Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ryder from Saint John. Ryder Wonders, “What is Asperger's syndrome?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ryder!
Do you have a friend or family member that struggles with a chronic illness? Sometimes we know these illnesses by their initials, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), MS (multiple sclerosis), or CF (cystic fibrosis).
In today's Wonder of the Day, we're going to take a look at another condition you may have heard about: AS. AS stands for Asperger syndrome (also often called Asperger's syndrome).
Asperger syndrome used to be diagnosed as an independent condition. Since 2013, however, it's now considered to be a type of autism. People who exhibit symptoms of Asperger syndrome are now usually referred to as "on the autism spectrum," although many doctors still refer to the condition as AS.
People with Asperger syndrome tend to fall on the "high-functioning" end of the autism spectrum. Males are three to four times more likely to have AS than females. The behavior patterns associated with the condition were first identified in 1944 by an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger.
The symptoms of Asperger syndrome often vary between individuals. As a general rule, however, the condition is marked by peculiar speech patterns (including repetition), lack of facial expressions, difficulty with interaction, lack of eye contact, odd mannerisms, focus on self rather than others, lack of empathy, delays in motor development, and obsessive behavior.
People with Asperger syndrome can usually function fine on a daily basis and live a mostly normal life. They may seem odd or eccentric, though, due to their problems with interaction, obsessive behaviors, or odd mannerisms and speech.
Those with Asperger syndrome might have trouble, for example, reading other people's body language or picking up on subtle cues. They may also be prone to extreme sensitivity to certain stimuli, such as lights and sounds.
Unlike people with other forms of autism, those with Asperger syndrome usually do not exhibit delays in language development. To the contrary, people with AS often have an advanced vocabulary and good grammar skills.
People with AS also usually experience normal cognitive development and may have above-average intelligence. While they may struggle with attention or organization, they often are uniquely gifted in certain areas (especially those in which they show obsessive behavior) and may be able to focus intensely and excel in those areas.
Currently, there is no "cure" for Asperger syndrome. In fact, there's some debate about whether AS even needs to be cured. Most people with AS are able to live normal, happy, and healthy lives, and many of them also take great pride in their unique gifts.
Rather than being "cured," many people with AS simply seek understanding from others. Educating friends, family members, and teachers about AS can help kids with AS to overcome the obstacles they face.
There are also a variety of cognitive behavioral therapies available that seek to help people with AS to deal with the areas in which they struggle. Early intervention and a supportive environment can help to improve skills while also giving greater self-control over obsessive and repetitive behaviors.