Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) refers to a less severe form of autism that is believed to affect nearly 1 in 59 children born in the U.S today. While the label of “Asperger’s Syndrome” has been removed from the DSM-5, the diagnosis itself remains with a new label, Social Communication Disorder, as a mild form of autism spectrum disorder.
One characteristic of Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) is that children who have it experience a hard time identifying and talking about specific feelings or emotions they’re having. It can help to teach your child to identify emotions. That way, they can better recognize their own feelings and spot them in other people. Here’s how you can start.
Teach them About Facial Expressions
Facial expressions are a very common way that people show their emotions. Teach your child to recognize and identify which facial expressions are associated with each emotion. You can use flash cards or photographs to practice learning facial expressions while you’re not in a social situation, so there is far less pressure on the child.
Explain Body Language
Body language is another way that people show you how they feel. Explain that to your child with a social communication disorder, then demonstrate different types of body language to show them what different physical signals mean. You can do things like draw cartoon people to demonstrate body language, or you can act out the body language yourself. Once your child learns what certain body language means in terms of emotions, have them practice acting out the body language or drawing it on paper.
Watch Age-Appropriate Movies and Television Shows
Movies and TV shows are great for kids with Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) because they show social situations with emotions acted out. When you’re watching movies and shows, pause when there is a scene in which a character is displaying a specific emotion. Ask your child to identify that emotion, and tell you how they know which emotion they’re seeing on the screen.
Create an Emotions Chart
Sometimes, kids with Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) know what they’re feeling, but they just don’t know the right way to communicate it. Create a feelings chart that has the names of different feelings as well as a faces that are showing that emotion. Put it up on the wall of your home and carry a portable copy with you. When your child is feeling something he’s not sure how to explain, have him point to the feelings chart. This will give him an easy way to identify what he’s going through without having to explain it or feel stuck.