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Aspergers Children and Problems in Social Interactions


Children with Aspergers (high functioning autism) may develop problems in their abilities to successfully engage in interpersonal relationships.

Social impact—

Aspergers may lead to problems in social interaction with peers. These problems can be severe or mild depending on the child. Kids with Aspergers are often the target of bullying at school due to their idiosyncratic behavior, precise language, unusual interests, and impaired ability to perceive and respond in socially expected ways to nonverbal cues, particularly in interpersonal conflict. Kids with Aspergers may be overly literal, and may have difficulty interpreting and responding to sarcasm, banter, or metaphorical speech. Difficulties with social interaction may also be manifest in a lack of play with other kids.

The above problems can even arise in the family; given an unfavorable family environment, the youngster may be subject to emotional abuse. A youngster or teenager with Aspergers is often puzzled by this mistreatment, unaware of what has been done incorrectly. Unlike other pervasive development disorders, most kids with Aspergers want to be social, but fail to socialize successfully, which can lead to later withdrawal and asocial behavior, especially in adolescence. At this stage of life especially, they risk being drawn into unsuitable and inappropriate friendships and social groups. People with Aspergers often interact better with those considerably older or younger than themselves, rather than those within their own age group.

Kids with Aspergers often display advanced abilities for their age in language, reading, mathematics, spatial skills, and/or music—sometimes into the "gifted" range—but this may be counterbalanced by considerable delays in other developmental areas. This combination of traits can lead to problems with teachers and other authority figures. A youngster with Aspergers might be regarded by teachers as a "problem child" or a "poor performer." The youngster’s extremely low tolerance for what they perceive to be ordinary and mediocre tasks, such as typical homework assignments, can easily become frustrating; a teacher may well consider the youngster arrogant, spiteful, and insubordinate. Lack of support and understanding, in combination with the youngster's anxieties, can result in problematic behavior (such as severe tantrums, violent and angry outbursts, and withdrawal).

Difficulties in relationships—

Two traits sometimes found in Aspergers children are mind-blindness - the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others – (see below) and alexithymia - the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in oneself or others – (see below) which reduce the ability to be empathetically attuned to others. Alexithymia in Aspergers functions as an independent variable relying on different neural networks than those implicated in theory of mind (see below). In fact, lack of Theory of Mind in Aspergers may be a result of a lack of information available to the mind due to the operation of the alexithymic deficit.

A second issue related to alexithymia involves the inability to identify and modulate strong emotions such as sadness or anger, which leaves the child prone to “sudden affective outbursts such as crying or rage.” The inability to express feelings using words may also predispose the child to use physical acts to articulate the mood and release the emotional energy.

Children with Aspergers report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to poor social skills. Children with Aspergers will need support if they desire to make connections on a personal level. The complexity and inconsistency of the social world can pose an extreme challenge for children with Aspergers. In the UK Asperger's is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act; those with Aspergers who get treated badly because of it may have some redress. The first case was Hewett v Motorola 2004 (sometimes referred to as Hewitt) and the second was Isles v Ealing Council.

The intense focus and tendency to work things out logically often grants people with Aspergers a high level of ability in their field of interest. When these special interests coincide with a materially or socially useful task, the person with Aspergers can lead a profitable career and a fulfilled life. The youngster obsessed with a specific area may succeed in employment related to that area. People with Aspergers have also served in the military. Although Aspergers is generally a disqualifier for military service, the individual can be qualified for enlistment if he or she has not required special accommodations or treatment for the past year. More research is needed on adults with Aspergers .

Mind-blindness can be described as an inability to develop an awareness of what is in the mind of another human. It is not necessarily caused by an inability to imagine an answer, but is often due to not being able to gather enough information to work out which of the many possible answers is correct. Mind-blindness is the opposite of empathy. Simon Baron-Cohen was the first person to use the term 'mind-blindness' to help understand some of the problems encountered by children with autism or Aspergers or other developmental disorders.

Alexithymia is defined by:
  1. a stimulus-bound, externally oriented cognitive style
  2. constricted imaginal processes, as evidenced by a paucity of fantasies
  3. difficulty describing feelings to other people
  4. difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal

Theory of mind appears to be an innate potential ability in humans, but one requiring social and other experience over many years to bring to fruition. Different people may develop more, or less, effective theories of mind. Empathy is a related concept, meaning experientially recognizing and understanding the states of mind, including beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others, often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes."


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

Parent of Aspergers Child Shares Her Story

This is 'our' experience of Aspergers. Since Aspergers is known as a 'pick and mix' syndrome, other moms and dads will have different problems and different solutions.

B___ failed his hearing test when he was a baby. After years of visits to hearing specialists and nothing being done, we were eventually informed that there was nothing wrong with B___'s hearing; he just chose not to hear. This was because he was in his own little world. He was diagnosed at around the age of 9 with Aspergers, a 'generally' mild form of autism usually associated with an above average IQ.

We had lived for all that time believing something was wrong with his hearing, but that was all. We put the trouble he was in at school down to his being unable to hear things. It was only after an Educational Psychologist (there are some good ones) made the diagnosis that all the little traits which we had accepted as being B___, also made up a Syndrome!

What sort of traits were they? He was obsessive...if he played with anything, it was that toy to the exclusion of all others. This obsession may only have lasted a couple of days, it may have lasted several weeks, but each time it was only the one thing. From around the age of 5 or 6, it was videos. He would watch the same video over and over and over again.

When he played with toys, everything was always in a pattern...generally a straight line pattern - a square, a rectangle, a straight line. He did not like curves and positively hated disorder. (That did not stretch to keeping his bedroom tidy though).

