Dr. Volkmar explains why social interactions can be a challenge for people with Asperger's syndrome.
So predicting Asperger’s, it’s interesting. One of the, the biggest problem in Asperger’s is helping the person learn to be independent and self-sufficient, that the rigidity and social isolation often cause horrible troubles, and you can find very bright people of Asperger’s who can be very non-functional. I have one young man who does math equations in his head. He cannot walk into McDonald’s and get a cheeseburger and change, and the reason is not the math, which is very straightforward, it is because of the social aspect. He walks in there, and there’s a lady behind the counter and she is saying, “Would you like to try our chicken fajita?” And he did not come in for a chicken fajita; he came in for a cheeseburger, but he instantly, he doesn’t know what to do because no one has ever asked him that question in the same way before. And it’s even more complicated because it’s a woman, and he would love to have a girlfriend, and maybe if he buys her a chicken fajita, she will be his girlfriend.
So for the kids with Asperger’s, there needs to be a real focus on learning to translate what they know in the real world.
About Dr. Volkmar, M.D.:
Fred Volkmar, M.D. is the director of the Yale University Child Study Center and Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at Yale University, where he heads the university's autism research and autism clinic. He is also Chief of Child Psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital. His research focuses on understanding the fundamental nature of autism and developing better guidelines to diagnose autism and related conditions.