What is Asperger's syndrome?
Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder that makes it very hard to interact with other people.
People with this syndrome have some traits of autism. For example, they may prefer routine and not like change. But unlike those with autism, people with Asperger's usually started to talk before 2 years of age. This is when speech normally starts to develop.
Asperger's syndrome is lifelong. But symptoms tend to improve over time. Adults with this condition can learn to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. And they can improve their social skills.
Both Asperger's syndrome and autism belong to the group of disorders called autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). You may hear this term used to describe Asperger's syndrome.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary, so no two people are the same.
Some people with Asperger's:
- Have a very hard time relating to others. This doesn't mean that they avoid social contact. But they lack instincts and skills to help them express their thoughts and feelings and notice others' feelings.
- Like fixed routines. Change is hard for them.
- May not recognize verbal and nonverbal cues or understand social norms. For example, they may stare at others, not make eye contact, or not know what personal space means.
- May have speech that's flat and hard to understand. It lacks tone, pitch, and accent. Or they may have a formal style of speaking that's advanced for their age.
- May lack coordination. They may be somewhat clumsy.
- May have unusual facial expressions, body postures, and gestures.
- May have only one or a few interests. Or they may focus intensely on a few things.
How is Asperger's syndrome treated?
Treatment is based on your symptoms. Treatment may change often so that it's most useful for you.
Doctors and counselors can help you learn more about Asperger's and build social and learning skills. Job training can help too.
Here are some ideas that can help:
- Use daily routines and visual aids such as written schedules, calendars, and checklists.
- Focus on your strengths, and explore your interests.
- Learn how to interact with people. Remember that talking to others is important.
- Learn as much as you can about Asperger's syndrome. Talk to others about it. The more that others around you learn, the better they can help and support you.
- Learn how to read and respond to social cues. Have "stock" phrases to use in different social situations, such as when being introduced.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Where can you learn more?
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