Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - December 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 47

Understanding Asperger syndrome A sperger syn• Lacking social perdrome has ceptive ability to read recently been nonverbal cues, such as the source of much confacial expressions, which troversy and confusion are crucial to the develamong both parents and opment of effective social interaction professionals. • Displaying a lack of Is Asperger's a mildempathy or insensitivity er form of Autism? Is it to others' feelings, making a separate and distinct them seem egocentric or disorder that should be self-absorbed considered a social comChild • Communication with munication disorder, or Behavior others may lack eye consocial disability? tact, making them appear There is no uniform socially inadequate or aloof agreement among experts, and chil• Although language skills and dren and adults who are "different" vocabulary are often good or even — somewhat socially awkward with extremely well-developed, they have quirky interests in mundane statisdifficulty understanding the nuanctics — are often labeled as having es of language, often taking things Asperger's. literally Asperger syndrome is one of a group of disorders, along with AuObsessive interests tism, called pervasive developmental Children with Asperger's may disorders, with Asperger's being the develop obsessive interests in one mild end of the spectrum. or more narrow subject areas, such It was named for Hans Asperger, as train timetables, weather fluctuawho in 1944 identified a pattern of tions or other specific statistics. behavior found in a group of boys While all children seem to enjoy who had normal intelligence and the predictability of routines, chillanguage development, but showed dren with Asperger's may inflexibly significant deficiencies in social and adhere to routines, and become communication skills, as well as othextremely upset with changes. A er patterns of disordered behavior. substitute teacher or change in However, Asperger's wasn't school routine may cause extreme recognized by the medical and discomfort or a violent outburst psychology communities until 1994. from this child. Since then, the number of children Overly literal diagnosed with this disorder has increased significantly. Over-literal use of language imAlthough each child with Aspergpedes their imagination and their deer's is different, the following are the velopment of abstract reasoning can most commonly seen characteristics cause learning difficulties, despite exhibited by school-aged children: often above average intelligence. PAUL SCHWARTZ Social difficulties • Difficulty making and keeping friends 8 Hudson Valley Parent n December 2013 Sensory sensitivity Often children with Asperger's are overly sensitive to lights, sounds, Because these 'little professors,' as they are sometimes called, are odd or different in their behaviors, they may also become victims of bullying and teasing. smells or tastes and may develop sensitivities and preferences for certain clothing and foods. Their odd or unusual behavior is due to these neurological differences and the child shouldn't be seen as purposefully rude or exhibiting "bad" behavior or that there is a lack of discipline at home. Because these "little professors," as they are sometimes called, are odd or different in their behaviors, they may also become victims of bullying and teasing by other children in school or on the playground. Types of treatment While Asperger's is classified along the Autistic spectrum of disorders and can't be cured, children with Asperger's have demonstrated significant improvement with the following types of treatment: • Teaching social skills, although not as natural to them as others, may result in great benefits. • Behavior modification techniques have also been shown to decrease many of the behavior problems children with Asperger's exhibit. Paul Schwartz, PhD., is a professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Hudson Valley Parent - HVP - December 2013