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Aspergers syndrome

What is asperger?

Asperger disorder (AD), also known as asperger syndrome (AS) or asperger is an autism disorder that is typically characterized by difficulties in nonverbal communication and social interaction along with repetitive and restrictive patterns of behavior. 

What is the cause of asperger syndrome?

The causes are yet still unknown although there is growing evidence towards genetics. There is some evidence for it running in the family and it is observed to be with family members that display behavioral symptoms like AS but in a milder form like with difficulties in social interaction, reading or language. Brain imaging techniques are yet to show a conclusive common pathology. There has been many hypothesizes involving environmental factors but there still is no solid prove.

Aspergers symptoms

This pervasive developmental disorder is distinguished by the pattern of symptoms rather than 1 single symptom. It is characterized by the quality of impairment in social interactions and by restricted patterns behavior, interests and activities and by no clinical significant delay in the cognitive development or delay in language. There is also focused preoccupation with a specific topic or subject, physical clumsiness, restricted prosody and one sided verbosity are normal but not required for the diagnosis.

Treating asperger syndrome

Most professionals agree that early intervention is more beneficiary and that the ideal treatment for AS address the basics problems that include obsessive or repetitive patters and poor communication skills. Treatment is similar to that of high functioning ASDs but takes into account the verbal strengths and non verbal vulnerabilities of language. A common approach to treatment involves:

  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA) technique that is for social skills training for effective interpersonal interactions.
  • Cognitive behavior treatment to better the stress management in relation to emotions and anxiety and to lower repetitive routines and obsessive interests.
  • Medication for conditions that coexist like anxiety disorder and depressive disorder.
  • Physical or occupational therapy to help with weak motor coordination and sensory processing.
  • Specialized speech therapy focusing on the pragmatics of give and take of normal conversation.
  • Positive behavior support that includes support and training of the primary care givers and school faculty in the behavior management strategies to apply at home and school.

Medication for asperger syndrome

There is no medication that directly treats the symptoms of AS. Despite the effectiveness of medical treatment being limited, it is found to be essential in the treatment of comorbid conditions. The lack of understanding of people with AS to see why the medication may help due to deficits in self identifying emotions is normal. In conjunction with environmental accommodations and behavioral intervention, medication can be effective in treating comorbid symptoms like major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder, aggression and inattention. Olanzapine and risperidone that are atypical antipsychotic medication have shown to lower the symptoms of AS. Great care and professional supervision is important as the side effects can be common and harder to ascertain in individuals with AS. Further concerns with the use of medication include increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiac conduction times and abnormalities in metabolism as well as long term neurological side effects. It is also noted that SSRIs can further lead to higher impulsivity, sleep disturbances and aggression. Side effects of risperidone can also be fatigue, weight gain, increased risk for extrapyramidal symptoms like dystoniaFeature Articles, restlessness and higher serum prolactin levels. Weight gain and sedation are more frequent with olanzapine that is also linked to diabetes.  Sedative effects will show ramifications for learning in school for children with aspergers.

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