Most children do not have to be taught in detail how to start a conversation. They learn simply by being in conversations with others, watching others, and paying attention to what has worked for them in the past. Asperger’s Disorder children seem oblivious to this natural learning and need to be told exactly how to start a conversation.
With Asperger’s Disorder children so focused on their special interest, chances are many of their conversations will start off with a question or comment related to their favorite topic. When your child learns from your repeated instruction that this is not an appropriate way to begin a conversation, he may be able to restrain himself but feel anxious because he does not know what to say instead. You can teach him appropriate conversation starters that are likely to work with different people. Be sure to explain that conversations should begin with a greeting and an opening that the listener can respond to.
• Grandparents: “Hi, Grandma, it’s nice to see you!”
• Child you want to play with: “Hi, can I play with you?”
• Teacher: “Good morning! How are you today?”
• Friend: “Hi, what have you been up to?”