Aspergers: Early Childhood To Young Adulthood

What Is Asperger's

Asperger's syndrome is a disorder named for Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician who identified the core symptoms during his practice in the mid-twentieth century. His honor was received posthumously upon renewed interest in his work after 1980. The pattern of behavior Dr. Asperger identified included:

  • lack of empathy
  • impairments in social interaction
  • intensely absorbed with one particular interest
  • clumsy subtle motor developmental delays

Asperger's is considered a mild form of autism, or high functoning autism at the end of the spectrum for AS disorders. It is a communication disorder that causes problems in socailizing and forming relationships. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and treatments for Asperger's syndrome if you or a family member or close friend are a victim of the disorder. Support and specialized training in social and communication skills will be needed to live a normal and productive life.

Asperger kids find it hard to read emotions, voice tone and body language
Asperger kids find it hard to read emotions, voice tone and body language | Source

Early Symptoms Of Asperger's

Like other Autism Spectrum Disorders the Asperger's condition is congenital, or present at birth. Unlike Autism the language development and intelligence of AS children is usually normal. In fact, parents and significant others may not notice any symptoms until the child joins a play group or enters preschool. Caregivers and teachers may report problems 1) interacting with other children, 2) difficulty taking turns, 3)participating in conversations, 4)inability to read others' body language and facial expressions.

A look of displeasure at their behavior may seem to be ignored. They may be unable to recognize changes in voice tone. An obsessive interest in one area like dinosaurs may begin to develop and they will begin to sound like little experts on the subject. The child will engage in mostly one-sided conversations.

The young Asperger's child may show a degree of motor development delays. Difficulty learning to ride a bike, throwing and catching can be clues. Certain stimuli- sounds,smells, textures that others hardly notice may be really irritating to the Asperger's child. They will feel safer with routines and may become agitated if the routine is broken.

Asperger teens find it hard to connect socially
Asperger teens find it hard to connect socially | Source

Asperger's Symptoms Checklist

AS individuals will display some of the following:

  • monopolize conversations
  • enter in a conversation at the wrong time
  • difficulty staying on topic
  • innapropriate facial expressions and posture
  • stares or avoids eye contact
  • difficulty understanding jokes,sarcasm
  • difficulty understanding and expressing emotions
  • intense interest in one thing
  • pendant, or constant formal speech
  • slight motor development delay (early)

Asperger's In Older Children And Teens

The AS child's social problems worsen as they get older. Peers become more aware of their inability to establish reciprocal social interactions. Their difficulty in understanding the feelings of others is interpreted as a lack of empathy.

Some improvements in pragmatic language, or mannerly speech will occur as the AS child gets older. Teens can better understand the condtion and teach themselves strategies to cope. However, they have new problems to face. Their continuation with a restrictive interest may make them appear "nerdy". For example, they may be the computer guru or science lab geek. They may get teased and bullied. Unlike the withdrawn autistic teen the Asperger's teen does not want to be a social outcast. He just doesn't know how to join in with a circle of friends. This can lead to depression and anxiety.

Parents will have a new set of problems as well. Frustrations will cause these teens to have meltdowns. Parents then worry with cars and driving making alcohol, drugs and suicide thoughts worrisome. Lonliness can cause them to be lured into criminal activity easily. Not being able to pick up on suble sexual innuendos may make them naïve and vulnerable.

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Differences in Asperger's Symptoms

Although the core symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome are the same, symptoms will vary from child to child. Some may engage in sterotypical autistic behavior (eg. hand flipping) or repetative speech. Some will stare at people while others avoid eye contact.

All teens may not feel isolated and lonely. Some may be content to retreat into their own world to pursue their talents and interests. Some AS teens will have "old souls" and not care about fads or trendy clothing. They may collect old music from the past or dress gothic style or in military gear. Some may neglect hygiene to the point where parents will need to intervene.

Some AS teens may like to hang out in chat or gaming rooms on line. The comfort of just words on a screen with no face to face encounters may be comforting to them. Still other teens will seek adults to hang out with.

Teaching Strategies For Asperger's Students

  • provide structured environment
  • visual and verbal clues
  • outlines,graphc organizers
  • help in problem solving
  • cooperative or paired learning groups
  • use of peer tutoring
  • direct and incidental teaching of social skills
  • role playing
  • monior and supervise unstructured time
  • pragmatic language therapy
  • self analysis through video taping
  • setting up examples to solve problems
  • schedule social skills assessments frequently to monitor progress

Diagnosing And Treating Asperger's Syndrome

Children, teen and young adult disabilities should not be addressed at home without the input of agencies. By law, a free and appropriate public education is available for children with disabilities in the form of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). They have the right to be served from age 3-21.

