Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
For Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, many treatment approaches can be used to manage this condition. Unfortunately, it has no cure. With proper care, it is possible to improve social skills and address speech and gestures problems.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that is characterized by such symptoms as social skills deficits, restricted interests, repetitive behavior, and speech issues. It affects a person’s ability to communicate with others and develop relationships.
Another sign that indicates that a person has this disorder are developmental delays. They can be connected with motor development, the person’s ability to speak, or coordination. Therefore, those diagnosed with ASD usually express it in their movements and tend to be clumsy.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
This developmental disorder is connected with the ability to function. For example, those suffering from this disorder can either take care of themselves and function correctly, or are incapable of doing it, and may need to be continuously taken care of by someone else.
If one’s child with such a disorder doesn’t fall into the high functioning group, parents tend to get deeply affected by it and even overwhelmed. They realize that they won’t have the resources to provide the needed care for their child by themselves. So, in such cases, they may have to reach out for professional help. Some children may even need direct supervision from trained and qualified specialists, such as pediatricians, neurologists, audiologists, speech therapists, psychiatrists, etc.
***Please, remember that since this is a spectrum disorder that we are dealing with, each case is unique, and each kid will have different strengths and weaknesses.
What Are the ASD Statistics?
According to the report of the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1 out of 59 kids get diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, they concluded that autism could be found in people of any racial, economic, and ethnic group. In recent years, autism has been more frequently diagnosed in males than in females; to be more precise, it is four times more common.
What Can Be the Cause of Autism?
Autism can be present in various forms. So the reasons for its appearance vary according to the individual case. Although, it is suggested that the leading causes of autism are the combination of genetics and various environmental factors.
When Is the Earliest That One Can Be Diagnosed with Autism?
The symptoms of this disorder usually can be noticed by the age of two, although, in some cases, the symptoms may arise even before 18 months. But keep in mind that the younger the child, the more complicated it can be to diagnose autism. For example, at earlier ages, a pediatrician may confuse the autism symptoms with typical personality characteristics or delays in development completely non-related to this disorder.
Is There a Cure for Autism?
Unfortunately, currently, there is no cure for this mental disorder. However, many treatment options may or may not assist in improving the overall person’s well-being. For example, they can help develop social skills and enhance learning ability. But the fact is that, in some cases, the kids may need only some treatment. However, others may need constant therapy and proper care from professionals.
Here is a list of the treatment options that are most frequently applied to treat the autism disorder.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Typically, this treatment is the most widely applied both for adults and children. ABA is a therapy approach that encourages a positive attitude and behavior for rewards.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as talk therapy, is another method that is commonly used to treat patients with autism. The main idea behind this approach is to help individuals associate their thoughts and emotions with their behaviors. Therefore, the professional’s goal is to assist the child or adult in finding out what feelings and thoughts are possibly the reason for their harmful and unhealthy behaviors.
A study on autism and CBT held in 2010 concluded that cognitive-behavioral therapy might help decrease stress levels in autistic individuals, which, as a result, may help them manage their conditions more easily. Moreover, this method may also assist autistic patients with human interaction by recognizing other people’s emotions and feelings.
Another approach that is widely applied to treat autism is occupational therapy. OT places emphasis on properly educating the individuals with the essential skills that every person needs to lead a normal life. By applying this approach, the professionals may be able to improve motor skills, handwriting, and self-care skills. Moreover, occupational therapists may also be able to educate adults with important skills for independent living. Those skills include paying bills, shopping, cooking, cleaning, working, etc.
Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT)
Autistic individuals have sensory issues. In such a case, specialists recommend applying sensory integration therapy. This method’s main idea is to limit distractions that make it difficult for autistic children and adults to learn healthy behaviors. Sensory integration therapists include drawing in the sand, meditation, and other techniques during the mental therapy sessions.
It is common for people with autism to have speech issues. Therefore, in such cases, the professionals recommend applying speech therapy. During such sessions, specialists help improve the individual’s speaking skills. Such type of therapy is conducted by speech-language pathologists.
Social Skills Training
This approach is the most helpful for children diagnosed with autism. The main idea behind social skills training is to teach individuals to socialize with others properly. For many autistic patients, it is quite challenging to maintain relationships. The professionals teach them how to begin conversations, read emotional cues, and recognize the non-verbal language.
Note: This approach is widely applied to children. But in many cases, it can be effective training for adults as well.
This treatment can sometimes be used to help autistic patients. However, currently, there are no medications that would cure autism. Instead, there are various medications that may decrease some autism symptoms.
Medications that are prescribed to assist with managing the autism symptoms include:
- Anxiolytic meds.
Alternative Treatment Approaches
Even though the traditional methods for autism treatment are more popular and, in some cases, more effective than the alternative ones, they still may be beneficial for some patients. However, it is necessary to note that there are not many studies and research that support such methods.
Some of the researches that have already been conducted concluded that alternative treatments sometimes might do more harm than good.
Note: If you decided that you want to add an alternative treatment, be sure to consult your physician beforehand.
Alternative methods that are sometimes used for the treatment of autism symptoms are:
- CBD oil;
- Specialized diets (for example, gluten-free);
- Vitamin C;
- Weighted blankets;
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s syndrome is one of the types of ASD that is identified as “high-functioning.” But what does “high-functioning” mean? That means that this syndrome has less severe symptoms compared to other mental disorders. Individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder are capable of living independently and taking care of themselves.
