What is Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, was one of a series of other disorders included in the autism spectrum. With the advent of the DSM-V, in 2013, the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, per se, disappeared.  Instead, Autism Spectrum Disorder was expanded to include it, as well as many other neurodevelopmental disorders.

In the DSM V, ASD is described as a behavioral disorder of speech, communication, social interaction, and repetitive type compulsive behavior. There are three levels of ASD recognized by the DSM V and they include:

Level 1: Requiring Support: Problems with inflexibility, poor organization, planning, switching between activities, which impair independence. Poor social skills, difficulty in initiating interactions, attempts to make friends are odd and unsuccessful.
Level 2: Requiring Substantial Support: Marked difficulties in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills. Markedly odd, restricted repetitive behaviors, noticeable difficulties changing activities or focus.
Level 3: Requiring Very Substantial Support: Severe difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication. Very limited speech, odd, repetitive behavior; many express their basic needs only.

What had previously been diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome is likely now classified as ASD Level 1, or in some cases Level 2, depending upon age and stage of development (e.g. there may be a delay in acquiring pragmatic language and other social communication skills that may be mitigated with appropriate therapy) and areas of difficulty an individual may be encountering in their day to day life (e.g. when under stress, some difficulties become even more pronounced as resilience and coping skills may be underdeveloped).

AMI was formed during a time when Asperger Syndrome was its own diagnosis and those with the disorder needed a platform for advocacy and support that was dedicated to their specific characteristics and needs.  Even with the change in diagnostic process, criteria and name, these needs remain.

Traditionally, Asperger Syndrome was thought to share many of the same characteristics as autism including difficulty within the realm of social interaction, communication and understanding and displaying appropriate emotions. Sometimes people with Asperger Syndrome also experience anxiety, depression and various learning disabilities.

Individuals with Asperger Syndrome often need extra support in achieving their potential within the educational system.

As they enter adulthood, they are presented with many challenges when leaving the structure and support of the family home and the school system; going on to higher education (establishing independence) and entering the work force.

Without the long term supports they need to survive and thrive, many adults with Asperger Syndrome remain emotionally and financially dependent upon their families, social assistance and/or the legal system.

People with Asperger Syndrome/ASD Level 1/2, with the help of their parents and caregivers need accurate information, support and encouragement to become successful, happy and fully contributing citizens within their communities.

AMI remains committed to providing support to its members in a variety of ways – through support groups, direct advocacy work, information sessions and more.

To learn more, contact us at info@asperger-manitoba.ca.

Be Sociable, Share!