What is Asperger’s?
Asperger syndrome, also commonly referred to as “Asperger’s”, is a developmental disorder
characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along
with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. As a milder autism spectrum
disorder, it differs from other ASDs by relatively normal language and intelligence. Although not
required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and unusual use of language are common.
Early Signs of Asperger’s
Parents often notice signs of Asperger’s when their children first start pre-school and begin
interacting with other kids. Children with Asperger’s may:
- Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills (being able to read others’
body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking)
- Dislike any changes in routine
- Appear to lack empathy
- Be unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the
meaning of others’ speech (child may not understand a joke or take a sarcastic comment
- Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age
- Talks a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common.
- Internal thoughts are often verbalized.
- Avoid eye contact with others
- Have unusual facial expression or postures
- Be preoccupied with only a few interests
- Have delayed motor development (may be late in learning to use a fork or catch a ball, for example)
What to Do if You Start Noticing Signs
Pay Close Attention and Take Notes. The better you are able to communicate the
signs/symptoms you’ve seen in your child, the easier it will be for a doctor to diagnose.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher. If you start to notice signs of Asperger’s, talk to your child’s
teacher. Ask how they behave in the classroom and how they interact with other kids. Your
child’s teacher is the one person they spend the most time with besides you, and
they may notice more signs after observing your child’s social interactions.
Trust Your Gut. Know when it is time to talk to a doctor and don’t be afraid. In 2015, Asperger’s
was estimated to affect 37.2 million globally. There is treatment that your child can go through
that is aimed at improving poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical
clumsiness. Most children will improve as they grow up and with the right treatment, your child can
learn to control some of the social and communication challenges he or she faces. They will still
do well in school and go on to succeed in life.
Getting a Diagnosis
If symptoms continue, see a pediatrician. A pediatrician can refer you to an expert who specializes in
Autism Spectrum Disorders, like one of these:
- Psychologist—treats problems with emotions and behavior.
- Pediatric Neurologist—treats conditions of the brain.
- Developmental Pediatrician—specialize in speech and language issues and other
- Psychiatrist—expert in mental health conditions and can prescribe medicines to treat them.