know that many people are coming on to the Velvet Bulldozer site to find out
more about Asperger’s syndrome and Autism generally. With kind permission of
Autism West Midlands we reproduce the following:
Definition of Aspergers Syndrome...
Asperger Syndrome is sometimes referred to as able autism or high functioning
autism. It includes people of average to high intelligence and is a part of
the ‘Triad of Impairments’ that typifies autism. The Triad refers to the
impairments of communication, social interaction and imagination.
People with Asperger Syndrome may have narrow interests and show inflexibility
of thought and behaviour. However, their main problem is often in their
apparent independence, which belies their social disability. Some can manage
well in certain areas, whilst having unexpected gaps in ability in others, and
the mismatch of intelligence and performance can easily lead to a
misunderstanding of the person with Asperger Syndrome.
In some cases individuals are not diagnosed until adulthood and often have to
cope without support or any understanding of the condition. This can lead to
other problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Although individuals with Asperger Syndrome vary enormously in the way their
condition affects them and in their ability to hide or overcome their
problems, there are some common features.
What can help?
Lack of understanding causes many of the difficulties associated with Asperger
Syndrome. Once the condition and its effects are understood, the individual
can concentrate on overcoming the negative aspects and making the most of the
positive. Qualities like honesty, reliability, determination and dedication
are associated with the condition, and many people show talent in maths,
music, computing, science and technology.
Getting the right type and amount of support is vital. Once problems occur,
anxiety can overtake, issues are exaggerated and become much harder to deal
with. Maximum support at the outset can be reduced as the individual gains
confidence and experience.
Written or other visual information may be helpful for the individual to cope
with possible change, and a structured environment may help to make events
more understandable and predictable.
There needs to be regular monitoring of possible difficulties, to prevent
anxiety. With the right support and a tolerant environment, people with
Asperger Syndrome can develop their skills and be helped to find their own
ways of adapting to society’s demands, making the most of their different way
of viewing the world.
• Stilted speech, with repetitive use of phrases and topics of conversation
limited to own interests.
• Inability to pick up on verbal clues and hints and to understand and use
facial expression, body language or eye contact appropriately.
• Little insight into the unwritten rules of human relationships. May lack
empathy with other people and appear rude, selfish or tactless. Seem to lack
understanding of how people affect and influence each other.
• Social situations can cause extreme anxiety, linked to an awareness of being
different and not fitting in, fear of failure, being misunderstood or not
being able to understand what others expect.
• Change, especially unplanned change, is experienced as very stressful.
Predictable, repetitive activities provide reassurance.
• High motivation and knowledge in own field of special interest, sometimes to
the point of obsession.
• Good attention to detail but great difficulty in seeing ‘the bigger picture’
because this requires flexible and abstract thinking, which they find
• Difficulty in predicting the consequences of their actions and putting
things into context.
• Difficulties with planning and time management, due to anxiety when working
under pressure and a perfectionist streak.
• Poor spatial awareness, motor skills and co-ordination may also be
Definition of Autism
You may hear several different names used to describe autism. These could
• Classic autism
• Kanner Syndrome
• High-functioning autism
• Able autism
• Atypical autism
• Asperger Syndrome
• Semantic Pragmatic Disorder (SPD)
• Autistic tendencies
• Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (a.s.d.) is an umbrella term often used to describe
these conditions because it groups together all the different variations of
this disorder. The idea of a spectrum is useful because it shows that people
with a diagnosis of autism can range from having average or above average
intelligence to having severe learning disabilities.
Some facts about autism:
• It is a ‘hidden disability’ because people with autism are usually no
different in appearance from anyone else
• It is now believed to affect as many as 1 in 110 people
• It is at least 4 times more common in males than females
• It is a lifelong disability, but getting the right help and support from
people who understand can really make a difference
• Nobody knows for certain what causes autism, but research points to a
• People with autism can be very sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, touch or
the sensations caused by what they see
The Triad of Impairments...
Autism affects the way a person relates to other people and this can cause
confusion with social interaction. Because all people are different, the way
autism affects them is also different. However, they all have difficulties in
3 main areas, often known as ‘The Triad of Impairments’.
Communication – Talking and Understanding
Language difficulties range from no speech at all to fluent speech, often
repetitive and mainly talking about their own areas of interest, rather than
There is always difficulty in understanding spoken language, as well as the
other clues to meaning in what we say e.g. body language, gesture, tone of
voice, facial expression.
Social Interaction – Getting on with other people
Difficulties range from indifference and aloofness to wanting desperately to
make friends but not understanding social rules and other people’s behaviour
and feelings well enough to do so successfully. Some people with autism have
real difficulties with social situations.
Imagination – Thinking and Behaviour
There may be deficits in imaginative and conceptual skills, and difficulties
in making sense of the world. These lead to a rigid way of thinking and doing
things, repetitive activity and narrow interests. Changes of routine cause
anxiety and distress.
• Keep your own language simple
• Avoid ‘flowery’ phrases and abstract ideas
• Keep sentences short and to the point
• Speak slowly and clearly
• Use the person’s name to get their attention first
• Give time for the person with autism to process what you say and to respond
• Give visual clues, whenever possible, to aid understanding e.g. photos,
picture symbols, objects of reference
• Mime and gesture may help get your meaning across
• Provide a clear structure to the day so s/he knows what to expect and when
• Keep to predictable routines
• Explain any changes in advance, if possible, to minimise anxiety
For further information please contact:
18 Highfield Road
Tel: (0121) 450 7575
Fax: (0121) 450 7581
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