According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in thought, behavior, language and communication skills.
Asperger syndrome is considered an autistic spectrum disorder, as it affects children in the onset of autism. Children with AS are socially awkward and focus much of their energy on a one specific topic. They want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else.
Symptoms of Asperger syndrome include engaging in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is listening or trying to change the subject, displaying unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures, showing an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects, such as baseball statistics, train schedules, weather or snakes, appearing not to understand, empathize with or be sensitive to others’ feelings, having a hard time “reading” other people or understanding humor, speaking in a voice that is monotonous, rigid or unusually fast, moving clumsily, with poor coordination and having an odd posture or a rigid gait. Although many young children tend to be egocentric, it is important to see a doctor if your elementary schoolchild has problems in school or seems unable to make friends. These difficulties have many possible causes, but developmental disorders such as AS should also be considered.
The exact cause of Asperger syndrome is still unknown. However, researchers believe that there is a strong genetic component that contributes to the disorder. Asperger syndrome seems to be linked to structural abnormalities in certain regions of the brain.
Treatment for Asperger syndrome includes therapy and medication. Therapy options may include communication and social skills training, speech therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Medication includes drugs to ease specific symptoms such as anxiety, depression or hyperactivity.
Autism is known as a brain disorder that often makes it hard to communicate with and relate to others. It is characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Although autism varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Three to six children out of ever 1,000 have autism. Males are four times more likely to develop the disorder than females.
The most common symptom of autism is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with autism may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. An autistic baby may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement. Autistic children may also fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. Repetitive movements are also common, such as rocking and twirling, biting or head-banging.
The exact cause of autism is unknown. However, scientists link autism to abnormal chemical and hormone levels in the brain. These abnormalities suggest that autism could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development, which is caused by defected geneses that control brain growth and regulate brain cell communication.
Other studies suggest a genetic predisposition to autism, especially in identical twins. If one twin is affected with autism, there is a 90 percent chance that the other twin will be affected. Also, in families with one child with autism, the risk of a second child developing the disorder is 5 percent.
There is no cure for autism. The ideal treatment plan includes therapies and behavioral interventions designed to help specific symptoms. Highly structured skill-oriented training sessions are designed to help autistic children, and doctors are able to prescribe a few medications to treat symptoms such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Autism is a brain development disorder that is characterized by impaired communication and social interaction coupled with repetitive behavior. According to the ASA 1 out of every 150 children is diagnosed with Autism. That makes autism the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States with an annual growth of 10%-17%. Autism is one of the greatest researched developmental disorders in the United States, but a mystery that continues to plague researchers is why boys are four times more affected then girls. According Time Magazine, the journal of Molecular Psychiatry found a genetic clue that can help account for this discrepancy.