If you meet someone who has Asperger's syndrome, you may notice two things on the spot. People with Asperger's syndrome are smart, they are even as smart as other people you'd meet.

The second thing is they are likely to have an obsessive focus on a specific subject. In this article, we will discuss the causes of Asperger's syndrome, the symptoms to look out for, when to visit the doctor and how it can be treated.

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What is Aspergers Syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is a form of autism spectrum disorder. Some years ago, doctors assumed Asperger's syndrome as a separate condition from autism spectrum disorder. 

However, in 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), changed how Asperger's disorder is classified. Now, Asperger's syndrome is no longer a diagnosis on its own but a part of a broad group of conditions known as an autism spectrum disorder. 

Asperger's syndrome is called a "high-functioning" type of autism spectrum disorder because many people use it as a misdiagnosis for autism.

This group of related disorders shares similar signs and symptoms. But the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome are not as severe as that of other types of the autism spectrum.

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Causes of Asperger’s Syndrome

The actual cause of Asperger's is not yet understood or known but it is believed that it is largely inherited. Therefore the cause of Asperger's syndrome can be traced back to genetic factors and environmental factors.

  • A chromosomal abnormality (such as fragile X syndrome).
  • A mother's use of prescription medicines taken during pregnancy (such as valproic acid for seizures or mood disorders, or thalidomide for anxiety).
  • Having been born to older parents.

Asperger's syndrome is often diagnosed in boys rather than girls.

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Famous People with Asperger's

  • Daryl Hannah

Daryl is an American actress who was diagnosed with Asperger’s early in her career. According to Hannah, having Asperger’s syndrome made it difficult for her to cope with some of the social demands made of Hollywood stars. “I never went on talk shows, never went to premieres,” Hannah says.

In an interview with Women's Weekly, she mentioned that she has learned to adjust over time. “These days I have little tricks that I do to help me cope.” 

  • Chris Rock

Chris is a famous comedian who started therapy after a friend suggested he may have Asperger’s Syndrome. According to Today:

“The actor went through nine hours of cognitive tests and was eventually diagnosed with NVLD, which makes it difficult for him to understand nonverbal signals.”

  • Sir Anthony Hopkins

Oscar award-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Hopkins has mentioned his obsessive thinking habit and difficulty in maintaining friendship since his childhood even to his adulthood. He also mentioned his learning differences as a child.

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Types and Subtypes of Asperger’s Syndrome

Each child or person with Asperger's syndrome has a unique set of issues. The issues experienced are not the same from person to person.

How is Asperger’s Syndrome Detected?

If you notice signs of Asperger's syndrome in your child, it is recommended that you see your pediatrician as soon as possible. Your pediatrician can easily and quickly refer you to a mental health expert who specializes in autism spectrum disorder, like one of these:

  • Psychologist: Psychologists will help to diagnose and treat problems that are associated with emotions and behavior.
  • Pediatric neurologist: Pediatrics will help your child in treating conditions that are associated with the brain.
  • Developmental pediatrician: Developmental pediatrician will specialize in helping your child with speech and language issues and other developmental problems.
  • Psychiatrist: The psychiatrist who are experts in mental health will use their expertise in mental health conditions to prescribe medicine that can help treat your child.
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Best Asperger Tests & Quizzes to Try

1. Formplus Asperger's syndrome quiz: This is a good place to start when you need to assess the number of Asperger traits that closely match your behavioral preferences. Take the Quiz here

2. Psychcentral: Psych Central offers this brief time-saving test to anyone who needs autism evaluation especially as regards Asperger's syndrome. The test is designed for anyone who thinks they might benefit from an autism screening and it offers you feedback after completing the test.

3. Psycom: It is a self-assessment for many parents who want to learn as much as possible about autism spectrum disorder so they are in the best position to help their child who has the condition.

Note that this test does not serve as a proper diagnosis. Therefore it is important to visit the hospital or the medical professionals for proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome

People with Asperger's syndrome may experience any of these symptoms

  • Behavioural symptoms: People with Asperger's syndrome are like to be impulsive, experience social isolation and have compulsive behavior. They are also likely to be aggressive, experience repetitive movements, and persistent in the repetition of words or actions.
  • Muscular symptoms: They have the inability to combine muscle movements, because of poor coordination.
  • Mood swings: They are often experiencing anger, anxiety, or apprehension.

Other common symptoms apart from those listed above are nightmares, sensitivity to sound, depression, learning disability, nightmares, and restricted behavior.

Syndromes that can be mistaken for Asperger’s

Asperger's syndrome is commonly misdiagnosed as:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar personality disorder
  • Schizotypal
  • Schizoid
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

All the above-listed conditions have some behavioral symptoms related to Asperger's syndrome.  But, it is important to seek the opinion of a doctor and get a proper diagnosis from a medical health professional before embarking on any treatments.

Treatment and How to Cope with Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is often treated with a team approach. That means you would likely see more than one doctor for your child's care. Every child is different, and there is no one size fits all, therefore the doctor might need to try a few therapies to find the one that works for your child.

Some of the treatments that can be introduced are: 

1. Social skills training: The therapist will teach your child how to socialize and interact with others and appropriately express themselves. It is best to learn social skills through modeling after typical behavior.

2. Speech-language therapy: Speech-language therapy helps improve your child's communication skills. They'll also get lessons on how to keep up a two-way conversation and understand social cues like hand gestures and eye contact.

3. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy will help your child change the way they think, and help them to better control their emotions and repetitive behaviors. 

4. Medications: Some medications can be used to manage this condition. However, it is best to get a prescription from a doctor.

Conclusion

If your child has Asperger's syndrome, they are likely to talk about themselves most of the time and focus on just one specific topic like football or rain. It is important to be patient with them as they are likely to repeat themselves.

If you recognize any symptoms of Asperger's syndrome in your child or anyone you know, recommend that they visit the hospital and get a proper evaluation on how to manage their symptoms and live a healthy life.



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