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What is Autism?

What is Aspergerís

What is Asperger syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people.

For more information about autism, please read What is autism?† Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:

social communication

social interaction

social imagination

They are often referred to as 'the triad of impairments' and are explained in more detail below.

While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.

With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives.

 Difficulty with social communication

People with Asperger syndrome sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. For example:

 difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice

 have difficulty knowing when to start or end a conversation and choosing topics to talk about

 use complex words and phrases but may not fully understand what they mean

 be very literal in what they say and can have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphor and sarcasm.

In order to help a person with Asperger syndrome understand you, keep your sentences short - be clear and concise.

 struggle to make and maintain friendships

 not understand the unwritten 'social rules' that most of us pick up without thinking. For example, they may stand too close to another person, or start an inappropriate topic of conversation

 find other people unpredictable and confusing

 become withdrawn and seem uninterested in other people, appearing almost aloof

 behave in what may seem an inappropriate manner.

Difficulty with social imagination

People with Asperger syndrome can be imaginative in the conventional use of the word. For example, many are accomplished writers, artists and musicians. But people with Asperger syndrome can have difficulty with social imagination. This can include:

 imagining alternative outcomes to situations and finding it hard to predict what will happen next

 understanding or interpreting other peoples thoughts, feelings or actions. The subtle messages that are put across by facial expression and body language are often missed

 having a limited range of imaginative activities, which can be pursued rigidly and repetitively eg lining up toys or collecting and organising things related to his or her interest.

What causes Asperger syndrome?

The exact cause of Asperger syndrome is still being investigated. Asperger syndrome is not caused by a person's upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

Is there a cure?

There is currently no cure and no specific treatment for Asperger syndrome. However, as our understanding of the condition improves and services continue to develop, people with Asperger syndrome have more opportunity than ever of reaching their full potential and at ASD Unique Services we aim to identify the barriers created by the individualís disability. To provide the necessary inputs to help our service users overcome their fears and frustrations; enabling them to function via more effective and acceptable methods of communication. To provide encouragement and continually assess the needs of our service users and staff team.

Difficulty with social interaction

Many people with Asperger syndrome want to be sociable but have difficulty with initiating and sustaining social relationships, which can make them very anxious. People with the condition may: