Asperger Syndrome: a guide for family and friends
Asperger's syndrome is a form of autism that is often misunderstood by many people. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication and behaviour. People with Asperger's have difficulty understanding and interpreting social cues, making eye contact and developing social relationships. They also often exhibit repetitive behaviors and may have limited interest.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a set of criteria for diagnosing human psychiatric disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. The most recent edition of the manual (DSM-5) was released in 2013 and has been updated with new disorders and diagnostic criteria.
The diagnosis of the syndrome predates the DSM-5 version and is different from the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in DSM-5. Under DSM-IV, Asperger syndrome was a subtype of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but was not included as a separate diagnosis in DSM-5. In fact, DSM-5 replaced the term "ASD" with "autism spectrum disorders" and recognizes the various forms of ASD, including the former subtype of the syndrome.
Asperger syndrome belongs to the autism spectrum (developmental disorders), which refers to a group of related disorders of the human neuropsychological system that affect social interaction, communication and behaviour. Autism spectrum disorders include classic autistic disorder, Asperger's syndrome, developmental delayed speech disorder and other related disorders.
Children with Asperger's syndrome usually have a normal appearance and do not have delays in language development or cognitive developmental rate. However, there may be problems with communication, interaction and behaviour.
If you have a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, it is important to understand what it is and how you can support them. This guide will provide you with information about what the syndrome is, how it affects people and how you can help.
What is Asperger's syndrome?
It is a form of high-functioning autism, which means that people with Asperger's have average or above-average intelligence and can communicate verbally.
The characteristics of Asperger's syndrome
The characteristics of the syndrome may be different for each person, but some common features include:
- People with aspergers often find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. They may find it difficult to understand social cues, engage in small conversations and form and maintain friendships. They may also struggle with empathy or the ability to understand and relate to the feelings of others.
- Limited interests and repetitive behaviours: They may be obsessed with a particular subject, such as trains or dinosaurs, and spend hours learning about it. They may also have certain routines they follow, such as always putting their toys in a certain order in a certain way.
- Sensory problems: They have sensory problems, such as hypersensitivity to sound, light or touch. They may become overwhelmed in noisy or crowded environments or become agitated if they are touched unexpectedly.
- Literal thinking: they often have difficulty with figurative language and sarcasm. They may take things too literally and have difficulty understanding jokes or social cues based on indirect language.
- Routine and predictability: People with aspergers often benefit from structure and routine. They may become stressed or upset if their routine is disrupted or unexpected changes occur.
- Great attention to detail: they often have great attention to detail and may be able to notice things that others do not notice. This can be an advantage, but it can also make it difficult for them to see the big picture or prioritize their tasks.
- They have strong reasoning skills and may excel in maths or science. However, they may struggle with abstract or creative thinking.
- Difficulty with transitions: People with asperger syndrome often have difficulty transitioning from one activity or environment to another. They may become overwhelmed or upset if they are in a hurry or do not have enough time to prepare for a change.
Causes of asperger syndrome
Some of the genetic factors associated with Asperger syndrome include:
- Selective expulsion by parents. It has been shown that parents who have inherited the Asperger's syndrome gene are more likely to miscarry their autistic child.
- Hereditary factors. Research has shown that people with Asperger's often have a family history of autism or other developmental disorders.
- Gene mutations. The study of the genes of people with Asperger's has shown a number of mutations associated with the syndrome.
- Abrupt changes in diet. There are reports that changes in diet, such as the introduction of new foods, can affect the behaviour of children with aspergers.
- Exposure to toxic substances. Researchers have suggested that extensive exposure to toxic substances, such as pesticides and chemicals, may be linked to the syndrome.
- Communication and behavioral disorders of the parent. There are reports that parental communication and behavioral disorders can affect how autism develops in their children.
- Interview with the patient: The specialist will talk to the patient and discuss the patient's behaviors, sensory difficulties and performance at school or work.
- Interview with parents and carers: The specialist will discuss with the individual's parents and caregivers about the individual's developmental history, behaviors, and sensory difficulties.
- Evaluation of the individual by a medical specialist: The specialist will evaluate the individual and examine the individual's symptoms to rule out other pathologies that may be developing, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression.
- Assessment of social and behavioral symptoms: the specialist will assess the individual's social and behavioral symptoms, including weakness in social interaction, focus on a topic or activity, and repetitive behaviors.
Diagnosing Asperger's syndrome can be a complicated and time-consuming process. However, it is important to seek the help of a specialist, such as a child psychiatrist or autism specialist, to get a clear diagnosis and the right treatment.