Usually, such people don’t have issues related to speech and motor skills. Besides, they have average intelligence and sometimes can even have an above average. These kids are quite often interested in complicated pictures and games.
What Are the Asperger’s Syndrome Statistics?
Since this disorder is directly linked to autism, its statistics are connected to it as well. That is why approximately 1 out of 59 kids are diagnosed with this syndrome. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control states that about 3.5 million US citizens have Asperger’s syndrome. Also, as stated by a British psychologist and an Asperger’s syndrome expert Dr. Tony Attwood, approximately half of the people that have this disorder are undiagnosed. Such an occurrence is mainly due to the fact that the traits of this syndrome are not as publicized as autism.
When Is the Earliest That One Can Be Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome?
Similar to autism disorder, the symptoms of this syndrome usually can be noticed by the age of two, although, in some cases, the symptoms may arise even before 18 months. But keep in mind that the younger the child, the more complicated it can be to diagnose Asperger’s syndrome.
What Can Be the Cause of Asperger’s Syndrome?
Like autism, the reasons for the appearance of Asperger’s syndrome vary according to the individual case. Although, there is an opinion that the leading causes of Asperger’s syndrome lie in genetics and various environmental factors.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome?
Here are the behaviors that are usually connected with Asperger’s syndrome:
- Problems with maintaining eye contact;
- Unusual movements;
- Robotic speech patterns;
- Issues with understanding other people’s complicated emotional behaviors or expressing them;
- Not knowing how to begin a conversation or reply to a person talking;
- Awkward social interactions;
- Obsessiveness about specific topics;
- Having a hard time understanding facial expressions;
- Incapable of being attentive for a prolonged time;
- Sociopathic behaviors.
How Long Does It Typically Take to Make an Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnosis?
To officially diagnose an individual with Asperger’s syndrome, it may take approximately 5 – 6 years.
What Approaches and Techniques Are Commonly Used for Asperger’s Syndrome Treatment?
Since Asperger’s syndrome is closely connected to autism disorder, it is treated similarly. However, some additional treatments may be useful for individuals diagnosed with this mental disorder.
Note: The following approaches can also be used to treat autism spectrum disorder.
Here are the treatments that are commonly used to deal with Asperger’s syndrome symptoms.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most commonly used methods for Asperger’s syndrome. It should also be mentioned that this type of autism and Asperger’s syndrome treatment must be coved by health insurance in 46 states.
This approach’s main idea is that individuals who get rewards or something that is perceived as one have more chances of repeating that behavior later. Therefore, ABA specialists claim that actions that haven’t been rewarded or noticed will have little to no reoccurrence in the long run.
So, how is ABA beneficial? Well, it may assist both autistic kids and adults in the development of ordinary life skills. Moreover, it may help to decrease negative behaviors, such as throwing, screaming, or slapping.
Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
The next commonly used treatment approach that may be effective for Asperger’s syndrome symptoms is relationship development intervention. However, it should be mentioned that this treatment is not that well studied since it is relatively new.
This approach aims to educate children about how they can engage in a healthy conversation. Moreover, this treatment helps them have positive social interactions with others. So, this treatment covers the main issues that individuals with autism and Asperger’s syndrome have more trouble with.
Also, RDI training educates parents on using teachable opportunities, both good and bad ones. Such moments can be turned into various entertaining but, at the same time, teachable activities.
In some cases, physicians recommend Asperger’s syndrome patients to resort to a sensory therapy specialist. Such therapy may help the individuals respond to external stimuli such as listening to fireworks, being hugged or kissed, being in large crowds, etc. Such an approach aims to assist kids in becoming ready for the real world.
Does My Child With Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome Need a Therapist?
Yes, it is recommended for a child with autism or Asperger’s syndrome to attend therapy, and here is why. Both of these mental health conditions can make maintaining healthy relationships complicated. Moreover, they are known to affect the individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
A professional therapist can help the individual with autism or Asperger’s syndrome address the abnormal behaviors and, at the same time, potentially increase their chances of moving up the spectrum. It is important since the higher a person is on the spectrum, the more functional they will be in everyday life.
For a child or an adult to be more independent, he/she has to move as high as possible on the spectrum. Also, it is recommended to resort to autism and Asperger’s syndrome therapist as soon as possible to get a full picture of the disorder. When you fully understand the condition, the therapy and treatment approaches will be chosen to address the child’s specific issues. You can look up all the specialists that can help with autism and Asperger’s syndrome treatment in the site directory.
What Qualifications Should Autism or Asperger’s Therapist Possess?
Every mental disorder is a severe issue that should be dealt with only by a highly qualified specialist, so you need a professional experienced in special education teaching. Since autism and Asperger’s syndrome are highly specialized, the specialist has to have extensive knowledge in this field.
Moreover, due to the fact that autism and Asperger’s syndrome treatments are quite complex, it is essential to find a therapist that will not only carry out the treatment but also listen to the individual’s concerns and fears. Also, the good thing is that with proper treatment, the ones with such spectrum issues will be able to gain “normalcy” and even lead an independent life.