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Helping Aspergers and HFA Children Develop Nonverbal Communication Skills


"My son doesn’t seem to understand others’ nonverbal messages, and he isn’t very good at sending clear nonverbal messages either. Are there ways to teach nonverbal communication?"

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Unknown said...

The following is part of my subjective experience as an Aspergian child. I was only recently diagnosed and do not yet know how typical this is for an Aspergian child.

I hope the below is helpful to someone in some way. Please feel free to ask questions and to comment and I will respond. I realize this is incomplete. I hope to soon add more and to clarify. Thank you so much.

As a young Aspergian child in Australia, I long did not understand the usual social cues at all. [I also had very little contact with other children when very young.] It was like I looked at a person and I just saw his/her x-ray. I didn't know how, I just often felt powerful raw emotions emanating from that person, sometimes almost knocking me over striking like lightning or freezing me. Whether that reading of emotions was correct or not is another question. . And the overall vibration from an environment had a tremendous effect on my behavior. As a young child of 4 or 5, one place where I felt wonderful vibrations during the short I was there was a kindergarten focusing on painting and drawing. The woman in charge, Myra Morgan, who came from Vancouver was magic. I was utterly thrilled that my questions were always answered. I would draw a grandmother or grandfather and had to run and ask for the spelling. I picked up about numbers and how to write them. At first I wandered if a number could even exist if no one had ever counted to it, though I got bored of creating numbers for myself shortly after counting to a thousand. I asked and learned about placeholders, larger and larger, a million, a billion. What on earth would the largest number look like? I realized it could never exist, and struggled to understand how the word "infinity" could not ever come to exist, and how could we have a name for something that did not exist? I picked up how to read and spell a whole lot.

When I started first grade in public school, the chaos almost all seemed so violent and I was utterly frozen. I had to write with my right hand and had no idea how to write or read anything. I couldn't speak. I barely understood a word that anyone said. The teachers called me retarded. Besides the children who bullied me, I only remember there was one very gentle girl, Helen Brown, who I loved inside and seemed my one sunshine.

In second grade in a different school where I was judged retarded I was seemingly nonstop knocked on the ground, until I began to physically fight back nonstop until I was never let out for lunch.

I understood nothing about social cues. I was just knocked down by what I sensed as people's raw emotions.

When I started reading books, a vast new world opened for me vividly. The feelings in the imagination it awoke in me also evoked extreme emotions of wonder or also terrors which left me sleepless and then at times obsessively think of suicide. I absolutely had to avoid certain books.

I loved reading Homer .When I read a science fiction story at 7 which made me explode in excitement, I started to write science fiction and to study astronomy and physics... And then in realistic novels I finally learned how other people actually truly felt. I understood and deeply felt the characters' emotions which were largely new to me.

However in my world of passionate emotions, I still did not learn much about social cues. And rather than learning from what people talked to me about, I learned mostly about everything including life from books. I learned some things about social interaction from books. But unless I felt very positive things about another person, I would withdraw in spasms of terror that came to cripple me in social life,and I could not apply that knowledge to my life...

I hope the above is helpful to someone in some way. Please feel free to ask questions and to comment and I will respond. I realize this is incomplete. I hope to soon add more and to clarify. Thank you so much.

Unknown said...

I am now over 50, and was not diagnosed as with Asperger syndrome until a few years ago. I grew up in a time in which there was NO distinction between what we now call "developmental disability" and "autism-spectrum" disorders. For children who were different, there was only the one word: "retarded."
I hope the above description of my emotional and intellectual inner world, from birth through second grade, will help even one mother, or father, caregiver or teacher understand their AS child better. Remembering these years was emotionally frightening for me, and only the intent of helping parents or teachers better understand their AS children allowed me to conquer that fear.
I will do my best to continue to participate in this blog with that intent. Thank you.

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.

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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.

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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."

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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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