How Asperger's affects people
Asperger syndrome can affect people in different ways. People with Aspergers have more difficulty with social interaction, while others may have difficulty with sensory processing. Some common ways that Asperger's syndrome can affect people are:
Social interaction is one of the key areas affected by Asperger syndrome. A person with Asperger's usually has social interaction difficulty in understanding and interpreting social cues such as body language, facial expressions and non-verbal cues. This can make it difficult to participate in social situations and communicate effectively with other people.
They have difficulty understanding social rules and demonstrating appropriate behaviour in social situations. It may also be difficult for them to understand social messages that are passed through body language, such as facial expressions or body movements. As a result, they may appear as if they are not interested in the other person or are distant.
They may also have a limited ability to recognise and understand other people's feelings. This can lead to a failure to respond in social situations, such as a friend needing help or a colleague who is upset.
Limited interests and repetitive behaviours
People with aspergers sometimes have limited interest and repetitive behaviours. They are likely to be obsessed with a particular subject, such as trains or dinosaurs, and spend hours learning about it. They may also have certain routines they follow, such as always putting their toys in a certain order in a certain way.
Many people with Asperger's have sensory issues, such as hypersensitivity to sound, light or touch. They may become overwhelmed in noisy or crowded environments or become agitated if they are touched unexpectedly.
Social imagination refers to a person's ability to imagine and understand the thoughts, feelings and intentions of other people. Lack of social imagination is a common characteristic of children with Asperger syndrome.
How to help someone with Asperger's syndrome
If you have a family member or friend with Asperger's, there are many things you can do to support them. Some ways you can help include:
Learn about Asperger's syndrome
The first step to supporting someone with Asperger's syndrome is to learn more about the disorder. Read books, articles and blogs about Asperger's syndrome to better understand what it is and how it affects people. Talk to your loved one about their experiences and ask how you can help.
People with Asperger's have difficulty communicating, so it's important to be patient with them. Give them time to process the information and respond. Be clear and direct in your communication and avoid using sarcasm or figurative language.
Respect their interests
People with Asperger's often have a narrow focus of interests, so it is important to respect and support their passions. If your loved one is obsessed with a particular topic, encourage them to pursue it and learn more about it.
People with Asperger's syndrome often benefit from structure and routine. Try to establish a predictable schedule and avoid unexpected changes whenever possible. This can help your loved one feel more comfortable and in control.
Use visual aids
Visual aids, such as schedules or picture cards, can be helpful for people with Asperger's. These tools can help them understand expectations and navigate their daily routines. They can also be useful in social situations, such as using a picture card to indicate when they need a break or when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Understand the sensory issues
People with asperger syndrome can often have sensory issues, so it is important to be understanding and accommodating. If your loved one is sensitive to noise, try to avoid loud or crowded environments. If they are sensitive to touch, avoid unexpected physical contact.
Although a person with aspergers may struggle with social interaction, it is important to encourage them to socialize and make contact. This can help them develop social skills and develop relationships. Consider enrolling them in a social skills group or activity that matches their interests.
Provide emotional support
People with Asperger's syndrome may have anxiety, depression or other emotional difficulties. Provide emotional support and encourage them to seek professional help if needed. Let them know that they are not alone and that you are there to support them.
Development of social skills
Developing social skills is important for people with Asperger's, as it helps them to communicate effectively and develop social relationships. The following tips can help people with Asperger's develop social skills:
- Encourage participation in activities that involve interaction, such as sports teams, school clubs or other social groups. These activities can help develop social skills and help people with Aspergers to communicate effectively with other people.
- Teach social norms and social rules. People with Asperger's may not naturally understand social rules, but they can learn these rules through education and practice.
- Use positive reinforcement to encourage appropriate behaviors. People with Asperger's can be rewarded in a positive way for their behaviour, which will help them develop more positive social skills.
- Teach communication skills. People with Asperger's may not understand the importance of communication, but they can learn communication skills through education and practice.
- Help people with Aspergers understand the needs and feelings of others. People with Asperger's may not fully understand the feelings and needs of others, but they can learn to understand them and behave accordingly.
- Use technology. Technology can help people with Aspergers communicate and interact with others. Using the internet, social media and other technologies can help with communication and sharing information with others.
- Encourage showing interest in the interests of others. People with Asperger's have limited interests, but they can learn to take an interest in the interests of others and communicate with other people based on their shared interests.
People with Asperger's may have sensory difficulties, which can affect their ability to respond to sensory stimuli and communicate effectively with other people. Sensory difficulties may relate to how they perceive sound, light, texture, taste and smell.
The most common sensory difficulties associated with Asperger's are:
- Hypersensitivity to sound: People with Asperger's may perceive sound differently from other people. They may be bothered by loud sounds, such as music or traffic noise.
- Some people may have a hypersensitivity to sound: Conversely, there may be hypersensitivity to sound, so people with Asperger's may not respond to sound to a sufficient extent.
