This paper provides a brief overview of research, knowledge and practice regarding Asperger's syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder that has only recently been acknowledged by clinicians. The paper reviews our knowledge of the degree and nature of the impairments of social understanding of such individuals, especially their problems with making and keeping friends, perception of social and emotional cues, understanding and management of emotions, and ability to recognise the thoughts and feelings of others. Difficulties with communication and conversation skills are explained, as well as the person's tendency to develop areas of expertise and special interests. People with Asperger's syndrome have an unusual profile of cognitive abilities; some have signs of movement disturbance and some are extraordinarily perceptive of sensory experiences. The prevalence and aetiology of Asperger's syndrome are discussed briefly.
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