Asperger syndrome was named after Dr. Hans Asperger, who is credited for discovering the disorder. Dr. Asperger referred to the autistic children he studied as “little professors” because,instead of having significantly delayed skills, they displayed highly developed intellectual functioning.
In children with this pervasive developmental disorder, language, curiosity, and cognitive development proceed normally while there is substantial delay in social interaction and“development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.”
Persons suffering from Asperger generally function better in verbal, linguistic performance than in visual, three-dimensional and motor skills. This is in contrast to people with the classic form of autism.
Patients suffering from Asperger have normal speech development. This does not imply that communication is normal. It is characteristic that speech is often interpreted concretely. They will enter into lengthy discussions, introducing the most illogical arguments and succeed in talking the hind leg off a donkey. This often applies to people with a normal to supernormal intelligence who are motor disabled and have limitations under an ‘autism disorder.’
Those with Asperger often suffer a greater degree of difficulty being accepted in normal social situations because they are intellectually normal, but have unusual behaviors. Therefore, they’re sometimes labeled as “odd” or “eccentric” rather than as individuals with a real medical disorder.
A short review of some distinguishing Asperger syndrome characteristics:
•Lack of imagination
While they often excel at learning facts and figures, people with Asperger syndrome find it hard to think in abstract ways. This can cause problems for children in school where they may have difficulty with particular subjects such as literature or religious studies.
People with Asperger syndrome often develop an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collecting. Usually their interest involves arranging or memorizing facts about a particular subject, such as train timetables, Derby winners or the dimensions of cathedrals.
•Love of routines
People with Asperger syndrome often find change upsetting. Young children may impose their routines upon their families, such as insisting on always walking the same route to school. At school, sudden changes, such as a correction to the timetable, may upset them.People with Asperger syndrome often prefer to order their day according to a set pattern.
If they work set hours, any unexpected delay, such as a traffic hold-up or a late train, can make them anxious or distressed.
People with Asperger syndrome exhibit autistic characteristics like obsessive behaviors or lack of social and communication skills. Like all ASDs, the level and severity of these signs will vary from person to person.
Asperger syndrome has been diagnosed more often during the last few years and has obtained its own place in the DSM-IV. The idea that the Asperger syndrome is only found in persons with a normal to supernormal intelligence is under discussion.
Uta Frith, an authority in the field of Asperger, is concerned about the fact that Asperger may be prone to over-diagnosis. Not everybody showing clumsiness in making contact with others or behaving strangely is suffering from Asperger.
Another danger is caused by the phenomenon that many people seem to indicate famous scientists or artists may have suffered Asperger. Names like Newton and Einstein are offered as proof that Asperger is a mild form of autism bordering on genius.
Asperger, however, is not a mild form of autism. Although many people suffering Asperger are able to cope well with the help of friends, family or a partner, others are prone to develop other disorders like an anxiety disorder or depression.
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