~~~~~~ Specific Parenting Techniques for Children and Teens on the High-Functioning End of the Autism Spectrum ~~~~~~

Traits in the Child with High-Functioning Autism

Some of the traits associated with HFA that will be addressed in the ebook include: (1) emotional problems and sensory sensitivities; (2) difficulties with school-related skills; (3) issues related to health and movement; (4) social skills deficits; (5) behavioral problems; and (6) deficits in linguistic and language development.

Let's look at each of these in turn:

1. Why do children with AS and HFA experience unique emotional problems and sensory sensitivities? For example:   
  •  An emotional incident can determine the mood for the day.
  • They can become overwhelmed with too much verbal direction.
  • They often experience difficulty with loud or sudden sounds.
  • Emotions can pass very suddenly -- or are drawn out for a long period of time.
  • They have an intolerance to certain food textures, food colors, or the way food is presented on the plate (e.g., one food can’t touch another).
  • They may laugh, cry, or throw a tantrum for no apparent reason.
  • They may need to be left alone to release tension and frustration.    
  • They usually resist change in their environment (e.g., people, places, objects).
  • They experience sensitivity - or lack of sensitivity - to sounds, textures, tastes, smells or light.
  • They tend to either tune out - or break down - when being reprimanded.
  • They have an unusually high - or low - pain tolerance.

2. What are the difficulties associated with school-related skills that need to be addressed? For example:  
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another 
  • Difficulty with fine motor activities (e.g., coloring, printing, using scissors, gluing)
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension (e.g., can quote an answer, but unable to predict, summarize or find symbolism)
  • Excellent rote memory in some areas
  • Exceptionally high skills in some areas -- and very low in others
  • Resistance - or inability - to follow directions
  • Short attention span for most lessons

3. How should issues related to health and movement be dealt with? For example:    
  • Allergies and food sensitivities
  • Apparent lack of concern for personal hygiene (e.g., hair, teeth, body odor)
  • Appearance of hearing problems, but hearing has been checked and is fine
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty changing from one floor surface to another (e.g., carpet to wood, sidewalk to grass)
  • Difficulty moving through a space (e.g., bumps into objects or people)
  • Frequent gas, burping or throwing up
  • Incontinence of bowel and/or bladder
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Odd or unnatural posture (e.g., rigid or floppy)
  • Seizure activity
  • Unusual gait
  • Walks on toes
  • Walks without swinging arms freely

4. Why do these children lack social skills, and what can parents and teachers do to help? For example:
  • Aversion to answering questions about themselves
  • Difficulty maintaining friendships
  • Difficulty reading facial expressions and body language
  • Difficulty understanding group interactions
  • Difficulty understanding jokes, figures of speech or sarcasm
  • Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation
  • Does not generally share observations or experiences with others
  • Finds it easier to socialize with people that are older or younger, rather than peers of their own age
  • Gives spontaneous comments which seem to have no connection to the current conversation
  • Makes honest, but inappropriate observations
  • Minimal acknowledgement of others
  • Overly trusting or unable to read the motives behinds peoples’ actions
  • Prefers to be alone, aloof or overly-friendly
  • Resistance to being held or touched
  • Responds to social interactions, but does not initiate them
  • Seems unable to understand another’s feelings
  • Talks excessively about one or two topics (e.g., dinosaurs, movies, etc.)
  • Tends to get too close when speaking to someone (i.e., lack of personal space)
  • Unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them
  • Very little or no eye contact

5. How can behavioral problems be managed effectively? For example:
  • Causes injury to self (e.g., biting, banging head)
  • Difficulty attending to some tasks
  • Difficulty sensing time (e.g., knowing how long 5 minutes is or 3 days or a month)
  • Difficulty transferring skills from one area to another
  • Difficulty waiting for their turn (e.g., standing in line)
  • Extreme fear for no apparent reason
  • Feels the need to fix or rearrange things
  • Fine motor skills are developmentally behind peers (e.g., hand writing, tying shoes, using scissors, etc.)
  • Frustration is expressed in unusual ways
  • Gross motor skills are developmentally behind peers (e.g., riding a bike, skating, running)
  • Inability to perceive potentially dangerous situations
  • Meltdowns
  • Obsessions with objects, ideas or desires
  • Perfectionism in certain areas
  • Play is often repetitive
  • Quotes movies or video games
  • Ritualistic or compulsive behavior patterns (e.g., sniffing, licking, watching objects fall, flapping arms, spinning, rocking, humming, tapping, sucking, rubbing clothes)
  • Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult
  • Unusual attachment to objects
  • Verbal outbursts

6. What can be done to help with deficits in linguistic and language development? For example:    
  • Abnormal use of pitch, intonation, rhythm or stress while speaking
  • Difficulty understanding directional terms (e.g., front, back, before, after) 
  • Difficulty whispering
  • Makes verbal sounds while listening (i.e., echolalia)
  • May have a very high vocabulary
  • Often uses short, incomplete sentences
  • Pronouns are often inappropriately used
  • Repeats last words or phrases several times
  • Speech is abnormally loud or quiet
  • Speech started very early and then stopped for a period of time
  • Uses a person’s name excessively when speaking to them

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