Understanding the symptoms of Asperger’s in children is one important step towards understanding the exact neurodevelopmental problem that your children may suffer from. Asperger’s disease or Asperger’s disorder is once considered a unique disorder, but is now treated as one of the variants of autism. As autism currently becomes a major concern with the number of babies born with this disorder continuously growing, all autism spectrum disorders, including autism as the most severe case as well as milder cases that include childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s disease, also become haunting problems for parents. Many parents who believe that their children have successfully escaped from autism don’t feel secure yet, especially if they see their children exhibiting symptoms possibly related to milder cases of autism.
What Is Asperger’s Disease?
As stated above, Asperger’s disease is one of milder cases of autism. Previously, it was classified as a separate diagnosis, but now, at least since the publication of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that was published in 2013, the exclusive diagnosis of this disease is removed and the disease itself is categorized as one of autism spectrum disorders.
What is then Asperger’s disease and how does it differ from autism? Asperger’s disease shares a number of similar symptoms with autism, including unusual focus on strictly particular objects or topics, absence of eye contact during interaction, repeating one specific action or behavior (such as stacking boxes or cans), and social deficit. Asperger’s disease differs from autism in that children with the former don’t lose their capacity to perform verbal communication. They even don’t experience speech delay and are actually quite talkative and smart. Their biggest problem arises only when they try to socialize with their peers as they don’t really know how to use the right language in social communication and to do proper interaction with others.
The cause of Asperger’s disease is still largely unknown. However, genetic factor and exposure to agents that cause birth defects are known to increase the risk of its occurrence. There are some circulating rumors that say that childhood vaccinations may increase the risk of this disorder. Based on some studies, this allegation is proven to be false. In fact, skipping vaccinations will place the children in serious danger of contracting serious diseases and spreading them.
What Are the Symptoms of Asperger’s Disease in Children?
Asperger’s disease will affect children’s social interaction, behavior, language skill, motor dexterity, and sensory perception. The way the disease affects those traits is explained as follows.
Children with Asperger’s disease will find it difficult to interact with their equals. They are not necessarily as withdrawn as autistic children, but when they try to get along with their peers, it is almost impossible for them to achieve cohesion or intimacy. Children with Asperger’s disease are often unable to use language that is socially appropriate. They have difficulty understanding the concept of empathy and they often commit activities that are considered socially inappropriate, such as missing appointments without feeling guilty and failing to reciprocate others’ kindness. When talking with their peers, they tend to verbosely speak about one particular topic that they are interested in without realizing whether their peers have the same interest with theirs.
Children with Asperger’s disease tend to exhibit restricted and repetitive behavior. Their habit includes the same restricted activities that they do over and over again. Children with Asperger’s disease tend to be fond of doing repetitive activities such as stacking boxes and cans and to be immersed in such activities over an unusually long period of time. Their areas of interest are generally narrow and this is the reason why they often excel in one specific field they are interested in.
Children with Asperger’s disease rarely experience speech delay. In fact, many of them are quite talkative and smart in using words to describe one particular object or topic they are interested in. If they love dinosaurs, for example, they are mostly able to mention the names of all dinosaurs that they memorize.
Although they tend to have normal language skill, the way they talk often contains many abnormalities. They may be so verbose that they talk much more than necessary, their speech often lacks intonation and rhythm, and the focus of their speech is often irrelevant and tangential.
The part of human brain that affects social interaction actually also controls the physical movements and balance of the body. Therefore, if the disease impairs this part, the motoric dexterity of children with Asperger’s disease will also be adversely affected. They tend to have awkward gait, to lose their footing when walking, and to have difficulty performing activities that require physical dexterity, such as riding bicycle and climbing ladders.
Children with Asperger’s disease tend to be unusually more sensitive to various stimuli. They may find loud sound, too bright ray and cold water too extreme and uncomfortable to sense.
There are other Asperger’s disease symptoms with reasons that are still unknown, such as insomnia, nocturnal and early morning awakenings that occur too frequently, and inability to describe emotions. Parents whose children exhibit those symptoms may need to consult a professional to get proper diagnosis for their children.
How Should Parents Respond to Their Children’s Condition?
Asperger’s disease is indeed one variant of autism; however, compared to the most severe case of autism, Asperger’s disease is far from being debilitating. Children with Asperger’s disease still have more than enough capacity to live normally and successfully, as long as there is constant support from their family. Parents who know that their children live with this disease thus need to provide them with this kind of support. They must accept and respond to the condition positively, try to get professional assistance to deal with the problem, and plan the most appropriate education program for their children. So, if your children exhibit symptoms of Asperger’s in children, get official diagnosis as soon as possible and make sure that you are fully prepared to provide your best support to your children.