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Understanding the social challenges for your child with Aspergers

Your child desires more than anything to be "normal." I know that "normal" is a relative term and that it means different things to all of us. But deep down your child with Aspergers wants to fit in and be part of what everyone else is doing. It is human nature we all want to be and feel a part of something. They may not understand exactly what it means, but they do understand that they are left out of school or family activities.

However the challenge for you and your child is that they are unable to gauge their activities or behaviors in comparison to others. They are simply doing what their body and mind requires them to do. This is one of the key problem areas for the Aspergers child.

Most children growing up tend to instinctively take in what is going on around them and how people are behaving. They then tend to "model" (or copy) this behavior and so begin to learn how to act in certain situations. For the child with Aspergers this does not come naturally.

There will be times when they do not know how to respond to certain people and/or situations. This will inevitably lead to anxiety, which may lead to further inappropriate behavior. This can lead to a very negative cycle of more and more inappropriate behaviour as the anxiety increases. If your child could stop this behavior, they would, because they want to. More than likely, they will instead become obsessed with whatever behavior or issue they are "stuck" on. This is because it is their only defense.

That defense provides them with a manner in which to respond to a situation they are unable to deal with. It's basically just a coping mechanism and we all have this in stressful situations. Some of us get angry and will argue loudly, others will ignore the problem and others of us may just walk out. So just like children with Aspergers we often also don't always deal with situations effectively. It is just that the child with Aspergers may act this out in less socially acceptable ways. The behavior they display also provides them with an escape from that which they fear.

Your child is not attempting to gain attention, which is a common theory about inappropriate behavior; instead they are attempting to escape attention. Their brain simply doesn't allow them to understand how the world works or how they are supposed to fit into the world, given their perceptions and their abilities. These skills that we tend to automatically take for granted are just lacking. This includes a difficulty with the basic understanding of the rules of society, especially if they are not obvious. Children with Aspergers will not comprehend body language.

He or she is not able to sit in a room, observe what is happening, and understand social cues, implied directions, or how to read between the lines, and this will not change over time. The unspoken rules of society guide most of our actions and interactions, and will not be understood by your child naturally. Providing him or her with practice or resources on how to deal with these situations will be of huge benefit. There are many books, software programs and good educational resources in this area. If you are not already using them I would urge you to do so. You can find a wealth of information about these resources on the internet, through your local education board or through the many Aspergers and Autism support groups out there.

So to summarise this article children with Aspergers just do not have the natural ability to understand how human beings interact with one another (especially with the subtleties of body language, expressions, double meaning of words etc.). But it is possible with the right resources to begin to teach your child how to cope with these challenges and become better in social situations.

Dave Angel is a social worker with families who have children on the Autistic Spectrum and is the author of a new e-book that answers the 46 most asked questions by parents of children with Aspergers. To claim your free 7 day Mini-Course for parents of children with Aspergers Syndrome, visit today.

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