Social Phobia, also called Social Anxiety Disorder, is a significant fear of social situations in which the person might be embarrassed. People with Social Phobia are excessively worried about being judged, humiliated, and ridiculed by others. Individuals with Social Phobia have poor social skills. They are hypersensitive to criticism and have low self esteem. They are uncomfortable making eye contact, initiating conversations, and speaking in front of others. While adults are able to recognize what is causing them to feel anxious, children typically are not able to do so. Children with Social Phobia may back away from interacting with others, avoid playing in a group, stay on the outside of group activities, and prefer to interact with familiar adults. Their chronic avoidance of interacting with peers deprives them of the normal opportunities to learn social skills from experience. Thus, as children with Social Phobia grow older, they become increasingly anxious due to the failure to develop appropriate ways to interact with age-mates.
Social Phobia lacks the restricted interest patterns, insistence on routine, and odd use of language that is seen in Asperger’s Disorder. However, many of the symptoms of social phobia are displayed by children with Asperger’s Disorder, making it difficult to distinguish between the two disorders.