- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Asperger’s syndrome treatment
- How Is Asperger’s Different From Autism?
- Asperger’s: Does It Even Exist Anymore?
- How Asperger’s and Autism Are Similar
- The Bottom Line: Both Disorders Require Intervention
- Asperger’s Syndrome: What Are the Signs and Symptoms of the Disorder?
- Common Signs and Symptoms of Asperger’s
- Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
- Asperger’s disorder: common characteristics
- Signs of Asperger’s disorder: checklist
- What is Asperger’s?
- How is Asperger’s diagnosed?
- How many children have Asperger’s?
- What are the signs and symptoms of autism, including Asperger’s?
- What causes milder autism, like Asperger’s?
- How is autism treated?
- Learn more about autism
- Get support for autism
- Early Signs Of Asperger’s: When To Seek Help
- When You Should Seek Help
- Asperger’s Statistics
- Autism Awareness
- Signs of Asperger’s in Children
- Signs of Asperger’s in Teens and Adults
- Benefits of Treatment
- Signs and Symptoms of Asperger Syndrome (ASD)
- MEET CASEY: “He used to not be connected in what we were doing. He’d want to do it his way. He’d want to do it very silly or just not be involved with what we’re doing at all. Now, he’s right with me.” – Sara W., Brain Balance Parent*
- What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
- What are the common features of Asperger’s Syndrome?
- Management strategies that support the child with Asperger’s Syndrome (at preschool,school or home)
- Occupational Therapy approaches and activities that can support the child with Aspergers Syndrome and/or their carers include:
- Speech Pathology approaches and activities that can support the child with Asperger’s Syndrome and/or their carers include:
- Why should I seek therapy if I notice traits of Asperger’s Syndrome in my child?
- If left untreated, the child with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulties with:
- What does the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome really mean for the child?
- Related posts:
Asperger’s syndrome treatment
Early and regular treatment can help your child cope with the symptoms related to Asperger’s syndrome. It can prepare him or her for adult life. Treatment usually includes a mix of speech, physical, occupational, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The therapy team will decide how often it needs to work with your child. Therapy sessions might look like this:
- Social skills and speech therapy: Your child may speak well. However, he or she may need to learn important conversation skills. Those skills include learning to take turns while talking, making eye contact with the person he or she is speaking to, showing interest in what the person says, and learning to talk about a variety of topics, not obsessing over one topic. The therapist also might teach appropriate playtime skills, such as taking turns, following rules, and learning to cope with one’s feelings around others.
- Physical therapy: Some people diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome may appear clumsy. A physical therapist works to develop a person’s core body strength. This will help with running, jumping, pedaling a bike, walking up and down stairs, and other physical movement activities.
- Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist helps people with Asperger’s syndrome with their fine motor skills (anything requiring the use of their hands). They also work to help your child cope with sensory issues. A person diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome may be sensitive to certain sensory experiences. This might include noise, touch, smell, or visual stimuli. It might include certain materials, such as modeling clay, chalk, sand, and water. It could include sensory issues related to eating different types of food textures and types. Your child’s therapist also will work on hand-eye coordination and teach your child to feed him or herself appropriately. Before your child starts school, an occupational therapist will develop your child’s pre-writing hand strength. Once your child enters school, the therapist will help him or her develop handwriting skills.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) teaches people with Asperger’s syndrome how to act socially and cope with their emotions. It teaches important skills such as controlling impulses, fears, anxiety, obsessions, interrupting, and tantrums. It’s different for every person, based on his or her needs.
- Medicine: There is no medicine to treat Asperger’s syndrome. Most medicines treat the anxiety, depression, or inability to focus often related to Asperger’s syndrome. Commonly prescribed medicines for anxiety and depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antipsychotic medicine, and stimulant medicines.
Don’t ignore your child’s early social and communication delays. Asperger’s syndrome behaviors will not improve on their own without therapy. As your child progresses through school, therapy may change to reflect your child’s needs at the time. More importantly, ask your therapists how to apply the therapy at home. Children do best when therapy is the same at school and home.
Therapy is not a one-time treatment. Repetitive therapy helps your child develop a desired behavior. Children should not be punished for undesired behavior. Instead, therapists use incentives and rewards (giving your child extra free time, a healthy snack, or something that is important to them) to encourage appropriate behavior.
How Is Asperger’s Different From Autism?
Asperger’s and autism are lumped together in the DSM-5, but they differ in important ways. iStock.com
When you think of autism, you might picture a child who is nonverbal and has a lower IQ. But this isn’t necessarily the case for kids with Asperger’s syndrome.
There’s no specific Asperger’s test to tell the difference between Asperger’s and autism, but many experts agree that the two disorders each prompt distinct behaviors.
From the way they communicate to the way they learn, people with Asperger’s and autism face unique challenges but also have exceptional gifts.
Asperger’s: Does It Even Exist Anymore?
