What is Asperger's Syndrome?
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is seen as a complex brain disorder and part of the Autistic Spectrum. Generally, people with AS have an IQ within the normal range but may have poor social and communication skills. Asperger Syndrome was only confirmed as a distinct Autistic Spectrum Disorder in the early 1990’s and a number of professionals and member of the public may have a limited understanding of the syndrome. Asperger's syndrome is also one of the “hidden” disabilities which means people on the AS spectrum show no significant physical difference to their peers, but their behaviours and communications (or lack of) mean they appear different.
- Having AS does not mean that a person is any less intelligent than the next person. Many studies show that people with AS often
have above average intelligence in specific areas
- With the proper support, people with AS can lead full and productive lives.
Some common characteristics can be: lack of empathy, may have an inability to form relationships, conduct one-sided conversations, can be clumsy and may develop an intense interest in a special subject.
Lots of symptoms are connected with AS and just like everyone no two people are alike, so not everyone will have all of the symptoms or the same combination of symptoms. But people with Asperger Syndrome will experience difficulties in developing their social, communication and emotional skills.
- Social Interaction can be difficult with Individuals having problems interacting and they may seem quiet, act inappropriately or seem naive some may be considered loners.
- Communication may cause problems with some finding difficulty in understanding double meaning language and interpret things literally. AS individuals may require visual written backups and prompts.
- Imagination AS individuals maybe rigid thinkers and rely on timetables
and routines. They may have problems with concepts that aren’t black and white
Assessments can be arranged through your GP or your Local Health Centre. You will be referred to the local Disability or Mental Health Team. You can be referred to a multidisciplinary team with includes: psychologist, speech and language, occupational therapy or medical professionals. These people will complete a comprehensive assessment and generate a report which can be used to access services and supports needed by the child or adult. Sometimes waiting lists are very long and parents choose to look for the assessment to be completed privately. However, some services may look for a publicly generated report so be mindful of this.
Did you know that if your child was born after 2002 in Ireland then they are entitled to an Assessment of Need.
On June 1st, 2007, Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 became law. Under Part 2 of this Act, children with disabilities have a right to:
- An independent assessment of their health and educational needs arising from their disability
- An assessment report
- A statement of services they will receive
- Make a complaint if they are not happy with any part of the process
Your first point of contact is your local Assessment Officer who is responsible for your child’s assessment. Each Local Health Office has an Assessment Officer. They can assist you with your child’s application and help support you through the process. The Assessment Officer is responsible for issuing your child’s assessment report. Applications must be made in writing on a standard form which is available from your Local Health Office. Call the HSE information line 1850 24 1850 or check out www.hse.ie for a list of Local Health Officers in Ireland. Your child’s assessment must start within 3 months from when the completed application form is accepted by the HSE. It must be completed within a further 3 months from the date on which the assessment commenced.
AS individuals have many skills and qualities.
- Dependable – people with AS love routine and are punctual, reliable and dependable.
- Commitment – they are loyal and hardworking. Always great qualities to have in a friend and employee.
- Specialist knowledge – AS individuals may have a high knowledge in specialist areas which may be especially beneficial for an employer.
- Recall – AS individual can have a good recall with facts and figures and a memory for detail.
- Concentration – good concentration for tasks that others find boring or repetitive.
- Logical thinkers – very skilled at logical problem-solving.
If your child has been diagnosed then remember you are not alone. Please join a local support group as other parents will give you much-needed advice and support to help your child, your family and yourself.
Get yourself informed about AS and your child’s needs (see the recommendations sections of your child’s report) as quickly as possible information is power and will help you gain access to services and support your child and family need. Apply for everything even if you think you won’t get it No harm in doing so and authorities are notorious for not telling you what you’re entitled to. Again check the links above for entitlements.
Focus on the positive’s about your child, I know this can be hard at times but all children are a blessing. If you continuously focus on negative things it brings you down and doesn’t help your child, your family or you in the long run.
Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself, you can not help anyone if you’re working from empty yourself.
Feeling guilty about your child’s diagnoses, isolation, feeling alone and unsupported is a normal response at first and may reappear throughout your life when your child has a disability. That’s why I can’t emphasise enough getting you support from national and if available local groups or online (#ablehour on twitter is one such group) is important. You may also wish to talk things through with a therapist to help put things in perspective and reduce your stress levels. I know it’s hard (I’ve been there too) but it does get better.
Never feel guilty about your child’s behaviour in public and don’t apologise unnecessarily for it. Again other parents are a great source of information about the best places you can go as a family for an inclusive experience. Don’t be afraid to highlight to companies they need to change for anyone with a disability, a good company will be delighted to take anything onboard you have to say.
Home should be a safe place away from stress. Have consistent routines is vital for AS children. Use calendars and give one to each child for their room. Fill them in during the Christmas holidays to start the next year and make sure your child sees you mark off the days or marks it off themselves particularly if you are leading up to a change in routine or have an appointment they don’t normally attend. Make it a point to involve everyone in planning activities for the family a good time is after dinner once a week I found. Spend time together as a family and allow them to contribute and be listened to. I always found that when we engaged in family discussions over dinner it enabled everyone to have a say. But you may have to act as referee to ensure that all get a chance at voicing their opinions.
The outline above is not a complete source of information about Asperger's Syndrome but gives you an introduction. If you suspect your child has AS please contact your GP or Health Visitor they will help you get the assessments you need.
How can we help?
We offer counselling and advice to parents of children diagnosed with AS. We understand fully what it is like to have a child diagnosed with a disability as we have experienced this ourselves. If you need support and advice please call us for an appointment on 089 4373641
Further Information on As is available from :