As you can see from my last post, the issue of socializing is huge for Aspies. This is especially true in the late pre-teen and early teen years.
Arranging a social event with a friend isn’t always the answer if the child with Asperger’s has trouble communicating in a meaningful way. Just getting them together with a “neurotypical” teen in a social setting isn’t going to help. In fact, it can be disastrous.
Anna Matchneva from Burnaby BC works one on one with Asperger’s children, and this is what she suggested in a talk to parents last year.
First, limit the time for interaction to ‘safe’ time, that is time when the conversation will most likely be of mutual interest.
How do you do that?
Anna finds getting your teen Aspie to invite a friend for pizza and a movie is ideal.
First on the agenda is going to the movie. When they are driving to the movie, they can talk about what movie they want to see and all the things they have heard about the movie.
Other topics may come up, but the drive to the theatre should not be too long, and the parent driving them can always intervene a little if necessary.
Next, at the movie, the parent drops them off. The talk will be about arrangements to be picked up, how to buy the tickets and what snacks they want. This is very safe also.
Once in the theater, everything should be good. Although in my experience? The Aspie child may have to be warned to be quiet and not comment during the movie, but save all their comments for afterward.
The time from the end of the movie to pick up should be minimal, to ensure that the conversational requirements don’t tax the Aspie child.
Then to the pizza parlour. Again, conversation will center around the children’s preferences, and the movie action and how the children rate the movie.
After pizza, time for the guest to be dropped off at his/her home.
This kind of managed social time gives Aspie’s a sense of confidence which should ease both the child’s and the parent’s anxieties over social situations.
Let me know how it works if you try it, please!