Grandparents & Relatives

Welcome, grandparents and other relatives! If you have a child, teen, or adult relative with an Asperger profile in your extended family, you probably have questions or concerns. The family journey can include unexpected challenges–but you don’t have to travel alone. AANE can help you find the information and community connections you need. The more you learn about Asperger profiles, the better the chances of creating a family in which three generations can work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and support, leading to the best possible outcome for the grandchild or other family member on the autism spectrum.

Essential Resources

Grandparents Support Group at AANE
Grandparent and Parent coaching
Programs and Services For Grandparents/Relatives of Children and Teens
Programs and Services For Grandparents/Relatives of Adults
First Person Accounts

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Understanding Asperger Syndrome for Grandparents

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Wedding Cake Model for Home-School Communication

Article
Why is Parent/Educator Communication so Important?Most students with Asperger profiles have weak social communication skills. One result is that the student’s life is like a bicycle wheel with a weak hub. The adults need to hold hands around the rim to keep the wheel intact and functional.Stephanie’s Wedding Cake Model of... more

Building a Better Summer or What to do With Your Child’s Summer Vacation

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Sleep Problems in Children with Asperger Syndrome

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Studies find that approximately 73% of children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) experience sleep problems, and these problems tend to last longer in this group than they do for children without AS. For example, children with AS are more likely to be sluggish and disoriented after waking. Laboratory research has begun to describe the unique... more

How Parent Coaching Helped My Family: Katie Sonin

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Katie shares how parent coaching has helped her... more

The AANE Community

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The AANE community share their... more

AANE Gala 2011 Speech

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Shonda and Curt Schilling introduce Brenda Dater-who shares stories from the AANE... more

Why Does My Child Behave Like That? Practical Strategies for Parents of Kids on the…

Webinar
Brenda Dater, author of Parenting without Panic, offers practical guidance to help your family function with less... more

Understanding Asperger Syndrome for Grandparents

Webinar
Information and support to help you understand, enjoy and relate to your grandchild on the autism... more

Bullying and Asperger Syndrome

Webinar
Learn how children and teens with Asperger Syndrome and related autism spectrum profiles may experience bullying and how you can help create a bully-free... more

It’s A Two-Way Street Helping the World Communicate with People with Asperger Syndrome

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Kai Long, a speech language pathologist, discusses communication challenges and strategies that... more

Playdate Basics

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Practical tips to help you manage playdates with your... more

Fewer Meltdowns! Practical Strategies for Fostering Positive Behavior in Children & Teens with AS

Webinar
Brenda Dater, author of Parenting without Panic, shares practical strategies for fewer... more

Parenting without Panic with Brenda Dater

Webinar
Brenda Dater, author of Parenting without Panic, shares practical guidance for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum; helping all parents feel less... more

Welcome to the Teen Years

Webinar
In this webinar, Erika Drezner helps parents distinguish between behaviors that are related to an Asperger profile, and typical teen behaviors. She gives information on how Asperger’s impacts the adolescent mind, and how to handle the demands of parenting this kind of... more

The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum

Recommended Reading
This book, written by experienced college disability directors, is the authoritative guide to the subject. Dr. Lorraine Wolf and Dr. Jane Thierfeld Brown lead AANE’s “Preparing for College” workshops, and Dr. Thierfeld Brown offers college consultations to individual teens and their... more

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Recommended Reading
The future of our society depends on our understanding autism. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has... more

Get Our of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the…

Recommended Reading
In order to raise a teen with an Asperger profile, it helps to know what to expect from supposedly neurotypical teens. Dr. Anthony Wolf delivers the mixed news with clarity and humor, and offers hope that parents and teens can make it through these tumultuous years.Learn More and... more

Life, Animated

Recommended Reading
This is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn't speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood.The... more

The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome

Recommended Reading
This personal memoir has touched many hearts, and helped many couples come together to co-parent their children with Asperger profiles.Learn More and... more

Grandparents Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders: Making the Most of Time at Nana’s House

Recommended Reading
Nancy Mucklow wrote a classic--possibly the very first article on this topic, and later developed it into to this book. Grandparents can be very positive, essential figures in the life of their grandchild with an Asperger profiles. Nancy’s book helps grandparents understand their grandchildren,... more

Marcelo in the Real World (fiction)