You should know that Asperger’s isn’t officially recognized as its “own” syndrome anymore.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer considers Asperger’s syndrome a separate disorder. Since 2013, doctors have been instructed to diagnose Asperger’s and autism both as “autism spectrum disorders.” (1)
Despite this newer classification, many experts believe that children and adults with Asperger’s have clear-cut symptoms that set them apart from those with autism. Indeed, the “lumping” of autism spectrum disorders has caused quite a bit of debate in the medical community.
Difference No. 1: There’s Rarely a Language Delay
One big difference between autism and Asperger’s is that kids with autism tend to start talking later. Those with Asperger’s usually don’t experience a language delay. (1)
While children with autism often seem aloof, those with Asperger’s usually want to interact with others.
Though they welcome conversation, kids with Asperger’s do find it difficult to communicate and may come off as socially awkward.
Difficulty maintaining eye contact and reading facial expressions, and speaking without emotion are signature traits of Asperger’s. Children and adults with Asperger’s also find it difficult to recognize and express their own feelings. (2,1)
Difference No. 2: IQ May Be Higher Than Normal
While kids with autism typically have a below average IQ, those with Asperger’s may have higher-than-normal intelligence.
Some children with Asperger’s have a very advanced vocabulary and may become experts in memorizing facts about a specific subject. For instance, they may remember and recite specific sports statistics or facts about dinosaurs.
Some kids with Asperger’s are described as “gifted” and having intellectual talents. They may perform exceptionally well academically, but this isn’t always the case, as many also have behavioral problems that can hold them back. (3,4)
Difference No. 3: Time of Diagnosis
The average age of diagnosis for a child with autism is around age 4. (5)
Because kids with Asperger’s typically don’t exhibit language delays or have lower IQs, they’re often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed until much later, sometimes in the teen or adult years.
Many parents may not realize that their son or daughter has Asperger’s until he or she starts interacting with peers or participating in social activities.
Asperger’s is often misdiagnosed as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although these conditions are sometimes both present, Asperger’s is different from ADHD in that it’s a problem with socializing, rather than a problem with focusing attention. (2,3)
Difference No. 4: Their Brains Are Wired and Shaped Differently
Some research has suggested that children with Asperger’s syndrome have different brain patterns than those with autism.
In one study, scientists used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the amount of signaling that occurs between brain areas of children with Asperger’s and those with autism.
Kids with Asperger’s syndrome displayed different patterns of brain activity, which suggests differences in the way their brains are connected. Specifically, children with Asperger’s may have stronger connections in the left hemisphere of the brain compared with autistic children. (6)
Other researchers have found that a region of the brain that controls language has more folds in children with autism than in kids with Asperger’s. (7)
While this research offers intriguing clues about how the brains of people with autism and Asperger’s may be different, more studies need to be done. Investigators continue to explore the brains of children to reveal more information.
Difference No. 5: Less Severe Symptoms in Asperger’s
Some experts describe children and adults with Asperger’s as having “high-functioning autism.” While this exact terminology is often debated, it’s true that those with Asperger’s generally experience less severe symptoms than those with autism. (1)
Because of this, people with Asperger’s are often able to live independently and may be able to attend mainstream schools where they can excel academically. Conversely, many kids with autism will need specialized education and support, although this isn’t always the case. (8)
Related: A ‘Working Guy’ With Autism
How Asperger’s and Autism Are Similar
While there are some differences between Asperger’s and autism, the disorders share a lot of the same symptoms. Children with both conditions may have:
- Difficulty maintaining relationships
- Problems expressing feelings or emotions
- Trouble maintaining eye contact
- Sensitivities to certain foods or sounds
- Issues with motor skills
- A desire to follow strict schedules
- An obsession with specific subjects
Both kids with autism and those with Asperger’s may be perceived by others as “awkward” in social situations. Additionally, engaging in hand-flapping (rapidly waving hands in the air) is common in those with both disorders. (2)
The Bottom Line: Both Disorders Require Intervention
Sometimes, there’s not an obvious difference between a child with Asperger’s and one with autism. Signs and symptoms can overlap, and doctors may not make a distinction between the two disorders.
Because the newer diagnostic criteria lumps the conditions together, you may be told that your child has an “autism spectrum disorder,” instead of “autism” or “Asperger’s.”
Also, every child with an autism spectrum disorder is different. He or she may not have the same symptoms as another child.
Your doctor can help you determine specific traits that may further categorize your child. But, for the most part, kids with Asperger’s syndrome and autism face similar challenges and benefit from similar treatment approaches.
The takeaway for parents is to tell your doctor if you notice the signs of Asperger’s or autism. Both disorders benefit from early intervention. The sooner you can spot and treat an autism spectrum disorder, the better your chances for a good outcome.
Asperger’s Syndrome: What Are the Signs and Symptoms of the Disorder?
