Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Avoiding Temper Tantrums in Asperger (and other) Kids: A Link

Hi Friends, we have been talking a little more about Asperger's kids recently and I came across this really interesting article about temper tantrums with kids with Aspergers.  I think some of the approaches here work with many other types of kids as well, and may have some helpful tips for foster parents of RAD and other kids with behavioral issues.

We always try to bring you original content here, but I don't want you to miss important information if I think it will help you deal with your difficult kids.  Having said that... I encourage you to read through some of the tips in this article.

Asperger's Children and Temper Tantrums

In this post, we’re going to look at temper tantrums in children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). Tantrums should not be confused with meltdowns. If you’re not sure which is which, view this video first: What is the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum?

Temper tantrums range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath holding. Aspergers and HFA kid's temperaments vary dramatically — so some Aspergers kids may experience regular temper tantrums, whereas others have them rarely. They're a normal part of development and don't have to be seen as something negative. However, unlike “typical” children, Aspergers kids don't have the same inhibitions or control.

Imagine how it feels when you're determined to program your DVD player and aren't able to do it no matter how hard you try, because you can't understand how. It's very frustrating! Do you swear, throw the manual, walk away, and slam the door on your way out? That's the grown-up version of a temper tantrum. Aspergers kids are also trying to master their world, and when they aren't able to accomplish a task, they turn to one of the only tools at their disposal for venting frustration — a temper tantrum.

Several basic causes of temper tantrums are familiar to mothers and fathers everywhere: The Aspergers youngster is seeking attention or is tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. In addition, temper tantrums are often the result of Aspergers kid's frustration with the world. They can't get something (e.g., an object or a parent) to do what they want. Frustration is an unavoidable part of their lives as they learn how people, objects, and their own bodies work.

Temper tantrums are common during the second year of life for all kids. This is a time when kids are acquiring language. However, Aspergers kids generally understand more than they can express. Imagine not being able to communicate your needs to someone. That would be a frustrating experience that may precipitate a temper tantrum. As language skills improve, temper tantrums tend to decrease.

Another task that all kids are faced with is an increasing need for autonomy. However, even though Aspergers kids want a sense of independence and control over the environment, this may be more than they may be capable of handling. This creates the perfect condition for power struggles as an Aspergers youngster thinks "I can do it myself" or "I want it, give it to me." When Aspergers kids discover that they can't do it and can't have everything they want, the stage is set for a temper tantrum.

Avoiding Temper Tantrums in Aspergers Children—

The best way to deal with temper tantrums is to avoid them in the first place, whenever possible. Here are some strategies that may help:

1. Aspergers kids are more likely to use temper tantrums to get their way if they've learned that this behavior works. Once Aspergers kids are school age, it's appropriate to send them to their rooms to cool off. Rather than setting a specific time limit, mothers and fathers can tell them to stay in the room “until they've regained control.” This option is empowering, because Aspergers kids can affect the outcome by their own actions, thereby gaining a sense of control that was lost during the temper tantrum.

2. Aspergers kids have fairly rudimentary reasoning skills, so you aren't likely to get very far with explanations. If the temper tantrum poses no threat to your youngster or others, then ignoring the outburst may be the best way to handle it.  Continue your activities, and pay no attention to your youngster – but remain within sight. Don't leave him or her alone, otherwise he or she may feel abandoned on top of all of the other uncontrollable emotions.

3. Aspergers kids may be especially vulnerable AFTER a temper tantrum when they know they've been less than adorable. Now is the time for a hug and reassurance that your youngster is loved, no matter what.

4. Aspergers kids who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a temper tantrum should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down. This also applies to temper tantrums in public places.

5. Consider the request carefully when your youngster wants something. Is it outrageous? Maybe it isn't. Choose your battles carefully, and accommodate when you can.

6. Distract your youngster. Take advantage of your child’s short attention span by offering a replacement for the coveted object or beginning a new activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one. Also, you can simply change the environment. Take your youngster outside or inside or move to a different room.

7. If a safety issue is involved, and the youngster repeats the forbidden behavior after being told to stop, use a time-out or hold the youngster firmly for several minutes. Be consistent. Aspergers kids must understand that you are inflexible on safety issues.

8. Keep off-limits objects out of sight and out of reach to make struggles less likely to develop over them. Obviously, this isn't always possible, especially outside of the home where the environment can't be controlled.

9. Know your youngster's limits. If you know he or she is tired, it's not the best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand.

10. Make sure your youngster isn't acting-out simply because he or she isn't getting enough attention. To an Aspergers youngster, negative attention (a parent's response to a temper tantrum) is better than no attention at all. Try to establish a habit of catching your youngster being good ("time in"), which means rewarding him or her with attention for positive behavior.

