"My son really struggles making and keeping friends. Is there anything I can do to help him with this? He is content to play by himself for the most part, but I can tell he feels left out and would really enjoy have some playmates."
When a neurotypical child (i.e., child without Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism) makes friends, parents are not often involved in the choice of the friend or the facilitation of the friendship. But, the parents of an Aspergers child should be active participants in helping him make and keep solid friends.
Part of the process involves concretely teaching the Aspergers child how an "average" (for the lack of a better term) friend should act. Teaching him politeness, restraint in some situations, and how to talk and establish good eye contact with others will help this child learn skills that aren’t innate to his development.
Finding a child to be your son’s friend in the school situation often takes careful planning and effort. It genuinely helps if you volunteer in the classroom and get to know the other students well. If you can find a receptive, relatively quiet child who would make a good friend for your son, ask the child’s parents if the two could play together. Bear in mind that rowdy or noisy children may be a source of distress to the Aspergers child.
If your child is one of the many who have specific interests or musical ability, make the effort to link him up through groups or clubs of children with similar interests. Often, having a similar interest as another child will help facilitate a relationship between the two. Even if your son doesn’t have a special interest, consider something structured, such as the boy scouts or a church group, from which friends can be found and maintained through regular contact.
It’s probably not a good idea to invite a bunch of kids over for a sleepover. Rather, one child playing with your son at a time has the best chance of success. If the other child seems to have some maturity, explaining the condition of Aspergers to that child may help avoid the frustration some children feel around Aspergers kids.
Your son may not be receptive to a friendship in all cases, and he may prefer to play alone. In that case, wait until you see signs of receptiveness before attempting to facilitate a friendship.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook
· Anonymous said... Also when you see him having some interaction with other kids, make a fuss of him, show him that what he is doing is good and this will also encourage him.
· Anonymous said... Autism means our kids have gaps in their social and emotional development and ability to think flexibly (and therefore behave adaptively). There's no quick fix for this - it takes an NT child 5 - 10 years to learn all the complexities of friendship and thats kids without developmental gaps. We've used Relationship Development Intervention very successfully with my son to fill in some of those developmental gaps. He is now very connected to others. He still struggles with lots of things but he's much less egocentric and more able to step into the skin of what it means to be a friend.
· Anonymous said... How ever hard it may seem you need to keep putting your son into this social situation. Im thinking he is still young? As when they get older it does get a bit easier. My son has come on leaps and bounds by continuously putting him in the situation. Learning the correct social skills is very difficult for kids on the spectrum and if we force them into the situation then there will come a point where their interaction will change for the better.
· Anonymous said... I have the same problem with my 5 yr old. She cries when the kids outside don't want to play with her or goes in the house. It makes me sooo sad
· Anonymous said... It helps to practice what to say in different social situations; especially at the start of conversations. Really breaking it up in concrete language, like "when someone says hi, say hi", "when someone says I want to play say ok". I like power point- you can use clip art to illustrate a little social story book of potential scenarios (like when someone is playing with you remember not to walk away). Also getting together with other kids who share his common interests helps too. This is what I've learned with mine anyway!
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