Asperger syndrome was first observed in the 1940s by a renowned Viennese pediatrician called Hans Asperger.
He noticed similar social difficulties while working with four young patients but was pleased with the level of intelligence they displayed. He also discovered that they lacked basic skills like understanding nonverbal communication. Their speech was also not organized and they had a high tendency of being clumsy too.
Dr. Hans’s findings were published in Germany but much wasn’t said about it until later in the year 1981. Another English physician in this same year published a number of cases of children that exhibited the same symptoms that Dr. Aspergers observed.
Based on Wing’s published work on Asperger, the disorder became very popular and even so, some professionals still considered it to be a milder case of autism and described it with the term “High-Functioning Autism(HFA)”. In 1994, Asperger syndrome was added to the DSM-4, the diagnostic book of the American Psychiatric Association.
Asperger Syndrome and The World Today
Asperger syndrome is becoming more popular by the day. In fact, people have started to see the need for diagnosis, so that early intervention and be applied.
About 1-4% of the entire world population has ASD (autism spectrum disorder). One unique thing about this condition is that individuals, especially children, can live with this condition for long without their parents knowing. Without a diagnosis, it could be difficult to tell if someone has it or not.
Asperger syndrome was previously separated from Autism. But in the DSM-5 diagnostic manual published in 2013, it was considered to be an autism spectrum disorder.
First Encounter With An Individual Who Has Asperger Syndrome
When you meet someone with this condition for the first time, it may be difficult for you to interact with the person. His speech may not sound organized to you, and he may not be interested in what you are interested in.
Delay in motor development contributes in making him/her become clumsy and have uncoordinated motor movement. But s/he might not have delays in cognitive or language development. An Aspie might also astonish you with his precocious vocabulary, especially in a particular field of interest.
In fact, s/he might also be acting smart. One thing you may notice after a while is his poor social development. He might be talking about a single topic repeated or get engaged in a particular activity for hours.
What Causes Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger syndrome has been in existence for long now. And with millions of dollars already spent, the main cause of the condition is still unknown. Aspies are born with the condition. It is not like they grew up and contracted it at some point in their lives. And in 68 births, the condition occurs in 1 person.
However, this clearly shows that millions of people are living with the condition already. They live with it for many years without knowing unless with a proper diagnosis.
On the other hand, research conducted so far, suggests that some factors could be responsible for this condition. It is believed that genetic and environmental factors are responsible for the developmental differences experienced by each individual. So, Asperger syndrome is not the individual’s fault and is not related to upbringing or the child’s social circumstances.
Asperger Syndrome Cure
Families and friends of people with this condition will be desperate to have a cure for this destabilizing condition, but unfortunately, Asperger syndrome does not have a cure yet.
Research is still going on. There are also several approaches and strategies that can benefit people suffering from this condition. These strategies involve learning and support that can help them to lead normal and independent lives like everyone else.
Tips On Asperger’s symptom
Parents may notice possible symptoms of this condition in their children only if they pay close attention. But sometimes, they ignore it and think it’s the child’s normal behavior.
Some of the behaviors displayed by Aspies are abnormal, so when you pay close attention, you may notice that something isn’t right. These symptoms begin early in life and that’s the best time to help the child to a large extent.
Let’s start with eye contact. As a parent, if your child has Aspergers, you will notice that he or she can’t make eye contact. At this point, it is possible to think they are shy after all adults act the same way most times. However, you can decipher if it’s about being shy or not when you pay close attention.
Again, you will notice that your child behaves in an awkward manner mostly in social situations. S/He may not know the right words to use when talking with other people. And s/he also cannot respond appropriately when someone is talking to him/her.
S/He may not understand body languages that people or the meaning of signs like nodding your head. S/He can’t also read expressions on people’s faces or respond accordingly.
Considering how your child behaves emotionally is another way to know if s/he has the condition or not. Even when s/he is happy, you hardly can see him/her smile. Again, no matter how funny a joke is, s/he may not even acknowledge or laugh. In fact, most parents usually think that their child is unhappy over something else when s/he doesn’t smile.
They say change is constant, but for people with Aspergers, it is not. If your child has the condition, he may reject changes. He may not want to change meals and prefers to eat the same thing every single day for breakfast.
How Asperger Syndrome Affects Children, Adults, and Relatives
Families and people with Aspergers pass through a lot of challenges daily. However, with early intervention, Aspies can develop useful traits. Parents should pay close attention to their children and watch out for strange behaviors.
Without proper understanding, it would be difficult for relatives and people suffering from this condition to cope. Aspies and their families run a great risk of being isolated, which can cause mental issues.
Asperger syndrome is a hidden disability. You may not even know that it is present unless through diagnosis. Again, it doesn’t just affect children and stop at a certain age. Children grow up and they still have the condition even as adults.
Education and Individuals With Asperger Syndrome
All parents would like their children to have the best education. Of course, they want them to attend the best school of choice and perform well academically.
Parents feel heartbroken when their children who are Aspies are being suspended from school. They feel heartbroken not seeing their children act like other kids in the same neighborhood.
Some Aspies get suspended more than 3 times in school. The worst may occur when a teacher doesn’t know the status of the child and think otherwise about his behavior.
Employment and Individuals With Asperger
Those with Aspergers also want to be independent like everyone else. Social skills are very important in the workplace, and there are also jobs that require emplyees with good social skills.
