Asperger’s syndrome is characterized by the inability to mingle and communicate with others properly. The affected individual finds it extremely difficult to start a conversation and stay with it. Those afflicted with the said condition likewise struggle in expressing themselves. They usually suffer from certain types of behavioral problems as well, which make them believe that isolating themselves from other people is the best way to go.
Remarkably, individuals affected by Asperger’s syndrome (AS) are talented and have above-average intelligence, not much dissimilar to Autism, of which AS is often confused with. However, AS is a milder form of autism that with proper guidance and support, those who have it can still live successful and fulfilling lives.
Why does Asperger’s syndrome occur?
The syndrome is not yet fully understood by medical experts and scientists. Yet, they all believe that mutations in some genes cause the syndrome to happen. But with regards to the specific genes involved in the development of the syndrome, no one knows. One thing is for sure though, the condition is not related to childhood immunizations. Studies have shown that the syndrome is inherited and it had been found that the cognitive functions of the brain are affected. This part of the brain is responsible for thought, emotions and behavior. The problem tends to originate during the earliest stage of brain development, when the brain cells do not settle in their rightful places.
How common is it?
AS affects 1 out of 150 children and is two times more common in males than in females. It is often diagnosed within the 2nd and 6th year of the child’s life. However, in most cases, the symptoms do surface when the child is 3 years old, which is the period when his/her social skills start to develop. The syndrome is relatively unknown in the previous years and has only gained popularity with the recent advancements in medical technology and understanding. Among the famous personalities affected by the syndrome include Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates and even Michael Jackson.
Parents should never underestimate the presence of AS symptoms because there is a possibility that the syndrome may aggravate into more serious psychiatric and behavioral disorders, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety and ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder).
What happens to people affected by Asperger’s syndrome?
The following are some of the manifestations in children affected by AS.
Individuals affected by AS are normally talented and have above-average level of intelligence. However, they find it hard to keep even casual conversations and decipher non-verbal expressions and body language. They also display strange mannerisms and find it hard to foster friendships easily.
Impaired motor skills
The AS sufferers’ motor skills are not just delayed but mildly impaired as well. This is apparent during infancy when the child is supposed to practice crawling and learn how to walk.
Problems with coordination
Those with AS find it impossible to engage in some forms of physically demanding activities like sports or biking because they are simply clumsy.
Strong interest in one particular subject
Sufferers of AS exhibit strong interest in one particular subject, either in academics or some kind of hobby. Two of the most prominent people who make good examples are Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. AS patients may also be extraordinarily interested in music, computer programming, math or science.
Firm in their routines
Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome are also firm when it comes to their habitual routines and strongly oppose any change made.
People with Asperger’s syndrome often live up to adulthood and obtain satisfying jobs due to their remarkable level of intelligence.
How is Asperger’s syndrome diagnosed?
The extent of AS symptoms differs with every individual, and this makes diagnosis of the condition quite tricky. Besides, the diagnosis involves working with a team of healthcare professionals for a more accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment. Patients may need to undergo the following tests to confirm the syndrome.
- Physical examination
There may be no tests specially designed for diagnosing AS, however, several tests like blood exams and X-rays, help in determining the presence of any physical disorder that causes AS symptoms to surface.
- Medical history
This will help doctors determine how the syndrome affects the overall well-being of the child. This likewise involves considering his/her friendships, communication skills and social interaction. The doctor may also have to conduct behavioral, speech and psychological tests to determine the child’s level of intelligence, including his/her academic abilities.