If his routine was disrupted, he would have terrible temper tantrums. It was necessary to pre-warn him of everything and prepare him. This meant even to warning him that in ten minutes he would be going to bed; he needed to adjust from what he was currently doing to what he would be doing.

He is a great one for rules. He doesn't always follow them, but generally speaking, once he accepts why a rule is in place, he sticks to it and becomes very irate if others don't. When we are out and about, the number of times he wants to report someone to the police for breaking the rules...generally drivers...is phenomenal. I would be very wary of anyone with Aspergers becoming a policeman...you certainly won't get off with a warning! :)

The biggest problem we had was how he interacted with other kids in school, or didn't. All the other things we accepted as part of him. It was only when he had problems with other kids that we felt we had a problem. B___'s Aspergers is very mild, but even he has problems gauging people and their feelings and reactions.

He will not be able to see that he is boring another youngster to death...and will not let them go when he feels he has a captive audience. He will not play nicely with other kids...they break a rule and he feels mortally wounded.

He constantly thinks that 'they are out to get him' (this final feeling I now think may have been more to do with the bullying which he suffered, although other Aspergers kids report the same thing so I don't know). For example, his school was all open plan classrooms. He was always sat with the teacher and therefore was at the front. He would see a youngster in the next classroom facing towards him (actually listening to his own teacher) and he truly believed that this youngster would be planning to attack him.

This lack of empathy can sometimes cause all sorts of problems. If someone hurts themselves, he will laugh. He has not realized that the other person is upset. If he sees someone cry, he has now 'learnt' that this means they are unhappy. However, because it is a learned response, he finds it a difficult thing to translate to a different situation. For example, if he cannot find something in a bookshop, he has learnt that you can go and ask an assistant. He has also learnt now that you can do that in a supermarket. But that does not mean he could ask in a clothes store. We have now taught him that wherever you are, if you have a problem, look for a person in authority and ask for help. (This did not work in the school though...I never realized how few teachers actually want to help kids).

Many Aspergers kids do not have any sense of humor; those that do tend to have a very 'slap stick style' sense of humor. For most, plays on words are very difficult for them to cope with. B___ certainly can never tell whether something is true, humor or sarcasm.

Aspergers often means that kids also have short term memory problems. If you gave B___ a list of three things to do, he could 'probably' do them. Give him four and he will forget at least two of them. Even now, he cannot get the days of the week in the right order and cannot remember the months of the year or the seasons in order.

I mentioned earlier that Aspergers is a 'pick and mix' syndrome. This means that the Aspergers  never really comes alone. There is nearly always something else as well. In B___'s case it is dyslexia. I help run a support group for moms and dads of kids with Aspergers and the other problems which frequently occur are dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome.

Having detailed all the problems we have had with our son, I must assure you that it is not all doom, gloom and despondency by a long way. The peculiarities of B___'s brain and others who have Aspergers generally give them a lot of strengths as well. Many, many of them are very skilled at the sciences, or maths...generally the very logical subjects where there are rules to follow. Music is another field where Aspergers kidss are widely represented, the other art type subjects are less well represented. This is believed to be as a result of the high IQ and the obsessive, logical natures they have. Whilst in schools, the kids are pushed to have a very wide knowledge of all things, in a work environment of their choice, an 'Aspergers youngster' can specialize in his/her obsession.

Further, we have had so few problems since we began home educating B___ that people seeing him now tend to disbelieve that he has any problems at all. We can concentrate on his strengths and skills and help him by giving him coping mechanisms where he has weaknesses. For example, he always has a diary around him and has learnt that he can use this to work out days of the week, or months of the year.

There are many very famous, very successful people who either had, or are believed to have had, Aspergers. Bill Gates, the Microsoft computer billionaire is supposed to have Aspergers. Einstein was believed to have Aspergers.



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

Sleep Disorders are Common in Kids with Aspergers

A recent study conducted at the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at the University La Sapienza in Rome, Italy has led researchers to believe that sleep disorders are more common among kids with Aspergers as opposed to their typically-developing peers. Oliviero Bruni, MD authored the study which compared the sleep habits of eight kids with Aspergers, 10 kids with autism and a control group of 12 typically-developing kids. Moms and dads of kids with Aspergers filled out a sleep questionnaire and the Pediatric Daytime Sleepiness Scale. The kids were also assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist, the industry-standard Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Kids (WISC), and were observed during an overnight sleep study (polysomnogram).

The study determined that not only were kids with Aspergers reluctant to go to sleep they had difficulty falling asleep, difficulty waking up, and a general feeling of sleepiness throughout the day. As a parent of a youngster with Aspergers I can attest to these findings. My son has a hard time transitioning into his sleep routine, a difficult time falling asleep, and often nods off throughout the day. He rarely looks rested but can't seem to increase his quality of sleep.

It is important for all kids, but especially kids with Aspergers and other autism spectrum conditions, to have a consistent bedtime routine. This will allow everyone to wind down and have a relaxing evening which should, ideally, set the mood for a more restful night. It is imperative to avoid any excessively stimulating activity in the later evening hours including screen time (TV, movies, video games, computer time, etc) and any type of excessive physical activity. Some moms and dads find that the use of aromatherapy and relaxing music helps their youngster calm down and prepare themselves for a restful night of sleep.

All kids have sleep issues from time-to-time and will go through phases of disruptive sleep. Kids with Aspergers, however, are more prone to have longer periods of these disruptive cycles. This lack of quality sleep can affect a youngster in their everyday lives including their education and extracurricular activities. If the youngster isn't getting sleep then it is unlikely that the moms and dads are which can through the entire family dynamic off. If you have a youngster with Aspergers it is important to take note of their sleep, including speaking with the youngster themselves, and contact their pediatrician if you feel that they are being negatively affected by their sleep cycle.


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

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.

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