What Is Asperger Syndrome?
What Is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered a pervasive developmental disorder at the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. It is characterized by sustained impairment in social interaction and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities. In contrast to autism, there are no obvious delays in language or cognitive development, or in age appropriate self-help skills and adaptive behaviors, though there are subtle impairments.
How is Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnosed?
Some of the characteristic features of Asperger Syndrome overlap to varying degrees with those of other clinical diagnoses. Therefore, a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome must be differentiated from disorders such as schizoid personality, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. There is considerable debate over whether or not Asperger Syndrome should be differentiated from high-functioning autism.
Most Common Characteristics
Unlike most people with autism, individuals with Asperger Syndrome experience little or no delay in the onset of speech. In fact, their speech tends to be formal, pedantic, and long-winded. Persons with AS often have monotonous vocal intonation and limited use of gestures. They may have difficulty comprehending other people’s expressions, gestures, and non-literal statements. Therefore, individuals with Asperger Syndrome usually do not understand jokes, irony, and metaphors. Many individuals with AS want to develop friendships and interact with their peers, but lack the ability to understand and use rules governing social behavior. They have difficulty using and interpreting gestures, judging proximity to others, and maintaining eye contact; all of which may impede the development of personal relationships. The social behavior of persons with AS tends to be naïve and peculiar, and movement is likely to be awkward and clumsy. Because of an intense interest in one or two topics, the individual with Asperger Syndrome may talk at people instead of to people, disregarding the listener’s interest or attention. Although individuals with AS may make efforts to socially interact with others, their unusual manner may leave many people not knowing how to respond. The person with Asperger Syndrome may then be left misunderstood and isolated. Individuals with Asperger Syndrome often have average to above average intelligence. They tend to possess excellent abstract thinking abilities and rote memory skills. One characteristic unique to AS is an intense interest in one or two subjects to the exclusion of all others. Many times individuals with AS are respected for their unusual abilities, and due to their extensive knowledge of certain topics or activities, they may be regarded as “eccentric.” The individual’s single-minded pursuit of his or her interest can lead to great achievements later on it academic and professional life.
Treating or Treatments for Asperger’s Syndrome?
No two people with Asperger Syndrome are identical. Treatment and educational interventions should be individualized to suit the needs of the person. Supports and interventions may include:
- Teaching skills and concepts in naturally occurring situations and across settings to maximize generalization.
- Providing a predictable environment with consistent daily routines and minimal transitions.
- Role-playing social situations in which the individual with AS is taught how to react to social cues.
- Teaching social awareness, taking the perspective of another, and interpretations of non-literal language.
- Teaching appropriate nonverbal behaviors such as eye contact, gestures, proximity to others, and correct posture.
- Instruction on reading the nonverbal communications of others (e.g. facial expression, body language).
- Restricting the discussion of the individual’s special topic to specific times and/or places.
- Creating a buddy system in which a peer can help with instructional directions by the teacher, remembering homework assignments, and staying on task. Buddies may also facilitate active socialization with others.
About FAU CARD
CARD’s focus is to enhance the lives of individuals we serve by helping them become valued members of their communities enabling them to learn, work, communicate, and socialize. CARD offers supports within the natural contexts of homes, residences, child care programs, schools, and communities at no charge. CARD serves individuals of any age with . . .
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) which includes Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Rett Syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD).
Related Disabilities which includes deaf-blind (hearing and vision impaired), hearing impaired or vision impaired with other disabling
Family member, friends, and professionals may receive CARD’s free services. We provide consultative and technical support services to families and individuals on the autism spectrum and a related disability and professionals. CARD also provides awareness information to the community and resource information to families. Our office has a small resource library as well, available to families. CARD
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