Symptoms of Asperger Syndrome and Parenting Strategies
Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder falling within the autistic spectrum affecting two-way social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and a reluctance to accept change, inflexibility of thought and to have all absorbing narrow areas of interest. Individuals are usually extremely good on rote memory skills (facts, figures, dates, times etc.) many excel in math and science. There is a range of severity of symptoms within the syndrome, the very mildly affected child often goes undiagnosed and may just appear odd or eccentric.
Whilst Asperger Syndrome is much more common than Autism it is still a rare condition and few people, including professionals, will know about it much less have experience of it. It seems to affect more boys than girls. In general terms they find making friends difficult, not understanding the subtle clues needed to do so. They often use language in a slightly odd way and take literal meanings from what is read or heard. They are happiest with routines and a structured environment, finding it difficult to decide what to do they fall back on to their preferred activities. They love praise, winning and being first, but find loosing, imperfection and criticism very difficult to take. Bad behavior often stems from an inability to communicate their frustrations and anxieties. They need love, tenderness, care, patience and understanding. Within this framework they seem to flourish.
Children with Asperger Syndrome are for the most part bright, happy and loving children. If we can help break through to their 'own little world' we can help them to cope a little better in society. They have a need to finish tasks they have started. Strategies can be developed to reduce the stress they experience at such times. Warnings that an activity is to finish in x minutes can help with older children. With younger children attempts to 'save' the task help - videoing a programme, mark in a book etc.
As the children mature some problems will get easier, but like all other children new problems will emerge. Some teenagers can feel the lack of friendships difficult to cope with as they try hard to make friends in their own way but find it hard to keep them. This is not always the case, many have friends who act as 'buddies' for long periods of time. Social skills will have to be taught in an effort for them to find a place in the world ... so take all opportunities to explain situations time and time again ..... and one day.......it may work!
Please bear in mind that booklets such as this do tend to detail all the problems which can be found within a syndrome but that does not mean every child will have all of them. Each child will also have different levels of achievements and difficulties. They are after all just as the others ... individuals!
Is Asperger Syndrome The Same As Autism?
The debate on this question still continues, some experts say that Asperger Syndrome should be classified separately, others argue that the core difficulties are the same, only the degree to which they are seen in the children actually makes the difference. One expert - Uta Frith - has referred to Asperger children as 'Having a dash of Autism'.
Autism is often interpreted as a withdrawal from normal life - to live in the persons own fantasy world. This is no longer the real meaning of Autism. The severity of the impairments is much greater than in Asperger Syndrome, and often the child will have little or no language. Learning problems are more common in classic Autism. In Asperger Syndrome speech is usual and intelligence (cognitive ability) is usually average or even above average.
For the moment it is taken that the similarities are enough for both Autism and Asperger Syndrome to be considered within the same 'spectrum' of developmental disorders. Whilst a clear diagnosis is essential, it can change through life. The autistic traits seen in young children can often seem less severe as the child matures and learns strategies to cope with his/her difficulties.
Reprinted with the permission of MAAP Service, Inc. © 2008 MAAP Service, Inc.