People with Asperger’s syndrome show weakness in social skills from an early age and these problems continue throughout life. Read on to find out what these problems are, how they affect the person and those around them, and how they can be helped.
Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Skills Problems
Through a detailed analysis of social skills, Asperger’s syndrome can be diagnosed by a doctor. In fact one of the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s syndrome is impairment in social interaction. The weaknesses in social skills typically manifest in the following ways:
- Body language is poor and the person with Asperger’s seldom makes and holds eye contact. Their facial expressions are limited and they may appear disinterested or bored during a conversation.
- The use of gestures is weak and the person may stand stiffly with little body movement while conversing.
- People with Asperger’s do not spontaneously share experiences and emotion with those around them.
- They have a tendency to monopolize conversations and may turn them into a long monologue about a favorite topic or interest.
- Children with Asperger’s struggle to understand imaginative play and this can prevent them from interacting with other children who enjoy this type of activity.
- Group conversations can be hard for an Asperger’s person to follow. Sensory overload is possible if there is a lot of noise or a crowded environment, and figures of speech are taken literally.
Effects of Social Skill Problems in Asperger’s Syndrome
In spite of poor social skills, Asperger’s people often long to have friends. However, their behavior makes this difficult as they may come across as rude or disinterested. Their failure to make eye contact is perceived as a lack of interest and inappropriate body language can make others feel uncomfortable.
Conversations with an Asperger’s person may be difficult as they take everything literally and do not understand figures of speech. This can lead to confusion and embarrassment on their side as well as for the person they are talking to.
After repeated attempts to make friends, a person with Asperger’s syndrome may become depressed due to the constant rejection. This is an unhealthy state for them to be in and can cause concern to parents, siblings and other loved ones. In other cases, the person may simply give up trying and withdraw more and more into themselves and their interests.
Treatments for Social Skill Problems
By identifying weaknesses in social skills, Asperger’s people can be helped to improve in practical ways. Most treatments involve the repetition of concepts and activities that train the person to socialize and interact more normally. Many programs need to be reinforced on a daily basis by family members and will take commitment and effort. Other solutions include clubs where they can meet people with similar interests, and social-skills training that includes role-playing, modeling, and video feedback.
Social skills will always be an area of weakness for those with Asperger’s syndrome, and this inevitably affects family members as well. It is important to seek the best solution for the person and to help them learn to interact more effectively.
Attwood, Tony. The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007