Neurological research has permitted many startling and beneficial revelations about what is known as the Autistic Spectrum, but perhaps one of the most interesting is Asperger’s Syndrome. While there have been many changes in the diagnostic terminology related to this family of disorders, understanding each within its own right remains as salient as ever. The availability of detailed information ensures a greater quality of experience for those with the disorder, and greater peace of mind for family and friends who want to enrich their own comprehension.
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Deciphering the DSM V
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM V) catalogues the various features and salient points related to the entire range of disorders or diseases related to neurological and psychological development. The latest research in regards to autism have given rise to some beneficial adjustments to how we view the disorders categorized generally as autism. However, it can be a bit confusing when you’re seeking answers.
The latest terminology blurs the lines between the various types of autism, placing them within a larger family, also known as the Autism Spectrum Disorders. With this arrangement, there’s no longer the hard division between the manifestations that gave rise to individual syndromes, such as Asperger’s. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), this spectrum “refers to a complex of neurodevelopment characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social behavior and interactions.”
The ultimate rationalization for the realignment of terms is that studies have uncovered the common links between the many formerly discrete syndromes. They are not truly different in nature, but only in scope and magnitude of impact. The spectrum allows the focus to fall on how much the individual’s brain has been shaped by the factors that impact all those who fall within the spectrum—some manifestations are more intense than others. Another factor of severity are non-primary neurological impacts. Some who experience certain types of ASD also experience physically debilitating difficulties with digestion or other nerve-regulated processes within the body.
According to Autism Speaks, a respected advocacy and education group, Asperger’s Syndrome is considered a “high functioning” form of autism. While individuals who have this syndrome do exhibit some of the characteristic patterns of repetitive behavior and difficulty adjusting to social interactions with ease, they are quite often highly intelligent and capable of communicating that intelligence. They may excel within their chosen professional spheres—which are often highly demanding and detail oriented.
It is noted that children with Asperger’s may experience delayed motor skill development, which can result in physical clumsiness. This is an obstacle that is often quite easily overcome with the help of physical therapies. However, because they are not as internally focused as some who experience other manifestations of ASD, their socially awkward behaviors may be more noticeable.
It is vital that they receive emotional and psychological support from family and friends should their social group react negatively to what may be perceived as rudeness or even lack of intelligence. These individuals can excel in life, caring for themselves and even families with great diligence. But much of society has yet to embrace the more refined understandings offered by the scientific community about these disorders. Those who are ignorant are also too often cruel. If you have a friend, a child, or other family member with Asperger’s Syndrome, educating your peers can help ease their passage through society and will ultimately benefit us all.