When I was a child, I was very confused, frustrated, and scared. From my perspective, the adults around me would just randomly explode into rages, walk away from me in disgust, or throw their hands up in frustration.
While I could strongly feel the emotion coming from them, like waves of heat when you’re sitting too close to a fire, I couldn’t “read” their faces or body language. I didn’t even know this was something that could be done until I was in my late 20s.
When the adults around me would act this way, I would feel great sadness and compassion and want to “help”. I had no earthly clue that it was my behavior that was causing the problem. Even when I was told, I still couldn’t make the connection.
When time and time again, I found out that it was something I had said, done, not said, or not done that caused this odd and uncomfortable behavior, I became increasingly afraid to interact with others.
I withdrew completely into myself, never knowing what facial expression (or lack thereof) or tone of voice would bring on a sudden interrogation session or a punishment of some kind.
Since I didn’t know what it was about me that was causing their “strange and erratic” behavior, I was terrified to communicate at all.
If your Asperger’s child is behaving in frustrating ways, he or she is not doing it on purpose.
This is so important, so I’ll say it again:
Your Asperger’s child is not cunning, mean, vindictive, emotionless, uncaring, or rude. Your child is confused about what to do socially and needs your patient guidance in order to do what’s expected of them.
People on the spectrum have different operating systems. It’s why your message is not currently getting through.
It’s like trying to use PC software on a Mac computer. You can try everything in your power to will the software to work, you can even yell at the screen or shake the computer around, but the software still won’t work and all you’ll succeed in doing is damaging the computer.
It’s the same with your Asperger’s child. In order to effectively communicate with him or her, you must first understand that they have their own unique language and way of viewing the world.
Lori Petro of www.teach-through-love.com offers this insightful video on things you should never say to your Asperger’s child (and more effective ways to communicate instead):
Having difficulty communicating with an adult on the spectrum?
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Photo of confused child courtesy of Flickr/Emily