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.