Do you know Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory TV series? Nowadays, many more people know what Asperger’s syndrome is and what difficulties this problem causes thanks to this character of the series.
February 18 is the International Day of Asperger’s Syndrome, a common developmental disorder of the population (present in 3 to 7 births in 1,000) which involves emotional, social and emotional difficulties.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that falls under the category of autism spectrum disorder. Although it has in common with other forms of autism communication and interaction difficulties social and repetitive behavior, Asperger’s is considered a mild variant and has several peculiarities.
Far from what you might think, people with Asperger’s they have a normal level of intelligence. In fact, they can demonstrate amazing abilities when it comes to topics that are part of their restricted core of interests: flags, trains, numbers, etc.
However, they also have great difficulties in other areas, problems that are often present in all of us but in a much more controllable and less threatening degree.
Symptoms of the disorder
People with Asperger’s syndrome often feel overwhelmed emotionally and unable to identify their own feelings. This happens because of a lack of awareness of one’s emotions and feelings and a lack of resources and strategies to deal with them properly: situations that they do not control, and which consequently stress them, will make them easily feel overwhelmed.
But not only do they find it difficult to identify and deal with their own emotional state, but they do. they have trouble “reading” others and understanding what they are feeling or what are their intentions. This means that they are sometimes described as callous or reckless, or that they do not know how to correctly interpret ironies or double meanings, generating frequent misunderstandings.
Some of the compensatory strategies used by people with Asperger’s syndrome to compensate for their lack of resources to emotionally self-regulate and regain a sense of security are stereotypical behaviors and movements (swinging, running, jumping, “floating”), or the restriction of interests in two or three subjects.
Anxiety Management Strategies
Understanding these behaviors as strategies – still inadequate – to manage the anxiety or discomfort they experience in certain situations, it is understandable that all routine or unforeseen change manages to destabilize to a person with Asperger’s disease if educational resources are not available to them.
For example, people with Asperger’s, and autism in general, are greatly helped to anticipate possible changes in their plans. If a schedule has been set in advance and it suddenly changes, they may experience intense anxiety.
These consequences are not surprising when you consider that for many people the fact that others take them out of their routine or the normal appearance of setbacks already creates some nervousness, although it is generally more manageable than for them. people with autism spectrum disorders. .
Asperger in childhood and adulthood
Understanding the main features of the problem is not only important for facilitating its early detection and for the development and implementation of educational and supportive measures for children; it also promotes greater awareness, the promotion of a more understanding and respectful attitude towards people with Asperger’s on the part of those around them.
It is common to focus on manifestations of the disorder during childhood and adolescence, as these are the times when the first warning signs are seen. However, if you are not working individually and collectively, it is easy for them to continue having difficulty when they reach adulthood and even that these are exacerbated by also increasing the social and work demands of the environment.
At the social level, for example, it is common for people with Asperger’s syndrome to have little success in relationships due to their resistance to progressing to a greater level of intimacy. In the workplace, the current emphasis on teamwork could be a barrier for them due to their difficulty seeing yourself as part of a group and understand the opinions of other members.
The causes of Asperger’s syndrome are currently largely unknown. However, its origin would be largely genetic, And therefore relatively independent of past experiences and how they interact with the environment (although these factors can trigger or worsen symptoms).
In addition, some research suggests that the root of the syndrome may be linked to the origin of disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder.
Associations and groups concerned
As with other problems, Asperger’s has several associations and groups of people affected around the world.
These groups fulfill the fundamental mission of giving visibility to the disease, but they are also enriching spaces where people with Asperger’s and their families share their concerns, problems and solutions to the difficulties they encounter in their daily lives. The involvement of children or adults with Asperger’s in these communities is positive for several reasons.
First of all, because in them he receives information about his problem, which promotes the understand their experience and reduce anxiety levels. Second, because these are contexts in which, having individuals with similar difficulties, people with Asperger’s may feel particularly understood and included; in other words, they cease to be “the foreigner”.
And third, because they are a natural environment in which the person can learn important skills and strategies for overcoming obstacles on a daily basis: how to start a conversation, how to resolve conflicts, etc. The teaching of skills is particularly effective when the association promotes the participation of the person in training or leisure activities related to his interests, such as outings or camps.