free, casein free diet, now may be a good time to start.  Stick to the regular routine as much as possible. Transition and change are very difficult for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. The normalcy of the daily routine can help keep your son calm. Of course, this is very difficult during the holiday season, but it will help  When the routine is changing for the day, you should use visual aids to create schedules for your son. Once he can see where, when, and how his day is changing, he will be better able to cope with the change without having a meltdown. Attend those family gatherings with your head

held high, ignoring the comments made by others regarding your son’s behavior. It’s time to let those comments roll off your back while you and your son enjoy your holiday! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 52 22. There is a lot of drinking at holiday parties with my family My teenaged daughter with Aspergers doesnt understand this behavior change. Are there ways to help her understand? Many families celebrate the holidays with alcohol. Many people live by the rule of all things in moderation, which flies right out of the window during family parties. Some people believe that the relaxed attitude surrounding the holidays, along with the party mentality, encourages drinking. Others believe the added stress that comes with extra expenses and awkward family gatherings increase alcohol intake. Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulty understanding the changes in family members during the holidays. Your daughter probably has

the idea that things are either black or white Either you do not drink, or you do. She may find it strange that a person could be a non-drinker except at Christmas. As a teen, your daughter knows the facts about the dangers of drinking and probably does not understand why her family members are willing to take such a risk. Whatever the reasons, the actions of her relatives at Christmas should be explained. Here are a few reasons that people drink for you to discuss with your daughter.  Drinking to relax and celebrate-Explain to your daughter that people often drink during vacations, holidays, parties, and celebrations as a way to loosen up and enjoy themselves. A casual drink during a party is not a problem. However, losing control at the family Christmas dinner can be unpleasant for everyone.  Drinking to relieve stress and depression-The added stress of holiday expenses and uneasy family relationships can cause people to drink too much. Drinking can make everything that

stresses you out go away for a while. However, it always comes back And sometimes, it comes back stronger than before.  Drinking to forget-Some people carry a lot of anger and hurt, especially within family An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 53 relationships. Drinking can help them forget their anger and hurt long enough to enjoy the family dinner.  Drinking to feel more confident and outgoing-Many introverts drink to gain self-confidence and the ability to step out and become more sociable.  Drinking to fit in-Some people, finding themselves on the outer edges of the group, will drink to become a part of the group or to blend in, even if they do not like to drink. Make sure your daughter knows the legalities of teen drinking and the dangers of drinking and driving in a way that she can understand. Use simple, straightforward, and factual conversation so she can understand. Open communication between teens and parents is so

important Encourage your daughter to come to you with any questions or concerns she has about family members, drinking, and anything else on her mind. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 54 23. My daughter is ASD and ADD she’s seven years old I’m wondering how do we as a family of four get through Christmas without all the tears and tantrums that arise from having a child with Aspergers; as friends and family are in short supply at this time of year It is tough to feel all alone while you are missing your family at Christmas. However, the lack of friends and family does not have to mean you are in for a moody and dull holiday. It may even be a blessing. Without the added distraction of extra houseguests, you can concentrate on making a holiday celebration unlike any the four of you have ever enjoyed. As you may know, many children receive the double diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. These two

conditions can really cause high emotions during the holidays, so it is best to be prepared. Keep the following suggestions in mind as you plan your family holiday.  Behavioral therapy techniques can be used to reduce frustration, stress, and anxiety. All of these represent the emotions that are produced by certain negative behaviors. Behavioral therapy is used to teach children with Autism and ADD how to deal with these negative emotions. You can find a behavioral therapist through your daughter’s physician or psychologist. You can also learn these techniques through parent training at specialty schools or support groups.  Social stories are very effective tools to use when teaching appropriate behavior. Find social stories about the issues that normally cause your daughter to have meltdowns and read them together every day.  Stick to the normal routine as much as possible. Having a bit of normalcy will help keep your daughter grounded and reduce those negative

behaviors.  Use visual schedules to help your daughter prepare for changes in the routine. Use pictures or An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 55 written lists and go over them often throughout the day.  The “if/then” technique is another option you can use to guard against negative behaviors. You can make a picture chart of consequences so your daughter knows that “if” she does a particular behavior, “then” this is what will happen.  Occupational therapy techniques can help reduce negative behaviors brought on by sensory overload. Your daughter’s occupational therapist can give you a personalized sensory diet, which is a list of specific activities gear toward your daughter’s needs, which you can put into practice daily.  Many people are leery of using medications for children with Autism or ADD. However, when the right combination is found and used correctly, the results can be amazing. With a little

advanced planning, you can use these suggestions to minimize the tears and tantrums this Christmas. Add in some fun Christmas activities, and the four of you can have a familycentered and fulfilling holiday together An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 56 Other An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 57 24. With all the hype and excitement of Christmas, how do we keep our child grounded behavioral wise and anxiety down? Despite strong efforts, our routine becomes less structured due to the time of the year. As you know, children with Asperger’s Syndrome benefit strongly from routines, schedules, and order in their days. It can be extremely difficult to follow a structured routine during the holidays It will improve the atmosphere of the whole holiday if you can maintain some semblance of your routine in the days leading to Christmas. However, sometimes this just is not possible Here are some

other things you can do to add a sense of peace to your holiday season.  Picture schedules are great tools to use when your regular routine is out of commission. With the picture schedule, you can plan the day’s activities for your child to visualize. The lack of routine will cause anxiety, but you can lessen that anxiety by planning each day on the picture schedule, and sticking to that schedule as closely as possible.  Use behavioral therapy techniques to help your child with Asperger’s Syndrome deal with the emotions that stem from all of the excitement and lack of structure. A behavioral therapist can give you ideas of the best techniques to use for each negative situation: anxiety, stress, over stimulation, and meltdown, for example.  If you have not already, check with your child’s physician regarding the use of medication. While not for everyone, sometimes medication can make a remarkable difference in the levels of stress, anxiety, and negative behaviors.

