Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome
Asperger’s Syndrom is considered an autism spectrum disorder. The diagnosis rates of the various autism spectrum disorders have increased nationwide.
However, Asperger’s is not as severe as true autism. Children with Asperger’s seldom demonstrate serious delays in language capability. They do demonstrate difficulties with non-verbal communication and also reading ‘social cues’. Another common symptom is clumsiness and delays in hand-eye coordination development. Both children and adults with Asperger’s find heavily social situations, such as parties, stressful. Mild Asperger’s may, thus, be mistaken for simple shyness or for a social anxiety disorder. When they do engage, they may engage in conversation too heavily, interrupting people and talking too much without realizing their choice of subject is uninteresting to others. Individuals with Asperger’s are prone to panic attacks and ‘meltdowns’, which can in extreme cases result in the rocking and flailing behavior associated with true autism.
Some patients experience hyperlexia, that is to say a strong preference for written communication and a compulsion to read anything in the area. Such patients may develop high skills in writing, especially technical writing. It is common for individuals with Asperger’s to be exceptionally good at something. Most often this is mathematics, physics, computer programming, or music. For example, Bill Gates has Asperger’s and many historians believe Einstein also suffered from the condition. This may be related to the tendency for Asperger’s patients to show symptoms akin to obsessive compulsive disorder, which leads to the kind of perfectionism that is needed to perform highly in those areas. Asperger’s patients may well demonstrate behaviors such as sorting their closet by color or insisting on keeping all their books organized like a library.
Asperger’s individuals are creatures of routine, who often dislike interruptions. They tend to be blunt and tactless, and to speak in a literal manner. Some may have problems with metaphors and similes. They are often unpopular and may be the victims of bullying, due to their limited social skills and poor ability at sports. However, they often have valuable talents that can be nurtured and developed.