HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search This Site

Inaccurate Stereotyping of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

"Is it fair to say that some people unfairly stereotype children and teenagers who have an autism spectrum disorder? It seems to me that society views this population as "trouble-makers" or mentally handicapped - and even dangerous (e.g., they get blamed for some school shootings), which is just plain ignorant in my opinion. What's your opinion please?"

Young people with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are often viewed largely in negative terms by some. And to make matters worse, this inaccurate stereotyping often leads to inappropriate interventions, which can lead to long-term damage.

Here are some examples of stereotyping. A child with Aspergers or HFA:
  • Can't do things that require social interaction, especially with strangers
  • Dislikes establishing eye contact
  • Dislikes using the telephone, preferring email or person-to-person instead
  • In social situations with a lot of noise and conversations, has trouble hearing and easily gets disoriented
  • Is easily depressed
  • Is not very good at small talk, especially intimate bantering
  • Often assumes that any comments or remarks require a response
  • Often does not care what other people think
  • Often fails to read other peoples' standard body language
  • Often feels rejected if an important project or idea gets a mixed or lukewarm response
  • Often makes others very angry because of the way he or she interacts
  • Often responds angrily to frustrating situations
  • Often says things in conversation that are inappropriate, divergent, or tactless
  • Talks forever, without pause, about favorite topics
  • Usually keeps silent and does not interact if faced with a question or topic that is difficult to answer

Do some children and teens with Aspergers/HFA have some of these characteristics to varying degrees from time to time? Yes.

Do all of these young people have all of these characteristics all the time? No.

It has been well documented that those on the autism spectrum are vulnerable individuals who will face certain difficulties. These are often highlighted by people who see only the negatives rather than the positives such differences could represent. This lack of positive awareness, combined with an inconsistency of knowledge, can lead to inaccurate stereotyping and resultant interventions that are far more harmful than helpful.

The reality is that a children with Aspergers and HFA are  unique individuals who have a lot of skills and abilities. Yet, they are often deemed incapable of learning; thus, an ability to achieve much in life may be overlooked. All too often, the focus continues to be on forcing them to fit into damaging, inflexible environments, which not only prohibits them from reaching their full potential, but also contributes to long-term mental health problems that could otherwise be avoided.

Having an autism spectrum disorder can be worrying and upsetting for all those concerned, but there will be areas in which these "special needs" kids will excel compared to the general population. For example:
  • A sensitivity to sound could lead to working in sound recording or music.
  • With a sensitivity to the taste and texture of food and drink, people with Aspergers and HFA could become great gastronomes and food critics.
  • A sensitivity to visual information can be useful in photography, drawing and visualization used by architects and artists.
  • These individuals are generally free from sexism or racism.
  • They can be very sensitive to the plight of disadvantaged people around the world. 
  • They can use their sensitivity and wider differences to help others who are in the same position as themselves, or act as arbiters and mediators in dispute situations.
  • They have proved themselves to be great innovators and inventors – not only of products, but also of ideas concerning literacy and story-telling.
  • They often speak out frankly and honestly; they are sincere truth-tellers who will tend to follow the rules of the job.
  • Many are intelligent and have high IQs. They may, for example, have an excellent memory for facts and figures, or a good memory for past situations.
  • Many possess powers of deduction that, when coupled with an attention to detail, could be useful in criminal investigations.
  • People with Aspergers and HFA tend to make very loyal friends.

Little research has been conducted into “gifted” individuals, although those who are described as such often show the same qualities seen in people on the spectrum. Individuals with high IQs question the world which surrounds them. They are usually single-minded and can throw themselves into their work for long, intense periods. These are all aspects associated with the "disorder."

In short, the way these young people think should be regarded as a positive attribute, which the rest of society can learn from. When their differences are embraced, the positives definitely can outweigh the negatives. The goal should not be about “normality,” but encompassing acceptance, love, and communication.


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

No comments:

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers 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 Aspergers Children

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 child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s 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 Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers 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 Aspergers 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 Aspergers 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...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content