Asperger's syndrome (sometimes referred to as "High-Functioning Autism" or "HFA") is an umbrella term used to classify problematic behaviours similar to, but less severe than, those within the lower reaches of the autistic spectrum. As such, symptoms can vary widely in type and severity between individuals, though difficulties with social interaction and obsessive-compulsive routines are reasonably common diagnostic themes.
It was first described by an Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger, in 1944 (one year after Leo Kanner's first paper on autism). In his paper, he discusses "a pattern of behaviors in several young boys who had normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social, communication, and fine motor skills." Research continues into the condition's underlying causes.
The term Asperger's syndrome was first used in a paper by British psychiatrist, Lorna Wing.
Other persons involved in studying Asperger's syndrome include Tony Attwood and Simon Baron-Cohen.
A Christian mother wrote this heart-warming piece on caring for a child with Asperger's: http://autismisok.com/blog/category/Christian-Autism-Stories.aspx
Description of Asperger's syndrome
Children with Asperger's syndrome tend to exhibit the following qualities:
- Difficulty socializing and understanding social cues. Asperger's sufferers may struggle to find friends, which is why a homeschooled environment away from bullies for education and a church environment for socialization can work wonders.
- No significant loss of language skills (loss of language ability, especially in young children, is more a sign of classical autism).
- Increased raw intelligence (especially in subjects dealing with absolutes, such as math).
Another list of defining characteristics:
- Insistence on sameness
- Impairment in social interaction
- Restricted range of interests
- Poor concentration
- Poor motor coordination
- Academic difficulties
- Emotional vulnerability
The case for homeschooling
As with children with Autism (high functioning or otherwise), homeschooling is a valuable resource (along with the power of prayer) for helping the child grow and adapt to a society that struggles to accept them.
Rachael Evans wrote in her Ezinezone article,
"While public schools are funded to handle children with special needs, these locations are not always the best arenas for autistic children. One of the reasons that home-schooling your autistic child is a good idea is because special education programs may lump autistic children in with others who have maladaptive behavioral problems.
Remember, autistic children have behavioral problems due to their developmental inability to properly function normally in social situations. If they are placed in with others who have emotional problems they may regress instead of progress. However, if home-schooled, parents can control the social influences that are likely to either help or hinder the progress of their child. They can keep them away from insensitive teachers, bullies, and have greater control of their education."
Dozens of other sources point to homeschooling as a strong choice, if not the only viable alternative, for special needs children, including children with Autism and Asperger's syndrome.
Resources for Parents of Autistic Children
- Especially in the reading and understanding of non-verbal cues.
- Autism Spectrum Connection