11. Occasionally an Aspergers youngster will have a hard time stopping a temper tantrum. In these cases, it might help to say to say, "I'll help you settle down now." But, do not reward your youngster after a temper tantrum by giving in. This will only prove to him or her that the temper tantrum was effective. Instead, verbally praise the youngster for regaining control.

12. Set the stage for success when Aspergers kids are playing or trying to master a new task. Offer age-appropriate toys and games. Also, start with something simple before moving on to more challenging tasks.

13. Temper tantrums should be handled differently depending on the cause. Try to understand where your youngster is coming from. For example, if he or she has just had a great disappointment, you may need to provide comfort. If he or she is simply a sore loser at games and hits a playmate, then you may to provide a consequence.

Continue reading here:

Monday, February 18, 2013

The KIND of Praise you Give Out Makes A Difference

According to a recent article in Science News, the type of praise you give your child makes a big difference in how they face challenges later in life.

We all know that praising our kids is important, but the words you use when praising a child's work can effect how they perceive the payoff for effort. Knowing what words to use can help shape a healthier attitude towards working towards goals and applying effort in the things they do.  Especially important when communicating with toddlers, praising effort and behavior vs the child himself makes all the difference.

Check it out....

Child Development: The Right Kind of Early Praise Predicts Positive Attitudes Toward Effort

Feb. 12, 2013 — Toddlers who hear praise directed at their efforts, such as "your worked hard on that" are more likely to prefer challenging versus easy tasks and to believe that intelligence and personality can improve with effort than do youngsters who simply hear praise directed at them personally, such as "you're a good girl," new research at the University of Chicago reveals.

"The kind of praise focused on effort is called 'process praise' and sends the message that effort and actions are the sources of success, leading children to believe they can improve their performance through hard work," said Elizabeth Gunderson, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Temple University and lead author on the study conducted while she was a graduate student at the University of Chicago.
Another form of praise called "person praise" is focused on the child's characteristics. Parents using person praise might say "you're a big boy," for instance.
The findings, published in the paper "Parent Praise to 1-3 Year Olds Predicts Children's Motivational Frameworks 5 years Later," are the first to show the impact of parents' praise in a naturalistic setting. The study is published on-line in the journal Child Development and was conducted by researchers from Stanford as well as the University of Chicago.

Short-term laboratory studies have found that process praise results in greater persistence and better performance on challenging tasks, while person praise, which sends the message that a child's ability is fixed, results in decreased persistence and performance.
In the new study the scholars found that the percentage of process praise parents used when their children were one to three years old significantly predicted whether children welcomed challenges, had strategies for overcoming failure, and thought intelligence and personality were malleable five years later.

Read more at :

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Behavioral Modification with Aspergers Kids: Does it Work?

A recent post on My Aspergers discusses how behavioral modification with positive reinforcements can help change a child's unwanted or unhealthy behaviors.  Kids with Aspergers, as with any kids, will respond to behavioral modification techniques when done consistently and correctly. Positive versus negative reinforcement is always the way to go with kids and this article has a lot of terrific pointers on how to subtly reinforce good behaviors for children with Asperger's behaviors.
Much of what they talk about is similar to what we have discussed before in all of our techniques in dealing with behaviors that are inappropriate, but the article clearly states how a parent can use approaches and see progress with their children... very motivational for those of us who might be struggling right now.  Check it out....

Changing Unwanted Aspergers-related Behavior

“It is very frustrating not being able to change or modify the rigid behaviors that my Asperger’s son exhibits, for example, picky eating, rudeness to others, lack of motivation …just to name a few. Is there anything that can be done to help him be more open to change and flexibility?”

Most kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism struggle with social skills, communication, and a limited diet, which can cause any of these issues:
  • behavioral problems
  • communication problems
  • desire for isolation
  • lack of incentive
  • sensory issues 
  • social problems
  • dropping into a state of depression, thus making the original problems that much worse

Social skills and living skills therapy may be the most popular areas of concentration when treating kids and teens (and even adults) with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism. These therapies are widely available and do bring about effective progress in most cases.

Providing incentive is the key to improving your youngster’s circumstances. Actually, incentive is a factor anytime you are seeking to modify anyone’s unwanted behaviors. Incentive in itself is definitely an old concept, but using incentive in a new way will create the wanted result for your “special needs” son.

Read more here:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentines Themed Activities for Kids

by John.

Hi Friends,

Breaking away from the heavy topics we normally cover, we thought we would just link you up to some ways to help you keep those little hands busy for the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday.

Check out the links below for some great arts and craft projects that you can enjoy with your kiddies.

10 Valentine's Crafts for Kids from

Free Valentine's Printables from iVillage

Activities, Cards and Crafts from Enchanted Learning

Valentine's Crafts from Activity Village

Have you got a favorite project you do with your kids each year? Share it in the comment section below!

Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Dealing with Sexualized Behavior in Foster Kids: Part 4 What Are the Red Flags You Should Look For?

