What is Aspberger Syndrome

by BrendaReeves

In 1944 Dr. Hans Aspberger described the unique behavioral symptoms of a condition that closely resembled autism.

Aspberger Syndrome, named after the Austrian doctor, bears some resemblance to autism with some significant differences. Children with the disorder tend to function at a higher level than children with autism, and they demonstrate normal to high intelligence. Although Aspberger children may develop problems communicating later, their language is near-normal. Symptoms of Aspberger Syndrome can range from mild to severe and is part of the autism spectrum.

Characteristics of Aspberger's Syndrome

Mild to Severe Symptoms

Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are a group of conditions that constitute the development of many basic skills in a child. The following list of behaviors can help to either eliminate your concerns for your child or serve as a starting point for a professional diagnoses:

  • Problems with social skills
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Strange preoccupations or rituals
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Limited range of interests
  • Coordination problems
  • Skilled or talented in an area

Social difficulties lie in making friends due to their awkwardness and inability to initiate and carry on a conversation. Their behavior may include hand wringing, finger twisting and other odd, repetitive movements. Strange rituals such as the order in which they prepare for bed may occur with insistence on performing them with no deviation.

Communication problems may include a lack of eye contact or lack of inflection in tone when speaking to someone. Facial expressions and gestures might be absent when communicating with others. Problems understanding language in context and a literal perception of all language can occur.

The child with Aspberger Syndrome may develop obsessive interests in just a few areas such as baseball scores, earthquakes or bicycle repair. Many talented Aspberger's children excel in a specific area like math, computers or music. They may be an encyclopedia of statistics and dates.

Children with Aspberger Syndrome may display awkwardness or clumsiness. Their gait may be stilted or bouncy, and they may be unaware of personal space, by standing too close or too far away when engaging in a conversation with other people.

Diagnosis of Aspberger's Syndrome

Screening Instruments

Although there is a lack of standardized tests to diagnose Aspberger's Syndrome, there are multiple screening devices available. Your child's pediatrician will start with a developmental screening. Next, a team of professionals consisting of a psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist and speech therapist performs their assessments to rule in or out Aspberger's Syndrome.

Available Treatments

Individualized for Your Child

There is no cure for Aspberger's Syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, but there are treatments and therapies. It begins with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) at your child's school. The IEP sets up guidelines that target the child's interests, plans a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps in a highly structured environment and reinforces desired behavior. The IEP typically includes:

  • Social skills training
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication for co-existing conditions such as depression or anxiety
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Parent training and support

Your child may require some or all of these interventions to help her lead as normal a life as possible.

The Aspberger's Child's Future

Early Intervention

With early intervention, Aspberger's children can learn to overcome their disabilities although social interactions and personal relationships may remain challenging. Many of these children grow into successful adults who work in the mainstream, get married and raise a family. With  early intervention, continued moral support and encouragement, Aspberger's individuals can lead happy, healthy and productive lives.

Updated: 07/27/2013, BrendaReeves
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BrendaReeves on 12/14/2013

Yes, I would say that's what my friend has.

BrendaReeves on 12/14/2013

Thank you Sheilamarie.

frankbeswick on 12/13/2013

There is a condition known as mild Aspergers. I suspect that it is more common than people think.

sheilamarie on 12/13/2013

Early diagnosis of any condition provides a child with the opportunity to learn skills they may otherwise miss out on. Great article, Brenda!

BrendaReeves on 08/10/2013

Thank you for your comment.

NausetViews on 08/09/2013

Wonderful article Brenda and thank you Frank for your comments. My youngest is in early intervention and I know what you're saying about parents being in denial. I hear a lot of stories about parents not willing to pursue an IEP because they don't want to label their child. My approach is to accept whatever assistance I can for my child, so if it's EI or an IEP, I'm all for it. Angel, your son is lucky that he has a mum who has been his advocate. I think it usually takes a lot of work and pushing to get the services needed for our kids.

BrendaReeves on 07/31/2013

I rent my guest house out to a man with Aspbergers. He works in maintenance at McDonalds. He has trouble with his co-workers. He's not a great worker. He gets sidetracked, doesn't do a thorough job, forgets to do jobs, etc. He's actually very friendly, but will forget what he's doing and sit down to talk to the patrons while's he suppose to be working. His supervisor studied up on Aspbergers and she makes allowances for him. He tells me he doesn't like for people to tell him what to do. (Of course nobody does) He said he likes to work alone. He's good with computers, and I'm encouraging him to find work in that area. I does some part time work now and then programming cell phones for a distributor. It would be great if he could get full time work doing that. I'm writing another article on Aspbergers and autism that I think you'll find interesting.

frankbeswick on 07/31/2013

When I taught at the special school for autistic children, we had a behaviour therapist working with us. I was teaching horticulture, and so we talked a bit about that area. We discussed the opportunities in horticulture for autistic/Asperger's people, and she told me that she was convinced that many in the nursery/horticulture business are Asperger's to a degree. My son, who was in that business for a while, agreed. The therapist reckoned that the opportunity to work with things rather than people suits these people. This makes me think that it is important to encourage Aspergers people to find a role commensurate with their personality. They can be highly productive if they are placed in the right job.

I do not think that we should press Asperger's sufferers into roles where they have to meet the public too much, as this produces stress and anxiety. Society tends to straitjacket people into roles, but this is not good. Everyone should as far as possible construct a life that suits them, and their strengths and weaknesses.

BrendaReeves on 07/30/2013

You're welcome Angel. I'm so glad you finally got him in special ed. I can't believe that the school district didn't evaluate him and let him in years ago. I am renting my guest house out to a man with Aspbergers. It's working out well, and I'm kind of mentoring him. I have another article about Aspbergers and autism coming up that will prove to be very interesting.

Angel on 07/30/2013

As you know Brenda, my oldest son has symptom of Aspergers. He is bipolar with symptoms of PDD / Aspergers. Wheww life is interesting around my house. As you might imagine he consumes a lot of my time. He is 13 now and trying to get him to understand the socialization side of middle school is a never ending job. He is a smart ass, know it all, loud, obnoxious, and very intelligent when it comes to things he likes. @Frankbeswick is so right about the social factor... oh my lord it is so hard trying to explain to him that you don't keep friends by yelling at them or talking them to death about things they could care less about. I have never been one of those parents in denial.. I knew something was different about my son and I have been advocating for him since he was 4. He finally got approved for special education at school this year and he will start a resource class next year to help with social and emotional issues. Great article Brenda. Keep writing about things like this since I think you have a lot to offer people like me on this. You have been a great help behind the scenes with everything my family has gone through with my son this past year. Thank you!!

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