Asperger’s syndrome is a type of pervasive developmental disorder that involves atypical characteristics within the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. Although Asperger’s syndrome is similar in some ways to autism, it is important to note that Asperger’s syndrome is not typically as severe as autism and that there are some important differences. Although children with Asperger’s syndrome tend to function at higher levels, have normal intelligence, and near normal speech development when compared to children with autism, many develop problems with communicating both verbally and non-verbally as they grow older.
Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome
Like with all syndromes, symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome vary from individual to individual and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:
Problems with social skills: Children with Asperger's syndrome generally have difficulty interacting with others and often are awkward in social situations. They generally do not make friends easily. They have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation.
Eccentric or repetitive behaviors: Children with this condition may develop atypical, repetitive movements, such as hand wringing or finger twisting.
Unusual preoccupations or rituals: A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop rituals that he or she refuses to alter, such as getting dressed in a specific order.
Communication difficulties: People with Asperger's syndrome may not make eye contact when speaking with someone. They may have trouble using facial expressions and gestures, and understanding body language. They may also have problems understanding language in context.
Limited range of interests: A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop an intense, almost obsessive, interest in a few areas, such as sports schedules, weather, or maps.
Coordination problems: The movements of children with Asperger's syndrome may seem clumsy or awkward.
Skilled or talented: Many children with Asperger's syndrome are exceptionally talented or skilled in a particular area, such as music or math.
Asperger’s Syndrome and Speech Therapy
Since one of the hallmark signs of Asperger’s Syndrome is a lack of age appropriate social skills, speech therapy from a Speech Language Pathologist can help. A Speech Language Pathologist can facilitate age appropriate social skills groups and can assist children with Asperger’s Syndrome to acquire these social skills since these skills often have to be taught as opposed to relying on them to emerge as the child ages like we normally see children do.
Pragmatic language therapy is basically the social use of language and is one of the most common types of therapies that speech language pathologists use when helping a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Pragmatic language therapy might also involve learning how to take turns when engaged in a conversation with another child or adult, coordinating facial expressions and eye contact during conversation, and also might address concerns such as standing too close to a person while talking. Your speech language therapist will work with your child to help them understand all the rules of social language that just don’t come naturally to them.
Some children with Asperger’s Syndrome also struggle with speech articulation errors and this is where Speech Tails can help. When articulation errors are addressed directly through speech therapy, your child will be better understood by their peers and adults and could possibly reduce social anxieties that your child has as a result of his or her articulation problem.
Speech therapy will likely be a fixture of your child’s weekly routine if they have Asperger’s Syndrome. Speech therapy and pragmatic language therapy can have great impacts on your child’s developing social skills and make for a more social child as they grow older. Take Speech Tails’ free assessment to see if your child has an articulation problem and see how easy and beneficial Speech Tails’ online speech therapy will be to your child.