Aspergers is a mild form of autism. While the Diagnostic Manual (DSM-V) has removed the word Aspergers from the lexicon (in favor of Autism Spectrum Disorder or AS) I still prefer using the word as it better describes my clients that are high functioning, very bright but lack certain social skills.
The Sachs Center specializes in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of children and adults with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism.
The testing process is 2 hours, involving a clinical interview where current symptoms are reviewed along with childhood history. During the second hour, a number of self-report measures are given which will help clarify the diagnosis.
Treatment involves either individual therapy/coaching or group therapy.
What is Aspergers?
Imagine you’re in a room filled with people, yet you struggle to socialize and communicate. You find it difficult to make eye contact and have received feedback from others that you’re not friendly enough or need to work on social skills.
Now, imagine that this is everyday life, struggling to make sense of the social world around you. This is what it is like to have Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism, which is typically diagnosed in childhood.
Asperger’s is a form of autism, causing individuals to experience social challenges at school, work, or within their personal lives. Often first diagnosed as ADHD in childhood, individuals living with Asperger’s are bright, yet lack critical social skills.
Imagine, not understanding our highly social world…
It’s important to understand that individuals with Asperger’s can carry a conversation and are high-functioning individuals. In fact, many exhibit exceptional language development, especially when focusing on topics of interest. Being able to speak, developing thoughts and ideas is not the issue; engaging in a socially appropriate conversation is the challenge.
Individuals with Asperger’s lack the ability to view things from another person’s perspective, not being able to truly connect with those around them.
Social impairments are what characterize Asperger’s, as these individuals struggle to make sense of appropriate social interaction. Children and adults with Autism lack the understanding required to hold a meaningful conversation, as they often struggle with nonverbal behaviors, such as eye contact or appropriate facial expressions.
Individuals with Asperger’s struggle to develop meaningful relationships and friendships due to their failure to respond both socially and emotionally. They do not pick up on social cues the way the rest of the population does, lacking empathy and interest in what others have to say.
When individuals with Aspergers do find a topic they enjoy, they will often become preoccupied and obsessed. For some, their obsession may pertain to British sports cars while other individuals may know everything there is to possibly know about tornados or basketball statistics. Once again, if they’re interacting with others, they’ll want to discuss their specific interests and may even exhibit repetitive behaviors, such as tapping their hands.
People with Aspergers tend to speak in a monotone. They also might talk too loudly or too formally. They tend to misunderstand the nuances of language, such as taking a sarcastic remark seriously or not grasping a joke or a metaphor.
As you can imagine, these symptoms make day-to-day activities challenging, confusing, and even overwhelming at times. Not understanding humor or how to appropriately respond to someone’s emotions, for instance, can make conversations awkward and uncomfortable.
For the individuals with Asperger’s, however, that awkward feeling will go unnoticed. This is why conversations often continue even when they are inappropriate. They also do not think about the best interest of others when engaging in social situations. For example, if a baby is sleeping on a bus, individuals with Asperger’s may talk loudly, not understanding why other people are telling them to be quiet.
Individuals with Aspergers also tend to have rigid routines and dislike change. For instance, children may be very particular about how they eat.
Just as these individuals work hard throughout their lives to better understand the confusing social world around them, it is critical that others take an interest to better understand this syndrome. Knowledge and understanding are key and can help bridge the gap between those with Asperger’s and those who interact with them, aiding in the development of critical and meaningful relationships.
Positive characteristics of people with Asperger syndrome have been described as beneficial in many professions and include:
- the increased ability to focus on details,
- the capacity to persevere in specific interests without being swayed by others’ opinions,
- the ability to work independently,
- the recognition of patterns that may be missed by others,
- intensity, and
- an original way of thinking.
The Sachs Center has groups for adults and teens with Autism. Offering safe spaces for its members, and custom-designed group experiences, our groups allow teens and adults to connect and share their unique neurodiverse perspectives.
The Sachs Center recently announced its signature new program for treating African American adults with autism. The Black Autism Spectrum Experience (BASE) supports African-American adults with High-Functioning Autism and Aspergers.
BASE Group Therapy
Social difficulties are often the most challenging obstacles for adults with ASD and Aspergers. This is compounded by a sense of rejection by the African American community, which has historically dismissed mental health problems like Autism. BASE group therapy sessions offer African-American individuals with shared struggles the opportunity to connect and learn skills that will help them better navigate future social situations. Group topics often include:
- Understanding the feelings of being different.
- Working with and mitigating pressures received from family and society.
- How to understand and process the anxieties of dating and finding a partner.
- Setting healthy boundaries with friends and family.
- Discussing popular social topics that are fun and engaging for patients, like movies and video games.
The Sachs Center also maintains connections through the Birch Family Services of Manhattan to help clients find supportive and engaging employment opportunities.
Reach out to us below to learn more.
Sachs Center Treatment
Benjamen, M. (2013). Symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder. PsychCentral. Retrieved from
Contact the Sachs Center to learn if you or a loved one has Aspergers.