I have been pondering some questions about Asperger's Syndrome this week. I do not have answers to these questions. I don't know what the right or best or politically correct answer is (they may not be the same thing).
This was spawned partially due to the fact that a homeschooling mother was telling me she put her (neurotypical) children in a homeschooling activity but every other kid in there seems to be an Aspie, which makes for a different experience socially and in doing the activity they are there to do as a group.
I am a neurotypical person. I don't understand what it is like to be an Aspie child or an Aspie adult. My children are neurotypical.
There are some children I know who have many if not every symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome. I know for a fact some do not have a diagnosis. I sometimes wonder if the others have a diagnosis or not. I am not a doctor and I cannot diagnose but some kids I know are just that glaring that there is no way they are not on the Spectrum.
You may say whether these kids we interact with have Asperger's or not is not my business but I disagree. My kids have to deal with them and their issues and odd behaviors or strange verbal statements or their "off" attitudes. I've been trying to teach my kids good etiquette and how a good friend acts but sometimes these social things are not reciprocated. What can I tell my child other than to keep doing the right thing even when they are ignored, not reciprocated or are treated rudely in return? I tell them to just be good people and do the right thing. I also advise that they can walk away or ignore that person or try to stay as far away from them as possible.
There is certain back and forth, a dance almost, that goes on when two or more people have communication exchanges with each other. It's a strange position to be in when one party does the socially accepted thing and the other doesn't reciprocate or just seems oblivious to the social etiquette norms. I am not talking about neurotypicals who choose to be rude or cold but more overt negative behaviors done by kids who have multiple Asperger's symptoms. If the same thing was done between two neurotypicals one would be labeled a jerk or just plain rude (if not labeled with an explicative profane word).
Should we neurotypicals have a different set of standards for these kids?
What if we don't know if they have Asperger's or not?
Should my kids be giving special exceptions to accept rudeness or other negative behaviors to those with Asperger's?
Do Aspie kids get a pass on rude or negative behaviors if they have a diagnosis?
Should a parent with an Aspie child who has it confirmed by a professional tell other people? Should the parent expect others to treat their child differently (accept negative behaviors)? Examples of who might be told: other parents, volunteer Scout leaders, volunteer coaches, or teachers?
It seems to me if the parent knew the child had Asperger's that certain things could be done to help the child navigate socially. Examples are directly teaching the child about nonverbal communication cues that others use, to teach about volume of the voice, and to try to curb certain behaviors or things shared through oral communication to be easier for others to handle being around. There are some courtesy and etiquette things that seem to me need to be more bluntly taught and more effort applied to execute. I say this about parents helping teach Aspie kids as "doing nothing" or doing whatever they presently are doing is not working for all the kids who seem to possibly have Asperger's. It can get to a point when a person is not just an oddball or a social misfit (no offense intended but I'm not sure how else to describe it) but they are actively making others angry or offending people on a regular basis and seem clueless. Some of these kids and teens are on a road to being isolated if they keep up what they are doing.
Is there any benefit for a child to have an official diagnosis of Asperger's?
Does the fact that a child is homeschooled mean there is no benefit to knowing if they have Asperger's or not? (Meaning, do some people think only schooled kids need a diagnosis?)
In what way might an official diagnosis help the child or teenager?
Would a college student with Asperger's be better off knowing they have it?
Might an official diagnosis in adulthood also help the person?
In what way might a parent benefit from seeking a diagnosis with a qualified professional?
Is there any reason that a parent would not want to know their child has Asperger's Syndrome? I do not accept the answer of "living in denial and not wanting to deal with it" as acceptable.
What does a parent of an Aspie child want a neurotypical parent of a neurotypical parent to know? Do they expect a different set of rules be applied to their child, more forgiveness or more tolerance or (fill in the blank).
Tomorrow I will post some quotes from a book comparing and contrasting what real Asperger's looks like compared to the traits of a gifted child. Some traits of giftedness are the same and some are different.
I suspect some parents think their kids are just smart if not brilliant and don't suspect Asperger's, crediting the different behaviors as being due to their intellectual brilliance. They are impressed with their child's intelligence. Some seem to think everyone else should give their child a pass as the child is different due to just being intelligent.
One example is when a very smart child who only talks to adults does so as the child thinks they are superior to children their same age who they find little in common with. The parents sometimes say this to other parents in a condescending way to explain why their child is not interested in socializing with my child. The truth is, in some cases, that their child has challenges with social skills and is unable to engage kids socially or they may do things that have angered the kids so the kids all want to and try to avoid them. Instead of viewing their child as flawed and in need of assistance to learn to engage socially with peers they feel their child is superior in seeking out more mature or older people to talk to.
Adults who have no choice but to talk to the child (teachers, others who work with kids in organized activities, and relatives) are more kind and will sit and listen to the Aspie child and often will accept them with their negative traits as they are both more forgiving and because they have no choice. (An example is an uncle at a family party who sits and listens to an Aspie child go on and on talking about some obscure topic in a one-sided manner or a teacher who has that student in their classroom.)
If you have opinions and experience please share them in the comments. I feel I need to understand more and want to be educated on this.
P.S. I really want some honest answers and insight. This post is not meant to offend. I'm interested in opening up a dialogue.