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Does my Aspergers child know what’s right and what’s wrong?

"Does my Aspergers child know what’s right and what’s wrong? It seems that he does not really know the difference."

On the surface, the issue of right and wrong appears to be a complicated one for Asperger’s children, but it is not. Children with Asperger’s have very firm ideas of right and wrong, and they can become argumentative with adults and peers over issues of proper or improper behavior. They are typically unable to consider shades of grey and will perceive issues in black or white terms; however, they can discuss those issues with an adult and come to an agreement when solutions are proposed to them.

The good news is that Asperger’s children are known for being able to follow clearly explained and set rules that are consistent, and this trait can be used to help them learn right from wrong. As these children mature, they will learn right from wrong in a rote manner at first; but later they will develop a greater understanding of why something is right or wrong.

An important factor is that the rules, and the explanation for the rules, should be explained in a manner that they understand, and the rules should be consistently enforced. In fact, their inclination to learn right from wrong can be so profound, it might seem that Asperger’s children are pre-programmed to detect right and wrong, and they might even bluntly announce that a request or activity is right or wrong. Also, they will take notice of others’ incorrect behavior, but not their own; this can be perceived as a double standard. In addition, they may not be able to show empathy for others, and this can lead to problems as they may do or say things that seem wrong because they may not be able to understand or empathize with another person’s feelings.

Children and adults who do not have a diagnosis of Asperger’s can relate to other people and engage effectively in social interactions with others because they are able to perceive things from another individual’s point of view. The ability to comprehend someone else’s point of view is the result of correctly perceiving speech patterns, body language, tone of voice, facial movements, and the situation in which communication is taking place.

Children with Asperger's and other autistic disorders can lack the capacity to relate to and understand others’ feelings or behavioral nuances, particularly on an emotional level. Also, the child’s inability to interpret someone else’s actions, whether deliberate or unintentional, can result in the child’s experiencing paranoia. This can result in inappropriate behavior.

Children with Asperger’s may not exhibit traditionally moral feelings or behaviors because Asperger’s denies them the ability to experience the capacity for some emotions and introspection on which society’s perceptions of morality are based. These children do not experience the feelings associated with traditional right and wrong; yet, they may possess a sense of ethics as well as a cognitive understanding of right and wrong.

Asperger’s does not completely remove a child’s awareness of correct and incorrect behavior; it does allow them to behave with a sense of socially acceptable morality if they are helped to do so.

The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide


•    Anonymous said... don't think it's about right vs wrong but more about interpretation. As an NT, we think about situations a certain way. Aspies usually see things a little differently. Once you understand their vision you can adjust the consequence accordingly.
•    Anonymous said... I can say that my son gets right vs wrong. but mostly be cause we have role played situations so much that it is in his rote memory now. He at least gets the general idea and if his impulsivity doesn't take over he will do right vs. wrong
•    Anonymous said... Mine certainly knows when someone else is "doing wrong." He will tell them the rules 80times over. His interpretation of the rules is not typical though. If someone asks him to please stop chewing his shirt he will say "oh, sorry" and immediately start chewing anything that is not his shirt.
•    Anonymous said... my daughter is 16 and she tells me everyday that its hard for her to behave
•    Anonymous said... My middle child seems to always be chewing on his shirts lately and I really don't think he even notices when he does it.
•    Anonymous said... My son sometimes doesn't get it and even if he gets it, he ignores the consequences, but can't help it. Its really hard for them. Their brains just cannot measure like ours.
•    Anonymous said... My son's perception is so non-typical. But, at least, SOMETIMES, he will admit, "I don't get it." I have to remind myself often,.... he's right, he REALLY doesn't get it!

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Leanne Strong said...


I have Asperger Syndrome, too. I like to think of the way a person on the Autism Spectrum understands rules and codes of behavior as being like a traffic light with only a red light (stop) and a green light (go). No yellow light (proceed with caution-slow down and get ready to stop, and you may or may not need to), and no arrows (it's only ok to go in this direction). For us, either it's safe to go in all directions or it's not safe to go at all. You don't proceed with caution. There are never any times where it's only safe to go in a certain direction. For a lot of people on the Autism Spectrum, something is either always right or always wrong. Either it's always this or it's always that, with no middle ground.

So on the outside, it might look like we don't know right from wrong, because most of us lack empathy for others, and we tend to be very blunt with people. But on the inside, we have a very rigid sense of right and wrong.

Most neurotypical understand that there is right and wrong, but to them, what's right and wrong depends on the situation. For most people on the Autism Spectrum, what is right and wrong depends on what we have been taught and expected to do ourselves.

Unknown said...

My bfs son has sensory disorder and aspergers. He's 4 years old almost 5. And today he almost pushed my four year old into a bike and started to laugh about it. How do I explain to him correctly that it is not okay to push people or anything violent. Because he has been getting really violent towards all the kids in our house and we don't know if it could be because he is an only child at his mom's or not

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...