Impairment in Social Interaction

Children and adults with pervasive development disorders, like Asperger Syndrome have difficulty with social interaction. This is not caused by their desire to avoid social contact but the problem comes from the inability to understand and use the rules of social interaction and act according to those rules. Most rules that have to do with social interaction are unwritten, too complex for them to grasp and changing all the time. They simply do not know what to do and when to do it.

According to Gilberg and others: impairment in social interaction may include:

• Inability to interact with peers
• Lack of desire to interact with peers
• Poor appreciation of social cues
• Poor eye contact at appropriate times
• Socially and emotionally inappropriate responses
• Avoids looking at other people’s faces
• Doesn’t respond to facial expressions or body language
• Misreading social situations
• Inability to smile back at others
• Seem unmotivated by praise or physical affection
• Inability to demonstrate sympathy or empathy

Although most people with Aspergers want to have friends and interact with others, their attempts are unsuccessful which makes them outsiders in their peer groups. Their social behavior is naive and peculiar and they fail in knowing intuitively of how to fit in. Children with Asperger Syndrome can be known for “being in their own world” and preoccupied with their own agenda. However they express a desire to fit in socially and have friends. They are often deeply frustrated and disappointed by their lack of social interaction.

Due to their impairment in social interaction children with Asperger Syndrome tend to be loners who have no close friends. In school during playtime or on their lunch break, they are alone in the playground. When they are able to make a connection with others those other children are much older or much younger.

Young children with Asperger Syndrome are often bullied in school which can lead to social withdrawal. Older children and adults may become isolated. Their repeated, unsuccessful attempts at interacting socially and their painful awareness of their differences from their peers, often leads to anxiety and/or depression.

Asperger Syndrome is lifelong and present from birth. It is not something developed later on in life and it will not disappear. Children with Asperger syndrome often grow up to be consider an "odd" or "eccentric" adult. Over time some of them will learn the rules of social interaction intellectually rather then intuitively and will be successful later on in their life.

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