Common medications used in conjunction with Asperger’s Syndrome are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antipsychotic drugs, mood stabilizers, and stimulant medications.  Counseling, both individual and family therapy, can help your child and your family learn strategies to cope with the negative behaviors that come up in daily life. Your child’s therapist can help him talk through anxiety and stress, giving him coping skills and redirection.  Create a safe haven for your child with Asperger’s Syndrome. A safe haven is a quiet place to An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 58 which he can escape when the holiday celebration becomes overwhelming. Be careful not to completely isolate him, but make it a place where he can remove himself while still looking on.  Use your child’s special interest as a motivator. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to become obsessed with a topic or interest. Allow him to talk about his

interest, or add items to his interest (if it is a collection) when boredom or stress gets the best of him. Your child will then have a new focus and a reduction in the anxiety levels. Within this list of suggestions, you should be able to find some things that will help make your child’s holiday go more smoothly this year. Don’t forget to schedule some fun holiday activities that your family can enjoy together this Christmas. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 59 25. How can I make my child understand the true meaning of Christmas? Most children think of Christmas as the holiday filled with decorated trees, Santa Claus, and a mountain of presents. And for many families, that is exactly what Christmas means: parties and gatherings, giving and receiving, and a focus on family. For other families, Christmas is a deeply religious holiday filled with reverence as the birth of Jesus is recognized and the wonderment of this gift from God

is acknowledged. The focus is on church services, prayer, and goodwill toward others. Many families choose to use both approaches to the holiday, celebrating the birth of Christ and enjoying the revelry of family and friends. We want our children to understand and place their concentrations on our own personal beliefs. To answer your question, we must sort out what your feelings are regarding the true meaning of Christmas while taking into account the cognitive ability of your child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Naturally, an assumption must be made. Since most children with Asperger’s Syndrome are at normal or above intelligence and have average cognitive abilities, we can assume that your child is capable of understanding an ageappropriate explanation. However, communication and receptive language can be a problem for children with Asperger’s Syndrome, so adjustments to the way you deliver the information may be needed. Another assumption is what the true meaning of Christmas is

to you. Because of the wording of your question, you probably are asking about the birth of Jesus. Considering this, this answer will be based on the personal belief that Christmas is the observation and celebration solely of the birth of Jesus. Here are some suggestions that you can use to explain this holiday to your child with Asperger’s Syndrome. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 60  The Bible tells the story of the virgin birth, but this can be difficult for a child to comprehend. You can find picture Bibles that are simplified but still based on truth.  Create a visual chart with your child that depicts the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. Keep the chart on display and talk about it whenever questions arise.  Embrace and share your personal beliefs about the birth of Jesus. Speak freely about your beliefs often; answering any questions your child may have about Jesus and Christmas. The repetition over time,

as your child grows older, will help with understanding.  Be prepared to explain the additional elements of Christmas (Santa, Christmas trees, and decorations, for example). Find books or search the Internet for the background on the Christmas holiday and the Winter Solstice, which combined Pagan and Christian beliefs. Ultimately, the extent of what you share will reflect what the day means to you, personally. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to think scientifically and may struggle with understanding anything that cannot be explained with facts and observation. Be prepared to discuss your beliefs firmly and without question. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 61 26. Whenever we travel, usually around Christmas time, My twelve year old son just doesnt go with the flow of the excitement and the happiness of getting to go on vacation. For example, if we say were going to Disney, Hes upset were not going to the Grand Canyon or

Skiing in Colorado. It is very frustrating In the summer we will have plans to go to Great America and he has a big blow up about wanting to go to a different amusement park. Why is this? When the normal routine is disrupted, even for something as exciting as a trip to Disney World, a child with Asperger’s Syndrome will struggle with the idea. Change is very difficult for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Your son cannot just go with the flow when there is an upheaval in his life As fun and exciting as a family vacation is to you, it will induce stress and anxiety for him. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have several distinct characteristics that may cause a family trip to become less than ideal. Most of these symptoms are linked to the area of social skills Poor communication ability and a lack of empathy can cause your son to act irrationally when change occurs. Your frustration and hurt feelings are lost on him due to his lack of empathy It is frustrating to plan a fun

family vacation and have the less than perfect outcome. Here are some additional thoughts to consider.  Your son’s reaction may be partially related to his current special interest. Will this trip interfere with his current obsession? If he is unable to satisfy his curiosity regarding his latest special interest, he will feel quite anxious.  More than likely, the major problem in this case is your son’s lack of ability to deal with transition of any kind.  The sensory overload, caused by the added stress and anxiety, can lead to a meltdown, due to his inability to cope in a normal manner. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 62 What can you do to plan a successful family vacation? Your son will always struggle in these areas. However, you can teach him skills that will help him deal with the situation. Here are some ideas you can use.  Talking and building up the anticipation is not working, so try the opposite

approach. Minimize the travel talk. Make it known that the trip will be happening and plan for it accordingly Your son does not need to be involved in the daily planning and preparation.  Keep routines and schedules as close to normal in the days leading to travel. Mark the calendar and written schedules with the trip dates so he can gradually become accustomed to the fact that it will happen.  Your son may benefit from individual counseling in order to manage the stress and anxiety he is feeling. His reaction to the family trip is just a symptom to stress he is already dealing with  Medications are commonly prescribed to help children with Asperger’s Syndrome cope. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety drugs may be the answer to your son’s stress and anxiety. The meltdowns and unhappiness are commonplace under these circumstances for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. With a little help, your entire family can have an enjoyable holiday vacation An

Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 63 27. How can I prepare my 10 year old son for the Christmas season, should I talk about the day, what will happen etc and even tell him what presents hell be getting? There are two opinions on Asperger’s Syndrome and Christmas. One is to avoid the hoopla during the days leading up to the holiday. No decorations, no holiday talk, and no change from the normal, everyday activity is the best way for your child with Asperger’s Syndrome to cope with the holiday season. This is effective because the normal routines stay the same so there is nothing to catch him off guard. However, some people feel this approach is unreasonable. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome must learn to handle the changes that come with holiday plans. This group promotes advanced planning and a gradual change in daily routines and schedules that slowly add in the extras. Lots of social stories and therapy techniques, along with a

specialized sensory diet are used to combat negative behaviors and to promote understanding. So, which is the best alternative for your child? You know your child better than anyone else does. As a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, your son is undoubtedly an intelligent person, and most likely aware of what the holiday season entails. It may be very difficult to limit the exposure of a child his age. The most realistic option is that of gradual change. No change is very unrealistic and can make dealing with holiday pressures very difficult in the future. Since transition and change can be stress inducing, you should be sure to plan the changes in routine very carefully. Here are some suggestions on how to handle a graduated approach to the Christmas holiday.  Read social stories to your son. Find social stories that are specifically geared to the issues of the holidays: changes in schedule, decorations, how to act during family gatherings, and being An Exclusive Report for

Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 64 gracious over gifts, to name a few. Begin reading them in advance of the holiday and read them every day. This will help him grasp the concepts  Create written schedules to help him cope with the changes in his daily routine. Written schedules will help your son visualize his daily plans. Knowing what is coming later in the day will help him manage the anxiety that comes with being off his regular routine.  Talk to your son about gift-receiving strategies. Sometimes we all receive gifts that we do not particularly enjoy. Teach him to be gracious by practicing and role-playing gift giving Social stories can help with this concept, also. Explain to relatives that your son has a very limited interest, and share those interests with them. This can help insure that he receives gifts he will truly enjoy. If the unknowns of receiving gifts create anxiety, you can lessen that stress by talking to him about what could be in

the packages. You may even want to share some specific possibilities so his imagination does not run wild. When deciding on the appropriate approach to the holidays for your son with Asperger’s Syndrome, keep his best interests at heart and you will create the right plan for your family. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 65 28. How do we fill those endless hours when there is no school without resorting to way too much TV, computer, video games, etc. - Its 2 weeks of no school - help! Having a large block of unscheduled time is a disaster for a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, and can be quite difficult for the entire family. Much like any school-age child, your child’s holiday break is much anticipated. Whether he enjoys school or not, the idea of no classes and lots of free time sounds great. That is, until it actually happens Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have a need for routine, structure, and order. They also have a

tendency towards depression, anxiety, and isolation. If you are not careful, you could have some real problems on your hands during a holiday break. Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of your child’s holiday break this year without resorting to fulltime electronics.  Routine and structure are necessary to avoid a stressful school holiday break. Try to keep the same morning and evening times and routines as much as possible. It is common to want to sleep late or stay up late, but try to keep the normal sleep patterns. Continue therapy sessions if possible. If it is not possible to see the usual therapists, create your own sessions from your parent training handouts.  Use visual schedules to keep your children on track during the break. Eat meals at regular times. Schedule in television, computer, and video game time so your child with Asperger’s Syndrome can see exactly when it is okay to play. Include everything on the visual schedule, from daily chores

to planned outings, to avoid the stress that transition can cause.  You can plan fun family outings to help balance out the television and video games. It is the holidays, after all. Try to get out and take advantage of the free time from school Go see a movie, or visit a museum. These outings will be an even bigger treat if you can involve your child’s special interest in some way.  Work in some play time outside in the fresh air every day. Exercise and sunshine help combat An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 66 depression. Plus, it is good for you!  Allow for down time. It is a balancing act to guard against depression and isolation However, everyone needs alone time and the ability to do his or her own thing occasionally. The holiday break will no doubt be more hectic and noisy than the normal routine. This does not mean it has to be stressful and unhappy. As long as you stay in control and remember the above tips, you

should be able to have an enjoyable holiday break without the overuse of the television. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 67 29. It is when Christmas it is over that my son struggles most; any ideas? The enormous letdown that follows the Christmas holiday excitement can be a problem for many people. Disappointment in the way the holiday gatherings turned out, or in the gifts received may cause a meltdown or even depression. The stress of having people around and the sensory assault can cause anxiety that lingers long after the celebration is over. Since children with Asperger’s Syndrome are extremely sensitive to the changes the holidays bring, it is understandable that your son struggles with this disappointment afterwards. Here are some thoughts on how you can make this time easier for him to handle.  Try to keep to his daily routine as normal as possible. He should get enough sleep, eat regular meals, and get enough

exercise. During this time of year, it is not always possible to stick to the normal routine. However, it will help with behavior and well-being if you can provide this stability.  Your son’s lack of social communication skills can keep him from sharing his true feelings. Find ways to help him share his thoughts regarding the holiday festivities. Some options are drawing pictures or writing a fictional story. It can help if he removes himself from the situation  Therapy sessions should be scheduled during the holidays to help in all areas. Occupational therapy helps with the sensory overload that comes along with the holidays. Behavioral therapy is needed to handle the emotions that can cause unwanted behavior. Social skills therapy works on communication skills.  Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are at high risk for depression and anxiety. Individual therapy sessions, family therapy, and medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and mood stabilizers are

often used to control these symptoms of Asperger’s. Untreated depression can lead to isolation and serious mental illness. It is very important that you An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 68 are aware of your son’s mental condition so you can watch for any danger signs. If your son’s Christmas letdown seems to linger, do not hesitate to consider professional help. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 69 30. My son is in 7th grade He thinks that as he gets older he should be able to stay up as late as he wants during the holidays. The bigger problem is when he returns back to school and is out of routine. How can I help him adjust from holiday time back to school time? As a young teenager, your son with Asperger’s Syndrome is beginning to desire, and demand, his independence. Staying up late and making some of his own choices give him a sense of importance. What he does not realize is

that you actually have his best interests at heart when you deny his requests. Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome need structure, routine, and order. They may desire to go against this natural need, but the need remains. Getting out of the normal routine will soon come back and cause problems. Keeping a normal routine will obviously be very difficult during the holiday break. You can help your son make the appropriate adjustments by using these suggestions  Keep a relaxed routine. It can be a little more relaxed than school day routine, but the closer to normal, the better. Having a set bedtime, perhaps a couple of hours later than usual, will create the balance your son needs each day.  Holiday breaks should have a feeling of freedom, to a certain extent. Create a daily schedule for your son that includes non-negotiable activities, like household chores, along with plenty of time for exercise, television time, and free time he can use to pursue his special interests. 

Set house rules that you expect to be followed and talk about them. As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, your son desires to abide by the rules.  Along with house rules, be sure to include punishment for rule breakers. It is important to teach your son that there are consequences when the rules are broken. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 70 As the holiday break begins to wind down, gradually tighten up on your son’s routine. Slowly move the bedtime hour back to normal, over the course of a few days, until he is going to bed at his normal school night time. Reduce television and free time and encourage him to read or write instead. This will get him back into the correct frame of mind By taking these steps slowly and gradually, you can have your son adjusted back to his normal routine in time for the first day back to school. With these tips, you and your son can fully enjoy the relaxed days of the holiday break without the

awkward period that can come from jumping back into school after the holidays. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 71 31. How do I cope with my daughter finding change of routine difficult? She is 14 and the first couple of days of any holiday she finds difficult to cope and lashes out. Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome can have big problems when they have to deal with a loss of routine, schedule, and order. Transition from the scheduled school day to the relaxed holiday and back is especially difficult. Coping with these changes is even more difficult and can result in sulking, isolation, or a major meltdown. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have the coping skills they need to handle the transitions that occur from day to day. What we may think of as a slight change of plans will bring on a bout of anxiety for your daughter. What can you do to help your daughter transition smoothly to her holiday break? Here are a few thoughts

on the subject.  Prepare in advance by talking about the upcoming holiday break. Do not talk only about the excitement of the holidays. Be sure to mention the changes in routine that will take place and how you expect her to handle the changes. Aim for a gradual change over several days  Talk about your expectations. If you plan for your daughter to keep her normal sleep patterns and the same amount of television time, be sure you start to discuss this openly before the break begins.  Try to avoid last minute schedule changes. Your daughter needs advance notice before any change in routine. Whether it be a request to wash the dishes or an unplanned trip to the doctor, your daughter will handle the change better if she has a few minutes to let it sink in. Try not to spring any new activity on her without a warning.  Encourage your daughter’s involvement in her special interest. Immersing herself in what she loves will help her avoid focusing on the changes that are

