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Asperger’s syndrome

What is Asperger’s Syndrome ?

Asperger’s syndrome, is a neuro-developmental disorder. It affects the behavior of a person, his use of language, communication, and pattern of social interactions. Asperger’s syndrome is classified as one of the autism spectrum disorders.

Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families. In some cases, autistic disorders may be related to teratogens, exposure to toxic substances, difficulties with birth or pregnancy , and prenatal infections. These environmental effects may come together to alter or affect the levels of severity caused due to the underlying genetic abnormality

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Children affected by Asperger’s syndrome show a unique type of behavior, speech and a specific interest in certain subjects. This condition brings in problems regarding social and communicational skills for the child. Asperger’s syndrome does not have cure, however the affected child can learn to interact in social situations, by taking treatment for the condition.

Symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome

Some of the signs and symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome are as follows:

  • Paying poor attention and understanding to other’s feelings and problems
  • Engaging self in one-sided conversation without paying heed to whether the listener is understanding or listening
  • Displaying an intense liking for specific, narrow subjects
  • Poor and unusual nonverbal communication, such as lesser facial expressions, uncommon body postures, lack of eye contact and unusual gestures.
  • Poor understanding of wit and humor
  • Poor coordination
  • Making aimless movements
  • Expressing in a rigid, unusually fast and in an unappealing voice
  • Very slow learning of language and poor social interactions
  • Does not show any interest in friendship at the toddler stage or at school going age
  • Developmental delays in walking, playing and other motor skills
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety in young adulthood

Causes of Asperger’s syndrome

  • The cause of the Asperger’s syndrome is not known. It is believed that the changes in a certain gene may be the cause, which is linked with the altered formation of brain structure.
  • In comparison to girls, the boys are affected much more in number by this syndrome.
  • It is also understood that child immunizations is not associated with Asperger’s syndrome

Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis

As the symptoms and the severity of this syndrome vary widely, one needs to observe the affected child’s skill in communication, social interaction, friendship, language, academic abilities, their behavioral, emotional and psychological status and performance.

For diagnosing Asperger’s syndrome, the child has to match the criteria shown in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders manual, published by American Psychiatric Association.

Some of the criteria shown in DSM for Asperger’s syndrome are:

  • Problems in making friends
  • Preoccupation with a single subject
  • Some delays in language development
  • Lack of or absence of interest in interactive play
  • Decreased eye to eye contact
  • Abnormal posture of the body or unusual social expressions
  • Rigid attitude to changes

Asperger’s Syndrome treatment

Early intervention with main focus on behavior and social skill management may make the children with Asperger’s syndrome grow as well adjusted and happy adults.

Some of the treatment methods for Asperger’s syndrome are discussed below:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Reducing problematic behaviors of interrupting, outbursts and obsessions by following accepted techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy, helps to develop skills, such as understanding the feelings and managing the anxiety to cope with the social demands.
  • Training in communication and social skills: Teaching of communicational and socialization skills can make the child, affected by Asperger’s syndrome, learn just like the normal children learning a foreign language. They can acquire the skill of rhythmic speech, communicational techniques such as tone of voice, humor, gesture, eye contact and sarcasm.
  • Medications: There is no specific medication for treating Asperger’s syndrome. However medicines are given to treat the symptoms, such as depression, hyperactivity and anxiety, which in turn help to control Asperger’s syndrome. Some of the medications are listed below:
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs: Fluvoxamine drug is given for depression and for controlling repetitive behaviors. Restlessness and agitation are the side effects of this drug.
    • Guanfacine: It is given for controlling the problems of hyperactivity. Drowsiness, constipation, headache, bedwetting and irritability are the side effects of this medicine.
    • Aripiprazole: This drug is given for treating irritability. Weight gain, and increase in blood sugar level are the side effects of this medicine.
    • Risperidone: This drug is given for controlling agitation and irritability. It may cause the side effects of trouble in sleeping; induce appetite, nose running, increase in blood sugar and cholesterol.
    • Naltrexone: This drug controls repetitive behaviors, and it is given to help alcoholics  also for stopping the drinking.
    • Olanzapine: This medicine is given to control the repetitive behaviors. Drowsiness, increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels and weight gain are some of the side effects of this drug.

As the drugs are giving side effects, it should be taken under the guidance of a doctor. Also, behavioral therapy is generally continued for the lifetime of individuals affected by Asperger’s syndrome, and should be not be discontinued unless indicated by a therapist

 

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