Asperger??™s:A Break in CommunicationComm 200Michael O??™Donnell9/27/10Asperger??™s: A Breakdown in CommunicationWe are able to communicate with others in multiple ways, a kind word of encouragement, a pat on the back, yelling, and the tilt of the head are just a few examples. Those with Asperger??™s syndrome have trouble expressing and interrupting the true meaning of the messages in an encounter. Asperger Syndrome is a type of pervasive developmental delay that effects imagination, ability to socialize, and most importantly communication skills (WebMD, 2009). I will discuss effective principles in interpersonal communication, their barriers and strategies for interpersonal conflict and how it pertains to individuals affected by Asperger??™s syndrome.There are key principles for communicating effectively in an interpersonal relationship: verbal skills, emotional expressiveness, conversational focus, nonverbal analysis, conversational encouragement, care and appreciation, commitment and adaptation (Hybels & Weaver II, 2007, pg.
173). Asperger??™s individuals have challenges with each of these principles in some way. Verbal skills are acquired through our environment, cognitive development and native architecture, which is an inborn genetic link for language transmission and acquisition (Hybels & Weaver II, 2007, pg.107). Since we are all born with this genetic ability for language, why then would someone afflicted by Asperger??™s have such a hard time with communication even with the right environmental influences The answer would be their cognitive development. Cognitive development is defined in Communicating Effectively as ???the development of the thinking and organizing systems of your brain that involves language, mental imagery, reasoning, problem solving, and memory development (Hybels & Weaver II, 2007, pg. 108)???. When the cognitive development of someone is impaired by Asperger??™s, that individual will have difficulty with what they want to say and how they actually say it.
An individual with Asperger??™s tend to be very literal, therefore they may have trouble with some basic communication rules such as ritual language, and using euphemisms and doublespeak. Ritual language is expected responses within particular settings. For example one may ask another ???how are you??? the expected response would be fine or good because the reason for asking is to be polite not to get a detailed account of how the person is feeling. An individual with Asperger??™s does not understand this and would therefore give a thorough rendition of their physical state at the time. Euphemisms, a mild or vague expression substituted for one that is thought to be harsh or offensive may confuse an individual with Asperger??™s because they arrive at the literal meaning of a phrase of sentence. For example, if someone were to say ???hold your horses??? to an individual with Asperger??™s they may respond with ???I don??™t have horses!???, as my son, who has Asperger??™s syndrome, has done in the past. Verbal cues are not the only communication elements that get misunderstood with those affected by Asperger??™s syndrome.
The next area that individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome have trouble with is reading and using non-verbal cues in communication. Often times non-verbal aspects of communication will not match what they are saying (Aspergers Syndrome – Understanding – Prognosis ??“ Treatment,n.d.). For example, Asperger??™s individuals can speak with a flat affect even when they are excited about what they are talking about, confusing the other person. Conflictingly, if they are being spoken to in a raised voice they may not infer that the other person is angry or upset.
Researchers believe this is due to their inability to understand their own emotions, thoughts and intentions as well as others??™. This is thought to have an impact on their emotional IQ. Researchers in Canada found during a study involving youths with Asperger??™s that they had a significantly lower emotional intelligence score than the standardized sample (Montgomery, et al., Jun 2008). They found that sufferers of Asperger??™s could not apply an understanding of emotion into their daily interpersonal interactions.My son has numerous meltdowns a week due to the fact that he cannot recognize his frustration, anger, or unhappy feelings toward someone or something. He tends to scream, throw and hit and cannot calm himself down on his own.
One incident comes to mind where we were outside with his younger brother. He wanted to go inside for something to drink, but instead of saying that he said that he wanted to go in. He was told that we weren??™t going inside yet since we had only been out for a short time and his brother was still playing, a meltdown ensued. After thirty to forty-five minutes of working with him, he was able to calm down and inform me of what he really wanted – a drink. Not only did he express an inappropriate response to not being able to go inside yet, he was unable to ask for what he really wanted. This scenario is a common occurrence in individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome.Another issue individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome have to contend with is being taken advantage of and/or bullied.
