Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is named after the medical doctor Hans Asperger. Dr. Asperger found that certain children displayed typical or higher-than-average levels of intelligence and language development but struggled with social skills and communicating with others. It was first described as mild autism but was later found to be a disorder in its own right. While the statistics for the prevalence of Asperger’s are not wildly known, it is estimated that 1 in 88 children over eight years of age have an autism spectrum disorder and that Asperger’s itself is four times more prevalent in boys than girls.
The symptoms of Asperger’s typically become noticeable when children interact in social situations – perhaps at preschool or daycare, but more commonly after kindergarten.
- Inability to read social cues from others
- Difficulty starting conversations or taking turns
- Needing strict structure and routines
- Lack of empathy towards others
- Inability to read varying speech tones
- Does not laugh at jokes or gets upset with sarcasm
- Speaks using advanced vocabulary. “That is quite breathtaking.” Instead of just, “That’s pretty.”
- Tends to talk too much about one thing and conversations are one-sided
- Inappropriately verbalizes internal thoughts. Blurts things out
- Lacks eye contact with others. May stare at others or stare into space
- Uses different facial expressions. For example, smiling when told a sad story, frowning when told something funny
- Uses odd postures
- Preoccupation with one activity
- May be obsessed with one topic. Knows everything about the planets, certain animals, etc.
- Delayed motor skills. May not be able to zip zippers, button a button, or ride a bike
- Writing is illegible
- They get overstimulated by lights, sounds, crowds, textures, and tastes