Asperger Subtype: "The Emotion Boy"
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This child or teen may look similar to the paranoid type, but he is less adversarial and less intense. He is also easier to deal with if and when he feels safer. He argues about everything, and almost anything can lead to a tantrum of some size. At times, he can be violent and physical or will destroy property. He wants things to go his way. He wants to control situations and has his own rules about the world and how things are supposed to be. He is often diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). This is another child who doesn't understand the way the world works and becomes anxious as a result. He feels threatened by others and thinks they are trying to control him or are being unfair and arbitrary. He needs to fight with them to gain control and get things straightened out to his way of thinking. However, his arguing does nothing but further aggravate the situation. His rigidity, lack of understanding, and disuse of logic prevent him from seeing this clearly. His emotions determine his actions.
Recommended Approach: Try to avoid power struggles. Do not show much emotion in your responses and try to be matter-of-fact. Stay focused on a particular issue and don't get sidetracked as you have a discussion with this child. It's very easy for the discussion to get off track and become nonproductive. Try to see his arguing as a sign of anxiety and not purposeful misbehavior. Try to get him to see you as a helper or problem solver rather than an adversary or problem causer. Don't overfocus on the content of a discussion, but rather on the process; that is, what is going on behind the content of the discussion.
For example, a discussion may begin around what he is going to get from you for Christmas. Before you know it, you are being accused of buying others bigger and better presents. Or perhaps the accusation is that you never buy him what he really wants. Rather than debate the merits of this argument, which will only escalate further, you should discuss how he is stuck on certain ideas that will only lead to greater upset, and the impact his actions have on himself and others. He must begin to see his role in what is going on and stop blaming others for what occurs. You will need to teach him how to stay focused and how to self-calm, as well as how to compromise and negotiate. But most of all, he needs to see you as trying to help him solve his problems, not making them worse.
More on: Asperger's Syndrome
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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