Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome refers to the less severe type of developmental disorder affecting the ability of an individual to communicate and socialize with others effectively. People with this type of disorder find it difficult to communicate with others verbally or non-verbally. They even find it hard to initiate and keep conversations going as well as use gestures to express themselves.

The treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome aims to help the patient interact with others effectively. Although there is nothing that can be done to prevent or cure the disease completely, early diagnosis helps in improving the quality of life of the patient.

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Who is at risk of having Asperger’s Syndrome?

The syndrome is relatively unique, but despite of this, it is the most common type of autism. Boys are more at risk of having the disorder than girls, and are often diagnosed when they are 2 to 6 years old. Sufferers may most likely develop some kind of mental disorder; but treatments are available to manage the condition. A lot of Asperger’s disorder patients were able to function and live well due to average or above average intelligence levels; though socializing remains a challenge for them through adulthood.

What causes Asperger’s syndrome?

Experts are still puzzled over the exact cause of the disorder, though they believe that genetics plays a vital role in the development and passing on the disease to the next generation. They also believe that changes in the brain structure are linked with the progress of the disorder. However, experts are quite sure that Asperger’s disorder and other autism spectrum illnesses are not related to childhood immunizations.

cinematic description of Asperger’s Syndrome played by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh khan for My Name is Khan.

How to detect children with Asperger’s syndrome

Children suffering from Asperger’s disorder may exhibit differing symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some of these include:

  • Social skill problems

Socializing is really difficult for people with this type of developmental disorder. They often find themselves in awkward situations during social meetings and gatherings.

  • Communication problems

People with this medical condition face problems when communicating to other people. This is because they find it difficult to use gestures and facial expressions when talking to other people. They also have difficulties in understanding body language as well as language context. Communicating with people suffering from this condition is also tricky because they do not make eye contact.

  • Coordination issues

People with this disorder have coordination problems, making them clumsy.

  • Repetitive behaviors

Sufferers also exhibit repetitive and odd movements like finger twisting and hand wringing.

  • Unusual rituals

The patient may also have unusual rituals that even he himself declines to change. Example of this is getting dressed only under a specific order.

  • Limited interests

The interest of a person suffering from the disorder is quite limited, but is extremely intense and sometimes obsessive.

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  • Talented

Asperger’s syndrome can cause communication and socializing problems, but those affected tend to be exceptionally talented in certain areas.

Asperger’s syndrome – tests and diagnosis

Diagnosing Asperger’s disease primarily involves conducting a thorough physical exam as well as checking the complete medical and family history of the patient. Specific diagnostic tests may not be available but blood tests and X-ray examinations may be done to rule out medical problems that cause the symptoms. The patient may also be brought to a childhood development disorder specialist to diagnose the condition. These people could either be developmental pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, psychologist or adolescent psychiatrist. Diagnosis is primarily based on the extent of development of the child, speech and behavior as well as the ability to communicate and socialize with other people.

Here are some of the tests that can be used to find out of the child has the given syndrome –

1. Pointing to the objects test – Unlike normal kids, who point things to their parents and then check, if they have understood, children with Asperger’s syndrome point towards the objects and do not bother to check if the parents are looking at them.

2.  Behavioral questionnaire – The child, if below 3 years of age, may be put through certain behavioral tests, to note their traits.

3. Mental development tests –  There are tests specific to find out the child’s ability to think, reason and make decisions.

4. Physical tests – This is done to find out if the child is developing properly, in terms of weight, height and head circumference.

5. Lead poisoning test –  Due to developmental delays, an Asperger’s syndrome afflicted child, may put things that are not edible, in the mouth. This condition, also known as pica, can cause lead-poisoning.

6. Hearing test – A test is conducted to find if the child is able to hear and more importantly, listen to what is being told to him or her.

How does treatment help children with Asperger’s syndrome?

Although there is no cure for Asperger’s syndrome, an affected child can still live a normal life and grow into a well-adjusted individual. The treatment helps patients interact with others effectively as well as learn verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The treatment plan is often a combination of various methods used for Asperger’s disorder. These include:

  • Behavior modifications

This helps children with Asperger’s disorder learn positive behavior to reduce childhood behavioral problems such as angry outburst and obsessions. Behavioral therapy helps children identify upsetting situations and choose a strategy to handle the situation.

 

  • Speech and occupational therapy

This is done to improve the functional abilities of the patient. The patient will be taught to speak naturally and understand communication techniques like eye contact, gestures and humor.

 

  • Medication

Medications are primarily used to manage the associated symptoms like obsessive-compulsive behavior, hyperactivity, depression and anxiety.

 

  • Education

The patient will be enrolled in a special education system especially designed to meet his/her special educational needs.

What can help patients and their families live with Asperger’s Syndrome?

The child and parents are both affected by the disorder, and many attest that joining support groups is helpful in understanding and living with the disorder. It would also be helpful to inform others about the child’s special needs, so as to let others treat them appropriately.

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