What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s syndrome, or like it’s often abbreviated AS, represents a disorder from the autism spectrum which manifests through some difficulties in the social interactions area as well as repetitive and restrictive interest and behavioral patterns.
The term comes from an Australian pediatrician named Hans Asperger who in 1944 described, after years of studying children from his practice who didn’t have proper nonverbal communication aptitudes, were characterized by physical clumsiness and had limited empathy when it came to other people. However, the modern conception of this disorder came in 1981 and was eventually standardized as a medical diagnosis in the 1994.
On the other hand, there are still doubts when it comes to differentiating this condition from other types of highly functioning autism. There are currently some proposals which are expected to be implemented in mid-2013 that are related to the fact that there will probably be a single diagnosis category, ASD or autism spectrum disorder which is to be represented in various forms, depending on the severity and symptoms, thus Asperger’s syndrome is going to stop existing as a diagnosis of its own.
The causes behind Asperger’s syndrome are still being investigated by researchers as well as other disorders from ASD. So far, there are some speculations related to its appearance. However, the one with the highest proportions is linked to brain abnormalities, better said, differences in functionality and structure of certain regions of the brain which can be recognized through some advanced imaging.
Another theory is that a hereditary component is a major part of its development and in most situations, it is also connected to other disorders of mental health such as bipolar disorder or depression. As opposed to some assumption that children who suffer from it have been exposed to emotional depravation, there is no medical evidence to support this theory, thus they’re not linked in either way. The reason behind this belief is that a lot of patients who have this disorder seem to manifest an intentionally rude behavior, thus people who are uninformed wrongly suppose that they have been exposed to bad parenting.
Due to the fact that further studies are required and there is no conclusive pattern regarding the development and appearance of Asperger’s syndrome, people may only conclude that it’s a neurobiological condition whose causes are yet to be fully understood.
Signs & Symptoms
From a general perspective, the symptoms of this neurobiological condition are noticed when the child begins preschool and starts to interact with other people. In these situations, a lack related to social skills such as body language interpretation or maintaining a proper conversation as well as a dislike when it comes to a change in the daily routine are the first one to be observed. Furthermore, the child is often unable to perceive subtle differences in the pitch, accent and tone of a speech, making him or her incapable of understanding sarcasm or jokes.
Additionally, the child may have a formal speaking style which is obviously advanced for young ages. For instance, the child may prefer to use words like “beckon” or “return” instead of “call” or “come back.” Eye contact is often avoided and in the majority of situations, the child has unusual postures or facial expressions which point out to the possibility that he or she hasn’t understood the idea behind what the other person was communicating and a different type of approach is needed in these situations.
Most of the children who suffer from this disorder experience a passion towards unusual things such as astronomy studying, drawing detailed scenes, or house designing and are generally preoccupied with the task they’ve chosen which are few in number. Furthermore, some topics like name of dinosaurs, nebulas, snakes, or history of architecture are addressed by these children and although they may seem boring for most people, for them they are of high interest.
Other symptoms that can be spotted in Asperger children are a delayed linked to motor development and a heighten sensitivity when it comes to loud noises, powerful lights or strong textures and tastes.
When the children evolve into teenagers, the symptoms slightly modify. Even though the teenager will still feel uncomfortable when social situations are involved, have awkward conversations and find it very difficult to adapt in most groups, he or she has improved motor skills and there is a slightly higher chance of understanding the world. Furthermore, their preference towards honesty and rules can make them become excel citizens or students. Unfortunately, there are some cases in which, due to the lack of integration in a social cycle, the child remains a loner and may develop anxiety and depression.
Diagnosing Asperger’s Syndrome
In order to have enhanced chances of diagnosis this condition, parents whose children experience some of the above mentioned symptoms should take the child to a doctor consult. This implies a series of motor skills, IQ, and socially integration connected tests. However, even though some of the symptoms may be experienced, there is a possibility that the child doesn’t have this condition.
It is however important to look for the signs and if they persists on long-term, the child is more likely to have it.
Treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome
There is no specific treatment for Asperger’s so far. In most situations, the only thing that can be done is informing about it and support the child until she or he reaches full potential. It is a good idea to have a specialized doctor involved because there are better chances for reaching desired effects through specific treatment or medication.
Moreover, a lot of parents that confront with Asperger’s syndrome in their kids usually seek comfort and manage to build up acceptance through counseling, support groups, or a network formed from family, friends, and other people from nearby community.
While there is no particular medication that can help, there are some that enhance particular symptoms that may be experience like depression and anxiety. These include Guanfacine, Aripiprazole, Olanzapine, Rsperidone, and Naltrexone. Dosages should be determined by a doctor in order to avoid potential side-effects.
In addition, there are a series of natural treatment that can be found on the nutritional market which promise to improve symptoms and help kids eliminate anxiety and discomfort in awkward situations. These natural supplements are generally based on ingredients such as Melissa officinialis, Cina, Passiflora, St. John’s Wort, and Chamomila. Before following any type of treatment, the labels of the product should be carefully read and in case any unwanted effect occurs, a disruption of the usage should be immediate.