happening. The inability to cope with change lies within the transition itself and not necessarily what is causing An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 72 the change. Explaining this truth to your daughter with Asperger’s Syndrome will help lessen the effect it has on her, reducing her anxiety and rewarding her with an understanding of why she feels the way she does about change. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 73 32. During the holidays, school is out What activities do children with Aspergers enjoy, especially teenagers, including those which do and which do not necessarily involve interaction with other people? Children with Asperger’s Syndrome are, in many ways, much like any other children. They enjoy typical activities, friends, and family. The difference lies in how children with Asperger’s Syndrome handle people and situations. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome may have

difficulties with social cues and communication, but they usually are able to make one or two, or even a few, good friends. They may appear aloof and lack empathy, talk repetitively about one subject, and be overly sensitive to light, sound, and smells, but they still enjoy playing games and acting like typical children. Here are a few activities that a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome may enjoy while school is out for the holidays.  Video games are a big hit with many children with Asperger’s. They are attracted to the puzzle, as well as the science behind the creation of the game. These games are played with friends, but most often are played alone.  Computers are another popular activity. A person can do so many things with a computer Your child could be occupied for hours by the computer (but be careful with that one!)  Movies or television time can be a family affair. Movie night, complete with popcorn, can be a fun activity for friends.  Some children enjoy

reading. Many children with Asperger’s enjoy both fiction and non-fiction works.  Board games can be a fun family activity. Games like Scrabble, Yahtzee, and Monopoly are popular choices.  Arts and crafts supplies can be used alone or with friends. Craft activities with a holiday theme can be planned. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 74  A teen with Asperger’s Syndrome may choose to spend time delving into his or her special interests. This interest is a narrow and obsessive concentration on a topic or subject of choice This is usually an activity done without friends. Much like typical teens, teens with Asperger’s may have one or two good friends that do things together, like outings to the mall, going to the movies, or skating at the park. They may even decide on a sleepover. However, teens with Asperger’s Syndrome may swing wildly between enjoying time with others to tolerating others to ignoring them

completely. Fortunately, their friends are aware of this and do not take it personally. They adjust along with them Using some of these suggestions, or some that are specific to your teen’s interests, will keep everyone occupied and happy during the holiday break from school. Remember to create a schedule for these activities and you will have a smooth transition into the holiday break and back into the normal routine once the break is over. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 75 Updates for 2010 An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 76 33. My daughter seems even more hyper, frustrated, and emotional during the holidays; is this due to the pressures of "staying on the nice list?" The feelings that your daughter is feeling are common for children with Aspergers. The holiday season is full of excitement, and it may be extremely hard for your daughter to handle it all. When she gets

overwhelmed with crowds, noises, and other annoyances, she may begin to shut down. Some of the behavior may be due to your daughter wanting to “stay on the nice list.” She may be trying to control her emotions so that everyone enjoys Christmas. Try a few of these tips to increase your holiday enjoyment and balance your daughter’s emotions: • Identify your daughter’s triggers. She may become frustrated and emotional due to triggers during the holiday celebrations. Some children with Aspergers have trouble with crowds, surprises, flashing lights, and certain smells. Any of the previously mentioned triggers can send her into an emotional meltdown. Minimize the crowds during the holiday Make sure that she has a safe place to escape the excitement and get her emotions together. If she does not like certain foods, the smell of any of them during the holiday season may become overwhelming for her. She may have problems with surprises. Minimize her surprises by eliminating wrapped

gifts and surprise visits from family and friends. Make her feel comfortable • Create a list of things that she enjoys doing. Children with Aspergers are very much centered on themselves. She may become frustrated or emotional if she is not receiving the attention that she thinks she deserves. Create a list of things that she enjoys doing The two of you can decide upon a few things from the list that she can do during the holiday celebration to keep her mind occupied. She probably has a special interest or talent that she may be interested in sharing with her family. Arrange time for her to display her talent if she wishes to do so • Do not avoid her behavior. She may be acting out to seek the attention of an adult Make sure that you address the issue as soon as it happens. Discuss alternative behaviors that can An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 77 replace her frustrations and emotional meltdowns. Speak to your daughter before

the holidays begin and before the celebrations, and discuss your expectations for her during the events. You can never tell what will happen during the holidays. Unfortunately, for children with Aspergers it is important that there be as much order as possible. You must establish routines and minimize surprises to keep their emotions under control. Communicate with your daughter to make sure she is getting what she needs to enjoy the holidays. Communicate with your family and friends to create an environment that keeps your daughter’s emotions in tack. The holidays will be more pleasurable for everyone! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 78 34. How do I help my 13 year old son understand / relate to (even be more tolerant of) his younger siblings (4 & 3 year olds) at Christmas? You want your holidays to be a pleasure for your entire family. You must make a few changes to your current routines when a child with Aspergers is

involved. You probably already know this, but he may think that everything revolves around him. His feelings are the only thing that he can understand. It may be frustrating but there are solutions to this issue Here are a few things that you may want to consider: • Talk to your son about his behavior. He is the older brother, so your younger children look up to him as an example. He needs to know how important it is to set a good example for the younger children. Discuss his behaviors and explain to him why they are inappropriate The two of you can work together to find replacement behaviors for his current behaviors. Offer suggestions that you believe will bring enjoyment to the holiday season. • Create a behavior plan for the holidays. The holidays are not as structured as the other days of the year. Make sure that he has a few routines established because this could be the cause of his frustrations with his younger siblings. Sit down with your son and create a behavior

plan for the Christmas break. Offer some incentive that interests him Place behaviors that are directly linked interactions with his siblings, such as helping them with a chore, giving a compliment, playing together, etc. Keep the plan short and to the point Only a few items are needed Make sure that he knows what the consequences and rewards are before you start the plan. • Allow playtime with older family and friends. Make sure that he has time to spend with his family and friend who are closer in age with him. He may think that since he is older he is more mature than his siblings are. He may need some time with older children during the holidays Make sure you find time for your son to have play dates with someone other than his younger An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 79 siblings. • Create activities that all three of your children can enjoy together. Find an activity that your son would love to do with his siblings. He may

prefer an activity that he has a special interest in so that he can excel. Allow him to guide the younger sibling through the process so that he feels that he is in control. All three of your children can work together to have fun This is a topic that can be frustrating for many families. Older siblings begin to want independence, and they do not want to be around the younger siblings. Make sure that he understands the importance of his actions. The younger siblings look up to him as an example. Remind him of the agreement in the behavior plan for the holidays. Hopefully your holidays go smoothly! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 80 35. How will the child stand all the crowd, deal with changes and how to make him happy for Christmas when he doesnt like surprises? Christmas is a hectic time of the year for everyone, but especially for children with Aspergers. The lack of routine and structure of the holiday season can cause children

to become withdrawn, anxious, or frustrated. It is very important to remember these things when preparing for the wonderful holiday season when a child with Aspergers is involved. You must remember to prepare the child in advance to prevent an unhappy holiday season for everyone. Take some time to plan ways to make your child’s life easier during this time. Here are a few ways to make the holiday season wonderful for a child with Aspergers: • Plan ahead - Remember that children with Aspergers do not like to get away from routines. They must be prepared for what is to come. Make sure they know in advance about any major, surprises that may happen during the holiday season. • Plan a trial run - Before Christmas day, you need to go over the events planned for the big day. Discuss who will attend, the menu, the events, etc that are going to be a part of the big day Make them feel comfortable about having those closest to you all around for the day. • Use social stories -

