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Sample Lesson One - Aspergers and Emotions
Aspergers and Emotions
Emotion in children with Aspergers is a subject that parents spend a great deal of time trying to understand. Parents must begin by gaining a greater understanding of their emotional barriers and assist them with overcoming them all. Emotions can be taught to children with Aspergers, and parents can experience the positive emotions that their children have!
Empathy is that wonderful emotion that allows people to experience the feeling and emotions of others. For example, if your child is upset about a fight with a friend and they discuss the matter with you, you can experience feelings of hurt and disappointment—just as they do. On the other hand, a child with Aspergers does not share the same feelings and emotions that others do. Lack of empathy makes it hard for children with Aspergers to function in the world around them. Their lack of empathy can increase their frustration, which can bring on a host of negative emotions. Once they learn to experience life as others do, a child with Aspergers can learn to adapt to society in a meaningful way.
Real Life Example
Wendy Kennedy provided an example of how her daughter struggles to feel the emotions of others. She wrote:
“My aspie is very rule-driven. I have to set limits in the form of rules (”remember, the rule is you must ask permission before you touch”, “the rule is do not enter your brother's room unless he invites you in.” When there is an infraction, I ask her to tell me who owns the item, then remind her of the rule. Unfortunately, this does not always work. She has weird ideas about property ownership- we use the public library a LOT, and she is constantly claiming the books are “hers” or complaining that her brothers are stealing their books. She can't seem to understand the idea of borrowing in that context.”
Source – Comments section of The Parenting Aspergers Blog
Now that it has been established that children with Aspergers do experience emotion, but only their own, lets discuss some of the emotions that they experience. Children with Aspergers experience these emotions when something wonderful happens to them, not others. They live in their own little world, and they do not understand that others have feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. The following are a few positive emotions that a child with Aspergers may experience:
Many children with Aspergers show interest in things that they enjoy doing. They generally have a special interest in which they have expert knowledge. They are generally glad to show others aspects of their special interest, and they are willing to teach others about their interest. Their lack of empathy causes them to believe that everyone is interested in their special topic of interest. They are in their own little world when they are participating in this special area of interest.
They always want to know the “why” in everything. They expect others to have a superior knowledge of topics—just as they do. Children with Aspergers ask many questions to try to grasp an understanding of others and the reason others do not feel as they do. They feel happy when they have the chance to teach someone something new.
Joy is one of the emotions that can come and go, but they can experience it. They experience joy when they succeed in something, while participate in activities that they enjoy, when receiving the attention that they desire, and any other opportunity to have their way.
They experience laughter when they are happy about something. They have a hard time understanding sarcasm and finding the humor in it, but they do laugh at things that they can understand and feel with their emotions.
Negative emotions come when a child with Aspergers does not get their way, does not understand something, or even when unexpected changes occur. A host of emotions come out that parents and family members are all too familiar with, and they wish that they could avoid. Negative behaviors are inevitable with children with Aspergers. Until they learn certain social skills, they cannot understand how others feel, or grasp that they are not the only people in the world who have feelings. The following are negative emotions that children with Aspergers experience:
Anger is a common emotion that they experience when things do not go as they would like them to go. They may become angry when they do not understand something or when others bully them. They may express themselves to you verbally, and demand that things change.
The thought of being rejected socially or judged by others can cause fear in a child with Aspergers. The simplest situation can bring on the emotion of fear.
They may experience loneliness when their motor skills prevent them from playing and interacting with other children, or when the feel that others do not understand them.
This emotion generally brings on a meltdown. Children with Aspergers love repetition. They want to have everything planned so that they know what to expect. One slight change in plans can sent them into an emotional breakdown. Asking them to do something that they do not want to do can cause a great deal of anxiety in their lives. Many children with Aspergers take medication for anxiety, as it generally accompanies Aspergers.
They can feel depressed when things in their lives are hectic. As they struggle to understand themselves and others, many children with Aspergers develop depression. Depression is also another condition that commonly accompanies Aspergers.