I would give a resounding, yes, to that. Now, people with Asperger’s Syndrome do not understand all of the little cultural nuances of what is right and wrong in every little social interaction. For instance, I had to be told not to discuss fishing during a Easter dinner when I was old enough that most children my age would have known better.
And it does take children with Asperger’s longer to realize that adults feel physical pain just like them. To all children, adults are seen at first as these amazing individuals who are impervious to any hardship. But most children realize early on that adults, though hardy, do still feel pain when jabbed in the side with an elbow. An elementary child with Asperger’s has to be told this, since they still believe that the adult will react to them as he or she did when the child was a toddler when the child, now much larger decides to jump on their leg.
So why do children with Asperger’s Syndrome (and some adults, too) cause terrible pain or damamge to someone or something, even after they are told not to do something like that, even after they know that what they are doing is going to cause pain? Often, in the moment, they believe that that person or thing has offended them in such a way as to warrant such behavior.
The problem for people with Asperger’s Syndrome is that they do not have the ability to regulate their emotions like a typical person does. People with Apserger’s Syndrome are often fine, or furious; happy or depressed. There is no, “I am happy, but I can feel that I am starting to feel a bit unhappy, what should I do about it.”
Anyone who feels furious has a difficult time thinking clearly. But neurotypical people have time to think about what they might do, should their growing feelings of anger become fury. An Aspergian, doesn’t have that time. What I have had to learn to do is manage myself, even in the midst of great fury. As my family can attest, I have not always handled myself well, but I am getting better.
Basically, when I start feeling furious, I have to try to get myself to think about what is going on: why am I furious, is it reasonable that I feel furious, how can I deal with this situation constructively? Sometimes that means that I will tell my children to go to their rooms until I can calm down and figure out what needs to be done next. Sometimes I excuse myself to the bathroom or to a quiet place to read, if my husband is home and can manage things for a bit.
I am glad that the research out there is helping to give kids with ASD a break. Because when they are preschool age and younger, they really don’t realize what is right and what is wrong, often. However, I want people to know that the child may have known that they were doing something wrong, so help them find other ways to handle it, don’t just assume that they didn’t know what they were doing. They are smart enough to use that as an excuse to cause trouble, and they won’t learn how to handle things properly, causing them great trouble when they are adults.
5 thoughts on “Do people with Asperger’s Syndrome know right from wrong?”
A thought provoking blog, thank you. As a lady with some Aspie traits, married to my husband with definite Aspie traits and the mother of two children, my eldest son is in the process of being diagnosed I am confused! My husband has been in a fury this weekend, because of constant provocation by some people he works with, and something that happened on Friday tipped him over the edge. My 14 year old son has to put up with constant provocation at school, which he neither causes or deserves. This is bullying, and I have had to endure this from others as well, throughout my life. In my experience Aspies do know right from wrong, most definitely. In my experience so called ‘neurotypical people’ do not know right from wrong otherwise they would not behave in this cruel manner towards others. We just want to get on with our lives and do not want to interfere in other peoples lives, unless it is in a positive way, but it does not seem to work the other way round.
I have to smile at your comment – you have summed up the Aspie experience very well. I totally get where you are coming from. Unfortunately, because we are in the minority, to survive, we have to learn to play by their rules. Is it fair? No. Can we teach them a lot about how to behave more civilly, definitely. I think, quite frankly, that is one of the main reasons God has us on this earth – to help others see that some of their gray ways of behaving are not at all okay. Thanks so much for this very insightful comment and I’ll be praying that things go better for your family.
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I hope you write again soon!
Thank you so much for this. Very well put.
I am glad you find it useful!