Asperger’s Disorder is sometimes considered to be a high-functioning form of Autism. What this means is that someone with Asperger’s has the same social struggles and rigidity of other people on the Spectrum, but has had no delays to language development. As a matter of fact, many parents of Asperger’s children believe their child to be gifted or precocious given the child’s “adult” vocabulary at an earlier age.
The hallmark trait of Asperger’s is a lack of demonstrated empathy. What this means is that people with Asperger’s tend to have difficulty understanding and following the “unwritten rules” of social interaction. For example, someone with Asperger’s may talk for an extended period about a topic of personal interest, without picking up on social cues (eye rolls, yawns, glances at a watch) that his listener may be bored, or may need to leave.
Many people with Asperger’s Disorder are very bright, and success in school means that they can “fly under the radar.” But it is in social interactions that the Asperger’s person draws attention. Others may describe the person as “odd” or “clueless.” People who live with Asperger’s Disorder often do not recognize that they have these social difficulties; they just know that they don’t have many close relationships. Social limitations are often misunderstood as indifference; however, many people with Asperger’s actively seek out friendship with others. If attempts at friendship are continuously unsuccessful, the Asperger’s patient may begin to expect rejection, and become depressed or angry.
Social limitations become more pertinent as the Asperger’s adolescent grows into adulthood, as there is a greater emphasis on social interactions the farther one is removed from high school. Going off to college or entering the workforce can confront the young person with their weaknesses in a way that can be hard to overcome. Early and ongoing intervention can help the Asperger’s person identify areas of weakness and work on developing specific social skills.
If you recognize any of these patterns in yourself, a friend, or a loved one, a psychological evaluation is recommended. To contact one of our clinicians, or to schedule an intake evaluation, please click on the link below:
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