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My son is 13 with Aspergers and friends are a big problem. He never has anyone call or come over. Should I push on this issue or let it play out as he is happy and content so far?
What do most parents want the most for their children with Asperger's? Friends. We are social beings and because of that, we desire friendships. Some people are more social, needing to be surrounded by other people constantly, while some of us are much less social, preferring to spend some of our time alone.
Socialization is difficult for kids with Asperger's. Friends are hard to come by. Other kids do not understand the characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome and may think your son is awkward, aloof, or conceited. There are things your son can do to improve his chances for friendships, if he so desires. Here are a few suggestions.
* Social skills classes help kids with Asperger's Syndrome learn ways to interact with their peers. Some schools offer these classes to their special needs students through the speech and language therapy department.
* Peer mentoring picks up where social skills classes leave off. Typically developing peers are matched with students with Asperger's. Friends are made while these peers act as social guides. This can be quite effective at opening dialogue between peers while a protective peer mentor is in control.
* Special interest groups or clubs, both at school and in the community, will give your son opportunities to practice his newly acquired social skills with kids that share his special interest or topic. For example, your son could join a computer club or band at school while enjoying bird watching or local history meetings on the weekends.
* Personal hygiene is sometimes a forgotten concept in kids with Asperger's. Friends may not be so accepting if your son has poor hygiene habits. Create a visual schedule to help him remember the basics to cleanliness.
There is another thought to keep in mind regarding Asperger's. Friends are not the most important thing to some people with Asperger's Syndrome. Some people truly are more comfortable with very few friends and spending most of their time alone. If your son is obviously happy and content, as you say, there may not be an issue here at all. If you notice your son struggling with who he is, or with depression or anxiety, you may want to intervene. For now, make sure he is learning proper social skills and interacting with people appropriately. As long as he is happy and productive, take your cues from him.