Asperger’s syndrome is a type of autism, and is a condition which affects a person’s social interaction, interests and behaviour.
As with all autism conditions, Asperger’s is a spectrum condition, and will affect different people in different ways.
This means that different people with the condition will have different levels of need and require different amounts of support.
It is not yet know what causes a person to develop Asperger’s, but it is thought there is a genetic element to the condition.
What are the signs of Asperger’s?
People who have Asperger’s and other conditions on the autism spectrum often have problems with social communication and interaction.
People with Asperger’s often have good language skills, in contrast to those with other autism disorders, but they still find it hard to understand the expectations of others within conversations.
The National Autistic Society says people with the condition have difficulty understanding non-verbal language like gestures, and have a very literal understanding of language. They may find it difficult to understand facial expressions, tone of voice, jokes and sarcasm as well as abstract concepts.
This means at times they may appear insensitive, or appear to behave in a way thought to be socially inappropriate.
Many people with Asperger’s also develop a highly specific interest in a very particular subject or activity. This could be separate from any interest in the wider subject – such as collecting the serial numbers of trains without having a wider interest in trains themselves.
They may also experience sensitivity to things like sounds, smells or lights. They may find background sounds which other people block out are loud or distracting.
Another key symptom is repetitive movements, such as flapping hands, rocking back and forth, or flicking fingers.
Those with Asperger’s also often favour familiar routine, and may find change upsetting.
How is Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosed?
A GP can refer those who may have the condition to appropriate specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and speech and language therapists.
The specialist can then carry out a detailed look at the symptoms, including an assessment of development, health and behaviour.
How is Asperger’s Syndrome treated?
There is no known ‘cure’ for autism conditions, including Asperger’s. However strategies have been developed to help people cope with the condition and its impact on their life.The National Autistic Society has information about many of them.
Programmes may focus on improving the individual’s social and communication skills, or encouraging them to take part in social activities with others.
Treatment may also focus on dealing with secondary difficulties that those with Asperger’s face – such as anxiety and depression which can result from difficulty with social interactions.