Dr. Volkmar describes why many people with autism and Asperger's syndrome are socially awkward.
It’s interesting, for both Asperger’s and autism, we are just starting to get a handle on what some of the mechanisms are in the brain that may really throw off social interaction from a very early age. We know more about autism than we do with Asperger’s. We know about some differences in terms of how the brain processes social information, how it looks at faces, what people actually look at when they are looking at social scenes. But there seem to be some very early emerging differences in terms of the relevance of the social world that really do cast the children with autism and Asperger’s on a very different developmental path and trajectory.
They become real experts on things, and much less experts on people, whereas most of us, we start out first and foremost as people-people or people experts, and the folks with autism and Asperger’s have to really be encouraged to develop that kind of special interest.
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.