Asperger syndrome

What is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and is a developmental disorder affecting how the brain processes information.

What is the cause of Asperger Syndrome?

Experts are divided as to what causes Asperger syndrome. The most current research suggests the possibility of both a neurological and genetic cause. This means that in some families there will be more than one child, or family member, with ASD.

How is Asperger Syndrome diagnosed?

Due to the nature of the symptoms and presentation of Aspergers it can take a number of years before the pattern of behaviour is linked to Asperger syndrome.This can be a source of concern for parents as they may have been aware for some time that their child’s behaviour is different from children of a similar age.

A diagnosis of Asperger syndrome is usually made following an in-depth assessment of the child’s skills and abilities by a paediatrician, often working with a team of specialists, such as a psychologist and speech pathologist.

The assessment will usually include questions about social and emotional abilities, communication skills, learning abilities, movement skills and special interests.

This assessment may be conducted over several days, in the home, at a clinic, or at kindergarten or school. While the diagnostic process is often a lengthy one, it is crucial to providing the person with the best possible care.

What are the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome?

The symptoms and signs of Asperger syndrome vary but may include:

  • Difficulty in creating relationships and forming friendships.
  • Preferring to play alone or with older children and adults.
  • Difficulty with actual communication despite apparently good language skills.
  • Difficulty in comprehending that effective communication requires listening as well as talking.
  • A tendency to take a very literal understanding of what has been said.
  • Difficulty or inability to manage and comprehend typical rules of social behaviour, the feelings of others and difficulty ‘reading’ body language.
  • Behaviour can vary from mildly unusual, eccentric or ‘odd’, to quite aggressive and difficult.
  • Insistence of living with a set of rules and rituals that all family members must follow.
  • Visible frustration when things do not happen as they want.
  • Overly sensitive to criticism.
  • A narrow field of interests and an ability/desire to learn all there is to know about a specific topic.

What is the treatment for Asperger Syndrome?

Despite the fact there is no cure or specific treatment for Asperger syndrome, social skills training can be helpful.

Similarly simply having a confirmed diagnosis can help family members and others to understand the behaviours and feelings of a person with Asperger syndrome.

Asperger Syndrome and autism

Asperger syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This means that people with Asperger syndrome can display a wide range of behaviours and social skills, and no two individuals will have the same set of characteristics.

Some people will demonstrate skills that are mostly in line with their peers, while others may present with odd behaviours. Other people will appear to be significantly different from their peers.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Remember

  • Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • People with Asperger syndrome view the world differently and have difficulty with social, emotional and communication skills. They are often seen as eccentric.
  • There is no cure, but support, understanding, routine and training can assist.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

See also

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