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How To Help Children With Aspergers To Develop Social Skills


I would like to know how to advise my son with Aspergers on social skills, such as making friends without being insulting to others.


Parents will have to take an active role in fostering Aspergers social skills. One of the behavioral traits seen in children with Aspergers Syndrome is a lack of empathy. They don't realize that other people have thoughts and interests that are different from their own. They are known to interrupt a conversation and start churning out facts about their pet interest, such as Star Wars trivia or medieval history. It doesn't matter that this has nothing to do with what the other children are talking about. This, plus their lack of social skills, makes it very difficult for Aspergers children to make friends. They often lack eye contact during a conversation and don't know how to respond to common greetings and questions.

Many children with Aspergers appear to blend in with their peers until around the age of 8. Some social abilities seem to stay intact until this age and then the children with Aspergers are noticed by other children. Aspergers social skills are so lacking that they are often singled out to be made fun of by other children. They can also have difficulty because they see things so concretely. Aspergers children take words and gestures very literally. They tend to miss the nuances of communication.

Your son can be taught most of the same social skills that children without Aspergers learn on their own. You can work with your son's school to produce cards or posters with facial expressions that define feelings. A full length mirror is very useful in making children aware of their body language and facial expressions. You and his teachers can role play social situations with him to help him learn appropriate responses and actions. It is unfortunate that so few schools have the means to help Aspergers students. The number of schools with diagnostically appropriate services will increase only when doctors, social service practitioners and parents lobby educational institutions for assistance in teaching Aspergers children and addressing Aspergers social skills.

Until your child receives more assistance with Aspergers social skills, you can do things at home. Surround your child with friends and family so he will have a familiar and supportive atmosphere. If he is nervous in a large group, only have one person over at a time. In addition to friends, you can train your son in appropriate social and perceptual skills. He can learn to perceive and understand nonverbal behaviors. You can make him aware of social and behavioral conventions. He can also learn to process visual and auditory information. This will all help children with Asperger's to cope with daily social demands. To help you help your son, go to the Internet and look for Aspergers Syndrome support groups. See if there is a group in your area. If there is not, look for an online community to join and receive support and advice.

Children with Aspergers will find social skills a difficult area to work on, as these skills won't come naturally to them. However with lots of parental support and practice children with Aspergers can develop social skills successfully.

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