If your child just received a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, you want to learn everything possible about life with Aspergers. Your child can live a full, happy and productive life with the right treatment plan, especially with early intervention. Learn what you and your child will face living with Asperger's syndrome.
About Asperger's Syndrome
Aspergers' syndrome is classified as a neurological disorder that affects the normal development of language, communication and social skills. It is one of the five pervasive developmental disorders listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM IV-TR), along with autism.
The condition is often diagnosed later than other autism spectrum disorders because many children pass early developmental milestones and show no signs of impairment until they have more opportunities for peer interaction. Aspergers mainly affects social skills and communication.
A person with Aspergers may exhibit the following characteristics:
- No pretend play activities
- A large vocabulary
- Inability to hold a two-way conversation but will try to engage people in conversation
- Does not know how to interact with peers
- Needs strict routine and gets irrationally upset if the routine is interrupted
- Does not understand the emotional response of other people and may respond inappropriately
- Experiences difficulties with problem-solving and analyzing information clearly
- Has a narrow range of interests and gets obsessed with objects, an activity or topic
- May have sensory issues and have unexpected reactions to sounds, sights and smells
- Experiences difficulties with fine and gross motor skills, which can affect posture, coordination and activities such as sports and handwriting
Life with Aspergers Overview
Here is an overview of life with Aspergers at different ages.
Parents often first recognize the signs of Aspergers when children start school. It becomes apparent that the child has trouble interacting with peers that goes beyond average shyness or social awkwardness. The child wants to make friends but does not know how.
At some point, other Apergers characteristics are evident when the child is disoriented without a strict routine and fixates on favorite activities. She also may take a little longer to master certain activities involving fine and gross motor skills as handwriting and bike riding.
Some children with Aspergers do not express their emotions much and many do not like any physical contact. However, parents can still find ways to emotionally bond with their children and help them express themselves with the help of therapy.
Early intervention helps an affected child learn how to improve peer interaction and to deal with areas of difficulty such as problem-solving.
During the teen years, the mindblindness may be more of an issue. As the teenager becomes more independent, he has more opportunities for social interaction and building relationships separate from his parents. The mindblindness, or inability to understand emotional reactions, may lead him to make insensitive or inappropriate remarks.
He may also have a tendency to take things at face value and have trouble seeing subtlety. This is also why he has trouble having two-way conversations and may sometimes talk at people. If he starts talking to someone about his favorite subject, he will not understand a negative reaction or let others share in the discussion.
Therapy can help teens with Aspergers improve social skills and try to work beyond the mindblindness.
Adults with Aspergers can have successful careers and happy marriages. Lifelong therapy and treatments may be necessary to prevent the Asperger symptoms from interfering with daily life. However, adults with Aspergers who have had or who are in effective treatment programs, especially those who received early intervention, find that managing symptoms gets easier in adulthood. It takes work but the symptoms can be managed to allow a person to function well in a job and in close relationships.
The biggest challenge in adult Aspergers relationships is the inability to understand other people's emotions. This can lead to many misunderstandings. Therapy can help couples work through this issue.
Where to Get Help
There are many effective treatments such as occupational, behavioral, and speech therapies that can help improve Asperger's syndrome symptoms. Talk to your child's doctor or contact an autism support organization for information on how to help your child. Visit the Autism Society of America site for local support group information and other helpful information.
Life with Aspergers has challenges and rewards. Some days are difficult but other days are full of progress and achievement. Don't lose hope on the hard days. Many more good days will follow. People with Aspergers are responding to today's treatments, and many find great happiness being who they are without ongoing interventions. Keep fighting for the right doctors, therapists, teachers and treatment plans for your child. Finding the treatment that meets your child's specific needs can make a world of difference. .