Asperger Syndrome: Symptoms And Treatment

Due to its similarities with Autism, there is always a reasonable probability that a child suffering from Asperger Syndrome may be labeled as Autistic and even be treated as such. Although there are a lot of similarities between Autism and AS, yet there are sigefects and preoccupation with trivia. It is not autism, and for its treatment, it is crucial that it is diagnosed in time and appropriate training is accorded. We ought to be aware of it first.
Asperger Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment
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Asperger syndrome is a developmental disease that affects behavior pattern. The affected person often has marked inefficiencies in social interaction, in addition to cognitive defects and preoccupation with trivia. It is not autism, and for its treatment, it is crucial that it is diagnosed in time and appropriate training is accorded. We ought to be aware of it first.


A Behavioral Disorder

ASPERGER SYNDROME or AS is a developmental behavior disorder marked by inadequacies in social interaction, difficulties in understanding non verbal communication, repetitive behavior, tendency for preoccupation with a narrow subject and somewhat atypical speech. Sometimes it is also associated with

other neuro-psychological symptoms.

It is somewhat related to Autism but unlike it, in Asperger Syndrome, the speech is not delayed and intelligence is not significantly impaired. Both AS and Autism belong to a group of somewhat related disorders called 'Autism Spectrum Disorders' or ASD, marked by developmental defects in social behavior, difficulties in communication and restricted interests.

First reported by Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger in 1944, who called his child patients 'little professors' because of his belief that some of them would be capable of exceptional achievements, the identity of this condition was accepted by the medical world in 1980s and 1990s, though latest opinions about the condition is to treat it as a deviant personality and behavior instead of treating it as a disease that needs to be cured.

Features of Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome can be recognized as early as 30 months, though sometimes it is wrongly diagnosed as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is marked by three characteristic features. First and the most characteristic feature is the inability to indulge in effective social interaction with peers. Children afflicted with AS find it very difficult to develop friends and often suffer from isolation and depression. One reason for this is their inability to express and communicate by non-verbal means. They are also unable to empathize with others or to understand their emotions or their feelings towards themselves. Their ability to enjoy humor may also be restricted.

The second characteristics of those with AS is their almost obsessive preoccupation with very narrow interests, wherein they would go into great depth and

remember a lot of minor details, sometimes without having a great understanding of the whole. Their routines can be very inflexible. They often have very stereotype and repetitive motor behaviors like hand movements or twists that appear more voluntary than tics. The third characteristic feature of this syndrome is its speech which is typically pedantic, formal and consisting of literal interpretations. There may be abrupt transitions, and understanding of nuances is poor. Sometimes strange metaphors and expressions known only to speaker are used that make the speech unusual. The tone is monotonous and often stuffed with boring details with little appreciation of response of the listener. At times, it may sound somewhat incoherent.

Those with AS often demonstrate other symptoms too, like motor clumsiness, abnormal bouncy gait, and poor motor coordination reflected in poor handwriting. Some with this condition are insensitive or hypersensitive to sensations like touch, sound, light and pain. Many of them have difficulty in falling sleep, and may suffer from frequent nocturnal awakenings.

Causes of Asperger Syndrome

It is believed to result from abnormal development of brain systems. The exact causes are still not understood, but current evidence points to a genetic link with a role of environmental factors like teratogens and ante-natal damages to fetal brain development.

Treatment of Asperger Syndrome

The treatment lies in teaching and training for age-appropriate social, communication and occupational skills. Stress management and cognitive behavior therapy can be useful in managing anxiety and obsessive preoccupations. Occupation related physical training to improve skills, and speech therapy to improve speech can be very useful depending upon degree of abnormality. There is no pharmacological treatment for core symptoms of AS, but associated conditions like depression and anxiety may be improved with medicines. Early childhood diagnosis and treatment improve overall prognosis.

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