Insight & Growth          

Asperger Syndrome 

   

Children and adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS) have a neurological  difference that is linked to differences in cognitive processing style, emotional self-regulation, social interaction, and often sensory sensitivities and/or motor coordination challenges. 

 

"Neurotypical" (NT)  people may misunderstand or react negatively to people with AS because of differences in how they follow unwritten social rules and respond to nonverbal social cues (such as facial expressions).  In social interactions, people with AS may avoid another person's gaze, miss important cues in tone of voice or body language, and struggle with the social skills needed in friendships and close relationships. 

Individuals with AS often have special interests about which they are skilled or knowledgeable. As young children, they may have had rich vocabularies and enjoyed talking with adults.    As adults, their strong intellectual abilities and creative thinking can enable them to be successful in areas of science, music and art, though others may view them as brilliant but somewhat socially-awkward, absent-minded, or eccentric.  

Individuals with AS may evidence a commitment to truth, logic and facts.  Sometimes, this may be expressed in a preference for routine and rules, and others may view them as unduly rigid.  They may react negatively to unexpected changes. However, this behaviour is not an attempt to be inflexible or obstinate, rather it is an attempt to get a clear understanding and lower the anxiety of uncertainty of changing rules.  

Some "aspies" are very sensitive to sounds, smells, sights, tastes, textures, or touch, and may prefer soft clothing or particular foods, or be bothered by sounds that "neurotypicals" may not notice.  

The social differences of AS children makes them vulnerable to teasing and bullying. "Aspie" adolescents often struggle with low self-esteem, depression, and/or anxiety when they experience difficulties fitting in and making friends among peers.

Although Asperger Syndrome is about 3-4 times more prevalent among males, there are concerns that girls with AS can "hide".  Girls with AS may be "taken under the wing" of a protective friend, and learn to copy the social actions of their peers (but with a slight delay).

Although these neurological differences present challenges for "aspies" living in a world of "neurotypicals", they also represent areas of strength.  "Aspies" usually have a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection, and utilize creativity and good analytical thinking skills in problem-solving.   In relationships, "aspies" are loyal friends who are honest and direct, with a unique sense of humor and with a commitment to social justice.  

An understanding and appreciation of their unique characteristics, along with strategies and support to address challenges with social skills, perfectionism / inflexibility, sensory difficulties, and / or anxiety, can enable "aspies" to experience fulfilling lives and reach their potential.  The first step on the journey is typically a diagnostic assessment, and the identification and implementation of appropriate strategies and support. 

Watch a brief video describing someone's personal AS experience

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