Poor Communication in Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome, unlike any of the other disorders in the autistic spectrum does not show the severe delay in speech or cognitive development during the first three years of the child. However there are big differences in language and communication skills for those with Asperger Syndrome such as an inability to communicate or express their own emotional state. It is hard for them to use the right words in the right situation and everything that is said is taken literally. Their inability to read between the lines, understand the concept of figure of speech or double meaning in language, is a strong indication of poor communication. People with Asperger do not understand metaphors or sarcasm in conversations and are confused when they find out people say something but mean the opposite!

The impairment in communication that comes to those with Asperger Syndrome and their intense interests or preoccupations can lead to very unusual forms of communication. They might walk up to a complete stranger and start a lengthy monologue about their subject of interest. They are unaware of the fact other people might not share their interests because of their lack of empathy. They are not able to pick up any non-verbal signs from others who might want to change the subject. In this way any conversation that started out as a dialogue will be turned into a monologue.

Unwritten rules or non verbal signs are not picked up and most people with Asperger Syndrome will interrupt others while they are still talking. Not because they want to be rude but because they can not make sense of the rhythm of conversation. The non verbal signs used by others go unnoticed for those with Asperger.

Rules, such as: always tell the truth, may be followed too strict like I as a mother of a 9 year old son with Asperger syndrome found out:

When I took my son with Asperger to the pool he walked up to a lady who was overweight and simply told her: “ to me it is obvious you ate too much fat ”.

After the incident happened my son complained to me he did not understand why people were upset or angry with him all the time.

Their poor communication may result in remarks that are meant well but often are offending other people. They are usually upset and shocked to find out their remarks are hurtful or inappropriate.

According to Peeters (1996) communication serves a purpose and has several functions such as:

• Asking for something

• Getting some-ones attention

• Refusing

• Give information

• Make remarks to share attention

• Ask for information

• Express your feelings

Since the last three functions are meant to share attention or feelings it is more difficult for those with Asperger to do so. They focus less attention on others in their environment than people without Asperger Syndrome.

In order to structure their inner thoughts and process information some people with Asperger Syndrome will verbalize their thoughts out loud. Their speech can be flat and without tone or pitch but overly formal. Even young children can sound like little professors!

What To Do?

Individuals with Asperger Syndrome may have trouble processing information. They are distracted when they hear more then one voice ate the same time. Make sure the room you are in is quiet when you speak to them so they can hear your properly.

• Be precise, direct and straight to the point

• Avoid jokes metaphors or sarcasm

• Give complete messages: facts, thoughts, feelings and your needs

• Use the word I instead of you

• Explain metaphors, figure of speech or jokes

• Do role pay exercises with children so they can learn how to start a conversation and encourage them to ask questions

• Explain which remarks are inappropriate and why

• Never assume the child or adult with Asperger knows what you mean

• Learn them to ask for help when they don’t understand something

• Teach them to use empathic remarks in conversation by modeling

• Take your time between two sentences

• Learn the child to ask the teacher to write down the instructions or repeat them again.

• Avoid remarks like: in a minute, for a while, sometimes, often, maybe tomorrow or possibly

People with Asperger are not able to charm, use a hidden agenda or hide something from others. They will not recognize this behavior in other people.

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