Asperger Syndrome is a type of autism characterized by poor social interactions, obsessions, odd speech patterns, limited facial expressions, and other unusual mannerisms. Children with Asperger’s are generally considered to be on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, but many struggle with motor delays, clumsiness, limited interests, and unusual preoccupations. Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have Asperger’s. The average age of diagnosis is between seven and nine, though recent research on early warnings signs may enable clinicians to diagnosis before a child turns one.
A child with Asperger’s may exhibit some of the following symptoms: inappropriate or minimal social interaction, self-centered conversation, repetitive or scripted/robotic speech, trouble with reading, writing, or math, obsession with complex topics like patterns or music, average or below-average nonverbal cognition, average to above-average verbal cognition, awkward movements, and odd behaviors and mannerisms. Children with Asperger’s usually have good grammar skills and an advanced vocabulary at an early age but may still have problems with attention span and organization.
Researchers are not certain what causes Asperger Syndrome, but brain abnormalities are thought to be a possible cause. Structural and functional differences have been seen with advanced brain imaging. Genetics likely also play a role. It is not, however, caused by poor parenting or emotional deprivation, despite the child’s mannerisms that may appear to be deliberately rude.
Asperger’s can be hard to diagnose since children with Asperger’s function well in many facets of life. To diagnose Asperger’s, a specialist will do a thorough psychosocial evaluation that will include a careful history of when symptoms first began, the development of motor skills and language patterns, and other aspects of personality and behavior. Special focus is placed on social interaction and friendship development. Children with Asperger Syndrome will need early intervention involving educational and social training while their brains are still developing.