Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome
This form of autism is defined as a neurologically-based disorder of development, usually of unknown cause, typically affecting social skills, language and communicative skills and behaviour. Asperger's syndrome (AS) is on the end of the autism spectrum, which means it is considered the mildest and highest functioning form of autism.
An individual with Asperger’s will typically have affected areas of social skills, language and communicative skills. Certain behavioural characteristics that can be noticed will involve repetitive features and a limited, but intense, range of interests. This can one of the most noticeable characteristics in an individual with AS. One of the most intriguing aspects to Asperger’s is an individual with AS will have a normal to very superior IQ. They also have a more typical language function compared to other disorders along the spectrum which can be deceptive for some who don’t understand how this disorder can affect those who have been diagnosed with it. The presence of normal basic language skills is felt to be one of the criteria for the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome although there are almost always more difficulties with social language. Many researchers feel it is the relative strength of these two areas that distinguish AS from other forms of autism and account for the better prognosis in Asperger's syndrome.
Asperger's Disorder (AD) is considered a pervasive developmental disorder. This means it causes significant problems in many areas of the child's development, including socialization, communication, behavior, thinking, and activities. For children who have AD, it can be most difficult for them to integrate into school because on some levels a child can appear with a higher intellect in some areas, and struggle in others.
Children, teens and adults who have AD have significant problems with:
- Socializing with others
- Intense preoccupation with one or two topics
- Repetitive routines, behaviors, and movements
- Speech and language
- Motor skills
- Sensitivity to sensations of sound, light or touch
Individuals with AD are different from people with other pervasive developmental disorders in that they do not have significant delays in language, cognitive development, or self-help skills. This commonly gives the appearance of no disorder which is frustrating at times for parents, teachers and care givers. Often times if unaware, an individual can be placed with an unrealistic expectation if the AD is not disclosed.
Sometimes symptoms of AD are seen in every setting, including at home, in the classroom, on the playground, and in after-school and extracurricular activities. Virtually every area of the AD child's life is affected. This can make socialization more challenging for a child.
Symptoms of AD may begin to develop as early as age two; however, it is most often recognized after the child starts school, where his unusual manner of talking and failure to play appropriately with his peers begins to surface. The combination of symptoms results in a child who is identified by others as "odd" and is quickly rejected by his peers. Seeking help early on from a professional will aide in the child’s development and provide a foundation for the family and support group surrounding the child’s care and development.