Diseases

Asperger’s Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger ‘s syndrome is a developmental disorder that belongs to the spectrum of autistic disorders. Asperger’s syndrome is associated with impaired social interaction and recurring behavioral patterns. Since the causes of the disease have not yet been clarified, Asperger’s syndrome is considered incurable.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that is often compared to mild autism and is characterized by disorders in social and communicative interaction despite normally developed intelligence.

Those affected by Asperger’s syndrome usually have a limited ability to empathize (empathy) and are conspicuous for their inappropriate social behavior. This is due to the fact that verbal and non-verbal signs of human communication cannot be interpreted by those affected by Asperger’s Syndrome. You cannot interpret irony or sarcasm, facial expressions or gestures of the other person.

Unconventional interests and preferences that appear abnormal in intensity and content to outsiders (memorization of certain data) as well as repetitive, almost ritualized behavior patterns from which sufferers find it difficult to break free are characteristic symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome.

causes

To date, the causes of Asperger’s syndrome have not been sufficiently clarified. Asperger’s syndrome is believed to be largely genetic. Furthermore, disturbances in the development of neuronal structures are suspected, which cause faulty information processing of complex relationships (central coherence).

In addition, neurophysiological impairments in Asperger’s syndrome lead to disturbances in fine and sensory motor skills, limit visual-spatial perception and non-verbal category formation. This is partly attributed to decreased activity in specific areas of the prefrontal cortex (part of the cerebral cortex belonging to the frontal lobe) seen in affected individuals.

The amygdala (almond core), which as a component of the limbic system is essential for the emotional assessment and assignment of situational contexts, also shows anomalies in those affected by Asperger’s syndrome. In contrast, non-somatic ( traumata ) and socialization-related causes (upbringing) are disregarded.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

People with Asperger’s Syndrome have trouble empathizing with other people. They cannot correctly interpret the tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures of their counterpart. They are mostly intelligent and articulate above average. Before they can walk, children with Asperger’s begin to talk. Her tone is monotonous and her facial expressions are almost non-existent. A fixed and regular daily routine is important to them.

Children have trouble making friends and are often teased. Their physical coordination ranges from clumsy to poor and their posture is conspicuous. They have poor control of their emotions and are sensitive to touch, sound, and smell. People who have Asperger’s Syndrome are considered perfectionists, love attention to detail and are overly precise in their actions.

They develop preferences and a strong interest in certain things and engage in them intensively. Some people learn timetables by heart or are fascinated by history and its data. They come across as arrogant and impolite to those around them, and they are honest in every situation. Asperger’s syndrome is similar to the symptoms of autistic people , but differs significantly in the whole of the disease. Asperger’s syndrome is only noticed in kindergarten age and autism in infancy.

Diagnosis & History

For a reliable diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, diseases with similar symptoms (early childhood autism, ADHD , obsessive -compulsive disorders ) should be ruled out in advance. In contrast to early childhood autism, the first symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome usually only become visible after the age of three, when social integration skills are required of the child (e.g. when entering kindergarten).

To diagnose Asperger’s syndrome, a psychiatrist determines the cognitive and social development level of the person concerned, taking into account the previous history and with the help of specific characteristic and evaluation scales, and tries to identify characteristic behavioral problems in an observational manner.

For adults, special questionnaires are used and childhood is examined more closely, since behavioral problems can best be observed in this phase of life. Ideally, people from the socialization context (parents, siblings) are also interviewed. Asperger’s syndrome has a chronic course, although the individual deficits can be alleviated by psychological care of the person affected by Asperger’s syndrome.

complications

Asperger’s syndrome is congenital and mostly affects male children. The resulting complications depend on the use of various therapeutic measures. These vary from case to case and vary with age.

The underlying problems are often a greater stress test for the parents or the caregiver than for the child itself. The first symptoms of Asperger’s show children between the ages of one and three when they are learning the language. Either they articulate or they don’t. Children with Asperger’s often seem withdrawn and have difficulties making contact.

The person affected remains related to himself for the rest of his life. His individual behavior can cause complications at school and in adult life. At times, this self-isolation can end in depression. In some cases, people with Asperger’s need nursing care and cannot integrate into society either professionally or in general.

The impairments of the child are negatively intensified if parents do without the medical diagnosis. Problems at school then result from the hyperactive and rough behavior, which is why these children with ADHD are stigmatized and treated incorrectly if the findings are not made. However, children with Asperger’s have above-average intelligence. If the diagnosis is made early, the child can fully develop its talents despite the deficit.

When should you go to the doctor?

If you suspect Asperger’s syndrome, you should definitely consult a doctor. A diagnosis of the developmental disorder can almost always make life easier for those affected – be it through various therapy measures or through appropriate medication. Anyone who notices symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome in their child should always seek medical help. Depending on the severity of the disorder, untreated Asperger’s syndrome can cause major problems in everyday life and at work.

