Asperger’s Syndrome: Context Breakdown

What we know, influences, what we say and what we do.

What we know, influences, what we say and what we do.

Context involves the setting or environment surrounding a situation. People with Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning autism notice details, but often fail to take context into consideration. This inability is noticeable in social situations as well as in their written work and verbal expression.

People with Asperger’s Syndrome perform quite well on standardized tests. However, the dissonance between test-taking abilities and real-life situations often puzzle untrained professionals. Treatment plans are based on research, yet research alone does not give an accurate and complete description of how people with Asperger’s Syndrome communicate in natural settings. Testing is an artificially controlled assessment of abilities. It lacks the spontaneity of real-life situations.  In real life,  we are constantly gathering little bits of information and responding to them instantaneously. There is little time to think and reactions are for the most part are context driven.

Typically developing people are sensitive to the context of their environment.  This allows them to know how to act based on the circumstances. For example, it is easy for neuro-typical people to know what to say and do when meeting someone they know on a street, what to write in an essay to prove their point or to understand what is happening in a piece of fiction they are reading, but all of these things would be a problem for individuals on the autism spectrum. Recognizing, understanding and interacting with the environment is a pertinent skill for adapting to each new situation. Instructing people with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism on how to be sensitive to context is challenging and has to be taught in many contexts, not just one.

Teaching people with Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning autism how to gather and use information from their context and incorporate it into their communication is challenging, and requires that family, therapist, teachers and other providers work closely together for the best possible outcomes.

For more information here is the reference used for writing this blog.

Vermeulen, P. (2011, November). A Division of Future Horizons, Inc. Retrieved February 10,  2015, from

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