Common Social Behaviors
People with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) exhibit many social behaviors that are different from those seen in the rest of society. How does Asperger’s syndrome affect social behaviors? First of all, even the technical aspects of conversations may baffle them. People with AS might stand awkwardly or too close to others during conversations, speak too fast or too loud, or have difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation. They may talk more than is natural, carrying on a monologue rather than taking part in a dialog. These one-sided conversations often revolve around one or several topics that interest them excessively, such as train schedules, car engines, or insect species. In addition, people with AS often “miss the point” of humorous remarks, taking statements at face value rather than understanding that they are jokes or cynical comments. These behavioral issues, as well as other that affect people with AS, are discussed in further detail in this article on common AS behaviors.
Social Skills Groups
One way that people with AS can improve their social skills is by joining a social skills group. In this type of group, people can practice social skills with each other in a social setting. They will need to learn these skills directly, unlike many of their peers who will pick them up without direct instruction. The group can work on maintaining eye contact, a normal posture, and adequate social distance during conversations. They can also discuss their social struggles with others who share similar problems.
For children with AS, classroom interventions can spell the difference between having a successful year and feeling like a social failure. Teachers can give students with AS a corner that they can retreat to if they feel overstimulated or overwhelmed by the social aspects of the classroom. An aid or shadow can help facilitate social interactions with peers, at least in the younger grades. Students with AS should not be placed in a classroom full of emotionally disturbed children, because these children will model negative social skills that the AS students may pick up. A (possibly older) mentor in the same school can also help a child with AS navigate the social aspect of the classroom.
Therapists can be helpful in allowing people with AS to discuss how they feel in social situations and to give them tools to help them succeed in future, similar situations. Although therapists may not develop as close of a relationship with an AS client as with other clients, they can still provide the person with AS with social guidelines that they can use in their interactions with others.
Many people with AS prefer to use the previously discussed methods of improving their social skills rather than relying on medication. Those who do take medication, though, may rely on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to control their obsessions or preserverations, stimulants to control their hyperactive characteristics and lack of attention skills, or a low dose of antipsychotic medicine to control any idiosyncratic thinking or stereotyped movements.
This post is part of the series: Children with Asperger’s Syndrome
Children with Asperger’s syndrome have their own unique needs and characteristics. If you are working with these children, this series will give you a deeper understanding into how they work.