Recommended Reading
Marcelo Sandoval is a high-functioning, extremely self-aware teenager with Asperger's syndrome. He has an empathetic mother and a father, Arturo, who appears to be less empathetic as he pushes Marcelo to live in the "real world." The form the real world takes is a summer job in the mailroom at... more

Asperger’s and Self-Esteem: Hope Through Famous Role Models

Recommended Reading
Not every person with an Asperger profile is an Einstein--but it can be comforting and inspiring to know that Einstein, Mozart, Gregor Mendel, Mme. Curie, and others had some of the same struggles--and managed to make huge contributions to humankind.Learn More and... more

Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips and My Son Taught Me About…

Recommended Reading
LOVE THAT BOY is a uniquely personal story about the causes and costs of outsized parental expectations. What we want for our children—popularity, normalcy, achievement, genius—and what they truly need—grit, empathy, character—are explored by National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who weaves... more

No B.O.!: The Head -to-Toe Book of Hygiene for Preteens

Recommended Reading
It is essential for our pre-teens to have good hygiene. This book is a valuable tool for raising awareness and teaching skills.Learn More and... more

Living Sensationally

Recommended Reading
Winnie Dunn has worked with many people with Asperger profiles. Based on her deep understanding of how their sensory issues impact their experience and functioning, she offers strategies to creating more hospitable environments and practical solutions. The book is refreshingly concise, with handy... more

Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Fit In – When to Worry…

Recommended Reading
Quirky Kids is a classic written by two experienced pediatricians, offering parents practical strategies for raising children with Asperger profiles.Learn More and Purchase... more

Easy-To Implement Interventions for Children With Asperger Profiles

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“Hello, Mrs. Thompson, this is Ms. O’Conner, Jacob’s teacher. I’m calling today because there was another incident in class. Jacob is struggling with listening to directions. We were at morning meeting and, as always, he was jumping up and down and calling out. Another student asked him to sit and be quiet because he couldn’t hear. Jacob... more

Especially for Grandparents of Children With Asperger Profiles

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 If your grandchild has been newly diagnosed, then welcome to the world of Asperger profiles. It is a mysterious and sometimes overwhelming world, but it is not one to be afraid of. Even if you are saddened, disappointed or angry about the diagnosis, keep in mind that it’s for the best. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the... more

Asperger Profiles: Emotions and Empathy

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People with Asperger profiles absolutely do have feelings, although they may have difficulty identifying and discussing them. In fact, many feelings – such as fear, anger and joy – seem to be experienced more intensely by those with Asperger profiles than by average people. In addition, some... more

FAMILY: Make Way for a New Definition

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 “Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt. That’s why I like vegetables; you know what they’re about.”Words by Tom Jones from The FantastiksCommonly Shared Family Expectations1.       Children will eat what is served.2.       Dinner is eaten as a family.3.       Families take vacations... more

Grandparent Power!

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The word "family" can evoke powerful memories and emotions. Thinking of family recalls the Robert Frost line, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” When grandparents are involved, the line could often be changed to, “…they can’t wait to take you in.”The relationships between kids and their... more

Grandchildren, Parents and Grandparents: Three Generations Working Together

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When I was first asked to speak to a special gathering of grandparents, I had a moment of panic. Being a grandparent is so complex: there’s so much to say and so little time. Then I realized that this is the perfect metaphor for our lives as grandparents. There’s so much we’d like to do, and not enough time!Since our lives are busy and... more

Guidelines for Neuropsychological Evaluations for Children and Teens

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To most parents hearing it for the first time, the term “neuropsych eval” is mysterious, a phrase that never comes up in toddler music classes, playground chat, or the mainstream parenting manuals. Parents facing the possibility that their child has developmental problems, however, must quickly become accustomed to it, because the... more

Helping Children Understand Time

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All children have challenges with understanding time, waiting, wondering when something will happen, or feeling like they’ve been doing homework for hours when it’s been 10 minutes. For children with Asperger profiles, these challenges can be even more difficult and will need more strategies and patient repetition to learn the concept. Because... more

How to Handle Meltdowns

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Many children with Asperger profiles have meltdowns. After a meltdown parents can feel exhausted and wonder if they responded correctly. If you have a child who has meltdowns, consider the following:Not all meltdowns look alike: There are a variety of behaviors that occur when a child has lost the ability to stay calm or regulated. They... more

