Asperger's is one of a group of neurological conditions characterized by a degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Children with the condition exhibit an obsessive interest in a single object or topic. With effective treatment, children with Asperger's can learn to cope with their disabilities, but may still find social situations and personal relationships challenging.
What Is Asperger's?Asperger's syndrome -- also known as Asperger syndrome or just Asperger's -- is a developmental disorder. It is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as by repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.
Other autism spectrum disorders include:
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Classic autism
- Rett syndrome
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).
Unlike children with autism, children with Asperger's retain their early language skills.
Symptoms of Asperger'sThe most distinguishing symptom of Asperger's is an obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with this condition want to know everything about their topic of interest, and their conversations with others will be about little else.
Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors. Other Asperger symptoms include:
- Repetitive routines or rituals
- Peculiarities in speech and language
- Socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior (and the inability to interact successfully with peers)
- Problems with nonverbal communication
- Clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements.
Children with this condition are often isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. They often make normal conversation impossible by inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest. Children with Asperger's usually experience developmental delays in motor skills, such as catching a ball, pedaling a bike, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated, with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy.