Can I go to the military with Aspergers?

Diagnosis of Asperger's autism - The Asperger's boom - is being different the trend?

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In ten years, the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome has increased tenfold across Switzerland. Remedial teacher Heike Meyer explains why.

SRF: As a non-affected professional, how do you imagine life with Asperger's autism?

Heike Meyer: I would spontaneously say that it has to be very exhausting. Asperger's autistic people (see table), for example, live in a culture whose language they speak. At the same time, they have great difficulty in correctly understanding the meaning and use of this language. So it's a very challenging life.

One reads again and again about the Asperger boom. In ten years there has been a tenfold increase in diagnosis. How can this be explained?

There are various explanations for this boom. On the one hand, the diagnostic criteria have changed in recent years. The diagnosis of Asperger's autism can now be made more quickly than it was a few years ago. That also makes sense because you want to help and support as early as possible.

On the other hand, it is assumed that laypeople and specialists are more sensitive and that this diagnosis will be considered more quickly. Previously, ADHD was diagnosed rather than an autistic disorder.

In addition, our society places very high demands on communicative skills. It is precisely in this area that people with an autistic disorder are particularly challenged. Those affected are more noticeable than before.

Could this boom also have something to do with schools trying out more individual and experimental forms of teaching?

Quite possible. These new forms of teaching demand high communication skills from the students. Children with Asperger's autism stand out more in this type of class because they may not be able to handle these forms as well.

Living with Asperger's Syndrome is a very challenging life.

But I also think that within these forms of teaching you can create new orientation bases that suit and involve children with autism.

What do we know about the causes of Asperger's autism?

For a long time it was assumed that the wrong parenting behavior of the parents is the main cause. Today we know that this assumption is wrong. The causes can be varied. For example, genetics, childbirth problems, or a combination of these factors play a role.

What does autism spectrum disorder (ASD) mean?

There are four types of autistic disorder:
The sub-area of ​​the early childhood autism consists of a double diagnosis: autism, in combination with an intellectual disability.
The Asperger syndrome occurs without impairment of language development and without cognitive developmental disorders.
Under highly functional autism suffer people who have above-average cognitive abilities but cannot speak well, for example.
The appearance of the atypical autism does not have all the clinically significant symptoms, but enough to speak of autism.

A remarkable number of boys are affected by autism. Why?

In general, many forms of disability affect more boys than girls. This is attributed to the fact that boys are more vulnerable, especially in their early development, and are therefore more often affected by disabilities.

However, there is a large number of unreported cases among girls with autism, as their social behavior is usually inconspicuous and the diagnosis is therefore less considered.

What are the special talents and resources of children with Asperger's Syndrome?

A strong focus on detail and exceptional cognitive skills are classic talents. Autistic people can remember things very well. You hardly forget anything. In addition, they are very honest people who consistently adhere to the rules that they understand.

They also have perceptual skills that are inaccessible to healthy people. For example, those affected can perceive higher sound frequencies or solve mathematical operations much more creatively than we do. We absolutely have to see such resources as talent and opportunity. Because I am sure: We cannot even recognize and understand some of these talents in our way of thinking.

Interview conducted by Cornelia Kazis.

Broadcast: Radio SRF 2 Kultur, Context, July 24, 2017, 9:02 a.m.

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Heike Meyer is a lecturer at the University of Education in Bern and responsible for specialist advice on specific curative education issues. She has been working on the subject of autism for thirty years.

Diagnosis of Asperger's Autism

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Asperger's autism diagnosis has been around since the 1940s. The Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger dedicated his habilitation to this type of developmental disorder. However, the diagnosis did not gain international attention until the 1980s through the work of the British psychiatrist Lorna Wing, who named the disorder after Hans Asperger.

kazc / kews

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