Autism disorders’ severity varies across the autism spectrum, from high-functioning to the low-functioning, and it tends to vary per individual. One of these disorders is Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). This was previously a separate medical condition, later on, it was included as part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In a nutshell, what is Asperger’s Syndrome and how does it affect cognitive and skills development? Children who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome have IQ levels within the normal range while some are even considered superior. Thus, having this condition should not be regarded as a hindrance to achievement. In fact, there are a lot of successful people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Temple Grandin is one notable example.
Although children with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have problems with information processing and cognitive development, they experience difficulties related to peers. According to Sarah Swenson, LMHC, “A person with Asperger’s syndrome experiences the world in a very different way. With a tendency to take conversations and events literally, the emotional subtext often is unseen. This can lead to behavior that appears inappropriate at best, heartless or cruel at worst.”
If you are suspecting your child to have Asperger’s syndrome, we have put together a list of some of the things to look out for.
Short Comparison In Different Areas Of Development:
- Speech Development
Children with Asperger’s Syndrome usually develop their language skills normally. They tend to have high IQs and thus have a wide range of vocabulary.
However, later on, they may develop a “robotic” or flat type of speaking, attributed to problems recognizing semantics.
- Motor Skills
A person diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome may have trouble with motor coordination. They are usually clumsy and have poor gross motor skills in general. This is mostly exhibited by having problems participating in physical sports. However, they can still excel in sports that require fine motor skills.
- Interpersonal Skills
Despite having above the average grasp of language and vocabulary, people diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome have trouble interacting with others socially. This is due to an impaired grasp of interpersonal cues. “In regard to the emotional aspects of social transactions,” explains Ami Klin, Ph.D., “individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome may react inappropriately to or fail to interpret the valence of, the context of the affective interaction, often conveying a sense of insensitivity, formality, or disregard to the other person’s emotional expressions.”
Moreover, children with Asperger’s usually have difficulty interpreting body language and other non-verbal communication. Thus, they pick up slowly on emotions exhibited by others.
Also, they tend to stick to specific topics of conversation they have special interests in. As such, children who have this disorder experience problems in conversing with others on a wide range of topics. They can go on talking about themselves, but they won’t be able to recognize that their listener is already bored with the subject.
How Can You Help?
Given that this condition poses a myriad of problems for children with Asperger’s, parents have a crucial role in helping out their children who have this condition. As a parent, you are considered to be your child’s first teacher. You should be able to instruct them on interpersonal skills, such as eye contact, which will prove to be important later on.
Clinical Psychologist Ted Hutman says that “While it is true that ASD is not something a person simply “grows out of,” there are many treatments that can help children acquire new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. From free government services to in-home behavioral therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your child’s special needs and help them learn, grow, and thrive in life.”
Children with Asperger’s have difficulty in understanding metaphorical expressions, so it is important that they should also be taught commonly-used ones.
You can also walk them through social situations such as birthday parties, and teach your child how they should conduct themselves. For example, you can start by instructing them to greet the birthday celebrant and look them in the eye.
These solutions can prove to be effective if done repetitively. Later on, your child will be able to adapt. Asperger’s Syndrome has its pros and cons.
“Children may use their Asperger’s label as a potential cornerstone for building self‐advocacy skills, and it can help facilitate a sense of control in their lives. For some, Asperger’s may be seen less as a disorder and more as a positive and fundamental part of their self-concept.” – Shuli Sandler, PsyD.
More than the cons, you can make this work to your child’s advantage by engaging them and guiding them properly.