Asperger syndrome

Carmen BryceBlog posts

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can affect anyone of any background at any stage in their lives. These issues can be challenging enough in and of themselves, but couple them with Asperger syndrome (AS), and the difficulties can multiply.

Asperger Syndrome is a social learning disability that is on the Autism spectrum, generally considered to be one of the milder forms of autism.

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The syndrome is estimated to affect about nine times as many males as it does females. About 2% of college students in Ireland registered with disabilities have AS/high functioning autism. Although AS is similar to high functioning autism, it is thought that the main difference is that a person with AS typically does not have a delay in language development. Both types are usually associated with average or above average intelligence, and Irish Autism Action have also identified several qualities that people with Asperger syndrome typically possess, which can be found by following this link.

Co-existing problems with Asperger syndrome

  • Anxiety and depression are quite common, often beginning in early adulthood
  • Bullying can be a huge problem in children and adults, and this can have a negative impact on one’s mental well-being
  • Specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, which can make school or work considerably more challenging
  • Different sensitivity to sensory input (for example, a person with Asperger syndrome may have very sensitive hearing and find loud noises quite distressing or even painful)

Like all autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome is characterised by problems with social functioning in terms of interaction, communication and imagination. This includes (but is not limited to) difficulties in empathy, processing and retaining verbal information, easy distraction, body language and coping with non-structure or with a change in schedules.

Typically, social problems in children with AS arise not from withdrawal, like in other disorders on the autism spectrum, but from poor social skills and narrow, restricted interests in which they have an in-depth knowledge, and a tendency to talk incessantly about. This can make the normal flow of conversation very difficult, and their fixation on their favourite topic can alienate them in their eccentricity. As you can imagine, this can quite often exacerbate feelings of low self-worth or exclusion; a sense of belonging is fundamental to our adjustment psychologically.

It is vital that those with AS are given the individualised supports they need in terms of their development and adjustment. This may involve therapy, life coaching or attending support groups. Some key, practical ideas around interventions to keep in mind for people with AS can be found here.

MyMind therapist Alison Murray works with clients with Asperger Syndrome.  To make an appointment with MyMind, call 076 680 1060, email hq@mymind.org or book online here.

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