Asperger syndrome is a fairly new diagnosis, having first been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1994. While Asperger syndrome has gained a significant amount of attention in recent years, misconceptions and myths about the disorder are unfortunately common.
Asperger syndrome is often referred to as “high-functioning autism.” The two disorders do have several areas of overlap, most notably difficulty with social interaction and restrictive, repetitive interests and behaviors. However, Asperger syndrome differs from other disorders on the autistic spectrum in some important ways. Most notably, Asperger syndrome, unlike other forms of autism, is generally not accompanied by delayed or disordered language. On the contrary, many people with Asperger syndrome present with verbal expression as a strength and have quite eloquent speech. Likewise, cognition is typically intact, with intelligence generally being rated as average or above average on traditional measures of intelligence.
The most noticeable effect of Asperger syndrome is significant difficulty in social interaction. Those who have the syndrome often demonstrate a lack of empathy and emotional reciprocity. Difficulty with non-verbal forms of communication is also common. This can include eye contact, facial expression, and gesture. Another hallmark of Asperger syndrome is restricted behavior, interests, and activities. Often an individual with Asperger syndrome will display one or two very specific interests which they may become absorbed in to the exclusion of other interests or activities. These interests tend to be atypically narrow and focused, for example the names of stars or information about car engines, and often dominate social interactions.
Because language difficulties are not typically a part of Asperger syndrome, it may seem odd for people with this disability to seek the services of a speech-language pathologist. However, there are many aspects of social interaction and communication that can be greatly improved with the help of professional speech and language therapy. Stay tuned: next week we’ll discuss some of the specific ways a speech-language pathologist may provide services to individuals with Asperger syndrome.
If you or someone you love has a problem with speech, language, or communication, contact Speech Associates of NY today for an evaluation. One of our trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help you on the road to better speech and communication. Call us at 917-841-2965 or visit us on the web: www.speechassociatesofny.com