Today is International Asperger’s Day 2013.
Happy 107th birthday Dr Hans Asperger.
International Asperger’s Day is a day to celebrate the good doctor’s birthday on the 18th of February and to increase awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome.
Dr Hans Asperger was an Austrian paediatrician who in 1944 described the key features of Asperger’s Syndrome. The syndrome has more recently been classified as belonging on the autism spectrum and can be found sitting near or sometimes on top of high functioning autism.
My 12 year old son has high functioning autism but his behaviours are indistinguishable from someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. The key difference lies in the fact that he did not develop speech typically (could not communicate effectively) by the age of three. A historical differentiation which is essentially not important in the grand scheme of things.
Features of Asperger’s Syndrome include intelligence within the normal range and a profile that includes some or all of the following characteristics:
‘A qualitative impairment in social interaction:
- Failure to develop friendships that are appropriate to the child’s developmental level.
- Impaired use of non-verbal behaviour such as eye gaze, facial expression and body language to regulate a social interaction.
- Lack of social and emotional reciprocity and empathy.
- Impaired ability to identify social cues and conventions.
A qualitative impairment in subtle communication skills:
- Fluent speech but difficulties with conversation skills and a tendency to be pedantic, have an unusual prosody and to make a literal interpretation.
- The development of special interests that is unusual in their intensity and focus.
- Preference for routine and consistency.
The disorder can also include motor clumsiness and problems with handwriting and being hypersensitive to specific auditory and tactile experiences. There can also be problems with organisational and time management skills and explaining thoughts and ideas using speech.’
The above extract is from Dr Tony Attwood’s website which can be found here.
Dr Attwood is the author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome which is widely considered the ‘bible’ of texts on the subject. If you can only afford one book on Asperger’s Syndrome, this is the one to buy.
If you’d rather surf the net, his website is the one to go to for all the information and links you could ask for on the subject. I and many others think Tony Attwood is the bees knees in this business. He lives and works in Brisbane, Queensland too!
Tony considers that people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a ‘different, not defective, way of thinking’.
Further support and information can be found through the volunteer, not-for-profit, organisation Asperger Services Australia.
I will sign off with the self-affirmation pledge for those with Asperger Syndrome by Liane Holliday Willey:
- I am not defective. I am different.
- I will not sacrifice my self-worth for peer acceptance.
- I am a good and interesting person.
- I will take pride in myself.
- I am capable of getting along with society.
- I will ask for help when I need it.
- I am a person who is worthy of others’ respect and acceptance.
- I will find a career interest that is well suited to my abilities and interests.
- I will be patient with those who need time to understand me.
- I am never going to give up on myself.
- I will accept myself for who I am.
Willey, L.H. (2001) Asperger Syndrome in the Family: Redefining Normal. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Note: If this sounds familiar it means you have been reading my blog for some time and would be right up to date with all things aspergers ! I was too busy today (collating all of the boy’s ASD assessments and reports for his new school) to be more original than an edited repost. Thanks for sticking with me folks.