Aspergers Children and "Rigidity"

One frequently observed feature of Aspergers (high functioning autism) is rigidity in thought and behavior. Rigidity seems to pervade so many areas of the lives of children with Aspergers.

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Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Leanne Strong said...

I'm 23 (24 at the end of June) and have Asperger Syndrome. Here are some more examples of rigid thinking in people on the Autism Spectrum:

Jane's dad said he would pick her up at 3:00, but he actually arrives at 2:59. Jane is very upset that her dad did not come to pick her up at the exact time he said he would, and lets him know how upset she is. Jane is on the Autism Spectrum. Like many people on the spectrum, Jane's thinking is very literal and concrete. When Jane's dad said he would pick her up at 3:00, she expected that he would pick her up at EXACTLY 3:00.

Cody notices that his teacher gives a classmate a detention for coming to class late one day. But another student comes to class late one day (on either the same day or a different day) and the same teacher seems completely cool with it. Cody tells the teacher that s/he is being unfair by giving one classmate a detention for showing up late, but another classmate gets off scot free for doing the same thing (showing up late to class). Other people might think Cody is just trying to be mean to this teacher, but Cody most certainly is NOT trying to be mean AT ALL! Cody is on the Autism Spectrum. He does not easily understand when certain rules don't need to be followed. He remembers how adults and older kids have taught him that he needs to be fair, and that fairness means everyone gets the exact same snack. Or the exact same number of turns on the monkey bars at recess. He also doesn't understand how what he does or says makes other people feel. Cody may even be thinking, "how could what I said have hurt this teacher's feelings? All I did was tell him/her like it is."

Shaniqua overhears a peer saying "move over," instead of, "excuse me." She tells this peer. "you should know by now that you're supposed to say 'excuse me.'" Others might think Shaniqua is just trying to make the other kid feel bad about saying "move over," but that most certainly is NOT Shaniqua's intention. Shaniqua has a very mild form of Autism. The adults and older kids in her life have always taught her to say "excuse me," instead of, "move over," and she likely does not realize that this peer has not been taught this.

Ryan is at the park, and a kid he doesn't recognize asks him if he wants to play. Ryan says, "NO!" The other kid might be thinking, "why doesn't he want to play with me?" Ryan isn't saying, "NO," because he really doesn't want to play with that kid. Ryan is on the Autism Spectrum. Like many people on the Autism Spectrum, he is very rigid and concrete in his thinking, and doesn't understand that there are times when certain rules don't need to be followed. Adults and older kids have always taught him to say no to strangers, and he doesn't understand that this is a situation where this rule doesn't need to be followed.

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