Thursday, October 27, 2011
Asperger's and delayed maturity
I recently posted a comment on my facebook page that created some decent discussion. One point of Asperger's or mildly affected autism that I and many studies have noted is a delayed maturity. That means that maturing (socially and emotionally) appears to be delayed in children and adults with these conditions.
Comments left by other parents were quite enlightening. Many of us do deal with temper tantrums and outbursts in our kids where it seems like the behavior of a child three (or so) years younger. It naturally varies from child to child.
This can create inappropriate behavior that isn't intentional, rather they just haven't grown out of it. For example, a "huggie" and "kissie" child may continue the behavior years past where most children mature away from it. When the child is 9 years old and is still kissing peoples arms or stomaches (when hugging them hello or goodbye) it can seem rather odd to some people who don't understand. A hug and kiss goodnight is still appropriate for parents, but some may want to hug and kiss everyone in the room. Don't think that can't last until 11 or 12, because it can.
The important thing to do is constantly be ready to correct and teach. My son is learning handshakes for others instead of smothering hugs and kisses that make others feel uneasy. Just as one example.
"You are old enough and big enough that it's time for you to (fill in the blank here)." Explain what is expected of them.
When the behavior carries over to school, it can quickly invite bullying and being socially outcast from groups of more mature children. Schools are getting better at understanding this so they can teach better social skills too, but it's best if Mom and Dad are the ones really on the ball.
Late maturity also affects capability to handle stress (note my past blog on the subject) and childish tantrums can result easily. There are reports of such behavior even into 20+ years of age. Not all of it can be helped or taught out of. All we as parents can do, is our best, to teach them from youth. Many of us, who are around my age, have had to "go back" and relearn after our diagnosis and researching our own conditions. I know I struggled as a child and now I know why.
For those of us who have young children on the spectrum, this is the perfect time to apply those practices.
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