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Asperger Syndrome Facts

Aspergersyndrome, or Asperger's syndrome, is named after Hans Asperger, the pediatricianwho discovered the disorder by diagnosing children in his practice who lackednonverbal communication skills, were clumsy and showed very limited empathywith their peers. It is an autism spectrum disorder whose symptoms includedifficulties in social interaction, along with repetitive and restrictive patternsof behavior. Unlike other disorders, patients suffering from Asperger's retainlinguistic and cognitive development, but physical clumsiness and atypicallanguage use are often reported. Although it was standardized in 1994, there isstill debate about whether it differs significantly from high-functioningautism (HFA), and there have been propositions to remove the diagnosis ofAsperger’s and replace it with a autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale.It is estimated that 20 out of 10,000 births result in a child born withAsperger syndrome, and there are signs that the appearance of Asperger's can begenetic, most likely being passed down through the father’s line.

Cause, Symptoms and Treatment

Though thecause of Asperger is unknown, research suggests the likelihood of a geneticbasis, but no clear common pathology has been identified. There is no singletreatment, and any intervention is targeted at improving symptoms and function,such as behavioral therapy. Frequently used methods of therapy include role playing and rehearsal for various types of social events.Medication is sometimes used to cure elements of Asperger’s such as depression. Most individuals get better over time,but some symptoms such as obsessive routines or clumsiness can continue intoadulthood. Some have suggested that thecondition is a difference, not a treatable disability.

Apparent differencesin brain regions between Asperger patients and normal individuals seem to implythat MRI’s can be used to test if someone has Asperger’s syndrome in thefuture. Presently, teacher and councilors can recommend observation if a childis exhibiting symptoms of Asperger’s, but because of the scale of its symptomsit is frequently difficult to differentiate Asperger’s syndrome from otherconditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder.

Socialawkwardness, limited interest, repetitive behavior and depression are all symptomsof Asperger syndrome. Another frequent symptom is odd word choice anddifficulty in differentiating literal and figurative word use. Symptoms also include problems in social situations, including inappropriateexpressions and a lack of the ability to read body language. Focusing intenselyon one or two topics of interest such as math can be indicative of Asperger’s.

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