How Mind-Blindness Affects Children with ASD

Should You Treat Your High-Functioning Autistic Child The Same As Her Siblings?

"My husband as well as most of his side of the family often accuse me of mollycoddling our 6 y.o. girl with high functioning autism. They believe she should receive the same treatment as her brothers. What do you say about this? Should you treat a child with the condition the same as those without it? I'm torn on this issue because I know that my daughter has some special needs, yet I don't want to enable. Advice?" 

CLICK HERE for the answer...

Common Social Deficits of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Is it common for a child with high functioning autism to have difficulty interpreting the messages others give in conversations? Our son does not seem to understand the rules of social interactions. If he doesn’t understand what someone is saying or doing, he will always be unable to give the appropriate response.”

Yes, these issues are very common. This is why social-skills training in crucial for young people with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s. Skills that “typical” children gain naturally do not become so automatic for kids on the spectrum. Below are some of the socially-related deficits that are part of the disorder.

The child may:
  • “Tell” on peers, breaking the “code of silence” that exists (he will then be unaware why others
    are angry with him).
  • Avert eye contact, or keep it fleeting or limited.
  • Avoid observing personal space (is too close or too far).
  • Avoid turning to face the person he is talking to.
  • Be unable to use gestures or facial expressions to convey meaning when conversing.
  • Be unaware of unspoken or “hidden” rules.
  • Confront another person without changing his face or voice.
  • Engage in self-stimulatory or odd behaviors (e.g., rocking, tics, finger posturing, eye blinking, noises such as humming/clicking/talking to self).
  • Fail to assist someone with an obvious need for help (e.g., not holding a door for someone carrying many items or assisting someone who falls or drops their belongings).
  • Fail to gain another person's attention before conversing with them.
  • Have body posture that appears unusual.
  • Experience difficulty with feelings of empathy for others. 
  • Have interactions with others that remain on one level, with one message.
  • Have tics or facial grimaces.
  • Ignore an individual’s appearance of sadness, anger, boredom, etc.
  • Lack awareness if someone appears bored, upset, angry, scared, and so forth (therefore, he does not comment in a socially appropriate manner or respond by modifying the interaction).
  • Have little awareness of the facial expressions and body language of others, so these conversational cues are missed.
  • Lack facial expressions when communicating.
  • Laugh at something that is sad, or ask questions that are too personal.
  • Look to the left or right of the person he is talking to.
  • Make rude comments (e.g., tells someone they are fat, bald, old, have yellow teeth).
  • Respond with anger when he feels others are not following the rules.
  • Discipline others or reprimand them for their actions (e.g., acts like the teacher or parent with peers).
  • Smile when someone shares sad news.
  • Stare intensely at people or objects.
  • Talk on and on about a special interest while unaware that the other person is no longer paying attention, talk to someone who is obviously engaged in another activity, or talk to someone who isn’t even there.
  • Touch, hug, or kiss others without realizing that it is inappropriate.
  • Use facial expressions that do not match the emotion being expressed.
  • Use gestures, body language, or facial expressions infrequently or atypically when interacting with others.

Also, when questioned regarding what could be learned from another person's facial expression, he may say, “Nothing.” Faces do not provide him with information. Unable to read these “messages,” he is unable to respond to them.

For information on providing social-skills training, click on the link below…

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management
More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

Feeling Guilty for Setting Limits with Your ASD Child?

How To Tell Your Adult Child That You Think He Has ASD


What issues should I consider when contemplating broaching high functioning autism to my 21-year-old son? I want to help him -- he has no social life, lives at home, is rigid in his short is on the spectrum in both me and my husband's opinion. Should we tell him what we're thinking?


Re: Should we tell him what we're thinking?

Yes. My bias is that it is better to know than not to know. If somebody has High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's and doesn’t know, it affects him anyway.

If the person does know, he may be able to minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that you have the disorder, you often fill that void with other, more damaging explanations (e.g., I'm just a failure, weird, stupid, etc.).

