In 1944, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger observed four children in his practice who had difficulty integrating socially. Although their intelligence appeared normal, the children lacked nonverbal communication skills, failed to demonstrate empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy. Their way of speaking was either disjointed or overly formal, and their all-absorbing interest in a single topic dominated their conversations. Dr. Asperger called the condition “autistic psychopathy” and described it as a personality disorder primarily marked by social isolation. Asperger’s observations, published in German, were not widely known until 1981, when an English doctor named Lorna Wing published a series of case studies of children showing similar symptoms, which she called “Asperger’s” syndrome. Asperger syndrome (AS )is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Other ASDs include: classic autism, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder that is characterized by limited interests or an unusual preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of other activities.
Causes of Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)
Studies suggest a genetic contribution to Asperger Syndrome. Although no specific gene has yet been identified, multiple factors are believed to play a role in the expression of autism, given the phenotypic variability seen in children with AS. A few ASD cases have been linked to exposure to teratogens (agents that cause birth defects) during the first eight weeks from conception. Although this does not exclude the possibility that ASD can be initiated or affected later, it is strong evidence that it arises very early in development.
Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)
Parents may first notice the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome when their child starts preschool and begins to interact with other children. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome may:-
- May lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others’ body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.
- Dislike any changes in routines.
- Appear to lack empathy.
- Unable to distinguish slight differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech.
- Adopt a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age.
- Avoid eye contact or stare at others and have unusual facial expressions or postures.
- Remain lost in thought with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about. Many children with Asperger’s Syndrome are overly interested in parts of a whole or in unusual activities, such as designing houses, drawing highly detailed scenes, or studying astronomy.
- Chat a lot about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common.
- May be late learner. Your child may be late in learning to use a fork or spoon, ride a bike, or catch a ball. He or she may have an awkward walk. Handwriting is often poor.
- May be extra sensitivity and become over stimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures.
Most symptoms persist through the Teen Years. And although teens with Asperger’s syndrome can begin to learn those social skills they lack, communication often remains difficult. Asperger’s syndrome is a lifelong condition, although it tends to stabilize over time, and improvements are often seen. Adults usually have a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. They are able to learn social skills, including how to read others’ social cues. Many people with Asperger’s syndrome marry and have children.
Treatment of Asperger,s Syndrome (AS)
The ideal treatment for AS arecoordination of the therapies that address core symptoms of the disorder, including poor communication skills and obsessive or repetitive routines. While most professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better, there is no single best treatment package. AS treatment resembles that of other high-functioning ASDs, except that it takes into account the linguistic capabilities, verbal strengths, and nonverbal vulnerabilities of individuals with AS. A typical program generally includes: The training of social skills for more effective interpersonal interactions:-
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to improve stress management relating to anxiety or explosive emotions and to cut back on obsessive interests and repetitive routines,
- Medication, for coexisting conditions such as major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder
- Occupational or physical therapy to assist with poor sensory integration and motor coordination
- Social communication intervention, which is specialized speech therapy to help with the pragmatics of the give and take of normal conversation.
- The training and support of parents, particularly in behavioral techniques to use in the home.