All around the world, children’s lives have been greatly affected by Asperger’s Syndrome. The world is different for people with Asperger’s syndrome. Life is perceived and experienced differently as people struggle with mental health issues and various learning disabilities which may be different for these individuals.
There are possibilities that a child may possess normal intelligence and have grown up without any encountered problems in their language development, but may still have difficulties in social and communication skills and behaviors.
More often than not, people confuse Asperger’s syndrome with autism. A large number of professionals regard Asperger’s as a different and milder form of autism. People with Asperger’s may not have all the learning disabilities that people with autism suffer, but as mentioned, only bear specific ones.
To understand Asperger’s further, here are its points of difference from autism spectrum disorder, its characteristics, and diagnosis:
The Difference from Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Language Disabilities
For people with Asperger’s, there is an absence of language delays. This is why some people may not recognize that a person has Asperger’s Syndrome as they can appear as neurotypical individuals at times. However, a person with Asperger’s may still have speech defects but are not as evident as seen in children with autism.
- Social Skills
While children with autism spectrum disorder are, more often than not, uninterested in others, apathetic, and aloof. Individuals with Asperger’s disorder desire and strive to participate in social interactions.
- Cognitive Abilities
Children suffering from autism have conclusively proven intellectual disabilities. By definition, people with Asperger’s syndrome are not diagnosed with “clinically significant” cognitive delays.
After differentiating and having a clearer grasp of the difference between Asperger’s and Autism, here are important information and characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome that will help you understand the struggles people with Asperger’s face every day and how you can create a more considerate environment upon meeting or talking with them:
Asperger’s Syndrome was first discovered in the 1940s by Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger. He noticed autism-like behaviors and struggles in the social communication skills and interactions of boys who have normal intelligence and development in the language. It was in 1994 that the Asperger’s syndrome was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In 2013, autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, together with other developmental disorders, were categorized under the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Through the years, it is observed that Asperger’s syndrome is more common in males than females.
In Social Communication
It is important to remember that individuals with Asperger’s perceive things and moments differently, that is why they communicate differently. One of the struggles in having Asperger’s syndrome is not being able to understand verbal and non-verbal cues which consist of gestures, tone, and the actual message. It takes them longer than usual to decode the meaning behind where the stress was placed in the sentence and the like. They can take every word literally because they may not be able to recognize facial expressions, tone of voice, abstract and vague concepts, sarcasm, and jokes.
In Social Interaction
There is an evident relationship in the characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. Because they have difficulties in understanding verbal and non-verbal communication, they may also find it hard to recognize the feelings and intentions of other people. Also, expressing their ideas and emotions is one of the struggles they face every day. These results in people with Asperger’s preferring to be alone when feeling uncomfortable around people, especially when these people are not considerate of his/her condition.
Moreover, suffering from Asperger’s, they may seem insensitive to other people’s feelings and situations even as they do not intend to be. This leads to behaving unusually in a way where social etiquette dictates it to be inappropriate. As mentioned earlier, people with Asperger’s are unlike individuals with autism who tend to be apathetic.
In Asperger’s, individuals can be genuinely empathetic yet may not be able to express themselves. All this affects people with Asperger’s syndrome their ability to create bonds and friendships with others.
Additionally, people with Asperger’s may have issues with proximity. They may find it difficult to stand close to people they are conversing with. Poor coordination also causes carrying out tasks where instructions are to be followed to be complex for them.
Repetitive Behaviors and Highly Focused Interests
One of the observable characteristics of people with Asperger’s syndrome is having repetitive behaviors and highly focused interests. People may mistake this as a routine the person has developed through the years when in fact, it is a part of the Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis.
In recent years, the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome has becoming prevalent. Although, information about the factors that contribute to the increase in the number of diagnosed people with Asperger’s syndrome is inconclusive. It may have truly increased or it may be that more professionals have only been acknowledging the syndrome as different from autism now.
One of the considerations to be diagnosed as a child with Asperger’s syndrome is having no delays in communication and language, together with having normal intelligence and language development. The diagnosis lies in having severe and constant impairment in social interaction.
Repetitive behaviors that are harmful or appropriate show signs of having clinically regarded impairment in occupational, social, and other areas of being able to get past through the days.
The diagnosis to be conducted includes assessing the developmental history of the individual and the observation of his/her behavioral and social patterns. The first signs of Asperger’s syndrome may already be evident in the first year of their life.
One of the most important aspects of treatment is having an accurate diagnosis. Having an accurate diagnosis results in having a clearer picture of what a child or individual id going through. More so, by having this diagnosis, the individual is provided access to seeking for the appropriate support and treatment.
Given the fact that individuals with Asperger’s have developed cognitive skills and abilities, their learning opportunities are not as compromised as those who have autism spectrum disorder. They can improve in their areas of weakness in social communication and interaction with others. There are different programs and Asperger’s training available. There are available group homes which help in training adult-becoming individual with Asperger’s.
It is important to note that people with Asperger’s are unique from each other. There are different skills, attributes, coping mechanisms, stress points, interests, and abilities for each individual. Thus, each may require a different program for his/her Asperger’s training and activities. Everything should be tailored to his/her specific needs while incorporating hobbies and interests. Also, adults with Asperger’s syndrome may want to take the step of getting a job.
There are specially designed job skills training programs that help them become ready for employment. These consist of important on-the-job training behaviors like on-time arrival, being able to accomplish tasks without being distracted, and taking orders and instructions. The training for jobs can also include creating one’s resume and being prepared for interviews.
Other than these, some companies that cater to people with Asperger’s provide an alternative to college. There can be personal enrichment courses that integrate education, recreation, employment training, and independent living skills. Semester schedules can be in line with individual programs or goals of each aspiring student who has Asperger’s.
In the goal of people with Asperger’s, developing different aspects of learning, social communication, and social interaction abilities play a very important role. Thus, therapies are most essential in the treatment of Asperger’s syndrome. Therapies can help a child or individual adapt the way they act around others so a better social outcome may be achieved. As social considerations are one of the burdens of an individual who has Asperger’s Syndrome, possibilities of anxiety and other mental health disorder.
Different therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. This is where a person with Asperger’s learns to manage his/her emotions. Obsessive interests and repetitive routines may also be addressed through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Another type of therapy is occupational or physical therapy. In this therapy, people with Asperger’s syndrome can develop sensory integration abilities and cater to improving poor motor coordination.
Also, in the treatment of Asperger’s syndrome, medication can be used for mental health concerns that arise from the syndrome. Again, the syndrome itself is not curable but rather the conditions that come with it are what we can work on. With this, vitamin supplements and special diets such as gluten-free diets and fish oils can aid in working through anxiety and different cognitive issues.
The role of supporting caregivers are very crucial and vital in the development and treatment of a person with Asperger’s syndrome. They may constantly learn different strategies and evaluate whether it is effective or not.
Through this learning, they become able to better support loved ones or patients with Asperger’s syndrome, and through this, social isolation can be prevented for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome.
It is important to provide the support needed by your loved one who has it.