In recent years the number of diagnoses of “Asperger´s Syndrome” has increased, a pathology on which there are still many issues that need to be resolved. Coinciding with the celebration of the International Day of this disease, we wanted to talk a little about it from the standpoint of neuropsychology.
One of the main things to consider is that in many cases of Asperger, the measure of intelligence does not fall below the average, as in other disorders, which may lead to underestimate the problems of these people . Its most affected fields are in the realm of the emotional and social (empathy, common sense, negotiation skills, social judgment, etc.), aspects that are not measured on standardized tests and are critical to enjoy an independent and fulfilling life.
Several theoretical models are currently proposed to explain the psychological functioning of people with this syndrome:
Theory of Mind Deficit
The “Theory of Mind” is the ability we people have to form an internal representation of the mental states of others. This requires going beyond the outward appearance, since it is necessary put oneself into somebody´s shoes and so, understand what you think and feel in a given situation. Without this capability, it is impossible to understand the others´ behaviour, which has as as direct result a problem in social relationships
Executive functions include such complex and necessary processes in our daily lives such as planning, reasoning, cognitive flexibility, decision-making or inhibiting impulses. If these capabilities are not developed in a proper way, the person can not successfully address many situations of his life.
3. The right hemisphere dysfunction
This hemisphere is critical when it comes to express and interpret emotional information (recognition and understanding of facial expressions) and aspects related to the regulation of intonation and prosody. Therefore, if this area is affected, the person will have trouble interpreting gestures, decipher body language, adapting tone of voice to what you want to convey, etc.
We have to note that none of them manages to fully explain the psychological function responsible of all the features associated with this syndrome, so, as we have said before, the need for further research on this topic in depth becomes apparent.
To end on a positive note, saying that adequate psychosocial intervention improves symptoms and promotes the growth and adaptation of these people to their environment.
For more information on this issue, we recommend that you consult the document of the Asperger´s Sydrom Association Spain “An Approach to Asperger Syndrome”: a theoretical and practical guide “
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