Children and teens with Asperger’s Disorder are very poor at social referencing and coregulation.
They do not understand that paying attention to what others are saying, feeling, and doing is an important part of friendships. They lack both the interest and the skill in observing others. They are blind to how others are feeling and are often at a loss as to how to even guess another person’s emotion when asked to do so. Regardless of how the other child is feeling and acting, the Asperger’s Disorder child will simply continue on with whatever thought, word, and emotion he has. This is understandably upsetting to others, who conclude that he is rude and inconsiderate. Most often the Asperger’s Disorder child simply seems selfish and only interested in what he thinks and wants to do. Yet sometimes his failure to socially reference and coregulate can seem alarmingly insensitive. A peer may want to talk about the death of his pet, to which the Asperger’s Disorder child responds by talking about his train collection. He does not observe that his friend is sad and without this social reference, he does not coregulate by waiting to talk about trains and instead offer sympathy.