High-Functioning Autistic Kids and Choosing to Be a "Loner"

"Is it common for children with high-functioning autism to have problems relating to their friends and classmates - and be somewhat of a ‘loner’?"

Although the social criteria for High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and classic autism are somewhat similar, the former disorder involves fewer symptoms and has a different presentation than does the latter.

Kids with HFA are often socially isolated, but are aware of the presence of others, even though their approaches may be inappropriate and odd (e.g., they may engage the listener in one-sided conversation using long-winded, pedantic speech about a favorite and narrow topic).

Although some kids with HFA are often self-described "loners," they often express an interest in making friends. These wishes are often hindered by their strange approaches and insensitivity to the other person's feelings, intentions, and nonliteral and implied communications (e.g., need for privacy, signs of boredom, desire to leave, etc.).

Chronically frustrated by their repeated failures to engage others and make friends, some of these children develop symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, which then can escalate into the desire to simply “stay to oneself.”

Regarding the emotional aspects of social interactions, kids on the autism spectrum may fail to interpret the context of the affective interaction, often demonstrating a sense of insensitivity, formality, or disregard to others’ emotional expressions.

Nonetheless, they may be able to describe correctly, in a cognitive and often formalistic manner, others’ emotions, expected intentions and social conventions, but are unable to act on this awareness in an intuitive and spontaneous manner, thus losing the tempo of the social exchange.

Such poor intuition and lack of spontaneity are often accompanied by a strong reliance on rigid social conventions and formalistic rules of behavior, which is mostly responsible for the impression of social naivete and behavioral rigidity that is so vigorously conveyed by these young people.

While children with classic autism are withdrawn and may seem to be unaware of - and disinterested in – others, children with HFA are often highly interested (sometimes painfully so) to relate to others, but may lack the skills to successfully engage them.

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


Paul S said...This is spot on! I have a 19 YO son with HFA and he wants - absolutely desires - to have close friends. Yet people keep him at a distance and sometimes reject him outright because of his "peculiar" behavior.

Unknown said...I have 3 boys with HFA and I didn't see them really make friends until they started attending schools/classes for HFA. Being around others like themselves seemed to make them more comfortable with approaching others. It has also given them a chance to work on social skills they normally would shy away from with guidance from school staff.

dsnyredhead said...This sounds so much like my 14 year old. He also seems to have no ability to understand how his appearance may affect things. He has refused haircuts now for a year and with high school orientation this week, he still refuses. He will be going to a new school (for him) with all new kids, and he refuses to get his hair cut..or shave to make his appearance better. He says "it's my hair!". Ugh. A whole year later. Nothing has changed. He starts 10th grade this week. He did shave a few times early last year. That's it. Now a pretty full beard and long hair. Fortunately, it's a quirky arts type charter so he fits in there. Still no friendships that I know of.

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