Aspergers Communication - My son with Aspergers is often rude in the way he talks and we can't get through to him that this is not acceptable. How can we teach him to speak more appropriately?
Children with Asperger's Syndrome can be concise and literal in conversation to the point of rudeness. This is a very common problem. Some are able to address the problem, work on appropriate interactions, and improve the situation, but others are not for various reasons, such as an inability to understand that there is a problem, an unwillingness to address the problem, or lack of resources for help.
Humans desperately want and require human bonds, connections, and emotional relationships. If your son cannot learn to form those bonds effectively, that side of his life will remain unfulfilled, a very sad situation indeed.
People with Asperger's often get a reputation for being rude and selfish because the give-and-take of normal conversation is foreign to them. They may be very blunt and abrupt, may dominate, or monopolize the conversation. They do not pick up on social cues that indicate they have said something that upsets others and do not respond appropriately. They often focus on their own fields of interest and have little tolerance for other people's ideas. They may throw screaming tantrums when something goes wrong or they become overwhelmed by a situation. This is not the Aspie's fault, but seriously limits his or her ability to interact with others in positive ways.
Still, many people with Aspergers are kind individuals, if you can get past the potentially annoying behavior and tactless remarks. Unfortunately, a certain "mindblindness" in people with Aspergers contributes to the problem; in your son's world, he is certain that his behaviour is correct, does not accept the fact that there's a problem, and may even have a somewhat arrogant attitude, along with an unwillingness to change. That is why he ignores your advice and attempts to teach him acceptable speech.
Praise may be helpful. Whenever your son responds well in a social situation, praise him (privately) and let him know you are proud of him. If he is old enough, you might sit down with him and ask him how he feels about his social life, his friends (if he has friends), and any problems that he has noticed. As you talk, you may be able to convince him that some changes in his manner of speech would help solve difficulties he is having. Try to give real life and concrete examples, not just ides and theories.
You don't say how old your son is, but these communication difficulties can be improved with help starting at a young age. Children with Aspergers can learn strategies that will help them relate to others appropriately. Social skills are often taught by communication specialists or in social training groups. Consider finding such help for your son. These new skills should include:
• Learning nonverbal behaviours, such as the use of gaze for social interaction,
using appropriate hand gestures, and smiling;
• Interpretation of nonverbal behaviour;
• Processing visual information simultaneously with auditory information;
• Social awareness; and
• Learning verbal behaviours.
Consider using Model Me Conversation Cues and Model Me Friendship videos, videos that focus on social skills activities.
You will find the Model Me Kids Videos at: Model Me Kids