An autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome affects many individuals throughout the world. Those affected by Asperger’s display difficulty interacting with others in social settings, and maintain rigid and recurring behavior patterns. Awareness of the specific characteristics stemming from these two broad traits can help to increase public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
First, let us concentrate on social interaction. Asperger’s syndrome affects individuals in virtually all social settings: classrooms, playgrounds, therapy sessions, public places, and the home. Characteristics of Asperger’s include difficulty expressing one’s emotions and a lack of empathy when communicating with others. For example, many people with Asperger’s fail to make eye contact, an action most Americans consider a normal part of conversation.
This does not imply that all of those affected by Asperger’s syndrome are withdrawn. Some individuals will initiate contact with strangers or people they know well. However, they may interrupt an ongoing conversation with an uninvited monologue on a seemingly arbitrary topic. Other patients with Asperger’s may not talk at all. Many fail to recognize signs that another person wishes for privacy, or is experiencing feelings such as sadness, anger, and happiness.
Overall, the social interactions of those with Asperger’s syndrome are often characterized as awkward or unpredictable. Many individuals affected by Asperger’s also display unusual, persistent behavioral patterns. They may fixate on their interests or hobbies to a degree that some people would consider abnormal. For example, a child with Asperger’s syndrome might become obsessed with football statistics, yet exhibit no interest in the sport itself. Individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s sometimes engage in physical behaviors such as hand wringing or humming with no conscious awareness of what they are doing.
About the Author
Janet Turansky graduated from Hunter College with an MA in Speech Pathology & Audiology and Early Childhood Education. Janet Turansky works with patients to help them overcome the effects of Asperger’s syndrome, stuttering, and other speech and language difficulties.