Aspergers syndrome (AS) is a fairly new disorder which is apart of the autism spectrum. Since people with Aspergers syndrome are high functioning and very intelligent the disorder is not picked up as quickly as full fledged autism would be. Children may be diagnosed as young as three years old though that is rare. More often than not they are diagnosed at five to seven years old when they have started school and the social problems are picked up.
Then again these social problems may not be picked up at all. Children AS can easily fall through the cracks. They are often just thought of as being different, odd, or weird”
Quick diagnose and intervention is necessary. If the disorder is picked up during the formative years when the young child’s brain is still developing, the chances for a good prognosis is highly probable. Children who learn good behaviors, and good communication and social skills early enough have a better chance of reversing the maladaptive or bad behaviors before they become ingrained in the brain. These children will in turn have more enriched lives. They will make friends and be happier children who grow into happier adults.
Therefore, as soon as a parents feel something is different with their child’s behavior it is time to see the doctor right there and then without delay.
The doctor will look for the symptoms associated with Aspergers syndrome which are:
-lack of or minimal social interaction with others
-robotic, repetitive or scripted talk
-conversations about self but not other people
-immaturity or lack of common sense
-academic reading, writing, or math difficulties
-obsessions about different things like music, certain patterns, or color co-ordinations
-strange mannerism, awkward movement, or odd behaviors
If these or some of these symptoms are present when the pediatrician does the initial evaluation. The child would be referred to a specialist who will do a complete psychosocial evaluation taking into consideration when each symptom first appeared and how the child has development socially and physically as compared to normal children. The evaluation will include detailing of all strange or unusual behavior and mannerisms not common to normal children of the same age group.
The child will be furthered evaluated in a social setting, which could include the school, at home, and at a predetermined hospital, or laboratory setting.
Treatment for Aspergers Syndrome
There is no one specific treatment for Aspergers syndrome because the symptoms and severity of symptoms are different for each child. The treatment, therefore, will be as individualized as possible.
These treatments can include:
Language skills reinforcement and training
Social skills training
Parent education and training
Specialized education training for children
Desensitization therapy for children who are over sensitive to different stimuli like noises, lighting, particular types of clothing and so on
Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
It is important all people involved in the child’s life take an active part in the program; that includes parents and other family members, baby sitters, teachers, camp counsellors and so on.
The role of the the parent of a child with Aspergers syndrome
Parents who take an active rather than a reactive approach in their child’s development will see far greater gains in the child’s social skills. Parents should research all the resources available to them. This would include parent and self help groups, community funding for special education programs for their child, summer camps, Internet resources, and so on.
Parents who are able to teach their child adaptable behaviors already are ahead of everyone else. The more life skills the child will learn the greater independence he or she will have. Parents are also the child’s best advocate. If you are a parent of a child with Aspergers syndrome, do not be ashamed or afraid to tell other people that your child has special needs. Make an appointment with the school to see if your child is getting the proper special education or treatment necessary. If not, shop around for a school or therapeutic program which can help and not hinder your child’s progress.
At the same time do not neglect the rest of the family. Always remember that your child may have special needs and your spouse, and other children, as well as yourself have needs as well. Balancing family needs may not be easily done, yet it is essential for family support and harmony.
For list of resources available for help with Aspergers syndrome click here.