Are you experiencing difficulties with social interaction; restricted and repetitive interests and behaviour; speech and language; and motor and sensory perception?
If so, you might be exhibiting features of something called Asperger’s Syndrome.
Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder which emerges in early childhood and endures into adulthood. It was named after the Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, described children in his practice, who lacked non-verbal communication; had limited understanding of other’s feelings and were physically clumsy. The modern conception of Asperger’s Syndrome came into existence in 1981.
The features just described refer to the following : –
Social Interaction – people with Asperger’s can have difficulty with developing or maintaining friendships; have difficulty with sharing enjoyment or achievements with others; have difficulty with understanding other people’s emotions or showing empathy, and have difficulties with non-verbal communication, such as maintaining eye contact, exhibiting facial expressions, correct posture and gestures.
Restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours – people with Asperger’s can be overly preoccupied with specific interests and activities that can be extremely intense or focused. They can also stick to inflexible routines and rituals. It is also not uncommon for people with Asperger’s to have the ability to collect volumes of detailed information on relatively narrow topics. This pre-occupation with specific interests and hobbies can be to either the detriment or exclusion of ordinary everyday events and may also impact on social relationships either with family, friends or loved ones.
Speech and language – people with Asperger’s Syndrome can sometimes lack a variation in intonation in their voice when speaking and also experience differences in the pitch, loudness and rhythm of their voice. Topics of conversation in social interaction can also be an issue for people with Asperger’s where they might dominate the conversation with topics that are only of interest to them and not necessarily notice that they are not of interest to others. They may also fail to pick up on the non-verbal cues of other people that usually indicate whether they are interested or engaged in the conversation with that person, making social interactions potentially stilted, difficult and awkward. This can give rise to people with Asperger’s experiencing social anxiety which can then reinforce their difficulties and cause them to become socially avoidant. In addition, they can struggle to understand social nuances or appreciate humour as well as struggle with abstract thinking. This can result in people with Asperger’s not always picking up on jokes and also being quite literal in their thinking. This can result in people with Asperger’s saying what they think in quite a literal manner, which can sometimes come across as antisocial when in the company of others.
Motor and sensory perception – People with Asperger’s can experience an over or insensitivity to, or an intolerance to stimuli such as light, sound, touch or taste. They can also experience physical clumsiness; be poorly coordinated and therefore struggle with activities such as sports and exercise. This can result in a sense of physical awkwardness and thus, either an avoidance or disinterest such activities.
As a chartered clinical psychologist working for many years with NHS patients in Adult Mental Health services I have had training and experience in working with people’s psychological distress and in providing treatment in the form of psychological therapy to help them to either overcome, manage or find coping strategies to deal with their mental health difficulties. As such I have developed a specialist interest in Asperger’s Syndrome and I am working increasingly with both younger people as well as older adults, in this area, helping them to explore these issues and develop coping strategies to manage their difficulties. If this is something that you feel that you are experiencing and you would like further support, advice or help with, I offer psychological assessment as well as psychological therapy to people seeking to understand and consider what the next, best step might be for them. This might be to just have an assessment to get a clear formulation and diagnosis or it might be to have psychological therapy as well, in the form of something like Social Skills Training.
You can therefore make an appointment to see me for assessment where we can then discuss the difficulties that you might be experiencing and how might be the best way forward for you. Please refer to the contact details on the website to make an appointment.