Common Signs and Symptoms of Asperger’s
There are many signs and symptoms of Asperger’s. Your child might display just a few, several, or all the signature behaviors.
One telltale sign of Asperger’s syndrome is having difficulty in social situations.
Common symptoms of Asperger’s that may impact social interaction or communication include:
- Problems making or maintaining friendships
- Isolation or minimal interaction in social situations
- Poor eye contact or the tendency to stare at others
- Trouble interpreting gestures
- Inability to recognize humor, irony, and sarcasm
- Inappropriate behaviors or odd mannerisms
- Problems expressing empathy, controlling emotions, or communicating feelings
- Lack of common sense
- Tendency to engage in one-sided conversations (about oneself)
- Fascination with certain topics
- Interpretation of information as literal
- The preference for a strict schedule or routine
An adult or child with Asperger’s may not show all these signs, but in general, tends to struggle in social situations.
Some people might interpret a child’s symptoms as simply rude behavior. For instance, individuals with Asperger’s might talk exclusively about themselves. They may not recognize when someone is uncomfortable, disinterested, or offended. Because they don’t always recognize social cues, they may speak loudly at inappropriate times, such as during a church service.
A person with Asperger’s might talk obsessively about one particular subject. For example, he or she might be able to recite different types of flowers or sports statistics. (2)
Language and Speech Issues
Unlike other autism spectrum disorders, a person with Asperger’s typically doesn’t experience a speech delay. But, they do have specific language behaviors that set them apart.
A child or adult with Asperger’s may exhibit the following:
- A scripted, formal, or “robotic” type of speaking
- Lack of inflection when talking
- Repetitive speech
- Trouble using language in a social context
- Loud or high-pitched speech
Individuals with Asperger’s typically have an advanced vocabulary and good grammar skills but might not be able to use language appropriately in social situations. (3)
To an outsider, the speech pattern of a child with Asperger’s may sound unusual. They may speak in a very monotone or rhythmic manner, with a loud voice.
Typically, kids and adults with Asperger’s have normal to above-average intelligence. While some excel academically, others might struggle.
Some common cognitive traits in people with Asperger’s include:
- A superior rote memory
- Ability to understand technical or factual information
- Trouble absorbing abstract information
- Tendency to focus on details, which may result in missing “the bigger picture”
Children with Asperger’s might experience trouble focusing or have a nonverbal associated learning disability that can affect their reading, writing, or math skills. Still, many don’t have any cognitive issues. (3,4)
Kids with Asperger’s might experience physical symptoms, such as:
- Delay in motor skills
- Awkward movements
- Problems with coordination
- Sensitivity to loud noises, odors, clothing, or food textures
Children with Asperger’s may appear clumsy or awkward. They might have trouble with simple activities, such as catching a ball or swinging on monkey bars at a playground. But some kids don’t have any motor skill problems. (2)
Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed according to a checklist in the ;Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, the DSM.
In the past, the DSM categorised children with ASD as having Asperger’s disorder, autistic disorder or pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
The most recent edition of the Manual, DSM-5, was published in 2013. It changed the criteria used to diagnose children with ASD. DSM-5 combines the three categories into one, which is just called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If your child already has a diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome or PDD-NOS you can keep using these terms if you want to.
The information in this article applies only to people who have been diagnosed using criteria in the fourth edition of the DSM, DSM-IV. If you’re worried your child might have ASD, talk to your child and family health nurse or GP.
Asperger’s disorder: common characteristics
Children diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder don’t have intellectual disability, but they might have mixed abilities. For example, they might have strong verbal skills but poor non-verbal skills. They can also be very clumsy.
These children are often extremely knowledgeable about their favourite topics. They might have advanced language skills for their age and often start discussions.
But they often miss social cues and misinterpret language. For example, they have difficulty understanding jokes, or they might take things too literally.
And they usually don’t like change, preferring routines and rituals.
Signs of Asperger’s disorder: checklist
Children with Asperger’s disorder might:
- start interactions with others but have difficulty keeping a conversation going
- interact with people if they need something or want to talk about something that interests them, but not because they’re genuinely interested in other people
- interact in an awkward and stilted way – for example, they might avoid eye contact while speaking or interpret things literally
- interact more easily with adults than with children
- not show emotion or empathy.
Communication and language
Children with Asperger’s disorder might:
- be very verbal – for example, they might label everything in a room
- join words together at the usual developmental stage (around two years)
- communicate with others about their own interests
- use a flat or monotone voice
- answer questions, but not ask questions if the topic doesn’t interest them.
Repetitive or persistent behaviours
Children with Asperger’s disorder might:
- have restricted or obsessive interests that make them seem like ‘walking encyclopaedias’ about particular topics
- prefer routines and rules
- not respond well to change.
What is Asperger’s?
