What Is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome is a developmental disorder, one of the autistic spectrum disorders, a complex neurological condition marked by greater or lesser degrees of impairment in language and communication abilities along with repetitive and restrictive patterns of behavior or thoughts.

Children with Asperger's Syndrome (unlike children with classic autism) retain their early language abilities and don't tend to have a marked delay in cognitive development. The hallmark of Asperger's Syndrome is an obsessive interest in a single topic or object of which they will learn about in exhaustive detail at the exclusion of all else.

Those with Asperger's Syndrome have extreme social and communication impairment, but typically have normal to superior intelligence.

How is Asperger's Syndrome Different Than Autism?

Asperger's Syndrome is distinguished from autism by the seriousness of the symptoms. Those with Asperger's Syndrome do not have the same language delays as those with autism, and frequently have excellent language and cognitive abilities. Those with Asperger's Syndrome simply use language in a different way.

While those with autism may appear aloof and uninterested in social interactions, those with Asperger's Syndrome frequently want to to fit in and interact with other people, but they don't know quite how to do so.

Their social interactions may be awkward, they may appear to lack empathy and engage in minimal eye contact.

Symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome

The symptoms of a person with Asperger's Syndrome can range from very mild to very severe. Some people may have some of the symptoms and none of the others.

Abnormal Communication Patterns - unusual ways of speaking, inability to engage in a give and take conversation, lack of sensitivity, and awkward body language.

Sensory Sensitivity - sensitivity to sounds, tastes, touches, smells and light.

Motor Delays - clumsiness and poor coordination, delays in motor skills, problems with handwriting, balance and visual-perceptual skills.

Activities - inflexible routines, resistant to changes, intense interest, - bordering on obsession - about one particular subject matter (or activity) to the exclusion of all others.

Social Issues - problems making friends, socially inappropriate behavior, rigid behavior socially, difficulty understanding personal space.

Treatment for Asperger's Syndrome:

Treatment for Asperger's Syndrome involves therapies that address whatever core issues the person with Asperger's has.

Therapies are aimed at improving communication skills, motor skills, and the obsessive routines; therapies may include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication for any other conditions and social skills training.

There is no best treatment option for people with Asperger's, but it's agreed that the earlier the treatment begins, the better.

Outlook for Asperger's Syndrome:

Of the autistic spectrum disorders, those with Asperger's Syndrome have a higher level of functioning and better outlook.

With treatment and therapies, children and adults with Asperger's Syndrome may be able to learn to cope with their condition and find jobs.

People with Asperger's Syndrome may still find personal relationships, independent living, and social situations difficult.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Asperger's Syndrome

There are some advantages to Asperger's Syndrome.  People with Asperger's Syndrome have certain abilities that others may not, including:

  • Focusing on one thing, without distraction
  • Recognizing patterns others do not
  • Seeing minute details and problem solving, not focusing on the ‘big picture’
  • Possessing an advanced vocabulary
  • Tendency to make loyal friends, as they don’t see sex, race, or religion and speak honestly
  • Understanding multiple meanings of words, making them excellent pun makers
  • Not feeling the pressure to act as society dictates

Along with the advantages, there can be disadvantages to Asperger's Syndrome.  People with Asperger's Syndrome are sometimes labeled as insensitive, cold or unemotional because they have difficulty with emotions, either expressing or interpreting them, and often have difficulty in social situations.

A post from BB2G gives a little comedic levity to the advantages and disadvantages to Asperger's Syndrome.

Related Resource Pages on Band Back Together:

Autism

Body Language

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Resources for Asperger's Syndrome:

Oasis @ MAAP - contains a wealth of information about autism, autistic spectrum disorders and Asperger's Syndrome along with a local and national help center locator.

Autism Society - information, news articles and links to resources for family members, health care professionals and those diagnosed with autism, ASD and Asperger's Syndrome.

Asperger's Documentary - short video that explains what it's like to live with Asperger's Syndrome.

Your Little Professor - provides resources and academic programs for children with Asperger's Syndrome.