Conditions and Disorders
Asperger’s Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder characterized by significant problems with social interactions and restrictive or repetitive patterns, behaviors, or interest. While the person’s linguistic and cognitive skills remain intact, the sufferer lacks nonverbal communication skills and has trouble reading body language. The person has a limited empathy towards others and may also be physically clumsy.
Those with Asperger’s also have restricted interests or behaviors and may become excessively interested in specific activities. They may collect data or information on a particular subject with a narrow range of interest such as names of stars or constellations. This can dominate the person’s time and further affect social interaction with others. This behavior is usually apparent in grade school. People with Asperger’s have trouble understanding metaphors or picking up on nuances. This can greatly hinder verbal and social interactions with others. They are usually unable to share in humor or enjoyment with others. While there is generally no problem developing language skills, some have oddities in the pitch or volume of their voice. Those with Asperger’s have trouble suppressing inner thoughts and may make comments out of context. It is common for the person to engage in long one sided conversations with an individual, often spouting out long monologues that bore the listener. The person is unable to pick up on the social cue that the listener may be bored or disinterested. There are risks of exploitation of the individual as they are unable to pick up on societal or social cues.
Children with Asperger’s may have highly advanced vocabulary for their age but have issues understanding figures of speech. They also may have delayed motor development. Diagnosis of Asperger’s is usually made between the ages of four and eleven, though it can be diagnosed in adults later in life. Some people with Asperger’s have sensitivity to light and sound or certain stimuli. Others have sleep problems, some are prone to waking up in the middle of the night or getting up very early every morning. The person suffering has a great deal of difficultly identifying internal problems.
Researchers have not found a way to prevent Asperger’s, but treatment is available.
Some people with Asperger’s also suffer from additional mental disorders such as depression or anxiety and may wish to see a psychiatrist to treat with medication. Currently no medications treat the root of Asperger’s but there are treatment methods available to manage the disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is highly recommended for management of Asperger’s. Social communication and speech therapy is also effective to help the person with their social difficulties. Those with impaired motor skills are recommended to seek physical therapy.
While Asperger’s may greatly affect the individual on a social level, there are plenty of people who go on to live normal and successful lives. Families are encouraged to become educated on the disorder and develop their own coping skills in order to provide a safe, nurturing environment for a child with Asperger’s.