What is Asperger syndrome?
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism and is used to describe people at the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. It is a life-long condition and is more commonly diagnosed in males than females.
What are the characteristics of Asperger syndrome?
Asperger syndrome shares many of the same characteristics as autism, such as the triad of impairments, but people with Asperger syndrome usually have fewer problems with language, often speaking fluently. People with Asperger syndrome are less likely to have learning disabilities that are associated with autism and may have average or above average intelligence. There are some differences within the triad of impairments from ‘classic’ autism.
Social interaction – In contrast to people with ‘classic’ autism, people with Asperger syndrome may not appear to be withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them. They still, however, have difficulties understanding non-verbal signals such as facial expressions, which makes starting and keeping relationships difficult.
Social communication – They usually have good language skills but may not be able to interact with the person they are talking to, i.e. they may not take notice of the reaction of the person listening and talk on regardless of the listener’s interest. They may also have problems understanding descriptions, explanations and jokes. They may use language in an over precise, over literal manner.
Social imagination – Whilst they are very good at learning facts and figures, people with Asperger syndrome find it hard to think in abstract ways. People with Asperger syndrome often develop an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collecting such as remembering train timetables or the size and scope of a cathedral. They need routine and find change upsetting. Changes in routine can make a person with Asperger syndrome upset and anxious.
Are there any treatments or therapies for autism? – There is no ‘cure’ for autism as it is a lifelong developmental disability. Specialist education and appropriate support can make a difference to the life of a person with autism.