This is due to their inability to properly read communication cues, verbal or non-verbal, missing the intended meaning. There are people that prey on the short comings of individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome.Individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome can remedy their communication issues by having routine sessions with someone that has a Master??™s degree in a human service field, such as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and/or a Behavioral Assistant. They work with them on learning to recognize their feelings and are then given the necessary tools to help them properly deal with those emotions.
If successful the Asperger individual will then be able to express themselves in an appropriate manner when an undesirable emotion arises.Conversational focus and encouragement are other areas where Asperger??™s individuals have problems as well. They are unable to focus on interests other than their own. For example if I was trying to talk to my son about his day at school, he will constantly try to go on to what he wants to do or talk about. Along with having a fixed focus on their own interests, Asperger??™s individuals have trouble with conversational turn-taking. During that conversation regarding my sons day at school, he will talk over me instead of listening to what I am saying to him. He has a hard time with the give and take of a conversation; he is focused on his needs or wants and after that he is finished with the conversation.
Another area of conversation etiquette that Asperger??™s individuals fail to follow is giving cues to the other person indicating that they are listening or have an interest in the other person??™s statements. When having a conversation with my son I have to ask him to repeat what I said to make sure he was listening. Without his repeating back to me, I would not know if he was listening or not. He doesn??™t look at me when I speak and doesn??™t show any reaction.
Asperger??™s individuals often will not encourage bids from other individuals, which are any gesture or statement to feel a tie with one another (Hybels & Weaver II, 2007, pg. 166). Therefore it may seem that they have no interest in the other person, which is not correct, causing communication problems between the pair. The lack of reciprocation is due to their inability to read social situations.
For instance, while playing with his brother, my son will not express to his brother the enjoyment he is having with him. However, he will express his enjoyment towards playing with favorite toys. Even though Asperger??™s individuals do not show that they care or appreciate other individuals they will commit themselves to others. At times their level of commitment to another can be inappropriate and most times not differentiating between someone they know and a stranger.
This can cause problems for the Asperger individual when they disclose too much personal information to practical strangers. The Asperger individual will, also, have an inaccurate perception of their ???friends???. An example would be my son giving a child that he has just met at the park for the first time a hug when leaving. My son tends to say ???see you tomorrow??? at the close of such meetings believing that he now has a new friend that he will play with again soon.Another area where the Asperger??™s individual has difficulty is adaption. Adapting requires the ability to make changes in skills and behaviors depending on the situation. Asperger??™s individuals have trouble with this because they are very regimented and typically stick to one way of doing things. If an interaction is failing they will not be able to change their way of handling the interaction because of their inflexibility.
For example, if my son is trying to tell me something and I am busy he will always tap me and speak inches from my face to get my attention, even though he has been told various times that isn??™t an appropriate way of gaining someone??™s attention. If asked what is the proper way he can tell you, but when it comes to following through he reverts back to his typical response because it is what he knows and is use to.A way of remedying this issue is for individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome to engage in social skills therapy. They are programs for Asperger??™s syndrome and a group of their peers that??™s facilitated by behavioral therapists guiding the session teach them proper communication skills. Social skills groups help individuals with Asperger??™s syndrome learn the communication skills that come naturally to others. They work with conversation turn taking, staying on topic, maintaining conversations and appropriate distances from others among varies other communication and social issues.
In conclusion, the Asperger??™s individual faces many obstacles in communication due to their lack of skills. They are true examples of why communication skills are important in making and keeping successful relationships. To become successful, they must work much harder on learning communication skills than the average person. Asperger??™s individuals can achieve this through therapies that focus on proper communication skills and continued practice with said skills.Referencesanonymous. (2009). Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center, Aspergers Syndrom.
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