Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder that comes under the Autism Spectrum Disorders. In Ireland it is estimated that over 4,000 children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and it is 7 times more common in boys than girls. It is characterised by difficulties in three broad areas communication, social skills and imagination.
AS can affect individuals in very different ways and no one person presents the same.
Symptoms Of communication Problems in AS
The characteristics of AS are similar to those of autism but some specific elements of AS include;
Communication: individuals with AS may have trouble understanding language that has a double meaning or that is not straight forward and often take things said in their literal sense. For example they have difficulty with figurative language ‘it is raining cats and dogs’ or ‘we had a whale of a time’.
Social skills: individuals with AS may appear to be a ‘loners’ or come across as being shy and quiet. They may have difficulty engaging with others of the same age and may not know what to say to others to start or maintain a conversation. They can also be naïve when compared to others of the same age.
Imagination: usually people with AS have very logical minds and can have a concrete thinking style. This means they may have trouble understanding things unless they are black and white. It also means individuals with AS have can have a preference for routine and depend a lot on timetables – change or disruption to this can be upsetting.
Treatment Of Communication Problems in AS
Asperger’s is at the higher end of the Autistic Spectrum meaning that the symptoms are not in the severe range. Often children with Asperger’s can be extremely verbal however they may be using language inappropriately or lack normal social and conversational skills. We can support children with AS to use language properly and in the right context as well as helping to develop their social and conversational skills .We can also help children develop a greater understanding of figurative language including idioms and common sayings e.g. ’pull up your socks’ or ‘we had a ball’. We may also recommend some individual speech and language sessions depending on the outcome of the assessment.
Our Expertise in communication with AS
All of Spectrum Health’s Pediatric Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have ample experience working with children who experience communication difficulties associated with AS.
At Spectrum Health our SLTs work alongside other members of the Primary Care team to help diagnose AS. Although it may be a team diagnoses, our SLTs play a key role in both the diagnosis and the treatment of communication difficulties.
Spectrum Health Speech and Language Therapists will work closely with other members of the integrated primary care team to ensure your child achieves their maximum potential.
Home visits are a good option if the person with AS would prefer to meet the therapist in their familiar environment.