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Asperger Subtype: "The Rule Boy"

Innocent/Passive Boy
This child or teen is often seen as a teacher's delight. Everywhere he goes, others remark how well behaved he is. He is never a discipline problem, never a disruption. However, at home his behaviors can be terrible. He can be quite bossy and controlling. Tantrums, yelling, and arguing can be a daily occurrence. The key to recognizing this type is the behavior differences between home and school. If he is poorly behaved in school as well, he is not a Rule Boy.

The Rule Boy wants to please others. He doesn't want anyone mad at him. He is very cooperative with authority figures and is very obedient, often to a fault. He can be too naive and taken advantage of because he will be reluctant to stand up for himself or be assertive. He tries to "fly under the radar." He does not want to stand out. While his behavior is unusually good, he can become distressed by others who do not follow the rules. Often, these children monitor others' actions and will "tell on them," becoming the "rule police." Clearly, these children have anxiety, but it is not overwhelming for them. They manage their anxiety by following the rules and making sure others do as well. Problems only occur for them when rules are absent or vague and the person in charge lacks authority in their eyes.

Recommended Approach: Structure, routines, schedules, and prompting cards are some of the tools used to create a new set of appropriate rules for this child in every difficult setting no matter how small the situation might be. There is no such thing as a situation that is too small to have rules. Going to a store, taking a bath, deciding where to eat dinner – all need rules. You need to supply a set of rules regarding appropriate behaviors to be demonstrated in each problem situation, and state them like this: "The rule is . . ." Don't hesitate to also explain why you are doing what you are doing. This will help generalize these skills later on.

For example, you would say, "The rule is, when we take a bath we can only put ten toys in the tub" (or whatever number you think is right). "We'll stay in the tub for twenty minutes, and when the buzzer goes off it's time to get out and we'll go in your room and put your pj's on. We'll go back in the bathroom and brush your teeth for two minutes and then get back in bed and we'll read one book before we shut the lights out and go to bed." These rules can be modified to suit your particular situation, but it should give you an idea of the details that may be needed for your child.

Highly structured classrooms run by authority figures won't need to do much of this. Instead, they will be trying to help the rule child be less rule bound and have greater tolerance for ambiguity.

From Parenting Your Asperger Child by Alan Sohn, Ed.D., and Cathy Grayson, M.A. Copyright � 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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