What is Asperger's Syndrome (AS)?
Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is part of the spectrum of autistic disorders. Like autism, AS is defined by a set of characteristics and behaviours which can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations from mild to severe. Asperger's Syndrome is more common in boys than in girls and unlike autism is often diagnosed later in childhood.
Children with Asperger's Syndrome often have a normal or above normal IQ but they exhibit a pattern of behaviours that are characterised by deficiencies in their social and communication skills. They have problems reading non-verbal cues and body language and often have difficulties determining body space. Children with AS may have difficulties with transitions, they prefer 'sameness' and may insist on unreasonable routines, which if not followed often lead to tantrums, and they can experience sensitivities in the five sensory areas. A child with AS may be preoccupied with a particular subject or interest and can exhibit exceptional talent in one or more area, for example, they may have detailed knowledge of railway timetables or football results or be particularly skilled in areas such as IT or art. Children with Asperger's Syndrome can sometimes be viewed as odd or eccentric.
Typical characteristics of a child with Aspergers Syndrome include:
Difficulty in communicating feelings and difficulty in understanding how others feel
- Problems in cooperating with others particularly in tasks that involve joint attention
- Failure to understand the non-verbal cues of others
- Problems with receptive language in spite of good expressive language
- Anti-social behaviour often towards vulnerable others
- Mood disorders such as anxiety or depression
- They can be clumsy and uncoordinated
- They often have a verbal IQ that is lower than their performance IQ
Children with Aspergers Syndrome will have difficulties througout their lives. However, with the right level of support many can develop stratergies and skills that enable them to function and develop successfully in society.