Use social stories to help children with Aspergers prepare for Christmas day. Find stories with situations similar to those the child may experience that day You may even make up your own social stories if you feel comfortable doing so. Let them know that it is okay to mingle with friends, family, and guests. • Make adjustments - If a change takes place, make sure you discuss the matter immediately with children with Aspergers. Make sure you give them step-by-step information about how to adjust to the changes and give them time to accept the changes before returning to the gathering. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 81 • Prepare for the gifts - Since children with Aspergers really do not like surprises and crowds, it may not be a good idea to crown around them while they open gifts. If unwrapping gifts is a sources of anxiety for them, consider giving unwrapped gifts, letting them pick out their own gifts from the store, or

unwrapping gifts over the course of a few days. The holiday season does not have to be dreaded. Make sure that children with Aspergers know what is going on in advance. Let them participate in some of the planning They can feel in control and can prepare for what is to come. Make adjustments as needed The holiday season is a time of happiness. Enjoy! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 82 36. My 14 year old expects to buy everybody a gift for Christmas and he has very specific, expensive ideas to what he wants to buy, e.g all teachers a $50 gift! How do I handle this? Christmas can be challenging time for a child with Aspergers and the family. Your child wants to buy everyone a gift for Christmas, and he wants to spend a great deal on money on all the gifts. Your 14 year old want to give expensive gifts to all of his friends and teachers as a way of showing how much he cares for them all. He needs to understand the whole meaning of

Christmas, which is not about gift giving. Prepare your son by telling him that it is too expensive to buy everyone a gift and offer some great alternatives. Here are a few things that you may want to consider in your conversation with your son. • Limit Gifts Speak to your son about limiting the number of people receiving gifts for Christmas. You may even want to suggest a number of gifts that your son can buy. For example, limit the number to 5 gifts Let your son decide which 5 individuals get a Christmas gift from him. Give him a few days to make his decision. • Limit Gift Prices Give your son a limit for the amount of money he can spend on gifts. Let him know in advance that he must find all of his gifts by stay within his budget. You may want to set the limit for $100 for all gifts for example. You can sit down with him and help him decide how much money he wants to spend on each person. Allow time for your son to process the changes and decisions he must make. •

Discuss the Meaning of Christmas Use a short story that discusses the meaning of Christmas. Help your son to understand that An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 83 Christmas is not about giving but spending time with the ones you love. It is a time to be thankful for the lives that we all have. Ask him to give you 3 examples of things he is grateful for this holiday season. • Offer Gift Suggestions Help your son find gifts for those on his gift list that fit in his budget. Write down a few suggestions or help him pick out a few gifts while in the store. Give him choices so he can feel in control of his gift giving decision-making. Make sure that he has some control over the decisions. He needs to understand that he does not need to give a gift to everyone he cares about. Cards are a great alternative to expensive gifts Guide him and help him make wise decisions. You and your family can have a great holiday season. Allowing him to

make choices can ease his understanding An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 84 37. We just celebrated my sons fifteenth birthday We were in a rental car on the way to a comic book convention that he had chosen to go to. He had a meltdown A week later, he is taking anti-nausea medication and hardly eating. We are getting him back on track, but how can I avoid this at Christmas? It is very unfortunate to hear about your son’s meltdown. As the parent of a child with Aspergers, you know all too well about meltdowns and how severe and often meltdowns can occur. These meltdowns happen when your child becomes overwhelmed with things in his life. Christmas time is a time that meltdowns can occur because of the excitement around the holiday season. You can prevent your child from experiencing a meltdown during Christmas. Follow these tips to restore balance this holiday season. • Provide details - As Christmas approaches, make sure that your

son is aware of what events may take place during this time. Sit down with your son before Christmas and discuss the events in as much detail as possible. You may want to break down your conversations into smaller conversations that indicate what events may occur. • Create alternative plans - Sit down and discuss an alternative to your plans in the event he feels a meltdown coming on. Decide in step-by-step details the process that will take place from the time your son lets you know about the meltdown to details of an alternative plan that will still allow him to enjoy the holiday. • Smaller settings - Make sure that your child is not exposed to a large number of people during Christmas. He may become overwhelmed and withdrawn Consider mingling among a small number of people during the holiday, and make sure that your son knows who will attend your holiday celebration. You may even want to consider visiting several sets of family and friends in a small setting, but again,

make sure that he is aware of those attending. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 85 • Eliminate surprises - Surprises will definitely cause problems during the holidays. Prepare him for different situations and discuss with him how those situations would make him feel. • Discuss coping skills - Make sure that you discuss coping skills with your son. Discuss surprises with your son and ways to handle those situations. You may even want to consider talking with him about ways to handle situations when his structure or patterns change. This is not an overnight remedy, but overtime he will improve his coping skills. Hopefully your holiday season will be meltdown free. Try to prepare your son as much as possible for what can happen during Christmas. Increasing his coping skills is very important to the Christmas season and the rest of his life. Offer support to him each step of the way Let him know that you are there for him when he

needs you. He will appreciate the fact that you are there for support! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 86 38. How can I stop my 10 year old from ripping open presents too quickly and seemingly being ungrateful for them? Your 10-year-old son and every other child in the world are excited about what Santa left them for Christmas. The excitement can be very overwhelming for a child with Aspergers He may need a little help with controlling his emotions on Christmas day. You need to have some routine and structure in place to prevent situations like this. Follow these tips to restore order and help your son to appreciate all of his gifts. Here are a few solutions: • Allow him to make a wish list - A wish list can serve as a way to lessen some of the disappointment that your son feels. Have your son write down a few gifts the he wants for Christmas, and allow him to rank them in order according to the gift he wants the most and the one

