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Facts about Teenagers with Asperger’s
Life as a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome can be extremely difficult. Here are a number of facts to consider about teenage culture and Asperger’s syndrome:
- Teenage friendships can be based on shared interests, sporting abilities, academic ability or social passions such as shopping.
- Teenagers with Asperger’s often have a special interest or hobby and it is a good idea to look for a friend who shares this interest.
- A dog can be a good companion to teenagers with Asperger’s. They are non-judgemental and always loving and can be a source of comfort and reassurance.
- Asperger’s syndrome is characterized by weaknesses in social skills. These include poor eye contact, a monotonous tone when speaking and not understanding the other person’s body language. Finding online friends can do away with these differences yet still provide a lifeline to the teen. While there are dangers associated with chatting on the Internet, this can be a useful form of friendship for teenagers with Asperger’s. Parents should oversee this type of activity.
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Problems that Teenagers with Asperger’s Encounter
Adolescent years can be emotionally difficult for a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. This is partly because of the social challenges involved in this age group. Teenagers with Asperger’s are often aware that they don’t fit in socially and this can be a source of pain and confusion. Specific problem areas include the following:
- Teens often spend time together as a group. Those with Asperger’s syndrome may find this overwhelming if they are invited to join in. They often experience difficulty following conversations if they are bouncing between numbers of people, and so they may eventually give up.
- A teenager with Asperger’s syndrome may be a target for bullies due to the differences in their behavior. It is essential that adults look out for signs of bullying as the teen will often not perceive it as such and will just endure the victimization.
- Teens with Asperger’s may desire friendship but be stressed about maintaining one if they do find it. Therapy where they learn how to choose appropriate topics of conversation, take turns in talking and how to overlook a hurtful remark can be beneficial in reducing anxiety.
- Teenagers have a specific dress code that often includes branded clothing and a certain look. Those with Asperger’s generally have little dress sense and this sets them apart as different. It is worth taking them into a mall and asking store assistants to give them a fashion makeover. This could include a haircut and restyle and some new clothes that suit their body shape.
Teenage years are generally difficult but can be even more so for teenagers with Asperger’s. While the teens often desire friendship, their efforts to reach out to others may be clumsy or shunned. Parents and siblings can help them by providing opportunities for them to meet teens with similar interests and helping them to learn appropriate social skills.
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The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007