What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome, also called Asperger’s disorder or simply Asperger’s, is a form of high functioning Autism. Asperger’s is often distinguished by lack of social and nonverbal communication skills, combined with restricted and repetitive behaviors. However, most cognitive and language skills are normal or even advanced. Although Asperger’s was first labeled in the 1940’s, it was not until the mid 1990’s that it began to get recognized on a wider scale.

Causes and Diagnosis

Like most variations of Autism, Asperger’s cause has not been determined. It is reported that around 1 in every 500 people have Asperger’s, though due to the relatively new awareness and diagnosis of Asperger’s, the number is likely higher. In some cases Asperger’s has been diagnosed as early as 30 months of age, however it is common for a child not to be diagnosed until they are school age or put into regular social settings. In some cases, they might not be diagnosed until even later.

Characteristics

Signs and characteristics of Asperger’s vary depending on the child, though there are some general characteristics that are more common than others. Some of the more common characteristics found in children with Asperger’s are:

  • Lack of social skills. This includes lack of eye contact, inability to read non-verbal communication cues, such as body language, and unable to start or maintain successful conversation.
  • Limited interests. He may find it hard to talk about anything unrelated to his chosen topic.
  • Prefers routines to stay the same and does not respond well when they change.
  • Flat and “robotic” speech. His speech will often lack tone, pitch, and emotion. This is not to mean that they have poor language skills. Usually individuals with Asperger syndrome use basic language skills at a typical level, but have greater difficulty with flexible language use associated with higher language abilities (semantics, pragmatics, and some cognitive language).
  • Understands everything in a literal sense. Jokes, sarcasm, and certain phrases, will be taken literally.
  • An appearance that he lacks empathy.
  • Sensory sensitivity. He may become overstimulated by certain noises, tastes, lights, smells, and textures. It is common for children with Asperger’s to have a sensory processing disorder as well.

Resources and Treatment

There is no cure or concrete treatment plan for Asperger’s, however early intervention and therapy can be beneficial and help provide the tools and resources for successful management.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or Social Thinking Therapy can be helpful in teaching social skills and self-control, while an occupational therapist can help with any sensory issues present. Support groups can have various benefits for you, as a parent, and your child, mostly being around other families in similar situations.

Sources: AutismSpeaks.org | Autism-Society.org | Aspergers.com

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Shandy Marso, Contributor

 

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