If you meet someone who is maybe even more intelligent than you, but seems to have trouble with social interactions and is obsessed with a specific topic of interest or perform the same behavior again and again, you probably have met someone who has Asperger's syndrome, known also as Asperger's or The Little Professor Syndrome.
This is a disease from the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Asperger's is a disorder of the development and is characterized by huge difficulties in nonverbal communication and social interaction. Also, repetitive behavioral patterns occur. The syndrome is at the end of the autism spectrum called "high functioning.
It does not affect language skills and intelligence. May lead to uncoordinated movements and unusual use of language. People with Asperger's have difficulties in social relationships and interaction.
The symptoms can vary a lot and it takes a lot of observation to come up with this diagnosis.
Little or no eye contact, repetitive speech, limited and/or inappropriate social interactions, obsession with a specific topic or topics, inability to understand nonliterary phrases or trouble understanding the expressions on people's faces or body language, a strong dislike of change, literal interpretation of metaphors, echolalia (repetition of another person's words), physical clumsiness.
Some of the people with Asperger's (or Aspies, as they call themselves) may have hypersensitivity. Most often there are hearing problems - they hear sounds others do not, like the sound that the fluorescent lights are making. They may be either over-sensitive or under-sensitive to touch. Some Aspies get upset by certain colors, bright lights or some pictures. There are also problems in orientating oneself in space or balancing the body. The diagnosis is not given until early elementary school years, because children with Asperger are not mentally retarded. This syndrome is one of the five "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" of the autism spectrum. It lasts for a lifetime and is more common in boys (they are diagnosed with Asperger's four times more than girls). The disease is often confused with other behavioral disorders, like attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Teenagers with Asperger's often face really big difficulties, among which are social isolation, inability to be a real teenager, sexual issues, criminal activity (problems with drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.), school failures, depression. If you are a parent of a teenager who is suffering with the disease, then you will definitely face many problems. You will have to provide vocational training for your child, to teach him or her how to live independently and support him or her financially for life, in some cases. You can make your and your child's life easier by following some advices. Like, choose carefully the school which your kid will attend. If necessary, you can find a lawyer to get the services that are needed, since your child should have accommodations for the learning disabled and an Individual Education Plan. Teach your child how to make contact with others, how to deal with the usual social interactions that occur every day. Ensure that your kid knows that he or she must practice good hygiene. You cannot "talk around" the sex issue. Be specific and detailed, provide him or her with proper sex education. Try to make sure that your child has understood that alcohol and drugs are illegal. In this case, the Asperger's syndrome may be even a good thing, because since patients are rule-oriented, they will not break the "no drugs and alcohol" rule, but you can never be too careful. Give your teen a card that explains Asperger Syndrome so if he or she gets stopped by a police officer, this might help him or her not to get into trouble.
Asperger's is untreatable, but there are some therapies who can help in the improvement of the quality of life. For example:
Social skills training - your child will be taught how to express themselves appropriately and how to interact better with others.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - which helps for better control over the emotions, obsessions and outbursts.
Speech-language therapy - for improving communication skills.
There is no approved medicine for Asperger's but there are some that help with symptoms, related to the disease, like anxiety or depression - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antipsychotic drugs, stimulants.
One very useful reading is "The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome" by Tony Attwood.
Also, for more information or help try http://www.yourlittleprofessor.com/.
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