How Asperger's Affects Childhood
Asperger's syndrome, a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum, affects approximately two out of 10,000 children, with boys three to four times as likely as girls to be affected 2. Unlike children who are more severely affected by autism and do not communicate at all, people with AS are sometimes quite willing to talk at length 1. However, their behavior may appear "odd" to others, and children with AS may have difficulty in school, even though they are of average or above average intelligence, as their behavior may isolate them from other people. If you have any concerns about your child, contact your child’s pediatrician for follow up.
Children with Asperger's often have difficulties in social situations, and have difficulty communicating with others. Some may have restrictive or repetitive patterns of behavior, such as hand flapping or inappropriate vocalizations. Many have a difficult time engaging in reciprocal conversation or they may have obsessive interests on a single topic. Some children with Asperger’s are physically awkward, and have poor gross motor skills, and some may have other conditions. If you have any concerns about your child, contact your child's pediatrician for follow up.
The poor social skills and poor eye contact characteristic of children with AS affect their ability to make friends. Many of these children are unable to join a conversation or a group of children playing a game in an appropriate manner. Additionally, many children with AS speak about their chosen interest to the exclusion of all other topics, making other children less apt to want or be able to have a conversation. Social isolation is common in children with AS.
Troubles in School
Even though children with AS often have average or above average intelligence, many struggle in school. Many children with AS are disorganized, and often lose papers after completing them. Often, people with AS have a hard time following multi-step directions, and will need tasks with multiple steps written out for them. Some have poor fine motor skills, and will have trouble with long writing tasks. Some will have difficulty with assignments that deal with abstract concepts, since people with AS are often very literal.
Although Asperger's syndrome is not a mental illness, children with AS may have other disorders that affect them 2. Additionally, many children with AS suffer from depression, which may affect a child in their social and academic lives. There is no cure for Asperger syndrome 2. Medical professionals use coordinated therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of individual children, such as:
- social skills training,
- occupational therapy
- or psychiatric counseling for depression or anxiety
If you have any concerns about your child, please see your child's pediatrician for follow up.
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