Asperger’s Syndrome is a mental disorder where the affected individual is exceptionally smart and can score average or above average in tests such as language tests or mathematical problems, however, they have difficulty with social skills. Previously classified as a standalone mental disorder, it has now been branched under Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD as a whole is a condition that is identified by observing developmental delays in children usually below the age of 2 years. However, some types of ASD can show through after the child is much older. Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition that most doctors refer to as a less severe type of ASD.
The severity and symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome vary from patient to patient and can affect their life and people around them in many different ways. The diagnosis of the disease can also vary from a male to a female patient as aspergers in girls has varying symptoms than that of their male peers. However, when diagnosing Asperger’s Syndrome professionals look for certain key points, such as:
- The patient having a difficult time with social interactions.
- The individual has a limited range of interests
- Doing the same action in repetition
- Having a limited range of strengths.
- Individuals with Asperger’s can also tend to dislike a change in their routine.
Some of the strengths of such individuals can include:
- Exceptional focus on something that interests them and persistence to complete the task
- Their ability to recognize patterns and the need they feel to complete such patterns
- Their exceptional attention to detail while carrying out different tasks
Some of the challenges faced by individuals suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome can include:
- Difficulty with communication skills such as understanding the tone of voice or understanding that they might have to talk louder if the person is standing at a distance
- Difficulty with the exchange of normal conversation
- Hypersensitivity to factors that may seem normal to another individual such as light, sound, a certain taste, etc.
- These individuals might also lack hand-eye co-ordination and may be seen as clumsy.
- They may also suffer from anxiety or depression
There are a few steps to be followed for the diagnosis of such a disorder. If a parent or guardian notices symptoms in their child, the first step is to contact a pediatrician, as professional opinion is always the way to go. After the pediatrician has met the child and has evaluated the symptoms, they will then recommend the child to be taken to an expert who deals with patients of ASD. This can be one individual or if the case is more severe, the child may be assessed by a team of people who can evaluate the condition and decide on the best action to be taken for the child’s safety and improvement. Such a team can include:
- A Psychologist, a professional in diagnosing and treating individuals who are facing problems with understanding emotions and behavior.
- A Pediatric Neurologist, a professional in treating brain conditions.
- A Developmental pediatrician, a professional who recognizes issues with an individual’s language and speech development along with other developmental delays and treats them.
- A Psychiatrist, a professional who has experience in diagnosing mental health conditions and can provide prescription medication to treat those issues
When a parent or guardian takes their child to a doctor, few questions are asked by the doctor as a procedure being followed. Such questions will include:
- information regarding the symptoms a caregiver has noticed in the child, and the first time the symptoms were noticed
- when did the child first start using words to communicate and the techniques they use for effective communication.
- Whether the child shows distinct favoritism towards a particular subject or topic.
- As well as if the child has developed friendships and how well he or she interacts with their peers.
When the interview with the parents or guardians of the child is complete, the doctors will then observe the child and decide on the proper type of treatment to be administered to the child for the best results. Treatments will vary from child to child depending on the severity of the symptoms the child has displayed. Treatments can include:
- Speech-language therapy: children dealing with Asperger’s syndrome often talk with a flat tone of voice that expresses no emotions. Speech-language therapy helps the child improve their communication skills by teaching them the use of tone of voice. During this therapy, the child’s conversation skills will also be improved by teaching them hand gestures and eye contact.
- Social skills training: whether it be in a group setting or a more private one-on-one kind of setting, social skills training is about teaching a child the proper way to interact with the people around them and techniques on expressing themselves effectively. Therapists use a child’s typical behavior to model their social skills.
- Cognitive–behavioral therapy: cognitive behavior refers to a child’s way of thinking. This therapy helps the child have a better grip on things like emotional outbursts, obsessions, and even meltdowns.
- Parent education and training: parents are taught techniques already being used with their child to be followed at home. Sometimes families seek help from a counselor to deal with the difficulties of having a family member with Asperger’s
- Applied behavior analysis: this is a technique used to promote social and communication skills in a child that are acceptable in a society and teach them those that are not acceptable. Techniques such as positive reinforcement and praises are used to attain higher results.
- Medicine: although Asperger’s syndrome does not have a specific medication that treats the symptoms due to the wide range of severity found in patient’s conditions, doctors may still prescribe medication for specific treatment of depression and anxiety.
With the proper treatment at the right time, your child can learn to manage their emotions and improve their communication skills. This can help them have a successful life and career. However, for this to be possible, a child needs a proper support system around them.