I know that I am never alone because God is always with me. I get that. Truth is, most of the time I am perfectly content to just go about my day comforted by the knowledge that God is with me in my aloneness. But then there are days when I feel like I am missing out on something. The problem is my moments of loneliness don’t normally move me to seek out social interactions. In that respect I can understand my son’s “anti-social behavior.” The difference between the two of us is that when it’s important for me to interact with others, I can do it. I can sit and have meaningful conversation (or chit-chat) for as long as is necessary.
People with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) are often isolated and alone. They seem to prefer it that way. It is very hard work and certainly not natural for them to make “small talk.” If you have ever attempted to engage an Aspie in small talk, you also know it can be very uncomfortable. It is much easier for the person with AS to go about his own business and only talk to others when it suits him about topics that are of interest to him.
Consider this, many of the symptoms of AS have to do with social ineptness. If you don’t understand your own feelings, how can you appropriately communicate them with others? If you don’t understand body language, how can you interpret the non-verbal communication that is going on during every conversation? If you don’t recognize the need other people have for personal space, how can you avoid making them uncomfortable when you ARE talking to them? If your thoughts are dominated by one particular interest, how can you recognize when people are tired of hearing about it?
It is a constant challenge for me to balance the need that I feel for my son to have friends and his real need/desire for friends. He seems perfectly content to have one friend to hang out with. I believe it is my job to provide many opportunities for him to interact socially, but I struggle with the idea of forcing him into “friendships” that might not be a good fit for him. While I want to guide him into appropriate social behavior, I also want to be comfortable allowing him to be who God made him to be.