- Hypersensitivity to light: People with Asperger's may perceive light differently from other people and may be bothered by bright light or changes in lighting.
- Hyper-sensitivity to texture: People with Asperger's may be sensitive to texture and cannot tolerate clothing or fabrics that are uncomfortable.
- Texture hypersensitivity: Conversely, there may also be hypersensitivity to texture, with the result that people with Asperger's may not respond to the texture of objects to the same extent as other people.
People with Asperger's syndrome may have difficulties with education and learning in several areas of their lives. This may be due to their isolation and their difficulty in interacting and communicating, which makes it harder for them to integrate into a classroom or social group. However, there are other reasons that can explain the learning difficulties of people with Asperger's syndrome, such as:
- Repetitive behaviours: People with Asperger syndrome tend to repeat certain behaviors and activities, such as tactical preferences, and have difficulty responding to new situations and demands.
- Difficulties in recognizing and attributing semantic meaning: People with Asperger syndrome may have difficulties in recognizing and attributing semantic meaning, particularly when it comes to concepts that are abstract or complex.
- Difficulties in visuospatial perception and processing: People with Asperger syndrome may experience difficulties in visuospatial perception and processing, which can make it difficult to understand objects and their spatial arrangement, as well as to perceive and understand the arrangement of time and duration.
- Difficulties in exchanging information: People with Asperger syndrome may have difficulty exchanging information and engaging in social interactions, as they have difficulty understanding the social meanings of other people's words and actions.
Verbal communication is one of the main difficulties faced by people with Asperger syndrome. This is because they have difficulty communicating and interpreting the social meanings of words and actions. There can also be difficulties with oral expression, syntax and language comprehension. Some of the symptoms that may be related to communication include:
Isolation and detachment: People with Asperger syndrome may isolate themselves from others and avoid interaction.
Aspergers and other people who are isolated and may avoid each other: People with Asperger's syndrome tend to use stereotypical and analytical phrases, as well as repeat endless vocabulary and generalizations.
Lack of social interest: People with Asperger's syndrome may find it difficult to communicate with others, as they do not show the same social interest as other people.
Lack of social skills: people with Asperger's syndrome have difficulty understanding the social meaning of words and actions and may not be able to respond to social signals sent by other people.
Behavioural therapy is an effective method of treatment for children with Asperger's syndrome. The goal of behavioral therapy is to help children develop social skills and learn to communicate effectively with others.
Behavioral therapy usually includes the following techniques:
- Behavioral Reinforcement Therapy: In this therapy, therapists reward the child's positive behavior and ignore negative behavior. In this way, children learn that good behavior gets results.
- Social Skills Therapy. Therapists may use role-playing, as well as other games, to teach the child social skills.
- Induction therapy: In this therapy, therapists use the child's interests as motivation to teach new social skills. For example, if the child is interested in highways, therapists may use the highways to teach the child social skills.
- Behavior Change Therapy: In this therapy, therapists teach the child to cope with problems in his or her daily life. It may focus on teaching the child how to manage negative emotions and how to express their feelings.
- Social Rules Understanding Therapy: In this therapy, therapists may teach the child the rules for interaction and communication. They may use games and role-playing to explain social norms to the child.
Understanding Asperger's syndrome is key to supporting those with it. People with Asperger's syndrome may struggle with interaction, communication and sensory issues, but with understanding and support they can lead fulfilling lives.
By learning about the disorder, being patient, respecting their interests, and providing structure and emotional support, you can help your loved one with Asperger's overcome the challenges they may face. Remember that each person with Asperger's syndrome is unique and it is important to work with them to find the strategies that work best for them.
In addition, education and awareness is just as important to understanding Asperger's syndrome. Teachers, partners, and peers need to be educated about the symptoms and difficulties that people with Asperger's syndrome face. By understanding and being sensitive to their needs, people in their environment can help develop an environmentally friendly attitude towards people with Asperger's syndrome and create a supportive environment.
There are also many organisations and resources that can help both people with Asperger's syndrome and their families to better understand and manage their condition. These resources include seminars, conferences, clinical trials and books about Asperger's syndrome.
Copyright Upbility 2023
You may find interesting the following articles:
- Creating Routines for Teens with Autism
- Mood Disorders and Teenage Girls
- The Importance of Play Activities for Children with Autism
- Bullying and Autism: How to Help Your Child
- 10 Ways to Teach Your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse
- Teaching Empathy Skills to Children With Autism
- Teaching Students with ADHD: Strategies for an effective lesson
- Are Autistic Girls Overlooked?
- Music Therapy: Autism Through Different Eyes
- 7 Key Social Skills to Help Children with Autism Cope with Bullying