he wants the least. Discuss with him that he may not get every gift but he will get at least one from the list. • Discuss patience - Talk to your son about being patient. Let him know that he cannot always get what he wants when he wants it. You may want to use specific examples that may apply to having patience during Christmas time, or find a social story that covers the topic of patience. • Model patience - You can try wrapping boxes with wrapping paper and practicing how to open the boxes in a patient manner the same way he will open his gifts at Christmas. Try it a few times before Christmas day to prepare your son for the big day. • Discuss gift giving - Talk to your son about gift giving at Christmas time. Let him know that he should appreciate every gift that he gets at Christmas time and thank the gift giver as well. This is also a great opportunity for a social story on manners. Let him know that he may offend An Exclusive Report for Members of

http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 87 someone if he shows disappointment on his face, and it may hurt the feelings of the person who gave him the gift. It may take some practicing with your son to accomplish your goal. Make sure you provide detailed instructions for the goals you wish to achieve. Any changes that happen during Christmas may lead to your son’s rush to open gifts. Make sure that he is not covering his feeling of overwhelm with the lack of patience. Support yours son’s progress no matter how small Enjoy your holiday season! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 88 39. How do we help family members not be offended because our 7 year old cannot handle the big morning of opening all the many presents with them. He needs to open presents over a few days as not to become overwhelmed. We have had 3 Christmas mornings that were hell for him and he melted down over and over. It can be a great challenge dealing with

Christmas for a child with Aspergers. Your 7 year old can become overwhelmed due to all of the excitement. A meltdown is probably due to all of the change and the wild frenzy that comes with the holiday season. Your family needs help to make the situation as comfortable as possible for your son. There are a few ways that you and your family can accommodate your son’s needs. Try these tips to make the holiday season a pleasure for everyone: • Plan a few celebrations - To prevent a meltdown, consider celebrating Christmas with several small groups of family members. Talk to your family about your son’s meltdowns due to has Aspergers, and ask that they be more understanding and supportive for your son’s sake. Each group can celebrate at a specified time on Christmas day that you and your son decide upon together. • Celebrate on different days - Allow your family members and your son to decide upon a day to celebrate Christmas together. Your family should understand that if

they want your son to get enjoyment out of the Christmas celebration they are going to have to compromise a bit to prevent a meltdown and possibly a dislike for the Christmas season. • Discuss the situation with your son -Talk to your son about Christmas day and ways to prevent meltdowns. Allow him to discuss his feeling, and the two of you can find ways to prevent the overwhelm that comes with the holiday celebration. Discuss a possible compromise during Christmas for the sake of family. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 89 • Role-play - Use role-play with your son to prepare for the Christmas holiday. Let him know how important it is for him to improve his social skills. Role-play possible situations that may occur during the holiday season. Play out roles that cover everything from socializing with others to opening gifts on Christmas morning. Practice a few weeks before Christmas to establish routines with your son. •

Offer an incentive – Offer your son a reward for his behavior on Christmas day. Create a report card with a list of behavior and the rewards those behaviors. Begin this process before Christmas to create routines. The holiday season can be a wonderful time for family and friends. It may take some compromising when a child with Aspergers in involved. Communicate with your son and your family to create a plan for the holidays. The goal is that everyone is happy in the end Practice routines before the holiday with your son to prevent meltdowns. The holidays can be happy and fun again! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 90 40. My struggle is that my 8 yr old son, has no interest other than legos and stationary which he has plenty of. So come Christmas I never know what to buy him since his interest doesnt change and isnt open to anything else. After 4 Christmass of Legos and the attempt to find a new interest for him, I am at a loss. Any

ideas? Changing the interest of children with Aspergers can be quite challenging. They are most comfortable with routines. One good thing is that his motor skills develop with using legos Children with Aspergers usually grow up to be excellent in the math and technology areas, so this is a good thing. You can open his interest in a few ways Consider the following to broaden the interest of your 8 year old: • Find ways to use the old toys with the new toys – Special interests give your child a sense of order in his life. Find ways that that you can combine the legos and stationary with other gifts and activities that your son can enjoy. It may take several attempts, but it will get better with time. Consider trying this method before Christmas to prevent a meltdown or and anxiety episode during the holiday season. • Consider using a video game that uses the same concept as legos – Children with Aspergers enjoy video games and computer technology. The use of games and

computers is a great way to develop your child’s fine/gross motor skills. A game like Tetras uses the same concept of building something out of objects. He may enjoy these computer games once he is introduced • Introduce your son to handheld games – This is yet another way to develop fine/gross motor skills in your child. He may enjoy playing a hand held device that allows him to play his favorite games whenever he wants to. He will enjoy the mobility of the game He can change out the games with several other games when he chooses to. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 91 • Keep trying – Your son depends on routines to function on a daily basis. It makes him feel safe and comfortable. Keep trying to introduce him to new interests, but don’t be too pushy He will accept change eventually. Everyone has problems with change at some point Do your best to support your son. Continue to try new ways to expand your son’s

interests Remember to try your ideas before Christmas to prepare your son for change. Enjoy the holiday season with your son and your family. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 92 41. My 23 year old son is on the autism spectrum has already started his Christmas "drive” in October. He has already started planning for it For the past few years we have the same pattern happening. Lots of pre excitement and plans made (by him) As we get closer and closer to Christmas he gets more and more stressed (because everything has to be perfect and it is never good enough or perfect enough for him). By the time Christmas day arrives he is at the point he feels like he is having a nervous breakdown. He gets worked up because nothing is good enough and he gets very obsessive over cleaning the house (although I do it!) Other family members now would rather not come to our home because of the stressful atmosphere. What to do? He gets very angry

with me if I try to re-direct or if he feels Im insinuating that we dont have to have such a perfect Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be about spending time with family and friends, and no stress should be involved. Unfortunately for those with family members with Aspergers, stress and meltdown can replace the happy calm environment that you come to expect. Your child likes to plan things in great detail and plan in advance. Those with Aspergers depend on the routines in life to function on a day-to-day basis. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to lessen the holiday stress for your son and your family. Use a few of these tips to bring joy back to the holiday season: • Talk to your son before the planning begins – Since he likes to plan early, you need to talk to him before October before he begins his planning and before the stress starts. Discuss ways that can make his planning less stressful. Things do not need to be perfect when you are around those you

love. Talk to him about eliminating unnecessary parts of his Christmas plans • Break the plan into smaller parts – Once all of the unnecessary parts are taken out during his preplanning stage, encourage your son to plan a little at a time. Using a planner is a great way to keep up with his ideas. He can write down what he wants to do on certain days but leave room An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 93 for changes to his plan. • Make plans for stress relief activities – Find time to spend with your son when he gets stressed from the holiday planning. Encourage him to get out for a bit, so that when he restarts his planning, he can have an open mind. He can think better with an open mind and with less stress. • Share responsibilities with your son – Discuss ways to take the weight of planning off your son. Ask him to consider allowing you and the rest of your family to help him with his plans He can give each of you a

