ASPERGERS SYNDROME


Aspergers Syndrome is part of the autism spectrum of disorders which causes difficulties in social communication, social interaction and social imagination. They have difficulty in reading the usual social cues but those with Aspergers Syndrome are generally able to function at a higher level than those with autism.

Characteristics
1. Social – emotional skills: Severe impairment in reciprocal interactions.

a) Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
- lack of desire to interact with peers
- lack of appreciation of peer pressure

b) Lack of appreciation of social cues
- poor sense of humour
- not very aware of codes of social conduct
- asking inappropriate questions
- inappropriate social and emotional behaviour

c) Non-verbal skills unusual
- poor eye contact – reduced or inappropriate
- facial expressions and body language awkward and not fitting with situation. Limited use of gestures.

d) Lacks reciprocity in relationships – not quick to “show off” skills or play

e) Often unable to pick up emotional states of others, does no have a great understanding of subtle emotions, either
how they are expressed or what then mean

2. All absorbing narrow interests

a) To the exclusion of other activities
b) Repetitive adherence
c) May be unusual in its focus or intensity

3. Responds poorly to change

a) Need to adhere to routines and rituals, which may, at times be dysfunctional.

4. Speech and Language problems

a) Often delayed language development
b) Formal pedantic language
c) Odd quality of speech: accents, pitch high
d) Superficially perfect language

5. Cognitive Skills

a) Usually normal intelligence, not mentally retarded.
b) Very concrete thinking – no understanding of jokes, interprets sayings literally
c) Repetitive speech, preservation on topics
d) Lack of imaginative play to some extent, particularly not very creative
e) Relatively advanced vocabulary, but poor verbal comprehension

6. Motor Skills

a) Running/walking slightly awkward – lack of upper/lower limb co-ordination.
b) Clumsy.
c) Some slight neurodevelopmental problems.
d) Teenagers may develop grimaces and tics.

Other Attributes

a) Hypo and Hyper-sensitivity to stimuli
b) Likely to develop anxiety or depression when insight is reasonable

Strategies:

1. Social Skills
  • Discuss problems. Model and role play correct responses
  • Check on basic skills, e.g. If they know they have made someone angry. If they don’t, ask them to clarify this with people concerned
  • Emotional training: work on recognising, describing and acting out different emotional states

2. Repetitive Interests
  • Look at other interests as supplements
  • Look at things to fill in time when there is no structure
  • Teach relaxation exercises so they do not get anxious if they cannot fill time with their favourite interest

3. Language
  • Practice conversation skills, how to open and close conversation.
  • Help them to learn to understand jokes, e.g. By asking people if something is a joke or not

4. Auditory Sensitivity/Tactile Sensitivity
  • Help identify upsetting noises, e.g. others screaming – can then ask them to let the teacher know that it upsets them.
  • Use music or something else pleasant as a way of blocking out unpleasant noises. It also helps to get used to different sounds.

5. In the Classroom

  • They appreciate structure. Teach use of clocks early – it helps enhance their feelings of safety.
  • Low tolerance of failure, hate criticism – so a good relationship with the teacher, with a lot of positive reinforcement is vital.

Learn more about Aspergers Syndrome and other Autism spectrum disorders

Click here