A medical examination is particularly recommended if the impairments cause the person concerned to suffer. At the latest when Asperger’s syndrome leads to behavior that is dangerous to yourself or others, medical or therapeutic advice is required. However, the person concerned must also be willing to do this, which is why previous discussions are recommended.

Children who may have Asperger’s syndrome should be well prepared for a doctor’s visit and any treatment measures. Parents and acquaintances should use information brochures, forums and discussions with doctors and therapists to find out about the syndrome and how to deal with it before finally taking the step to see a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

Since the disease cannot be cured, therapy for Asperger’s syndrome aims to reduce individual deficits and promote existing skills. It depends on the severity of the symptoms.

Those affected with mild Asperger’s syndrome do not necessarily have to be treated therapeutically and are often able to integrate socially and professionally. In the case of pronounced Asperger’s syndrome, on the other hand, long-term therapy should be started early. Within the framework of this, with the help of different therapy concepts, rules of conduct for everyday life are learned and attempts are made to reduce compulsive and ritualized behavior.

As part of an ABA program (Applied Behavior Analysis) and small talk training, socially adapted behavior patterns are practiced through constant repetition. Through the TEACCH program (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children), those affected by Asperger’s Syndrome are encouraged to process and acquire new learning content by preparing it according to their individual interests and existing skills.

Drug therapy is not the rule for Asperger’s syndrome and is usually only used if other disorders (ADHD) occur.

Outlook & Forecast

In contrast to early childhood autism, there is too little long-term knowledge of Asperger’s syndrome to be able to realistically assess the long-term development of those affected. Specialists observe a relatively stable development with a tendency for the symptoms to improve over the course of the biography. However, Asperger’s syndrome cannot be cured; the characteristic symptoms remain for life.

Despite their social limitations, some of those affected manage to have a stable couple or other stable social relationships. They can find professional fulfillment if the professional requirements match their interests. Many people with Asperger’s autism thrive in computer science careers where they are not required to engage in constant social interaction with other people.

While they often come off as cold and self-absorbed, that doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Most people with Asperger’s autism do not seek treatment, they rather want those around them to accept their limitations. It depends very much on the individual living conditions of those affected and the acceptance of their social environment, whether they feel comfortable and can lead a fulfilling life despite their limitations. If they experience them as disruptive, depression can also develop. A general prognosis is difficult because the prognosis depends on individual factors.

prevention

Although there are no preventive measures for Asperger’s syndrome, early diagnosis and early start of therapy can ensure better treatment success and help to avoid secondary diseases (depression). In addition, the success of the therapy depends on the willingness to integrate in the social environment and the available care options for those affected by Asperger’s syndrome.

aftercare

Because Asperger’s Syndrome, like all autism spectrum disorders, is a lifelong, congenital, mental disability, there is never any real closure, let alone a cure. Depending on the patient, a single therapy can be enough to get through everyday life with little or no support. It’s also possible that lifelong support is needed.

The aftercare that follows autism-specific psychotherapy usually consists of outpatient care in the form of outpatient assisted living or accommodation in a residential home specializing in autistics or in a shared apartment with all-day care. Because the main difficulty for Asperger’s autistics lies in the social interaction with non-autistics, i.e. neurotypical people, this is where they most likely need support.

Where therapy can only run through theoretical scenarios, assisted living offers the opportunity to accompany the everyday life of an autistic person and to support them where the problems arise. Precisely because many autistic people are unable to work, there are many vitally important visits to authorities and doctors, for which an escort is necessary. In some cases, it can also make sense to hire a legal representative, because this takes the pressure off the patient of being responsible for securing their livelihood.

You can do that yourself

The most important thing in the everyday life of a person with Asperger’s syndrome is structure. Fixed plans and rules take away the pressure of having to make quick decisions under sensory overload and give them the security they need to tackle everyday tasks.

First, personal strengths and weaknesses should be analyzed. Which situations do you find particularly overwhelming? What activities as calming? On this basis, daily and weekly plans can then be created that do not involve the complete avoidance of exciting situations. The aim is to find a balance between the stressful activities and rest periods in which the tension can be reduced again.

Another important strategy is the conscious study and learning of social behavior. Those affected find it difficult to interpret facial expressions and gestures of the other person and to react appropriately themselves. Many social processes remain the same and can be practiced in role play. These exercises do not have to be part of behavioral therapy or a special class. Family, friends and partners can also help.

There are now a number of apps for smartphones to make communication easier. Using picture cards and sentence building blocks, they also help to formulate sentences when speaking is particularly difficult.

Website | + posts

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.