Many years ago, the term autism was introduced to the general public, and many stereotypes were formed about people with this label. People were unsure about what caused autism, and how to interact with those who had been diagnosed. As knowledge about autism grew, sub-categories were developed to help identify people in different places on the spectrum. No two cases of autism are exactly alike, but breaking it down into smaller categories can make it easier for parents, educators, and others involved in a child’s life to find ways to help and support them in whatever way they need. Asperger Syndrome, also known as Asperger’s, is one such sub-category, and is the one we will be talking about today. Although every child is different, there are some straightforward ABC’s to follow when working with someone with Asperger’s!
A is for Autism
Asperger’s Disorder is a subtype of Autism. It was once considered as its own disorder, but according to the latest DSM-5 diagnostic manual, Autism is a spectrum along which Asperger’s is found. People often consider Asperger’s to be a more “high-functioning” version of Autism, because people with Asperger’s find it easier to function on their own than people in other places on the spectrum. Although the causes of Autism and Asperger’s are still unknown, there are several specific behaviors exhibited by people who have the disorder.
B is for Behaviors
A typical behavior for an individual with Asperger’s Disorder is seeming “socially awkward” or unable to communicate in a comfortable way with others. Another popular behavior for an individual with Asperger’s is becoming obsessed with a specific topic. They become the expert in that topic very quickly, and it often consumes most of their conversation and time. These behaviors are often what causes parents and educators to inquire about a diagnosis for their child, as they become more and more engrossed in this one topic and less available for anything else.
C is for Challenges
Individuals with Asperger Syndrome can encounter various challenges throughout their lives relating to the social awkwardness caused by Asperger’s. Social interactions can often be difficult for those with Asperger’s because eye contact, facial and body expression, and gestures can be difficult to interpret. Another way that social interactions can be challenging for people with Asperger’s is that they have such a passion about a topic that it consumes their lives, and can prevent healthy interactions by keeping them from conversing about other topics.
Asperger’s Syndrome sounds like a complicated and scary diagnosis at first, but the challenges it brings come with many positive qualities. Individuals with Asperger’s are often extremely passionate about the things they love, making them exceptionally knowledgeable about things they’re passionate about, and once others get beyond the social differences, they find people with Asperger’s to be very caring. With understanding for these ABC’s, it is very possible and likely that these people will live happy, full, and successful lives.