Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
Son Has High Expectations/Disappointment Issues
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Son Has High Expectations/Disappointment Issues

My 11-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome will have expectations that are often too high for upcoming events and will get very disappointed if they don't meet his expectations. One time something like this happened last month on his birthday. He was very excited to open his presents and had very high expectations for them (meaning that he thought that he'd get things he wanted and nothing else) . Afterwards, he ended up not getting the thing he wanted and was very upset and disappointed, then ran out of the room crying. I am very upset about this. He and his therapist talk about his high expectations and disappointment a lot. The therapist tells him to "lower his expectations", but that seems hard for my son. My son says he "can't control his expectations", which is a problem. Another incident happened last week. I signed my son up for a camp every weekday afternoon that week where you can make movies (he loves doing that kind of stuff). My son was very excited and wrote a whole "plot" for his movie. But as soon as he got there on the first day, it wasn't what he wanted at all. When I picked him up that day, he was crying in the car about how it didn't go how he expected at all. Fortunatley, the person in charge of the camp is nice enough to let kids try it and stop if they don't like it, so I let my son stop. I'm nervous about this because his high expectations and disappointment may get worse as he gets older. He can do a few things to calm down like jump on his trampoline outside or play his Nintendo systems in the playroom, but his disappointmet still remains. Please Help!
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You might consider addressing this issue by making your son aware of your expectations for his behavior. It would be appropriate to teach him that he should show appreciation (in whatever way is reasonable for him) for presents even if he is disappointed. Likewise, he should be expected to participate appropriately in his chosen activities even if they don't immediately meet his expectations. When talking with him, try to minimize focus on what was disappointing and try to help him to identify any positive aspects of these situations. He will need specific skills for these situations, and it would be best if you could practice these at home through role-play.
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Jason C Bourret, Ph.D., BCBA-DBlank
The New England Center for Children
Southborough, MA
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