The Local Education Agency is also the best resouce for diagnosing and supporting the AS child. Diagnosis of Asperger's is conducted in two stages: 1) develpomental screening for wellness by a pediatrician or family doctor. 2) second stage includes a comprehensive screening by team members from different health fields. The individual is sreened in 3 areas. 1) social interaction 2) verbal and non verbal communication 3) areas of their interests to detect presence of a restrictive one.

Teachers and parents can use the AS child's need for structure and routine as an advantage for teaching basic skills (academics) and the direct instruction of social and communication skills.

Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) including AS are mostly visual learners. Teaching strategies are based around physical structures- time, schedules and task organization. The two most common teaching methods currently used are ABA and TEACCH.


Structured environments with visual learning tools are strategies for teaching ASD and AS students.
Structured environments with visual learning tools are strategies for teaching ASD and AS students. | Source

TEACCH

TEEACH is an acronym for treatment and education of autism and related communication of handicapped children. The approach was developed at the University of North Carolina in 1964 and began as a research project. Strategies target the underlying reasons for the AS behavior and not directly on the behavior itself. These reasons will include lack of understanding and how to express needs and feelings.

An advantage for using the TEACCH method with AS students is adaptability for inclusive settings. TEACCH is based on the elements of behavioral therapy combined with cognitive strategies. Strategies can be adapted that can be used by all for whatever degree of support is needed. Many AS students will not require a self contained class.Students must be placed in their least restrictive environments. Because individualization is emphasized it does not distingusih between high and low functioning students.

ABA

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA, often used with autistic students is proven to be an efective method with AS students. ABA uses observable and measurable learning objectives. Teaching strategies are used that manipulate the environment to increase or decrease behaviors. A task analysis is conducted to determine components needed to teach the targeted social and communication skills. Cues and modeling are used to modify behavior along with reinforcement of the desired behavior. The prompts are then thinned or faded. Generalization strategies will help the student use the skills learned in another setting.


29 Year Old Explains What Asperger's Is Like For Him

Adults With Asperger's

It is very possible for AS young adults to begin an independent and productive life. The best course of action begins as early as a diagnosis is made. The diligent parents of AS children will make sure the child has an appropriate IEP throughout school. They will work closely with schools and agencies to help the student understand and cope with the disorder.

Parents need to pay particular attention to the AS child during the teen years. Don't allow them to retreat into an on line chat or gaming room. Use it more for a reward for keeping a good balance. Since they like routine, help them establish times to socialize with peers. Teach and encourage flexibiliy in their range of interests.

Some AS young adults may be immature and indifferent about the future. Play up their strengths and encourage a career for them in that area. Center discussions around how good it will feel to be independent. Give them the option of carrying a card explaining their disorder.

College may be better attended by living at home but with planning it is possible for the AS teen or young adult to attend college away from home. Consider a room with no roommate for quiet retreats.

As more sophisticated language skills become expected the AS adult may often be confused by certain jokes or non literal speech. It is possible for an adult to self diagnose in adulthood if they were not in childhood. The individual is then empowered with realizing an explanation for their disorder. It gives them a chance to revisit failures and relationships to begin a new start.

An official diagnosis is needed for SSI or accommodations for employment under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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Comments 29 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

This is so sad. I sit here thinking isn't it so strange I have never ran into anyone with children with any of these difficulties but once in my life and that was a friend of a friend who had a young boy with ADD and I witnessed that a time or two. You have done a great job showing us another. We should all thank God who have not had to deal with any of these disorders. I cannot imagine hours and days, much less years of it.

Useful and interesting.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks Jackie, Asperger's is a really confusing disease. But if we help the sufferer understand the condition, it is not so bad.


beadreamer247 profile image

beadreamer247 4 years ago from Zephyrhills, FL

Asperger is not well known enough to distinguish, yet. Many who have ADHD, are actually misdiagnosed. The USA ingored the disease until 1999 and delayed help for many, who are adults now and struggle with daily life. Most marriages with an Asperger partner fall apart, due to all the problems arising from the disease. Often you feel like taking care of another child in your partner. It takes a lot of understanding, patience and determination to be with an Asperger partner.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks for the insightful comment, beadreamer! I worked one on one with an Aspie teen a few years ago. He def had the symptoms. He wasn't really hyper but he had attention problems for sure!


beadreamer247 profile image

beadreamer247 4 years ago from Zephyrhills, FL

The reason behind their behavior of appearing to be hyper is often due to irritation, instead of unrest. Something in the environment irritates them, it even can be just as simple as their clothes and it makes them act similar to a hyper person. Or they hear a noice nobody else hears which distracts and irritates them and they are unable to block it out.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Yep. I had some timers that use to accidentally go off (beep) sometimes and it irritated him to no end!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

