Aspberger Syndrome, named after the Austrian doctor, bears some resemblance to autism with some significant differences. Children with the disorder tend to function at a higher level than children with autism, and they demonstrate normal to high intelligence. Although Aspberger children may develop problems communicating later, their language is near-normal. Symptoms of Aspberger Syndrome can range from mild to severe and is part of the autism spectrum.
What is Aspberger Syndrome
In 1944 Dr. Hans Aspberger described the unique behavioral symptoms of a condition that closely resembled autism.
Characteristics of Aspberger's Syndrome
Mild to Severe Symptoms
Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are a group of conditions that constitute the development of many basic skills in a child. The following list of behaviors can help to either eliminate your concerns for your child or serve as a starting point for a professional diagnoses:
- Problems with social skills
- Repetitive behaviors
- Strange preoccupations or rituals
- Difficulty communicating
- Limited range of interests
- Coordination problems
- Skilled or talented in an area
Social difficulties lie in making friends due to their awkwardness and inability to initiate and carry on a conversation. Their behavior may include hand wringing, finger twisting and other odd, repetitive movements. Strange rituals such as the order in which they prepare for bed may occur with insistence on performing them with no deviation.
Communication problems may include a lack of eye contact or lack of inflection in tone when speaking to someone. Facial expressions and gestures might be absent when communicating with others. Problems understanding language in context and a literal perception of all language can occur.
The child with Aspberger Syndrome may develop obsessive interests in just a few areas such as baseball scores, earthquakes or bicycle repair. Many talented Aspberger's children excel in a specific area like math, computers or music. They may be an encyclopedia of statistics and dates.
Children with Aspberger Syndrome may display awkwardness or clumsiness. Their gait may be stilted or bouncy, and they may be unaware of personal space, by standing too close or too far away when engaging in a conversation with other people.
Diagnosis of Aspberger's Syndrome
Although there is a lack of standardized tests to diagnose Aspberger's Syndrome, there are multiple screening devices available. Your child's pediatrician will start with a developmental screening. Next, a team of professionals consisting of a psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist and speech therapist performs their assessments to rule in or out Aspberger's Syndrome.
Individualized for Your Child
There is no cure for Aspberger's Syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, but there are treatments and therapies. It begins with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) at your child's school. The IEP sets up guidelines that target the child's interests, plans a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps in a highly structured environment and reinforces desired behavior. The IEP typically includes:
- Social skills training
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Medication for co-existing conditions such as depression or anxiety
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Parent training and support
Your child may require some or all of these interventions to help her lead as normal a life as possible.
The Aspberger's Child's Future
With early intervention, Aspberger's children can learn to overcome their disabilities although social interactions and personal relationships may remain challenging. Many of these children grow into successful adults who work in the mainstream, get married and raise a family. With early intervention, continued moral support and encouragement, Aspberger's individuals can lead happy, healthy and productive lives.
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