Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disability marked by impairments in verbal and nonverbal communication, socialization, and behavior. Like Autism, it is classified in the Pervasive Developmental Disorders category. Children with Asperger Syndrome do not have severely impaired development of language or cognition as Autistic children do. It is considered by many to be a higher-functioning milder form of Autism.
Children with Asperger Syndrome usually have a strong aptitude for rote learning, spelling, and vocabulary but much poorer performance in concept formation, flexible problem solving, and complex verbal or reading comprehension. They also have difficulties in motor coordination skills, and nonverbal communication skills; such as eye contact and body position.
They are generally socially inept. Which often prevents them from developing friendships and long-term personal relationships. Socialization impairments is one of the main traits of Asperger Syndrome. They have a lack of understanding of social cues, concrete interpretation of other’s words, and language comprehension problems. Their social interaction often looks clumsy and one-sided. They have a habit of blurting out inappropriate words or phrases (often whatever comes to their mind). They do not fully understand the meaning or context of social skills.
When it comes to communication, people with Asperger Syndrome generally have good structural language skills, but they often struggle with the pragmatics and semantics of language. They might repeat the same word or phrase over and over. They might speak in a monotone fashion or overly exaggerated. They often focus on topics that are interesting to them, but no one else and will spend hours talking about that topic. Due to their concrete learning style, they struggle with language that uses abstract concepts, such as metaphor, idiom, parable, and rhetorical questions.
Non-verbal impairments might include standing too close or to far away during a conversation, inappropriate facial expressions, limited use of body language, and staring. People with Asperger Syndrome have a difficult time understanding and interpreting facial expressions, body language of others and reading. These impairments put them at a disadvantage of understanding social situations.
People with Asperger Syndrome have been known to excel in one area because of their interest in a topic. I recall a young boy years ago, who was unable to do almost anything, but could play the piano like a professionally trained pianist. While people with Asperger Syndrome may be intelligent, their disorder affects how they think, feel and react. All too often, when upset they react without thinking. This may appear as aggressive behavior to some, but, when they experience increased difficulties under stress they tend to react emotionally rather than logically.
The vast majority of people with Asperger Syndrome also experience sensory challenges (visual, touch, taste, hear, and smell). Such challenges many cause agitation and behavior problems. They also experience difficulties in body awareness. They may have problems with balance, putting on their clothes, and sitting down. Another area of the senses that people with Asperger Syndrome may have difficulty with deals with the relationship of where our body is in space. Whether or not we or our surroundings are moving.
Teachers and professionals who deal with children with Asperger Syndrome have found several different strategies to use in assisting them. It is important to remember that every child is unique and not every strategy will work with all children. All children need to be given choices. Choice making strategies are small choices and decisions embedded into daily routines and activities. This is just an example of one of the many strategies teachers and professionals might use with a child who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.
If your child has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, seek professional advice. Be an active part of their education.