What is Asperger's Syndrome?
Date Posted: January 16, 2018
Asperger’s Syndrome, also known as Asperger’s, is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Asperger’s is one of several subtypes of Autism that have been put into the grouping of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Asperger’s, however, doesn’t come with a simple fix either, and some of the symptoms can be difficult to manage.
The Attributes of Asperger’s Syndrome
Some individuals, especially children with Asperger's Syndrome, may find it very difficult to pick up on social cues. They may not be able to read others body language, start or maintain a conversation and take turns talking. They may involve themselves in solitary activities or tasks as it doesn't require the social skills of cooperative play.
Most often, peers will see people with Asperger's as lacking in empathy, where in reality they feel everything to its full extent but haven't learned the coping mechanisms to decipher exactly what it is they are feeling, or what others are feeling.
People with Asperger's tend to love routine, and any changes can be cause for anxiety and stress. They will often go over things in their heads many times before they speak it, and need a lot of preparation and planning before any change of routine.
For days, weeks, sometimes months, you may need to tell these incredible individuals what will be changing in their routine so that they can muddle through the logistics of what it will look like for them. Holidays and vacations, changes in classes, or even a move can be challenging as they adapt to a new environment.
Some parents will start to see a difference in their children as early as just a few months old when they are first introduced to lots of lights, noise, and other stimuli that may affect their senses. Seeing that their child with Asperger's quickly becomes overstimulated and unable to be calmed can be stressful for parents and loved ones.
What is an Asperger's Meltdown?
When a person with Asperger's becomes overstimulated by their environment or has a buildup of emotion stemming from a fear of a routine change, they often have "meltdowns".
A meltdown in a person with Asperger's is usually a temporary loss of control or emotions due to the environment they are surrounded by. They usually aren't caused by one specific thing, but more an accumulation of changes occurring throughout the day.
Triggers or causes of a meltdown can build up until a person becomes so overwhelmed that they need to release it. They just can't take in any more information, they become overloaded and need to release their emotions.
Sometimes a person with Asperger's needs a physical outlet, or simply just to yell and cry it out, and often this can result in a meltdown. There has also been research that has shown that deep tissue compression helps to eliminate and/or calm meltdowns, allowing the individual to cope, regulate and function easier within their environment and the community.
Often, after a meltdown, a person with Asperger's can feel embarrassed, awkward, very apologetic and exhausted. The goal is not to focus on the meltdown, but what may have triggered it, and reassure the person that all is well. You will often see that after a meltdown they return very quickly; to the pleasant and loving people that they truly are!
Is Asperger's Syndrome Considered a Disability?
Depending on where you live, Asperger's Syndrome may fit into different areas of disability, but it is agreed that there is a definite impairment in function for people with Asperger's. There are times when you may have to prove that your child has significant impairment of function- to a point where they may not learn well, or that working may become an issue for them. However, it is recognized and can be claimed as a disability for your child.
In Canada, the disability credit can be applied for as soon as you have a diagnosis, and funding is available to help your child with behavioral needs, occupational therapy, and schooling. In the United States, the guidelines are a little more strict, but funding is certainly available.
In either case, as your child develops into an adult, their cases will be evaluated individually to see if they require further funding to help them adapt to the environment, and lead a happy, healthy life.
Asperger's is considered a disability on the Autism Spectrum, which can be a relief for some people thinking that Asperger's is a mental illness. It is not!! Although people with Asperger's can show signs of depression or other forms of mental illness, it is usually caused by the environment and their inability to read people and situations correctly. It's not because they have Asperger's, it's because they haven't learned what coping mechanisms work best for them.
People with Asperger's are often talented with brilliant minds! We just need to give them a chance to see their strengths, so that they can share their unique abilities with the world!
Is Asperger's High Functioning Autism?
Asperger's is often referred to as High Functioning Autism, but at the moment they are considered two separate diagnoses. There is debate about whether or not the two should be put into the same category, and in the future, they may well be, but for now, we are still able to see subtle differences between high functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
Children with Asperger's are often diagnosed later in life because the main symptoms are related to social development and cues, which is not the same as high functioning Autism. Many people with Asperger's syndrome have an IQ that falls into the superior range. With Autism, you may see a slip or setback in their learning. Individuals with Autism often become fixated on certain subjects or activities that they become experts in, many geniuses have Autism!
All in all, as much as it is a disability, it's not always viewed as such because of the above average intelligence we see in people with Asperger's Syndrome.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome are synonymous with a different way of perceiving the environment and the world around us. Many of these people grow to be our intellectuals, our inventors, and our visionary creators.
People often say of their children on the spectrum, that they will be the future leaders of our world, they are innovative geniuses!
As a parent of a child with Aspergers, we always want our children to be happy, healthy and help them build on their strengths. Seeing the world through their eyes gives us the opportunity to assist them to excel and reach their full potential.
All of us have been given the gift of these incredible individuals that are already changing our perception and the way we learn. They have given us the ability to treat each person as someone that is uniquely themselves, without judgment, they have opened our heart and our eyes and that is truly a gift.