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Aspergers syndrome

Aspergers syndrome is part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It has to do with children with an autistic disorder, who have a high level of mental capacity and function.

Which are the symptoms of a child with Aspergers syndrome?

The main symptoms and points are:

• Coercive interest for an object or an issue. For example, obsession to be occupied with bus itinerary times or natural disasters, having small or no interest at all for other objects.

• Poor social interaction. The child is not interested in talking, communicating or interacting with other children, despite the fact that his language level is high.

• Lack of common sense and obsession with strange ideas

• Learning disabilities or speech disorders

• Clumsiness or poor coordination of moves.

The mental level of children with Aspergers syndrome is usually normal, while many children with the syndrome acquire higher IQ scores. Each child having syndrome is different and unique.

How is the diagnosis made?

Due to the the high functionality of these children as compared with children having the classical form of autism, the syndrome is not usually recognized during pre-school age, but only when the child goes to elementary school.

At elementary school, children with Aspergers syndrome usually face socialization difficulties and difficulties in their participation in daily activities and playing with other children. These children face increased risk, compared to the general population, of experiencing anxiety or depression.

The paediatrician plays a role in diagnosing the likelihood of the syndrome and referring the child to a specialist (child development specialist, child psychiatrist), who will make the final diagnosis.

What is the cause of Aspergers syndrome?

The cause is unknown. Like all autistic disorders, it is considered to be a multifactorial disease, in which both genes and environmental stimuli play a role.

What kind of assessment is required for children who are likely to suffer from the syndrome;
The assessment should include collaboration in a group of health professionals of many specialties (paediatrician, psychologist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, child psychiatrist). The assessment should include an interview with the parent and monitoring of the child’s interaction with and behavior towards other children. The teacher can provide valuable information regarding the socialization of the child, his behavior, and his participation in groups.

There is usually need for exclusion of hearing problems through assessment by an otolaryngologist. In other cases, special tests are performed in order to exclude medical conditions, such as chromosomal abnormalities, which are related to forms of autism.

How is Aspergers syndrome treated?

Treatment is directed based on the special needs of each child and his family. After the detection of the particular difficulties that each child has, treatment may include:

• Special education, at school or with special programs of early intervention

• Behavioral and other psychotherapy aiming at developing social skills and communication skills, as well as preventing and dealing with behavioral problems

• Speech therapy

• Occupational therapy, aiming at adjusting the child’s home and environment to the specific child’s needs

• Training of parents and support to the family

• Rarely, medication in cases of depression or aggressive behavior

 

More information

http://www.autismhelp.info/

http://www.aspergerhellas.org/info-SA-HFA.html

http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/

 

Stelios Papaventsis MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2013

 

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