What exactly is Asperger’s syndrome?
Asperger’s syndrome is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects how a person perceives the world and interacts with others.
Is Asperger’s a form of autism?
The answer is yes, since 2013, Asperger’s is recognised by doctors as a form of autism, or more specifically, autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If you prefer to continue using the term Asperger’s syndrome, that’s absolutely fine, loads of people still do. Reason being, while Asperger’s syndrome is now officially an autism spectrum disorder, the symptoms are much less severe.
As a result, both children with Asperger’s as well as adults have ‘high functioning autism’. In other words, while they will still have to deal with the complications Asperger’s syndrome naturally brings, these complications will most likely have a far lower impact on day-to-day life and our ability to progress.
What are the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome?
As a rule, people with autism or Asperger's start to show symptoms in their childhood and if you’re a parent, these are the social cues to look out for.
Your child struggles to make eye contact
That’s whether they’re talking or you’re talking to them; in fact, they may make no eye contact at all, even as a toddler. That’s a big red flag and enough reason to chat with your doctor. Early diagnosis can make all the difference to ensure your child gets the extra attention they need for effective learning and get the necessary social skills training.
Your child seems unusually awkward socially
Again, there will probably be a pretty obvious and self-conscious lack of eye contact as your child tries their best to chat with people. Chances are they’ll also have no idea what to say and, therefore, say nothing and the ensuing awkward silences may be another red flag.
Your child shows very little emotion
This is a big one to watch for. If your child simply isn’t smiling or laughing at the jokes and pranks that you and everyone else in the room gets, that’s a red flag. But again, don’t worry, if you spot the signs early and get the experts in play, the effects of Asperger’s can be managed and minimised in your child’s ongoing life.
Your child focuses on themselves and no one else
If they do, they’ll talk about pretty much nothing else but themselves. Or they’ll obsess over your dog or goldfish and talk about almost nothing else. Or your child might obsess over a TV show or sporting team and talk about it over and over. If they’re super interested, they’ll repeat themselves a lot, so watch out for that.
Your child hates change
Whether it’s eating the same food every day or watching the same episode of the same program every day, a child with Asperger’s may simply want to do the same thing over and over again.
And if all that sounds a bit scary, it’s probably not. As we said before, most kids with Asperger’s are ‘high functioning’ kids.
The key is early diagnosis so care centres, schools, and teachers can all do what they’re trained to do; to make sure your child becomes the best person they can possibly be.