Funny to put a picture of a clown on this blog post, being that most often Asperger's might affect a person into being more quiet, more hidden, or reserved than another, but sometimes an Aspie might appear totally opposite. It's rather someone with Asperger's just doesn't fit into the normal socially accepted patterns or rules during every day happenings.
With MJ, it was often that he was robotic in the way he reacted socially. Yes, he would talk to people, or respond, or give hugs when instructed or what not, but we noticed that it was different than that of the other kids.
I think I first started to really notice it when he was in Kindergarten. I watched when all the kids would leave for the day that they would all high five the teacher or hug her and say bye, but MJ was like a drone. He would walk like in a trance right through the door and the teacher would be putting her hand out or waiting for a hug and he wouldn't even realize it. I would tell him, "hey, your teacher is saying bye, or say bye, MJ," and then he might make a movement to respond, but it was very unnatural.
I noticed again when at a house of another boy his same age watching the way this boy and his mom talked with each other. It was a shocking experience to see such a difference in the way they communicated and how reserved MJ was and how little I could get from him. MJ's communcation came out in spurts and jumbles and it was tough to follow a conversation with him. He would often start a subject then change subjects so fast that I usually had no idea what he was talking about and it was very hard to follow. Plus, he was too quiet or mumbled a lot, and it was difficult to understand.
When talking back and forth with another person, I would usually have to verbally instruct MJ to repond or that he needed to go say goodbye or hello or thank you to this person. He would always do things, but it was only by instruction. He didn't seem to know how to respond back and forth as if he didn't understand the social norms.
Then again, and why I have put the picture of the clown up there, often times MJ would be totally opposite. He is the loud one, a little too loud in social groups sometimes. Like during a game or movie, he'll be the one laughing with this bellowing loud laugh, or if someone is telling a joke he is laughing a little too loud, a little too long, or often it is as if at the wrong moment.
I actually get a kick out of it. I think it makes him one of those funny good going guys that his friends will remember always had a good laugh at things, or they could always remember him laughing. Then again, it does kind of disrupt things sometimes and cause problems especially when it is at the wrong moments.
My husband does often the same thing as far as the loud laughing. Well, maybe it's just that he will start hysterically laughing at any random commercial. I guess I have never really been around people that just laugh out loud to commercials, but he sure does. It makes me smile though.
Anyway, we have been working with MJ as to when or what he is supposed to do or say when in different situations. I guess it also takes into affect the problems he has misunderstanding sarcasm or phrases people say that have different meaning. I'm always sure to teach him what things mean when it is something new, and I'm trying to help him be polite and socially knowledgeable, and hopefully be able to respond and react as any other person later in life.
I must add that just because he is being instructed to say hello, goodbye, hug, talk, show thanks, etc, does not mean that he doesn't appreciate these things himself or not want to. It is just that he doesn't realize the appropriate times or when to do them.