Asperger syndrome (AS) is a disorder that is often characterized by a child's obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Because of their narrow interest and poor social skills, children with this disorder are often isolated and have trouble making normal conversation. The ideal treatment for this condition coordinates therapies that address the three core symptoms of the disorder -- poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.
What Is Asperger Syndrome?Asperger syndrome (AS) 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 repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.
Other autism spectrum disorders include:
- Classic autism
- Rett syndrome
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).
Unlike children with autism, children with Asperger syndrome retain their early language skills.
SymptomsThe most distinguishing symptom of Asperger syndrome is a child's obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with Asperger syndrome 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 characteristics of Asperger syndrome 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 Asperger syndrome are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. They may approach other people, but make normal conversation impossible by inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest. Children with Asperger syndrome usually have a history of developmental delays in motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy.
(Click Asperger Symptoms for more information.)