What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s is a term not commonly used today because it is grouped with other disorders under the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) heading.

But what is Asperger’s Syndrome, you may ask. It is a mild form of high-functioning autism. With early diagnosis and therapy, most people with Asperger’s Syndrome live regular lives. Johann Friedrich Karl Asperger, an Austrian psychiatrist, after whom the syndrome is named, is remembered for his pioneering studies of autism.

We have addressed ASD in previous articles but we need to highlight that people with Asperger’s, in general, have less severe symptoms. They can be high-functioning, but they tend to have difficulty with social interaction – and their communication is often unusual, even abnormal.

Remember, the types of activities that children with special needs enjoy are no different from the pursuits the average child would appreciate.  So, while we are still in the grips of winter, perhaps we should consider activities that excite your child and help promote the following…

  • physical activity,
  • social interaction,
  • fine-motor skills,
  • logic,
  • coordination and
  • creativity.

You can build on the ideas below. They are more beneficial than computer games and watching television programmes, although there is a place for these, as well.

All children appreciate outings, and they enjoy interacting with others. Take them to museums, the playpark, places of interest such as the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick Falls, Midmar Dam, the botanical gardens – the options are endless. If you don’t live in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, you’ll have your own places of interest. Visiting family and friends is a firm favourite. And what about a walk around your neighbourhood observing the difference in the homes and the plants that grow in the gardens? You could also identify the different dogs people have as pets.

Boardgames, building blocks and puzzles help to keep children focussed and they learn to be deserving winners as well as good losers. To create ‘quiet time’, colouring-in and crafting are ideal choices. So is reading. All these activities stimulate children’s creativity. In a previous article we have highlighted the importance of reading.

Eating out always adds an air of excitement; builds memories of relaxed, happy, family outings; and teaches children social skills. You may need to consider taking the necessary precautions if your child has special needs.

Baking is an all-time favourite. Think of the result – not of the mess! Remember cleaning up is part of the activity so it must be done in a joyful, light-hearted manner.

Play is an important aspect to learning. It reinforces formal learning and helps children develop their self-worth. It is fundamental to a child’s wellbeing.

Play is our brain's favourite way of learning…

- Diane Ackerman -

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