Asperger’s syndrome is the term sometimes used to describe a milder form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Symptoms of autism range from very mild to severe and affect the way the brain works and how a person interacts socially. Unlike children with more severe ASD, children with Asperger’s develop early language skills and intelligence normally.
Also called: Asperger disorder, autism, mild autism, high-functioning autism, autism spectrum disorder, ASD
How is Asperger’s diagnosed?
The way psychiatrists diagnose autism has changed, and doctors and therapists no longer use the term “Asperger’s syndrome.” Instead, all children with autism – including children with less severe autism, like Asperger’s – are now simply diagnosed with ASD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children be screened for autism at their 18-month and 24-month doctor visits.
Parents can also request an assessment if they’re concerned about their child. Find out what to do if you think your child has autism.
Doctors and psychologists use behavioral tests to make a diagnosis. Doctors also ask parents to describe unusual behaviors they observe in their child, such as not smiling or babbling, not making eye contact, or not responding to his name.
Although a person with a previous diagnosis of Asperger’s may continue to refer to it that way with a doctor or therapist, over time the term will disappear from use.
How many children have Asperger’s?
There are no reliable statistics showing the number of people previously diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 68 children has autism spectrum disorder, and it’s four to five times more common in boys than in girls.
What are the signs and symptoms of autism, including Asperger’s?
A child with autism has poor social skills and repetitive interests, activities, or behaviors. Unlike children with more severe autism, a child with mild autism may have average or above-average intelligence and develop early language skills normally.
Symptoms usually become noticeable around age 3 when a child begins to socialize with other children. Possible warning signs of autism include:
- Difficulty using or understanding nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body postures, and gestures
- Difficulty understanding humor, teasing, irony, and figures of speech
- Monotonous pitch, lack of rhythm, or odd inflection in speech
- Failure to develop relationships with other children
- Avoiding eye contact
- Desire to be alone
- Inability to share interests or achievements with others, such as not showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest
- Inability to interact with others or share feelings
- Obsessive interests
- Being upset by minor changes
- Fixation on routines or rituals
- Odd or repetitive motions, such as hand- or finger-flapping or twisting, rocking, or spinning in circles
- Preoccupation with parts of objects
- Unusual reactions to the way things taste, look, smell, or feel
- Overly formal speech, such as not using slang or figures of speech
- Fluent speech limited to a few topics of interest
What causes milder autism, like Asperger’s?
No one knows exactly what causes autism spectrum disorder, including milder forms, like Asperger’s. Experts think ASD is a genetic condition that develops during early pregnancy and has multiple causes. In addition to genes, other factors such as having older parents, being male, and being exposed to environmental toxins may play a role.
Some parents worry that common childhood vaccines, such as the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR), could cause autism. Many large studies over the years have not found any link between autism and vaccines. According to the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the CDC, there’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder.
How is autism treated?
Autism treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Although there’s no cure for autism, the sooner a child begins treatment the better the outcome will be.
A team of people may help the child and family, including the child’s doctor, teacher, psychologist, or speech or occupational therapist.
Although there’s no drug to treat autism, sometimes children with ASD have other conditions that when treated with medicine help alleviate some autism symptoms. Read more about autism treatments.
Learn more about autism
Read our autism overview to find out more about parenting and advocating for a child with autism.
Autism Speaks is a leading advocacy organization that funds research and helps support families of children with autism.
Autism Science Foundation funds research and public awareness about autism spectrum disorder.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has an autism resource page with the latest news about autism, resources for families, training materials, and online courses.
The CDC’s autism information section provides overviews of screening and treatment along with statistics and federal research on autism.
Our glossary of key terms explains many of the medical terms, treatments, and available services you should know about.
Get support for autism
Swap stories, tips, and advice with other parents in these BabyCenter Community groups:
Worried About Autism
Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Early Signs Of Asperger’s: When To Seek Help
By Mary Elizabeth Dean
Updated November 07, 2019
Reviewer Kristina Ellen
If you suspect you or your child has Asperger’s, you might be wondering when to seek help. Maybe you aren’t sure you’re affected, or you’re scared. But the most important thing to consider is your quality of life. When you allow disorders such as Asperger’s to get in the way of your happiness, you’re robbing yourself of the peace you deserve. Understanding Asperger’s and seeking treatment if needed can provide the structure you need to thrive.
Knowing The Signs Of Aspergers Helps – A Diagnosis Can Give You More Clarity Get Started – Get Matched With A Licensed Online Therapist Today
When You Should Seek Help
The longer you put off professional guidance, the longer you leave yourself to dealing with unnecessary struggles and inconveniences in your life. Since you’re looking for more information, you probably already have an idea of the warning signs. A few examples include unusual sleep patterns, inability to make eye contact, and sensory sensitivity. These examples could always be hallmarks of a different disorder, as well. That is another reason why it’s so important to seek help quickly once you notice these signs. We’ll cover these signs later in the article.
