- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
High Functioning Autism: Information About Asperger Syndrome
History Behind Asperger Syndrome
What is high functioning autism or better known as Asperger Syndrome? It is a developmental and neurological condition that is named after an Austrian pediatrian by the name of Hans Asperger. In 1944, Dr. Asperger had noticed several of his patients who exhibited similar symptoms having trouble with communication, lacking social skills and physically seemed to lack coordination. He called this condition "autistic psychopathy". His observation was not made aware until much later in 1981 when the name was dubbed Asperger Syndrome.
Studies back in 2007 had showed that 1 in 150 children were affected with Asperger Syndrome. More recent research as of 2011 suggest that the numbers have risen with approximately 1 in 38 children being affected without any formal diagnosis.
Signs And Symptoms Of High Functioning Autism
What are the symptoms of high functioning autism? There are some common signs and symptoms seen in children. A few to note:
♦ Repetitive movements
♦ Needing a strict schedule
♦ Speaking in monotone or odd voice
♦ Doesn't understand irony or sarcasm, takes things too literally
♦ Inappropriate behavior - trouble socializing with friends
♦ Problem with gestures and comprehending nonverbal cues
♦ Obsessed with one particular topic - Talks about it incessantly and out of nowhere will say random things about it
♦ Lacking the ability to adjust the tone of their voice - For example your child may be inside and be somewhat loud and not realize they are as loud as they are.
♦ Appears aloof - Isolated because no social skills and interests restricted to just one
♦ Developmentally delayed with motor skills - Examples difficulty riding a bike, learning to walk and crawl, playing ball, playing on outdoor play equipment
♦ Many children later on will end up developing other conditions such as - anxiety, depression, tic disorders like Tourette Syndrome and OCD.
Most children will display some of these signs by the age of three with some as early as in infancy. It is important to stay alert and look for any possible signs because the earlier you can intervene the better it will be to receive testing and treatment.
What Causes Asperger Syndrome?
What causes Asperger Syndrome or high functioning autism? There is not one known cause for autism. Though from studies with the most current suggesting that it is caused from brain anomalism. This is caused by aberrant movement of embryonic cells during the development of the fetus.
Does genetics play any role in autism? Scientists do believe that genetics play some role and there is a link between the occurrences of autism having to do with a common group of genes that may be prevalent in a person's family. So far there have been no specific gene identified only a common group which would make a person more susceptible to having Asperger Syndrome.
How Is High Functioning Autism Diagnosed?
High functioning autism is diagnosed in a two stage process. First your child with have a screening with their regular family doctor during a "well child" checkup. Your doctor will take note in any common signs such as:
♦ Eye contact abnormal
♦ When called by name fails to turn their head
♦ Does not use any gestures to point or to show something
♦ Does not do interactive play
♦ Lacks interest in peers
Once your pediatrician suspects a possibility of autism he will refer your child for a more thorough evaluation which will involve a series of professionals including: psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist and speech therapist.
Are There Treatments Available For Asperger Syndrome?
Once your child has been diagnosed to have high funtioning autism there are a few treatments that can help your child and you alike.
Social skills training - This will give your child the tools he or she needs to interact and cope with differing social settings and learn how to interact better with other people.
Talk therapy - This type of therapy will help anxious children to deal with their emotions better.
Medications - Some children end up developing depression and anxiety issues. There are some medications that can help with this. It is up to you if you choose to medicate your child. Personally, I'm on the fence when it comes to medicating any child.
My own son is diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety problems and suspected of high functioning autism. I have received so much pressure from his teachers to put him on some form of medicine, but I am not sure of the side effects and possible long term effects are worth it.
If your doctor does suggest medication please do research on the medication in question and find other parents to share your experience.
Occupational or physical therapy - For children with problems in motor skills and sensory issues.
Speech and language therapy - Helps with trouble in articulating words and engaging in every day conversation.
Training and support for parents - Gives parents support and teaches them behavior techniques to use at home.
Children with Asperger Syndrome can get better with the right treatment, guidance and patience on your part. They can learn to cope, but they may though still find it problematic in certain social situations and trouble fostering relationships as they get older.
Support Groups For Autism
It is important to have a good support system to help give you advice and to look for more answers. There are a number of support groups for autism online. You might find it beneficial to hear from other parents of autistic children.
One last note, it is tough having a child with a learning disability especially when everyone around you thinks otherwise and doesn't see what all you do. I have tried talking to my son's doctor of my suspicions but he just smiles and tells me my son is ok without even talking to him or asking me WHY I think he is autistic. I am now searching for somewhere else to take him to get a proper diagnosis. The lesson here is if your child's doctor will not listen to your concerns find another doctor who will.