By John.

In this final part of our series on navigating the tricky landscape of sexualized behaviors with foster kids, we talk about recognizing some Red Flags that should alert you to the potential for behavioral issues to develop. The list here is based upon personal experience during years and years of working with foster kids …

Things you should ask yourself, behaviors and Red Flags:
1.     Was there sexual abuse in the household that the child may have seen or been victim of?
2.     How did the child grow up? Did the streets raise him or her?
a.     If yes, this will let you know that they may have been exposed to things that a child of their age would not normally have experienced.  Ask questions like: “Have you watch R rated movies and what were the movies you watched?” “What did you like about them?” Now, I may check out the movie myself to see what they were exposed to. Find out what kind of music they have been listening to. This will let you know something about what the child thinks about. This is a red flag to me but not always a problem, but time will let you know for sure.

3.     How old is the child?
a.     I found girls would act different at 12 and 13 then at 1- 11.  I’d much rather have the 1-11 in my home.
b.      If you have boys that are 15 and older, this can be a big red flag in the home and needs to be watched. Obviously, normal puberty will wreak havoc with any pre-teen or teen, but unknown previous experiences and personal histories of your foster kids might lead to more dangerous behaviors in your home.

4.     Does the child have friends his or her own age?
a.     If No, unless this is due to learning problems, this can be a red flag.  If the child does not have a peer group that they can learn normal social skills within, they may move to a younger peer group. Their “normal” sexual social skills learning becomes predatory among younger children which makes this a red flag to watch for.
5.     Is the child too “touchy-feely” with others? 
a.     Do you see a child touching or even bothering a child for no reason? You may see their hands on anther child’s head and touching the child’s face or legs. It may even look like they are patting the child. This is so they can get the unknowing child used to them touching them, and is otherwise known as “grooming behavior.”  This can move into sexual touching. Kids may even try to make it look like a game but they stop playing as soon as you can see what they are doing.  Big red flag.

6.     The child is holding a another child and pressing they hips in to the child they are holding more than once and not letting the other child go when being asked. Big red flag.

7.     When you walk in on your children playing and they stop playing and shut up. Red flag!
a.      Find out why they stopped playing as soon as you entered the room and ask lots of questions.  Ask how the game they were playing is played. Look for red flags on how the game is played; if someone has to hold someone down or some kind of touching is involved that they would not do in front of you, and then you have a red flag.
8.     Hanging around bathroom doors or other children’s bedroom doors when children are changing.
9.     If a child is giving presents to another child to try to keep a child quiet.  You’ll notice it happening if you start to ask questions about behaviors and then you see the children getting gifts.  You can tell when this is happening if you’re watching for it. The timing gives it away.
10.  Children under blankets and acting differently when you or other children come in the room.  This can be a red flag.
11.  You have been watching a child do patting and other kinds of touching that seem to be out of place and you say “I can see what you are doing, Stop it.” but nothing else, and they say “ok” as if they know what you are thinking, Big red flag. Why?
a.      They have been caught before doing things with other children. This is when I take them aside and tell them right out, what I am seeing, and sometimes they will say, “I did try to do it, I will watch where my hands are from now on.” 
b.     When they say “I’m sorry,” and make some kind of an excuse for the touching and blame the other child for it, that’s a Red flag to watch for further behavior.

12.  Words that a child may use that are sexual in nature.  
a.      Does the child know what the words mean or is it just something they heard someone else say and thought it made them sound big or older?  If they are a young child and do know what they are saying, that indicates some exposure to sexual things, which is a red flag.

These are some of the ones I found in my own home and there are more that I may add to the list later.  You may see one or all of them, but any of them should make you look harder at what may be going on in your home with your own children and the foster children.  You have to protect the actors of the sexual behaviors by getting them help, and the innocent children in your home. If you have some red flags that I have not mentioned, please feel free to add them.

(edited by Diane.)

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ADHD Management without Meds? Is the Trick Perseverence?

by John and Diane. 

According to an article recently published on American Psychological Associations website, titled Easing ADHD without Meds, a new handbook on treating ADHD recently published recommends behavioral approaches and a three pronged approach over medications in many cases of ADHD in children.

The article highlights that with early intervention and training of parents, teachers and therapeutic recreational programs, children's symptoms of ADHD and resulting educational implications can be managed and children can SUCCEED without medication.

A few important thoughts I felt were noteworthy in the article. One was that teacher training was vital in working with kids and focused on an ADHD child's need for instant gratification.  When a teacher is specially trained to work with an ADHD child's symptoms, learning becomes less of a struggle and the educational system begins working FOR the child instead of against his natural impulses.

The other thing I found interesting is that early childhood intervention and early learning also helped kids with ADHD.  Even before kindergarten, early exposure to reading and math can help kids from falling behind educationally due to ADHD.

Check it out...