Hang Asperger, a pediatrician, researched on Asperger syndrome but Lorna Wing, a psychiatrist and physician, was the one who familiarized the world with Asperger syndrome (Lyons, Fitzgerald, & Fitzgerald, 2005). In 1994, Asperger researched on four children who were unable to interact socially due to their lack of nonverbal communication skills. He called this condition "Autistic psychopathy." But in 1981, Dr. Wing published some case studies of children with similar symptoms. She was the one who called it "Asperger's syndrome." The term was added to world Health Organization's diagnostic manual in 1992, although it was equated with highly functioning autism (National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, 2012).
Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder i.e. ASD. Autism is a mental condition which exists from childhood in a person and causes communication, relationship and psychological difficulties. Asperger syndrome means that the person is unable to communicate non-verbally and lack social skills. It is a neurodevelopment disorder which includes repetitive routines and limited stereotyped arrangement of behaviors which the person feels compelled to follow (National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, 2012) . Asperger is described in several other ways as well; it is described as person with autism having normal IQ and only verbal communication or individuals with mild lack of social skills and have distinctive interests (Ghaziuddin, 2005).
According to Ghaziuddin (2005) the two most common characteristics among people with Asperger syndrome are that they are unable to understand the emotions and feeling of other people; and show very narrow area of interest for activities and have very normal IQ level. This disorder is not only now common in children but also in adults. This paper will provide a detailed study of symptoms of Asperger syndrome, its causes and the effect it has on children and adults affected by it. It will also shed light on how to survive through this disorder.
There is not particular way in which Asperger syndrome shows itself. They appear gradually and the intensity of Asperger syndrome symptoms varies from person to person. It is also not a compulsion that all the symptoms will be visible in all the individuals suffering from Asperger syndrome. At birth of a child, there is no blood test or MRI to detect Asperger syndrome. New born with Asperger syndrome are as healthy as any other normal baby (Williams & Wright, 2004). Safran (2001) divides Asperger syndrome into two groups of traits; lack of social interaction and restricted areas of interest. For both of these groups, there are different symptoms. I n the case of social interaction, there are four prominent markers to identify Asperger syndrome.
1. There are prominent delays in non-verbal behavior i.e. delay of facial expressions, different body postures and gestures.
2. The individuals have reduced ability to develop a relationship with their peers.
3. There is no sudden outbreak of emotions in order to share feelings, happiness or their achievement with others
4. Individuals show delay of social exchange.
Similarly, according to Safran (2001), for the second group i.e. limited interests there are four symptoms which are prominent enough to identify Asperger syndrome.
1. Person is always preoccupied with his/her own area of interest
2. The routine they follow is very strict and cannot be changed; they are very rigid when it comes to following a routine.
3. Their motor movements are repetitive and limited
4. They are pre-occupied with parts or objects of their interest.
Symptoms at birth
Williams & Wright, (2004) described in detail the symptoms which are identified by parents in their new borns. Although there are no obvious signals, however some parents repoted that they noticed that babies barely looked at parents face or met their eye. They also babble very little and do not try to imitate the sound and movement of their parents.
At Six to Eighteen Months
At the age of 12 months, the babies should be babbling, using gestures, single words other than "momma" and "dada" and crawling. By 18 months, the child should be using two syllable words, respond to their name and using gestures like pointing at things. If the child is lacking any of these, then it is not necessary that they have Asperger syndrome but it could be a vital sign and should be examined by a health professional (Williams & Wright, 2004).
At Three to Eleven Years
According to Williams & Wright (2004), parents should be concerned about Asperger syndrome if their child is avoiding eye contact, not playing with other children, preoccupied, unusual rocking or other repetitive movements, showing unusual reaction to distress e.g. being ignored and stop using word which they used before and have little language.
At 12+ Years
Asperger syndrome does not develop overnight in any child. It is detected before a child reaches adolescence. It is also not a passed on to children from their parents. The severity of symptoms increase as the age increased (Williams & Wright, 2004).
Causes of Asperger syndrome
There are no possible causes of Asperger syndrome known by scientists. However there are several theories. Recent theory shows that brain abnormality is shown in patients of Asperger disorder. There are structural differences caused by atypical relocation of embryonic cells during fetal development. There is a genetic link found in relation to Asperger syndrome however a specific gene has not been identified. Asperger syndrome is more common in boys than in girls (National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, 2012). The origin of Asperger is biological but it is not caused due to parents or any other psychosocial environment of the child (Ozonoff, Dawson, & Mcpartland, 2002).
Treatments for Asperger Syndrome
There is no permanent treatment available for children and adults with Asperger syndrome. However there are certain therapies available which cater to the individual needs of the patients. The treatment is more effective it is started at an earlier age. Children with Asperger syndrome get better hold of themselves with time (A.D.A.M, 2008). According to the interest of the child, a program can be established to reinforce their behavior and structuralize their activities. Some of these programs are mentioned below (National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, 2012):
1. Social skill training program in which they are trained to interact with others
2. Cognitive Behavior therapy can help children with severe conditions of Asperger to talk to their therapists and try to manage their emotions and compulsive habits
3. For children who feel depression and anxiety, it is better to give them medication along with therapy
4. In order to improve the language and conversational skills, Specialized speech therapy can be helpful
5. Training of the parents / guardians is most essential so that they can help the children at home while the therapist / teacher trains them in sessions
6. Structured training can help the Asperger's child to establish routines and compartmentalizing visual boundaries of shapes and materials (Safran, 2001).
Students with Asperger Syndrome
Due to the lack of social skills, student counselors need to work very hard with the students with Asperger syndrome in coloration with parents and school staff. The school counselor can provide individual counseling and also recommend consultants. Counselor is usually known as the bridge between family and the school system. Managing the classroom behavior is very important for the development of the child. Anxiety in classrooms is very common for children with Asperger syndrome. It can be controlled by informing them before-hand about the routine of the day, this will help minimize their unease. Also, parents need to be educated about predictability at home. (Gibbons & Goins, 2008). At some occasions, children with Asperger syndrome might keep talking all day in the class room or start pacing, preventing others from studying of talking. Coaching can minimize this issue (Dillion, 2007).
Students with Asperger syndrome are better in mathematics than arts and languages. Some of them can handle regular classes while others do well in smaller classes or vocational courses. The success of child with Asperger syndrome in a class room is dependent on their behavior rather than their cognitive abilities. Using word processors, highlighting important text, providing them with written notes, less number of assignments and fixed seating in class according to the child's preference can be very helpful in improving the academic issues of children with Asperger syndrome (Gibbons & Goins, 2008).
Adults with Asperger syndrome
Many people with Asperger syndrome are intelligent or have normal IQ. However, their lack of social interaction and emotional lack of response, they feel different and a misfit in their environment. Since Asperger syndrome cannot be outgrown or medicated, as the person grows old, the situation for them becomes more difficult. But if the person is trained in the childhood or early stages of Asperger syndrome…