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Aspergers Children & Social Anxiety

"I am trying to get my 11 yr old son to participate in group therapy. When it is time for him to go in, he flips out and gets so upset that he physically gets sick. What are some tips to help him with this?"

Social anxiety isn't something that only affects children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism. It affects children with all kinds of mental conditions as well as those with physical issues, weight issues and other differences that mentally or physically distinguish them from the general populace. The distinction may not necessarily be a real one but could, and often does, only exist in the subject's mind. Social anxiety is so great an issue that it's considered to be the third largest psychological problem in the world today.

Social anxiety isn't limited to difficulty meeting people in face to face conversation but also includes:
  • Being Watched
  • Chats
  • Facebook
  • Instant Messaging
  • Recording (video and photo Cameras, microphones, etc.)
  • Simply Going Outdoors in Public Places
  • Social Occasions
  • Telephone Conversations

Aspergers kids tend to walk a line that varies between total fear and no fear, depending largely upon the individual. Some Aspergers kids aren't afraid of face-to-face verbal interactions but just aren't very good at it. Constant negative feedback however can often tip the scales.

The best ways to reduce social anxiety, particularly in the school years, revolve around "jumping straight in" – regardless of how scared the individual might be. This doesn't work well at younger ages (5 and below), where such fears can lead to meltdowns, but it's quite acceptable for school-age children and teens.

When I was at school, I had a "buddy" teacher (a teacher who became a good and trusted friend). One day this teacher picked me out of the class and said that he had noted that I was good with history and thought that I should join the debating team. He gave me a couple of days to sign up on my own – but I didn't. Then he joined me up and informed me that I was now committed. At first, I was a little annoyed but he made it clear that he thought it would be good for me and that he would be supporting me all the way.

The teacher led me on with the promise of replacing me when a suitable person could be found. Of course, now I can see that it was all a ploy and I went on "debating tour" and was forced to confront my demons.

Around the same time, the teacher suggested that I take "drama" as one of my elective subjects. I had absolutely no desire to act and I really couldn't see the point of drama but he told me that it was an essential skill. In retrospect, I have to agree.

There's absolutely no mistaking the importance of public speaking and acting for children with Aspergers. Amongst other things, it helps you to lose the "monotone" in your voice – a feature that Aspergers kids are famous for. It also prepares you for "acting the rest of your life".

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Anonymous said...

You should go in with him or switch to private therapy. Anything that traumatic for him cant possibly result in much good after all that upset.

Anonymous said...

Karen Williams
We have had the same exact problem with my AS son, same age, trying to to social skills groups! He never wants to be in a group setting with kids he does not know and has had major anxiety and refusal before also. The therapists there were able to coax him back eventually, and he did much better after he knew exactly what to expect and it became a routine, though he continues with this difficulty when he does other group related therapies. It is so hard for him!
4 hours ago · Like
Mishael Ivison McCoy My son too was 11 when we tried group therapy & we had the same experience. Once we put him into individual therapy he did awesome. I hope this helps, I know it's a rough road as a parent. However it's our road, our normal. ;)
4 hours ago · Like
Brenda Garza does he do better once he gets there? if not, it might be better to hold off and wait till he's older or more willing to go. or try a different place. it could really be something as simple as the way someone smells... try talking to him and see if he can tell you what he doesn't like.

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

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...