Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s capability to communicate and socialize effectively with other people. Asperger’s is one of several conditions known collectively as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). According to the American Asperger’s Association, as many as three out of every 10,000 people in the United States suffer from Asperger’s. If you suspect that your child has Asperger’s, familiarize yourself with the following symptoms and treatment options that you may need to consider.
Development. Compared to other forms of ASD, children with Asperger’s syndrome tend not to have any significant delay or difficulty in cognitive development. Indeed, many children with the condition demonstrate outstanding knowledge and grasp of a specific subject matter or knowledge area. Children with Asperger’s usually start to talk from the age of 2 as normal and often have above-normal intelligence.
Symptoms. According to Autism Speaks, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome exhibit many different symptoms. Most commonly, they show limited capability for social interactions and are very awkward in such situations. Their speech may be repetitive or robotic, and they may have difficulty with non-verbal communication methods, such as facial expressions and body language. They have a tendency to discuss themselves before others and often struggle to make eye contact. They also tend to be obsessed with very specific or unusual topics.
Diagnosis. It isn’t always easy to diagnose somebody that has Asperger’s syndrome, as the identifying behaviors can vary wildly from one person to another. In order to diagnose the condition, a doctor will normally suggest a comprehensive assessment, which will look for common behaviors. For example, children and adults with Asperger’s very often miss the intention or real meaning behind what people say or do, so they will often miss the point of a joke or of sarcasm. They won’t respond to simple non-verbal actions such as a smile or frown. They may also behave inappropriately in a particular environment or may cry or laugh very easily at otherwise unexpected moments. Commonly, children with Asperger’s syndrome are also very gifted in a particular skill or trait, where they will focus all their attention.
Treatment. Asperger’s syndrome cannot be cured. It is worth remembering that many children with Asperger’s grow into perfectly happy, well-balanced adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, a number of early interventions are available that can assist in the development of a child with Asperger’s. Options can include cognitive behavioral therapy and communication skills training. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to treat associated symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.