Making friends and keeping friends: Research confirms these are two areas that seem to seriously challenge children with Asperger’s.
So says Anna Matchneva, a lecturer and one-on-one counsellor who works closely with children on the autism spectrum and their parents.
Rejected: This is a category of children Anna often sees. She is not referring to parental neglect, but to the playground or social setting.
The rejected child is one who tries to join a group but is denied access.
Mostly we will never know why some people choose not to be friends with us. But totally there are things we can do differently.
For instance, we might approach a group and start talking about whatever is on our mind when really? We need to listen. Try to pick up on what the others are saying. Take a little time to formulate a brief remark in line with their conversation. Don’t try to work in your current interest. Stick to their conversation.
But hey, that’s easy to learn, right? Just take a little time before speaking. Listen. Try to understand what they’re talking about. Not just what they’re saying, but what they mean.
We Aspies get a little starved for attention sometimes and that can make us talk too much, too loud, too soon. But it’s easy enough to get over those habits.
I know myself, I have to be careful not to dive hell bent for leather into a topic, completely overwhelming and boring the people who were kind enough to invite me into the group.
And anyway, not every group wants another member. They may be having a private conversation. They may believe they have nothing in common with you, and therefore, not see any point in trying to make friends. Maybe they are happy just as they are. Then you need to find someone else to talk with.
Remember, your focus can be a very good thing, even if others don’t want to share in it. It’s similar to the single-mindedness that made Taylor Swift a star and Bill Gates a computer mogul.
Try to listen first. Take a minute or two to find out what the group and the conversation is about. And when you do speak, smile, keep a neutral tone, and above all, be brief!
And please note–Aspies aren’t the only people in the world who have trouble making and keeping friends. Lots of people do!
This weekend the SIWC takes over the Sheraton Guildford, with hundreds of writers, including Asperger me, swarming the premises. A volunteer at the Federation of BC Writers’ table, I took the opportunity to promote my book, Unforgiving, the Memoir of an Asperger Teen.
People were frank in expressing their curiosity about Asperger’s and I was delighted to be able to clarify about and advocate for Asperger’s and Autism.
Many people have heard about Asperger’s but aren’t sure what the term implies. Not only did people want to know what behavioural anomalies were associated with Asperger’s, but also what that might look like in a person’s life.
I explained that Asperger’s kids generally are very honest, almost unable to lie. Deceit and manipulation are usually beyond them. They also go largely by spoken word, and are unable to pick up on tonal variations (sarcasm, innuendo) and facial expression.
This makes these children extremely vulnerable to bullying.
At the very least, Asperger’s kids are often socially challenged, not learning how to respond to others by observing others in a social setting. They mostly need to be taught, step by step, with the how and why of each type of social encounter. Even then, the child may get it wrong, either because of mistaking the type of social interaction he is responding to, or because of feeling “safe” in the situation having passed the first few minutes in acceptance, and then getting it wrong beyond that point.
In my book, Unforgiving, I show some of the blunders I made, some of the vulnerability that comes from being unable to communicate in an appropriate way both with adults and peers. Having Asperger’s can make one a target for bullying, for pedophiles, for all sorts of difficult situations.
Keeping the lines of communication open, and understanding the syndrome is crucial to keeping your Asperger’s child safe.
I was glad for the chance to talk to people at the SIWC about Asperger’s. Hopefully, it will make a difference, however small, in someone’s life.
Hi! This blog site is to talk about current issues associated with my book, UNFORGIVING, the Memoir of an Asperger Teen. The book is set in the 1960’s and relives the summer I won a part in a National Film Board short.
How does it feel to go from every day rural life to the glamour of being chauffered to and from work every day? How does one differentiate between past abusive and present normal relationships? Where do I turn for help?
Since bullying is always an issue with Asperger kids, a good way to start this blog is with this video about bullying.
Don’t be put off by the initial verses. The rapper comes around to an excellent solution for kids who are being bullied.