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Understanding Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome falls under the umbrella of Autism Disorders. It was discovered by an Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger in 1944 while studying children in his practice who showed symptoms of being non-verbal, lack of or limited empathy, and physically clumsiness. The diagnosis didn't come to light until 1981 and wasn't regularly diagnosed until the 1990's. It wasn't until recently that it was included under the umbrella of autism. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms displayed in Asperger's Syndrome, some of them are exactly like autistic symptoms. They are as follows: Unable to pick up on social cues such as reading others facial expressions or body language, start, take turns or maintain a conversation. Unable to handle a change in routines. Either avoid eye contact or stare at others. Express unusual or inappropriate facial expressions or body language. Seem to have a lack of empathy with peers. Lack of the ability to understand a joke or take a sarcastic remark literally. Excel or have an unusual interest in one topic, i.e. dinosaurs, music, computers, etc. Talk a lot, especially about their area of interest. Not be able to let a topic or conversation stop until he is satisfied with the conclusion. Have delayed motor skills. It's not unusual for an Asperger's child never to learn how to tie his own shoes, use silverware correctly or hold a pencil so that his penmanship is legible. Have a heightened sensitivity to light, noises, textures, or strong tastes. It's quite common for them to be sensitive to seams in socks, collars, or sleeves. To be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome the child must display quite a few of these symptoms. An Aspie (child with Asperger's) does however try harder than a child with autism to fit in with his peers. Most of these symptoms persist through the teen years and beyond. However, due to their higher IQ than those with autism, they can teach themselves to fit in better with their peers. This will probably always be a challenge for them, but one they will continue to work on throughout their life. The author's son has Asperger's Syndrome although we call it autism. As a toddler he would line his dinosaurs up tail to head in long straight lines repeatedly and for long periods of time. When asked to put on his socks and shoes it had to be said in that order, in his young mind it didn't make sense to say shoes and socks because that wasn't the order they were put on. He wouldn't comply until we said it correctly. Grocery shopping with mom was a guaranteed meltdown due to the noise, lights and crowds. Next time you see a mother or father trying to calm down a child in the grocery store don't automatically think the child is a 'brat', unruly or disobedient, or the parent has bad skills...it just might be an Asperger's or autistic child not being able to handle his surroundings. Have compassion and don't prejudge.