Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder on the milder end of the autism spectrum, characterized by difficulties with communication and social skills. Sometimes delays in meeting developmental milestones are initially minor, which can make Asperger's syndrome often go unnoticed until a child starts school. Although there is no cure for Asperger's syndrome, various forms of treatment are available to reduce the symptoms and address developmental delays.
Children with Asperger's syndrome have atypical language development. Their speech usually includes peculiarities, such as speaking monotone or speaking in an overly formal manner. Conversations usually revolve around a few narrow topics of interest, such as trains or the solar system. Children with Asperger's syndrome usually don't recognize the socially appropriate give-and-take in conversation. When asked a direct question about how he's doing, a child with Asperger's syndrome might reply with a long-winded recitation of facts on a topic he's interested in.
Asperger's syndrome is characterized by social delays. People with Asperger's syndrome struggle to understand sarcasm, metaphors and humor. They tend to take figures of speech literally. Kids with Asperger's syndrome don't understand social cues and it can cause them to appear awkward around peers. According to Hannah Gould, M.Ed. of the Asperger's Association of New England, their poor social skills can make them vulnerable to being manipulated by savvy peers. Many problems with social skills last into adulthood.
Kids with Asperger's syndrome experience delayed emotional development. They struggle to recognize their own emotions and aren't able to empathize with others. They often become distressed over changes in routine or when encountering unfamiliar situations. Children with Asperger's syndrome usually lack effective problem-solving skills. Applying information learned in a previous situation is difficult, which can cause them to become frustrated. Melt-downs, even in older kids, are usually frequent as they tend to lack coping skills to deal with difficult emotions.
Motor Skill Development
Delayed motor skill development can be the first sign that a child might have Asperger's syndrome. Kids with Asperger's tend to crawl and walk later than other kids. They also tend to be clumsy and have awkward movements. Older kids usually experience motor delays with riding a bike, catching a ball or climbing on playground equipment. According to the Child Development Institute, children with Asperger's syndrome often have an awkward walk that appears bouncy or stilted.
- Child Development Institute: Understanding Asperger's Syndrome/Disorder – Parent Guide
- Asperger's Association of New England: Social Skills and Behavior in Children with Asperger Syndrome: An Educational Perspective
- Mayo Clinic: Asperger's Syndrome
- American Family Physician: AAP Releases Guidelines on Identification of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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