responsibility to make sure that he holiday season goes smoothly. • Plan for a smaller group of people - Some of your son’s stress may come for making plans to make everyone happy. He may want to buy gifts for everyone Finding gifts alone is very stressful. Encourage him to create a plan that only involves a small number of people on a smaller scale. Hopefully a few of these tips work for you and your family. Since your son is older, he may reject any ideas that do not put him in control. Let him know that you are there to help him if he needs it. Give him detailed ideas and suggestions to help him stay stress free Discuss with him how these ideas can make the holiday season less stressful for everyone and how much your family and friends will begin to enjoy the holiday season. Your holiday season will be back on track in no time! An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 94 42. How do we help our 13yr son cope with unexpected surprises

and changes to plans We find its better that he knows what presents hes getting as he has invariably been disappointed with surprise presents. It can be extremely hard to enjoy the happiness of surprises and presents at Christmas with a child with Aspergers. Your child likes routines and not surprises You cannot always control some of the last minute changes in plans that cause meltdowns in your son. You and your family can work together to have a better Christmas experience with your son. There are a few practical solutions to your problem. Consider trying these tips to change your Christmas experience: • Teach your son coping skills – As much as everyone would like things to stay constant, most of the time things do not. Even when you plan, things do not always go the way you would like them to go. He needs help with learning how to deal with his emotions when things stray from the routine that he is used to. • Identify possible triggers - Sometimes children with

Aspergers experience triggers that before an event, which covers the real reason they do not want to do something or the reason they act out. Sometimes light, smell, and sounds plan a role in your child’s disappointment or change of mood. Keep a journal of your child’s behavior and the events that happen right before the change in behavior. • Create a behavior plan – A behavior plan outlines the behaviors that you want to decrease or eliminate and the rewards for those behaviors. Sit down with your son and discuss the behaviors that you want to change and the reason why. Provide alternative behaviors to replace the inappropriate behaviors. Create a report card outlining the behaviors, consequences, and rewards and put it somewhere that you and your child can see. Allow him to decide on the rewards he receives. Provide support to your son through the process An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 95 • Allow your son to pick a few

of his own gifts – Ask your son what he wants for Christmas. Purchase those gifts for him at Christmas if at all possible. You can take him to pick out his gifts or allow him to make a list of top Christmas gifts that he desires. He may eventually be willing to compromise and open one surprise gift during Christmas. Find alternatives when you face such issues. Discuss some kind of compromise with your son in advance and he may be willing to try something different eventually. It may take some compromise for all parties involved for a successful Christmas. Your son must learn to cope with change and surprises. Make sure to have a well thought out plan during the holiday season. You and your family can work together to support your son through his challenges The holidays may be a challenge for you and your family, but things will get better in time. Keep working on it. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 96 43. What is the ideal way to

cope with vacation from school for a teenager (almost 16) with AS? How do parents who work arrange days for the child? Routine is a major part of life for children with Aspergers. They depend on these routines to keep them on track. Once the routines change, problems can occur Parents may have to deal with defiance, anxiety, and meltdowns as a result. You can make your child’s vacation time a success by establishing some routine at home. Try a few of these methods to make your vacation time successful: • Prepare for the transition away from school – With your son, discuss the changes that will take place in the next few weeks. Make sure he understands how long he will be out of school and what will take place. You may even want to create a checklist of events for your son for each day of his vacation. Sit down with him the day before and discuss the events that will take place the following day according to the list the two of you made. • Plan time together – Parents

are not always off when their children are on vacation. You can plan time to spend with your child while you are home. You should pencil in some time on the daily checklist for quality time with your child. You may even allow your child to make decisions about when to spend time together and what to do during that time. Also, make sure that the details for Christmas day and any other events during the break are clearly defined. • Keep some routines during the break - Decide on a few routines to keep during the Christmas break. Use options that carry over from school in a smooth manner You may even want to ask his teachers for a few assignment ideas that he can do at home during the break. You want to keep his routines as close to those he has during the school year as possible. • Prepare for the transition back to school – This step is similar to the first one. You need to An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 97 sit down with

him and discuss the things necessary to transition back to school. He needs to start preparing by beginning some of his old routines again, such as going to bed at a certain time, preparing his clothing the night before school, etc. Help him to understand the changes that are going on if he feels stressed or overwhelmed. Transitioning during the holiday season can be hard for you and your child. Remember to keep some routine from the school year. It is also important to establish some type of routine for the holiday season. You and your son can work together to create the perfect holiday plan Spend as much time as you possibly can with your son during the holiday season. You can make the best of the season by working together. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 98 44. My grandson is 7 years old and has been diagnosed with Aspergers On the holidays we always have a family get together because everyone lives so far away. Usually we have

what is called a round robin where everyone brings one gift and numbers are picked etc. The younger children are not included in this game because everyone brings a gift for them. My grandson gets really upset when we begin to play and has many meltdowns during the process of gift exchanging. How can we help him understand that this game is for the adults when some of my in laws let their children play? It is always wonderful when you have friends and family to spend time with during the holiday season. All of the fun and excitement may be overwhelming for a child with Aspergers You do not want to ruin your Christmas holiday. If your grandson has meltdowns during the holiday celebrations, this can be a problem for everyone. Consider making a few adjustments to bring back the joy of your celebrations: • Identify events that trigger his meltdowns – It could be that he has a meltdown to get attention from you or one of the other adults. If you are taking attention away from him,

he may act out to redirect your attention to him. He needs to understand beforehand that the adults will spend some time together while the children play. Another possible trigger may be sounds, smells, and lighting during the celebration. Loud noises and flashing lights are a problem for some children with Aspergers. Make a note of anything you thing may be the source of the problem and make changes as needed. • Create a child’s version of your adult game – Your game may interest him. You can create a child’s version this Christmas by allowing all of the children to bring one of their old toys, books, etc. as a round robin gift If you prefer, each child can by a small gift to wrap and use during the round robin game. Make sure that the gift limit is small (less than $5) An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 99 • Change the setting during adult game – Set up an area in another room for the children to play during the adult

game. Get the kids set up and wait until they are distracted Make sure that they stay occupied while the adults play the round robin game. • Make sure that all adults stick with the plan – If the game is only for adults, then no children should be allowed to play. Speak with all of the adults before the start of the game and maybe even a few weeks before the Christmas celebration. Make sure that everyone understands that it is an adult only game. They should also understand that it is hard for a child with Aspergers to understand rules when some of the adults are breaking them. Hopefully they all will understand, and you all will have a wonderful holiday. Establish your routine and rules before the holidays. Make sure that everyone understand what needs to happen so that everyone can enjoy the holiday celebration. If some adults let the kids break the rules, you can expect your grandson to have a meltdown every Christmas. Find a way to replace his behaviors in a positive

