Children With Asperger Syndrome CAN Make Friends

Gorman John Ruggiero, Executive Director of Communication Skills Process in Wycombe, PA, explains the misnomers of Asperger Syndome.

2014-05-08_14-18-19 Ruggiero’s motto says it all: “We teach confident communication.”

Gorman John Ruggiero has been developing the Communication Skills Process for over 35 years. His work has been recognized by public and private schools, colleges, mental health centers, social service agencies, and psychology professionals for effectively improving the socialization of children on the Autism Spectrum as well as neurotypical children.   CSP classes have helped many children, youth, and adults have more satisfying relationships with peers and family.

When asked to choose what area of expertise is most influential in the future success of their children, most parents choose communication skills over math, science, English, history, and other subjects.  Good interpersonal communication skills are vital to any field of endeavor, yet these fundamental skills are not primary subjects in the educational system.

Although intellectual communication (such as writing, oral acumen, and discussion) is addressed by educators, it is with physical and emotional communication skills that healthy relationships are developed. Essential communication skills include the ability to read and interpret physical and emotional messages from others and relay physical and emotional messages back.  This holistic approach, by combining physical, emotional, and cognitive message interpretation improves communication.

The fundamentals of communication are observation skills, self-awareness, group awareness, emotional intelligence, and physical self-control, all of which are carefully examined and practiced in CSP.

How often have you heard that children with Asperger syndrome do not like to socialize? That they only have restricted interests and would rather be alone?  That they are unable to make friends?

These misnomers can be dispelled by understanding the difference between social skills and communication skills.  Socialization is a by-product of good communication skills.  Social skills cannot be taught effectively unless communication skills are strong.  Social skills are simply the icing on the cake of communication skills.

Today, when many children and youth are taking advantage of technology to improve their lives, it is important to teach them to balance their activities.  Although technology has improved our lives significantly, it has, in no small part, begun to de-emphasize face-to-face communication.  Research has indicated that almost 30% of parents are involved with cell phones, computers, or other devices while sitting at a meal with their children.  This phenomenon is reducing the opportunities for children to learn appropriate socialization and can lead to problems in school and in relationships, which, in turn, affects future success.  The advent of computers as teaching tools, entertainment, and substitutes for social interactions has made it imperative that communication skills be elevated in importance equal to other school subjects starting in elementary school and continuing through high school.

The CSP program includes exciting games and tasks that help children become aware of spatial relationships; recognize and interpret physical and emotional messages; and appropriately observe and critically analyze each other’s positive and negative behaviors in a safe, structured environment.  Self-examination, self-monitoring, and group-dynamic examination are focal points of the discussions.  Can 5-year-old children critically discuss the physical and emotional messages of peers? Yes, and they can discuss their own messaging activities as well.

Classes are grouped by age range: 5-8, 9-12, 13-17, Adults.

A Current Assessment of Asperger Syndrome

The American Psychiatric Association has deemed in the new DSM-V (released in May, 2013), that Asperger syndrome (AS) will not be included but will fall under the General Autism category.   In fact, the terminology associated with Asperger has been eliminated.  All Asperger-diagnosed children and adults have moved into the general Autism Spectrum Disorder category (ASD).  The American Psychiatric Association claims that there are too many children being diagnosed with AS.

What this will mean for the Asperger community is not yet clear, although there is much angst and speculation from groups such as Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE) and The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) in New York.  These and similar organizations that have fought a long-term battle for Asperger syndrome services are afraid that many children and adults will lose funding and fall off the criteria lists of the general AS category.

How does this diagnostic change in the DSM-V impact the AS community?  In the final determinations and studies to re-categorize AS, some imply that as many as 10% “who meet current criteria for autism spectrum conditions could be excluded.”  Others will pick up a one of the new categories—“Social Communication Disorder”—designed to address people with social and communication difficulties (which describes most Asperger children).

The field of psychology has few, if any, current communication skills training classes within psychology curricula for undergraduate or graduate program students.  Although these curricula include study of social interactions and social cognitive functions, there remains a gaping hole in training for practical communication skills.  Communication skills process relies on methods distilled by the trained experts in communication: the expressive artists.  Where many disciplines may explain that children need to learn to socialize, they are lacking in explanations of exactly how to do it. By combining knowledge from disciplines such as the expressive arts, psychology, and new brain research, a comprehensive program has been developed: Communication Skills Process.

Our mission is to provide teaching, training, presentations, and consultation in the Communication Skills Process to children on the autism spectrum, neurotypical children, parents, therapists, educators, and corporations.

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One Response to Children With Asperger Syndrome CAN Make Friends

  1. maximusaurus says:

    I know this for a fact, as someone with Asperger’s, I was able to make friends both as a child and now as an adult

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