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Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that results in impaired functioning of social skills, communication, and flexibility in thought and behavior. Asperger's syndrome is a disability within the autism spectrum. Here you can read more about what characterizes Asperger's syndrome.

Photo: by Caleb Woods on Unsplash



 

The following article is based on a booklet from Spiss publishing house and from an article about Asperger's syndrome The autism site

Asperger's syndrome is a disability in people who are initially normally gifted, but may have the following functional difficulties:

 





  1. Limited ability to socialize, especially with peers.
  2. Difficulty perceiving social rules, norms and other expectations.
  3. Special and limited interests.
  4. Reluctance to change surroundings and routines.
  5. Communication problems and comprehension difficulties such as difficulty reading and understanding facial expressions and body language.
  6. Uneven ability profile that makes it difficult for the environment to determine what the person can do.

 

Asperger's: Misunderstood individuals

People with Asperger's Syndrome generally do not differ in appearance from others, which makes it difficult for those around them to understand their deviant behavior. They have difficulty sorting and prioritizing when several impressions and demands occur at the same time. They are often misunderstood and can be perceived as rude. Despite normal intelligence, they can have large discrepancies when it comes to:

 

  1. Ability to perceive the perspective of others.
  2. Ability to organize their lives, and to find alternative solutions when things do not happen as planned.
  3. Ability to gain context and meaning in their experiences.

This leads first and foremost to contact problems with other people, but also to major general adjustment problems and problems in coping with the demands of everyday life, school and working life. They can seem difficult because they are vulnerable to stress, hustle and criticism.





Children and adolescents with Asperger's syndrome may show strong resentment towards changes in environment and routines, seem old-fashioned and cautious. They often find it easier and more comfortable to be with adults than their peers. Difficulty taking the perspective of others can be a feature of Asperger's syndrome. When people with Asperger's syndrome understand, that is, manage to take the perspective of others, they will care and feel empathy. Many people may have difficulty recognizing faces.

Despite the fact that students with Asperger's syndrome are normally gifted, many have learning difficulties, such as reading and writing and math difficulties. Because many people think quite concretely, they only get academic problems as school students after they have been in school for a few years.

Perceptual problems can be a problem for people with Asperger's syndrome. Some people are hypersensitive to sounds. Others are sensitive to odors or touch, and may therefore have difficulty wearing tight-fitting or new clothing. In addition, it is common to be hypersensitive, and therefore, for example, may have problems feeling hungry or when they are tired.

Due to social shortcomings, narrow interests and sometimes original attitudes, students with Asperger's syndrome will be particularly vulnerable to bullying. Some engage in stereotypical behaviors that can be ridiculed by fellow students.

It may be a myth that students with Asperger's syndrome are not interested in socializing. Many people want social contact, but they do not quite get it. Talking about loose and tight can be difficult, although they may find it easy to talk about something they are particularly interested in. This social shortcoming can lead to children with Asperger's syndrome eventually choosing to withdraw because they do not dare to take contact. In some cases, however, it is true that Aspergers have less need for social contact than others, and therefore want more time alone than most others.

 

Incidence and cause of Asperger's syndrome

The problems appear early and affect the person throughout life. Research shows that at least 3-5 per 1000 inhabitants can be diagnosed within the autism spectrum. Disability is more common in boys than in girls. The cause is not clear, but hereditary factors seem to be important. There is agreement among researchers that psychosocial factors or special experiences in childhood do not cause Asperger's syndrome. 

The incidence of Asperger's syndrome seems to have increased in recent years, and more people than before have been diagnosed. The reasons for the increase are not known, but may be due to several factors, such as the impact of environmental toxins. Other explanations are that the health services are more aware of the problem and more easily detects the condition now than before. Society and school have also become more demanding in terms of social skills. 

 

Treatment and prognosis of Asperger's syndrome

An early diagnosis, information to all affected, adapted requirements and help form the cornerstones of the long-term habilitation work. With the right help growing up, many can eventually learn to function well and have a good life. Early and targeted help can reduce the risk of adolescents and adults with Asperger's syndrome developing depression and other mental health problems as a reaction to the world around them and its demands. 

Training on a range of life-areas is currently seen as the best measure to improve the life situations of people with Asperger's, although in recent times there has been hope for help from medication. From an early age, it is important to train Asperger children to cope with everyday problems. Since it is the social characteristics that create the biggest problems, it will be natural to believe that the social is the most important thing to practice. Social training can work to some degree, but it is important to maintain a balance so that they do not feel violated.

Training is not done to cure the syndrome, but to make daily life easier to cope with. 

The Swedish psychiatrist Christopher Gillberg writes in his book "Children, adolescents and adults with Asperger syndrome" that in the training of adolescents and adults it is absolutely necessary to respect their own views and actions. It is essential that social training is not put before other training, and the development of other talents. Social training has a certain effect on the social, but training in other areas is necessary for positive results in these respects. It is often through special talents that Asperger students can get the best contact with others, and develop their social skills. It is therefore important to do everything to discover the child's strengths and stimulate the child to make the best use of them. 

Gillberg further says that students with Aspergers who are highly gifted should go to a class with regular students. A close collaboration between teacher and family is important for the student's school situation to be as good as possible. 

It is important to create an overview and predictability in life. In particular, new and unknown situations must be carefully prepared:

 

  1. Explain what is going to happen, preferably with visual aids.
  2. Use concrete language and avoid pictorial speech.
  3. Prepare for changes to take place and how to deal with them.

The training must have a holistic and long-term perspective. It must include social and practical skills in addition to ordinary school subjects. The education must be based on the individual student's interests and strengths. Protests from the student are most often due to communication difficulties and should not be perceived as defiance. Rephrase messages rather than hustle.

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