the characteristics of Aspergers, set it apart from other diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. Autism and Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are two general terms that are used to describe a group of complex disorders of brain development. In general these disorders are characterized in varying degrees by:
- Difficulties in social interaction
- Verbal and nonverbal communication
- Repetitive behaviors
This group includes:
- Autistic Disorder
- Rett syndrome
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Difficulties in motor coordination
- Intellectual disability
- Attention and physical issues (including sleep and GI disturbances)
Some with ASD excel in:
- Visual skills
With all the recent media attention focusing on Aspergers right now it is important to understand the characteristics of Aspergers and what sets it apart from other diagnoses on the spectrum.
Understand that it is perfectly normal for toddlers to exhibit a symptom or two of Asperger’s such as the repetitiveness or engaging in a long one sided conversation without noticing if you are listening.
Right now we are going to go over some of the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome; you can get a very comprehensive list here:
- Displaying unusual nonverbal communication, examples: avoiding eye contact, few facial expressions or awkward body positions and gestures.
- Engaging in one sided and long winded conversations without noticing if the listener is paying attention or if the listener is trying to change the subject
- Appearing to not understand, be sensitive to or empathize with the feelings of others’
- Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific and narrow subjects such weather, snakes, basketball stats or train schedules
- Difficulty “reading” other people or getting humor or sarcasm
- Speaking in a rigid, monotonous voice or speaking unusually fast
- Clumsily movement, poor coordination
Unlike other children on the spectrum or those with more severe forms, those with Asperger’s don’t usually have delays in development of language. This means your child will use single words by the age of 2 and phrases by the age of 3 BUT children with Asperger’s syndrome might have difficulty holding a normal conversation. Their conversation can feel awkward and lack the typical give and take of a normal social interaction.
Small children and school aged kids that have Asperger’s may not show an interest in forming friendships. There are often developmental delays with some motor skills such as walking, playing on playground equipment of catching a ball.
Children with Asperger’s can be very active but in young adulthood they may develop anxiety and/or depression.