Almost 80% of grown-up Aspies find it hard to get a full-time job. The reason is not because they cannot do the job but because they have the challenge of being socially acceptable while working on the task.
However, this does not mean that these individuals are not employable. Because they are unique, they need to find jobs that will make use of their strengths.
Mental Health Challenges For Individuals With Asperger Syndrome
Most individuals with Aspergers experience severe mental health problems. This is because they don’t get the right support they need from families and people around them.
Some Aspies who are already working still need support. But most of them, don’t get the right support they need.
Things You Should Know About Diagnosis For Asperger Syndrome
It is difficult to tell if someone is suffering from Aspergers if you don’t take note of their characteristics. Another way you can notice that an individual has this condition is when they start encountering problems in school or workplace.
Related: Aspergers Test
People may complain to you about their behavior or actions that may sound strange to you. On the other hand, most people don’t even know they have this condition until they seek help for other issues like depression and anxiety. After the diagnosis, that’s when they find out what the actual problem.
Asperger syndrome is mostly confused with other conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The reason is because people with Aspergers display exceptional language development but they use their language skills during conversations inappropriately.
The thing is people with Aspergers are usually diagnosed with ADHD because of the two conditions are similar. But after sometime, it becomes clear that the problem they are having is not about focus but how to socialize.
Persons with Asperger syndrome lack the will power to view things from other people’s perspective. They might start a conversation with someone, only to dwell on issues relating to a particular topic of interest.
At this point, they may not be comfortable discussing anything else and talk endlessly and may prevent you from saying anything. They cannot understand facial expressions, or tell if the person they are talking to isn’t listening to them anymore.
Individuals with Aspergers don’t understand and cannot respond to nonverbal cues like a smile, or frown. They also do not understand the brain behind someone’s action or words. In fact, they find it hard to communicate and interact with people because of this.
Another challenge they have is that they cannot tell what is wrong or right in any situation. They can act inappropriately in any situation or environment they find themselves without thinking it through.
For instance, they may walk into a classroom and speak with a loud voice. They may also walk into a noisy room, and speak with a low voice. Some individuals with Aspergers find it hard to control their emotions. They can laugh over something that doesn’t make sense or start crying without being hurt.
Do All individuals With Aspergers Portray These Behaviors?
You will not find all of these behaviors in all Asperger individuals. The symptoms you find here may vary from one individual to another.
Asperger syndrome does not only come with challenges. It also comes with unique gifts. One of the gifts you will notice is that these individuals have a tremendous ability to focus on something. In fact, this is a common trait in Aspies.
How Can Individuals With Asperger Syndrome Be Assisted?
Currently, there is no cure for Asperger syndrome but cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful. Adults can learn how to control their emotions, repetitive behaviors, and obsessions. They can also learn social skills which include how to interact with other people in the right way.
Cognitive therapy is also helpful to children. Through educational and social programs, children with this condition can learn social and adaptive skills. The lessons are practical and taught step by step with activities structured to help the children learn properly.
Instructors usually repeat important instructions or ideas to help to build solid adaptive behaviors in children. And because these kids need to be taught consistently even outside the classroom, parents are occasionally involved in some of the programs so that they can continue the lessons at home.
In summary, the treatment for Asperger syndrome includes:
- Training For Social Skills
Under this condition, children are placed in groups and taught how to interact with other people in the right way. It may also involve a one-on-one session with the instructor. However, the best way for children to learn fast is by modeling after a typical behavior.
- Special Language Therapy
Kids with Asperger syndrome do not have good communication skills, but they can learn it with special language therapy. Since most Aspies commonly use flat tones to communicate, they will learn how to use a normal up-and-down pattern in the special language classes.
In addition, they are also taught social cues such as eye contact and hand gestures. They will get lessons on how to maintain conservation with people.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy is also very useful. It can help kids to change the way they think. With this, they can better control emotions including their repetitive behaviors easily.
Aspies & Group Programs
Social skills training can be easily executed with group programs. Learning in a group is beneficial to Aspies and will help them to develop the social skills they need to interact.
Another aspect of the training that group programs are important is speech and language therapy. This training will help them to develop useful conversation skills too. Aspies lack social skills and learning in groups will help them overcome most of the challenges they face. They are motivated to learn when they see other children trying their best.
Medications For Individuals With Aspergers
Behavioral problems are not the only challenges Aspies face. They also experience other associated problems which can be taken care of with medications.
However, they are helped by drugs like antipsychotics, stimulants, as well as Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs treat problems associated with Asperger syndromes such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Why Early Intervention Is Important
Early intervention according to experts is your child’s best hope now and for the future. You do not need to take a wait-and-see approach until the child enters school at the age of four or five. These are the benefits of taking an early intervention program.
- It will equip your child with the right instruction that can assist him or her to learn new skills and improve behaviors.
- Parents will also have access to information that will help them to properly understand their child’s unique behavior and needs.
- Parents will also have access to resources, training, and support that will help them to effectively work and play with their child.
- Early intervention will improve your child’s outcome.
You should as a matter of urgency, implement an intervention program for your child after he or she has received a diagnosis. You already know by now that teaching children with this condition, is not an easy task because they have their own unique strengths and need, and require intervention services and teaching strategies that are sensitive to these needs.