What do Albert Einstein and Bill Gates all have in common besides being brilliant men who’ve made enormous contributions to society? Well, some have suggested they both suffered from Asperger’s syndrome (AS), a mild form of autism that affects social interactions.
Signs of Asperger’s syndrome
In children, these include:
- having average or even above average intelligence
- difficulty interacting in social situations because they don’t pick up on social cues
- poor eye contact or standing too close
- not understanding give and take or how to behave in group situations
- sensory issues, for example, clumsiness or not wanting to be touched
- obsessing over certain ideas or topics
These characteristics often make it hard for children with AS to interact with their peers and make friends. There’s also the fact that poor organisational and motor skills, as well as faulty problem solving abilities, can mean they struggle in the classroom. So it’s no wonder some children with the condition feel stressed and may develop low self-esteem and depression.
Testing for Asperger’s
There’s no cure for Asperger’s, but if caught early enough, it can be managed, so the earlier the diagnosis, the better. If you notice signs of AS in your child, talk to your doctor who will be able to arrange an assessment. This will be performed by a team of professionals who will observe your child’s social interaction, look at his academic ability and assess his motor skills, and speech and language development.
If your child is diagnosed with AS, contact his school to see what resources are available and together you’ll be able to devise a programme tailored specifically to him. Experts recommend one that works on improving your child’s communication skills and physical clumsiness, and addresses obsessive or repetitive routines. Depending on your child’s individual needs, this could be done through training in social skills, cognitive behavioural therapy, and medication for co-existing conditions (such as depression).
Children with AS do face special challenges, but if it’s managed early enough, there’s no reason why they can’t excel academically. In fact, thanks to their unique abilities, many children with AS go on to experience successful careers – just ask Bill Gates!