Many emotional concepts are difficult for kids with Aspergers. Love is probably one of the most complicated emotions of all. The lack of empathy and inflexibility that many kids with Aspergers live with will definitely make understanding the concept of love difficult – difficult, but not impossible.
It is sometimes hard to separate the idea of a person with Aspergers loving someone from the true source of difficulty, which is the concept of theory of mind. People with Aspergers feel a full range of emotions: anger, sadness, joy, and yes, love. However, the problem lies in connecting these feelings to the feelings of others. Theory of mind is understanding that another person's thoughts and feelings are their own and how they can coincide with ours, even though they are not reliant on what we are feeling.
The possibilities are there for your son with Aspergers. Love is an emotion that he can come to understand. Here are some things you can do to make sure that happens:
- If your son is still young, behavioral therapists can use play therapy to enhance your son's theory of mind. Pretend play can be difficult for kids with Aspergers due to the close connection with understanding another's feelings. Play skills are important for developing relationships on many levels.
- If your son is older, social skills therapy can help him work on social cues, facial expressions, and basic communication, which in turn, will enhance his theory of mind abilities.
- Practice facial expression and recognition with pictures in books or family photographs. Explain the emotion and the cause. Using the ‘say, see, hear' approach to enhance his understanding.
- Social stories and comic strips can also be used to show situations that cause different emotional responses. Use these to explain why other people may react in various situations.
The process of developing theory of mind is ongoing in kids with Aspergers. Love is only a small part of this very complex equation. While love may be a tricky emotional concept for kids with Aspergers, the basic idea of love is very real. Balancing the feelings of love within a relationship is what will bring on a variety of experiences, both positive and negative. With straight forward discussion about feelings and emotions, your son should be able to understand love, and be successful at it.
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