What is Asperger's Syndrome?
Although Asperger's Disorder will not be used as a formal diagnosis in the USA after 2013, many individuals with ASD will continue to embrace this label.
To have received a diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder (also called Asperger's Syndrome) a person must demonstrate an average or above average IQ, and normal onset of speech development. People with communicate verbally, sometimes having very advanced vocabularies. They may be very concrete in their thinking. They may also become “obsessed” with a topic or have repetitive behaviors. Despite their intelligence and communication abilities, they have trouble making and keeping friends, and following the social rules that we all learn without formal instruction. They can also take things very literally and have issues with idioms. If a teacher is speaking to the class and the class is fooling around, the teacher may say “Ok class, knock it off!” The student with Asperger’s may respond by knocking his books off his desk. The student took this direction at face value, and not as the teacher intended. The teacher may misunderstand and think this student is being rude or silly.
Individuals with AS tend to have trouble with flexible thinking, and may have rituals or rigidities that result in meltdowns and tantrums when unable to follow their routine. You may not notice they have a disability at first glance. However, when you are able to observe closely and get to know the individual, you will see that their problems come from a difficulty in understanding social interactions.
Asperger’s may not be spotted right away because the characteristics at first glance may seem typical, and the diagnosis often comes later. There have been cases of people not being diagnosed until adulthood. You may know someone who has these traits but is not diagnosed. They may seem a bit uncoordinated and are often referred to as “little professors”. In a school setting, they may be disorganized and not fond of homework.
Autism Speaks has prepared a comprehensive resource for families of children diagnosed with Aspgerger's.