For children with Aspergers, friends are difficult to make and keep. When a child without Aspergers Syndrome makes friends, parents are not often involved in the choice of the friend or the facilitation of the friendship. In Aspergers children, however, the parent may need to be an active participant in helping the child make and keep real friends.
Part of the process involves concretely teaching the child how a normal friend should act. Politeness, restraint, talking and establishing eye contact are all skills your child will likely have to be purposefully taught. Finding the appropriate child to be your child’s friend in a school situation often takes careful planning and effort. It is very helpful if you can volunteer in your child’s classroom so you can get to know the children your child interacts with every day.
If you find a child who is fairly mature and receptive to being friends with your child, talk to the child’s parents. Find out if the two can play together and give it a try. Rowdy or noisy children can distress the Aspergers child, so make sure it is a good fit. If your child is one of the many who have specific interests or musical ability, make the effort to put your child in groups or settings where they will be able to meet others of a like mind. Having similar interests to other children will help to facilitate friendships. Even if your child doesn’t have a special interest, consider a structured group. Boy Scouts or a church group can provide opportunities to make friendships. These groups will provide regular contact, as well, which will make it easier to maintain the friendship.
You want to facilitate friendships, but don’t do something like invite over lots of children all at once. One child at your house at a time has the best chance of success. If the other child has some maturity, try explaining Aspergers to him or her. If the child has some understanding of what your child has to deal with, it can reduce the frustration or confusion that some children can feel around Aspergers children. Not every opportunity to foster a friendship will pan out and your child may seem resistant to all of your efforts. If you child does prefer to play alone, don’t fight it. Wait for signs of being receptive to friendships and then try again later.
Friendships are important for all children, but it can be more complex for children with Aspergers. However you should continue to support your child in this area, as the results can be make it all worthwhile.
Dave Angel is the author of three best-selling ebooks about children with Aspergers Syndrome. To find out more about helping your child with Aspergers to make friends go to http://www.parentingaspergerscommunity.com/public/343.cfm
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