If you or your child are struggling with Asperger’s, you’re not alone. According to the National Autistic Society, about one percent of the population struggles with this issue. Although the severity and manifestations differ, one thing is for certain: once you have Asperger’s, you have it for life. But even though there is no known “cure,” both traditional talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have shown great results, in terms of reducing negative symptoms and promoting positive ones.
Don’t let the longevity of this condition discourage you. Given the right support, anyone with Asperger’s can lead the life they choose. Just because Asperger’s is classified as a deficit disorder doesn’t mean you aren’t of value. You may have difficulties in some aspects of your life, but with some adjustments, you can do anything just as anyone else can.
The key to freeing yourself from many of your limitations is reaching out. A personalized treatment plan and knowledgeable help can be the only thing standing between you and the person you strive to be!
Autism awareness is on the rise, and, consequently, diagnosing children with autism spectrum disorders is easier than ever. Pediatricians and parents recognize delays in language and other areas and take steps to pursue a diagnosis. A two- or three-year-old who doesn’t speak or says only a few words, doesn’t make typical eye contact, and struggles to complete age-appropriate tasks raises red flags. This child receives early intervention from a therapist who understands the concerns associated with autism and can work with children as they grow older.
But autism spectrum disorders aren’t always so obvious. Other types of autism are milder, and the children and adults who live with them may function well. But even if they can successfully blend in and are harder to identify, there’s no doubt that these individuals benefit from the help of a professional therapist.
Imagine a toddler who speaks well for his age but doesn’t make typical eye contact, a school-age child who gets better-than-average grades but doesn’t make friends and doesn’t seem to mind, or an adult with obsessive hobbies who feels like they’re “faking it” through every social interaction. These descriptions don’t fit the stereotype of autism, but they could describe signs of Asperger’s in three different age groups. These people aren’t always evaluated for autism because they don’t have speech or other developmental delays. And when a diagnosis is missed or delayed, the afflicted may miss out on therapeutic interventions that could make their lives easier.
The early signs of Asperger’s may be overlooked, sometimes delaying diagnosis until adolescence or even adulthood. Here’s what to look for in children.
Signs of Asperger’s in Children
Physical Clumsiness. It’s not uncommon for children to experience developmental delays, and this can sometimes cause missed diagnoses. But some individuals with Asperger’s are more-than-usually clumsy. In an infant or toddler, this can translate to delayed crawling or walking. These delays aren’t always dramatic and may not cause concern among caregivers if a young child isn’t displaying other Asperger’s signs. Older children may have an awkward gait, struggle with handwriting, or dislike sports.
Repetitive Behaviors. These behaviors can include rocking, hand flapping, or in very young children, unusual fixation on a specific object. The repetitive behaviors are a way to self-soothe and help calm children with Asperger’s, but they also draw attention from other children and mark the affected child as a target for teasing and bullying. Many parents don’t pick up on signs of Asperger’s in children until they enter a school or daycare environment where the behavior becomes more apparent.
Avoiding Eye Contact. Many children with Asperger’s avoid eye contact. Difficulty maintaining eye contact can begin as early as infancy. For most infants, the human face is the most interesting thing to look at, but babies with Asperger’s may be more interested in objects than faces, which is easier to recognize as a child grows older.
Lack of Age-Appropriate Social Skills. For most children, social skills like reading, using facial expressions and body language, taking turns communicating, and showing an interest in other people develop along with language skills. But children with Asperger’s communicate differently. They may not understand the give and take of conversation and play, making it difficult for them to make and maintain friendships.
Lack of Empathy. Most children gradually learn to care about the feelings of others, but even for developmentally typical children, it can be a slow process. Still, toddlers and preschoolers at least mimic this behavior, expressing sympathy when other children are hurt or sick. Children with Asperger’s rarely display an interest in other children and may seem unaffected by others’ excitement or sadness.
Unusual Speech Patterns. Children with Asperger syndrome don’t seem to pick up on or imitate the starts and stops of typical speech patterns. For most of us, pitch and rhythm go unnoticed in everyday speech, but their absence is obvious and can make children difficult to understand. Adults and children who don’t interact with them regularly may have trouble understanding them. Affected children’s indifference to pitch can also make them oblivious to sarcasm or emotion when listening to others.
Advanced Vocabulary or Uncommon Word Choice. One of the most surprising signs of Asperger’s in children is that, unlike those with more severe autism spectrum disorders, people with Asperger’s don’t demonstrate speech delays. Sometimes their vocabulary is larger than their peers’, and they may choose less common words instead of commonly used phrases. They may ask to “socialize” with someone instead of “hang out” or talk about “relatives” instead of “family.” The word choices they make aren’t necessarily wrong, but they sound odd or precocious. It’s also common for these children to talk more than their peers, often providing a running commentary of their thought processes, oblivious to others’ lack of interest or annoyance. They may not notice or mind if the conversation is one-sided.
