Asperger syndrome (AS) is one of a group of neurological disorders known as Autism Spectrum disorders. Asperger syndrome however is at the mild end of this spectrum and people with this disorder have problem in the following areas:
- Engaging in repetitive behaviour
- Social interaction
- Rigidity in thinking
People with Asperger syndrome are classified as functioning very highly and in fact have a normal or above normal intelligence level. They also hold good jobs and are educated in mainstream educational institutions.
Symptoms for Asperger syndrome differ from person to person. It also depends on a person's age. In children, for example, there develops an obsessive focus on one idea or item or topic of interest. This can be the case even in adults and more often than not, it results in one-sided conversations and social awkwardness.
A person with Asperger syndrome cannot acknowledge another person’s attempt to change a topic of conversation. They also suffer in situations where there needs to be social interaction. They often have trouble making eye contact with others and also find it hard to recognize another person's feelings.
Children with Asperger may have difficulty with motor skills such as riding, running or walking.
There are a number of risk factors that might result in one developing Asperger syndrome such as:
- Genetics: If there is a family history of mental disorders, then there is a chance one might develop Asperger syndrome
- Gender: Males are at a higher risk of developing Asperger syndrome
- Neurological Causes and Psychological: There seems to be some differences in the way the amygdala and limbic systems are connected for people with Asperger’s which makes them behave differently to situations than others
- Environmental Causes such as infections during pregnancy, air pollution, pesticide exposure, older age of parents, etc
If you see any of the symptoms mentioned in your child, seek medical attention. Your doctor is most likely to assess your child in the following areas:
- Social interaction
- Language development
- Motor coordination and motor skills
- Facial expressions when talking
- Attitudes toward change
- Interest in interacting with others
Treatment for Asperger syndrome include medication as well as non-medication treatments.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to reduce repetitive behaviours
- Aripiprazole to reduce irritability
- Guanfacine, Olanzapine, and Naltrexone to reduce hyperactivity
- Risperidone to reduce agitation and insomnia
- Language and speech therapy
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Physical therapy
- Social skills training
- Occupational therapy