What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with stereotypes and other restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other ASDs by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported. (Wikipedia)

Parents often first notice the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome when their child starts preschool and begins to interact with other children. Children with Asperger's syndrome may:

  • Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others' body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.

  • Dislike any changes in routines.

  • Appear to lack empathy.

  • Be unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech. Thus, your child may not understand a joke or may take a sarcastic comment literally. Likewise, his or her speech may be flat and difficult to understand because it lacks tone, pitch, and accent.

  • Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the child may use the word "beckon" instead of "call" or the word "return" instead of "come back."

  • Avoid eye contact or stare at others.

  • Have unusual facial expressions or postures.

  • Be preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about. Many children with Asperger's syndrome are overly interested in parts of a whole or in unusual activities, such as designing houses, drawing highly detailed scenes, or studying astronomy. They may show an unusual interest in certain topics such as snakes, names of stars, or dinosaurs.

  • Talk a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common. Internal thoughts are often verbalized.

  • Have delayed motor development. Your child may be late in learning to use a fork or spoon, ride a bike, or catch a ball. He or she may have an awkward walk. Handwriting is often poor.

  • Have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures.

A child with one or two of these symptoms does not necessarily have Asperger’s syndrome. To be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a child must have a combination of these symptoms and severe trouble with social situations.

Although the condition is in some ways similar to autism, a child with Asperger's syndrome typically has normal language and intellectual development. Also, those with Asperger's syndrome typically make more of an effort than those with autism to make friends and engage in activities with others.

Symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome during adolescent and teen years

Most symptoms persist through the teen years. And although teens with Asperger's can begin to learn those social skills they lack, communication often remains difficult. They will probably continue to have difficulty "reading" others' behavior. ( WebMD)

How can SPOT help children with Aspergers?

Self Regulation Groups are aimed at children who have difficulty recognising and dealing appropriately with feelings and emotions which form part of their everyday experiences.  Children with a diagnosis of Aspergers often have difficulties with self regulation and can benefit from investigating and labelling different emotions.  Once children have been helped to recognise their feelings the group work aims to help identify specific activities that will help them to manage/regulate themselves independently.

Youth Aspergers Group. This group is aimed at teenagers who for a variety of reasons are unable to access the usual social activities offered in the community for young people. All sessions aim to promote confidence in social interaction, develop language and motor/co-ordination through fun, motivating activities. The aim of the teen group is to promote teens’ confidence in social interaction and to help them in adjusting to the changing social demands that present challenges to the teenager with special needs.  This takes the form of a typical youth group where activities such as music, art, cooking, hobbies etc are provided.  

Contact us today to book your free consultation, or just to chat about the ways the Speech and Occupational Therapy can help your child.