Obsessive Interests. In children, obsessive interests are common. Almost all young children tend toward single-mindedness, but it’s unusual for a single interest to dominate all a child’s conversation and play. Children with Asperger’s are often transfixed by a single interest and are more interested in details than in broad categories. Some examples include an unusual interest in and ability to remember the names of people or things and dates or times significant to them.
Sensitive to Sensory Input. For people with Asperger’s, normal levels of noise, light, or activity can become overwhelming. Children with Asperger’s may use repetitive behaviors to cope. These sensory issues are common in all children with autism spectrum disorders and are sometimes called sensory processing disorder or SPD. All of us can be overwhelmed by input from our senses, but children with SPD have a threshold for the sensory overload that is lower than normal.
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Odd Facial Expressions or Body Language. Some children with Asperger’s may not display many facial expressions or use body language at all, but others attempt to use these forms of communication in a way that seems odd or inaccurate. They may try to apply facial expressions and body language in ways that aren’t appropriate for the situation, causing their nonverbal communication to be out of sync with their verbal communication or with what they’re feeling.
Working with a licensed or certified professional can help children practice social skills in a safe space and understand their Asperger’s. Adults who receive an Asperger’s diagnosis later in life often report that it’s a relief. Frequently, they report wishing identification of their symptoms took place at a younger age.
Signs of Asperger’s in Teens and Adults
An early diagnosis allows a child with Asperger’s to receive help from a licensed therapist and learn to live with Asperger’s as they grow older. Therapy makes it easier for a child with Asperger’s to become an adult who is comfortable with his or her differences and can navigate the complicated world of social interactions that most of us take for granted.
But high-functioning Asperger’s isn’t always diagnosed in children. When the early signs of Asperger’s are dismissed or go unnoticed, the struggle to form connections and communicate can come to a head in adolescence or adulthood. Signs of Asperger’s in adults include all the above, but adults can experience them in different ways.
As teenagers, most people with Asperger’s want what all teens want-to make friends and fit in. By this age, they may have become better at imitating appropriate facial expressions and body language, but the effort can be exhausting. The difficulty of trying to fit in and feeling like an outsider can lead to self-isolation, depression, and anxiety.
Odd mannerisms or emotional immaturity may encourage bullying that contributes to these feelings. Therapists familiar with these concerns can help teens come to terms with how they’re different, work on social skills, and perhaps most importantly, see their strengths.
In some cases, the same traits that make it difficult for teens with Asperger’s to fit in may have benefits too. Teens with Asperger’s may do well in school and keep out of the kind of trouble that can come with trying to fit in with the “wrong crowd.” They may be able to go after their creative pursuits and hone skills they’re interested in even if those hobbies are unpopular, and their honesty and genuine interest in their activities can draw a few good friends with similar goals.
People with Asperger’s continue to learn about social cues and how to use and interpret them throughout their lives. Adults with Asperger’s can function very well in social situations, but it takes a lot of effort for most. Working with a therapist can help adults with Asperger’s manage personal and work relationships and balance their interests.
Adults with Asperger’s often have successful careers and earn higher education degrees. Their tendency toward single-mindedness can help them reach the top of their fields. In addition to pursuing a career, many also marry and start families.
Benefits of Treatment
Asperger’s doesn’t go away, but people with Asperger’s can lead fulfilling and successful lives. The symptoms and severity of Asperger’s are different for each person, so treatment goals are individual. Therapy helps children and adults with Asperger’s learn to interact with other people in ways that are socially fulfilling.
Mastering social cues allows them to function independently and maintain relationships. By encouraging them to pursue their interests, therapists can draw their attention to the strengths that come with an Asperger’s diagnosis.
People with Asperger’s are also at risk for other conditions like social anxiety disorder, attention hyperactivity deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Therapy can identify and treat these co-existing disorders, improving quality of life. For most people with Asperger’s, seeking help from a licensed or certified therapist is an important step toward a healthy understanding of their disorder.
How BetterHelp can Help
For those living with Asperger’s, therapy is a top priority. To get to the place you need to be, it will be imperative that you reach out for that help. BetterHelp is a great option because there are plenty of trained counselors who are experts at treating Asperger’s. The site can help match you with the perfect support person for you and your life. The best part is, you won’t even have to leave your couch! Many people with Asperger’s struggle with sensory issues that can be triggered during stuffy car rides or unfamiliar waiting rooms. With BetterHelp, you can sign in from wherever you’re most comfortable and tap into the valued knowledge of a professional. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
“I can’t put into words how Theresa has and continues to help me on my journey. I have learned things about my ways of thinking that totally blow me away and I feel so much stronger and able to deal with things armed with the information she has helped me to unlock inside of me. She’s fab!”
“Shana has helped me tremendously over the past few months. She has assisted me in changing my thought patterns and bad habits. She is very caring, a great listener and is not judgmental. It is clear how much she cares about her patients. I appreciate her and would recommend her to anyone searching for a counselor.”
