Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Does your little nerd have Asperger's Syndrome?

As with ADHD, the diagnosis of children with Asperger's Syndrome has increased over the last number of years. Sometimes refered to as "little professors", these children are often highly intelligent and verbal, but they can be obsessive and have poor social skills.

These children are often hypersensitive to certain types of sensory stimuli and they can feel socially isolated as a result of their difficulty to interact. It has been said that these kids can't read social cues, but this is not really the case. They read the cues perfectly, they just don't respond to them appropriately.

Aspergers kids often have advanced vocabularies and are interested in things that are advanced for their age. They are able to memorize facts and tell everyone who will listen about it.

The symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach in children with high functioning Aspergers is much different to that of children that are approaching classical autism.  The main problem high functioning Asperger's experience, is their lack of social skill and interactions with peers.

My little boy, JR is a loner. He loves playing all alone with his cars or army guys for hours on end. However, he will often let his sister call him away to come play with friends. After about an hour or two, he will come back into the house to play with his toys, because he is "tired" or because the other kids are "mean".  The story will then come out that he responded in a way that offended the other kids and that led them to be mean to him.

He has some off-the-wall ideas and nerdish, clumsy social skills. Don't get me wrong - he is a lovable little boy with great manners, but he will say things that are not appropriate to the discussion or tell the same joke over and over to the same audience until they are irritated and voice it. He will not understand their reaction, as he thinks it's the funniest joke ever and he will crave the initial reaction.

Sadly, when people give their negative feedback, the child will manifest more of the strange behavior, leading to more of a negative reaction, and so the vicious cycle continues.

The child will feel sad and depressed and withdraw socially.

Experts advise using social stories to help kids with this condition to improve their social skills. More on that later.

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