Impairment in Social Imagination
Individuals with Asperger Syndrome have typical characteristics that directly affect their ability to relate meaningfully to others. One of those characteristics is an impairment in social imagination combined with inflexible thinking and repetitive behavior. The lack of imagination can be mild or more severe. It will effect the ability those with Aspergers have to appreciate other people’s point of view and there for their behavior will lack social and emotional reciprocity. But lets start at the very beginning:
An impairment in imagination is something that will be obvious from early childhood. Young children with Asperger Syndrome will have trouble with imaginative play. This means being able to pretend you are a princes or cowboy is unthinkable. Normal children learn a lot through imaginative play. They can pretend to be teachers or parents to their dolls (or siblings) and practice those adult roles through play. This will help them out in the real world later on in life.
Most children with Asperger Syndrome lack the ability to pretend. This means they will get stuck in their thinking which is focused on reality all the time. When their peers invite them to play cowboys and Indians and pretend their bikes are the horses the Asperger child will keep seeing a bike instead of a horse. He will not be able to join in. This will effect their behavior, social interaction and the way they are able to connect or relate to others. Toys may be considered fake, Halloween outfits silly and they may become loners from an early age. Most of them are interested in stuff that goes on in real life such as trains, planes, aerospace, animals or computers.
How does someone with an impairment in social imagination go through life?
Not being able to practice roles and social skills through imaginative play, those with Asperger Syndrome are bound to make many social errors. The limitations in their understanding of other people’s feelings come from their lack of imagining what something must be like for some-one else.
Those with Asperger Syndrome can see things their way only. This can not be helped. It’s not unwillingness but an inability to place yourself in other people’s shoes and see the situation from another perspective. Their behavior can be rigid and repetitive. They are highly focused on topics or their interest and are known to be preoccupied with their own agenda.
When you are unable to place yourself in another person's situation and see things from another point of view you are likely to have big trouble interacting socially. When someone asks for your honest opinion and you give it to them, they get angry, upset or start to cry. People with Asperger miss the subtleness or tact in their language or behavior others take for granted. Feelings of other people can not be understood and social clues such as body language or facial expressions are not picked up.
Individuals with Asperger Syndrome may be unaware of other peoples feelings. Let alone taken them into consideration!
This is something people surrounding those with Asperger have to remember and understand. None of their behavior or remarks is indented to hurt you, even though they may seem very rude. Due to lack of imagination they lack empathy with your feelings and can not imagine you can get hurt!
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