Advice to NT parent and child with AS friend

Page 1 of 1 [ 7 posts ] 

sbo1965
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

User avatar

Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Gender: Female
Posts: 2

29 Feb 2008, 12:36 pm

I'm hoping some parents here can give me some advice. My son has become friends with a boy at school (6th gr) with AS. This boy doesn't have many friends, has been picked on, and hasn't been invited back to some kids' homes because of some innappropriate behavior and language. I'm glad my son has befriended him and I am encouraging the friendship. I plan on inviting him over to hang out. I don't know the boys parents. As parents of AS kids, what advice can you give me to encourage this friendship and in dealing with any innappropriate behavior/language that occurs while at my house. Is is ok to tell my child about his friends's AS if his friend has not discussed it with him?
Thanks for any advice you may have.



mom2bax
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 11 Oct 2007
Gender: Female
Posts: 254
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

29 Feb 2008, 1:06 pm

how is it that you know the child has AS?



DW_a_mom
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Age: 60
Gender: Female
Posts: 11,178
Location: Northern California

29 Feb 2008, 1:10 pm

My son's best friend is NT, and I think has been a really positive influence on him. So, I will share what I have observed from his friend, how he interacts with my son.

First, he doesn't push him to do things he doesn't want to do. If they are having difficulty agreeing what to play, the friend will try to sell his side, and if they can't agree, will part ways for the time being. While the later has often frustrated my son, it has also taught him to sell and negotiate back, to get what he wants (not all Aspie kids will be able to do this, however). For example, the two have worked out a deal wherein they agree to play what my son wants during certain recesses on certain days. The friend sticks to this deal, even when something more tempting is offered.

Second, the friend never teases, but he is honest. When my son goes off the deep, or does an annoying stim, the friend might look away and say something like, "I don't like it when you do that." I think the simple honest statement is very important, because my son isn't going to read any non-verbal cues, and I think it is better to be told what is bothering the friend, than for the friend to simply leave or disengage, which would just confuse and frustrate my son.

Third, this friend appreciates the gifts my son has. The other day he said the sweetest thing, unprompted. I no longer remember it exactly, but it was along the lines of "Johnny at school probably knows the most, and someday he may be brilliant at using some science tool. But you are going to invent that science tool."

As for talking about Aspergers with your son by name, I would not. When I talk to my son's friends about his condition, I use concepts like "his brain is wired a little differently than most kids," and emphasize that all people are unique, and need to be appreciated as they are, which is a great opening for discussing what makes any one child tick. I don't want to encourage kids to think in terms of labels, just to look at the unique gifts any individual can bring.

I think it's great that you have come here to learn more about your son's friend. I think that my child brings a lot to his friendships, and I hope that you will find this new friendship enriching for your son, as well. First and foremost, remember that all children are unique, and if you play it by ear, trying to tune into the child, you should do fine.


_________________
Mom to an amazing AS son, who recently graduated from the university (plus an also amazing non-AS daughter). Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


Last edited by DW_a_mom on 29 Feb 2008, 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

shaggydaddy
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 21 Oct 2007
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Posts: 263
Location: California

29 Feb 2008, 1:13 pm

biggest advice I can say is that "inapropriate" language and behavior is highly subjective. It is much easier for an aspie to follow the rules if they are actually supplied, and not "implied"

If he is doing something you don't agree with just tell him that the rules here are a little different than what you are used to. We can't say "X" instead we say "Y"

just don't expect him to sponteniously know all your rules, don't scold or anything, just inform him in a matter-of-fact way of your expectations and he can meet them.


_________________
If you suffer from Autism, you're doing it wrong.


sbo1965
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

User avatar

Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Gender: Female
Posts: 2

29 Feb 2008, 1:36 pm

I came to know about this boy's AS through a friend. Lest you think we are catty moms gossiping, I'll explain. My son is going on a 6th grade weekend trip. There are three boys he wants to room with at the hotel and this boy is one of them, but I don't know him or his family so I called a friend who does. She is the one who told me. She knows the parents, who told her about his AS.

