I have a wonderful 12 year old son with Asperger's. He is functioning very well, he doesn't require any special accomodations at school, and with the help of social skills therapies he is being pretty well accepted by his peers. My question is this: Asperger's kids are known to be quite naive since they tend to take things at face value. My son just started the 7th grade and he knows less about sex and violence and, come to think of it, other "real life" situations than do his peers. For example, he doesn't pick up on the mild sexual slang his peers sometimes use and comes home and asks his dad to translate for him. He also finds it astonishing when he hears about a classmate's parents getting divorced or even reading in the paper of people committing crimes. My husband and I have talked to him about all the age appropriate things: the basic "where babies come from" talks, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, stranger safety, all the normal things. Should we expose him to more "real-life" situations by talking about these things more or let him pick it up at his own speed? We don't let our children watch R-rated movies and we're relatively disciplined, but I don't think we're overbearing. He has been exposed to many people and environments (we're a military family so we move quite a bit--three times in the past 4 years) and I think that has actually helped his social skills (even though Asperger's kids are resistant to change, I think since he was forced to adapt it actually helped). Anyhow, just looking for some input. I don't know whether to let him remain more naive than his classmates or not. For the record, his classmates are all good kids, and the things they talk about that "shock" my son are very mild, I remember talking about the same things at that age. He is doing well right now, so I don't want to rock the boat too much, but I don't want him to feel lost and confused, even if the topics are a bit uncomfortable.
My 6 year old (PDD-NOS), also takes things very literally. We have found with her that we have to be blunt and as truthful as possible. When we try to talk around something, she ends up misinterpreting what we are saying.
For example, the other day, I caught her sucking on batteries. I explained to her that was dangerous as batteries have poison. I thought that was enough of an explanation, but we caught her doing it again. My husband and I had to sit her down and explain that batteries have poison that could kill you. She had to hear what the consequence of doing the act would be to really understand what we were talking about. Even then, we have now locked up all batteries in our house (just in case).
I can imagine how difficult it must be having a child in that pre-teen stage and on the spectrum. I really worry about those days with my children. Three of my four children are on the autism spectrum, and as a parent we want to do all we can to keep our children safe without scaring them. We knew early on that they did not seem to understand consequences of actions, and the older they get, and more independent they get, the more it scares me. Right now my ASD kids are 7, 6, and 1, but I dread the age you are dealing with. Good luck to you. I cannot offer much advice except to say be as honest as possible. You would much rather he learn these difficult tasks from you then the kids at school. Hope all goes well.
I don't think I'm "naive" in the classic sense because my mother educated me VERY early on, thus making me one of those Aspies that are extremely hypermoral/scrupulous, but I'm "naive" in the fact that, even though I know things exist, I'm blind to how often it happens. For example, I'm in college, but I'm "blind" to the fact that people drink. Of course I know it goes on, but I never see it because I'm in my own little world. My one high school friend asked me if my college was a "party school," and I told her that I was the worst person to ask. While the idiots are out boozing, I'm in my room reading my chemistry book for fun. I'm not as hypermoral as I used to be (to the point that I wouldn't want to even be around someone when they talked about drinking or something I considered "bad"), but I still get shocked every time when one of my friends reveals that they drink because it's just a world that shatters me. (Drugs are another story- I won't even have any contact with anybody who does drugs.) Anyway, I knew all about how babies were created at three. I didn't know what "sex" was or where the baby came out during birth, but I did know all of the sperm and egg biology. My mom told me after we watched the opening scene of Look Who's Talking and I was curious. That and the fact that pregnancy was one of my fixations as a young child. Most four-year-olds want to be a firefighter or a ballerina- I wanted to be an obstetrician. My mom has always told me that I'm "knowledgeable, but not experienced," and this is true- I might've known about sex early on, but I'm a devout virgin until marriage. I was born in 1987, just when the anti-drug campaign went under way. I remember watching this video with all of the famous cartoon characters. The sister was still hanging out with the cartoons and the older brother was doing drugs. This movie invoked fear in me and I think I listened so well to it because Garfield, another one of my fixations, was in it. Similarly, when I was three, yet another fixation was Full House. I used to watch the episodes over-and-over, so seeing the episode where DJ's date spills beer on her and Uncle Jesse thinks it's her and tells her she's "in serious trouble" was like repeated propaganda for me: Don't drink, don't drink... I think my OCD also helped me because I developed full-blown OCD at 11 1/2, the time when these issues are just arising. Not surprisingly, I have scrupulosity issues with my OCD, including blasphemous obsessions. I have this recurring obsession that, since I'm pure in every sense of the word (sex, alcohol, drugs, smoking, crime, etc.), if I'm even around a situation where something "bad" is taking (with the exception of cigarette smoking or a bar in a restaurant), that I will be "bad" myself and God will punish me. There's also the fact that I've always been interested in health/medicine, so I knew the health problems that drugs/alcohol/smoking bring, so all of the aspects of my psychiatric disorders really did help in forming me- I always say that my OCD and Asperger's define my personality and who I am, and it's true. Just as a side note, I think Asperger's may help kids move. I know it did me. Yes, I dislike change, but I moved a lot as a child and always enjoyed it, probably because I never grew a real attachment to my "friends." They were "fun" to be around, but I could take 'em or leave 'em, preferably leave 'em. Good luck, God bless, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
I don't consider myself naive, either. I was also fortunate to have parents who educated me in terms of right and wrong. I don't do certain things for many of the same reasons you mentioned. Certain behaviors are wrong because they are unhealthy and because they hinder academic and career development.