Asperger's Syndrome and Internet Dangers

by HSG on Apr 10, 2013 in Articles from Software Fans

The World Wide Web is a fun place to connect with old friends, make new ones, and stay involved in social media. It can also be a dangerous place for those who don’t know how to be safe on the web. Children, teenagers, and young adults with Asperger’s syndrome are especially vulnerable to fraud, sexual predators, and other online dangers.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder on the autistic spectrum. Children, teenagers, and adults with this developmental disorder are not sick. They’re brains are wired differently from people who are not on the spectrum. In the autistic community, people who are not on the spectrum are referred to as neurotypical.

The reason Internet dangers are so much more of a risk for people with Asperger’s syndrome is because of the symptoms associated with it. The best way to describe Asperger’s to someone who is not familiar with it is to call it a social learning disability. The parts of the brain responsible for reading facial expressions, body language, and other social cues do not function properly.

People with this developmental disorder tend to take everything literally. They believe what they’re told and see people and situations as black and white, good or bad, sane or insane. There’s not a lot of grey area. They tend to be child-like and emotionally vulnerable. They also don’t often possess common sense and have difficulty reading the intentions of others.

Because of social confusion and continued rejection from peers, many Aspie teens and young adults go on the Internet to find community and connection. This is where concerns about Internet dangers can come in.

Internet Dangers for Those with Asperger’s Syndrome

Sexual Predators

Young teenage girls with Asperger’s syndrome are a particular target for Internet sexual predators. Because they take what’s said to them literally, believe what they are told, and have little common sense, they may think nothing of giving personal identifying information or arranging to meet a stranger.

Fraud

One of the biggest dangers of the Internet is fraud. There are many types of fraud ranging from phishing, spying, and personal fraud. Children and teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome may easily fall for phishing scams by giving out their passwords or other personal identifying information.

They may also accidentally download software that allows sexual predators to view them through their webcam, even when they’re not using it.

Personal fraud is another common Internet danger that can be especially problematic for those on the spectrum. This is most likely to be a problem for teenagers and young adults who find a friend or romantic interest online. This person can pretend to be anything or anyone they want to be and will work hard to gain trust.

A young adult with Asperger’s syndrome may find themselves drawn in by charm, lies, stories, and drama. This may cause the Aspie to make spur-of-the-moment decisions such as running away to be with this person or trying to move them in sight unseen.

How to Be Safe on the Web

People on the spectrum often feel isolated from their family and peers. They turn to the Internet to find a safe way to communicate with others without being rejected off-hand because of their unusual behavior.

If you have a child or teenager with Asperger’s syndrome, it’s very important you sit down and talk with them about the dangers of the Internet. Write down a list for them to keep by the computer of what they need to watch out for. Explain carefully about phishing scams, viruses, and Internet predators and why people do these things.

People with Asperger’s often simply don’t understand why people feel the need to lie or misrepresent themselves. After all, they don’t lie or if they do, it’s poorly.

The best thing you can do for your loved one with Asperger’s is to be there for them and support them. Let them know they are loved and cared for exactly as they are. Stay involved and ask questions about new people they’ve met online and if your teenager is interested in meeting someone in person, go with them.

Online safety is something everyone must pay attention to, regardless of neurological function. Those with Asperger’s just need a little extra help and guidance to stay safe.

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