One of the behavioral traits seen in kids with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism is a lack of "demonstrated" empathy (i.e., they can empathize, but may not show it). They don’t realize that other people have thoughts and interests that are different from theirs. They’ll interrupt a conversation and start churning out facts about their pet interest (e.g., medieval history, Star Wars’ trivia, Math, etc.) even if it has nothing to do with what the other kids are talking about. This and their lack of other social skills (e.g., looking others in the eyes when conversing, responding appropriately to greetings and questions, understanding fads and the interests of peers, etc.) makes making friends very difficult for Aspergers kids.
With some Aspergers kids, social abilities remain intact or aren’t really noticed until around age eight. It is around this time that their peers begin perceiving them as “different.” The "Aspie" is singled out for teasing. In addition, he may be seen as oppositional because kids with Aspergers take words and gestures very literally. Communication with Aspergers kids must be “concrete” (i.e., brief and easily understood).
Your son can be taught most of the same social skills that youngsters without Aspergers learn on their own. You can work with your son’s school to produce cards or posters with facial expressions that define feelings. Also, full-length mirrors can be used to make these kids aware of their facial expressions and overall body language. You and his teachers can role play social situations with him to help him learn appropriate responses and actions.
On a related note, it is critical that schools become fully equipped to help children with Aspergers. The number of schools with diagnostically appropriate services will increase when parents, doctors, and social service practitioners lobby educational institutions for assistance in teaching these students.
Until the school provides more assistance with your son, there are a number of things that you can do at home. For example, surround your son with friends and family so he will have familiar people around on a consistent basis. If your son is intimidated by a large number of people, just have one friend over at a time.
In addition to friends, you can train your son in appropriate social and perceptual skills. He can learn to perceive and interpret nonverbal behaviors, process visual and auditory information, and become aware of social/behavioral conventions.
To help you help your son, go on the internet and look for Aspergers support groups. Also, look for a group in your area. If there is none available, there are people who stay in touch via the internet. Whether in person or over the internet, they can give you advice and support which will help you help your son.
When attempting to share information with schools about Aspergers, help teachers and other staff to understand the following:
- Aspergers is not mental retardation. Some autistic people may be very intelligent — there is a lot of evidence that Albert Einstein may have been autistic.
- Aspergers is not "savant" syndrome. Some autistic people are "savants," (e.g., instant calculator, etc.) but most are not. Other autistic people are "gifted," however, and have high "general" intelligence. Many autistic people have normal intelligence, and some may be retarded.
- Aspergers is not an emotional problem. Aspergers is a neurological condition which people are usually born with. Psychological trauma doesn't cause it.
- Aspergers is not a psychosis or lack of reality contact.
- People do not choose to be autistic.
- Aspergers is not "a fate worse than death." Autistic people have some disadvantages, but some live very happy and rewarding lives. Many autistic people wouldn't want to be "cured," as this would be like erasing them and replacing them with different people.
• Anonymous said... Hmmmmm,there is no answer.We show them the proper ways and the kids of today are so far off that they cannot handle our kids with very graceful manners.I feel like it is a lost cause.I have seen too many people look at my daughter as if she were from Mars.
• Anonymous said... My 5 yr old grandchild is already getting bullied in our neighborhood. She just started kindergraden and Im afraid of how they will treat her in school. She doesnt react the same way as other children
• Anonymous said... Not sure if this helps but early on ...I put my child in a GirlScout group and helped the group (using role play) to identify different ways they could demonstrate with their body exclusion or how to ostracize someone from a group. For example: Crossing their arms and turning away from their friend, rolling their eyes, not answering their friend when they spoke to them. We then talked about how this affected the person and if they ever felt this way or saw this happen to someone else. Group behavior changed immediately when we talked about ways to include with body language and words. Most children are learners and don't even realize what they are doing when they are younger. This group of girls (from what I'm told because we moved) have continued to be "helpers." If you can get your child in a group with other children and teach them social skills that is your answer. If all schools incorporated this into their program at the elementary school level it would cut down on a lot of bullying behavior.
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