My heart goes out to all those children and adults who suffer from Aspergers. It is good to know that there are methods available to help. Your checklist and teaching strategies are great.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks teaches. I have worked with a few of these Asperger kids. They are really delightful in their own way. Most are intelligent and unique. I feel that you work with younger kids, I hope this helps!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

A good informative well written article, this condition is so very misunderstood, you've cleared up a few things for me anyway. Many thanks for sharing.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Glad to share info on Asperger's. We undoubtedly will live and work among those with the condition!


dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 4 years ago from India

Asperger's Syndrome can be misdiagnosed as ADHD(Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) because of similar symptoms. In addition, ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome can occur together too. So the correct diagnose is necessary and now lot of natural remedies are there to support the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and maintain balanced mood, feelings of well-being and promote emotional health. Well written hub and rated as useful.


dmop profile image

dmop 4 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

This was a very well written and informative Hub, thank you for writing it. I have an almost three year old that exhibits many signs of autism, though he seems so smart he is very difficult to deal with. Much more so than my 5 older kids and his younger sister. I have done a lot of research, and his doctor is aware of our struggles, but says it is too early to diagnose. I hope he is just difficult and nothing more. I gave this a vote up, useful, and interesting.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks for your insightful comment dinkan53! I am all for natural remedies!


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

You are welcome dmop. And thank you for the votes up. I hope the best for your 3 year old!


MERoberts profile image

MERoberts 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

I was a Behavior Specialist/Mobile Therapist for a while and had several children on the spectrum as clients. Very useful article. Thank you!


dragonflyfla profile image

dragonflyfla 3 years ago from South Florida

Nice article on Aspergers. Most people are not aware of this and often blame the parent for the child's behavior. I have read that girls tend to outgrown it as they get older. They are better at finally being able to mimic "correct" social behavior. Voted you up and useful!


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

That is interesting. I have never heard that. But then I have never known any Aspie girls.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

During my years of teaching I only had one child who diagnosed as having Asbergers. The young boy became very attached to me and became my student for two years...I followed a class from 2nd to 3rd grade and he was in my class both years. He exhibited most or all of the behaviors cited in your article. We had an understanding...he understood that I was there for him and I communicated often with his family. Even today when I see him, he will go out of his way to come find me, speak to me, and give me a hug. He is still learning to live with this disorder. It seems he will be in need to much supervision as he continues his journey.

This was very helpful and useful. Voted up ++++

Sending you Angels this evening. :) ps


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks for stopping by. I have worked with several 'Aspies'. They really need special direction and attention.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Very helpful information. In my HR Investigation role, I reviewed several cases that involved Aspies being terribly misunderstood. Although what they did they usually was not policy-appropriate by corporate standards, it was others' interpretations and not understanding their conditions that allowed the situations to snowball. Usually they worked in certain departments that did not require a lot of in-depth, face-to-face communication with others on a regular basis. I always made sure the right thing happened.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very informative as I had no idea of this condition at all.

voted up.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks for reading and learning about Aspergers!


missolive profile image

missolive 3 years ago from Texas

Hi Rebecca, thank you for writing this. I have a son without autism. He does not have Asperger's, but I have certainly taught children with Asperger's. I actually took a course from a professor with Asperger's and he was VERY clear with telling us what behaviors he could not tolerate in the classroom, he had no problem addressing it and even removed a few rude students for toying with him. We had to be especially careful with tapping our pencil, or causing repetitive movements that made our clothes "crunch".

I like that you added aspie teens should not be allowed to retreat into their own world of online chats or gaming...at least for an extended period of time. By the way, I've read many interviews where aspie's thank their parents, teachers and therapists for not letting them retreat into their own minds and fixations for too long as it can really consume them. Of course, they do need their space too; finding that fine line can be hard to do. If anything, the symptoms, personalities and characteristics are truly unique for each, I've never met someone with autism or Aspergers with cookie cutter personalities.

Great read with lots of wonderful tips, thank you for writing and researching.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks, I am glad you stopped by to read this. Aspies and Autistic children can often be amazing. I like working with them.


ziyena profile image

ziyena 3 years ago from Southern Colorado

My 25 year old son is Aspergers ... it's been a life-long challenge, but at least he is living on his own. Thanks for your article ... there are so many who do not understand! UP UP UP


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Awesome. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. You made me so happy to have written this!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Thank you Rebecca for writing this, I have someone very close to me who has Aspergers, and this is very informative.

Voted up, U/A/I and shared.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 2 years ago from North Carolina

I have a niece marring a 22 year old fellow with a mild form of the disease. This hub was quite instructive, Rebbeca, very well laid out and written. Thank goodness he has a mild form as they will soon have a baby. The obsession part seems to be his worse problem. He has been getting treatment for many years now so perhaps that's helped, he isn't a bad sort, another blessing I guess. Thank you for writing on this my friend


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA Author

Thanks, glad this was of help.

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