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David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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my son 37 just lost his job again that he held with a shelter

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my son 37 just lost his job again that he held with a shelter workshop for over 2 years. He has withdrawn to his apartment (after his melt down). He has high functioning asperger syndrome, drives, lives independently with some assistance from us (his parents) (paying bills, groceries, conversations). We don't know where to go from here how can we motivate him to understand he can not sit in is apartment alone! He has been trough many programs in the community with little signs of improvement! People that have worked with him are as frustrated as we are and he is! He needs to understand sitting in his apartment is not a option but we don't know where to go from here! He has been through therapy with little if any of his understanding of his goals in life!
Hi, and thanks for bringing your question to
Do you minds if I ask a few clarifying questions in order to provide you with a strong practical answer?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What kind of therapy has your son attended?

Do you mind describing his meltdown in more detail?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He has had approximately 1 1/2 years from a licensed Psyhchiatrist at our county mental health building. Meltdowns are refusing to cooperate with anyone that tries to help him understand. He then refuses to do anything and receives a termination notice. He retreats to his apartment advising us that he wants to be left alone. He then withdrawns only to come out for food. The only time he will contact us is when there is an issue his is concerned with (i.e. lights flickern (power outage). He will stay that way until we invite him to our house and when he gets upset with us talking to him he retreats back to his apartment because we are yelling at him (just talking).

What is it that people are trying to help him understand in relation to his meltdowns? Would you mind providing a short but detailed "snap-shot" description of what a typical meltdown looks and sounds like? For example, what's going on around him when they occur? When and where do meltdowns happen? Under what circumstances?

I realy appreciate your taking the time to clarify here. Thank you.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm thinking meltdowns at work are supervisor telling him what his is doing wrong explaning how to do it. I dont know what happens he seems to understand how to do it and lets everyone know that he knows how to do it but then doesnt complete the task as directed! He says he dosent' need or want a job coach. He has worked the job for more then 2 years they changed his rountine and explained how to do it! He rushes through the job not completing duties until the employer gets flustated and releases him.

The meltdowns I see are not being able to explain what happened in work and getting very flustrated when i repeat my questions or continue to get more information. He then tells me to go away and stop coming around to help him.

I don't know how to get him motivated or encourage him to seek help!

Seem the circustances of metldowns are high stressed situations!
Ok. Thank you for that detailed information. I'm going to prepare my answer now for your consideration. You can check back later today and decide if you'd like to accept the answer I provide.

I’d like to start my answer by complementing you on really sticking by your son and supporting him, even during challenging times like this one. I’ve given careful consideration to the information you provided me in your presenting question and in our chat.

It seems to me that that a part of your frustration relates to the lack of the positive impact you would like to see result from discussion and insight on your son’s part.

That ideally you would like him to problem solve with you, his supervisor at work and his counselor, and apply the resultant strategies to rectifying his choices and behavior related to work. As with neuro-typical adults, facing similar challenges related to work-avoidance and negative mood, it may be quite valuable here for you to look at adding a science-based intervention to your current approach of trying to explain and problem solve with your son.

What will likely help your son is a systematic behavioral intervention that looks at ways of increasing and maintaining your son’s motivation to follow through on work related tasks and to more effectively and pro-socially manage those situations (people, places, things etc.) that trigger and/or maintain your son’s meltdowns. An evidence- based and collaborative behavioral intervention will enable you to reliably rule out the extent to which environmental vs medical or non-behavioral interventions are better indicated. It will also very likely enhance the effectiveness of counseling based on insight and problem-solving, just as the behavioral component in the standard cognitive behavioral treatment approaches is the one the evidence shows gets the best and most long lasting results.

My suggestion here is to work with a board certified behavior analyst. Working with a behavior analyst represents one the most practical and cost effective ways of helping your son change and improve his behavior related to work and meltdowns. You may have heard about Applied Behavior Analysis in work with young children with autism. What most people don’t know is that the same scientific approach behind ABA interventions for autism can be applied to help a much higher functioning person like your son, or like me for that matter. A behavior analyst is specially trained to work collaboratively with your son and those in his life and to provide the best science-based strategies for addressing the behaviors you’ve described here.

If you do decide to work with an ABA specialist, I recommend that you:

Interview a number of behavior analysts (they usually do not charge for a first telephone or e-mail consult) and ask them about their experience working with adult clients who have high functioning Asperger’s. Most behavior analysts will ask very detailed questions. If they don’t have directly relevant experience, you can ask for referrals to behavior analysts who do have relevant work experience.

Ask for free internet links and other information sources to really help you learn about ABA and how it can best help your son. I’d then share as much info as you can with your son’s counselor and perhaps his supervisor at his new work setting. The more they know and understand about ABA the more likely they will develop a stronger commitment to working with such an approach by seeing how it will benefit everyone involved. This in turn will increase the likelihood that the intervention is successful.

You may also ask if there are any advanced ABA graduate students who are in the process of becoming board certified, who may be willing to work with you and your son for free or at a reduced rate, in order to accumulate experience hours for their practicum towards BCBA certification. Not only would this provide you with a free or reduced rate for service, but it would also insure that a highly trained and experienced supervisor is directly monitoring the ABA intervention.

Well I hope this answer is helpful. If I’ve missed something, please let me know what it is so I can try to address it by improving the answer for you. If you like the answer, please press the “accept button”. Thank you.

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