Asperger's Syndrome in Young Children: A Developmental Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Laurie Leventhal-Belfer; Cassandra Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The World of the Young Child
with Asperger's Syndrome

The children described in Chapter 1 remind us how rich and playful the world of the young child is. Three- to five-year-olds are embarking on a path of learning to reason, control their impulses, and make friends. They are entering that intricate world of negotiating the complexities of their peer group, a task that continues throughout their lives. In our Preface, we provided a brief overview of what Asperger's Syndrome is, with social and communication issues being core areas of challenge for these children. Given that these areas of development are central to the life of the young child, we can then ask: how does the young child with Asperger's Syndrome manage the tasks of his age? How does he experience and make sense of the social world around him? What does it mean when he talks about friends? What is he feeling when he smiles at times one would expect him to be feeling mad, or when he looks angry when we would expect him to be happy?

In this chapter we explore these questions by walking through the areas of development outlined briefly in Chapter 1, and describing the strengths and challenges that children with Asperger's Syndrome face in each area. It is crucial to remember that every child is unique and that the range of symptoms within each child varies greatly. Therefore, as parents you may read through this chapter and feel that some characteristics describe your child [to a t] while others don't. We hope that even when you read about qualities you think don't fit your child, your understanding of your own children will still increase, because at the root of many of these behaviors (albeit expressed differently) are the challenges in communication and socialization. Throughout this book, you will see that there is a wide continuum with some children struggling with many features of the Syndrome and other children who have much milder presentations.

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