Asperger's syndrome (AS) is a type of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. Know about the symptoms, causes, and ways to diagnose this condition.
Asperger's syndrome (AS) belongs to the group of neurodevelopmental disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). ASDs include autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and other pervasive developmental disorders. Asperger's Syndrome can be considered as a mild form of autistic spectrum disorder and people with this condition generally have higher functioning. People with AS can have difficulties with social interaction, engage in repetitive behavior, can be adamant and tend to be obsessed with rules. People with AS can be socially awkward but they generally have average or above-average IQ, they can do well academically and professionally.
Asperger's Syndrome tends to persist throughout life. It cannot be cured but difficulties related to the condition can be managed with appropriate support. In order to improve the child's social interaction and communication, early detection and intervention are necessary.
AS causes different symptoms in every patient. But it most commonly results in the following symptoms:
Social communication and interaction difficulties
Preference for routine like doing the same thing every day, repetitive behavior like switching the lights on and off a certain number of times, and knocking on a door a certain way.
Difficulty to interpret emotional issues if they are not expressed explicitly.
Hypersensitivity to sounds, lights, etc.
Difficulty in viewing a situation from another person’s perspective.
Getting into a conflict with others over relatively minor issues.
Emotional outbursts relate to difficulties in coping with emotional situations.
Repetitive way of talking, formal use of language, etc.
Difficulty in maintaining appropriate eye contact while talking.
Difficulty in understanding gestures and body language.
Difficulties with fine motor skills like tying shoelaces, etc.
Clumsy with uncoordinated movements.
More susceptible to anxiety and depression.
Some people with AS can have an excellent vocabulary, extensive knowledge about things and topics that interest them. Some have the ability to focus on tiny details and patterns which are not readily apparent to others. These strengths can make them excellent problem solvers and do well in their chosen fields.
The exact cause of AS is still not known. Hereditary factors and environmental factors like toxins, chemicals, and viruses have also been found to increase the risk of this disease. It is known to run in families. Boys are more susceptible than girls.
There is no specific investigation like a blood test or brain scan to diagnose AS. Diagnosis is made by a detailed interview with the person, developmental history from parents ( in younger patients) and clinical observation. Specific questionnaires and observation tools aid in confirming the diagnosis.
ASDs are increasingly diagnosed during childhood. Pediatrician or Child Psychiatrist usually are involved. The doctor will take a complete history which will include a child’s behavior when the symptoms started, what was the first symptom noticed, developmental history including social and language milestones.
If you feel that you or your child show features of AS, it is best you consult a psychiatrist for appropriate assessment.
After assessing how you interact socially and other symptoms, your doctor will understand how these symptoms are affecting your day to day life. Doctor will also rule out any underlying health condition that can cause similar symptoms. AS can commonly be mistaken for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or hyperactivity, so a proper diagnosis is crucial.
As this syndrome causes different symptoms in all patients, there is no fixed treatment. The doctor will try various therapies until he or she finds the one that helps the patient. The treatment options include:
Social skills training - This helps the child by teaching them how to interact with others and express themselves more appropriately.
Speech-language therapy - It teaches the child how to talk in a normal tone rather than a flat or robotic manner. It will also teach ways to understand hand gestures and body language.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - This therapy helps control emotional outbursts and repetitive behavior by changing his or her way of thinking.
Parent counseling - It helps parents take care of their child’s special needs, and ways to deal with the challenges that come with having a child with AS.
Applied behavior analysis - This technique discourages harmful and bad behaviors, and encourages positive social skills in your child.
Medicine - Drugs are used only to treat symptoms related to AS, like anxiety and depression. The common medicines used are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antipsychotic drugs, and stimulant medicines.
Your child will be able to manage and overcome both social and communication challenges with the right treatment. Most adults with Asperger’s syndrome are smarter than most and live an almost normal life if proper management. For more information on ways to manage the symptoms, consult a professionally trained and experienced psychiatrist online now.
People with Asperger’s do feel love and can love but in their own way. It might not be the conventional way of loving someone. They tend to choose partners that possess the qualities that they do not, such as people who can handle the social world. They might be focused on their own interests, but they do love.
The signs of Asperger’s in adults include:
- Emotional and behavioral signs - Inability to interpret other’s emotions and feelings, emotional outbursts.
- Communication problems - Robotic or repetitive speech, higher vocabulary skills, lack of facial expressions and eye contact.
Asperger’s syndrome is considered to be a form of autism and belongs to the broader category called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As people with this syndrome might have high intelligence and higher vocabulary skills than other kinds of ASD, it is often referred to as high-functioning ASD.
Yes, it is. As people with this syndrome struggle with social interactions, have emotional outbursts, and have difficulties with nonverbal communication, it is considered a disability.
This syndrome affects a person’s socialization and communication skills. It can result in obsessive interests, social isolation, lack of imagination, and delayed development of motor skills.
It was considered to be two different conditions earlier. But now, they come under the broad classification of autism spectrum disorder, which is a group of neurological and developmental disorders that starts during early childhood.
No, the conditions in the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) never go away on their own, as these disorders result due to differences in how the person’s brain is wired and the way he or she processes various information.
As of now, there is no specific test or diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s syndrome. The diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms during early childhood.
The signs and symptoms of this syndrome vary depending on the person. Some might show severe issues, while others just exhibit mild signs.
The brains of people with Asperger’s syndrome are wired differently than others.
Last reviewed at:
01 Oct 2019 - 3 min read
Query: Hi doctor, Is diagnosis important? I have been diagnosed by many therapists and each one has had a different diagnosis. One doctor says it might be BPD and other says it might be a bipolar disorder or Asperger syndrome or cyclothymia. Why is it so? I am starting to feel like I am wasting my time tr... Read Full »
Query: Hello doctor, I am a 20 year old male. I have had speech difficulties since I was a kid. Now, it has progressed, and it is hard to say what I am thinking. I tend to have slow speech and thinking. Of late, it has been getting worse. I have to carefully think of what to say when I talk. I feel like ... Read Full »
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