Re: What issues should I consider when contemplating broaching Aspergers to my 28-year-old son?
  1. Lead with strengths! ALL people on the autism spectrum have significant areas of strength (even if this has not been translatable into tangible success). Bring up areas of strength with your son. 
  2. Next, tactfully point out the areas in which he is struggling. 
  3. Then, suggest that there is a name for this confusing combination of strengths and struggles, and it might be "High-Functioning Autism."

Once the question of HFA has been raised, your son may wonder if he should pursue an official diagnosis. For some young adults, doing their own research through support and information organizations, books, the Internet, etc., provides the best explanation and enough answers regarding difficulties that they have faced, as well as the unique strengths that they may possess. Others may prefer a formal diagnosis from a professional. Either form of discovery is perfectly acceptable.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

High-Functioning Autistic [ASD Level 1] Children and Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions

Many kids with ASD or High-Functioning Autism have an inability (or a lack of desire) to interact with their friends and classmates. Moms and dads are often concerned with their youngster’s interactions with others and the quality of those interactions.

It is very important to observe how your child interacts with same-age peers. Below are a few of the reasons a youngster with ASD has difficulty finding and keeping friends. 

The child:

1.  Compromises interactions by rigidity, inability to shift attention or “go with the flow,” being rule bound, and needs to control the play/activity

2.  Displays a lack of desire to interact

3.  Displays a limited awareness of current topics, activities, songs, etc.

4.  Displays a limited awareness of the emotions of others and/or how to respond to them, for example, does not:
  • ask for help from others
  • know how to respond when help is given
  • know how to respond to compliments
  • realize the importance of apologizing
  • realize something he says or does can hurt the feelings of another
  • differentiate internal thoughts from external thoughts
  • respond to the emotions another is displaying (missed cues)

5.  Displays narrow play and activity choices (note: best observed during unstructured play/leisure activities: look for rigidity/patterns/repetitive choices, inability to accept novelty)
==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

6.  Does not care about her inability to interact with others because she has no interest in doing so. She prefers solitary activities and does not have the need to interact with others, or she is socially indifferent and can take it or leave it with regard to interacting with others.

7.  Engages in unusual behaviors or activities (e.g., selects play or activity choices of a younger child, seems unaware of the unwritten social rules among peers, acts like an imaginary character, uses an unusual voice — any behaviors that call attention to the child or are viewed as unusual by peers).

8.  Initiates play interaction by taking a toy or starting to engage in an ongoing activity without gaining verbal agreement from the other players, will ignore a negative response from others when asking to join in, will abruptly leave a play interaction.

9.  Spends all free time completely consumed by areas of special interest. Her activities are so rule bound, it would be almost impossible for a peer to join in correctly. When asked about preferred friends, the child is unable to name any or names those who are really not friends (e.g., family members, teachers).

10.  Is unable to select activities that are of interest to others (unaware or unconcerned that others do not share the same interest or level of interest, unable to compromise).

11.  Lacks an understanding of game playing — unable to share, unable to follow the rules of turn taking, unable to follow game-playing rules (even those that may appear quite obvious), is rigid in game playing (may want to control the game or those playing and/or create her own set of rules), always needs to be first, unable to make appropriate comments while playing, and has difficulty with winning/losing.

12.  Lacks conversational language for a social purpose, does not know what to say — this could be no conversation, monopolizing the conversation, lack of ability to initiate conversation, obsessive conversation in one area, conversation not on topic or conversation that is not of interest to others.

13.  Lacks the ability to understand, attend to, maintain, or repair a conversational flow or exchange — this causes miscommunication and inappropriate responses (unable to use the back-and-forth aspect of communication).

14.  Observes or stays on the periphery of a group rather than joining in.

15.  Prefers structured over non-structured activities.

16. Sits apart from others, avoids situations where involvement with others is expected (e.g., playgrounds, birthday parties, being outside in general), and selects activities that are best completed alone (e.g., computer games, Game Boy, books, viewing TV/videos, collecting, keeping lists).

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

Fail-Safe Method for Setting Your High-Functioning Autistic Child Up for Success

If you have few (if any) chances to "catch your child in the act of doing something right" (because he rarely behaves in accordance with your expectations), then use a bit of reverse psychology. In other words, catch him in the act of "not doing something wrong."

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
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…


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...


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…


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…


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...


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...
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...