Memoirs of a Psychologist: An Overview of Asperger Syndrome in Children

The following is a piece on pre-teen parenting tips, co-authored with psychologist Robert Erdei. We partnered with Dr. Erdei to create a series of blog posts geared specifically toward the difficult parenting challenges we were experiencing ourselves. We call this series, "Memoirs of a Psychologist". We hope you enjoy this piece and please don't hesitate to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Asperger syndrome is part of the continuum, which is called Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many children who have Asperger syndrome are never diagnosed, despite having a quite serious problem.

Children with Asperger syndrome have normal cognitive functioning and their language development shows no significant delay. Asperger syndrome is usually diagnosed later than autism. The average age of the diagnosis of the Asperger syndrome is 11, while autism is diagnosed at the average age of five.

Children with Asperger are curious, have age-appropriate skills, and are less likely to show the typical mannerisms and preoccupations with parts of objects like children with autism. They might be talented with numbers, can learn to read quickly and show good ability in constructing and memory games.

Children with Asperger syndrome have normal cognitive functioning and their language development shows no significant delay.

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Memoirs of a Psychologist is a series of post in partnership with Dr. Robert Erdei. Memoirs of a Psychologist doesn't just scratch the surface of your parenting challenges. We dig deep, seeking to help you create the change needed to be a better parent and have better relationships with your children.

Click below to visit the Memoirs of a Psychologist blog post series home page for more parenting tips and resources.

How do children with Asperger syndrome struggle?

Children with Asperger often have great difficulty to form and maintain interpersonal relationships. Children with Asperger syndrome have a well-developed vocabulary and their intelligence is in the normal range, but they find it difficult to socialize with others in a ‘normal’ way. Their speech is usually very formal and they take everything literally. For example, they do not tolerate rule breaking. They will report others to the teacher without hesitation, when the rule is ‘you cannot talk during the classes. What is more, they do not understand the disapproval of the others, because they feel they just followed the rules. They do not understand jokes or irony. They often fail to understand nonverbal signs or gestures.

They speak what is on their minds, regardless of the feelings of others. They will tell you that you are fat or ugly. This is quite surprising from a seven year old. This means that they have bad manners or are impolite, they just speak their minds.

Asperger children are in many cases surprisingly informed in topics they are interested in. they can really impress their audience with their in-depth knowledge, but otherwise it is very hard to have a conversation with them. A conversation requires reciprocity and contact and they are lacking in these areas.

What are a few signs of Asperger Syndrome in children?

Asperger syndrome has a variety of signs. As part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder, the manifestation of the syndrome can show great variability.

The social relations of the child are affected in practically every case. They are unable to fit in, find it difficult to form friendships. They seem to be insensitive and ignore the feelings of others. Their metacommunication is clearly undeveloped and so is their empathy toward others. They like to be alone and often have no need to be with others. To handle emotions might be too difficult for them. They use the rules of social coexistence inappropriately.

Their movement might show specific characteristics as well. They might be clumsy and find it difficult to learn new moves, such as riding a bike. Their balance is usually weak. Their interests are often limited and circumscribed and they frequently develop rituals, which provide sedation.

Their communication can be special. They can talk non-stop, regardless of the reception from the audience. The child’s tone, volume, cadence and rhythm of speech are usually unusual. Others fail to understand their logic and they fail to understand humor, irony, or others’ perspectives.

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What is the prognosis for children with Asperger's?

According to modern theories, brilliant minds, like Albert Einstein might have had Asperger, so the perspectives are not that bad. A person with Asperger syndrome might have a successful academic career and find success in employment as well. What is most important that they need help to develop their complex social skills. The late onset of these skills also explains the relatively late diagnosis of the disorder.

What is most important that they need help to develop their complex social skills.

Other Memoirs of a Psychologist Posts:

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What do you think? Do you have a child with Asperger Syndrome? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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