What is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger Syndrome is a form of Autism; it is a life-long brain disorder that is normally diagnosed in early childhood. The disorder effects how a person makes sense of the world. Autism is often described as a ‘spectrum Disorder’ because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees.
Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are considered to have a higher intellectual capacity while suffering from a lower social capacity.
Asperger Syndrome is mostly a ‘hidden disability’ this is because you can’t tell that someone has the condition from there outward appearance.
Aspergers can have both positive and negative effects on a person’s life, like many Autistic Spectrum Disorders Asperger’s includes repetitive behaviour patterns and impairment in social interaction and social imagination.
While there are similarities with Autism, people with Asperger Syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.
What are the characteristics of Asperger Syndrome?
Difficulty with communications
People with Asperger Syndrome may sometimes speak very fluently but they may not take much notice of the reaction of people listening to them. They may talk on and on regardless if the person there talking to is not interested. Despite having good language skills, people with Asperger Syndrome may sometimes sound over-precise or over-literal . Jokes can sometimes cause problems as can exaggerate language and metaphors. An example of this could be a simple statement like "she bit my head off" this statement may confuse or frightened the person with Asperger's.
In order to help a person with Asperger syndrome understand you, keep your sentences short - be clear and concise.
Difficulty with social interaction
Many people with Asperger syndrome want to be sociable but have difficulty with initiating and sustaining social relationships, which can make them very anxious. Eye contact can be very hard for people with Aspergers Syndrome to keep. This intense eye contact can make them feel very uneasy.
Unlike those with autism, people with AS are not usually withdrawn around others; they approach others, even if awkwardly. For example a person with AS may engage in a one-sided, long-winded speech about a favorite topic, while misunderstanding or not recognizing the listener's feelings or reactions, such as a need for privacy or haste to leave. This social awkwardness has been called "active but odd". This failure to react appropriately to social interaction may appear as disregard for other people's feelings, and may come across as insensitive.
Difficulty with social imagination
Many people with Asperger Syndrome lack imagination. This means they may find it hard to play pretend games in such as role play. They may find it difficult to imagine alternative outcomes to situation or to predict what will happen next. It can be difficult for them to interpret other peoples thoughts and feelings, subtle messages given through facial expression or body langue may be missed.
Special Interests People with Asperger's often develop an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collection. Usually their interest involves arranging or memorizing facts about certain subjects. Some children with Asperger's may also be very precise while playing with tops and find it hard when other children try to join in and move objects from a certain place. However with encouragement, interests can be developed so that some people with Asperger's can go on to study or work in their favourite subjects.
Love of routines
For many people with Asperger Syndrome, any small change in their routine can be very upsetting and causes anxaiety. To try and make the world less confusing, people with Asperger syndrome may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) which they insist upon. Young Children may impose their new routine, such as insisting on always going the same way to school. At home or school they may get upset by sudden changes, such as changes to class activities. People with Asperger's often prefer to order their day according to a set pattern.
Who is affected by Asperger Syndrome?
There are over half a million people in the UK with an autism spectrum disorder - that's around 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and religions. However, the condition appears to be more common in males than females; the reason for this is unknown.