Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a neurological disorder resulting in a group of social and behavioral symptoms. It is part of a category of conditions called autism spectrum disorders. Children with Asperger syndrome usually have normal intelligence and do not have the language problems typical of autism.

  • Causes

    The cause of Asperger syndrome is unknown. Some experts believe a variety of factors may be responsible.

    Infant Brain—Period of Rapid Development
    Infant Brain and skull
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  • Definition


    Asperger syndrome is a neurological disorder resulting in a group of social and behavioral symptoms.
    It is part of a category of conditions called
    autism spectrum disorders.
    Children with Asperger syndrome usually have normal intelligence and do not have the language problems typical of autism.

  • Diagnosis

    There are no tests for Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis is based on observations of the child's behavior. Neuropsychological and IQ tests may be done. Medical tests may be ordered to help rule out other conditions. Children and their families can benefit from early intervention. Knowing what is wrong also helps families understand why the child acts differently than other children.

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing Asperger syndrome.

  • Risk Factors

    Asperger syndrome is more common in boys. Family history of autism spectrum disorder may also be a risk factor.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms usually become noticeable around 2-½ or 3 years of age. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and can include:

    • Difficulty interacting with others
    • Trouble making friends
    • Poor understanding of other people's feelings
    • Insensitivity to social cues and facial expressions
    • Inappropriate social and emotional responses
    • Preoccupation with one's own world
    • Not sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with others
    • Following repetitive routines or rituals
    • Difficulty with any changes in routine or schedule
    • Single mindedness
    • Limited interests, usually one or two subjects
    • Repeating words or phrases over and over
    • Intense interest in a few topics
    • Good rote memory without understanding the information
    • Limited verbal skills or using words in odd ways
    • Difficulty imagining things or thinking abstractly
    • Taking things very literally
    • Focusing on small details and having trouble seeing the bigger picture
    • Ability to read without understanding the words
    • Problems with nonverbal communication
    • Poor eye contact
    • Few facial expressions, except for anger or unhappiness
    • Impaired body posturing or use of gestures
    • Clumsy movements
    • Hand flapping
    • Poor coordination
    • Inflexibility or trouble accepting change
    • Difficulty accepting loss or criticism
    • Obsessive desire to finish any tasks that are started

  • Treatment


    There is no treatment to cure Asperger syndrome. Treatments aim to control symptoms and improve social skills. Children often learn to function independently when they become adults. However, they usually continue to experience problems with social interaction. They may be at risk for learning disabilities, such as
    attention deficit disorder (ADD). They also may develop mental health problems, such as
    depression
    and
    anxiety. Children with Asperger syndrome need love and understanding, as well as a structured schedule.