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Asperger's question (and similar conditions that impair social skills)

I've been reading a lot of discussions on TV sites about an incident that happened on The Amazing Race last weekend. One of the racers has Asperger's, and several times, he's gotten frustrated and had outbursts. The worst one was when he started breaking dishes because he was sliding into last place in a challenge. This past one is when he was rude to the person in charge of walking him through the steps of a challenge and checking his work to see if it was good enough to get the next clue. (the racer is a grown adult, not a child) When he does things like this, if his teammate is in the room and sees/hears it, he'll immediately tell him to stop. If he's not close enough, the behavior goes unchecked.

The discussion whenever he does something like this seems to fall into two camps - that everyone else should excuse his behavior because he literally doesn't know when he's being "bad", and that there is no excuse for it because other people (including some of the people in the discussion) either have Asperger's or have a child with it, and they feel it is their responsibility to recognize things that are outright rude and not do them. They argue that they (or their child) have been constantly taught how to deal with stress and to be conscious of these things because it's not everyone else's job to adapt to them.

So is it an allowable excuse, or should he (and others) not be treated any differently since there are others who have been raised since childhood to watch for specific social cues, even if they don't react to them emotionally?

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 9:50 PM on May. 4, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (14)
  • I know who you're talking about, I watch too. I've always seen it as a "normal" (whatever THAT is) venting of frustrations. I actually LOVE that pair, they're hilarious.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 10:02 PM on May. 4, 2011

  • Just realized that I didn't address the rest of your question. Adults SHOULD know how to deal with socially uncomfortable situations, they've had enough training and help by the time they're grown (I'm thinking more like 20 here, not 18). Kids are STILL LEARNING and should NOT be expected to handle every situation perfectly. My neighbor is autistic and sometimes he does the GOOFIEST things sometimes. I just remind myself, and my kids, that he thinks differently than we do and try to gently steer him into something that doesn't make me quite as uncomfortable.

    Cute thing he did do: I was wearing I bright Green (Sounders Rave Green) ball cap. He came up right into my face with his grin/smile and told me I looked like Luigi. I laughed and thought that was awesome, and told him so.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 10:08 PM on May. 4, 2011

  • That's tough to answer. It would depend on the severity of his disorder I think, but as an adult I think you still understand what is and isn't acceptable. And who's to say the temper outbursts are even from the aspergers? As an example, I have bipolar disorder, with severe social anxiety disorder. Now that my son has symptoms of aspergers and sensory integration disorder, and we have done a lot more research I have realized that a lot of my symptoms that I have had since birth fit into the aspergers and sensory category also. Particularly sounds can set me off. I can have violent fits of anger at home, throwing things and breaking things. But I can also hold back my temper when I am around others, like my kids or out in public. Living with it for so long, I have adapted and learned how and when I have to control my emotions. Not saying that everyone should be able to control it like I can, that is where the disease severity

    Answer by Astraea_79 at 10:23 PM on May. 4, 2011

  • Well the idea is that children living with autism, anywhere on that spectrum, learn ways to cope with various stressful thoughts/feelings. Yet two things come to mind: limited intervention services and limited understanding of the disorder and it's various presentations. Sometimes no amount of learned coping mechinisms prepare you for tge overwelming situations you may face. I don't watch television so I have not seen this particular season. But I have seen the show in tge past. Of course someone living with this disorder will lose it. Because the entire race, from start to finish, is sensory over load. Most people on the continum have great difficulty with sensory processing. The stress from the missions and goals of each race is overwhelming for people who do not have difficulty processing their environment. Even "normal" people have had tantrums on that show. Imagine

    Answer by frogdawg at 11:07 PM on May. 4, 2011

  • now you have a disorder like that...of course you are going to break down. It's too much. And I suspect tge producers know that causing it to be great television entertainment. It may be a person with these issues does just fine most of the time but given this is not a normal every day kind of pressure...I would expect a melt down and be surprised if tgere wasn't.

    Answer by frogdawg at 11:10 PM on May. 4, 2011

  • I used to work with kids with aspergers using hippo therapy. On a level, they do know that their behavior is bad they just don't know how to stop it once those feelings start. We would always work with them to help them regain control of the situation by removing them from the horses until they were able to calm themselves. Parents would report that this technique helped at home as well and the duration of the outbursts would decline. These kids and adults need to be treated like "normal" as much as possible so the outbursts don't start, but if they do happen, then they need to have the help of others that they need to overcome that obstical.

    Answer by Kitkat61277 at 11:48 PM on May. 4, 2011

  • I've never seen this show, but I have a son with autism and I am definitely teaching him appropriate behavior to live in the "real world" I have so many friends with autistic kids who don't take their kids to certain places or in certain situations in order to shield their child. My son is 13 and I take him everywhere - to museums, restaurants, skating rinks, church, the mall, etc. Did he act perfectly the first time I took him to these places? Of course not. But now I can take him to new places and as long as he knows the expectations beforehand, he does very well. Just to clarify - he's not high functioning, he's in a special education classroom setting at school.

    Answer by missanc at 9:46 AM on May. 5, 2011

  • How smart is it to put a person with this kind of a challenge on TV? You have to wonder if the show is benefiting from his outbursts and either encouraging them or editing to highlight them. What impact will it have on his life after the show is over? Is he getting stronger because he is being set up for failure more often? Or will he be harrassed on the streets later? Precisely why I don't watch that kind of show.

    Answer by LoveMyDog at 10:20 AM on May. 5, 2011

  • well apparently he hasnt learned to control it or he probably would not do it if he could help it i no i wouldnt act mental if i knew how not to and do you really know his background maybe he wasnt taught

    Answer by flipper4u21 at 1:13 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • As a parent to a child with Asperger's I say a little of both. We are working with him to learn how to 'self regulate' his feelings and understand basic social skills, like not always saying what comes to mind. We are working to teach him self calming techniques. He is 6 and we have made leaps and bounds of improvement and I feel by the time he is an adult he will have a pretty good grasp on things. Nothing I do or anyone else does will ever 'cure' the problem. All we can do it teach him to adapt. There will be times where adapting isn't going to go perfectly. Times when he can't 'fake normal' And while he needs to be held responsible for his actions we also need to keep in mind he does have the mental delays and inability to naturally control his emotions. I will go back to the term 'faking it'. That's what he is being taught. I know everything in you wants to do things this way but you need to fake it and do it ..

    Answer by But_Mommie at 1:16 PM on May. 5, 2011

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