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Aspergers and Loneliness

It is hard to know if kids with Aspergers (high functioning autism) are as lonely as their moms and dads believe they are. Therapists do know that playing with a friend, making a friend and being with a friend are "overwhelming skills" for Aspergers children. Kids without Aspergers make no sense to "Aspies," because Aspies are totally preoccupied with their own agendas.

Teaching Aspergers children social skills is a big task for moms and dads and educators. It is not like teaching the child how to ride a bicycle or tie a shoe, but rather trying to teach something no one formally taught you. How do you teach someone how to read a room, especially someone who has no understanding of other individual's emotions and body language? Kids with Aspergers have no idea about how to reason socially and come up with proper courses of action in social situations (e.g., one guy with Aspergers got lost in the school corridors on his way to gym. He had forgotten the route, but he did not think to simply follow his classmates to the gym).

Yet therapists emphasize the need to teach Aspergers children social skills because they desperately need them to get along in life. The Aspie’s lack of social understanding virtually colors every other experience in his/her life. Yet the question of whether kids with Aspergers are truly lonely and want friends is a different discussion. Like all kids, some are extroverted and others are more withdrawn. Like all kids, they probably vary in their need for social interactions.

When researchers ask kids with Aspergers about friendship, they are usually very negative. They think of friendship with other kids as too much work and often prefer grown-ups. For example, when a teacher was forcing a six-year-old to participate in a playgroup with other kids, he said, "I hate kids. I don't play with kids. I'm not a kid. I was born a grown-up." Michael, a fourteen-year-old with Aspergers advises other Aspergers children, "If you like being on your own, then be happy with your own company and don't let anyone convince you its wrong." His advice to ‘pushy moms and dads’ is "Never force your youngster to socialize. Most Aspergers children and autistic individuals are happy to just be by themselves."

However, these kids might be happier by themselves because social activity has caused them so much pain in the past. In one study, gifted kids with Aspergers could not describe friendship in positive terms such as "a friend is someone who is nice to you." They had only negative associations such as "a friend is someone who does not hit you." These kids told interviewers only about how mean other children had been to them and seemed to lack any idea of what reciprocal friendship really means.

Yet as Aspergers children go through the teen years, most realize that they are missing out by not fitting in. It is at this point in their lives that they crave friendships with peers, yet this unfulfilled desire on top of high school pressure to conform, constant rejection and harassment can often cause depression in Aspie teenagers. They grow more isolated even as they crave more interaction with other teenagers. Young Aspie kids often believe everyone in their class is the same and everyone is a potential friend. Aspie teenagers know better.

Research shows that the more time a person with Aspergers spends socializing, the happier she is. Aspergers children can and do form friendships. When they do, research shows that even one friendship will speed up their entire social development.

People married to someone with Aspergers often talk about their own feelings of loneliness. They tell counselors that marriage to a person with Aspergers feels like living alone. An Aspie husband/wife often does not attend to details like anniversaries, may not connect with the couple's kids on an emotional basis, and may not benefit from marriage counseling. A parent of a youngster with Aspergers may feel rejection when their youngster refuses to cuddle or express affection. The youngster's needs are unrelenting and yet the moms and dads' rewards are sometimes rare. Brothers and sisters hide their lonely feelings about living in a family where their Aspie sibling monopolizes their moms and dads' precious time and they miss the normal give and take of sibling relationships. Many siblings believe that the Aspie's “disability” is an advantage …a passport to special attention, recognition and privilege.

Helping kids with Aspergers develop social skills will no doubt become easier in the future. Every day educators are developing better techniques. Researchers are closing in on the genetic and environmental causes of Aspergers and may someday develop a cure. There is promising new research being conducted in a study on "Friendship and Loneliness in Individuals with Aspergers." Perhaps someday the answers will be clearer for individuals with Aspergers and those who love them.

Aspergers Teens and Social Isolation—

In the teenage world where everyone feels insecure, teens that appear different are ostracized. Aspergers teens often have odd mannerisms. For example, they may talk in a loud un-modulated voice, avoid eye contact, interrupt others, violate others’ physical space, and steer the conversation to their favorite “weird” topic. Aspie teens may appear willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because they are unable to share thoughts and feelings with others. Isolated and alone, many Aspergers adolescents are too anxious to initiate social contact.

Many Aspie teens are stiff and rule-oriented and act like little grown-ups – a deadly trait in any adolescent popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for a person with Aspergers, even though he wants it more than anything else.

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Anonymous said...

I do get lonely sometimes, but I have a partner, and family and a couple of friends I see occasionally and that usually seems to be enough.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you feel this way too, but it seems like I really want to be alone and don't like being around people, but at the same time I desire really deep connections with people. I don't want to be socializing all the time, but I need something, and it has to be more than just the normal shallow kind of friendship, or I can't be bothered with it.

Anonymous said...

I have aspergers and I have over 1500 friends. it’s just a raise in intelligence

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem...I’m 20....I get some social satisfaction out of Yahoo and it helps to hear from people like you who are struggling with the same problem and It makes me feel better.

Anonymous said...

I think what would be best for you is to have a couple of close friends. You might be able to meet people with similar interests online, who live near you.

Anonymous said...

I'd also spend time on online communities, like RPGs (text based, so there was a lot of discussion going on in the forums), and while that's not a substitute for friends (in fact, some studies have shown that when you replace real relationships with online ones it can contribute to depression), it seemed to be enough for me.

Anonymous said...

If you're like that, it would explain why having a boyfriend helps - because that one deep connection is pretty much enough.

Anonymous said...

I'm like you, I've always found socializing difficult (social phobia), but I have no problem understanding people. I'm just very insecure, and my nerves get in the way of saying and doing the right things. While I meet some of the criteria for Asperger's, I'm pretty sure I don't have it. I think some of the symptoms just overlap with other disorders like social phobia and schizotypal and schizoid personality disorders (a couple of weird ones that I meet a lot of the criteria for).

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I have Aspergers but I am 23 and my whole life I have felt very different from everyone else, socializing was always hard for me. I can pick up on social cues and I understand people's emotions but I'm a loner type and I've never had very many friends. I usually have a bf, which helps, but right now I do not. I try to develop hobbies and to make happy, but when I'm not around people I feel so lonely. What do you do when you don't have friends? How to you keep from being lonely?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you might not have Asperger's. They generally aren't good at picking up on social cues etc., which is why they're bad at socializing. They can't relate to people very well or feel empathy towards people. In your case it sounds like something else is causing socializing to be hard for you.

Anonymous said...

Well, The BF thing is good. I'm 16 with aspergers and never been kissed so at least you got something going for you, I’ve only really started socializing recently. But for the past few years I was horribly lonely and depressed. (And not just fake emo depressed). Like I really had no-one. I've always found hobbies to be helpful (personally I just played chess a lot) but if they haven't worked for you I'm not sure... Video games can help but I'm too sure about it if you’re a girl. Try Sims maybe? Lol

Anonymous said...

When I didn't have friends, which I pretty much didn't in the last couple of years of high school (I could have hung out with people if I wanted but I couldn't be bothered because I didn't like them that much), I didn't feel all that lonely because my passion in life was poetry and other writing. I'd read a lot and write poetry and that strangely sort of fills the gap pretty well. I suppose because poetry is so personal and reading other people's poetry is like having them speak to you. And poets are often lonely, sensitive types, so I could relate to what they were saying. Maybe there's something like that for you?

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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.

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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.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content