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What Is Asperger Syndrome?

Learn about Asperger syndrome from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


So what is Asperger syndrome? Well, this is within the autism spectrum disorder and it is becoming a very interesting diagnosis that's talked about in media, etcetera, etcetera, because these children are very unusual in that they can function a lot like regular children in the sense that their speech and language is not delayed. They may have difficulty with social language pragmatics, which means being on topic. They also have normal IQ, so they may actually be very advanced in their particular intelligence.

So cognitively they can be mainstreamed and these kids are often not diagnosed until much later because their issue is picking up on social queues at times or being very concrete in their thinking, or having particular interests and being what maybe previously was called the nerdy kid because they will know everything about the solar system or dinosaurs or have particular areas that they were actually teaching other children about because they have so much knowledge in that particular area, but they're also at risk for a certain kind of being teased or being bullied because they tend to be very concrete and they don't get some jokes and kids can be cruel.

So, I think it's important to understand children who have the special gift but also special challenges because they tend to be very concrete and they don't get it. They don't pick up on social nuances and little subtle differences that make communication easier. Children with Asperger also have multi-coordination issues, often called the clumsy, klutzy children. Difficulty with riding bicycle or dribbling a basketball, and they have difficulty with team sports for that reason.

They can however do better with swimming and golf or yoga or individual dance therapy for example, but multi-coordination and the biggest pieces that's social referencing that is a challenge for Asperger’s, and yet because of the intelligence and they're wanting to make friends, they would like to engage and like a high-functioning child with autism, kids with Asperger's have the intention and want to communicate and have difficulty with, and not just making friends but sometimes keeping friends, and that puts them at a little higher risk for other behavioral issues, things like depression, for example, or being unusually sensitive and emotional, but that can work in both ways for them because they can be very sensitive in some areas, and some areas they just don't get it, so it is a challenge but it is an unusual and important diagnosis because we can really help a lot of children in getting beyond just the label but what that child particularly needs.

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