Connecting To Humans: Some Ideas for Parents, Family and Professionals

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My name is Jennifer, I’m 42 years old, and I have Asperger Syndrome (AS). Lately I’ve been frequently asked to talk or write about dating, friendship, and relationships. This may be partly because I’ve been happily married for 14 years (to a man who also has AS), and socialize reasonably well with the “neurotypical” (NT) population. I... more

Asperger Profiles: Language and Communication

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Many people with Asperger profiles have complex vocabularies and sophisticated speech, but using language to communicate, also called pragmatics, is a different matter. The rules of everyday conversation that come intuitively to most people have to be actively learned by individuals with Asperger profiles. Difficulties arise in two spheres. First,... more

Living In Oz: One Parent’s Story

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Hello. My name is Kirsten Root and I have two sons with Asperger Syndrome. My 4 y.o. was diagnosed about a year ago and my 3 y.o. was diagnosed four days ago. I am very new to the world of Asperger Syndrome, so today I wanted to talk about how I am making sense of it all. The first thing I have learned is that I can’t use figures of speech or... more

Neurodiversity

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Diagnostic labels, by nature, define disorders and tend to ignore the strengths, gifts, and adaptive benefits of the individuals diagnosed. In contrast to this, the Asperger constellation of traits has more recently been described as the product of natural variations in human neurology that lead to differences in individual experiences,... more

Sensory Processing and the Sensory Budget

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How do we know anything at all about the world? Our sensory system is responsible for accurately taking in information so our brain can interpret this information and then do something with it. For everyone, this process happens instantaneously and continuously throughout the day: “I see red, I see round, I hear bouncing, I smell... more

Asperger Profiles: Common Characteristics

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As we look in detail at some strengths and challenges you might see in a person with an Asperger profile, keep in mind that people with these profiles are not all alike; they may differ from one another even more in respect to their areas of strength than in their areas of challenge.Possible Asperger StrengthsCommon Asperger... more

Asperger Profiles: Developmental Delays

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Every person with Asperger Syndrome is developmentally delayed, not intellectually, but at the social-emotional level. This delay can be significant; for example, a 21-year-old may seem socially and emotionally more like a 14-year-old. The social consequences of being developmentally delayed often become particularly conspicuous during the middle... more

Simple Steps to Help Your Child Follow Through on Tasks

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Many parents find that their children resist doing jobs at home especially when tasks have multiple steps that are not explicit. Daily requests like; ”Clean your room,” or “Take the trash out”, or “We’re leaving, get ready,” or  “Play with your sister,” may seem to be ignored or result in a meltdown. But there are strategies... more

Basic Guidelines for Choosing an Advocate for Your Child

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Working with your school district to ensure your child is receiving an appropriate education can be challenging. Often parents feel they are not equal members of their children’s educational team, and that decisions are not always made with their child’s unique needs in mind. Add the complexities of special education laws, with timelines and... more

Asperger Profiles: Successful Adults

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People with Asperger profiles can and are successful writers, doctors, artists, professors, scientists, therapists, and executives among many other careers. Because the diagnosis is relatively new, few living high-profile adults have disclosed their own Asperger diagnoses. Among those who have disclosed their diagnoses include comedian Dan Aykroyd... more

Teaching Resilience to Children with Asperger Profiles

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Perhaps you, too, have had this experience. A child—let’s call him Joey—is in the middle of a meltdown, and a well-intentioned adult advises him to take some deep breaths. (Perhaps you have even been that adult.) There’s just one problem—the child has never had any prior instruction in deep breathing, or any opportunity to rehearse using... more

Asperger Profiles: Understanding Strengths and Challenges

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When parenting, teaching, befriending, treating, working alongside, or supervising someone with an Asperger profile:Consider both the person’s challenges and his or her strengths. Balance acceptance with teaching necessary skills. Strengths-based interventions foster hope, inspiration, and energy. People with Asperger profiles... more

Helping Your Child Learn How to Be Calm

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Many children with Asperger profiles are easily frustrated, have strong reactions to change and have a more difficult time calming themselves when they are upset. Many parents have found it helpful to use the following strategy to help their children learn how to calm themselves when they are frustrated, angry or anxious. Step 1: Observe and Get... more

Strategies for Surviving the Holidays

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With Your Extended Family: Normalize the chaos.  Don’t expect that everything will go perfectly even if you preview, plan and use every strategy in the book.  Decide for yourself what is really important and what you can live without.  One mom who had been very keen on the perfect family photo in front of the Christmas tree... more