Even though there is no cure for Asperger’s, the right support can change your life. If you educate yourself and go after your goals, no one will be able to stop you. Take the first step.
Signs and Symptoms of Asperger Syndrome (ASD)
Asperger Syndrome (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder that is widely described as a mild form of autism. People with ASD tend to have many of the social and sensory issues of those with more severe forms of autistic disorder but have average to above average IQs and vocabularies. They often have trouble picking up on subtle forms of communication like body language, humor, and sarcasm.
Find below some common signs of Asperger Syndrome (ASD):
- difficulty making friends of the same age, children with ASD may feel more comfortable with adults or much younger children
- engages in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is still listening or trying to change the subject
- displays unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures
- does not empathize with or seems insensitive to others’ feelings and has a hard time “reading” other people or may have difficulty understanding humor
- doesn’t understand the give-and-take of conversation or engage in “small talk”
- seems egocentric or self-absorbed
- may speak in a voice that is monotone, rigid, jerky or unusually fast
- may be extremely literal or have difficulty understanding the nuances of language, despite having a good vocabulary
While all children with ASD are different, their unusual social skills and obsessive interests tend to set them apart from their peers. They may have in common some or all of the following symptoms:
- may have an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects
- may strongly prefer repetitive routines or rituals and becomes upset at any small changes
- may memorize information and facts easily, especially information related to a topic of interest
- may have clumsy, uncoordinated movements, an odd posture or a rigid gait
- may perform repetitive movements, such as hand or finger flapping
- may engage in violent outbursts, self-injurious behaviors, tantrums or meltdowns
- may be hypersensitive to sensory stimulation such as light, sound, and texture
- may “day dream” or “zone out” when overstimulated
Want to hear first hand from a parent about what it’s like to have a child with issues related to Asperger Syndrome (ASD) and how Brain Balance can help?
If your child struggles with symptoms similar to Asperger Syndrome (ASD) or has already been diagnosed with the disorder, get started with Brain Balance today.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
**Please note that the diagnostic criteria according to the DSM-V changed as of May, 2013. Autism Spectrum Disorder now is a single category that encompasses Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and PDD-NOS. The label of Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer a diagnostic label. The information below will now be covered by the Autism Spectrum Disorder label only.
Asperger’s Syndrome is one of several Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) characterised by difficulties in social interaction and by restricted, stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests and activities. It is distinguished from the other ASDs in having no general language delay, language disorder or delay in cognitive development. Although not mentioned in standard diagnostic criteria, motor clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported. As a pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom.
What are the common features of Asperger’s Syndrome?
- Impairment in social interaction
- Stereotyped and restricted patterns of behaviour, activities and interests.
- No significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language.
- Intense preoccupation with a narrow subject.
- One-sided verbosity, restricted rhythm, stress and intonation in speech and motor clumsiness are typical of the condition, but are not required for diagnosis.
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Common difficulties often (but not always) experienced by the child with Asperger’s Syndrome include:
- Poor understanding of the conventions of social interaction.
- Poor imaginative play.
- Being resistant to change.
- Preference for solitary play.
- Being very literal in what they say and how they understand what others say. For example, if told to ‘get lost’ (meaning ‘go away’), a child with Asperger’s Syndrome may leave the place and try to become lost.
- Poor conversational skills and may talk too much or too little.
- Poor ‘listening’ skills, despite intact hearing.
- Interrupting others and taking over a conversation to talk about their own area of personal interest, failing to notice that other people are not interested in what they are saying.
- Fail to notice that other people are not interested in what they are saying
- Find it difficult to understand the non-verbal language of others (such as facial expressions, gestures and body movements) or the rules of social behaviour.
- They often appear rude or uncaring because they interrupt, have trouble taking turns, move too close to other people or make limited eye contact.
- May be extremely sensitive to criticism and need continual reassurance.
- May have an exaggerated sense of what is right or fair, especially in relation to how other people should treat them.
- May be unable to predict what other people will do in response to their actions.
- May become quite angry and aggressive when things do not happen as they want or expect. They may have prolonged tantrums.
- Have narrow areas of interest and may learn all there is to know about one special thing (such as cars, trains, computers, astronomy, insects, etc).
Management strategies that support the child with Asperger’s Syndrome (at preschool,school or home)
- Routine/planned and structured events.
- A good knowledge of the child strengths and weakness, and areas of extreme interest.
- Extra time/support to transition to school.
- 1:1 support at school, if available.
- The use of social stories to train appropriate responses in social situations.
- Expanding abilities: Actively working on broadening their range of skill areas and interests.
- School/preschool transition: Providing additional support in the transition into school or preschool and liaising with teachers as required.
- Pre-warning: Giving advance notice of change to routine and instructing parents and teachers of appropriate strategies to implement in other environments.
