Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disabilities disorder that affects a child's ability in socialization and to communicate effectively with others and also has learning disabilities.
Children with Asperger's syndrome typically exhibit socialization awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.
Doctors group Asperger's syndrome with four other conditions that are called Autistic Spectrum Disorders or Pervasive Developmental Disorders which lead to learning disabilities. These disorders all involve problems with social skills and communication. Asperger's syndrome is generally thought to be at the milder end of this Autistic spectrum.
Conservative estimates indicate that 2 out of every 10,000 children have Asperger's Syndrome, and boys are 3 to 4 times as likely as girls to have the disorder. While there is no cure for Asperger's Syndrome, treatment can help children learn how to interact more successfully with their peers.
Signs and Symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome Include:
- Engaging in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is listening or trying to change the subject
- Displaying unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures
- Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects, such as baseball statistics, train schedules, weather or snakes
- Appearing not to understand, empathize with, or be sensitive to others' feelings
- Having a hard time "reading" other people or understanding humor
- Speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast
- Moving clumsily, with poor coordination
- Having an odd posture or a rigid gait
Doctors and researchers don't understand what causes Asperger's syndrome or what causes there learning disabilities, although there seems to be a strong genetic component. The disorder also seems to be linked to structural abnormalities in several regions of the brain.
When To Seek Medical Advice
All kids have their quirks, and many toddlers show a sign or symptom of Asperger's syndrome at some point. It's natural for small children to be egocentric, and many little ones show a strong interest in a particular topic, such as dinosaurs or a favorite fictional character. These aren't reasons to be alarmed.
However, if your elementary school child has frequent problems in school or seems unable to make friends, it's time to consult your pediatrician. These difficulties have many possible causes, but developmental disorders such as Asperger's syndrome shouldn't be ruled out. Children whose eccentricities interfere with learning and social development should have a comprehensive evaluation.
Screening and Diagnosis
Because Asperger's Syndrome varies widely in severity and signs, making a diagnosis may be difficult. If your child shows some signs of Asperger's Syndrome, your doctor may suggest a comprehensive assessment by a team of professionals to determine if the child has Autism or Asperger's Syndrome because of symptoms or if there is no problem at all and the child is developing normally.
This evaluation will likely include observing your child and talking to you about your child's development. You may be asked about your child's social interaction, communication skills and friendships. Your child may also undergo a number of tests to determine his or her level of Intellectual and academic abilities.
Tests may assess your child's abilities in the areas of speech, language and visual-motor problem solving. Tests can also identify other emotional, behavioral and psychological issues.
Unfortunately, some kids with Asperger's syndrome are first misdiagnosed with another problem, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an emotional-behavior disorder.
Even worse, some children with undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome are labeled as willful or malicious troublemakers. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor if your child is having difficulties at school.
The core signs of Asperger's Syndrome symptoms, a form of mild autism, can't be cured. But most children benefit from early specialized interventions for high functioning Autism that focus on behavior management and social skills training. Your doctor can help identify resources in your area that may work for your child. Options may include:
Communication and Social Skills Training for Aspergers Children
Many children with Asperger's syndrome, thought theh have learning disabilities, can learn the unwritten rules of socialization and communication when taught in an explicit and rote fashion, much like the way students learn foreign languages.
- Children with Asperger's syndrome, even with their developmental disabilities, may also learn how to speak in a more natural rhythm, as well as how to interpret communication techniques, such as gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, humor and sarcasm.
Cognitive behavior therapy
This general term encompasses many techniques aimed at curbing problem behaviors caused by developmental disabilities, such as interrupting, obsessions, meltdowns or angry outbursts, as well as developing skills like recognizing feelings and coping with anxiety.
- Cognitive behavior therapy usually focuses on training a child to recognize a troublesome situation — such as a new place or an event with lots of social demands — and then select a specific learned strategy to cope with the situation.
There are no medications to treat Asperger's syndrome. But some medications may improve specific behaviors — such as anxiety, depression or hyperactivity — that can occur in many children with Asperger's syndrome.
Asperger's Syndrome (mild Autism) can be a difficult, lonely disorder — for children and their parents.
By nature, the disorder brings difficulties with socialization and communicating with your child. It may also mean fewer play dates and birthday invitations and more stares at the grocery store from people who don't understand that a child's meltdown is part of a disability, not the result of "bad parenting."
Luckily, as this disorder gains widespread recognition and attention, there are more and more sources of help. Here are a few suggestions:
Learn about Asperger's Syndrome and Symptoms
- Just 20 years ago, many pediatricians hadn't heard of Asperger's syndrome. Now, there are numerous books and Websites dedicated to the childrens disabilities concerning Asperger's syndrome disorder. Doing some research will help you you better understand your child's challenges and how to deal with Asperger's Syndrome, also known as high functioning Autism or mild Autism. There is a range of services in your school district and state that may help you deal with Asperger's syndrome and the symptoms of it.
Learning about High Functioning Autism and How it Affects Your Child
The signs and symptoms of Asperger's syndrome are different in every child, and young children have a hard time explaining their behaviors and challenges. But, with time and patience, you'll learn which situations and environments may cause problems for your child and which coping strategies work. Keeping a diary, looking for patterns and keeping accounts of Asperger's Syndrome symptoms may help.
Find a Team of Trusted Professionals
You'll need to make important decisions about your child's special needs education and treatment. Find a team of teachers and therapists who can help evaluate the options in your area special needs education and explain the federal regulations regarding children with disabilities.
Help Others Help Your Child
Asperger's syndrome symptoms do not always show up as visible sign of the disability in most children who have High Functioning Autism, also known as mild Autism. So there may be a need to alert coaches, relatives and other adults who might be in contact with your child about their special needs.
- A little information concerning Asperger's Syndrome symptoms can go a long way in reducing stress and expanding understanding for all adults who have any contact with your child concerning socialization or special needs education.
- "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies here, otherwise, a well-meaning coach or supervising adult may spend time lecturing your child on "looking at him while he's talking" — something that can be very difficult for a child with Asperger's syndrome.
Help Your Child Turn His or Her Stifling
Obsession Into a Rewarding Passion
The tendency to fixate on a particular narrow topic is one of the hallmarks of the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome, and it can be annoying to those who must listen to incessant talk about the topic every day.
- But a consuming interest can also connect a child with Asperger's syndrome to schoolwork and social activities.
- In some cases, kids with Asperger's syndrome can even turn their childhood fascination into a career or profession with the help of a special needs education from Second Start.
- In assisting the child to turn their developmental disabilities into a winning formula of possibilities for a successful life.