The number of people diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), an autism spectrum disorder, is nearly four in every 1,000. This means that you most likely know someone with Asperger’s. It can be important, therefore, to become familiar with the condition and to learn skills that will allow you to better communicate and interact with friends and family members who have this condition.
Asperger's was originally identified in 1944 by Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger, who studied children he called, "little professors" because of their obvious intelligence. Individuals with Asperger’s are bright, capable and often high-achieving people who struggle with interpersonal relationships and may manifest odd language patterns.
Those with Asperger’s have difficulty feeling empathy, making it harder for them to understand subtle communication, especially nonverbal cues. Because they are intellectually bright, they often struggle socially because those who interact with them may see them simply as odd or eccentric rather than having a medical condition.
Here are some tips for coping with a person who has Asperger’s Syndrome:
Because those with Asperger’s tend to take communication literally and struggle to understand the implications of your dialog, you should be as clear and plain-spoken as possible.
Individuals with Asperger’s often engage in repetitive behaviors. They may have a tendency to argue a point well past the time others are ready to let the issue go. Demonstrating patience will help you build a relationship with a person who has Asperger's.
If you are a parent of a child with Asperger’s, you'll want to get special coaching and training for your child, as well as specific training for yourself so that you can help your child.
Children with Asperger’s may have tantrums in situations that others would not. Families can cope with this behavior by making detailed notes about the situation that triggers the tantrum. In some cases, the situation can be avoided in the future. In other cases, helping the child understand the situation better in advance may reduce the severity of the reaction. You may wish to learn more about Positive Behavior Support — a form of behavior analysis — to help your child manage stressful situations.
Develop stronger relationships using Relationship Development Intervention (RDITM), a therapy developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics who believes that with proper help, individuals with Asperger’s can develop deep personal relationships just as other people can. This requires that relationships be developed patiently over time.
New research shows that autistic individuals may benefit from physical exercise. By encouraging your child to engage in physical exercise, some of the self-destructive or repetitive behaviors may be reduced.
Because nearly four in every 1,000 people is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, it's likely that you know someone with this condition. Learn how to better relate to and help those who suffer with this syndrome by understanding what makes them tick. Find out more about how they communicate (or struggle to do so), what kind of situations are hard for them to handle, and what you need to do to help them cope with stressful issues (especially if you are a parent of a child with Asperger's). Understanding more about the condition will help you interact more comfortably and appropriately with friends and family members who struggle with Asperger's.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.