What is Asperger's Syndrome?
Asperger’s Syndrome has been described as “high functioning Autism”.
Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are considered to be on the continuum of Autism. Often, but not always, individuals appear to have more typical language development so consequently individuals with Asperger Syndrome appear to have fewer problems with talking and understanding verbal communication. Asperger’s Syndrome may not become obvious until a child is older. Indeed, some people can go through their whole lives having Asperger’s Syndrome and not receive a diagnosis until they are in their adulthood.
Hans Asperger identified Asperger’s Syndrome in the 1940’s; however, it only became widely known and researched in the 1980’s when Dr Lorna Wing gave comprehensive accounts of 34 cases.
Dr Wing described the main clinical features of Asperger’s Syndrome to be:
- Naive, inappropriate one sided interactions
- Struggle to form friendships
- Pedantic or repetitive speech
- Poor non verbal communication
- Intense absorption in certain subjects
- Fine or gross motor difficulties
Individuals with AS are particularly vulnerable to high levels of anxiety and mental health problems especially in late adolescence and early adult life. This may be due to some of their Autism difficulties.
Some individuals with AS may have an encyclopedic knowledge of their special interests and will have strengths in noticing fine details, which can be a great benefit in the workplace.
Changes to Diagnostic Guidelines
Changes in the diagnostic guidelines and criteria have removed the use of the term 'Asperger Syndrome' within diagnosis and instead use the term 'Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)' to describe the whole spectrum. However, this does not affect individuals who have received a previous diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and it is likely that the term will continue to be used by many people.