DW and shaggydaddy, thanks for your advice. I guess any kid I invite to my home would need to know the rules of my house, not just AS kids.



ster
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Sep 2005
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,727
Location: new england

29 Feb 2008, 2:14 pm

discuss your house rules before there is even a chance of having an issue.....realize that people with AS are prone to misinterpreting others' intentions and often misconstrue language.



RudolfsDad
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Posts: 161

29 Feb 2008, 4:26 pm

A previous poster in the thread said that you shouldn't expect your son's friend to intuitively understand the rules. I think this is excellent advice. People with Aspergers usually aren't good at picking up on "unwritten" social rules and they have trouble reading between the lines. People with Aspergers often like to have rules clearly and unambiguously spelled out for them. This applies to rules like "Don't use the word F**K in my home", but it also applies to other unwritten social rules.

Also, be aware that people with Aspergers often take things very literally. If you are trying to get them to quickly do a job and you say "Hop to it", they may literally start hopping across the room. Again, this is not necessarily a sign that the child is trying to be disrespectful. He may think that he is doing a good job of following a very strange rule. This can lead to misunderstandings about the rules -- if you say "Don't say F**K in my home" and he says "S**T" a few minutes later, he may honestly not realize that he is doing the wrong thing. He may simply be following a completely literal interpretation of the rule you gave him.

People with Asperger syndrome sometimes launch into long-winded monologues about some topic that they find interesting. In some cases, this can be a very unusual interest. If this happens, this should not be interpreted as a sign of arrogance or as a disregard for others. A 10 year old with Aspergers may talk for 20 minutes about the kind of engines found in various foreign cars and may honestly think that his friends at school will find the topic as fascinating as he does. Because people with Aspergers have trouble reading social cues, he may miss all of the signs that he is boring his audience. If you see something like this happening, it might be helpful to give your son's friend a "heads up".

As an analogy -- imagine having a friend that is a genius but is visually impaired. You wouldn't treat him like he was stupid, but you would help to "be his eyes" by telling him about things that you can see that he can't (just as your genius friend might help you to understand things that are beyond most people's intellect). People with Asperger syndrome have a kind of "social cues blindness" that sometimes gets them in trouble with other people. Obviously, this doesn't mean that you should stand over your son and his friend as they play -- but if you happen to see problems starting, it might be helpful to tell your son that his friend doesn't read nonverbal social cues well and that, if he doesn't want to listen to a 20 minute lecture about some unusual topic he should explicitly tell his friend "Let's talk about something else" or "Let's just quietly watch the movie instead of talking".

People with Asperger syndrome may find certain ordinary sights, sounds, smells, or sensations to be intolerably intense. To my son, for example, the sound of a vacuum cleaner is absolutely intolerable. He's not afraid of it -- it's just a very unpleasant sound to him. Imagine the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard at 10 times the normal volume. The sound wouldn't really scare you, but you might cover your ears and run out of the room yelling "STOP STOP STOP". Basically, the sensory parts of the Asperger brain are often wired differently so that some things are perceived as being less intense, or more intense, than they would be for typical people. This is why persons with Aspergers sometimes engage in behaviors that seem "odd" to most of us (like staring intensely at colored lights or rocking back and forth) -- these behaviors should be thought of as normal, logical reactions for someone with a nervous system that is wired differently from ours.

Finally, people with Asperger syndrome often have a great dislike of making eye contact. This is absolutely, positively *NOT* a sign that the person is lying, that he doesn't like you, or that he isn't paying attention to what you are saying. Looking away from your face may actually be the only way for him to follow what you are saying.

I don't think you need to tell your son that his friend has Aspergers. Instead, I would explain things like the above to him on a "need to know" basis. That is, if your son starts complaining about something his friend does, you can help him understand simply by explaining it like I did above. If your son says "I hate the way he freaks out every time we go to a big party", you can explain that his friend is "just different" and that he is very sensitive to certain sounds and feels overwhelmed in a room with 30 conversations going on at once. (Not everyone with Aspergers has this particular problem -- my son doesn't -- but you get the idea.)

"The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome", by Tony Atwood, is an excellent book for learning how people with Aspergers think. I think that reading through it will give you a very good understanding of how to facilitate a successful friendship between your son and his friend with Aspergers.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon