Is Asperger syndrome autism or giftedness?

Specialist. Dr. Hamza Ayaydın from Department of Child-Adolescent Psychiatry and Diseases, Gaziosmanpaşa Hospital, Yeni Yüzyıl University informs on “Asperger Syndrome”, which is frequently confused with autism.

Asperger syndrome and autism

“Asperger syndrome is a condition classified within autism spectrum disorder. The distinguishing features of Asperger syndrome from autism are that there are no delays and deviations in language development seen in autism in the early age period, cognitive functions are good, and the delay in self-care skills is milder than autism. They are also intensely interested in certain subjects/fields. While the symptoms of autism generally mature by the age of 3, the symptoms of Asperger syndrome may not appear clearly until the age of 4-6, and diagnosis may even take up to 8 years of age. Although the exact etiology is not known in the development of this syndrome, genetic factors are at the forefront. If there is a suspected situation, the case should be evaluated by a child – adolescent mental health and diseases specialist.”

What are the symptoms of Asperger syndrome?

“In Asperger syndrome (AS), symptoms may not appear clearly until the age of 4. Sometimes, it may take until the age of 6-8 for the symptoms to mature, so it may take an average of 8-10 years for them to be diagnosed with AS. However, autism characteristics (symptoms such as lack of eye contact, inability to respond emotionally, repetitive movements) can be detected at an early age and diagnosed as autism. AS features begin to mature as age increases and AS is diagnosed. AS is 5-15 times more common in boys than in girls. Symptoms of Asperger syndrome can be listed as follows:

– There are qualitative deficiencies in mutual social interaction. Eye contact is limited and situations such as interests, activities, and mutual sharing of emotions are inappropriate depending on the developmental level. They rarely seek consolation and love in their emotional difficulties, or they rarely show consolation and love. There are situations such as not seeking to share their happiness or interests with others and not being able to react appropriately to the gestures and facial expressions of others.

– They have difficulty interacting emotionally with their peers.

– Limitations in areas of interest, excessive attachment to some objects, repetitive movements such as hand-arm flapping, not using objects/toys for their intended purpose (such as smelling, touching), overreacting to environmental changes (such as changing the bed cover) and deficiencies in motor muscle skills may also be observed. Still others may react intensely to some ordinary sounds (such as barking, small electrical appliances). Others are extremely sensitive to being touched and may overreact to some common household odors (such as cleaning liquids, perfume). “Some may be unresponsive to injuries due to insensitivity to pain, or they may touch and drink hot things without feeling pain.”

How should the health and social life of people with Asperger syndrome be organized?

“Special education and social skills training are at the forefront in the treatment of people with Asperger syndrome. Medication may sometimes be required depending on psychiatric conditions that may be added during the process. In addition, if they are insensitive to pain and suffering, the family should be careful to prevent the child from being physically harmed, and their sensory difficulties should also be studied in special education. Since 80-90% of brain development is completed in the first 5 years of age, pre-school institutions and social environments such as nurseries should be greatly utilized for suitable children in the early period.”

Its definition is known as genius disease

“Asperger syndrome is a neurodevelopmental difference that is also defined as a genius disease. The reason why it is called genius disease is because the tendency and individual efforts of children with Asperger syndrome to gain in-depth knowledge about the subject they are interested in support their development in these areas.

In addition to educational support, they can achieve good academic success if they are guided in the peculiar interests of which they are naturally talented. Again, the family’s interest positively affects the process of transferring the skills learned in education to daily life. In addition, simple social phrases used daily (such as “Good morning”, “Thank you”, “Can I join your game?”) should be taught and congratulated for the social skills they use (such as “Helping me made my job easier.”). Additionally, idioms, metaphors and proverbs should also be taught. These skills provide space for the child to feel comfortable and not feel alienated in the speaking environment. Awareness of social situations should be increased through social stories (such as telling stories about simple daily life processes; telling stories about simple daily life processes through the story of a child who first says “Hello” to join the children playing in the park and then says “Can I join you too?”) and should be taught how to establish social distance.

The academic performance of children, who continue their development with deep and rich knowledge about the subjects they are interested in from their early ages, makes it inevitable for them to be special and genius in later ages.

It is also known that there are many famous names with Asperger syndrome who are successful in the fields of science and art all over the world. People with Asperger’s whose intelligence is not below normal usually have above-normal intelligence. It is known that many famous names from the world of science and art who left their mark on history, such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Mozart, were diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.”


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