What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that can make it hard for young children to relate to others socially, as well as affect their behavior and thought patterns in a way that causes their thinking to become rigid and repetitive. Statistically, boys are four times more likely to develop Asperger’s than girls.

Many children and teens with Asperger’s Syndrome can effectively speak with others and can meet basic goals academically, though they might still have trouble understanding social situations. This includes things like reading subtle forms of communication such as body language, humor, and the nuances of sarcasm or irony.

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome may also think obsessively and talk a lot about one topic or interest sacrificing other activities. These obsessive thought patterns can exponentially start to interfere with everyday life. In time, it can significantly hamper their healthy social skills and limit their recreational outlets.

Difference Between Asperger’s Syndrome & Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Some of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome are also found in children on the autism spectrum, to the point that they are often diagnosed together. Directly understanding the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome will help differentiate it from ASD, which will also factor into the overall treatment strategy.

Asperger’s Syndrome Symptoms

Many children with Asperger’s Syndrome struggle with social interactions, have issues with their speech patterns and display obsessive thinking. This is usually in conjunction with limited facial expressions and other peculiar mannerisms. This can lead to a series of specific, repetitive obsessive routines as well as an unusual sensitivity to secondary sensory stimuli.

It’s important to bear in mind that every child with Asperger’s Syndrome is different, and might display different symptoms or behaviors to varying degrees. That’s why professional diagnosis and treatment are so important.

Common Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome in Children:

  • Minimal social interactions

  • Negative behaviors in social situations
  • Conversations that focus on themselves
  • Conversations that obsesses on a specific topic
  • Struggling to understand emotions
  • Trouble making appropriate facial expressions
  • Unusual speech that might sound flat, high-pitched, quiet, loud, or robotic
  • Struggling to understand nonverbal communication and body language
  • Developing intense obsessions with one or two specific subjects
  • Easily upset at small changes in their routines
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Problems with handwriting
  • Difficulty managing emotions and frequent behavioral outbursts
  • Hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, and textures

It’s also worth noting that many children with Asperger’s Syndrome might not demonstrate delays in their language development. Many will have good grammar skills and an advanced vocabulary, though they tend to take things very literally. They also tend to have trouble using language in a social context.

What Causes Asperger’s Syndrome?

The causes of Asperger’s Syndrome are not fully known. Though it seems likely that genetics and brain abnormalities are heavily involved. Though it is understood that Asperger’s Syndrome is not related to upbringing, parenting style, or poor parenting. It is a neurobiological disorder with factors related to genetics and your child’s brain development.

Diagnosing Asperger’s Syndrome

Most of the time Asperger’s Syndrome is not diagnosed as a condition in and of itself. Rather it is often a set of symptoms that are diagnosed in conjunction with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you are concerned about your child’s social development, or behaviors that seem out of place for their age including unusual language patterns, you should consult your pediatrician. This is often the first step in determining if your child should be seen by a specialist like Magnolia Behavior Therapy.

The testing and assessment phase typically involves a team of medical and psychological professionals. Asperger’s syndrome specialists typically start by asking you, the parent, a series of key questions regarding your child’s development and your assessment of their current skills and problems. This helps them understand areas of concern and may indicate the need for advanced diagnostics.

Specialists will then interact with your child in a warm way that generates a sense of trust and openness. This helps to facilitate the assessments and evaluate what symptoms the child displays when interacting with others. As needed they might also need to evaluate your child’s language and intellectual abilities.

Asperger’s Syndrome is sometimes classified as “Autism Spectrum Disorder – without intellectual or language impairment” can be challenging to diagnose, and might also occur in conjunction with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),

How Is Asperger’s Syndrome Treated?

At Magnolia Behavior Therapy, we recognize that each child is unique and their symptoms can be different. That’s why we develop personalized treatment plans that are designed according to each child’s needs. They should be adjusted over time as those needs change.

It’s important to understand that there is no “Cure” for Asperger’s Syndrome. Though by developing a clear understanding of your child’s symptoms and the treatment techniques they respond to best, it is possible to help them develop effective coping mechanisms that contribute toward a robust and vibrant quality of life.

Common Asperger’s Syndrome Treatment Strategies

  • Social skills training
  • Behavioral support
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Parental education & training
  • Speech & language therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Special education classes
  • Prescription Medications