Throw Away The Yardstick or The Blessing of the Diagnosis

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Many of us started this journey through the now famous metaphor of visiting Holland. If you haven’t read Emily Perl Kingsley’s brilliant essay on having a child with special needs, read it here. In it, she compares getting ready to have a baby to planning a trip to Italy—only expectant parents could think of parenting as a trip to one of... more

Asperger Syndrome and Young Children: Building Skills for the Real World

Recommended Reading
Teresa Bolick is an experienced and trusted child psychologist who has shared her wisdom with the AANE community at many of our conferences. In this book she offers parents a compassionate perspective and practical strategies for raising children with Asperger profiles.Learn More and... more

Dear Grandma and Grandpa, I’m Not a Bad Kid

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Dear Grandma and Grandpa,I know you think I'm rude sometimes. The last time you tried to take me to the movies I screamed and put my hands over my ears because it was too loud and you got mad at me and said I ruined the movie for my little sister. Afterwards, when I was pacing in the back of the restaurant, you told me I needed to sit down... more

Asperger Syndrome and Bullying: Strategies and Solutions

Recommended Reading
Bullying is a serious problem for people with Asperger profiles, both at school and in the workplace. Displaying "different" behavior, such as not understanding social rules or hand-flapping, exacerbates the risk of being victimized. Nick Dubin describes the bullying behavior he and others have... more

Parenting without Panic: A Pocket Support Group for Parents of Children and Teens on the…

Recommended Reading
Ever wish that parenting a child or teen on the autism spectrum came with instant access to a support group? Brenda Dater has provided parents with exactly that. In this book she draws on her extensive experience as a support group leader and parent of a child on the spectrum to offer trusted... more

Types of Help for Complex Children and Teens with Asperger Profiles

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When children are in crisis or things seem stuck, there is no silver bullet. Generally speaking there are only so many types of interventions one can try. Therefore, it’s critically important to re-examine key areas to see if something got missed, or if something needs to be tweaked or changed (or some member of the team needs to be swapped... more

Using Visual Schedules on the Weekend

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Ever have the experience of waking up Saturday morning with a plan for how the day should proceed?  Guess what, your child on the autism spectrum does too! Often the parent and child perspectives differ concerning what should happen during the weekend. One strategy that can help address these differing expectations and clarify what will happen is... more

Walk a Mile in Our Shoes

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Sometimes parents of children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) have the good fortune to encounter someone who really listens to our concerns, offers us emotional support or concrete help, or understands and appreciates our children. We are deeply grateful when we encounter one of these wonderful people, and never forget their kindness.All too... more

Welcome To Holland

Article
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make... more

Don’t Mourn for Us

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This article was published in the Autism Network International newsletter, Our Voice, Volume 1, Number 3, 1993. It is an outline of the presentation Jim gave at the 1993 International Conference on Autism in Toronto, and is addressed primarily to parents. Parents often report that learning their child is autistic was the most... more

Asperger Profiles: The Big Picture – Strengths

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People with Asperger profiles present with a complex and at times perplexing combination of strengths and challenges.Asperger brains process some kinds of information better than the brains of neurotypical people. Dr. Hans Asperger (1906-1980) said: “It seems that for success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential.” ... more

Asperger Profiles: The Big Picture-Challenges

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While respecting the abilities and humanity of people with Asperger profiles, one should not underestimate their struggles and suffering they might endure. A society designed for and dominated by the neurotypical majority can feel uncongenial and even overwhelming for a person with an Asperger... more

Asperger Profiles: Invisibility

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It is important to understand and respect that someone with perceptual differences might need support while navigating a social landscape and culture predominantly shaped by neurotypical influences; their challenges may not be obvious to others. The gap between intellectual ability and functional presentation complicates the Asperger experience... more

Executive Function Challenges in Children with Asperger Profiles

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What Is It, What Does It Mean for Kids, and What Can Be Done?Executive function is the ability to plan, organize and manage complex tasks. Executive function allows us to develop and apply problem-solving skills as circumstances call for them. We need executive function skills to deal with the stream of decision points we encounter throughout... more

Dear Parents of Typical Kids

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Dear parents of typical kids, I could have been labeled a helicopter parent for my oldest son, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was 3 years old. When he started middle school 8 years ago, I tried to arrange for neighborhood kids to walk or bike to and from school together. I knew that other parents were not making plans for their kids.... more

How Parent Coaching Helped Me

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Ross Kramer shares how Parent Coaching helped his family get on the right track.Sign up for Parent... more