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Asperger's Syndrome

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder. It is classified as an autism spectrum disorder, one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.

Other autism spectrum disorders include: classic autism, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified . Unlike children with autism, children with Asperger's syndrome retain their early language skills. Asperger's syndrome affects far more boys than girls.

Asperger's syndrome is named for an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger.

Symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome

The most common symptom of Asperger's syndrome is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with Asperger's syndrome want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else. Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors.

Other symptoms of of Asperger's syndrome include:

  • repetitive routines or rituals
  • peculiarities in speech and language
  • socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers
  • problems with non-verbal communication
  • clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements

Children with Asperger's syndrome are often are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. Children with Asperger's syndrome usually have a history of developmental delays in motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy.

What Causes Asperger's Syndrome?

The exact cause of Asperger's syndrome is unknown.

Can Asperger's Syndrome be Treated?

Yes. Treatments address the three core symptoms of Asperger's syndrome: poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.

An effective treatment program builds on the child’s interests, offers a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engages the child’s attention in highly structured activities, and provides regular reinforcement of behavior. Treatment may also include social skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication for co-existing conditions, and other measures.

Medications may help improve specific behaviors, such as anxiety, depression or hyperactivity.

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