- Visual cues can be used at home and preschool/school to reduce anxiety regarding expectations of tasks, to support routine and to introduce new, or a change in, tasks.
- Social stories: Developing social stories to help a child understand routines and how to respond in certain situations. This will improve a child’s ability of knowing when to talk and what sort of conversation conventions may be appropriate.
- Physical skills: Developing strength and coordination to enable a child to participate in a multitude of co-curricula activities which will be a good vehicle for social interaction.
- Sensory processing: Improving sensory processing of the child so they are able to demonstrate their skills across a wider variety of environments.
- Behaviour management: Teaching families to use a consistent approach to manage behaviour (e.g. if the child finds that every time they are given a direction, the same response is expected, or that every time they react in a certain way, the same consequence follows, they will learn the appropriate behaviour far more quickly).
- Speech and language assessment to help the family to understand how the child is processing, understanding, learning and using language and communication.
- Communication strategies: Providing the family with strategies and techniques to increase and enhance communication with the child.
- Daily activities: Helping the child to understand the environment, routines and language.
- Developing language: Helping the child to understand and use richer language and to use their skills more spontaneously.
- Conversation skills: Developing conversation skills (e.g. back and forth exchange, turn taking).
- Concept skills: Developing concept skills, especially abstract concepts such as time (e.g. yesterday, before, after).
- Non-literal language: Developing an understanding of metaphors, idioms and sarcasm.
- Visuals can be used to help with understanding and a child’s ability to express their needs, wants, thoughts and ideas.
- Social skills: Development of social skills (i.e. knowing when, how to use language in social situations).
- Enhancing verbal and non-verbal communication including natural gestures, speech, signs, pictures and written words.
- Visual strategies: Using visual information to help understand, organise and plan daily routines.
- Social stories to help a child understand routines and how to respond in certain situations.
- Liaising with educational staff and other professionals involved in the child’s care regarding the nature of the difficulties and ways to help the child to access the curriculum.
Why should I seek therapy if I notice traits of Asperger’s Syndrome in my child?
Diagnosis alone is NOT the solution. It simply opens the door to getting the help that is needed by arming all involved with the relevant information.
The ‘help’ still needs to be provided. The help that is provided (at least from a therapy perspective) will reflect:
- First and foremost what medical intervention is needed.
- What the parents/teachers/carers biggest concerns are for the child (i.e. what are the most significant functional challenges).
- The specific areas that are problematic to the child (which will vary even within children with the same diagnosis).
- The capacity of the child’s environments to meet the child’s needs.
If left untreated, the child with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulties with:
- Following instructions within the home, preschool or school environment.
- Understanding jokes and figurative language during interactions with others, and when watching TV shows and movies and reading books.
- Managing a full school day due to poor strength and endurance.
- Participating in sporting activities leading to an inactive lifestyle, increasing the risks of other health related issues such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or similar conditions.
- Self esteem and confidence when they realise their skills do not match their peers.
- Bullying when others become more aware of the child’s difficulties.
- Fine motor skills (e.g. writing, drawing and cutting) due to poor core stability, meaning they do not have a strong base to support the use of their arms and hands.
- Completing self-care tasks (e.g. doing up shoelaces, buttons, zips, using cutlery).
- Self regulation and behaviour, as the child is unable to regulate themselves appropriately to settle and attend to a task for extended periods of time.
- Accessing the curriculum because they are unable to attend to tasks long enough to complete assessment criteria.
- Sleep habits, impacting upon skill development due to fatigue.
- Anxiety and stress in a variety of situations leading to difficulty reaching their academic potential.
- Reading/understanding social situations and being perceived as ‘rude’ by others.
- Social communication, such as eye contact, appropriate distance when talking to someone, turn-taking within a conversation.
- Academic performance: Developing literacy skills such as reading and writing and coping in the academic environment.
- Academic assessment: Completing tests, exams and academic tasks in higher education.
More specific implications of failing to seek treatment will be influenced by the specific difficulties that are functionally most influencing your individual child.
What does the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome really mean for the child?
Diagnoses are used to label a specific set of symptoms that are being experienced by a child.
This label then helps to narrow down and specifically tailor what:
- Other issues commonly occur simultaneously.
- Medication might be appropriate.
- Therapies might help the child (e.g. Medical, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Psychology).
- Course of intervention (medical and/or allied health) might be and what outcome might be expected (prognosis).
- Can be done to help the child.
A diagnosis helps the child and their carers (parents, teachers, health professionals, carers) to:
- Access information about the relevant cluster of symptoms.
- Communicate the salient features of the child’s challenges to all people involved in the child’s care.
- Possibly interpret certain behaviours differently in light of the diagnosis.
- Obtain information about what can be done to help the child.
- Determine specifically where and how to help the child.
- Access funding or services that might not otherwise be accessible.