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Definition

What is Asperger syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013.

Asperger syndrome was generally considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum. Affected children and adults have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors. Motor development may be delayed, leading to clumsiness or uncoordinated motor movements. Compared with those affected by other forms of ASD, however, those with Asperger syndrome do not have significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development. Some even demonstrate precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest.

How common is Asperger syndrome?

Autism, including Asperger syndrome, is much more common than most people think. There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds, although it appears to affect more men than women. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Asperger syndrome?

The following behaviors are often associated with Asperger syndrome. However, they are seldom all present in any one individual and vary widely in degree:

  • limited or inappropriate social interactions
  • “robotic” or repetitive speech
  • challenges with nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expression, etc.) coupled with average to above average verbal skills
  • tendency to discuss self rather than others
  • inability to understand social/emotional issues or nonliteral phrases
  • lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation
  • obsession with specific, often unusual, topics
  • one-sided conversations
  • awkward movements and/or mannerisms

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes Asperger syndrome?

Changes in the brain are responsible for many of the symptoms of AS. However, doctors have not been able to determine precisely what causes these changes.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Asperger syndrome?

  • Gender: Boys are more likely to develop AS than girls
  • Genetic factors: Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families
  • Toxins exposure: Expose to environmental toxins such as chemicals or viruses, have been identified as potential contributors to the development of the disorder.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Asperger syndrome diagnosed?

There is no single test that can tell you whether your child has AS. In many cases, parents report developmental or behavioral delays or difficulties. If your child is in school, their teacher may note developmental problems. These issues should be reported to your doctor.

They can assess your child in key areas, such as:

  • language development
  • social interaction
  • facial expressions when talking
  • interest in interacting with others
  • attitudes toward change
  • motor coordination and motor skills

Because there are no specific tests for diagnosing AS, many patients have been misdiagnosed with other health problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If this happens, your child may need to be evaluated again to determine the correct diagnosis.

How is Asperger syndrome treated?

Every child is different, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Your doctor might need to try a few therapies to find one that works.

Treatments can include:

  • Social skills training. In groups or one-on-one sessions, therapists teach your child how to interact with others and express themselves in more appropriate ways. Social skills are often best learned by modeling after typical behavior.
  • Speech-language therapy. This helps improve your kid’s communication skills. For example, he’ll learn how to use a normal up-and-down pattern when he speaks rather than a flat tone. He’ll also get lessons on how to keep up a two-way conversation and understand social cues like hand gestures and eye contact.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps your child change his way of thinking, so he can better control his emotions and repetitive behaviors. He’ll be able to get a handle on things like outbursts, meltdowns, and obsessions.
  • Parent education and training. You’ll learn many of the same techniques your child is taught so you can work on social skills with him at home. Some families also see a counselor to help them deal with the challenges of living with someone with Asperger’s.
  • Applied behavior analysis. It’s a technique that encourages positive social and communication skills in your child — and discourages behavior you’d rather not see. The therapist will use praise or other “positive reinforcement” to get results.
  • There aren’t any drugs approved by the FDA that specifically treat Asperger’s or autism spectrum disorders. Some medications, though, can help with related symptoms like depression and anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe some of these:
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • Antipsychotic drugs
    • Stimulant medicines

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Asperger syndrome?

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for best solution.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: October 16, 2017 | Last Modified: October 16, 2017

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