manner. Keep him occupied with things he enjoys An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 100 45. My sixteen year old daughter who as Aspergers is really excited about Christmas but she doesn’t like the noise or a lot of people in one room or place she suffers with panic attacks, we want her to have a good time and enjoy time with friends and family. Help! All the excitement can be too much to handle during the holiday season. It is especially a problem for children with Aspergers. Panic attacks are a common issue that children with Aspergers face when they become overwhelmed. Have no fear There are some things that you can do to ease your daughter’s panic attacks so that she can enjoy the holidays. Here are a few things that you can do to have a happy holiday: • Eliminate her triggers – If the flashing lights are the sources of her attacks, consider using lights on a non-flashing setting for her. Most holiday lights have a function

that can change to different settings. Consider lowering the music during the celebration to prevent her from becoming overwhelmed with the noises. You may even want to allow her to select some of the music for the Christmas celebration. • Set up a quiet area for her – Make sure that at least one room in the house is available for your daughter to go to when she is feeling overwhelmed by the noise and the crowd. Speak to her about the matter before the celebration. Make sure that she knows that she has your support in this matter. She can leave the crowd of people and allow herself to calm down before returning to the crowd. You may even want to consider setting up a kid’s room for the children This room will provider her with the smaller environment that she needs. • Giver her a few responsibilities during the celebration – Discuss a few things that she can do while the celebration is going on. Refilling snacks, passing out gifts, setting the table, etc can be great

ways for her stay occupies so that she does not think about the noises or the crowds. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 101 • Teach her coping skills – Discuss coping skills with your daughter as the Christmas holidays get closer. Discuss possible situations and a few ways in which she can handle them Be sure you provide step-by-step details for her to follow. These tips should help you and your daughter enjoy the Christmas holidays. It is important that she has options that allow her to escape situations that may cause panic attacks. Give her some control over the things that trigger her attacks. Allow her to help you make plans for the Christmas holidays. You all can enjoy your celebrations with just a few minor adjustments Enjoy the time that you spend with your friends and family. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 102 46. When Christmas comes we have company over or we go to a

familys house, my son just sits in the corner with a hood over his head, I let him be, should I confront him on it at the time or just let it be? When we took a family picture he couldnt get off the floor and wouldnt be in the picture. He explained later that he couldnt move he was in a cold sweat. I didnt make him come into the picture I let him alone Family gatherings are hard for him, is there anything I could do to make it more comfortable for him? Conflict during the holiday can be very stressful. The holidays are supposed to be about having fun and spending lots of time with friends and family. You want all of the people you love to mix and mingle with one another and not isolated themselves. Unfortunately this is one of the issues that children with Aspergers have, but it can change. There is hope for happy holidays around your home. Consider a few of these ideas to help your son deal with Christmas: • Discuss his behaviors with him – Talk to your son before the Christmas

celebration to find out what he needs to have a happy holiday season. Find out what makes him withdraw from others and isolate himself in a corner. Discuss ways to rise above his issues and have a great time. Offer a few options for replacement behaviors when he feels overwhelmed during the holiday season. • Talk to him about his behaviors when they occur – Do not wait to talk to him about his behaviors; speak to him immediately after they happen. Make sure that he is aware of what is going on and how it is affecting the family. Discuss appropriate behavior and ways to return to the current setting and have fun. Waiting to talk to him only gives him the impression that his behavior is okay. • Create a behavior report card – Children always want something new for Christmas. You can use this to your advantage. Discuss your son’s behaviors during the past holiday celebrations An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 103 Point out

the issues that concern you and offer alternatives. Use a behavior report card to track behaviors, consequences, and rewards for behaving appropriately. Make sure that the both of you agree on the information. Let him decide on the reward he receives after accomplishing all the behaviors on the report card by the specified time. • Use his special interest as an activity for the entire family – Children with Aspergers generally have a special interest that they love with a passion. Use your son’s special interest as a part of an activity that the entire family can enjoy. It may be a computer game, painting, etc Make sure he has some control over the activity. Much of the behavior that you see may be attention seeking. Children with Aspergers are generally concerned with things that deal with them. Allow him to plan activities for Christmas celebrations so he can feel complete. Redirect unwanted behavior immediately He needs to understand that these behaviors are wrong.

Practice working on alternative behaviors before the celebrations begin An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 104 47. My son is eight and now our relatives expect him to play with toys that are "older" but he still loves the play sets meant for younger kids. How can I tell them that this is really what he wants for a gift, without seeming like I am treating him like a "baby"? Christmas is all about spending time with the ones you love. Gift giving is a part of the Christmas celebration. Gifts are supposed to come from the heart Children with Aspergers may be hard to buy gifts for during the holiday season. It may be hard for your family to accept his likes and dislikes, but there are ways to ease the stress of gift giving. Here are a few suggestions for your family when it comes to gift giving: • Let your family know that your son has special interests – Children with Aspergers have specific interests that they

like. It may seem almost like an obsession to those on the outside The family should know about his issues with routines, special interests, etc. that should be considered when selecting a gift. Your son is at a stage where this is what makes him happy. They need to embrace his interests and select gift that fall within these boundaries. • Talk to them about Aspergers – Let your family know about some of the symptoms of Aspergers. Discuss his routines and interests that they may not be aware of Let them know how important it is to choose gifts that make him happy. It may also be a good idea to discuss side effects such as meltdowns that can occur if change occurs or if he becomes overwhelmed. Many people experience horrible Christmas holidays when children with Aspergers stress during the holidays. • Consider letting him select his own gift – They can support your son by allowing him to select his own gift for Christmas. It is not a good idea to force a child with

Aspergers to accept change without explaining why and allowing a reasonable amount of time for the behavior to change. An Exclusive Report for Members of http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 105 • Let them know that as he gets older, his interests will change – He is not into the older toys now, but as time passes, he will show interest in new things. Your family has to accept your son for who he is to make Christmas as comfortable as possible for him. Christmas does not have to be miserable for you and your family. The adult need to understand the delicate nature of Aspergers to understand your son fully. Giving your son the kind of gift that he wants so that everyone can have a happy holiday seems like a small sacrifice. Communication is the key to a happy holiday season. Making a few changes is better than a horrible Christmas Appreciate the time you spend with your family during the holidays. An Exclusive Report for Members of

http://www.ParentingAspergersCommunitycom 106