What is Asperger Syndrome?

“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.”
― Temple Grandin

 

Asperger Syndrome is a condition on the Autism Spectrum which impacts on the way that individuals view the world, interact with and communicate with others.
While people who have Asperger Syndrome can have many talents and unique skills, they can experience challenges in forming relationships with others, managing anxiety, social exclusion and limited employment opportunities. Perhaps the most significant challenge is the ‘hidden’ element of the condition, which can make it difficult for others to under-stand the impact that Asperger Syndrome can have.

 

The characteristics of Asperger Syndrome vary from individual to individual but here are a few examples of some behaviours seen with individuals with Asperger Syndrome:

  • Sensitivity to stimuli such as light, heat, smell, touch and sound
  • Literal interpretation of language resulting in comprehension difficulties
  • Difficulty adapting to changes and understanding social expectations
  • Difficulty with social interaction
  • May have difficulty reading facial expressions and body language of other people
  • May have difficulty making eye contact with others
  • Often have a special interest which can often consume great deals of time

Anxiety can be a big issue that people with Asperger Syndrome face on a daily basis. Anxiety can cause difficulties with everyday tasks like leaving the house, going to school and interacting with family members, friends and strangers.
Sensory processing difficulties can vary from person to person. Difficulties with bright lights, sudden noises or strong smells can often become an issue when around other individuals. School, work or home life may become stressful along with public transport, supermarkets and airports.
Meltdowns can happen when someone with AS becomes anxious, over-whelmed and overloaded by stimuli and are unable to regulate their emotions. Many individuals use ‘stimming’ to try and regulate their emotions when feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Routine and structure can be something that individuals with Asperger Syndrome find comforting. There is often a fear of the unknown and a sudden change in plans can cause upset.
Special Interests is something that many people, but not all people with Asperger Syndrome have. Special interests could be something like languages, history, animals or computers. It is completely unique to each person and can change over time. Special interest can often consume a persons attention as they can often lose track of time.

Social Communication difficulties may occur with people with Asperger Syndrome not understanding gestures, body language and facial expressions and may not be aware of what is socially appropriate in social inter-action.