Asperger's Disorder

Asperger’s Disorder is the term for a specific type of pervasive developmental disorder that typically appears first in childhood, and is primarily characterized by problems in development of social skills and behavior.

In the past, many children with Asperger’s Disorder were diagnosed as having autism, another of the pervasive developmental disorders. While autism and Asperger’s have certain similarities, there are also important differences. For this reason, children suspected of having these conditions require careful evaluation.

A person with Asperger’s disorder has no general delay in language acquisition, cognitive development and adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction). This contrasts with typical developmental accounts of autistic children who show marked deficits and deviance in these areas prior to age three.

Symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder

Although there are many possible symptoms associated with Asperger’s, the most common symptom is severe trouble with social situations. Because of the wide variety of symptoms, no two children with Asperger’s are alike; therefore, your child may exhibit mild to severe symptoms or have a few or many of these symptoms.

Symptoms during childhood include:

  • Engaging in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is listening or trying to change the subject.
  • Inability to recognize and understand a joke or taking a sarcastic comment literally.
  • Displaying unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures.
  • Excessive talking, generally about a favorite subject or intense obsession.
  • Expressing a heightened sensitivity to loud noises, lights, strong tastes or textures.
  • Appearing not to understand, empathize with or be sensitive to others’ feelings.
  • Speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast.
  • Moving clumsily, with poor coordination.

Many of the symptoms recognized in childhood persist throughout the teenage years. And although teens with Asperger’s can begin to learn those social skills they lack, communication often remains difficult. However, some of the classic Asperger’s traits may also work to the benefit of your teen. Since most teens with Asperger’s are typically uninterested in following social norms, fads, or conventional thinking, allowing creative thinking and the pursuit of original interests and goals to flow freely.

Treatment for Asperger’s Disorder

It’s completely natural for small children to be egocentric and exhibit odd behaviors and quirks. However, if your child has frequent problems in school or seems unable to make friends, it’s time that you consult a specialist.

While there’s no cure for Asperger’s syndrome, if your child has the condition, treatment can help him or her learn how to interact more successfully in social situations. Each child has differences in the number and severity of symptoms, so treatment should be designed to meet individual needs and available family resources.

Most often, your local school district can provide you with information regarding individualized education programs that are geared toward improving communication, social skills, and behavior management.

There are no medications that specifically treat Asperger’s syndrome, but there are some medications that may improve specific symptoms including anxiety, depression or hyperactivity, that can occur in many children with Asperger’s syndrome.

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