Here are some tips to help people understand Asperger’s Syndrome. It is not know what causes the condition, but it is characterized by a group of behaviors that are often seen in autistic children. Understanding the signs makes it easier to relate to a child or adult who has this condition.
How does Asperger’s Syndrome Affect a Person
Asperger’s Syndrome is characterised by problems in three areas:
- Social Interaction
The level of difficulty experienced can vary greatly from person to person.
Asperger’s Syndrome and Speech
People with Asperger’s Syndrome often speak in an unusual manner. Their tone may be flat and monotonous and they often speak slowly.
Body Language is Misunderstood
Eye contact, facial expression and body language are often misunderstood by those with Asperger’s Syndrome. When conversing, they cannot read signs of boredom, impatience or frustration and will keep talking. The conversation partner may have to be blunt and bring the encounter to a close.
Obsessions and Asperger’s Syndrome
Obsessions are common in people with Asperger’s Syndrome and become apparent from a young age. A child often develops an interest in a certain area and this becomes an obsession. Common obsessions include computers, gaming, electronics, coin collecting dinosaurs and household gadgets.
Language Problems and Asperger’s Syndrome
The innuendos of language such as similes and metaphors are often misunderstood by those with Asperger’s Syndrome. They tend to take things very literally so communication needs to be simple and direct with no fancy figures of speech.
Personal Space may be Invaded
In modern day culture, people have an invisible barrier called personal space. They become uncomfortable if others invade this by standing too close to them. People with Asperger’s Syndrome are unaware of this and may stand too close when holding a conversation or queuing at a bank.
Sensory Problems and Asperger’s Syndrome
These come in many forms and can cause problems for those with Asperger’s Syndrome. Triggers include loud noises, school bells, sirens, unexpected noises, shouting and laughing and general confusion. If a person with Asperger’s Syndrome reacts to noise, it is best to lead him to a quite location and allow time for recovery.
Asperger’s Syndrome and Physical Coordination
Poor coordination is a common problem and most people with Asperger’s Syndrome are not good at sports. This applies in a team and individual capacity. The noise that accompanies sports can also pose problems. Rather than exposing a child to ridicule, it is preferable to find a form of physical activity that enjoyable and beneficial such as walking or swimming.
Sleeping Problems and Asperger’s Syndrome
Some people with Asperger’s Syndrome have problems falling asleep at night. The following have been useful remedies in some cases:
- Thick dark curtains that completely block out the light
- Removing or switching off all noise sources such as ticking clocks, televisions, radios and computers
- Use heavy blankets as the feeling of pressure can be helpful
Bullying and Asperger’s Syndrome
People with Asperger’s Syndrome often fall victim to bullies. Their differences invite ridicule and mocking which may escalate into violence. This is apparent in the work place as well as schools. It is important that the victims are helped as often they do not know how to verbalize what is happening to them.
While Asperger’s Syndrome imposes limitations, those who have the condition can lead productive fulfilled lives. This is even more so when those around them understand the syndrome and can help them and guide them when they are struggling.
Recommended reading: Freaks, Geeks and Asperger’s Syndrome: A user guide to adolescence by Luke Jackson. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002.