Asperger?s syndrome is a form of autism. It’s often known simply as A.S. Autism is a developmental disorder, affecting interpersonal and communication skills. Autism does not describe one disorder in particular. It appears in numerous forms as well as to many levels. The term Autistic Spectrum Disorder is often used to describe the whole range. On this spectrum comes the condition A.S. A.S occurs in all social classes, races and nationalities. It is named after an Austrian physician, Hans Asperger, who first defined the syndrome in 1944.
A.S has a pattern that includes:
? Lack of empathy – these children do not understand others’ feelings, or how to interact socially
? Limited ability to form friendships
? Dominating conversations with the result that conversations are one sided
? So focused on their own personal specific interest that there is no space for common interests suitable to their age
? Awkward body movements in articulation and also in gross motor behaviour
? A love of routine, unexpected change in routine can be upsetting
? Repetitive activities, children with A.S may spin and watch spinning objects for long periods of time
? Very sensitive to noise, light and touch
People with A.S perceive the world differently from everybody else. They find the rest of us strange and baffling. (Attwood. 1998 p.86)
The way children with A.S perceive the world makes sense to them and they cannot change the way they think or act. However, with assistance, they are able to adjust their behaviour so as not to cause conflict and confusion with other children. Other children usually do not understand or put up with A.S behaviour. Children with A.S look ?normal? and often have average or above average intelligence, but for some reason are not able to understand and relate to other people at a level one would expect for their age. It can be hard for parents, teachers and peers to understand why these children have a lack of desire to interact with peers or inability to understand simple or social cues. Others often assume A.S children are selfish. The truth is, though, that they prefer to be by themselves, following their own special interest. Children with A.S tend to be uninterested in what others say or feel. They may talk on about a subject without taking notice of their listeners’ reactions or interest in the subject, and so appear to be insensitive to others. A.S children can get quite confused when they listen to other people who are telling jokes, or using exaggerated language and metaphors. Someone with A.S may take everything others say in a literal sense, and so be frightened by statements like ?she bit my head off?.
The child with A.S does not see themselves as a member of a particular group; they follow their own interest rather than that of the other children in the class or playground which can lead to total social isolation.
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