Asperger’s: Overview of Symptoms, Challenges, and Therapies

June 1, 2022

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental divergence that falls under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Aspergers can cause difficulties for people to socially communicate with others. It is labeled as a mild level of autism and can result in rigid and repetitive behavior and thinking patterns. Asperger’s is considered a level 1 autism diagnosis which means the symptoms are mild compared to a level 2 or 3 diagnosis.

In many cases, children and teens with Asperger’s can speak with others and perform well in school. However, they can have trouble understanding subtle forms of communication like body language, humor, or sarcasm. They may focus on one particular topic of interest in conversation or participate in a limited selection of play activities.

Symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is most noticeable in interactions with other people. To help determine whether a professional should be consulted, here are some common symptoms: 

Social symptoms

  • Challenges in making or maintaining friendships
  • Isolation or minimal interaction with people
  • Poor eye contact or inappropriate staring
  • Difficulty interpreting gestures
  • Inability to recognize humor, irony, or sarcasm
  • Inappropriate behaviors or odd mannerisms
  • Lack of common sense

Language and speech issues

  • Repetitive speech patterns
  • Problems using language in a social context
  • Loud or high-pitched screeching
  • Scripted, formal, or robotic type of speaking

Physical symptoms

  • Motor skill delays
  • Awkward movements
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Sensitivity to loud noises, odors, clothing, or food textures

Challenges of Asperger's syndrome

Individuals with Asperger’s can experience challenges like:

  1. Social awkwardness

Those with Asperger's syndrome may struggle to navigate social relationships. They might:

  • Struggle to understand the nature of the conversation 
  • Have difficulty determining socially acceptable response
  • Miss non-verbal social cues, such as body language and facial expressions
  • Exhibit limited expressions or distractions in conversations
  1. Challenges making friends 

Individuals with Aspergers can find it challenging to spend time with people and prefer spending time immersed in their interests. This is not an indication that they do not want friends, but the experience of making friends can be too stressful, difficult, or a lot of work to navigate.  

  1. Sensory issues 

Some people with Asperger's syndrome have sensory processing difficulties. This can manifest through sensitivity to bright light, particular textures, loud or high-pitched noises, and strong odors. In addition, they may struggle with poor balance and clumsiness.

  1. Hyper-focused interest

Individuals with Aspergers can have strong, focused interests. The more common hyper-focused activities include those involving facts, objects, or sensory topics. These interests may include reading, watching movies, playing video games, collecting objects, or practicing basic math skills. 

  1. Adapting to change

A dependable routine can be beneficial for any child, but those diagnosed with Asperger’s become fixated on maintaining a schedule and can take this activity to extremes. Whenever changes are introduced, they may become irrationally upset and may engage in negative behaviors as a result.

How can an early Asperger's syndrome diagnosis help your child?

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states that an early diagnosis of Asperger’s shows better outcomes and positive long-term effects, helping your child make optimal progress while decreasing the chance that prolonged and intense care will be required in the future.

Diagnosis timespan for Asperger’s syndrome

If a child exhibits severe symptoms, consider contacting a therapist. It can be possible to form a diagnosis as early as six months, whereas it may take considerably longer to identify the problem when symptoms are mild. 

The timespan for diagnosis depends on your child's condition and requirements—the earlier the child is diagnosed, the greater the opportunity for therapy. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is considered the definitive therapy to treat children with autism.

How can families support children with Asperger's syndrome

In addition to seeking professional support, children with autism can benefit from the support of family and friends. Here are great ways to help improve a child’s daily life:

  1. Make them feel safe and loved

This is the most useful support technique for any child. Knowing that they are loved and valued makes children feel comfortable. The more comfortable they are, the more interactive they become.

  1. Consider environmental factors

Keeping the child’s environment both engaging and familiar can work wonders for a child with Asperger’s syndrome. Have a regular daily routine planned for them to allow them a sense of security and minimize any unnecessary sensory input to reduce stress.

  1. Have on-the-go timetables

Any time there is a new situation, it is helpful to take time to explain the situation and context. This can help children with transitioning and also reduce some of the fallout that may come with deviating from a regular and secure routine. 

  1. Slow down

Communicating information effectively always works. The more precise and clear the speech is, the more responsive the child will be. Always take the time to enunciate clearly to ensure that the child has the best chance to understand what is expected of them.

Care and therapies for Asperger’s syndrome

Every child is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Your doctor may recommend trying a few therapies to see which one can produce the greatest results.

There are many types of therapies and care options available to help children:

  • Social skills training

This group or one-on-one session involves therapists teaching the child how to interact with others and appropriately express themselves. Social skills are often learned by modeling typical behavior. 

  • Speech-language therapy

Professionals work specifically to enhance the child's communication skills. For instance, they learn to use a normal up-and-down pattern when speaking rather than a flat tone. The therapist also teaches how to keep up during conversations, highlighting the importance of hand gestures and eye contact. 

  • Cognitive behavior therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy helps the child change their way of thinking to control their emotions and behavior repetitions. With professional assistance, they will learn to handle their outbursts and meltdowns better. 

  • Parental education and training

Parents will learn many of the same techniques that the child is taught so that they can practice social skills with them at home. This allows a sense of ownership and participation in addition to the therapy itself. Some families may also see a counselor to help them deal with the challenges of living with a child that has Asperger’s syndrome.  

  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy)

ABA therapy focuses on encouraging positive social and communication skills in the child while discouraging inappropriate behavior. The therapist uses praise and other positive reinforcement procedures to achieve the desired results.

Conclusion

Though Asperger's syndrome has its challenges, early detection coupled with therapy options can ensure a child has the best chance at a rich, full life. 

Songbird is a technology-enabled provider setting a high standard for children's developmental care using ABA therapy. With a profoundly passionate team and innovative technology, we are building a world where every child can access world-class care and therapies at home uniquely tailored to them.

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