There’s no doubt you can find plenty of technical definitions, and symptoms, for Asperger’s by scouring the internet.
We’d like to share with you our understanding of Asperger’s:
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is neurological. AS is considered to be part of the Autism Spectrum. It’s something you are born with, its something you have for your entire life, you do not outgrow it. As someone with AS matures so does their ability to compensate for some of their differences. Many things you read call this a disability – I prefer to see it as a differences instead. The brains of people with AS seem to process information and sensory stimuli differently than the brains people without AS.
We should respect the differences in people with AS, but not underestimate their struggles. Children are expected to “play well with others” and grow up fast. People with AS may often appear or act younger than others of the same age. They mature at their own pace- not in society’s version of what should be. One of the frustrations of an Asperger diagnosis is that because people with AS are often extremely bright, with excellent memories and verbal skills, overall expectations for these individuals are high. Those around them may be surprised to see how deeply people with AS struggle in certain areas, such as the social realm, and may not understand that such difficulties are valid and real. Many times, people with AS are blamed for behaviors they cannot control.
Here are a few:
The gap between intellectual ability and functional presentation complicates the AS experience. Friends and family members often see a highly intelligent, talented individual, and cannot comprehend why the person with AS struggles during routine social or organizational experiences.
- Difficulty knowing what to say or how to behave in social situations. Many have a tendency to say the “wrong thing.” They may appear awkward or rude, and unintentionally upset others.
- Trouble perceiving the intentions or emotions of other people, due to a tendency to ignore or misinterpret such cues as facial expression, body language, and vocal intonation.
- Challenges with organizing, initiating, analyzing, prioritizing, and completing tasks.
- A tendency to focus on the details of a given situation and miss the big picture.
- Intense, narrow, time-consuming personal interest(s).On the other hand, some interests can lead to social connection and even careers. For example; my AS child has an intense love of volleyball- and that’s where she feels comfortable, with her volleyball friends.
- Inflexibility and resistance to change. Change may trigger anxiety, while familiar objects, settings, and routines offer reassurance. One result is difficulty transitioning from one activity to another: from one class to another, from work time to lunch, from talking to listening. Moving to a new school, new town, or new social role can be an enormous challenge.
- Feeling somehow different and disconnected from the rest of the world and not “fitting in”—sometimes called “wrong planet” syndrome.
- Extreme sensitivity—or relative insensitivity—to sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or textures. Many people outgrow these sensory issues at least to some extent as they mature.
- Vulnerability to stress, sometimes escalating to psychological or emotional problems including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Dr. Stephen M. Shore says, “When you meet one person with AS—you’ve met one person with AS.” Meaning it is very important to remember that people with AS can differ greatly from one another. Everyone with AS is affected by a common cluster of traits, but the intensity of each trait lies along a spectrum. As a result, the extent to which AS shapes an individual’s life and experiences is highly variable.
Every child, and every person, is different and will show different symptoms. Know, though, living with Asperger’s is not a problem, and not something that should be shameful. It is not the parent’s fault, and it is most definitely not the child’s fault. It is just a way of life!
Follow Along as we Share our Adventures Raising a Child Living with Asperger’s