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Asperger's syndrome is a condition that is part of the autistic spectrum, but which has some different characteristics from a person with autistic spectrum disorder, because, although there may be difficulty in relating and communicating with others, as well as to understand what is happening around them and their emotions, people with Asperger's syndrome do not show any change in their learning, and may have above average learning.
Symptom intensity can vary greatly from one child to another and, therefore, less apparent cases may be more difficult to identify. It is for this reason that many people discover the syndrome only during adulthood, when they experience depression or when they begin to have intense and recurrent episodes of anxiety.
Unlike autism, Asperger syndrome does not cause generalized learning difficulties and it is common for people diagnosed with this syndrome to have the need to create fixed routines. Understand better what autism is and how to identify it.
Characteristic signs of Asperger
Asperger syndrome can be considered when there are some characteristic signs such as:
1. Difficulty relating to other people
Children and adults with this syndrome usually show difficulty in relating to other people, as they have rigid thinking and difficulties in understanding the emotions and emotions of others, which may seem to be unconcerned with feelings and needs of other people.
2. Difficulty communicating
People with Asperger syndrome have difficulty understanding the meaning of indirect signs, such as changes in voice tone, facial expressions, body gestures, irony or sarcasm, so they can only understand what has been said literally.
Thus, they also have difficulties expressing what they think or feel, not sharing interests or what they think with other people, in addition to avoiding having contact with another person's eyes.
3. Not understanding the rules
It is common that, in the presence of this syndrome, the child is not able to accept common sense or respect simple rules such as waiting his turn in line or waiting his turn to speak, for example. This makes social interaction for these children increasingly difficult as they grow.
4. No delay in language, development or intelligence
Children with this syndrome develop normally and do not need more time to learn to speak or write. In addition, their intelligence level is also normal or often above average.
5. Need to create fixed routines
To make the world a little less confusing, people with Asperger syndrome tend to create very fixed rituals and routines. Modifications to the order or times for activities or appointments are not welcomed as changes are not welcome.
In the case of children, this characteristic can be observed when the child always needs to walk along the same path to get to school, gets upset when he is late to leave the house or cannot understand that someone can also sit in the same chair you use, for example.
6. Very specific and intense interests
It is common for these people to focus on certain activities for a long time, and to be entertained by the same thing, such as a subject or object, for a long time.
7. Little patience
In Asperger syndrome, it is common for the person to be very impatient and difficult to understand the needs of others, often being considered rude. In addition, it is common that they do not like to talk to people their own age, as they prefer a more formal speech with a lot of depth on a specific topic.
8. Motor incoordination
There may be a lack of coordination of movements, which are usually awkward and awkward. It is common for children with this syndrome to have an unusual or strange body posture.
9. Emotional breakdown
In Asperger syndrome, there is difficulty in understanding feelings and emotions. Therefore, when they are emotionally overwhelmed, they may find it difficult to regulate their reactions.
10. Hypersensitivity to stimuli
People with Asperger's usually have heightened senses, and as a result, they often overreact to stimuli such as lights, sounds, or textures.
However, there are also some cases of Asperger's in which the senses seem to be less developed than normal, which ends up aggravating their inability to relate to the world around them.
How to confirm the diagnosis
To diagnose Asperger syndrome, parents should take the child to see a pediatrician or a child psychologist as soon as signs indicative of this syndrome appear.During the consultation, the doctor and/or psychologist will perform a physical and psychological evaluation of the child to understand the origin of his behavior and be able to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of Asperger.
The earlier the diagnosis is made and the interventions to treat the child are initiated, the better their adaptation to the environment and quality of life can be.
How the treatment is done
Treatment for Asperger's syndrome aims to promote quality of life and a sense of well-being. Thus, it is important that the treatment is started soon after the diagnosis and, ideally, during childhood, so that it is possible to obtain better results during the treatment.
Treatment is usually carried out by a multidisciplinary team, which coordinates therapies so that they complement each other over time:
1. Psychological follow-up
Psychological follow-up is essential in Asperger syndrome, as it is during the sessions that the main characteristics of the syndrome are observed, making it possible to identify situations in which these characteristics are evidenced.In addition, during treatment with the psychologist, the person is encouraged to talk and live with someone "unknown", who is not part of their daily life.
Still, it is important that parents, friends and teachers participate in the psychological support process, as they can reinforce what was developed during the sessions and support the evolution. Some examples of what parents and teachers can do to help a child with Asperger's syndrome, for example, are:
- Give simple, short and clear orders. For example: "Put the puzzle away in the box after playing" and not: "Put your toys away after playing";
- Ask the child why he is acting at the moment of the action;
- Explain clearly and calmly that the "strange" attitude, such as swearing or throwing something at someone else, is unpleasant or not acceptable to others, so that the child does not repeat the mistake;
- Avoid judging the child by the behaviors they have.
In addition, according to the behavior that the child presents, the psychologist can make games that can help to facilitate coexistence or help the child to understand why he had a certain attitude and the impact of his actions, for example, since they often fail to understand what is right and wrong.
2. Speech therapy sessions
As in some cases the person with Asperger syndrome may have difficulties talking to other people, sessions with the speech therapist can help to stimulate speech and sentence construction. In addition, the sessions can also help in the modulation of the tone of voice, since in some cases the person can scream or speak more forcefully in situations where this is not necessary.
In addition to helping to interact with other people through speech stimulation, the speech therapist can also help in the adequate expression of feelings, which are identified with the help of the psychologist.
3. Use of medication
There is no specific medication to treat Asperger syndrome once and for all, however when there are signs of anxiety, depression, hyperactivity or attention deficit, the psychologist can refer you to the psychiatrist so that the use of medication is recommended (such as antidepressants or anxiolytics) that help control the signs and symptoms of these changes, helping to promote quality of life.