Positive Reinforcement for Asperger Syndrome

What is Asperger Syndrome?

The definition of Asperger Syndrome (AS) has changed over time and technically does not exist any longer on its own as of the publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) in 2013. It has been rolled into the diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

We will discuss Asperger Syndrome as a range on the high functioning end of the Autism Spectrum. Kids with Asperger Syndrome sometimes self-described as "Aspies" tend to exhibit a collection of traits not generally seen to the same degree in children without AS.

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Our working definition:

Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder within the broader Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis characterized by a collection of challenges in
areas including social skills and interaction, nonverbal communication, fixation with particular topics or interests and repetitive patterns of behavior and obsessive interests. They may have issues with motor skills and/or have developmental delays.


If you suspect your child has Asperger Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder you should consult a medical expert. 

Some children with AS are misdiagnosed with ADHD initially and are then correctly diagnosed as they get older and the collection of traits and idiosyncrasies reveal themselves.

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Positive Reinforcement

If you child has been diagnosed, it is likely one or more medical professionals or therapists have discussed methods of working with you child utilizing positive reinforcement

If they did not mention positive reinforcement specifically they likely mentioned behavior management, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), behavior management systems and/or token economies which all incorporate positive reinforcement.

Specific Traits, Challenges or Symptoms

AS is not the same in all kids and two kids with AS can seem very different. I like to describe AS as a big group of specific traits, challenges or symptoms and if you grabbed a handful of these you may describe one particular kid with AS. Grab a different handful and you have another kids with AS.

A child with Asperger Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder may:

Have difficulties with other people

  • Limited or inappropriate social interactions
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Engage in one-sided conversations
  • Be unable to read faces and/or expressions

Come off as a little different than other kids

  • A robotic rhythm to speech
  • Use of unusual phrasing or words
  • Obsession with a specific topic 
  • Seemingly self-absorbed or self-focused
  • Be very literal and feel the need to have rules enforced

Seem a little behind for their age

  • Have delays in motor skill development
  • Be a little awkward and ungainly

Seem a little advanced for their age

  • Be super smart in a variety of topics
  • Be an expert in a topic(s) of interest
  • Have above average verbal skills and vocabulary
  • Be exceptional at science and/or math

Asperger Syndrome was named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger. Dr. Asperger described children he saw in his practice who were physically clumsy, lacked nonverbal communication skills, and had limited understanding of others' feelings.

Asperger Syndrome started to come to prominence in the 1980's through a series of papers and books until in the 1990s it officially entered the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)

As mentioned earlier, in 2013 it has was rolled into the diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with the release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)

Famous people of the past speculated to have Asperger Syndrome:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Thomas Jefferson

  • Alan Turing
  • Albert Einstein
  • Isaac Newton

  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Nikola Tesla
  • Thomas Edison
  • Henry Ford

  • Emily Dickinson
  • Henry Thoreau
  • Jane Austen
  • Mark Twain
  • Michelangelo
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart